It took us a long time to get to this:
Laura being walked down the aisle by her mom and dad for our wedding at Sacred Heart Chapel at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Photo credit: Stacee Lianna.
Make no mistake, the 4-5 years we dated was considered a long time by most if not all of our friends and family. I’m pretty sure if faces spoke words those of my mother- and father-in-law would be straight to the point of what they were thinking all along: About damn time this is happening.
And like most couples, we planned our entire wedding–expensive wedding planners be damned! We made a few assumptions, some of them smart, some not so bright.
First and foremost, if 9 months is long enough to make a baby, it’s long enough to plan a wedding. To hell with a longer engagement period.
Next, a good friend of mine helped us keep focus on what matters most. “The wedding is all about her, the reception all about your guests” Another cardinal rule of wedding planning worked brilliantly for us: Have a great DJ and a lot of alcohol, something to eat, and the rest will work itself out.
And our final assumption turned out to be the one most often discussed by almost all of our participants: People really hate LA. And equally important to this assumption: We really love it. What’s more, we wanted our friends and family, loved ones who have avoided the city like the plague to get a glimpse of why we love it so much. But how would we do that when most, if not all the guests were arriving for one brief weekend to celebrate with us? Simple, we’d have a wedding and we’d have a reception, but for the hours in between both, we’d plan a tour of the most epic proportions. Touch football in the world-famous Coliseum anyone?
My groomsmen learning that their long-held belief they could be an NFL kicker one day was in fact false. Photo credit: Stacee Lianna.
Want to know how we pulled it off? And how you can too? Continue reading
Getting back into shape sucks. Running has always come easy, until it no longer did. I suppose that’s just how life works. But I’ve been hanging my head low, literally and figuratively, as I trudge through the process of trying to become a runner again.
Saturday was no different. I fought off legs that moved like cinderblocks, lungs that were reminded of how shitty asthma can be, and a morale more broken than the pavement I pounded away on. My head hung low, I didn’t even try and enjoy my run but rather thought in simple terms of “enduring the time remaining” to reach what felt like an elusive goal. And so my view, and my mentality, was anything but inspiring.
Is this really the best running view in Los Angeles? I don’t think so.
And then about a mile and a half in to the run, I picked my head up. Instantly, the perspective changed. Continue reading
I’ll never forget living in Quito during Holy Week. As a Catholic, the week is something special to me, but I never thought much about it. Holy Week comes, we go to Mass a couple extra times, music returns to the church, hallelujah. But in Quito, I went to a re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross, where the man playing Jesus really looked to be suffering. The cross was heavy, the sweat real, and more astonishing still, where the Cross rubbed into his shoulder, real blood appeared.
True to the Stations, a man comes to assist “Jesus” with the cross.
Suddenly the Stations of the Cross meant something else, as I stood uncomfortably, watching the suffering of this volunteer actor before me, and for the first time in my life, truly picturing what the actual event was like.
And so when we travel, we love finding a way to have our travels coincide with cultural celebrations. And if you want to understand Día de Los Muertos (Day of the dead), there are few places that celebrate it as well as Baja California.
A classical Dia de los Muertos altar in the community I work with in El Florido, Tijuana, Mexico
This is me, after my first marathon, in 2004.
To the casual eye, nothing looks out of place. But an experienced runner, or someone with intimate knowledge of “nipple chaffing” can see what most cannot: The blood soaking through my shirt, dried up on the edges of my runners bib. I learned a thing or two from running 26.2 miles but the most important lesson was this: community matters. And not just in the wax poetic kind of way but in the “save your damn nipples from hurting in the shower for the next week” practical kind of way as well. Had I known nipples could chaff, I would have got NipGuards (a real product) or at least grabbed at the Vaseline various volunteers held alongside cups of water at various mile markers.
But I also learned two other lessons. First, very little in life is insurmountable. I wouldn’t have called myself a fitness warrior before that race, and I wouldn’t have called myself one at any point after that. But what started as out as running a simple mile turned into 3.1, which turned into 5, then 10, 13, 18, and finally 26.2.
But ten years later, the second lesson has been far more humbling, painful, and if I’m vulnerable with you all- deeply humiliating. The reality is this: Achievements in running are fleeting if we aren’t willing to show up everyday and put the work in for it. And so my life as of late has been the opposite of that joy and confidence I felt years prior. 26.2 miles became 18, which slipped to 13, then to 10, down to 5, until at last 3.1 became a challenge and one became the minimum at which I could still safely commit to.
As one of my great students reminded me yesterday, you’re confined only by the walls you build. For sometime now, I’ve been more than ready to break some of those walls down. And yesterday, I began to chip away at it. Continue reading
Everyone likes to eat and drink. But what if your ventures out to do so could also do good for society as well? Sound too good to be true? It’s not!
Here in LA, Laura and I are obsessed with really making our dollars count. I mean, it’s one of the most expensive cities in the country, so that alone should be motivation. But we also like seeing to it that, when possible, we are confident our money is going to good causes.
And good cause can mean many things, to many people. It might be shopping local instead of at a giant box store. Perhaps it’s hitting up a mom and pop owned Chinese restaurant rather than a Chinese chain. For the purpose of this blog, Laura and I are talking about one thing, and one thing alone: How can the money you spend, support social justice initiatives? And to start, we’re going to focus on the travel destination we know the best: Our home town of Los Angeles. Continue reading
Stuck at LAX on a layover? You’re probably on your smart phone or tablet, frantically searching for things to do with your time. If you’re in LA and have a layover (or delay) of more than a couple hours, take the advice from a couple that lives in the area- we’ve got some great ways to get you out of the airport and into a couple cool hidden and not so hidden gems close to LAX!
So what to do with a layover in LA? Here’s some simple advice for areas close to the airport, and the various transportation you can utilize to get there. If you don’t have enough time to leave the airport but want a terminal by terminal guide to food, you can find that in our Eating in LAX guide