So 2013 was a hard year to describe for me. I lived in 3 different cities this year, and traveled a whole bunch, and now I am settled in, wait for it… Salt Lake City. What started out as a reluctance to try and explain how I feel about a weird city I do not know kind of turned into me disappearing and being completely non-responsive to people I love the most. I really hate the way I dealt with this so I am writing something to catch anyone who cares up, and most importantly to say I am really sorry to my closer friends who may think I have died… I mean, I have always been kind of shady with my phone and communicating, which I am not proud of, but this was just weird. I am going to try and do this in sections so it is easier to read and because I know this will be long so you can read what you want.
What did I do from January to August, 2013?
I quit my research associate job in NYC and moved back to Houston to get my feet on the ground and be with my friends and family before being dictated by a strict grad school schedule and/or work schedule. To be honest, I didn’t do much in these months. I laid low socially, took one higher level math course to prepare me for a Biostatistics grad program. Zach Duran and Robbie Wilhelm and I set up a bunch of musical equipment in my garage apartment and I played a lot of piano and drums because of it. In the summer I started to work a little with this wonderful lady named Sara Spear. She is wild. The best kind of wild. She also does a lot of work for the sake of making the city of Houston a better, diverse, fair city and I respect all the work she does. If I had stayed in Houston longer, I would of done everything I could to use my evaluating skills and love for Houston to help her. Unfortunately I didn’t get to actualize that because something came up that I will describe right now… I had a sense this was the last time I would be able to be at home in Houston with my parents and pets all together. I was right. My mom got the great news that she will be able to be the first Dean of the Dental School at the University of Utah. My dad is in the oil and gas industry so he has to stay in Houston for at least a year before he can join my mom in Utah so that she may carry out her dream job. I still needed 2 more math courses before I can start a degree program in Biostatistics, so i made the decision to go to Salt Lake City with my mom, and help her in the house while I take the courses I need. It was a very difficult decision because Utah really didn’t sound appealing to me and I love Houston and the idea of potentially working with someone like Sara.
Moving to Salt Lake City, Utah
I drove to Utah from Texas to have my car in SLC. It was just what I needed. I had my 13 year old lab (Cosmo) with me in brutal summer heat, so I could hardly stop or even get out of my car. We drove through Texas to Denver Colorado. I hung out with an old buddy Matt Weiting and saw the band Phoenix play twice in two days. It was great because that was a lot of time with myself and my thoughts. It was literally a long difficult trip from my old life to my new one. It definitely felt like the closure I needed to leave Texas. Did I mention I freaking love Houston, Texas like a sister?
My life and routine in Salt Lake City – the good
So, knowing this will not be as exciting as living at home amongst my best friends and places in Houston or moving to a city like New York City. I made a resolve to use my down time to fix as many bad habits I can and develop myself for dealing with graduation and just the adult life. Specifically my goals were to have a regular exercise schedule that was challenging, learn how to cook healthy, ACE my Calculus 2 course, get a part-time job in a Psychology research lab, and enjoy my mom and pets to the fullest. It took awhile for things to fall in place but I DID IT! I exercise almost everyday at the JCC , I cook everyday now and have gotten perdy good, I got an A in my course, and am working directly with an investigator at the University of Utah who does seriously amazing work on Bipolar and Adhd. I have seen my mom in action doing an incredibly difficult job. I spend so much time with my dog who is getting up there. I cherish every minute with him. The house we moved into is incredible. It is on a hill just north of downtown. I can see the whole valley that is surrounded by huge beautiful mountains, It’s a seriously nice neighborhood with friendly neighbors and I cant stress how beautiful it is. I also must mention that I got NBA league pass and watch my Rockets as much as I can. All of this has made a very important 6 months for me, but it has been far from perfect or easy. I have some serious issues with living in Utah.
Plans/Goals for 2014
I hope to finish my pre-courswork by summer and begin a Biostatistics graduate program by the fall. I hope to end up back in the Northeast but I really do not know where I will end up. I am taking Calc III and working at a Psych lab. Hopefully I will travel as much as possible. Making new Utah friends would be nice. I am pretty over due for a good relationship with a girl. But I am not panicking. I won’t settle, I will just resolve to go after what I like with confidence and respect. I would like to write and record demos on garage band for when I can join up with my music brothers in Houston again and do something.
The state of Utah is bizarre, and I really do not like it.
So on the surface, Utah is quite, peaceful and surrounded by natural beauty. Dig a little deeper and things get WEIRD. You may have heard Utah is the home base for Mormon/LDS religion. Well you heard right, but I sure wasn’t prepared for what that would mean for my personal life and thoughts. It became quite clear that the majority of folks here are mormon and that the city caters to that. SLC is on a numbered grid system from all directions, and the streets converge to the Mormon temple. Naturally I thought it would be a good idea to understand the mormon religion and culture because it is apparently now a HUGE part of my life, no matter what I do. I will not go into details about any bizarre beliefs or rituals that still exist, but I will tell you that I am pretty creeped out about the situation. Specifically the politics, business, and social issues. They own EVERYTHING. Grocery stores, mall complexes, restaurants, newspapers, ticket agencies, banks… I mean anything you can think of that you need or will give money to, they control it. In addition to this revenue they pretty much require mormons to pay 10% of their annual income to the church. If they do not financially support the church they are not in good standing, and that usually means you are not able to even attend church or enter their temple. I know a lot of churches do similar things, but they literally assign a status to you based on your level of obedience which rewards people in the name of God for doing things that benefit the church. Now that’s what I call peer pressure. The idea of “money is power” is as tangible as I have ever experienced. They run DEEP. The police and politicians are controlled to a disturbing degree by the LDS corporation. It is a true theocracy. It feels like another country. This is NOT the american way. I also have big issues about how they use thier money and how they teach their ideals. They are very organized, secretive, exclusive, and passive aggressive. Texas has some of, if not the worst politicians in the country. But they are loud, obvious, and stupid and their pride thankfully ruins things for them. Here they are quite and manipulative. To me it that is more dangerous. The most disturbing thing for me are the social effects of a Theocracy. To be a good mormon family you will typically be a white male breadwinner that marries VERY early and attempts to have as many kids as possible. The wife is not only encouraged but seriously conditioned to believe that the best life for them is to take care of this irresponsibly huge family at home. They also have some racist beliefs that are far from subtle. There is hardly any racial diversity here. Coming from Houston and NYC, this is more obvious than I anticipated. UGH, you know what, I can go on for a very long time about my issues with the way things are conducted here. I will just say that at a very early age people in this state are conditioned to be unconditionally obedient to whatever the Church demands from you. They keep records and monitor the people at an insane level. Big Brother is prevalent here. They are trained to believe anything but what the church says is just the devil trying to trick them. I feel the worst for the young girls. You just want to save everyone. Tell them that the world is complex and real. Tell them that if you develop yourself and experiment responsibly with things that you will eventually find a far more righteous path than they think they are on. But the saddest part is, they do not want to be saved. The mormon church is all they have been allowed to experience. And leaving the church is probably the hardest thing in the world to do. I do not blame the people. I do not hate mormons. I am just seriously against the Mormon Church and they way they do business. And man do they do business well. They do everything they can to make sure you feel their presence. Fucking blind obedience. Good plan mormons. But I aint from here so please, leave me the fuck a lone! And I will like to take this opportunity to scream out loud “FUCK YOU, I will not do what you want me to do”
So this reality really got to me for a good month. Now I just stick to my routine and do whatever I can to not support the church in anyway (very difficult). “Oh really, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir are spectacular for their Christmas show and I shouldn’t miss it? No thanks, that sounds like hell on earth” haha
Anyways, I got to run to class. I am going to write another post this week and also share some pictures. I am dying to share my thoughts on 2013 topics like the Tea Party, ACA, the shittiness of the general Houston Texan fan, best music suggestions from the year, Miley Cyrus, among other things. I also want to share some words in tribute to my friend from High School Johnny Price and my co-worker from NYC Petra Barrios who we lost last year.
Thank you for the birthday wishes and for being my friend! I miss you!