Oh, Utah

I volunteered at a folk festival this weekend, and I think my brain fell out when I hit the festival grounds. Or at least the brain I've become accustomed to did, and it's Utah's fault.

Utah Phillips was at the festival, and I don't know how he does it, but whenever he opens his mouth and starts speaking, I have to struggle to hold back my weeping. He told a hilarious story about a bull with a moose calling horn shoved up his butt, and I was blinking back water. He told a story about how difficult his anarchist friend, Ammon Hennacy, could be to talk to, and I swiped tears from my cheeks. He talked about places he had seen while walking around Cityville, and I almost needed someone to hang onto to keep me from going to pieces. He makes me lose my shit. It's a good thing that I didn't get the opportunity to speak to him personally, because I probably would have crumpled to the ground and wept on his shoes.

utah phillips 5

It's a good reaction, I think, if a little over the top. Seeing him in person was a visceral experience. It is as though he crawled right into my chest and rolled around in my guts. Everything he said was right and good and made me want to be right and good. He makes me want to quit my job, because it does not support my spirit or foster a decent community. He makes me want to say no to all the crap I put up with in pursuit of the kind of security I've been told is important and say yes to new kinds of work that don't continually keep me down.

He made me feel like I'm having a mid-life crisis a little early. It's terrifying but fucking fabulous.

I have been doing the wrong kind of work for years, and I've known it, but I have stayed with it because I am scared of jumping out into the unknown. I hide behind the fact that I never finished my university degree and my inability to decide what to go to school for and my ongoing student loan payments. I tell myself that my job is perfect for me, because I don't bring it home with me and I have excellent benefits and a good chunk of vacation time.

Except that I do bring the stress of my job home in so many ways, and I probably don't even realize how many aspects of my life are being affected, because it ties up more than forty hours of my waking time during the week and pulls me into a whole world of stress that I carry with me physically and emotionally. It leaves me feeling impotent and anxious.

Utah made my heart feel broken when he spoke, because he made me see how out of place I am. He's brilliant. I wanted to curl up inside the warmth of his shirt pocket.


Even writing this out has got my palms all sweaty, like now I might have to do something, say something, be something out loud. What now? School? Open a business? Ride the rails? Start wearing patchouli, go vegan, and buy a pair of earth shoes? Start following Utah from festival to festival like he's the Grateful Dead?

Sweet Jeebus. I spend three days at a folk festival and come out wanting to follow my bliss. I feel like this guy looks:


Shoot me.

Places I've been recently: riley dog, forksplit, and Styrofoam Kitty.