Friday, December 18, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

the season

when i was an undergraduate (a million years ago), i remember the frenzy that accompanied the end of each fall quarter. dead week, final exams, final papers. then catching a ride from the bay back home to the central valley with a friend. and i would be stunned to find that christmas had already arrived there. the neighborhood houses donned twinkling lights. at mass, they would be lighting the final candle on the advent wreath. and i would always feel a pang of sadness that i had missed most of the season.

as a young girl, i attended a catholic elementary school. christmas was never lost on me then. there were the hand made ornaments we completed in art class. there were the christmas carols we would sing at mass in the weeks before christmas, sometimes caroling at a retirement home or in a neighborhood. the christmas pageants when i would dress as an angel or a shepherd (as i got older) for midnight mass. and, of course, the gifts and family gatherings on christmas day. :)

the newness of this christmas, my first as a married woman, is exciting. joseph and i bought a tree last week, something i had never done before! i almost had an anxiety attack when i saw all of the ornamental possibilities for a tree, but i was able to buy a couple of boxes of basic ornaments. we have a beautiful (if simple) christmas tree in the living room of our home and stockings with out names on them. we're celebrating advent in a church that we love, and now christmas is almost upon us.

i'm 34 years old this year, and i still vividly remember christmases from when i was a child and young(er) adult. it already feels like a lifetime of memories, and yet i know that joseph and i still have a lifetime ahead of us. the thought is sometimes overwhelming. how does a person hold all of these moments in her memory, in her heart? i suppose that, too, is a miracle of the season.


Monday, November 16, 2009

race day

i made the mistake of watching the finish line for the 5K. they had started at 7:30AM; my 10K was to start an hour later. there was a stream of runners, one after another, who were finishing their race averaging a 5 minute mile! i was already doubting my ability to *finish* a 10K; now i was fearing that i'd also be among the last to finish. the obvious running amateur.

around 8:15AM, i made my way to the starting line, began to stretch, and tried to clear my mind a bit. there were hundreds of people lined up, many in groups. there was a lot friendly cajoling among the runners, all confident, all fun. no apparent nerves like mine.

once the race began, runner after runner passed me as we all began to establish our respective paces. a group of fire fighters were running in a block, each with his last name emblazoned on the back of his helmet, chanting what sounded like a funny running jingle. when i passed the one mile mark, i was surprised to have run it much more quickly than i had anticipated. (subsequent miles would be slower!)

the second mile was around a small lake in a local park. i saw ducks placidly swimming, swans stretching out their wings. by the end of the second mile, i was greeted with a small cup of water. the third mile began up a hill. i thought i could probably walk the hill faster than i was "running," but i kept on running.

miles four and five were a familiar blur, but in the sixth, i felt my excitement grow. this was my last mile, and at that point i knew that i could make it. toward the end of that last mile, i saw my mom aiming at me with her camera phone, and, closer to the finish line, joseph, and my dad furiously snapping pictures.

i ran through the finish line feeling exhilarated and a little bit proud of myself.


Friday, October 09, 2009

running long.

i dread my saturday morning runs. maybe dread is the wrong word.
i fear my saturday morning runs.

saturdays are my "long run" days. last friday night, i plotted a four mile run for myself on on saturday morning, i found myself pulling on my running gear with trepidation. four miles?

that morning i ran along the residential streets of my neighborhood. on saturday mornings, there is scarcely any traffic. everything is cool and serene, except for the occasional dog that barks when i pass his house. i don't run to music; at this point, i prefer to run to my thoughts. and listen to my breath--uneven for the first mile, and then steadying.

i ran the first three miles with self-assurance, but when i came upon the last mile i became nervous. it was not only an unfamiliar mile (could it do it?), it was also an unfamiliar path (i have to find new paths now that i'm running longer). the street was busier than i would have preferred, but it was fine. when i saw my destination, the street sign that marked the end of my fourth mile, i picked up my pace. when i crossed that street, i felt a sense of elation. four miles!

as i cooled down, walking toward our house, i felt energized and accomplished.

four miles.

that was nearly a week ago. today i am nervous about tomorrow morning's run.

4.5 miles?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

fits and starts

as a crosstraining activity, i've decided to take yoga at my neighborhood gym. at the 8AM class during the week, i'm generally the youngest person in the class. though there are a couple of women who look to be in their 40s and 50s, i would put many of the class in their 60s and 70s.

yoga is no joke. most people think of it as a way to become flexible, and, it does help to do those deep stretches while on a running regime. but what most people don't understand is that yoga is also strength training. the poses you hold require you to hold your own body weight, which is, frankly, not that fun. but you do it, and it works. you emerge stronger and more flexible.

my problem is that i'm a little bit competitive. my instructor constantly tells us not to look around at other people. that "yoga is about you." nevertheless, as a "young" person in the class, i expect that i should be able to hold a pose just as well as any 60 or 70 year old. that's not always the case.

last thursday, i was feeling a little more able than i actually am. and i threw out my back! in yoga class.

it didn't happen right away; i felt something shift in my back when i switched poses, and i knew that something had gone awry. later that day, i started to feel it. by the time joseph came home that afternoon, i was hobbling around the house, wincing and clutching my back.

i took a few days before i was walking upright, but i have learned my lesson. i'm not bound to be a yogi any time soon.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

training days

i'm training for a 10K.

four years ago, i used to do this. i trained for races. mostly 5Ks, but there was one 10K, and there was the triathlon training.

i used to love it. i loved the confidence born of the strength and endurance my body showed me, especially when training for the triathlon. i remember the first day that i did "brick training." we rode our bikes three miles, ran one mile, rode another three, and ran another one. the sensation of switching from biking to running was nothing less than discombobulating. when i switched from biking to running, my legs were shaking as if i were using them for the first time. but i pushed through, ran the mile, and got on the bike again. at the end of that morning's workout, i remember thinking that my body had never been in such hard motion for that extended period of a time. but in the weeks following that early training session, i saw that my body was capable of even more. swimming, biking, running. training for that triathlon made me feel powerful.

it's been 3 1/2 years since i've trained for anything seriously. and in that time, that strength and endurance has seriously slipped away. i have a million excuses, all of which i will spare you. the truth is that i haven't prioritized my body in all that time.

so now i'm training for a 10K. i haven't even wanted to say those words out loud because, frankly, i'm a little bit afraid. but i'm coming out. i'm going to run a local 10K on november 8th. or die training. ;)


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

husband and wife!

husband and wife!
Originally uploaded by lamusa
this is a shot of us as we we made our entrance into the reception site.

it's probably my favorite picture of us at the wedding. it's unposed, and i think that it really captures the joy that we were both feeling that day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

wedding day

the morning was grey and quiet and rainy.

i expected that weather. my friends had spent the previous week assuring me that rain on your wedding day was good luck in some cultures. nobody could remember which culture.

i didn't care. i was happy and calm and ready for the day.

there was hair and makeup. a flurry of activity when the limo driver pulled up to our house and i was still not dressed.

my mom helping me with my dress and veil, stepping back to look at me, and beginning to cry.

"no crying," i told her. then, "i love you."

at the church, there was a critical mass of my bridesmaids already assembled, all beautiful. there were bouquets of roses and calla lilies distributed and pictures taken. when joseph and his family arrived at the other side of the church, everyone made sure that i was out of sight.

just before 2PM, we were ushered to the front entrance of the church. i was whisked to a side room with my bridesmaids, my precocious flower girls, and my dad. i wondered why there was no music.

but then the organist began to play canon in D, and, one by one, my bridesmaids made their way up to the altar. finally, i heard the wedding march begin, and my dad took my arm and led me to the end of the aisle.

that wedding march was, in a way, like watching my life flash before my eyes. i saw the aunts, uncles, and cousins that i grew up with; there were my closest friends from high school; friends from my undergraduate days at stanford; and my girlfriends from grad school in texas. all of these people from those various stages of my life, those people i have carried in my memory and in my heart, all there to witness this next stage of my life.

and there was joseph at the end of the aisle.

there were scriptures and prayers, the presentation of the lazo, arras, and the bible. we exchanged vows. we received blessings. and then we were married.

the priest announced that joseph could "kiss the bride." and he did. three times. the priest exclaimed, "or you can kiss her three times!" our first three kisses as husband and wife.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009


after Mass on sunday morning, joseph and i decided to have breakfast at one of our favorite mexican restaurants. it was bustling with a crowd of people who were mostly ordering menudo. we waited patiently for our non-menudo breakfasts.

that morning, i was in the mood to reminisce. the afternoon before, i had stumbled upon an old journal and found myself re-reading my chronicles of the first few months we were dating. did he remember telling me he wanted to marry me after three months? he recalled our first date, as he often does, at a country club and then at a starbucks in temple, texas. how i told him that i just wanted to be friends. ;)

i tell him, "maybe on friday, after the rehearsal dinner--"

"we can go to starbucks and have some time to ourselves before the wedding," he said.

i looked at him, mouth agape. "how did you know i was going to say that?"

"that's why you're marrying me, isn't it?"

because he reads my thoughts and finish my sentences. honestly, it's the same as it was on that first date. i found it disarming that he could sense what i was thinking beyond what i was actually saying. i think that joseph exercises a form of listening that is beyond listening. most people don't pay that much attention.

and yes, that is one of the reasons i'm marrying him.


Friday, May 29, 2009

two small boxes

two small boxes
Originally uploaded by lamusa
i waited all day on tuesday for these two small boxes. according to the tracking number, they were on the delivery truck by 8:30AM, but the fed ex guy did not drive up to my house until 3:30PM.

i opened the outer box and found a medium sized box inside. i opened the medium sized box and found the bag. inside the bag was a velvety black bag and what appeared to be some invoice papers. inside the small black bag were two small black boxes. inside those were two ring boxes. i fumbled through the last layer of box (!) and found the ring boxes to be EMPTY!

though i was a little panicked, i had to laugh at what seemed to be a practical joke that the universe was playing on me.

then, i carefully inspected the invoice papers and found that there was a small white paper bag and inside that bag were two clear plastic jewelry bags. i saw his ring first and then my own.

i tried on my wedding band and was pleased to find that it fit perfectly. and it looked perfect alongside my engagement ring.

i couldn't help but wear it around the house that afternoon, as if i were playing married. joseph insisted that i take it off when we were headed out to run errands later in the afternoon.

the next day, however, i got to the house after joseph and found him wearing his ring, too. :)


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

pa' pagar el pan

this weekend joseph and i had to run a wedding errand in pomona. afterward, we decided to grab a bite to eat at this local mexican restaurant/bakery called el merendero.

as soon as we walked into the restaurant, we were accosted by the sugary smell of freshly-baked pan. needless to say, after lunch we decided to grab some bread to go. we placed a few items on a tray and brought them to the woman at the counter.

"uno ochenta," she told us, after adding the prices for the three pieces we had selected.

"uno ochenta?" i asked to confirm, as i rummaged through my wallet for cash and change. i had one dollar and ... there was a quarter, some dimes... yes. uno ochenta. "a penas!" i told the woman as i handed her the change.

she took my dollar and coins and said, "si no, no más deja el señor aquí que lave los trastres mientras tú vas comer tu pan con un café. luego, cuando termines, regresas por él."

we all had a good laugh at that one (even joseph). leave "my husband" to wash dishes to pay off the pan while i enjoyed some coffee.

now that's what i call solidarity, sister. ;)


Monday, May 04, 2009

unpopularly feminist

a few weeks ago at my bridal shower, one of my friends from home asked me if i was going to change my last name. knowing that i was about to give an unpopular answer, i wrinkled my nose and shook my head, "no," almost imperceptibly. it was perceptible enough to garner a reaction from people, especially considering that the two married women also at the table had changed their last names.

what about your kids? whose last name will they have? will you have a different name than they will?

and, on the other side, a different friend pointed out that i have a doctoral degree. i am dr. N. mr. S. did not spend those six and a half years in grad school.

in the end, most of my friends at that table were for the tradition of the woman changing her last name. my family, of course, didn't say much, but i suspect they think that i'm a little nutty.

this weekend, joseph and i sampled cakes for our wedding. it was an overall delicious experience except for one moment. the baker, when inquiring about how we'd like the cake decorated, suggested a monogram with our married initial, "S." joseph looked at me and laughed. i explained that i wasn't changing my last name.

she looked at me suspiciously and didn't immediately abandon the idea!

on the way home, joseph told me that it didn't bother him, but he thought it was funny that i was constantly having to defend myself. i told him that he needed to support me! it's not easy defying gender norms/expectations.

i am keeping my name. my name is an important part of my identity. it represents my family and their unique history, and it represents my culture. in that sense, it represents what i have inherited from my ancestors.

it also represents what i have accomplished in my life thus far. it is all the trophies and awards of my childhood, the byline that accompanied the articles i wrote for my local newspaper when i was in high school, and it was is inscribed on my undergraduate diploma from stanford and my graduate diploma from the university of texas. it is what my students call me, and it was what accompanies and will accompany all of my publications from now until tenure and beyond.

it is me.

i love joseph. i count our upcoming wedding as an incredible blessing. i don't, however, think that love and marriage mean that a woman should have to sacrifice something she considers important to her identity. if a woman chooses to do so, i respect that decision. one of the major goals of the feminist movement, after all, was for women to have choices.

i am not so naive to think that women won't be judged for their choices, whether it be the choice to keep her last name or the choice to return to work after her child is born. in that sense, women's "liberation" doesn't feel so liberating after all. but these are our rights, and we choose to exercise them.

joseph and i met with our DJ shortly before we left bakersfield today. at the end of our meeting he said to us, "the next time i see you, you'll be mr. and mrs. S!"

i sighed. "well, actually..."


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

engaged encounter

joseph and i have been engaged for almost six months now. during those six months, we have been meeting fairly regularly with our parish priest to discuss our impending married life.

more than anything, we've covered logistics. for example, who will pay the bills? separate checking or joint? how do you plan to balance work and parenting? who will assume what household chores? over the past several months, some of our sessions have been pretty intense. nevertheless, we finished the program with our priest a few weeks ago still committed to getting married!

the last requirement for us to complete before receiving the priest's blessing was to participate in an engaged encounter retreat.

joseph and i didn't really know what to expect of the retreat. we'd already covered so much, what more could they possibly throw at us? we were in for a surprise when we attended the retreat this past weekend.

the retreat was much more concerned with our married spiritual life. in the catholic church, marriage is a sacrament, after all. so the leaders of the retreat (two couples at different stages of marriage) talked to us about issues around communication, family, and the sanctity of marriage. After each "lesson" or topic, we separated to reflect and write our thoughts/responses. Each couple would then come together to discuss what they had written. in that way, we couldn't just let the lesson go in one ear and out the other. we were forced to really think about it and discuss it with each other.

in the end, the retreat really got me and joseph to think more about the sanctity of marriage, especially as we consider the difficulties that we will likely face in our life together. i think that both of us came out of the weekend better understanding the spiritual significance of our marriage, which makes it seem much more... serious (for lack of a better word). however, rather than being more nervous now, i feel more ready than i had previously been feeling.

i'd be lying if i said i wasn't scared about the "for as long as [we] both shall live," but i am certain that i've chosen the right man with whom to take this journey.

38 more days!!!


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

wedding humor

i don't think that this is the best picture of me, but i thought this bride and groom was hilarious. my friend, imelda, and i spotted it in this cute store in san diego, and i thought i would share. :)


Wednesday, April 15, 2009


i have been to many bridal showers in my 33 years. i know the silly games, the prizes, the finger foods, the cake, etc. it's all been fun. but this past weekend i was on the other side of all of the festivity. my sister, with the help of my mom and one of my good friends from home, put together a lovely little party for me.

one of the highlights was "failing" a game that asked me to answer various questions about joseph. for example, what is joseph's favorite band? favorite pizza topping? i got those right. the name of his first pet and his biggest pet peeve, i got wrong. all in all, i missed 8 out of 20 questions. for each question i missed, i had to chew a piece of gum. so, as you can imagine, by the end of the game, i had a mouth full of tropical berry flavored gum (not appetizing at all).

i received some very thoughtful gifts, many of which were from our registry. so, there were a lot of kitchen/household items. i was thrilled to have been given a molcajete!!! i joked that i felt like i was being "domesticated." after 33 years, i suppose it was about time. :)

in any event, it was a really nice gathering of family and a few close friends. i appreciated how excited everyone was for me, the bride to be!


Tuesday, March 31, 2009


last week i met with a prospective graduate student.
she's smart and serious and deciding between our program and a couple of others.
did i mention she's 22?

my meeting with her reminded me of when i was a prospective graduate student. i had been accepted into my top choice program, but i wasn't sold on getting a ph.d. i had a master's degree and thought i could probably get a fine job with that. but after i visited austin, and sat in on a seminar, and met with professors and students, i was sold. i was intellectually hungry. i missed the challenge of academia. so i decided to go.

there were many times when i second guessed my decision, especially during that first--very challenging--year. but i don't regret the path that i chose at all. even though i spent my 20s in school, and even though i didn't have my first "real" job until i was 31, i wouldn't trade the experience. i met some of my best friends in graduate school, and, though it took a while to get here, i love my job.

that prospective student talked for almost an hour and a half. i recognized her anxieties that afternoon, but was really excited for the path she was about to take.


Thursday, March 26, 2009


a few nights ago i dreamed that it was my wedding day, and i was running around in a panic. i didn't have shoes. i didn't have my something blue. i had no garter to throw. no jewelry. and no strapless bra.

it was 10AM, and the wedding was going to start at 2PM. my mom told me, "well, i guess we need to go shopping!"

we had four hours to shop for all of my missing stuff.

i woke up before i was ready to walk down the aisle. and i was relieved that it wasn't my wedding day.

the next night i dreamed that i got into a huge fight with one of my bridesmaids (also one of my oldest friends) right before the wedding. we were in the process of reconciling when i woke up that morning.

so. apparently, i'm having a little bit of anxiety about my wedding preparation. i hope that all is resolved over the next 2 1/2 months!


Monday, March 09, 2009

home (getting there)

outside of my old apartment there were cars that sped east-west and north-south, mostly trying to make the light. it was a constant whir of cars. in my new neighborhood there is nothing but the occasional hum of my refrigerator, the sputtering of my sprinklers for ten minutes each night, and perhaps the distant, low whistle of a train.
these are the sounds of the neighborhood where i am making my home.
it's been just over a month since i moved into the house. and there are things that make it seem like "mine." my red couch, my books, the framed pictures i hang of my family and friends. but the bare walls, the scarce furniture, and (i'll admit it) the still unpacked boxes make me feel like it's not quite home.
but this is only the first month.
in less than three months, i'll be married, and joseph will bring all of the things that make him feel at home (mostly books and pictures, if i had to guess) into the house. we'll inevitably fill it with the myriad items on our wedding registry.
it occurs to me, however, that it will take more than new furniture or appliances to make this house our home. it'll be the time that we spend here--cooking meals, cultivating the garden, mowing the lawn, hosting visits from friends and family. these will be the things that make us feel that we've finally come home.
until then, i'll commit to unpacking a few more boxes.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

almost ours

about three weeks ago, joseph and i went to the house to meet with the property inspector. we hadn't seen it since august, when we first made the offer. at that time, i was surprised by how much i still loved the place. it hadn't lost its lustre for me.

as we walked around the property, the current owner came outside to show us his garden and told us how we took care of it during the winter. he kept saying things like, "if you guys end up buying this house, then ..."

by that point, we were in escrow, but the idea of buying--of OWNING--a house still seemed very far away and a bit unreal to me.

over the past three weeks, we have reviewed and signed a million papers, contracts, etc. i wired the money--pretty much everything that i had been squirreling away and into my savings account for nearly two years--to escrow. it was an awful feeling. but when i left the bank, the teller congratulated me on my new house.

today joseph and i returned to the house on linwood for a final walk through. the couple who lives there now--a mexican american couple about my parents' age--had already moved out almost all of their belongings. the bare furniture was all that remained. the husband took joseph outside to look at some "manly things" (i preferred not to know), while the wife showed me where she was leaving spare keys, light bulbs, and appliance manuals.

in that moment, i was anxious and afraid about the responsibility of the house. the commitment of it all really terrified me. i worried that we wouldn't be able to keep up the house as beautifully as they had. i was sad that they had to leave such a lovely home.

we signed one last form, and when we left the wife hugged both me and joseph and her husband shook our hands. they wished us luck. in five days it'll all be in our hands.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

home and heart

joseph and i were in dallas a couple of weeks ago when my real estate agent called to tell me that the offer i had made on a house in riverside had been accepted.

we hadn't been house hunting since the summer. we saw many awful houses that had been foreclosed and several houses on the verge of foreclosure (short sales). these were the house in our price range, but most of them were in bad shape.

except for one. we saw a beautiful house in an established neighborhood in riverside. it was built in the 1940s, very small, but beautifully kept with hard wood floors, built in bookshelves, impeccable landscaping. it was, by leaps and bounds, the best property we had seen.

i made an offer.

four months later, after a lot of back and forth with the bank and the listing agent and a lot of waiting, i found myself in dallas with my future in-laws, receiving the news that the bank accepted my offer. everyone was talking about the engagement and our wedding in california, and now, on top of all of that is the house.

yesterday we met with the property inspector and walked through the house again. it was great because we remembered why we loved the house in the first place. of course now it feels more special knowing that this is likely to be our first house as a married couple.

these are huge life changes. kind of overwhelming, but also very exciting. :)