Good news dd. The only reason I don't like the unity desktop is because those buttons look too big and plastic to me. I prefer not to have buttons or icons because they look untidy. It's just a matter of taste.
Unity is not really a desktop. It is a Shell for GNOME desktop. Anyway you can use GNOME Classic or GNOME 3 on Ubuntu.
If you want all the benefits of Ubuntu, but you will not use GNOME, you can try Kubuntu, Xubuntu or Lubuntu.
I recommend try with KDE 4 (Kubuntu or other KDE distro), and you spend some time in learning to use it. KDE is highly configurable.
If you try Kubuntu, download 12.04 beta (daily) version:http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/kubuntu/daily-live/current/