Stuck in Utah

I’m not surprised.  It’s what I expected.  There’s really no reason to expect anything else.  But after doctors’ appointments the last two days, it’s pretty well official.  I’m probably never going to leave Utah again.  Polymyositis is nasty stuff, and I feel good about having battled it to a standstill.  I’m unlikely ever to get better, but I’m also probably not going to get worse.  I’m plateaued. In remission, but also stalled.

What this means is: Utah.  It’s possible I could take a short trip, maybe to California. I can go wheelchair to plane to wheelchair, for a short flight, if I can sleep for a day afterwards.  But my favorite places on earth–London, New York, Oslo–are beyond my reach.  I’m exiled, like Euripides in his cave. 

Plus, you know, in Utah. 


Utah is incredibly beautiful.  People who like to hike, or camp, or mountain climb love it, and should. The fly fishing, I’m reliable told, is magnificent. It’s a hunters’ paradise.  It’s got some of the best skiing in the world.  Just from my house, I can see amazing mountains, some of which have letters painted on the side.  A politically conservative business person with a great love of the outdoors would thrive here.

I’m not any of those things.  What I like about the outdoors is that it’s over there, outdoors, while I’m safely indoors.  The outdoors has insects. Heck, it even has bears, or as Stephen Colbert calls ’em, ‘godless killing machines.’ The outdoors has abrupt and rapid changes in temperature and climate.  You have to walk to get anywhere. Camping requires sleeping in a sleeping bag, which means, all night, you’re always either roasting, freezing, or having nightmares about being wrapped up in a cocoon by a spider.  Plus you’re sleeping on the ground, which is hard and uneven and bumpy.  In a tent; you ever change your clothes in a tent? Without dislocating your shoulder? I’ve never hunted in my life.  I think fishing is the most boring sport on earth until you catch something, at which point it becomes the most disgusting.  The outdoors is pretty, and you know what, I can see all that prettiness right here on my laptop, sitting in a comfy chair. 

Utah’s also full of Mormons.  Yes, I am a Mormon, pretty faithfully Mormon, but culturally? I drink Diet Coke.  I like R rated movies. I’m terrible with authority figures.  A guy called me a ‘secular humanist’ the other day, and I think he meant it as an insult.  But that’s actually kind of right.  I’m certainly a humanist, and I like ‘worldly’ art, or would if I had any idea what that term meant.  I’m a liberal–I think the term we’re supposed to use now is ‘progressive,’ but I prefer liberal, plus Fox News uses it as an epithet, so I pretty much have to embrace it. I don’t own a suit or a white shirt, and all my ties (which I absolutely never wear except for Sundays) are designed by Jerry Garcia.  I’m not a Tab Choir Mormon.  I’m a rock and roll Mormon. 

Which is why I’d be lost, really lost, without Salt Lake City.  At least, darn it, there’s Salt Lake. Gay friendly, granola eating Salt Lake, with Plan B and SLAC and also Park City, with the Egyptian and Sundance.  It’s not London, and it’s not New York.  But it’s my favorite city on earth that I can actually get to.  As long as I have Salt Lake, I’m going to be fine. 

12 thoughts on “Stuck in Utah

  1. Alisha

    You will be. And I agree about Salt Lake. Bravo for Plan B and SLAC – our favorite season tickets and groups that I wish to be able to write for someday … also, fishing is the nastiest past-time out there. I’ll pass.

  2. Anna

    Ha! I am still cracking up at your description of the outdoors. Man, I love reading your writing. So Utah, eh? I would like to point out that I, sitting here in Konigstein, Germany, am reading and reacting to what you write. You can’t really be stuck in Utah when people all over the world are influenced by stuff you are doing right now, can you?

    Oh, and thank goodness for SLC. 🙂

  3. Christopher Bigelow

    Oops, Eric, I meant “secular humanist” the other day as a snarky statement of disagreement, yes, but hopefully not an insult. I honestly did feel that post fit the definition of secular humanism well: “The philosophy of secular humanism embraces human reason, ethics, and justice while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience or superstition as the basis of morality and decision-making” (Wikipedia).

    1. Eric Sam

      No, I got that Chris, and I wasn’t remotely insulted. I don’t disagree. I pretty much am a Mormon secular humanist. All except for the superstitious part: I really won’t, ever, say the name of the Scottish play in a theater. Bad things can happen when you invoke the curse of Macbeth . . .

    1. Eric Sam

      I know. And I miss the students terribly, daily. But it’s all good. Once I realized that I simply cannot physically do the job anymore, applying for disability status was an easy decision.

  4. Unknown

    My favorite “secular humanist” story – back in the days before talk radio became so incredibly politicized, I was a real talk radio junkie – and Jim Dabacis was my hero. The topic du jour was the Junior Great Books program, which was being heavily criticized by the rabid right-wingers. Dabacis had one lady on the air who just couldn’t stop talking about secular humanism, and how the word secular humanist of them all, Mortimer J. Adler, was the evil force behind the Junior Great Books program . . . . just weeks later, BYU announced the spring commencement speaker and recipient of an honorary Ph.D. – – – Mortimer J. Adler.

    I’m glad you have SLC! Even thought I lean rather decidedly to the right (at least in my current environment), I suspect, for my mental health’s state, I’d need the SLC refuge as well.

    Keep pluggin’ – survival is way underrated.

  5. Anonymous

    Eric, I am stuck in Bloomington, IN. I am a liberal conservative- a democrat, and I know I could never be stuck in Utah without SLC, either!! There is a whole huge world out there, full of interesting, vital, and wonderful people that I have had the privilege to know. Do “good” mormons eschew Diet Coke?? I never thought it was bad to drink Coke at all (though I don’t drink much caffeine and prefer Dr Pepper!). I know mormons who drink coke like others drink coffee! And I am afraid that I have watched my share of R rated movies, too… some are really very good. sigh…are there really “cultural” mormons or is that an urban legend?

    Carol Watson

    1. Eric Sam

      Ah, my dear friend Carol. Always great to hear from you. You have to admit, Bloomington is a pretty cool town to be stuck in. As for cultural Mormons, sure. I mostly chose silly markers for them in my post, though!


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