Love and other L words

My grandparents are adorable too

My celebration of love typically comes two weeks before February 14 when my extended family gathers to celebrate Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni’s wedding anniversary.

Ureño Saldivar family, 1968

I believe the Ureño Saldivar family has been throwing anniversary parties since 1968, the 25th anniversary.

Ureño Saldivar grandkids, 1983

I don’t remember the party for 40th anniversary, but I was there in a frilly dress.

50th Wedding Anniversary

I do recall the huge party for 50 and the whole family dressed in forest green and gold. I thought it was so cool that my grandparents had reached such a milestone. A year later, my fathers’ parents, Grandpa Bartolo and Grandma Juana, also celebrated their 50th anniversary.

Most of the celebrations are low-key, save for the numbers divisible by 5. Since the 60th anniversary, we’ve gathered annually on the last weekend of January to share a meal and celebrate the beginning of our little* extended family.

Celebrating the grandparents' 69th wedding anniversary

This January, the 69th anniversary, we celebrated love, luck, longevity and loyalty. After all, love isn’t all you need to stay together for nearly seven decades.

*The Saldivar family had a big reunion in 2003 (or 04?). After studying a huge family tree, I realized that Mamá Toni’s branch of the family is much smaller than most of her brothers’ and sisters’ families. I have a few cousins compared to my mom.

Historia, Los Angeles

This day in Chicano history: Edward R. Roybal (1916)

February 10, 1916: Edward “Ed” R. Roybal was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico

While Roybal was born in New Mexico, he’s closely linked with mid-century Los Angeles history. His family moved to Boyle Heights in the early 1920s, he graduated from Roosevelt High School (like my mom), attended UCLA (go Bruins!) before going on to a long career in public health, community organizing and politics.

In 1949, Roybal was elected to the LA city council. There were some road bumps.

In 1993, Roybal told The Times that at his first City Council meeting [in 1949], he was introduced as “our new Mexican councilman who also speaks Mexican.”

“My mission was immediately obvious,” he said later. “I’m not Mexican. I am a Mexican American. And I don’t speak a word of Mexican. I speak Spanish.”

It became his role, he said, to educate his fellow public officials about Latinos and to pay special attention to what he felt were the long-neglected needs of his largely Latino constituencies. [Source: LA Times obituary, 2005]

In 1962, Roybal moved on from local politics to the national DC and became the first Latino from California to serve in Congress since 1879 (source). He was later appointed to the Appropriations Committee and became an “influential advocate for federal funding for health, education, community health programs and bilingual education.” [Source]

Some highlights from his long career provided by the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging:

  • Author of the 1968 legislation that established the National Bilingual Education Act to assist schools in meeting the educational needs of children who come from non-English-speaking homes.
  • Played an important role in the passage of legislation outlawing age discrimination and fought for benefits and opportunities for those with disabilities.
  • Responsible for funding America’s first AIDS research and treatment programs
  • Championed the first federal funding for Alzheimer’s Disease and was instrumental in renewing legislation to provide medical service to people with the disease
  • Led the campaign to restore funding for programs for the elderly, including a senior citizens’ public housing program and a community-based alternative to nursing homes
  • Successfully maintained the Meals on Wheels program and protected veterans’ preferences in hiring in 1982
  • Consumer rights defender
  • Co-founder of the House Select Committee on Aging, serving as chairman from 1983-1993
  • One of the first legislators to introduce legislation to establish a national health plan for the United States
  • Founder of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which he served as both president and treasurer
  • Founder of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO)

I noted Congressman Roybal’s passing in 2005 and wrote: “It’s amazing to think that many of the issues he worked on as a Councilman in the 1950s and then as a Congressman, such as police brutality and immigration, are still problematic. For anyone from LA who has studied the history of Chicana/o politicians, there is no way to avoid the impact of Ed Roybal on the growing political power of Latinos.”

Photo of Edward Roybal being sworn in to the LA City Council in 1949 from the Los Angeles Times photographic archive, UCLA Library. Copyright Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.


A red nose and a white dress

Which one?

I was not looking forward to dress shopping. There were three main reasons: I can be indecisive; I wanted to avoid the ego blow when I saw the non-vanity sized tag in the dress that closed (or didn’t); and the pressure to have the “oh, mommy!” or “this is the one” moment. I also dreaded having to go several places to find something I wanted. Up until now, planning has been relatively simple and Sean and I have gone with the first or second site or vendor we’ve found and liked.

And so, I put it off. I probably would have waited longer if the planning checklists I consulted didn’t say wedding dress shopping should begin right around now, or two months ago.

As January wore on, I started searching. First, I looked through general wedding planning websites for tips on finding a dress, trying on dresses, types of dresses, best dresses for your body type, etc. I made a spreadsheet of local bridal boutiques, both small business and chain shops. I read Yelp horror stories and freaked out. I asked friends and family for recommendations for shops and got some tips.

Then I waited a couple of weeks. This is the way wedding planning goes for us. Sean and I will be productive one day and then take a break for the next two weeks.

When I was home for the grandparents’ anniversary party, mom reminded me about going dress shopping. Early last week, I opened up my trusty spreadsheet — Google Docs has been great through planning — and made two appointments at shops near my apartment. I let mom and Lori know so they could make plans, take time off work.

For the next few days, I did my homework. I checked out the many dresses made by the labels carried at the boutiques. By Friday morning, I had three albums of screenshots of dresses I liked along with a list of elements I did and did not like. I didn’t have any musts for my dress, but knew I probably wasn’t going for a huge Cinderella ball gown with a busy pick-up skirt or a fitted mermaid gown with tons of bead work and huge bows.

Mom and Lori arrived promptly at 9:40 on Friday morning and we drove to Rosa’s Shop in Culver City. I’ve been in the area many times and noticed the store, but never had occasion to step in for a bridal gown, formal dress, first communion or baptism dress/suit.

Rosa met us outside the shop and we quickly got to business. I named dresses I liked and she pulled them out or found something similar. Lori got a mini upper body workout moving the dresses from the racks to the dressing room.

While Rosa went through the racks she pulled out a couple of dresses with details I liked and were within my price range even if they were not on my not-so-short list. Once in the dressing room, I stripped down and she began helping me get into the dresses. We’d step out of the room and take three steps to the platform where I’d slip on Lori’s shoes and check out my reflection.

I tried on 6 or 7 dresses. I can’t remember the exact number, just that we were pretty efficient. I liked all of them. Surprisingly, mom and Lori were mostly in agreement. I expected our preferences would differ more and underestimated how well they know me, my style and taste. If I wasn’t excited about a dress or didn’t like something about it, they didn’t like it either. They were opinionated without being unhelpful or stressing me out.

The penultimate dress I tried was made by a designer whose dresses feature corset backs. It was nice, but not my favorite. The whole process of getting laced in seemed a bit complicated and I didn’t want to do that again for the last dress on the rack, also by the same designer. I was ready to be done, but Rosa asked me to try the dress on. It was her favorite. She’d pulled it out earlier from a rack after I told her what I was looking for.

“You said you wanted [X element],” she reasoned.

Rosa was right. I agreed to try it on. She took it out of the clear garment bag and took it off the hanger. I got the dress on and walked out to the platform. I slipped on Lori’s shoes and instantly grew 5 inches. I stood still and studied my reflection as Rosa laced up the corset and tied the strings. As she pulled tighter, I felt something. No, it was not the loss of oxygen.

I loved my reflection. The dress was perfect. I loved the fabric and the pretty, but not overdone details. I loved what it did for my figure. I felt beautiful.

I looked down to my mom — and odd feeling since she’s a few inches taller than me. She nodded her head like she does when she’s thinking and gave a soft smile. This dress was different. She had immediate comments on all the other gowns. Not this one. Lori — now wearing my purple flats — was smiling too.

I needed to see what Sean would see as I walked down the aisle with my father by my side.

“Can I try on a veil?”

I stayed on the platform while the others walked over to veil display. They picked out a chapel length veil. Rosa affixed it to my hair and pulled the tulle down over my face.

Something clicked. I turned to my mom.

I choked up as I said, “Mom, this is the one I want.”

Yeah, I cried. My nose got red. Lori took my camera out of my purse and took some pictures. (Of course, those won’t be shared.)

As cliché as it sounds, I’d just had my “oh, mommy!” moment. (Oh, wedding industrial complex, you win again. At least I’m aware of what I’m falling for because I read Rebecca Mead’s One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding. That makes it okay, right?)

As I walked around the room getting a feel for how the dress moved, I thought my dad would’ve been crying if he saw me. It’s a good thing my mom and Lori foresaw that and didn’t let him tag along.

I went back to the carpeted platform and stared at myself for a couple more minutes. I asked Rosa about the details, cost, length, bustles and other potential alterations.

And then I realized it was 11:36 and I had a noon appointment at the Alfred Angelo store in Beverly Hills. I hurried to change in to my casual dress. Rosa gave me a quick hug before leaving and I promised to return.


Glad I didn’t bail: SRLA 18-Mile Friendship Run

17th Annual 18-Mile Friendship Run

I almost bailed on the SRLA 18-Mile Friendship Run at Hansen Dam earlier this week. I’d forgotten to register and saw that the late fee was $75 ($15 over early registration). That’s pretty steep for what would essentially be a long run with course support. I sucked it up as I like supporting the race host, Students Run LA.

I went in to the race this morning a little hurried. I didn’t get much sleep after a friend’s party and then fixing up the blog to prevent more hacks (hence the new look). I woke up this morning at 5:30 annoyed that I had to leave the dinner party I was dreaming about. Instead of digging in to a giant bowl of arroz con pollo, I drank coffee and ate my usual pre-long breakfast, peanut butter and banana toast.

A couple hours later, Sean and I were at the Hansen Dam Recreation Center. I jokingly asked Sean, “why is running so white?” while walking past a crowd that truly represented LA’s diversity. One of the reasons I love SRLA is because they bring a lot of diversity to the running community. I picked up my bib, took care of pre-race necessities, told Sean about the best spectating spots near the start/finish line, squeezed into the crowd of SRLA students and got my podcasts ready.

Finishing the first 9-mile loop

I didn’t have much of a plan or a goal for this race. I wanted to finish <2:50 (9:27 pace), but would be fine a few minutes over. A 9:27 is a little fast for a typical long run, but I figured it’d help me gauge my fitness and figure out a marathon race pace. I know I can run sub-9 without a problem for 13.1, but what can I do for 26.2?

At the half

We started promptly at 8. I kept the first mile easy and slow. It’s nearly impossible to run a fast first mile with congestion at the start. I mostly succeeded in my goal of not getting stressed by runners blocking me and slowing me down. I settled in to a comfortable pace and ran about 9 minute miles for the first loop. I finished the first half in ~1:21. I pulled over for a bathroom stop and lost a couple of minutes, but didn’t stress. I also stopped to remove a pebble from my shoe, and at most of the water stations. It was easier that way, otherwise I’d miss the water or crash into another runner walking as I tried to pick up/grab a cup. The second loop was more challenging. I got tired, the sun bugged me more, and I hated running on the dam. I really needed water up there, but was saved by volunteers with oranges. I managed not to slow down as I knew I was within reach of my goal.

Danzantes at the finish line

As we exited the dam and ran the final half mile stretch, I sped up slightly. I got another boost when I heard the beat of Aztec drums and saw danzantes between me and the finish line. Unfortunately, they ended the song just as I passed, but it still energized me and made me feel even better about the race. I felt great when I finished. I didn’t feel fatigued or more achy than expected. If I had to, I could have gone a few more miles despite mild IT band pain.

Despite the stops and slowing down a bit, I met my informal goal. I finished in 2:47:56 (9:20 pace); 5th in female 30-34 age group.

Finishing strong

Last year, this race was tough mentally and physically. It was the first time I’d run 18 miles. I also made the mistake two weeks before the race of donating blood. I’m all for donating blood, but was too dumb/inexperienced at this wannabe athlete thing to know it’d affect my performance for a couple of months.

This year was much different since I knew what to expect and overall have become a stronger runner. Eighteen miles isn’t easy, but I know it’s doable. It was a sunny morning, but much cooler than last year. The climbs in Shadow Hills (miles 4-6 and 12-14) didn’t feel as challenging as when I ran them last year.

Preparing for another LA Marathon

Overall, I’m really glad I didn’t skip the race. I’m getting excited about the LA Marathon. I’m beginning to think that what McMillan calculators say I can run for the marathon is in reach, especially on the familiar Stadium to the Sea course. I needed this race. I’ve felt a little unsure thus far since I didn’t feel like I was training in earnest until two weeks ago. I’m 6 weeks out and have only done one 18 miler. I trust that Marc, my online coach, will get me to the start line healthy — my number one priority.

Two notes:

  1. My Garmin had me at about 17.3 miles. It clocked a similar distance last year. I don’t think the race is short, but I think the reading on the dam is inaccurate. I was matching up with the mile markers the first half until the stretch across the dam.
  2. If you take water every mile, you might want to carry a bottle or fuel belt. There’s no aid stations on the dam. The race organizers let people know about this, but I underestimate the length and the need for a quick sip. There are aid stations right before and right after the dam.
  3. My bathroom stop was my first during a race. Glad I checked that off during a low key event.

Ten tidbits for the week

I love lime.

I got a mysterious cut on my thumb. It’s more annoying than painful, especially when squeezing lime or giving my apartment a much-needed scrubbing.

Which one?

I went wedding dress shopping with my mom and sister yesterday. I’m pretty sure I found the dress.

Mozzarella en carroza @ Rocco's

I read on NPR’s The Salt blog that Americans eat an average of 31 pounds of cheese annually. That caught my eye for obvious reasons. I didn’t know if it was a #31fail or a #31ftw. Then I did the math. 31 pounds is only 1.35 ounces a day. That’s around 1 1/3 servings daily. No big deal. If it was the amount of cheese I consumed yesterday — one slice on an egg sandwich, half a slice on a cheeseburger, half of that mozzarella en carroza up there, and whatever was on two slices of sausage & spinach pizza — then I’d be concerned.

UCLA is mine!

I really hate this statement: “getting a BA is the new high school diploma, it’s meaningless.” All that tells me is that the speaker comes from quite the privileged background. I know that for someone who shares my background — immigrant parents, first generation college student, Chicana, lower middle class — earning a BA was beating the odds. Hell, graduating high school is a big deal for a lot of people like me. It’s true that college-going and graduation rates have increased for all segments of the population, but some groups still fall far behind.

Shopping PSA featuring Sean

I made my first trip to Target in a few weeks. To keep to my not be a sucker for Target resolution I made a list beforehand, and stuck to it for the most part. I bought one item off the list, a set of 10 pound dumbbells. Sean gave me his disapproving side-eye if he caught me looking at something that was not on the list, but he suggested the new dumbbells since the 8 pound ones are too easy.

Fitness stuff for the home

I’ve been strength training twice a week for seven weeks now. I’m seeing some results. I’ve been able to increase the weights 25%. Okay, it’s only going from 8 pounds to 10, but that’s still improvement. My jeans and blouses fit less snug too.

Garmin run for 1/30

I thought I was getting faster after incorporating regular strength and cross training. After doing the math, I’m not so sure. I averaged a 9:15 pace for easy runs from October through December; this excludes long runs and races. In January my easy runs averaged a 9:04 pace. Not as big a difference as I thought considering my average easy run is shorter these days. Well, at least I’ve shown some recent improvement in the half marathon distance. I ran about 2:03 in my first half marathon in October 2010. My personal best in December was 10 minutes faster.

Cindy and her mom

This week I realized I was “brave” because I venture out in to the world without makeup and any special hair style 95% of the time. I don’t wear makeup because I want to buck social norms. I’m just too apathetic to bother, too cheap to spend money on the good stuff, and don’t like spending much time getting ready. I really like the way I look with makeup, but I’m not so used to myself with mascara and eyeliner that I feel I look ghostly or insecure without it.

Happy hour hefeweizens

I had my first beer in a month yesterday. I temporarily gave up alcohol in January. It’s easy for me. I don’t drink much to begin with. Now, giving up Diet Coke for a month was difficult.

Old Skool

My Blogotitlán friends want to run the Chicago Marathon in the fall. I’m bummed I’ll have to sit out this reunion as I’ve already decided not to run a fall marathon and I’ll probably be tapped out of any extra funds due to the wedding and honeymoon. [Photo by Oso.]