In 2015 I got a valentine named Leila (born February 14th)
…and a little firework named Nolan Antonio (born July 4th).
Devin and I finally went to Mexico City to visit my cousin Carol’s family. Carlos Manuel and Devin became fast friends and spent hours playing rockets. I wish I had a video!
Victoria told me her favorite hobby was “helping,” so we spent time folding clothes and writing letters. She also learned to whisper and told me secrets like “I love baby Leila” and “Will you please come visit me again?” (I’m positive this information has been declassified by now.)
All four of my sobrin@s finally got to hang out together in November, and I realized just how little babies care about each other. Victoria was excited, but the rest of them were preoccupied with things like sleep, milk, and their mothers. I suppose the real lesson is that I know almost nothing about babies because I expected them to have so much fun and become BFFs, but I guess those types of interactions don’t happen until after you’ve mastered things like holding your head up and feeding yourself? IDK.
This summer Devin and I said goodbye to New York and hello to a little city between two lakes. In between, we decided to see as many of our friends and family as possible. Our goal was to attend every wedding we were invited to and meet all the babies we hadn’t yet met, and somehow we were able to do it. Highlights from this summer vacation included
• going to Jill and Eric’s wedding in Portland (the first Portland wedding I went to was my own, and Jill and Eric came to our wedding, so it was like déjà vu + role reversal + our friend Tasha!)
• packing up our apartment and saying goodbye to our friends in New York (that part was actually so hard and sad and why can’t you make everyone you love go everywhere you go?)
• being welcomed to our new neighborhood in Madison by this incredible octopus sculpture (it’s gone now, but I will never forget it)
Sometime in 2015 I decided I’d like to be the Ambassador for Mexican Snacks. I blogged about burritos and junk food, and at Christmas I got my very American suegra hooked on Valentina, Mexico’s top hot sauce. Though I’m not yet receiving a paycheck for my ambassadorial services, I am certain that my career is on track and look forward to living in a mansion with a giant chamoy fountain in the center where I can entertain dignitaries and elevate Mexican snacks to the level of fame they deserve. I expect all of this to happen within the next year, and you are all invited to the housewarming party. ; )
I arrived in Portland three days before the wedding and was reunited with Devin, friends, and my family who battled the harsh bureaucracy of that cruel border just to say ‘I love you’ in person. That sounds melodramatic, but my little cousins’ visas weren’t delivered until a day after their flight left. The grown-ups in my family came together and bought them new (last-minute, very expensive) tickets. Then, they had to figure out how to get them to the airport and convince the authorities that they had permission to fly without their parents. I should mention that this was their first time traveling by themselves. Just to say ‘I love you’ in person.
The day before the wedding, we took thirty of our friends and family to a little island where we picked berries and flowers for the party. We picked so many, in fact, that we set a record on the farm for most berries picked, and Devin’s parents had to figure out how to get them to their house in Wisconsin so they wouldn’t go to waste!
Devin and I got married on a sunny day. He looked sooo good. Neither of us really remembers the feminist ceremony we planned for months. We do remember the flowers lovingly arranged by our cousins and friends, the surprise ice cream we received in the park while playing lawn games, and dancing to the sounds of seventeen musicians with my cousin Caren on vocals.
After celebrating from noon to midnight, we stayed at a hotel that I’m pretty sure I imagined and willed into being. The building’s architectural details have been preserved for a hundred years; it was decorated with Old Hollywood film stills; and when we asked for ketchup the next morning, they sent us a whole bowl.
We took a train along the Pacific Coast, basking in the beauty of the scenery, white-tablecloth dinners, and a freshly-made bed every night. This would have been a great honeymoon, but we were even luckier, spending a week at a veritable oasis in the Sonora Desert. Though I’m from Northern Mexico, I’d never been to a beach in my region, and it was incredible to swim in the ocean and emerge in a place so similar to my hometown. Devin and I spent our days swimming and snorkeling. We ate fresh fruit with chamoy in a hollowed coconut. At night we danced and learned about Puerto Peñasco from friends we made who live there. On our last day, they led us on an epic scavenger hunt to get souvenirs for our families and eat all my favorite snacks one last time before heading back to the States for a tornaboda on Devin’s family farm!
Where Devin’s from they’re into potlucks, so we asked everyone to bring a pie. In all, our friends brought 20 different pies! I tried in vain to taste them all; Devin succeeded.
We ended the night, and our summer, with a big bonfire and camping on a cold night in our cozy new sleeping bag for two.
Fun fact: our wedding was captured by two dear friends. Devin has known James practically his whole life, and I met Marissa the last time I wore a white dress in a church, my First Communion! They both had to travel far to attend and then got to work as soon as they landed. It is so cool to see the wedding through their eyes and know that the photos were taken with love.
We are really lucky to have family and friends who all chipped in and made the wedding beautiful and fun. Thanks, everyone! We love you!
I haven’t written much about planning a wedding, mostly because I don’t know the first thing about it. But this week I am in Portland with my mom to see Devin and start putting some real thought and effort into figuring out the beginning of our plans! This trip was planned on the shortest of notices. And I mean that. Here’s the timeline:
On Wednesday, Devin & I decided to have our wedding ceremony & reception in Portland.
On Thursday, I realized I have this week off from work.
On Friday, my mom and I decided we should come to Portland. We bought plane tickets in the wee hours of Friday night/Saturday morning and flew in on Sunday! I had never bought a plane ticket/packed my bags on such short notice.
Phew. I am also working on a very big translation project, which is fun but time-consuming work. I can’t really remember the last time I slept a full eight hours, but I am very happy about the reasons I haven’t been sleeping. My brain keeps having these pop-up notes like: Translating? Hanging out with my mom? Seeing Devin? Portland? Biking seven miles with Devin…and my MOM? Wedding-planning? IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?!?
It is actually happening, and I am posting this before I go to bed because I try my hardest to update this thing once a week, and I doubt I’ll have much time tomorrow. Sorry if it isn’t a very interesting post.
Funny story about these pictures. I made this grand plan for Jo to take our engagement pictures. Only I forgot to tell Devin…and I also forgot to tell Jo. Until the day I thought the photo session would be. Luckily, they were both free and such good sports about the whole thing. I guess after you know me a while you realize that while I might be good at planning, I am not always so good about communicating plans (some would say that’s the most important part, but what do they know).
‘Home’ is the word I most strongly associate with Portland, Oregon. It is far from the only thing I associate ‘home’ with—shopping malls, telenovelas, Christmas, American commercials from the 90s, and Mexican junk food all rank high on the list. But Portland is a special part of that list because it is the only place where I have felt at home from the moment I arrived.
I remember landing in PDX airport in August of 2007 and running to the restroom. When I turned to flush, I saw my first dual-flush handle (it allows the user to control how much water is used to flush, which saves gallons of water.)
Everything I encountered after that was just as perfect: farmers’ markets, efficient public transit, bike lanes, flowers the size of my face, trees the size of my dreams, public parks, and delicious vegan food everywhere…
Because I moved to Portland for college, it became my first home apart from my mother’s. And what a home it was! Fittingly, Portland also has some of the most beautiful houses I’ve ever seen. While I was visiting last month, I tried to capture some of them.
The number-one reason Portland houses are beautiful is, of course, the setting. The above picture is an unedited iPhone photo of a random house I saw on my way to the bus. Look how full of life Portland is! Look how tall that tree is! Look at that tangle of flowers on the mini-porch! There’s probably a more apt term than ‘mini-porch’, but I am not an architect!
Even if you subtracted the setting–as I tried to do for this shot–Portland is full of beautiful Victorian and Craftman-style houses painted in cheery colors. This house with individually-painted shingles in some of my favorite colors used to be my dream house. When I showed Abbita, my grandmother, a picture of it, she noted that it had too few windows for her taste. You can’t tell from this picture, but I agree with Abbita. My dream house should have no fewer than one million windows.
Portland residents also like to add fairytale touches to their already magical real-estate realities. This Craftsman has miniature toy dinosaurs on every rock in its front yard! I’ve also seen tiny toy horses tied to horse rings in sidewalks. (Horse rings are what people in the 1800s used to ‘park’ their horses. Read more about Portland’s toy horse project here.)
But what’s a home without an interior? This picture of my friend Alex’s house shows two things characteristic of Portland homes: (1) amazing old wood details and (2) color. Sadly, the photo doesn’t do justice to the deep orange of this dining room’s wall. Another thing I love about this picture is the cross. Alex was my roommate freshman year, and this cross is the first thing we bought to decorate our room. We bought it at a store selling fair-trade artisanal goods from Latin America. From what I remember, it’s either from Ecuador or Honduras, but uh, don’t quote me on that. Living with Alex is one of the best living arrangements I’ve ever had—and that’s even considering the size of our room. It was so small that the next year it was turned into a single-occupancy dorm. Alex, if you’re reading this, I love you! Thanks for letting me crash in your perfect house.
When I walked into Jo’s house (a house I’d been dying to see ever since I saw this house tour on her blog), the first thing I saw was this yellow tea kettle sitting on the most darling gas stove I ever did see. I was breathless over the color coordination among the kettle, wall décor, and dishtowel. If I had a Pinterest, I would pin this soooo hard. Let’s focus on what’s important here, though: tea kettles. Every Portland house has one! A lot of them have a stovetop one and an electric one. I didn’t even know what an electric kettle was until I moved there, and I’d only really had two kinds of tea in my life: chamomile and peppermint. Then, I started drinking tea to stay warm, and pretty soon I was drinking it just to drink it. Once, when I was feeling very romantic and Devin was writing his thesis, I bought him flowers and fancy tea. Only the tea tasted like perfume, so I ended up using the tea bags as potpurri for my drawers. All my socks and t-shirts smelled really good for a few months. After I took the above picture, I discussed kombucha with Jo and her housemate Aria. It boggles my mind that a lot of North Americans reading this probably don’t know what kombucha is. If you have never heard of it, here is all you need to know: it originated in China, it’s fizzy, some people think it cures every disease ever, everyone in Portland has an opinion about it, and once Lindsay Lohan claimed it made her drunk.
Jo, Aria, & Chris also have the neatest book & zine corner. This picture is a testament to their design genius, in case you weren’t convinced by the kitchen shot. I know not everyone knows what a zine is, so I found this webpage from Brooklyn College that explains the concept. Basically, it’s cool writing made and self-published by cool people. Most zines are made using paper, scissors, and photocopiers though that has changed a lot thanks to things like computers and Photoshop. When Devin asked me to be his girlfriend significant other—he asked me to be his girlfriend, but I prefer the term ‘s.o.’ ‘Girlfriend’ is just too antiquated/normatively gendered for me. So is ‘fiancée’, but I haven’t found any accurate equivalent for that so most of the time I say ‘partner’, which doesn’t really capture it…ack sorry, what was I saying? Oh yeah, Devin photocopied every feminist zine he could find at the Portland Independent Publishing Resource Center, put them in a binder, wrapped the binder in newspaper from the New York Times Style section, and asked me to be his ___________. The rest is history! (Can you tell I miss Devin? Me too.)
Jo’s living room is one of the prettiest I have ever seen (I got to sleep on that couch, you guys!), but it also reminds me of every Portland living room I’ve ever been in. The vintage couch by a window, the glass jars and bottles on a coffee table, the laptop… The whole scene gives me goosebumps, in a good way.
P.S. Every time I rave about Portland, I feel a strong moral conviction to acknowledge the huge problem of racial segregation in that city. Portland’s racial inequality is increasing. Seattle—the other metropolis in the Pacific Northwest—is decreasing racial inequality thanks to bold, innovative policies. This episode of Think Out Loud, a radio show from Portland, is a solid introduction to the problem.
P.P.S. If you enjoyed the pictures of Jo’s house, check out her blog. It is my favorite blog in the whole of the worldwide web. Her latest post, especially, inspired and moved me. I cried the best kind of tears.
Hi, everyone! I’m still visiting my family in Mexico. Today is Día de Reyes, the last day of the holiday season here, which means I absolutely have to post my year-in-review post and stop listening to Christmas carols riiiiight now.
March was a hard month because my grandmother passed away. I felt fortunate to be able to fly home and see my family, but it was hard.
July was a big month, so brace yourself for lots of pictures!
2011, thank you for the lessons & good times. You are dismissed.