My son, David, signed up for band class in seventh grade. When it came time for the first concert, his band teacher told the students the appropriate attire for this concert was “church clothes”. My son, who has never been shy, lets her know in no uncertain terms that his family does not attend church and that he is not in possession of any “church clothes”. The teacher’s response to this dilemma was to suggest that he go to the “DI” to purchase the proper outfit. My little Californian wondered ALOUD to his teacher, “What does drunk driving have to do with clothes for a band concert?” When I picked him up from school that day he told me he had a crazyband teacher and repeated the story. I didn't know what the “DI” was either, but I was fairly certain that his teacher wasn’t referring to anything alcohol related. I asked around and found out the “DI” was like goodwill. There I was feeling stupid again. I don’t think David’s teacher has ever recovered from the incident, and three years later although he remains in band, I am certain he isn’t one of her favorites.
So when I take my ninth grade daughter to get registered for school we meet with the school counselor. He was a lovely man who was happy to help us get acquainted with her new school. While figuring out her schedule, he lists a class called “seminary”. “What is that?” we ask. He looked at us a bit confused, but kindly explained that this is religious instruction. WHAT…? AREN’T WE IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL?I didn’t say that aloud, but I was totally baffled. We weren't interested in this course and asked what else was available. Unfortunately, the answer was not much. It seemed almost everyone was taking this seminary course. Well, I have to admit, this REALLY bugs me. I mean, anyone who pulls up my child’s schedule (counselors, teachers, administrators etc.) will know immediately she is not LDS. Our religious affiliation is none of the school’s business! I have nothing against religious instruction, but I just can’t believe that it is factored into the public school day. This small incident made my daughter feel like an outsider from the very first day she set foot in her new school and that made me sad and mad!
If the last post confused you, it may be because you are as unaware as I was that the term “elder” means a returned male missionary usually around 21 years old. Speaking of missionary, I didn’t know that word either. Three weeks after our move, I was shopping in TJMaxx for a gift. I was checking out the men’s cashmere sweaters, when a woman I had never met asked me if I thought the sweater would be an appropriate gift for a missionary. I got a little nervous; I mean... how would I know? Don’t missionaries go to Africa and isn’t cashmere a bit warm for a tropical climate? Turns out she meant a Mormon missionary who can be sent anywhere in the world on a mission. When my husband got home that evening I recollected the incident and emphasized how stupid and uncomfortable it made me feel. He said I shouldn’t feel embarrassed at all, I just should have told her when she asked about a missionary that I didn’t care to comment on other people’s sex lives. My husband is very funny!!!
My family arrived at SLC airport feeling excited, scared and worn out from emotional goodbyes. As we took in our new surroundings, my eleven year old son turned to me with a confused stare and simply stated, “MOM – There are only white people here.” He has always been an observant little fellow. We noted his comment and moved on. Heading down the escalator towards baggage claim we were bombarded by a large (I mean LARGE) blonde haired family waiting to welcome home their grandpa. They were holding an extremely long banner that read “Welcome Home Elder Jones”. Of course we were drawn to this homecoming as the whole family was brimming over with excitement. Down the escalator strides a handsome YOUNG man and the whole family starts screaming and crying and embracing him. It was heartwarming, but we wondered… where was grandpa? Oh well- weird- we spotted our luggage and started our new life in Utah.
Hi! My name is Jill and my family and I moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Draper, Utah in December of 2005 due to my husband’s job. We were “warned” over and over again that we would not fit into our new environment. “You know everyone there is Mormon don’t you? And you guys are Jewish?” My children and I had never lived outside of California, so as you may imagine we were poised for a bit of culture shock. Our first year here was generally wonderful. I felt safe and cozy in my new home nestled at the base of the Wasatch Mountains. This new community was kind of beautiful and quaint, and I quickly pushed aside any worries I had. People in Utah were just so pleasant. Well, after some time, the impact of the predominant culture hit my life like a two by four to the head. Soon, we all felt stifled by the constant religious overtones and the daily reminders that we were simply not a part of “their” world. Of course, by “their” I mean the Mormon Church and its members. A counter culture does exist in this "beehive state". Many Utahns who are not Mormon do everything in their power to show they are not associated with anything the Church does or teaches. You can spot these people a mile away. Unfortunately, this can lead to excessive behavior and negativity. I found that my family did not belong in that culture either. Where did we fit? Were there people like us in Utah? To clarify, I love my morning coffee, look forward to a nice glass of wine with my dinner, enjoy all kinds of films (even “R” rated ones), watch HBO for entertainment and get most of my news from MSNBC. Despite these DANGEROUS tendencies, my husband and I have managed to raise two fabulous children. In fact, we are mistaken for a Mormon family ALL THE TIME! I would be rich if I had a dime for every incredulous sputter, “You’re not Mormon???” When asked why they think I am Mormon, the answer is almost always an embarrassed reply “Well your family is just so nice!” WOW! Who knew Mormons had a monopoly on nice. Mormon Church members refer to themselves as LDS (Latter Day Saints). I hope to form a new group PLU (PEOPLE LIKE US!) to provide a place to commiserate, laugh and share frustrations. And so my fellow PLU’s, feel free to join me with your thoughts and your own stories. I can’t wait to hear them. Together, I know we will find comfort in knowing we are not alone. ***There is one requirement - This blog will not turn into a place for Mormon bashing. There is plenty of that in Utah. While I understand how and why this comes about, I do not wish to participate. Almost all of the Mormon people I have met here are genuinely good, kind people and I think they will learn from us about what it feels like to be on the outside of their very tight community. I welcome LDS members to join in our conversation.
I am a 52 year old mother of two. My daughter is 22 and in graduate school. She is smart, kind-hearted and gorgeous. My freakishly intelligent son is 18 and thinks he is the funniest person in the world. I must admit sometimes I agree. My husband is a brilliant man who dazzles me with his knowledge and quick wit. I love them all more than life.
I am a politics junkie and I love Barack Obama, but I will try hard not to get on my soapbox too often. I have a love/hate relationship with Utah and that has led me to start this blog.