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Twelve firsts for 2012

Chilling in 100+ degree weather

Got married to Sean surrounded by 250+ family members and close friends. I did wear shoes most of the time. [Posts]

The only runner that matters to me

Ran a sub-4 marathon… The rest of the year was unimpressive on running, but I did get in a 38-day run streak and started regularly strength training. [Post]

Aerial station at La Cienega/Jefferson

Rode the newly opened Expo Line from Culver City to downtown LA. It’s nice to have the option to take the train downtown to concerts, games, etc.

Backlight con Rosario

Finally got around to that Blogotitlán reunion with people I’ve “known” since 2004. I met Elena and Gustavo (plus wife and adorable daughter) and saw others I hadn’t seen in a while (David, HP, Nathan (and Rosario), and Adriana. Oh yeah, we ran the Carlsbad half marathon or marathon in the middle of it. [Post]

Shadows

Let go of a longtime goal and finally did what I should’ve done years ago: quit grad school. [Post]

Swoon.

Visited Joshua Tree with Sean for our anniversary. [Post]

The family (sans tía Eva)

Celebrated Mamá Toni’s 90th birthday with the family. [Post]

Second Line through the French Quarter

Attended a wedding in New Orleans, complete with a second line through the French Quarter. Only regret is that my first trip to NOLA was less than 48 hours. [Post]

After the Simpsons table read

Attended a table-read for The Simpsons. [Post]

Actually got in to the track competition during the Olympics thanks to Leo Manzano. It also helps that Sean is Jamaican and insisted that we watch all the sprints where the Jamaican men and women dominated… which was a lot of races. [Post]

Diver waves to kids in the Pacific exhibit

Took on my first post-grad school full-time job… in the same office. The new job included getting paid to go to Disneyland and the Aquarium of the Pacific. [Post.

Westbury

Spent Christmas with my in-laws in New York.

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Escuela, Familia

Fall, football and family

Recently:

Happy birthday to my big brother, Danny!

I celebrated my big brother Danny’s birthday on Monday with the other siblings and our significant others. It was a chill dinner with lots of jokes and football talk.

While there we talked about Jenni Rivera’s passing. I wasn’t a fan, but was well aware of her family’s role in the banda scene and knew about her career (both the ups and downs) in music and TV. I do have friends and family members who were very affected by her death and are still grieving. Descanse en paz, Jenni.

Her death also brought up a critique from several Latino journalists about the lack of coverage of Latino artists. Gustavo Arellano’s 2003 profile is one of the few long form pieces in the English language MSM.

The internets were born here

I discovered the birthplace of the interwebs. It’s a short walk from my office.

Platinum wedding anniversary coming up in two months

I’ve worked with my parents, aunts and uncles on planning for Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni’s 70th wedding anniversary. Yes, seventy! The parties are always fun ’cause all my cousins show up and I get to play with their babies. Plus, the grandparents get all cute and affectionate with each other. It’s adorable.

This quiet bridge on campus adjacent to Royce Hall is one of my favorite spots on campus. I love that it feels like no one is around on a campus with more than 50,000 people. Last Friday night, Sean and I went to a great show by James “Blood” Ullmer’s Memphis Blood (blues) and Meshell Ndegeocello. Each set was amazing. (Losanjealous has photos: Meshells’ set, James “Blood” Ullmer.)

Sunny day at the Rose Bowl

Last month, I returned to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 10+ years. After I quit the band, I didn’t bother going to games. As an alum I’d watch and cheer, but wasn’t interested in making the trip out to the Rose Bowl. I hadn’t ever tailgated. I went twice in two weeks.

Back for the first time in 12+ years

I was late to the UCLA vs USC game, but it was okay because I still got to see UCLA beat USC for the first time since 2006.
I remember that!

The game was great, but the weather was awful. I still stayed for the postgame show with the band. Band geek p/v.

Tailgate with some UCLA alum

The next week I jumped at the chance to go my first tailgate ever for the final game of the season against Stanford. The tacos were yummy and I got to catch up with some old friends. The weather was great (hot!), but the game wasn’t great.

Sean's first tailgate

The game was Sean’s first tailgate too. He has an excuse since he went to a school without a football team.

Trombones lead the way after the drum majors

As we were waiting to enter the Rose Bowl, the band marched by. I almost cheered for the trombone line — my former section! — but kept my inner band geek in check. I was only in the band during my first two years at UCLA, but the experience was quite memorable. I quit after I got busier on campus (work, being a student leader, taking on a double major) and the football team started faltering.

Bass drums and sousaphones

Still, I can’t help but get excited when I see the gold capes and see the pregame show that hasn’t changed since I was in then band 13 years ago.

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Boda, Familia

The Soloist

It’s the feast day of the La Virgen de Guadalupe, one of the most important days for a Mexican, especially one was raised by Guadalupanos. I’ve written many posts over the years on December 12th. This post about one of my favorite moments during our wedding Mass has been sitting in my drafts. I thought it was fitting. Sorta.

Marian devotion

During my 2004 solo trip to Mexico, I reconnected with dozens of extended family members. I stayed in Guanajuato with my dad’s cousins for a week and then took a bus out to Mexico City where I stayed with another aunt and cousin.

Fabiola and tía Rosa had moved to Mexico City a year or two before so that Fabiola could study canto at the national conservatory. I was impressed by Fabiola’s beautiful voice and her budding career as an opera singer, but I was more impressed by her. I had met her once or twice when I was much younger and barely remembered her, but you wouldn’t have known that since she was so welcoming. Fabiola and other aunts, uncles and cousins made me feel like I was in my second home. They became the main reason Guanajuato is now one of my happy places.

Fabiola and the Pyramid of the Sun

While we weren’t sightseeing around el D.F., Faby and tía Rosa recounted the stressful experience of obtaining a visitor’s visa. In 2003 Faby had been accepted to an opera workshop in Oregon. She was worried that her visa application would be rejected at the consulate. The process is quite unpredictable even when the applicant has all the required documentation and more. Faby got lucky, in part because she demonstrated her singing talents (I may be making that up, but I like the idea of her singing at the consulate). The official was so impressed that she granted Fabiola a visa good for ten years.

This was a big deal to both Faby and tía Rosa as it meant she could go to her workshop, future workshops/contests and could come visit family. I thought of myself. “So this means I have to get married within ten years so you can come and sing for me?”

Faby feigned offense that I would only invite her so she could sing.

“No, no, no, I’d want you there even if you didn’t have an amazing voice.”

Getting a good laugh on the way down

Faby was cool with it and we made up, but I never forgot the conversation.

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Reunited with my cousin Fabiola

I kept in touch with Fabiola over the years. If I was in Guanajuato or she was in LA for an opera contest or wedding, we’d hang out. The last time I saw her was in 2010 for some family weddings. She sang “Ave Maria” at tía Anita and tío Juan Carlos’s wedding. I recorded it and still get goosebumps listening to it again. Being rather emo, her voice makes me want to cry. [Watch on Youtube]

After Sean and I got engaged, she congratulated us and then offered “te iré a cantar a LA!” If that could happen, it would be amazing.

In the spring, we made arrangements so she could come out for the wedding. I spoke to Michael, the organist/music director, and planned the music for the ceremony. The church allows a soloist, but I couldn’t have Fabiola sing the entire Mass. We planned times for her to rehearse and made sure Michael knew that Fabi would sing the Schubert version of Ave Maria in B flat.

Michael the organist

Faby arrived on Thursday night as planned. On Saturday, as dad drove me and Lori onto the church grounds I could hear her rehearsing from the car. I snuck in to the sacristy (staging room of sorts for the priest, altar servers) and waited. As I waited Michael came in and offered his impressions.

“Your cousin has a beautiful voice. She almost brought tears to my eyes.”

He rushed out again to be ready to play the entrance march and I went back to trying to keep calm by chatting up the brother/sister altar server team.

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Vows

I loved our bilingual wedding Mass. It was the most important part of the day. Sean and I thoughtfully chose the readings and spent time selecting the music with Michael. My dad was with us when we planned the music and offered his own suggestions since he has tons of experience in that area.

After the entrance I took my place next to Sean at the kneelers in front of the altar. We had our backs to all our guests except Fabiola since she was sitting by Michael and the organ. Her smile instantly calmed my nerves and made me feel happy.

Fabi singing the responsorial psalm

After the first reading by my cousin Beatriz, Faby sang for the firs time. She and Christine (official cantor) switched off singing the verses of the responsorial psalm in English and Spanish. It was lovely. Even better, despite our bilingual set up, our guests were singing along. I tried to sing too, but couldn’t hold notes very long thanks to the tight bodice of my dress.

Taking flowers to La Virgen de Guadalupe

Traditional Mexican Catholic wedding Masses include the adoration of the Virgin Mary. This takes place almost at the end just before the presentation of the bride and groom. The newlyweds take a bouquet to the Virgin Mary statue and take a moment to say a prayer and ask for her blessings in their marriage and life. As a lifelong Guadalupana (devotee to the Virgen de Guadalupe) I’ve always loved this part of wedding Masses because of the intimate nature of the moment, but also because a soloist sings “Ave Maria.”

As Sean and I slowly walked to the small shrine and said short prayers, Fabi sang the long version. According to dad, she was asked to sing the shorter version but objected saying, “I didn’t come all the way from Mexico to sing the short version.”

Fabi was amazing and made me tear up. Not only was her voice perfect, but it was even more meaningful to me that she took time out of her busy performance schedule and master’s classes to come sing for us. I may have had a chance to get to know her over the years, but she’s only met Sean once. I felt incredible love and joy from family throughout our wedding day, but the love I felt from Fabi singing and sharing her talent was different.

Serenaded by Fabi

And because she’s awesome, Fabi sang “Si Nos Dejan” for us later backed by the mariachi. My cousin knows me. I adore that song.

All the way from the GTO

Dad and Fabi sing

She also sang “Caminos de Guanajuato” with my dad but I missed that somehow. I hope it’s on the video!

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