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On the Months I’ve Been Engaged

This is a poem I wrote for Cat before we got married last Saturday. I read it last Friday for our rehearsal dinner. 

 

On the Months I’ve Been Engaged

 

First there were the stress marks

you could see them on my lungs

unclear as to whether you’d answer yes

or no

in definitive fashion

 

I threw up blood you know

gave myself an ulcer

I did it all for you…

Baby.

 

Then, there was Bend

full of pine trees and snow

pine tress and snow

like Bend does best

 

There was the one knee dip, the wine on top of mountaintops

The music, the silly little piece of metal I slipped upon your finger petals.

 

There were trumpets

Not literal trumpets

But celebration

An end to all this unnecessary anticipation

And God declared that it was good.

 

But in the beginning there was death.

Ugly, cold, miserable death

I’m deeming two thousand and twelve the year of death

 

 

So much for spring, the lighter things

new beginnings

the singing of the robin in the windowpanes

 

What is new?

There is….

nothing new

nothing new

there is nothing new

under the sun.

 

We awoke to a robin heralding a return

to grim reaper winter

 

but we pressed on,

through Michigan and beyond

 

We had our nights

I collected your tears in a

vase I kept around my heart

 

Sometimes I caused them tears

–I never wanted to

 

 

My heart wore the smell of used cigarettes

And bourbon vignettes

 

I never was a sanctuary

            —you loved me anyway

 

 

There was your father,

dementia ridden and confused

shipped to Salt Lake in a late-night fright van

by a man who played saxophone in an Atlanta band

 

We read your father baseball books

Fed him pureed vegetables and mashed potatoes

Asked for a straw so he could sip his orange juice

Told him the walls were not closing in,

Not yet, we said

Not yet at least

 

We pressed on,

we did

through relational conflict,

personality conflict

love language conflict

external hard drive, existential supernatural theological conflict

 

We pressed through the sludge of it all

like a French press with an American attitude

Ikea fights included

 

We stopped at dusk

 to press into each other

Late-night make-out nights

We really pressed on those

(with our bodies, I mean)

 

We got an apartment on Fourth North

Cute and small like the both of us

in all this terrible mess of a world

 

We had to replace an oven,

 A sinner of a refrigerator

We had to navigate the cluster cuss of

Internet wireless providers

An hour and twenty minutes on the phone with century link

Can lead a man like me

to a serious desire to smash everything within his sight.

Especially dressers,

 I have disturbing visions of smashing dressers…

 

We had bed bugs even,

Freaking bed bugs.

After all of this

 

But we freaking killed them all.

We killed them all

At least we hope,

I sprayed enough chemicals to make

Chernobyl look like Disneyland

 

But we made it.

To Mordor and back again

We have stared Voldemort himself in the face

Snake eyes and all

We are the gold through which fire purifies

the tired blood anesthetized

 

I love you Cat, like Ron Weasley loves Hermione Granger

Like Harry loves Ginny

I love you like slow music on late night lit Parisian avenues

 

You are the dusk on a summer evening

Shooting through dilapidated oak trees branches

Shiny, shimmering, and perfectly golden

You are the billows of an autumn breeze

You are the smoke upon the winter trees

 

We know there are still precipices

with dark mouths

awaiting to swallow us

But we are not afraid

We are not afraid

 

 

I have a ring for you,

A silly little piece of metal to slip upon you finger petals

 

I have a vase of tears around my heart

But when I look again

They have turned to prism window chimes

Tuned to the key

 of my best friend.

 

 

 

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Craft Lake City!

Craft Lake City!

With my fiance who I love very much.

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Essential Things to Buy to Keep Your Sanity if You’re Only Three Weeks Away From Being Married.

So, let’s say hypothetically you’re three weeks away from being married. You have to buy plates at Target, and find give gallon buckets to put the flowers in, and your mom’s pestering you about what kinda of shoes your little brother needs, and your fiancé keeps reminding you that you two are three weeks away from being married so, no, it would not be wise to go see a movie at this moment so, how do you keep your sanity?

 

The following is a compiled list of essential things one must need, a pre-marital survival kit of sorts.

 

  1. First, booze. Lot’s of it. It’s funner to plan weddings while drinking a bottle of wine, and it’s also prudent to be at least slightly hung-over most days so you don’t get too excited or nervous and anxious and think to yourself, “What the hell am I doing!?” If your main concern throughout the day is staying hydrated and getting your headache to go away, you won’t have the energy to think about the biggest day in your life that’s coming up in only twenty days. 
  2. Cigarettes. Don’t smoke? Pick it up. You can quit after three weeks when there’s not a billion things to do every day and you’re having lots and lots of sex and are in need of a healthy cardiovascular system.
  3. Anti-anxiety meds. Not for you. For her. Slip them into her drink when she’s not looking.
  4. Make a list of jokes to tell your fiancé and/or the guests who arrive at your wedding in case you forget something crucial, like how you were supposed to pick up chairs the day before. Keep them both laughing so they don’t have to think too much about standing on their feet in the middle of 100 degree August heat in some stranger’s backyard.
  5. Keep reminding yourself that this is not the biggest deal in the world; you’re only getting married for Christ’s sake.
  6. Get lots of sleep. Sleep till noon if you can. If your fiancé asks what you’ve been doing all day, tell her you’ve been working on a poem you’re going to read her during the ceremony.
  7. Think to yourself “WWBMD?” What Would Bob Marley Do? Would he be stressed out? Hell no! He’d be smoking a j on a beach.
  8. If all else fails, plane tickets to Mexico are cheap this time of year. You can explain later. 
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Weddings

Since I am going to be married in a few short weeks, I thought I’d share with you a piece I wrote almost exactly a year ago, when my friend Mike was getting married. Hope you like it. 

 

Weddings

 

Every time a couple gets married, two single people die.

                                                                        Leslie Knope-Parks and Recreation

 

 

People in Salt Lake will use the word “show” to describe multiple events, usually only two or three of which are actual “shows.” Movies, concerts, plays, poetry slams, etc., are bundled up in the title of “show” as an all-encompassing “event.”

So today, in Utah fashion, I guess you could say we as a community are going to a show.

Today is the day of our first wedding as a community. My roommate Mike is marrying his girlfriend Dani after nearly four years of dating. Josh is ordaining the wedding and I am a groomsmen along with a few others from our church. It’s all very exciting.

For the bachelor party we shot guns in the desert just beyond the Salt Flats. Afterwards we had dinner at Nate Stoltenows’s house and proceeded to go drinking at The Republican and My Ex-Wives Place (actual name of bar, which I believe is named after the owner received the bar in a divorce settlement.) Though Mike and Dani didn’t necessarily meet and grow up through our church, they have been a huge part of it from the beginning and so it is a blessing to celebrate their oneness, their physical manifestation of the union of Christ and his bride.

This wedding marks the first of many for the summer. I’ve already been to one in April, next week Dan and Laura are getting married in Portland, Tim and Steph are getting married in New York early September and I have two other friends who are getting married in other parts of the country. Oh! To be in your twenties!

Weddings when you’re single are the happiestloneliest of times. You are very happy, excited, but sometimes, not all the time, you feel a slight twinge of loneliness because you are not married, maybe not even close. I think that’s why the movie Bridesmaids did so well this year. I think many people have a hard time watching other people join their lives together when they find themselves approaching their late twenties, early thirties, and still have no one.

The wedding was held at The Point, a ballroom on the sixth floor of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, which is, remarkably, shaped like a point. The room’s walls are made of glass and offer a near three hundred and sixty degree view of the entire Salt Lake Valley. The whole room funnels into a triangle shooting straight between the Wasatch mountain range on your right and the Great Salt Lake to the left. At first, we all thought it was weird to have a wedding on the top floor of a cancer center. It felt disrespectful, irreverent. But maybe dark places, places of death, can also hold places of light and life. Maybe the people who built the Huntsman Cancer institute knew this. Or maybe they just wanted to make money. Either way, the view was incredible. As I stood with a glass of wine watching the sun set upon the Great Salt Lake to the west and bits of pink splash the white tops of the mountains to the east, I realized I had never been happier to live in this city. Perhaps it was the booze talking, but it felt like a big deal considering I spent the two weeks before repenting for my lack of love for the city. But tonight, tonight I love this city. Call me a sucker for emotion, for sensuality, call me drunk if you will, but I love this city.

The wedding was great. There was good food, good friends, meaningful speeches, and a deep sense of respect and thanks to the God who gives us these things.

Towards the end of the night, about ten of us left to decorate Mike and Dani’s car in the garage below. Josh and I went to observe. After ten minutes the car had more penises and crude words written on it than anything I’ve seen in public. Josh and I washed our hands, hoped the grandparents wouldn’t be coming outside.

 

I hang out with a lot of people who disagree with the very concept of marriage. They have no desire to get married. They’ve seen their parents’ marriages fall apart and sometimes even their friends and feel that marriage no longer works. Some think of it is a failing traditional moray of archaic family structure. Some think of marriage as a social construct, unnatural to the natural world. They think we should be free to love anyone and everyone, have multiple consenting partners and live in the same primitivesque way as animals. But I still I think all of us want intimacy. I think we even desire jealousy in relationships.

 

The next afternoon Kyle talked about jealousy at church. We are still in Exodus as a community and are walking through what it means for a new community to come face to face with this God who has rescued them out of Egypt. We have seen the attributes of God as provider through manna and water in the rock; we have seen God as a God of abundance, rather than scarcity. And today we see God as entering into a covenant with this new Israelite community through the Ten Commandments. I think it’s important to understand God as a God who does not promise to take care of the Israelites if they follow his commands. He has already taken care of them. God does not give them rules and say, “If you hold up your end of the bargain, I’ll hold up mine.” God is already, has already, held up his side of the bargain no matter what. It is through these “rules” that God helps us understand his character and attributes, our identity as a set apart people and our relationship to each other. And ultimately, these rules shows us how utterly incapable we are of keeping them. It brings us close to our need.

 

Sometimes reading through the Old Testament can feel as if God forgot to take his medication. In the Old Testament we see an angry, jealous God reminiscent of Al Pacino on PCP. This is the God who smites Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone, okays genocide, and wipes out entire nations of people. He is wrathful, He is powerful, He is Zeus with lightning bolts. A God who smites those who get to close to the ark, who makes people wander around in deserts for forty years. Who allows Israel to be taken captive by neighboring empires on multiple occasions. They deserved it.  A God wipes out humanity with a single flood and decimates all who get in his way. 

In the New Testament we meet a God who is loving and gracious, forgiving and compassionate. This God loves sinners and hangs out with homeless people. He accepts you for who you are. Both of these Gods are one and the same. The Just and the Loving. The Jealous and the Gracious. It is hard to make sense of. Some people preach a gospel of the righteous, indignant God. These are the street corner solicitors, the proud pissed off preachers. They push God into your jugular because God is angry with you and you are going to hell. God is a God of fear, awe and respect. He must be appeased. You are sinful and if you do not repent you will go to hell.

Others preach a gospel of love and grace. They hang out with the disenfranchised doubters, the scandalous sinners and speak that God is love. God is a friend and Jesus a lover of the broken. They will tell you that you can do nothing to earn God’s love for you, it is a gift to accept, a drink to indulge.

And both are, to some extent, accurate views of God. God is righteous and loving. It is a hard paradox to accept for me. It seems contradictory that God would simultaneously love the whole world and condemn it for its sin. That God would call us his enemies and then die on the cross for us and call us friends. The New Testament seems to contradict the Old Testament and vice versa. Both show different, but equally true sides of God.

 In the New Testament you meet this guy Jesus who says that you should love your neighbors, he even says that you should love your enemies. Not just love them, but go out of your way to help them. Walk two miles rather than one. To repay their evil with good. He even says that if someone tries to take something from you, give them more. If someone hits you, let them do it again. If someone asks for your coat, give them your shoes too. But one day Jesus makes a whip and starts to drive people out of the temple. I’m not sure if he hit anyone, but I’m pretty sure this is not considered pacifism. Then there is the whole thing on forgiveness. He says you are supposed to forgive. No holds barred, no exceptions, just forgiveness. No matter what. The idea of forgiveness contradicts the idea of justice. You don’t get what you deserve, there is mercy and compassion. What is unfolding between the Old and New Testaments? It seems like God was a little angry, had a few, and then got real friendly with us. When did God transform from a football coach to my grandma?

My old roommate’s stepdad was an alcoholic. The guy was a jerk, but when he drank, he would just get real friendly and start handing out money. It seems that God is the same sometimes. One minute he’s drinking and the next he is handing out money.

If there is one thing the Bible is not short on its paradoxes. One story says one thing and then another says something that appears to be entirely different. Jesus says in one passage that those who live by the sword will die by the sword, implying that we should put down our weapons and stop fighting. You start to get a little teary eyed and hopeful as Jesus speaks about peace and love and how there is another way to live. Then later He says that He did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Wait, I thought Jesus wasn’t into swords?   Didn’t He tell a guy named Peter to put his down?

But you can’t deny that God is a Jealous God. To some people that doesn’t sound right, but we all know that if Mike came back from his honeymoon early with another girl we wouldn’t all say, “Well, that’s Mike!” And when Dani came back, fuming, furious, eyes of fire sort of angry, we would probably support her in her wrath.[1] She would be justified in her anger, in her jealousy.

We all want to be desired. We all want a to enter into a relationship with another person who is solely committed to us. Which is why marriage is a beautiful thing.

 

I usually try not to think about marriage at weddings, because then I’ll get to thinking about how I’m not married and probably never will be and will remain single, frazzled, stuck eating ice cream on a yellow couch like Liz Lemon. [2]I always feel horribly selfish when I start thinking about myself at weddings. Here I am, to celebrate someone else’s life, and all I can think about is how none of the bridesmaids are single. Really? None of you are single!

However, living with a family helps block up some of my romanticism. Jeremy and Emily will be arguing in the next room about something, while I try and watch Harry Potter with the kids, but I can’t watch the damn thing because Avianna and Alidia are climbing on me as if I am a fake tree in the monkey cage at the zoo.

Then Alidia farts on me. I hope it’s dry.

Marriage is hard. Having a family is hard. I’m glad lots of people told me this so that I am no longer disillusioned.

Right now I am starting to feel nostalgic about high school relationships. It seemed simpler. You liked someone, they liked you. There was no conversation about what your five year plan was, your past relationship baggage, or where this relationship was going. Or no, scratch that, you knew where this relationship was going; it was going to last forever! That’s where it was freaking going.

When I was a junior I dated a girl named Becca. She lived in Evergreen. She had long curly hair and made purses out of Capri sun packs. We would make out all day in parks, like one of those disgusting teenage couples you probably snicker at now. When she left at the end of the year to move to Hawaii with her family, I thought I might die. I didn’t, luckily, but I remember the next time I saw her and how different it felt. We both went to college, had life happen to us. A year and half later we caught up, and I realized that things would never be like they once were, both of us flying through the summer night air as if we were invincible. We were now adults.

 

I dated another girl named Mackenzie. She lived in Littleton. We used to work at Christian summer camp together. One night we were sitting on her couch when she threw a pillow at me. I knew what this meant. Eventually we kissed. Next week we hung out again. We kissed this week also. Then I was idiot and didn’t call her for a while, and before I knew it, she was dating some other guy. But those were the best two nights I ever spent with a girl. We would take late-night trips to the park by her house. Go down the slides. Push each other on the swings.

However, I’m glad to be where I’m at, well, most days. And since taking a break from dating, I am genuinely excited about the next girl I will intentionally date. It could be a month. It could be five years. But when it happens, it will be good. It will not be forced. It (hopefully) will not start out with me feeling lonely and desiring a warm body to hold.

 

As we all left the wedding that night, you could feel the summer air start to roll in off the desert. It reminded me of the first night of summer, the first night of the year when you can stand outside in a t-shirt and feel comfortable, warm even. I am glad that God gave us seasons. And I am glad that Salt Lake has them. I guess I’m trying to appreciate the one I’m in.


[1] And yes, by this I mean we would break Mike’s kneecaps.

[2] Replace Ice Cream with Cold Beer and Cigarettes

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Chapter 3- There are Problems

Chapter 3

 

There are problems. Many of them. Some big, some small. When the twelve of us all sat around in a living room to talk and dream about Salt Lake it sounded so fun. We were excited. But now we realize what it means. It means moving. It means selling houses, buying houses, quitting good jobs, looking for other ones, leaving friends, and even family behind, hoping to find new ones once we get there.

There are lots of hard conversations. Between family members, lovers, friends, etc.

There are details. Logistics. Finances.

There are strings attached.

Jeremy can’t find a job. Kevin and Karen can’t sell their house. Beth and Howie can’t sell their house. I mean, in this economy, selling a house? It’s absurd. Jeremy’s wife Emily, her parents will flip out. Kevin and Karen’s son, Braden, he gets diabetes right before they pack up to leave. He is five.

Lucas will have a hard time graduating. Jonathan is leaving his girlfriend.

Everyone is leaving the beautiful city of Portland behind and we wonder if any city will be as good.

Joy, Kyle’s wife, will have no vegan food to eat. We’re sure of it.

The coffee is horrible. The beer is even worse, 3.2%! And so many strip malls.

I will have to transfer schools, again. Lose credits, etc. I will have to leave the girl I am dating.

But we press on, move out slowly. Kyle and Joy get a house. Kevin and Karen sell theirs. Braden is okay. Things are progressing. Beth and Howie sell their house.

Yet even in Salt Lake, things are not easy. Jonathan can’t find a job. Kevin and Karen have a hard time finding a house. This other couple, Nash and Kora, and their daughter Bellie, they decide to move out and right before they come out, they find out the bank they took their loan out of has shut down. Gone under, kaput. Their agent can’t access the loan. It’s frozen. Who would have thought that numbers and money can freeze like ice? So they can’t move into their house on time. They get to Salt Lake and have no idea if, and when they will get the house.

I can’t find a job. I moved out here without one. Thinking it’d be easier. My school doesn’t transfer as well as I thought. And I’m still not sure if my girlfriend Laura is moving out here or if this means we will have to end things. Suffice it to say I am very anxious. I am slightly stressed, overwhelmed by transition. I think we all are.

I chain-smoke.

We get out here and none of us have very many friends. So it goes. All of these things don’t include all the people in Portland, trying to move out here, but who aren’t here yet. It’s almost harder for them. At least for us, even if it’s hard, we’re here. How do you stay connected with a community of people six months removed?

But slowly it comes. Rolling in like the fresh air after a thunderstorm. Nash and Kora move in. Jonathan gets a job. I get a job. A pretty decent one, at that. One week I am looking for jobs and cursing under my breath and the next week I am promoted as manager for this new coffee shop. Now I feel silly, like I was freaking out for no reason and I should haven’t even worried, so it goes.

And boy, do we feel excited. We start to meet people. There is Dan who works at Whole Foods, and his wife Tuesday. There are the professional sisters, Abby and Tricia, one is a lawyer and the other a doctor, (they have a very nice house.)  There is my future roommate Mike and his girlfriend Dani. There is Allen and Tim, and Katie and Isaac and Grace and Christine, and many many others. What we are doing is almost unheard of, it is Old Testament style. Packing up our tents, leaving Er for the promised land. We are Moses. We are Sarah. We fly, drive, walk through the desert to the desert, leave the green, enter the mountains, where there is snow and the drivers honk like it is New York and run lights like it is L.A.

My girlfriend Laura decides to move out. There is excitement, joys, hurrahs, etc, mostly in the inner workings of my head. But not for her. Laura, she is anxious, with good reason. She is also leaving her friends, her family. She has lived in Portland her whole life, moving is a big deal. People make fun of her for it. Ask her why she would do such a thing. This one guy tells her it’s a joke, says, “Good luck converting the Mormons!” She says that’s not why she’s going. He asks her again and she mentions she has a boyfriend there, me. This guy says “Oh, of course, that’s really why you’re moving there!” She says no. He keeps mocking her. Other people keep prodding.

She calls me later that night, crying. She doesn’t know what to think about anything. She feels crazy, unsure about moving, her insides gnarled like twisted oak tree branches, like purple and green flippy roller coasters. And I think this is the same feeling for a lot of people. I tell her that it will be fine, it will all work out. I tell her not to worry. “That’s not what I need to hear tonight,” she says.

“Well I was just trying to console you,”

“Well I don’t want to be consoled, I just want you to understand.”

“I do understand,”

“No, you can’t.”

“Yeah, I do. I moved out here.”

“Well I’m not like you, moving’s easy for you. I’m leaving all my family and my friends and I don’t know if I’ll get new ones.

“You will. It’ll be fine.”

“No, I don’t want to hear that.”

“I understand.”

“No, you don’t.”

 “—.”

Long distance relationships are like surgery, you must avoid it at all costs, but sometimes, it’s all you can do.

Karen and Kevin get a house. But it’s a small one and Karen has some trouble getting used to it. She also doesn’t have any friends. She goes on mom and son play dates with other moms and sons.

Yet all of us slowly begin to make sense of things. We start to make friends. We meet amazing people. We find some good breweries. First there is Desert Edge in Trolley Square, where they make perhaps the best dang 3.2 beer you’ve had. There is the Beerhive, The Bayou, where the beer is expensive, but good. There is The Republican, an Irish bar, complete with IRA stickers, shuffleboard, and T.V.’s playing futbol. We find some good coffee shops, other mementos that remind us of our home.

And slowly this place begins to feel like home. We no longer see Salt Lake as a conservative Mormon, dry wasteland. We see it of the urban center it is. We see the art, the culture, the music, and all of a sudden we notice that it is really just the same as anywhere else. Yet, unlike Portland, the subculture here is still the subculture, not the mainstream, but we are okay with that.

Some things surprise us, like a high presence of the LGBT community, a high amount of hipsters, fixed gears, a decent amount of microbreweries, the number of shows that come through town, the people and how they are really just the same as in any other city, it’s different, for sure, but not bad.

It is a strange mixture we are drinking. The sadness of leaving our home and yet the pure joy to be in a new place, a place teeming with possibility, with opportunity, as if we are coming to America for the first time.

And hopefully, this is not Gangs of New York.

Still the good is mixed with the bad, already, a few months in. There is some deep relational conflict brewing. Most of us aren’t sure what it is, but it’s there. Like some wolf we are sniffing, patrolling outside our community, we smell it. It is something deep and dark and menacing and not something any of us would like to deal with, but there it is. I am over it. I am sick of all the things that tear churches apart. I am sick of the fact that however many parties may be guilty or involved, it feels like something else entirely, as if there are invisible hands ripping out our seams.

I am sick of churches breaking, splitting, withering. And even though that’s not what’s happening here, there is the smallest taste of blood in the air. If you’ve gone through war with churches you know what I mean. The smell of rivalry, of conflict, of sides being drawn, swords being drawn. You hope that it will never happen to your church, but you’re never quite sure.

Starting churches is just so damn messy. You can feel pretty good about yourself heading off to plant a church, but little do you know that nothing else will bring the real you out, bring out those things you shoved deep inside, bring them to the surface, cause you to examine your entire life, all your relationships, what it is you actually believe in. It will grab you by the shoulders, whiplash your neck like a car wreck.  This is starting a church.  Perhaps on the surface not many people notice. On the surface it is shiny and exciting and new and good. But there’s always another side to things, a side many people like to never talk about. But real community is messy.

At the beginning of August I headed back to Portland for a Christian Anarchist conference (perhaps a topic for another time.) At the conference there was a good amount of people who lived in intentional communities. These intentional communities are often set up in parts of cities to live life together, often times amongst the poor, and espouse such common values as hospitality, simplicity, relationships, community organizing etc.

At one of our discussions at the conference we started talking about what it means to live intentionally, what it means to be a part of the church and how to do this well. Someone brought up the example of a fairly famous Christian writer and activist who they thought did this well, which is being a part of community and church and still being active etc. Many people were very idealistic.

But two other people were not interested in this purely ethereal conversation. They were not interested in the pure “idealism” of community. They had lived in communities for a while now. And they knew the reality of intentional community living. They knew that it was not easy. That it was hard.

They wanted to hear people write books on the failures of community. Not to bad mouth it by any means, but to learn from these failures, grow in them, so that we can all learn to live in a community, be a part of a church in a sustainable fashion, which realizes the dark reality along with the ethereal light.

 

            But ever so slowly it comes together. Though all of our problems seem insurmountable at the time, they get resolved. We adapt, we do our best to struggle through the hard times. We are excited, but we also realize just what it is we’re stepping into. 

 

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The Diction and Lexicons of Utah

Image

“Are you a member?”

If someone asks you if you are a member, they are not referring to membership in the YMCA or the Yacht club, they are referring to your membership in the LDS church. A phrase slightly ironic for the fact that membership used to be required for people to go into bars.

 

Fry Sauce: A commonly used condiment in Utah. It’s a mixture of ketchup, mayo, and some other flavors and spices.

 

Mountain: Sometimes pronounced “Mow-uhn,” or “mou’n,” you don’t say the t.  

 

“Oh my heck!” or “What the heck!”

A phrase employed by Mormons and non-Mormons alike. Variation: “Oh my hell!” Generally used by non-Mormons, if used at all, (I’m not sure who says these things but apparently, it’s a thing).

 

Salt Lake Real: Futbol Club of Utah

 

The D.I.-Stands for Deseret Industries, the main thrift store chain of Salt Lake, owned by the Mormon Church. An excellent place.

 

Show: describes multiple different “events.” A movie, play, concert (obviously) can all be referred to as a show.

Ex. “How was the show last night?”

“You mean Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, the movie? Good.”

 

The Church: Refers to the LDS church. Not the worldwide Christian church. You may be asked if you are a member of “The Church.”

 

The Trax: Salt Lake’s light rail system.

The U: Refers to the University of Utah

The Utes: name of the athletic teams at the U.

The Y: Refers to Brigham Young University. Some people say “The Y” because there is a Y on the hill above BYU.

SLCC: pronounced “Slick,” Salt Lake Community College

Utah Jazz: Basketball Team

 

Wasatch: Mountain range, pronounced “Wah-satch”

 

Nicknames for Salt Lake City:

 

The SLC

The Crossroads of the West

Crunk Lake City (as named by Big Boi)

Salt Lake Shitty (if you don’t like the city)

 

Nicknames for Utah:

The Beehive State

 

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Today, at the A…

Today, at the Airport

 

An anxious mom, frantic,

 like we all should be

The blue security people

always look me twice,

a game: Try to tell which people

in front of you

are going to Houston,

or New York

and don’t rely on just the cowboy hats.

In front of me

A middle aged tool (businessman) hitting

 on a pretty girl young who lives in Brooklyn,

she’s from the south and you can tell by

the way she keeps a smile, an interested look

The flight attendant was like you look very well dressed today and I was like no, no….so you like living in Brooklyn? say I’m young for my age, some…

 

 

Tonight in the Sky

 

An oil rigger worker sits next to me in sky

says he wants a smoke, a beer, and a shot

when the earth comes up. I agree

Go back to reading about beauty, late

capitalism façades consumer contest one-up-man-ship, houses clothes eessetterra and

There’s a terrible movie on about what “love” is,

And I don’t think it is what these people are saying it is, it is

not

In front of us.

 

I want to break glass

 jump through the tiny air window,

eye-level with the moon, falling through that black cloud horizon

Land with a thud in Ohio

dark, blue, and endless. 

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The Resurgence of Records

Image

 

This is an article I wrote for the Daily Utah Chronicle

New technology has the tendency to replace older technology. This is the way the world works. Sticks and stones are replaced by bows and arrows. Bows and arrows are then replaced by guns and heat seeking missiles. However, as technology progresses there are always a select few who hold onto their current technology because they know it is just as good as the new stuff, if not better. Such is the case today, with music. Recently there has been a resurgence of listening to records and Randy’s Records is one record store that has been through the high time of record sales to the low, and back again.

 

Though Salt Lake is a smaller city and may not have the sheer quantity of music stores that other cities have, it still has some incredible music and record stores. Graywhale music has a plenitude of records, C.D.’s and other entertainment and has six locations in the greater metro area of Salt Lake, one right next to the U on 1300 East. Raunch Records is an incredible store and the place to hit if you like skateboarding and punk music. They’re located on 2100 south and 1100 East and hold local punk shows every now and then.

 

But Randy’s Records is the foundation of record stores in Salt Lake. We talked with Chris Copelin, a clerk at Randy’s Records, about the store and how she’s seen record sales fluctuate.

 

How long has Randy’s Records been around?

 Randy’s Records has been open since 1978.  We are the oldest record store in Utah.

 

 

Who started the store?

Randy started the store himself in 1978, and he still works in the shop every day: buying used records from folks, and EVERY DAY he puts out about 100 records that are new to the shop!! 

 

What made Randy want to start the record store?

Randy wanted to open the record store because he loves music.  In 1978, he had already been collecting records for about 20 years, so he had a lot of records to sell!  At one point, he had over 30,000 45RPM records in his personal collection!  Since he had so much knowledge about collecting records and loved music, it made sense for him to open a record store.

 

 

How have you seen records change over the last few years?

Record sales have definitely changed over the last few years.  Many vinyl stores went out of business completely in the 1990s when CDs began to take over the market – because so few people were buying vinyl and very few artists were releasing their music on vinyl as a format.  As for the stores that entirely switched over to CDs in the 90s – most of them went out of business when CDs became a dead medium due to downloading.  Randy has managed to stay in business all these years because of his belief that analog records are the superior format. He was in a lot of debt in the 90s, but still stuck with records because he really believed that people would come back to them.  This dedication of his has paid off –  he was definitely right that people would come back to records! 

 

 The shop is busier now than it has ever been.  I think that people are into vinyl again for many reasons.  I think there are a lot of people who appreciate the huge difference in sound that analog offers – it has a bigger dynamic range, and an overall warmer sound.  It is more REAL!  But I think there are just as many people getting into vinyl now because they are tired of disposable things like MP3 downloads.  When you buy a record, you bring it home, admire the artwork, put the record on the turntable, flip it over for side two, maybe read the lyric sheet.  It’s a more engaging experience than scrolling through songs on an Ipod.  Also, you can re-sell a record, and you can’t do that with MP3s!  And going to a record store is FUN!!!  In some ways,  it’s like a thrift store – you never know what you are going to find.  You can learn about new music from interesting people who may have different tastes and perspectives than you have.  It’s a good experience!!

 

 

Check out Randy’s Records in person at 157 E 900 S or online at www.randysrecords.com

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Thoughts on Buying Things From a Dirty Hippie Or: I Thought I Was Ready To Be Married, But I Was Not Ready To Register at Bed, Bath, and Beyond

I’m learning lots of things with this whole getting married ordeal. My forthcoming nuptials are less than three months away and so far I’ve learned the difference between a maid of honor and a matron of honor, I’ve learned what the color blush looks like, and that it does not go with a brown suit.

I’ve also discovered that a good pots and pans set costs more than a months worth of rent and that those plates are not worth buying because they chip easily. My fiancé has taught me that the color of a kitchen aid is of such vast importance the universe itself pales in comparison, for it will forever determine the colors and items with which we stock in our kitchen for years to come! I’ve learned that a duvet is not a blanket, but a blanket cover.

I’ve also been learning about thread counts in sheets and why you want your bathroom towels to match your curtain shower. I’ve also learned that my scanning of random items in Target and Bed, Bath, and Beyond is not nearly as funny to my fiancé as it is to me. Who wouldn’t want cocoa butter lotion and a copy of Cada Dia Es Viernes by that heretic from Houston? Apparently I am not allowed to register for the third season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the Mos Def album, or the postmodern looking lamp. I am told repeatedly that people will buy the things I scan.

I’ve also learned the exorbitant price tag Weddings carry with them. Shoot man, we’re having our wedding in a backyard and it still going to cost some pretty hefty g’s.

Today I went suit shopping at the City Creek Center. I didn’t want to go there, but it was the only place. After two hours of looking in stores a piece of my soul fell off in the Macy’s dressing room. Everyone in Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, H and M, and wherever else I went but have since tried to block out of my memory, knew I didn’t belong there. One lady in Nordstrom’s asked me if I was lost. Another gentlemen politely asked me what I was doing here and if I needed help.

After throwing up over a set of pants in Nordstrom’s once I saw how much they cost, I went to Macy’s. There was a very nice older man with glasses named Craig who decided he would take pity on my poor, dirty, anarchist soul and teach me how to dress. I learned so much! I learned what my size was in a suit jacket and that they measure it by your chest (mine was pretty big, needless to say), he also explained to me that fancy shirts are measured by your neck size and do not come in small, medium, and large. He told me the right height at which your slacks should rest above your shoes and how much of your shirtsleeve should be sticking out of your jacket.

At one point I was trying on a pair of dress shoes and he gave me a shoehorn. I didn’t know what it was, but it was red and long and looked like some sort of stick the Aztecs would have used to play some ancient form of baseball with. At first I just stood there, holding it like a scepter, or a very long and skinny, plastic baby.  I stared up at him. I asked him If I should blow into it like we did with the rams horn at church, but he explained to me that it was not the sort of horn that made noise, nor was it ever at one time attached to the head of a shoe like a rhino’s horn. Shoes do not technically even have heads.

“I really don’t know what to do with this,” I said. He showed me how you use it to help your heel slid easily into your dress shoe.

“Of course!” I said. “I knew what it did, it’s just been awhile. I was testing you. I’ve been living in a teepee in Wyoming you see, I was never raised by humans, my mom was a wolf who raised me in a cave next to the Yukon River.

In the dressing room I took off my shirt and in the mirror my potbelly stuck out like a hairy pregnant woman’s photo shoot. The bright lights made my skin feel pale, translucent. I took off the rest of my clothes and set them down. All my clothes looked like dirty dishtowels compared to the fancy clothes I began to try on. My hair was disheveled and my beard was fraying into several different directions. After I tried the suit on, I realized that no amount of money spent on a suit was going to make my lumpy hair and pubic beard any more attractive. If anything, put a suit on me and I look more homeless than I did with tattered jeans and hand-me-down t-shirts.

Eventually I found a suit and Craig did his best to lie and tell me I looked good in it. He told me how much it was going to cost and I had to smoke several cigarettes right there in Macy’s before I could take my debit card out. Truthfully, I got a good deal and my suit was still on the way cheaper end, but I don’t like spending more than a hundred dollars in a store unless I can sleep in it too.

My balls were chaffing because it was hot and I was wearing cheap underwear. I looked at the David Beckham underwear collection and thought maybe I’d give it a shot. I asked a lady how many came in the box for fifteen dollars.

“How many? She asked inquisitively. There’s only one per box.

Figures. Freaking David Beckham.

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Bed Bugs

I’ve been learning a lot about bed bugs recently. It’s not by choice, rather, it was forced upon me to educate myself once my fiancé Cat and I found bed bugs in our new apartment. For a week Cat had been developing bites along her arm.

“It’s probably just mosquitoes, or bugs from camping last weekend.” I told her, thinking she was being overly emotional about bumps along her arm. You know how women are.

It turns out they were bed bugs. When I found the first one, crawling on the white bed sheets, reddish and brown and fat from my fiancés forearm, I put it in a Tupperware bowl and told her later that night that we did in fact have bed bugs. I had found two this afternoon.

The look on her face said it all.

“Really? Bed bugs? After all of this?”

She looked like she might collapse.

She looked like how I looked two hours before when I found the bed bugs. I cleaned our whole apartment after finding the two bed bugs and paced the living room with a beer trying to decide what to do. Then I smoked a cigarette and collapsed exhausted on our couch thinking that I was done with this thing called life.

 

Cat was supposed to take a relaxing month off of work to plan our wedding and grieve over her mom’s recent death. She was going to settle into our cute new apartment in the Marmalade district and start nesting, or whatever women do, to feel good about starting a home.

Three weeks later though, she’s a homeless couch surfer and I am a bed bug-apartment-exterminator ambassador trying to negotiate how to get bed bugs out of the apartment and whose fault it is and so on. Hence, why I’ve been learning a lot about bed bugs.

Did you know, bed bugs feed once a week on human flesh but can live up to seven months without feeding on anything? Also, they can live in electrical sockets, baseboards, and yes, of course your mattress and box spring. And perhaps weirdest of all, they’re attracted to your breath. They follow your breath, like some weird stalker. It’s very creepy really.

Bed bugs leave eggs in your clothes and bite in patterns. They only come out at night and it’s nearly impossible to see them in the day. You can see the traces of what they’ve left behind. It looks like crumbs on your bed sheets, tiny black dots no bigger than the point of a pen splattered along your windowpanes and baseboards.

             Bed bugs have been around for many years but have recently grown due to increased travel, resistance to insecticides, and stricter EPA standards. Damn you EPA! I’ve learned that until the 90’s bed bugs were virtually non-existent because of a certain chemical they sprayed buildings with.  That chemical however, turned out to be highly toxic and would cause birds to drop out of the air dead or something, it was probably DDT. Since that chemical was outlawed, bed bugs have returned and given truth to the once meaningless phrase, “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Because now, they roam rampant over cities and apartment complexes undeterred by how clean your apartment is or whether or not this is an especially busy time of your life and you have no time to deal with fumigating your apartment before you get married.

 

Last night Cat and I spent our time drying her clothes (because heat kills possible bed bugs) and watching Batman.

We’ll probably have to do the same tonight. And tomorrow. Tomorrow someone is supposed to come by and spray our apartment.

And maybe after that she can live in peace again. But it might be better to move, if we could get out of our lease that is, which I don’t think is possible. Even after having bed bugs, it’s hard to get out of a lease. You never realize how much of a death certificate you are signing when you sign a lease.

After we got the bed bugs I looked up our written agreement on Pest Infestations. It says that we are responsible for bringing any pests into the apartment. The owner is not liable and the responsibility to pay lies with the tenant.

We probably glanced over that part when we got signed the lease. Thinking “We’ll never get bed bugs. That could never happen to us.”

But it did.

Bed bugs don’t care about your plans. They roll in and leave you dealing with the consequences. Like life they stand indifferent, annoying, and impossible to get rid of.