Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Houston, again.

This Thanksgiving season, I was feeling especially grateful for my decision to serve a full-time mission. Not so much for the actual mission experience (although I do love that!), but specifically for the people that the mission has brought into my life. The mission is the gift that keeps on giving.

In late August, Hurricane Harvey made landfall on my mission (Texas Houston East). It was my first week back to school, and I was glued to Facebook, hungry for updates on my friends and loved ones there. I remember sitting at a study table in the law school and feeling helpless. It wasn't enough for me to tell people I was thinking about them or praying for them—for some reason that felt hypocritical.
I had to go. I had to go to Houston.

I thought to myself, "What kind of a missionary would I be, if I had the means to go and help, but didn't?" My problem was time. How could I make time to go while I was in my last (and arguably craziest) year of law school? At the exact moment this thought entered into my mind, a voice whispered "placement break." After a quick text message to one of my Uncles, I booked a flight to Houston for my week off of school, reserved a car, and that was that.

I had no super solid plan. I just made the decision to go, and in the following weeks, everything fell into place. JaNae and Parker (two fellow former missionaries) ended up joining me on the trip—Parker literally days before. I honestly didn't know either of them super well at the time, they were both older than me in the mission, and English speaking. Although, JaNae had served in Pasadena at the same time as me...But, let me tell you, spending 10 days together, driving for hours all over the mission boundary in a little Toyota Yaris, it just binds you.

I arrived in Houston the first week of October, almost two months after the hurricane, and yet there were still piles upon piles of trash lined up on street curbs. Mormon Helping Hands had stopped operations, but I found Operation Blessing, another nonprofit-interfaith service group we could volunteer with. We stayed in multiple homes, dined with and visited various families we had taught, and drove ALL OVER THE PLACE. Parker & JaNae left a couple of days before me, and I used those last three days to visit with people I loved form Spanishlandia. It just felt so good to drive down familiar streets and see faces I know and love. I've now been back a total of three times, and Texas/Louisiana really do just feel like a second home. I just fit in and feel in place there (Not enough to move, let's not get crazy).

Last year, while my family was visiting Louisiana and Houston, I told myself, "I won't be coming back here until I'm married," But, looks like jokes on me because God definitely had other plans in mind.

*The majority of these photos came from Parker's phone. He was the designated photographer on this trip. 
^^sweaty, humid, and tired after a full day of clearing out a home. 
^^(L) reunited with my compañera Hna Morales! (R)with JaNae's family at one of her nephew's baseball games.
^^This sweet family offered to have us stay with them. I didn't think they would remember me, but one of their youngest daughters said, "wait. Weren't you at a get together at so-and-so's house, and wasn't it your last Sunday??" Y'all she was SIX at the time!!? Amazing memory and definitely made me feel special. 
^^The Moores. I love these women! They were one of my favorite families to visit in Louisiana, hands down. 
^^The Ortiz. I definitely feel like Dionicio was one of the main reasons Heavenly Father sent me Sis Muñoz to Louisiana, Dionicio needed to be taught by Spanish-speaking missionaries. 
^^(L)The Garcias from Pasadena. Maritza always made us the yummiest food (R) This is Isis! We were bus buddies during our middle school years. When I booked my flight to Houston, one of the first things I did was plan a meetup with her. We hadn't seen each other for 14 years (!!!), but it was so amazing to catch up with old friends. We talked about our dreams to help Latino youth achieve excellence. Isis is a PhD candidate at U of H, so proud of you amiga!!

Before leaving to Houston, Melinda sent me snap below, and it made my heart so happy! Melinda visited Houston the week before, and asked the current Pecan Park hnas if she could take a quick peek at the apartment. I started a picture wall in each of my apartments on the mission. I was always so curious about the hermanas who had served before me, I'd see their names on past teaching records and get really curious. It made me so happy to see the tradition I started continues. The first three photos are of my companions and I, and my original sign is still up! 🙌🙌🙌

Friday, November 17, 2017

Halloween 2k17.

I promised myself that I would post about Halloween before Thanksgiving arrived. We're a week away, and honestly I'm proud of myself! This Halloween I unexpectedly crossed two BYU Bucketlist items off my list (TBH, I'm not really actively pursuing those right now, but when they happen it's still a cause for celebration!).
#24 Thanksgiving point corn maze
#26 Lagoon!

Honestly friends, Cornbelly's is a major disappointment. We went for a ward activity, and I was ready to leave 30min after we got there. My guess is it's better experienced with children. Lagoon on the other hand....I want to go back! It was so much fun, and just had this quaint community amusement park feel to it. Nicole & I felt like we were in Halloweentown. 

I dressed up as Carmen Sandiego this year (keeping the Latina costume game alive). I worked on Halloween and was really sad about it—I wanted to experience the magic of BYU on Halloween one last time, but que será será. Instead, I went to my traditional Family Halloween party and ended the night at a halloween party someone in the ward hosted. 

^^greatest funnel cake of all time.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017



In the spirit of Halloween, I figured I'd finally get around to posting a mood board for Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. This was the last BBC Booklist novel I read this summer before my hiatus. I had originally planned to keep reading novels throughout the semester, but that was before, when I was naïve and thought I could keep it up while writing three papers. All is not lost, I plan to resume the Booklist over Christmas break.

I had no preconceived notions going into Rebecca. All I inferred from the cover was that the novel was a romance thriller. I guess those words sort of describe the novel, but only in a very broad sense. The story was a little slow to get started, but once it did, it was hard to put the book down. I kept making up little scenarios in my head for how the mystery would resolve itself. I'm still a little creeped out by the fact that we never learn the narrator's name; it sort of made me feel as if I couldn't quite trust her. I was also convinced that the narrator would somehow end up becoming this sinister character with an evil twist to play in the plot.

There was such an eerie gothic feel to the novel, and it's incredible how du Maurier makes Rebecca's presence felt and have such a power or presence without using any supernatural apparition. The novel was brilliantly written, and it's clear to see why Hitchcock's take earned an Oscar for best picture. The film really complemented the book by filling in personality gaps for Max, and Mrs. de Winter. Honestly, the film made me like Mrs. de Winter a whole lot better!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

life lately via (mostly) iPhone photos.

*This post made possible by Andi Tyler. Who gave me her spare iPhone 6 when my iPhone 4 died two weeks before school started.  Andi, you're the real MVP!
(R to L: 1&2 My prima Sofia's birthday. She's obsessed with Moana,  3. Sharing a delicious pizza with Nicole after a long day of moving, 4. My cousin's son. I love spending time with my 1/2 Asian babies!, 5.An impromptu mission reunion with the Crawfords after the first reports of Hurricane Harvey, 6. Breakfast with Lauren who was visiting from Arkansas, 7. Running into Elaine on campus! She attends my parent's home ward and I helped her out with her college essays, so full-circle to see her on campus, 8. fire from a ward campout, 9 &10 my roommates being cute)
My BYU sophomore year crew at Dre's baby shower!
Puerto Rico crew at Chlo's wedding
Sophomore year roommates at Kiersten's wedding. 

Last year of grad school folks. It's here, and it's real. 
Somedays I feel 100% ready to take on the world and fight against inequality in America. Other days, I feel melancholy thinking about a life without school. When I graduate in April, I'll have been in college for eight years--the same amount of time from 5th grade to senior year of high school. So yeah, it's been a while. 

Those who say that grad school gets progressively easier are only sort-of right. I know how to do law school now. I get how to do fairly well on tests (here's looking at you 4.0!) But, the thing is, you get progressively busier and more involved with every year, and you start working during the school year. 

I'm still milking BYU for every civil-rights/WOKE-esque class and experience it has. This semester my course load is as follows:

  1. Social Change Colloquium: A seminar-like class where visiting scholars come and present their papers related to the topic of social change. I am forever referring to this class as my "social justice" class.
  2. Sociology of Race & Ethnicity: Auditing another undergrad course. If it sounds familiar, it's because it is. I took this class last fall, but loved it so much, and was convinced by one of my civil rights seminar professors that I needed to hear his take on the class. So here I am, again.
  3. Social Policy & Feminist Legal Thought: 8 women + 1 female professor talking about issues that deeply affect every aspect of our lives. It's the best! This class gives me hope for a better world and has permeated into my every conscious thought. Case in point, last Friday, I did initiatories in the temple and decided to spend some time in the celestial room. I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my classmates. We took some time to talk about how the theories discussed in class relate to worship in the temple. Nerding out guys, even especially in the holiest of places. We have a class group chat and are constantly sharing articles with one another. We are your ultimate local girl gang.
  4. Civil Rights: I took a civil rights class last winter; this is the companion to that class. This one focuses on Civil Rights in public accommodations, housing, education, etc. Also, it's a paper class and I'm muy excited to write the paper for this class. I will potentially post it here.
  5. Urban Design: Arguably my least "woke" class this semester, but me & my girl Marissa have taken it upon ourselves to make sure to raise our hands and promote inclusive language and thoughts in the class. Sorry, we're not sorry.
  6. Legal Drafting: Basically, this class teaches me how to become a better legal writer. We meet once a week. It's a nice little skills class that teaches me how to take my journalistic background and apply it to the legal world. 
Now that I've thoroughly bored you out with my class descriptions (if you really know me, are you actually surprised?) a little rundown of the rest of my life:

I moved! I love my new townhome, but that probably merits its own post. I have a new calling, and Heavenly Father was definitely listening to my prayers, because it's not that time consuming. I'm the RS Activities Chair. Translation: I get to plan parties and service opportunities for the women in the ward. I stopped wearing makeup full-time. What does full-time mean you ask? I only wear it for special occasions (so far, this has been for a photoshoot and a wedding). Everything else, I'm bare-faced. church included! It's wonderful (in-depth explanation forthcoming).

I work two days a week in SLC and can be found on the 6:20 am frontrunner train on a frequent occasion. I went to Houston (H-TOWN!) over placement break to help with hurricane cleanup (another post, y'all). I'm back on snapchat (laurenmarieflo--sidenote, this is pretty much my username for everything). & I have a pen-pal correspondence with my fifth grade crush doing time in jail. (!!!?!?!?!!???) Guess you'll just have to check in later for more details on the juicy updates, huh? See what I did right there? 

😏 😏 😏

obligatory last, first day of school photos:

A story about the following series of photos. Sometimes you become real good friends with the BYU Law School photographer and she asks if she can take pictures of you and your friends. Sometimes one of your friends asks if said photographer will take a picture of him hugging you and you're kind of apprehensive about it. Sometimes that apprehensiveness comes across in the photo and the photo gets sent to the entire law school class on the first day of school as a sort of "welcome back" greeting and post it to the school's Instagram account. Sometimes your phone blows up with texts about this photo and one of your friends in undergrad finds it and turns it into a meme. 
^^I would like to note that in true Chicana fashion, there is a nearly empty bottle of Tajín in this photo. Evidence of my watermelon + tajín snack moments earlier. I've got chile powder in my bag, swag.