Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Own Private Utah

To: Abbottsville Fourth Ward
From: Donna Banta
Subject: From the sublime to the ridiculous to the sublime

Some years back, a poster on an exmormon chat board wrote, "Utah is a land of both natural beauty and cultural ugliness." On our recent visit we swung back and forth between the two.

The Sublime: Visiting Mark's wonderful parents, sister and brother-in-law.

The Ridiculous: driving down the construction torn I-15 where gravel trucks rumble along en masse and every exit ramp from American Fork to Provo is closed. -- A tough situation for Mark who was suffering a massive smog-induced nose bleed, and needed to pull off the road. (I wonder how the myriad moms in labor cope with this scenario. There have to be stories: "I was in Cedar Hills on the I-15 when my water broke. The exits were blocked clear down to Spanish Fork, so I ended up having to slow down and drop the baby onto the floor of my Suburban. The guy behind me laid on his horn and flipped me the bird."  . . . But I digress.)

More Ridiculous: visiting Shelf Reliance, the food storage mecca that sells the ingredients for our upcoming exmormon "Freeze Dried Potluck." Since Boyd K. Packer had recently told the faithful that the apocalypse is no longer nigh, I hoped to snag a bargain or two. Sadly, I was disappointed. The salesman had an entirely new selling point for his freeze-dried product line entitled, "THRIVE." -- The taste! -- Wearing a dazed, vapid grin that suggested he'd inhaled too much inter-mountain air, the sales rep spooned up samples of dried gravel, then went on like an oenophile at a Napa Valley barrel tasting. "This is our raspberries paired with the dried vanilla yogurt balls. Savor them slowly, so as to engage the entire palate."

The Sublime: Finally getting one on one face time with my friend Jennifer, The Cognitive Dissenter, and co-author of White and Delightsome. We decided to tone down the erotica on W&D and amp up the female empowerment as well as the attacks on the homophobic white guys who run the LDS Church. (But there'll still be sex, because that's all those guys ever think about.)

Equally Sublime: The Ex-Mormon Conference where I got to hear awesome speakers like Richard Packham who said, "One man's sacred cow is another man's hamburger." Also I got to hang out with some of the coolest people on earth like InsanaD who wrote this in the "Personal Progress" manual I purchased at Deseret Book:
"My project is to achieve full salvation and the status of an elect woman/jewel in some man's celestial crown. I plan to do special kegel exercises so that as he enters my sacred vessel he can release his full priesthood blessing within my womb and I can use my body to bring forth dozens of babies, forever and ever and rinse and repeat until my uterus flushes out like a glop of latex paint from a plastic bucket."
The sublime InsanaD

The Ridiculous: Our visit to Temple Square. 

I wore black.

All the other women wore white.

The above bride and groom told their wedding party to follow them to the local Chuck-A-Rama for the reception. If  only my friend at Shelf Reliance had known. He could have provided them with a cheaper alternative:

  Then I escaped . . . and lived to tell about it.


  1. I'm sorry to hear about Mark's nosebleed. Was the smog especially thick, or is his respiratory track especially sensitive to the smog? Is he feeling better?

    Do tell us about the freeze dried food party. This should be good.

  2. Chuck-a-Rama.


    I'm jealous you get to meet InsanaD!

  3. @Ahab, thanks for your concern for Mark. He's doing fine, definitely better in our NorCal climate. He is prone to nosebleeds, however the smog in both the Utah and Salt Lake Valleys is especially thick, and there don't seem to be enough environmentalists there to tackle the escalating problem. Instead they just widen the roads. When we drove up to Park City (where Jennifer lives) the air was markedly better -- also the political climate and company. :)

    Diana, InsanaD is great! I reconnected with and met some other terrific people too. The best part about the conference is mixing with the other attendees. I know, this Chuck-a-Rama thing is new to me. Whenever I go to UT I learn something I didn't know. Click on the link, the music's a hoot.

  4. It was sublime meeting you, Donna!

    InsanaD clearly understands her divine role as a Daughter of God. Bless her.

    And Chuck-a-Rama ... Mmmm mmm. Mike and I are thinking about going sometime just for the experience. It will be a lot like attending a Mormon wedding but without the obligatory small-talk about god's mysterious movements. And we can sneak in a flask of vodka if the cult-ure gets too intense.

  5. I've always wanted to go to Utah. I hear the nature/biology is very "Utah-y" as my friend said. Gotta go see it for your self. Scared of the religion tho. the way it's painted inthe media and atheist blogosphere makes it seem like eeeevvvrrryyyywhere you go "they" are really super prevelant. Everywhere.

    Stil, I'd like to check the the "U". Awesomeness.


  6. Hey, Kriss. Go to Utah, enjoy the beautiful scenery, stay in Park City, and venture down the canyon for religious craziness, or Utah-yness.

    Jen, to the Chuck-a-Rama and vodka -- next visit!

  7. Yikes, when did I get so old? It was lovely seeing you again too Donna. I love seeing my exmo friends and find that even though I'm feeling way PAST Mormonism now and just can't even conjure up anything very funny anymore about it I love sharing war stories with my dear Exmo friends, especially you.

    Up-Chuck-A-Rama? Good gawd almighty! That is nasty!! I wonder if they offered to pay the bill for everyone there. I guess it beats nutcup/7-Up and white sheet cake in the gymnasium. But barely.

    I am so glad you made the trip. The traffic was horrific but the mountains were so stunning last weekend. We went up to Sundance and over to Crystal Springs and the colors about gouged my eyes out with the brilliance and richness. I genuinely love Utah in spite of the Mormons, smog, traffic, and politics. There are a million stunning vistas and incredible hikes. And the rent is cheap for college kids.

    I hope to come to N. Cal. and see you and Mark one day. I'll bring you a can of starter wheat with weevil enhancements from my vintage heritage collection of 40 yr. old red wheat. I got it second hand and it was 20 yrs. old when I got it so I'm pretty sure it'll reach the grand age of half a century before I am inclined to use it. You can pass it down to your children when you're ready to clean out the basement. Mormon Food Storage, the gift that keeps on giving.

  8. pAwesome, Dee, can't wait to see you here in NorCal!!

  9. Did I write pAwesome?? Oy! Also, I missed your comment CD. It was great to see you too. I've been to Chuck-A-Rama once. I remember they had enormous vats of pudding at the dessert bar.

    Insana, we went to Sundance too. The fall colors were gorgeous. I love UT too, in spite of itself. I can't even totally fault BYU because I met Mark there.