When Dave and I went out to dinner in Salt Lake City for the first time, I ordered a cosmopolitan. Our adorable young waiter put a “Polly-Pockets” sized glass in front of me and I just stared at it. Then, I thought, OK, this must be a Utah thing. They let you sample the drink first to make sure you like it. You know, like when you order a bottle of wine. I tasted it, and told the waiter it was fine and he could bring my drink now. He looked straight at me, laughed, and said, “You’re not from Utah are you?” He proceeded to give us a lesson on all of the byzantine Utah liquor laws. I am occasionally cranky about the high cost of my favorite vinos at the state owned liquor store. So my annoyingly wise husband, points out that it is better to live in a state where you pay a little more for your wine and a lot less for your house. Hmm……..the jury is still out on that one!
My son received this postcard in the mail today. If you need reading glasses like I do, it says
"Present your mission call with this postcard, and get a free tie and $50 off your first order."
Just wondering, did any of you outside of the beehive state get this in your mailbox? Really, I'm not complaining - simply pointing out that there is never a day that I am not reminded where I live and whom I live with. For those of you who didn't get this in your mailbox, I feel the need to fill you in on everything I learned about the "missionary mall"(I will add that term to my glossary). Here goes:
"Did you know we helped over 16,000 missionaries last year?
That is over half of all missionaries that went out!"
(Nope didn't know that)
"Missionaries have discovered that it's not just the hundreds of dollars we save them when they shop with us before their missions -- it's also the hundreds of dollars they never have to spend replacing their gear in the mission field thanks to our exclusive two year wearproof guarantee."
"If anything wears out on your mission, just send us a picture and we replace the item free of charge."
"Get mission tested gear from our super friendly staff of recently returned missionaries."
(Of course they are super friendly!)
"Future sister missionaries are welcome to use this discount at our sister's store next to the Elder's store."
(Definitely don't want sisters and Elders shopping in the same place - who knows what could happen? Also why is Elder capitalized and not sister?)
To clarify, David does not need a new tie so he will not be going on a mission for the mormon church!
Two missionaries knocked on my door today. This event, which occurs all too often, has become difficult for me. When I first moved here, and I saw the young men in white shirts and ties standing on my doorstep, I didn’t think twice about shooing them off my porch as quickly as possible. I mean, how dare they, I know where to find their church if I feel the need - for god’s sake they are on every frigging corner. My feeling about the reasons behind their visit is still there, but my feeling towards these young men has changed. You see, my daughter Amy is a senior in high school and so many of her good friends are about to embark on their missionary journey. I cannot separate their faces from the faces of the strangers who continue to knock on my door. These poor kids have been sent to a state where they are either preaching to the choir or extremely resented. And so, I kindly explain to them why I am not interested. I engage them in conversation about where they are from and share my feelings about living in Utah. They always thank me for being nice to them and go on their way to more doors slamming in their faces. I feel a bit sad as they leave and I again see the faces of all the young men I know and have come to care about over the years. Don’t get me wrong, I despise proselytizing and I tell them so. So should you if you feel the same. But… please be kind they are just young men, far from home, and maybe one of Amy’s friends.
So, we have established that I had difficulty communicating with people in my new home. I also found myself getting lost A LOT! This problem seems silly now that I understand the grid system in Salt Lake City, but I was completely baffled at first. You see, all things in Salt Lake lead to the LDS temple downtown. I guess you could say the temple is "ground zero". Every address is representative of the coordinates north/south and east/west of the temple. An address at 900 East and 10600 South would be 9 blocks east and 106 blocks south of the temple. Here is the problem – the last two zeros are irrelevant, and everyone rattled off these numbers as if I understood. “Turn left at 13th east.” Well, I was at 1300 east and panic set in. I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to find streets that didn’t exist. Once I had finally bridged the communication gap, I found the grid system easy to navigate. The fact that every address relates to that building at “ground zero” is a rant I will leave for another day!
Baptism for Dead – a Mormon practice of baptism for deceased performed in the temple (apparently Barack Obama's mother was baptised last year in a temple in Provo - for the record, I object!) Beyond the Veil – expression for the spirit world or life after death (this explains a lot about that controversial scene in Big Love) Celestial Kingdom – Mormons believe this is the highest of three degrees of heaven
Doctrine and Covenants - A volume of Latter-day Saint scripture containing selected revelations given to Joseph Smith and his successors
Endowments – instruction and covenants performed in the Mormon Temple
Fast Sunday – On this Sunday, Church members fast and donate the equivalent cost of meals to the Church to assist the poor and needy
Home Teaching - A Church program in which priesthood holders regularly visit assigned homes of members
Outer Darkness - Mormons believe this is a region totally removed from glory of God, to which Satan and his followers will be consigned (Hell)
Quorum of Twelve - The body of twelve men who, under the direction of the First Presidency, constitute the second-highest presiding quorum of the Church
Scriptures – Mormon scriptures consist of the Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price, and the King James Bible
Sealing – a temple ordinance joining husband and wife or children and parents for eternity
Testimony – members regularly bear witness that the Mormon Church is the “one and only true Church”
Visiting Teaching - A Church program in which members of the Relief Society are assigned to visit regularly other sisters to give brief instruction and support
Word of Wisdom – Mormon Church’s teachings requiring abstinence from tobacco, alcohol and hot drinks (why is hot cocoa OK?)
Today’s terms are important for those raising children in Utah. My kid’s friends are very busy with church activities. Although Amy and David are never purposely excluded from any of these events, most of their friends attend them so they often feel like outsiders even amongst their peers.
CTR – Choose the Right (often seen on rings and other jewelry) Family Home Evening - families gather, usually on Monday evening, for family-centered spiritual training and social activities. (My family watches “24” together, does that count?) Mutual – The Church's auxiliary organization for youth ages twelve through eighteen
Primary - The auxiliary organization in the Church for children from ages eighteen months through eleven years.
Seminary – Weekday religious instruction for secondary school students (In Utah public schools build time for this into the regular school schedule - a pet peeve of mine) Stake Dance – church sponsored dances for middle school kids
Sunbeam - three year old primary level (thanks Rachel)
Young Men’s/ Young Women’s - The instruction and activity program in the Church for young men or women ages twelve to eighteen
So now that you know the basics, here is a list of words you come to know quickly when you live here in Utah. My definitions come from friends and websites and of course I added my own commentary.
Angel Moroni – Book of Mormon prophet who gave Joseph Smith the gold plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon. His statue tops many Mormon temples (no comment) Brother – used to address male church members (makes me think of Desmond from Lost)
Calling – invitation to accept an office or assignment
Deseret –Book of Mormon word meaning “honey bee” often used by LDS institutions and businesses
FLDS – Fundamental LDS (Polygamists like the ones in Texas) General Conference – General assemblies of Church members in Salt Lake City, regularly convened every April and October.
Gentile – non-Mormon (Huh, since when is a nice Jewish girl a gentile?) Heavenly Father – term for God
Inactive – member of Church who no longer attends services(my “inactive friend hates this word – she claims to exercise regularly) Jack Mormon – member of Church who attends services, but doesn’t follow all the rules (Has a beer on the weekend) Molly – really devout Mormon
Pioneer Day - a July 24, celebration of the anniversary of the arrival of the Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake Valley in 1847. (Even most banks are closed in Utah!) Polygamy - The practice of having more than one wife (like in Big Love, one of my favorite TV shows) Priesthood – power of God given only to men; boys can receive priesthood at 12 years of age
Relief Society – Adult women’s auxiliary organization
Sacrament – water and bread distributed at ward meeting that symbolize the body and blood of Christ (no wine? Wasn’t one of Jesus’ first miracles changing water to wine?) Sister – female church members use this to address one another; also a female missionary
Temple Recommend – certificate of worthiness to enter the temple
Tithe – 10% of all gross income donated to the church required to be considered in good standing(no tithe, no temple recommend!) Years Supply – church leaders encourage members to store a supply of food to sustain life for one year in preparation for an emergency. (Homes in Utah have loads of storage space to accommodate for this practice)
Zion – Utah (What????? I thought Israel was Zion, crazy me!)
Life in Utah is easier if one can avoid that “village idiot” feeling of which I am so familiar. So, I created a “Utah Speak” Glossary. I am blown away by how many terms I now know that I had NEVER heard before our move. There is a lot to take in, so I offer it to you in parts. Today’s Bit … The Must Knows – if you don’t know these you are lost!
LDS – Latter Day Saints (Mormons) Ward – Members of a local church in a geographical area (you don’t get to pick where you go to church) Stake – Group of Wards
Bishop – the religious leader of a ward (your neighbor)
Missionary – single young men and women in their late teens and early twenties assigned to a church mission usually far away from home (not a sexual position)
Elder – title for male missionaries (not an old man)
Temple – sacred LDS buildings where ceremonies are performed for the living and the dead. The temple is off limits to non-Mormons and Mormons without a temple recommend
Temple Square – 10 acre city block in Salt Lake City where the Salt Lake Temple and Tabernacle are located
Book of Mormon – part of the Mormon scriptures
Joseph Smith – founder of the LDS faith and first prophet
Brigham Young – the LDS leader who led the movement to Salt Lake City (Mormon Moses)
Prophet - refers to Joseph Smith or the President of the Mormon Church (Thomas Monson is current prophet)
Deseret –Book of Mormon word meaning “honey bee” (many LDS owned business’ use this term)
DI – Deseret Industries which is like the Goodwill (Funny story – see post on 4/30/09)
Garments – sacred ceremonial undergarments associated with temple covenants (often referred to as secret underwear)
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.