Friday, September 25, 2009

The Seville

I've been job searching, and recently found a job. But that's not what this post will be about. This post will be about my favorite job posting, found on Craigslist.

The job listing wasn't so much for a job, as it was for a contest. A contest for the best song about the retirement community called The Seville, the writer of which would win $300. Now, I am an amateur songwriter but I enjoy the art, and my interest was piqued at this chance to earn some hard cash by stringing together the right kind of words and tune. What kind of song could they possibly be looking for? I stewed over the question for a few days and then surprised myself by taking the ad writer's suggestion--I went to the Seville, in person, to "get a feel for the place."

With a brochure in hand, a 4-minute, awkward conversation with The Seville management behind me, and a much better understanding of what kind of song I needed to write, I returned home. I was surprised to learn that the winning song would not be some sort of 30-second radio jingle, but rather, a sort of theme song designed to be sung by the residents about the place they live. I also learned that The Seville is a place where retired people can go to enjoy retirement. They eat three chef-prepared meals a day, can exercise in the exercise room, socialize with other retirees, and can even travel and stay in any of some odd 250 Sevilles around the country (all of this included in their easy, month-to-month rent payment). They can bring their pets with them. There is no medical care at the Seville. These, I concluded, were the rich, hip grandparents who don't feel like taking care of their house anymore, but not because they can't.

Anyway, I wrote a song. And because The Seville's brochure indicated that The Seville was part of a chain called "Holiday Residences" or "Holiday" something or other, I used the word "holiday" in the chorus. And the chorus, which I can't sing without imagining a chorus of elderly voices clamoring along with me, says, "Who says you need a holiday to feel this way?" I'll spare you the rest of the lyrics.

The funny part was yesterday, when I sang my newly-written song to my roommate, Megan--I always like to test new songs out on her--and I forgot to explain to her what sort of a place The Seville was. So as I was singing, she was imagining a place much like the majority of nursing homes I think we've all been to. And after I sang the line, "Who says you need a holiday to feel this way?" a few times, she finally couldn't keep it in any longer. She shook her head and asked, "Feel what way? Sick and dying?!"

It's true that people with oxygen tanks and wheel chairs don't need a holiday to feel whatever way they're feeling. But would they really sing a song about it? Probably not. At the same time, would perfectly healthy seniors actually go around singing the song written about the place they live? Would my roommates and I ever sing a song written in tribute to the ghetto apartment complex we call home?

Maybe I'll let you know how the contest turns out.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Musings on Marriage

So, I usually don't write about things like this on my blog, but I was feeling contemplative today as I walked home and just felt like getting some of these thoughts on paper. (or on screen, I guess.)

I have changed a lot throughout my college years with regards to my desires for marriage and what exactly I think I am looking for. I think I've always wanted to be married and have a family, but my expectations and dreams have changed quite a bit over time.

When I was 19, the mystery of marriage to me was that two people could want to be together no matter what. I actually remember telling people that I hoped to be poor with my husband for a time when we were first married. Something about clinging to one another while living in a shack and barely being able to put food on the table (temporarily, of course) was appealing to me. The idea that two people could be so enamored with each other despite destitute circumstances (even poverty, which I happen to believe is anything but romantic, now), seemed very romantic to me at the time. I also remember fantasizing about living on a farm. I have never lived on a farm, so I don’t know where this idea came from. I just wanted to be in love. And if I could be in love with a man whose one desire was to come in after a hard day’s work to a home-cooked meal and a sweet wife, I was pretty sure life would have reached its peak. At this time I was a sophomore in college. As some of the girls I was acquainted with got married—and some even quit school to get married—I had some secret hopes that I too would be married before I graduated, so I could move straight from student life into wife life.

Over the next while I realized that I wanted to be appreciated for more than just my abilities to cook and clean. I wanted someone who would see me as being smart. And even if I still ultimately aspired to be “just a mom,” I wanted to know that I could have done ANYTHING. I began to develop plans for graduate school, but I felt I’d probably abandon them if the chance to marry the right person presented itself. Junior year in college—20 years old—I remember announcing to a boy that I wanted to go to graduate school and become a therapist. He laughed and said, “Wow, you actually have, like, a plan!” It felt good to hear him say that, and I realized I wanted someone who would appreciate my ambitions, education, and ability to be self-sufficient and even provide for myself or a family if I needed to.

My ideas about my personal purpose in life continued to change as I was given repeated opportunities to learn and grow. I spent time in Mexico volunteering in an orphanage, served a mission to Puerto Rico, let myself become fascinated with my studies in Marriage, Family, and Human Development and really started to dream of the difference I wanted to be able to make as a therapist. It became something that I really wanted to do. It stopped feeling like a backup plan. I started wondering what I would do when I finally did get married, and wondered if I would relinquish my career as readily as I had once imagined.

My most recent project in Aruba was sort of empowering. Sometimes I think about what it would be like to move to Aruba—or anywhere!—and just become a part of the place. Our stake’s theme this year was “I can make a difference in my own life and in the life of others.” And it’s true! Part of me just wants to spend my life traveling the world, or just lay down my roots in some remote part of the world and do amazing and wonderful things for people. I’ve spent the last two weeks imagining places I could go and things I could do. I could just blend in, and really help people. Maybe as a therapist, or maybe implementing some sort of marriage education program based on the research we did, or maybe just really being that missionary I’ve always wanted to be.

And it hit me today, as I walked home, that it actually might be more convenient to never marry or have kids. I might be able to get a whole lot more accomplished. I could travel more, maybe pursue my songwriting interest, and even teach people what I know (even with no personal experience of my own) about how to be happily married or how to raise their kids. I realized that I would be giving up a lot of exciting opportunities if I decided to have a family. And I was a little shocked at the thoughts going through my head, especially when I considered how vastly different they were from a few years back.

But then I kept walking and I did a bit of personal inventory. I realized that in the way-deep-down part of my heart, I’d still pick a family over career, travels, and adventure. Any day of the week.

And this may seem unrelated, but my taste in men has changed over the years. My expectations have gone up, and as I walked home today I wondered in what way my last six-or-so years of experiences have influenced that shift. Have I come to understand myself better and what is really important, thereby coming up with a clearer picture of what I am looking for in the person I marry? Or am I more clear in what I am looking for only because I am becoming increasingly more picky and choosy, or more demanding? I just don’t know. But I do know that while several years ago I used to wait for someone to sweep me off my feet and convince me to put aside my dreams and aspirations, I feel much more inclined to hope there is someone out there who will walk with me and help me achieve some of my crazy goals, and let me take part in his as well.

And I don’t know if anyone will read this, because I’m not even in Aruba anymore. As much as I hope someone out there can relate to these thoughts, I’m okay if this post was just for my own reflecting.


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