Monday, December 25, 2017

deuces, 2017.

I always knew 7 was an unlucky number, and 2017 proved me right. 2017 was the worst.

I don't think I've ever had a more taxing year emotionally/mentally than 2017. I saw a meme recently that said, "who are you kissing on New Years?? Me: I'm kissing 2017 goodbye." SAME, girl, SAME.

2017 came with a vengeance and showed little mercy. I think the fact that the #MeToo movement was Time magazine's person of the year gives a pretty good indication of how the year went. Two thumbs majorly down.

It was hard. If my 2017 had a shape, it would be an inverted bell curve, with short ends and a wide, fat curve. Two beautiful girls who I knew and adored committed suicide, and one of my best friends lost her mother unexpectedly. & (in the course of writing this post) my last living grandparent, my abuelito Juan, passed away days before we were supposed to see him.

There were several hurricanes, the Dodgers lost the World Series, and Satan waged a full on war on my family. Back off, Satan!

This year was full of heartbreak and episodes of time where I felt purposeless, desperate, and numb. And yet, I couldn't still can't pinpoint why? I wasn't full of self deprecating thoughts, just the opposite! And it wasn't that I took a break from doing the gospel things—If anything, I cleaved unto the scriptures harder, and said more meaningful prayers because I couldn't wrap my head around what was happening. I tried serving, but those brief moments seemed to be only temporary bandaids, and the minute I stopped serving, the horrible feelings crept back in. The activities I used to find fun just stopped being fun: blogging, party planning, hanging out with friends, they all took a hit. I found myself dreading the seemingly endless stream of dessert parties and game nights. I'm just really ready for that phase of my life to be done.

I watched A LOT of Jane the Virgin this year (I hadn't watched any of season 3) and cried with Jane as she grieved (SPOILER ALERT) the death of Michael—a character I hadn't even been rooting for. When I felt like my life was lacking a connection to my Latino culture, I tuned into the Villanueva women and their goodness soothed my soul. Gina Rodriguez, homegirl we need to be friends.

Church started getting hard; I felt like lessons lacked depth, and I hated how I found more satisfaction and purpose in my law school classes than lessons at church. It's a personal problem, I know, but I also can't help but wish sometimes that Provo was more woke and used the scriptures more in our lessons.

Somethings gotta give, right?!?

There were some good things that happened in 2017 (like my trips to GA, AL, PR, TX), but they sometimes felt like pity blessings, like God was saying, "I'm sorry this year is so hard, Lauren! This is just something I need you to go through, but here's a little something to keep you somewhat afloat."

I FAILED at trying to live by my word of the year—as in, I forgot what my word of the year was until I looked it up for this post. But, I think I did pretty good at my motto, "make everybody feel like a somebody." One of the ways I worked on this was by making birthdays extra special by inviting friends over for birthday dinner. In fact, birthday dinners are something I'd like to continue!

I had a goal to read for pleasure more and KILLED IT  during the summer with my train rides, but this goal was virtually nonexistent when I was in school—moderation in all things.

I felt impressed at the end of last year to discover more fully what it means to be a daughter of God, and so I pledged myself to reading one YW/RS talk a week. This goal coupled with my feminist legal theory class from this last semester and both helped me explore my understanding of what it means to be a daughter of God.

I also had a goal to keep in contact more with my father and a certain uncle, and while I didn't quite live up to my goal of calling them once a week, I did improve our communication.

I became more frugal in 2017 and learned to more fully live within my means—I was greatly blessed for it. I can't tell you the last time I bought clothes. I honestly think I purchased two shirts (a dodgers shirt claro and a female Supreme Court Justice squad goals tee) and that's it in all of 2017. But, in April, my roommate came home with boxes and boxes of free brand new clothes and I went "shopping" in the piles of clothes stuffed in her car. #blessed

I became even more comfortable in my own skin and stopped wearing makeup full-time back in May. My attitude toward makeup has changed completely, and I have a desire to wipe everyone's faces clean to see the real them!

I have a sneakingly good suspicion about 2018. Eight is my favorite number: 1) because my birthdate is 8/8 and 2) because when you turn 8 on it's side you get the symbol for infinity .  I know January 1, 2018 is going to be "just another day," but I'm going to be really glad to not have to write a "7" at the end of every date. Good things have always happened in my life in years that end in 8.

1998: I was baptized by my father, and confirmed by my grandfather
2008: I graduated high school; I turned 18 on the most magical day of the year 08/08/08.

Tomorrow, my family and I leave for Mexico & I'll ring in the new year in the land of my ancestors and the spell/curse of 2017 will be broken.

We're finna KILL it in 2018.

^^Civil Rights Seminar friends after the screening for STEP.
^^Meeting Joan Trumpauer Mulholland after the screening of her son's film, The Uncomfortable Truth.
^^My friend Becca (a 97th ward-er) gave me my first professional haircut since before my mission! Up until this point, I'd just been cutting my hair myself. 
^^Sunday dinner at my place after attending mass with Emmanuelle
^^An MPA reunion.
^^Our Thanksgiving crew, courtesy of my Uncle Jr.'s drone. 
^^(L) Reunited with Ashley, who I gave piano lessons to my first two years of law school. (R) Lunch with Britney we had Malawi's pizza and talked all about how the future is female. 
^^& speaking of females, my feminist legal theory classmates. I'd like to think of our class as the Mona Lisa Smile class of the law school. We chose to pose in front of this painting in the law library because rumor has it students complained that the painting was "skanky." We found it a fitting backdrop for the class.
^^I texted a handful of people to invite them to sing Happy Birthday to our former bishop, this was the result. We love our Vescovo.
^^Train rides this summer would have been miserable had it not been for these two—las chicas del Tren, reunited once more.
^^Nicole & I finally got to be roommates this year. This photo was taken the morning after her birthday. We have had many a sleepover in my bed. We literally got up and went straight to work on our finals. I joked that we looked like the grandparents from Charlie & the Chocolate factory. Nicole is making fun of one of my elementary school photos where I'm posed typing on a keyboard—90s baby.
^^In a classic case of Lauren Serendipity, I got to be home for my former companion, Hna Dedrick's wedding! The ceremony was held in her parent's backyard in Yorba Linda; by divine design, I had a family dinner in Brea (the city next door) right after. Mini miracle that I got to do both in one night!
^^(L) First cousin 1x removed, Amanda & (R) my first cousins Sean & Matt
^^It had been WAAAY too long since we'd seen each other. <3
bless up! 2018, I can't wait to meet you.

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!