Sunday, December 4, 2016

Thanksgiving con los Flores

Growing up, there was a period of time where we'd take road trips to Utah during Thanksgiving. For one reason or another, this tradition fizzled out. It had been a long time since we had gotten together with the Flores side of the family during a holiday, but when my abuelita passed away in May, it just felt like the right time. This time around, the family came to California.

I felt sleep deprived for a lot of the trip, so these pictures do not contain everyone who was there.

^^Just a fun little centerpiece My Mom and I threw together for the festivities^^

^^Of course the boys all hung out in my brothers' room. Old gaming systems for the win!
^^These two!!!! 😍  our little half-mexican half-asian babies! Love them to pieces!
^^For some reason, Milis still hasn't warmed up to me. Maybe it's the fact that we're kind of birthday twins??
^^We had food FOR days. Seriously four times the quantity of every side dish you could think of
^^It was also Joshua's birthday, but his older brother sliced himself a piece of the cake before I could frost it. Ben seems to find himself involved in a lot of cake-involved incidents
^^Day after thanksgiving I came to find my Tio and Tía making tamalas bright and early. There's a reason I gained 5 pounds or so from three days home. See above.

We went to Placita Olvera the day after thanksgiving, because where else do Mexicans take their out of town family??
^^You can't visit the hood without having a ghetto dog. Must do.
^^& of COURSE we had to hit up the Alameda swapmeet, because: #mexicans
^^On Saturday we went to see Moana + walked around the mall + and topped it off with five guys. Also, notice my Tio and Tía's matching ponchos. 

classic. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Kansas City, I'm SO In Love.

I am VERY behind the times. I can't tell you how many times I've had the thought to update this blog with life adventures, but other things get the best of me--namely endlessly internet searching when I want to do nothing that requires serious thinking.

This post documents a trip I took to Kansas City, Missouri way back in September (guys. thanksgiving is DAYS away--which means gilmore girls!). I went with students from the MPA program for a conference. I love exploring different parts of the U.S., and I really did fall in love with Kansas City. 
We had sort of a turbulent flight, but the lover of natural disasters in me was such a fan. Flying through a lightning storm is the greatest.

On Sunday, we visited Church History sites. For those who may not be familiar with LDS Church History, Independence, MO was home to a big community of Mormon Settlers in the early 1800s. There was a great deal of persecution that the early Saints experienced here, culminating in an extermination order and Joseph Smith being thrown in jail. Despite the sad-rimmed history here, Missouri still has a special spirit about it.
^^Hotel roommates!
The Entrance to Liberty Jail, a.k.a. where Joseph Smith was incarcerated
Kansas City Temple also, how many MPAs does it take to work a selfie stick?
Fancy photos before a fancy dinner we had Sunday evening.
^^This wall is apparently an Instagram hotspot in Kansas City. I had found an article listing it as an Instagram worthy spot, and we just so happened to walk past it on the way to a burger joint.

Okay, if you've been a faithful reader of my blog, you know I have a special affinity for baseball. Way back in 2012 (pre-mission) when I was in Living Legends, my family came to see our show in Nauvoo, IL, BUT they also went to see a Cardinals and Royals game...without me. Yeah, it still stings. 

So, this time around there was NO way I was going to miss a ballgame this time around so I found really cheap (but surprisingly great) tickets on Stubhub, worked out a way to get from our hotel to the à la public transportation, and convinced people to come with. 

Last ballgame of the season, and I couldn't have asked for a better experience!
^^This is a face of genuine happiness on my face because of the beauty that is below.
^^french fries + pulled pork + onions + bbq sauce + pickles + sweet corn (because I asked told the vendor the program guy had told me should would hook it up, and she did!) +jalapeños (my addition).  BEST. BALLPARK. FOOD. EVER.
^^I die every time I see this picture!
^^We made friends with the sweetest Black women working at the Ice Cream parlor. I may or may not have started some feisty words though because I made a comment about how I wasn't a chocolate fan. "How you gonna not like chocolate, but then you gonna order cookies n' cream." It all went downhill from there. There was laughter, banter, some mmmhhhhms, but my favorite part was when a worker I had made friends with said, "Leave my friend alone! She's from Utah, we're probably related!" Ha! If only she had known the truth—Straight Outta Compton. 

Kansas City was a dream. I only wish I had had more time to eat at all the barbecue places, and explore the museums, and Adam Ondi Ahman, and more instagram walls (kidding). But really, I need to go back to Kansas City, if for nothing more than those beautiful pulled pork french fries at the ballgame. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Land I Love.


Early Wednesday morning, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, and while a majority of my friends on Facebook (and really all of social media) are expressing sadness and anxiety, I'm genuinely excited for our country.

We're entering unchartered territory.

America had become complacent in her politics. I hope that having what is being regarded by many as a radical-unprecedented choice as President, will force us to have the conversations we've been too scared to have. It's not that I think Hillary wouldn't have addressed these issues, but I would dare to venture that we still would have felt "safe." Oh, sure, that's happening in THAT part of the country, but never here...

This election is a wake up call for ALL Americans.

The "unthinkable" has happened. A business mogul, reality TV star, who had no filter on his campaign trail has just been elected President. When Trump snagged the Republican party nomination I thought, "If California can have Arnold Schwarzenegger as a governor, then the United States can have Trump as President." (& I mean this solely in that both were celebrities without political experience)

But how? 
This just goes to show that we thought we were better off than we actually are as a nation. I hesitate to blatantly label all who voted for Trump 'racists or bigots.' No one enjoys having a scarlet letter plastered proverbially on their chests. Frankly, I don't think that's fair, but I do think that he was able to tap into the anger, resentment, fear, and frustration of a portion of the American constituency that feels forgotten and more importantly feels threatened.

How did we get here? How did we get to where we are? America, I hate to break it to you, but white privilege is still alive and well. We're still not quite at that point where everyone is on equal footing, and I'm not speaking as a socialist. We ALL have implicit biases engrained within us. I include myself in that group! (Take an implicit biases test here

Have you not seen the news (& I'm not talking CNN or Fox)? Have you not seen the footage of police brutality or heard the concerns of Black America? Have you not paid attention to the peaceful protests in North Dakota? America has deep-seated tensions that are reaching their boiling points. 

The thing is, we don't know our neighbor (& I'm not just talking the people who live next door--although, that is a possibility for some). We live in bubbles, and sometimes we self-segregate. We don't trust each other. I cringe when I see post-election Facebook posts calling for those in our circles who voted opposite from us to "please un-friend me." I'm sorry, but the way to make things better is not to build up our own personal walls. 

If we really want to see change, it's going to take some major growing pains. 

There is no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone. 

I often tell people that I want to move to the South someday, and I'm always shocked by the responses I get. Why would you want to move there? They're racists there. There's nothing there! It's poor, etc. etc. I will note that most of these comments I later discover are made by those who have never been to the south. This, America, THIS, is what we need to change.

We have fear of the unknown. I implore you, yes YOU, go out and visit the forgotten places of our nation. Let's visit places not because they're "trendy." Let us go on journeys of discovery of ALL that our great country has to offer. Millennials, we can still take trendy pictures, even in the Dakotas. I promise, there are people in the rural parts of the country who you are more similar to than you know.

I get that people are angry, but I worry that some of our anger is misplaced. Donald Trump did not start the hate in America. Sure, some of his comments might have added kindle to the fire, but the point is the hate has always been there. The mistrust in fellow humans is not a new thing. A politician did not teach us how to be unkind.

So, yes, let's make America great, but this time around let's be sure to include everyone.

.
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I leave you with this as food for thought. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Thoughts on 26.

(photo courtesy of BYU photo—from that one time I got asked to take pictures and get interviewed for a donations campaign)

Somewhere leading up to my 26th birthday, I had a revelation of sorts. Instead of looking at my birthday as a gate further along the path leading to a gloomy unknown, I had the strongest impression—now is the time to set the course to make everything I've ever dreamed for my future a reality!

Carpe Diem Every Diem!

I embraced growing up.
I chose to celebrate my birthday quietly with a simple lunch of Greek food from the cafe in Lakewood that I had always admired from afar, but somehow never felt sophisticated enough to enter. (26 in my mind is the age of sophistication, I guess?)

Greek food. It just sounds like the kind of food adults get.
People who have things figured out choose to eat Greek food.

I'm learning to embrace all that the future wants to bestow on me.

A switch went off in my mind that week.
For the first time in my BYU history I wasn't excited to come back to see friends or plan parties or take mini adventures in Utah. I don't want to completely say "I've outgrown that," but it's as though I realized there was more to this grad school experience than THAT. Those aspects of college life are wonderful, but that period of my life <the hanging out period> has come to a close. Instead, I've become excited at the prospect of being, "anxiously [and utterly] engaged in a good cause."

I decided to register for law classes that appealed to my passions rather than Bar courses:
- Federal Indian Law
- The 14th Amendment
- Criminal Procedure: Adjudication.
I looked at almost the e n t i r e undergrad catalog and made a list of classes I want to take advantage of before graduating (so much nerdy FOMO).

This semester I'm auditing racial minority & group relations. I'm obsessed. How obsessed? I'm not getting a grade for the class, but you better believe I do ALL the reading and plan to write responses to the weekly writing prompts because I genuinely LOVE learning about the subject matter.

I've never had a busier semester.
I thought my last year of undergrad (21 credits, Living Legends, 20hr/wk job, three minors) was busy, but this semester (19 graduate credits, two jobs, an internship [with a nonprofit whose mission is my cause for life], editor on a law journal, calling that puts me on the ward council, oh & juggling two grad programs) takes the cake.

How do I do it?
Meticulous weekly planning sessions + major help from Heaven. My days begin at 5:30. I'm at the gym at 6:00 and I'm in bed by 10:30 on the dot. I have to follow this regimen to function. It's the only way.

Of course, I have my days where I just feel stretched too thin as evidenced by this beaut of a passage from a recent journal entry,
I'm feeling somewhat overwhelmed. How do I make time for school work and scripture reading and work-work and the articles I have to edit for ELJ? I'm thinking about buying a plane ticket for Christmas and securing an internship for next summer, how I was supposed to call President Crawford today, and needing to register to vote, and how much I want to blog, and visiting teaching, and going to the grocery store, and how I haven't really talked to Mom. I have to edit three articles by the 21st, and be in bed in 40 min in order to function tomorrow.
I can only take a week a time, but I have to register for classes for next semester in two weeks, and I have to be applying to externships this month. Oh, and there's the project with South Jordan. I really want to read "getting to maybe" because I want to do better on my law exams, and that's due sometime next month. I need to get tires for my car and shoes for Daniela's wedding.
I wrote that on a day when I just needed a place to brain dump.

I've never felt busier, but I've also never felt more fulfilled (mission aside). I came into this school year with every intent to take of advantage of every opportunity BYU could provide me and every intention to develop the skills and talents I've been blessed with to better become a force for good.

I can't believe I've only been in school for going on two months.
In this short amount of time, I've been blessed to go to Oxford and Kansas City. I've networked with some incredible individuals from around the world, and I've gained a greater appreciation for the wonderful human beings that are my professors. I've reached a greater level of nerd than ever before and I'm not ashamed to love it!

Photos from Oxford! I was only there for a magical place, but all my Pride & Prejudice dreams were coming true at St. Hugh's college.
^^I love how much the English embrace the Harry Potter culture!
^^Elder Flowers soda. I mostly took this picture to send to my brother because technically, he is Elder Flowers. 

^^ We went to this pub which is known as the place where C.S. Lewis & Tolkien would have weekly meetings to discuss their writings.
^^Fish & chips, because when in England...
^^Most of the souveniery stores were closed in the evenings, so I decided to bring back candy with me. We went to a grocery store, and I called after these two British girls to help me pick out candies. Homegirls hooked me up with all the good stuff!
^^ I won a law school social media contest for the above photo. Just studying Federal Indian Law with the homies! The Herron, the otter, AND THE DEER are my friends ❤️.