Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Homework: Write Away Seminar: Personal History

Homework: Write an outline of your life using only a dozen words. Go back and turn each word into a paragraph.


Busti. This is the place where I grew up, where I spent the first 19 years of my life. Out in the country, I couldn’t stand being such a far physical distance from friends, from convenience. The air randomly smelled of cows, skunks, gravel, mud. As an adult, when I go back to visit, I’m torn between being bored with little/nothing to do and with being grateful for knowing so intimately such a charming small town.

Mom. I always desired to be a mother. Always knew my kids were waiting for me, and I was eager to be with them, too. My other Dreams – no matter how clear, lovely, promising, enjoyable – were secondary to this calling of being a Mother. It has been and is my driving force.

Sister. I grew up the oldest of three. My sister and brother and I have a close relationship that can’t be put into words, which relationships at times act as if they’re complicated, but at their core are simple and loving.

Friend. I highly value my friendships, and am a fiercely loyal friend. As such, I am also easily and deeply hurt, still – as if I’m a schoolgirl on the playground being denied a turn on the monkey bars – when I am (or sense, or find out that I’ve been) dropped as a friend. Deep, deep wounds there.

Wife. Admittedly, I put the most effort into this role of my life. With the ever-changing dynamic of marriage (and all that it entails), it can be easy to let this one slip…but starve it will, and so I do work to energize and nourish my marriage, to adjust to its changes, to stay ahead of, or atleast with, the game.

Daughter. Of all my roles, this is the one with which I struggle (fail) the most. Call it Oldest Child syndrome, call it what you will, I am not a very good daughter. As an adult (and prideful) daughter, it seems tricky to try to repair any damage I created from my youth, as in my heart I at times am still a little girl who needs her mommy and daddy to tell her everything will be okay.

Bountiful. Bountiful is the name of the city where I was married. The Bountiful Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, to be specific. This temple was chosen because the person who we chose to perform our marriage was assigned to this temple; that person is one of the men who served as mission president while Darin was a missionary in Argentina. Something about the city of Bountiful calls to me.

Provo. My stop in Provo was to be temporary on my journey…when I moved here over 13 years ago. I certainly went through the, if not typical then certainly trendy, Provo-Hater stage. I’m not certain why this exists now. Provo has a special place in my heart. Did you know that it’s beautiful here? I mean, really, really stunning? Did you know that downtown Provo is charming and accessible (and by ‘accessible’ I mean in an emotional way – it’s not a place where you feel like a second-class citizen; you know, like when you go into Barnes & Noble)? Provo Canyon is God’s Country, no question. And my heart races at the thought of exploring what else this great state has to offer. Though I’ve had problems here (see below: Attitude), please don’t complain to me about Provo. Don’t you know? My kids are from here.

Music. I don’t remember a time when music hasn’t been an integral part of my life. There was always – always – music playing in my house, usually my dad’s records or our tapes, and sometimes the radio. I woke up to music, and though I tried, I could never fall asleep to music; I think because it was too involving for me. In second grade I began taking violin lessons. In fifth grade I added drum and piano lessons. Voice lessons were here-and-there, though I’ve always been a singer (mainly chorally and in musicals, which is what was available to me in my younger years). I have a very fine-tuned ear for harmonies and bass lines in particular. In high school I was the drum majorette for marching band and played trumpet in concert band. I was in all the musicals and sang competitively through NYSSMA. After high school I decided to learn how to play bass guitar and from there taught myself some things on a six-stringed acoustic. I was in a couple of bands, and I loved the rush from playing but couldn’t stand the attitude clashes and powertrips that went on behindthescenes. Being more involved in music is something that I need to do in my life, but I’m at a loss as to where to go to begin to do it. (sorry, church choir, you’re not what I’m talking about.) When people who knew me as a young girl ask me what I’m doing, musically, in my life, they are astounded to learn that my answer is, sadly: not much. In all honestly, I simply didn’t know it was possible to pursue music and be a mom at the same time; now that I see some of my friends who prove that this is possible, I am both envious and hopeful.

Leader. Whether I like it or not, I am a leader, a notion I frequently forget. In high school it was easier to remember this because it came with labels and specific duties: drum major, student council president, etc.. These days it’s more subtle, and more what I’d consider potential rather than practice.

Attitude. I’m clever. And quick-witted. And snarky. Sometimes, though, it goes too far and turns into a bad attitude, specifically, a negative attitude. Once, at the beginning of our marriage, Darin and I went to a football game at BYU. I, being a Football Hater, was eager to see the halftime show. At every turn, I criticized the marching band: “They call that a formation?” “The horns, in general, are flat.” “Those girls need some serious practice with their flags.” Darin looked at me and asked, “Are they doing anything right?” Darin probably doesn’t even remember this conversation, but his question posed to me at that time long ago enters my mind often: What’s happening that’s RIGHT? This has helped me as I’ve gone through several trials, most specifically and recently right here in my neighborhood as I’ve been so Put Off by certain families in our neighborhood, families who I’ve wanted to be friends with, who I’ve tried to be friends with, who I’ve expected to be friends with, but it hasn’t worked out. Not only has it not worked out, but they are known to have parties which some view as Exclusive, as well as go on trips and vacations together, the invitations to such being inclusive only to this small-ish group, and their plans and memories being thrown in everyone else’s faces. After literally years of tears and frustration, hours and hours upon my knees trying to understand what was wrong with me, with my family, that we would be excluded (certainly it’s a problem with me – my kids play with the other families’ kids), and a growing number of instances of having to answer my kids’ inquiries, “Mom, how come we’re not invited?” (OUCH.), I stopped and asked myself: what’s happening that’s RIGHT? It just so happens, I have the best friends on the planet, they just don’t all happen to live in a very close vicinity to me. My feelings are no longer hurt when I hear about a Neighborhood Trip that I wasn’t invited to join, it truly does not bother me. (Still working on helping my kids with this one, though…) (Also, there’s much more to be said on this topic, about which I haven’t really had the courage to post. Maybe someday I’ll write about this in detail…hard to want to, though, since I feel Over It.)

Choice. My brother is in law school and recently went to NYC for a trial team competition. Having some spare time in the city, he put his name in a lottery to try to win tickets to see In The Heights. As is his style, he won tickets, front row-center. I asked him if it inspired him to get out of the projects and make a better life for himself. He told me he was sitting so close that he could hear their voices – their actual voices, under the microphones, and that he was even spit upon once (a lie). I said, “You know, for a little over the past decade or so, I don’t think I could have handled going to a Broadway Show because I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it. I’d have come completely undone with envy, and mourning over The Other Life that I didn’t choose. I’m over that now, though – I wanna go to a show.” His reply: “When I was watching the show, I actually thought of you. I thought, ‘That could be Jenny. That Puerto Rican girl right there could be my sister,’ followed by the idea that what those people on stage were, and are doing, is certainly important. Very important for a few hours a day, several times a week, for maybe a few years. What you have chosen to do is important forever.”


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Fig said...

I really love this post. You are so interesting and open.


Naomi Miles said...

Your brother is so right! I hope you find your own way to keep music in your life.

Travelin'Oma said...

This is a great post. I loved getting to know you better.

c-dub said...

i love this post, dontcha know.

Hailey said...

I love so much of what you have written here. I feel the same way about Provo. No matter where I live, my heart will always be in the city where I went to school, made life-long friends, met my husband, and had my babies.

Also, I would love to see you perform. We should make that happen, even if it's in a living room...