When I wrote my first version of “100 Things” for this blog, it took me five months to complete.
I was still in my mid-20s – a very confusing time of life.
Several items were taken up with wishing I had a different career and constantly wondering what to do with my life.
While there are certainly many uncertainties in my life as far as career, family, education and environment, I no longer stress much about these things.
Inspired by a friend who I got to know by reading through one another’s “100 things” lists, I have re-written this list in one sitting.
I must conclude that I know myself a lot better now.
I was born during a large snowstorm in a hospital in , Wisconsin in January of 1979.
I have a total of three brothers and one sister, only one of those brothers, however, is a “whole” brother.
My “whole” brother was born June 25. This is a perfect birthday, ensuring gifts and celebration every half year.
My parents are divorced. My dad is remarried, but my mom is single. She lives in a nice condo.
My step-mom is an opera singer.
At age four, when I was “helping” my mom cook in our blue and cream kitchen, she asked me to watch the second-hand on the clock and quickly realized that I could not actually see it.
If was off to the eye doctor, where they realized I had terrible vision for such a small child.
One of my earliest memories is of walking alone into pre-school with my brand-new glasses on. The teacher spent a moment explaining to the rest of the kids what was on my face.
I now wonder if the reason I have few memories pre-glasses is because I couldn’t really see anything.
As many of my old, old friends will attest, I did, in fact, wear powder blue and pale pink coke-bottle glasses until I got contacts in middle school.
Another early memory: Me, holed up in by brother’s room, jumping on the bed and dancing around, singing: “Fame! I wanna live forever, I’m gonna learn how to fly” at the top of my lungs. I have no clue why I was doing this.
As I recall it, my dad walked in on me, but I don’t remember being embarrassed. I assume he didn’t know what to say.
When I was in kindergarten I had a classmate with whom I shared a birthday. I believed that made us twins.
When I was in sixth grade I wrote a story for school and I remember the two teachers coming up to me after it was graded and saying: “Well, Laura may turn out to be something of a writer.” That was one of my favorite compliments ever.
I used to unconsciously whistle when I was a kid. My dad used to get irritated because it was a reedy-sounding weak whistle and I never had any melody going, just random noise.
Sometimes he would tell me to stop from the other room and a few minutes later I would start up again without even realizing it.
When I am really pensive I occasionally still whistle.
I remember very few of my dreams, but there is one that I have remembered since I had it as a kid. All I know is that my aunt Diane, myself and a person in a gorilla suit were in a room that had some sort of obstacle course and was decorated in the hip pink and sea green motif of the ‘80s. Any interpretations?
I played soccer as a kid, and perhaps because of that, when I was angry with a friend or my brother, I would sometimes kick them.
I was sort of a dork in school. I tried to dress well and look sort of cool, but I wasn’t so successful.
When I was a restaurant manager, I had many high-school aged employees and they always saw me as sort of a cool adult, and I have to admit, I kind of enjoyed it.
I almost never drank alcohol in all the typical “sow the wild oats” time of one’s life (late high school, college, and immediately after).
I drink socially now, but it took years to overcome the difficulty of deciding what beer, wine or cocktail either a) I enjoyed or b) was appropriate in a given situation.
I have never broken a bone, or been to the hospital for really anything.
I did, however, have to be put under to get my wisdom teeth taken out, after which I don’t remember anything for like two days, including apparently walking out of the clinic.
I dislike cartoons, pretty much across the board.
I am 5’5” and wish I were about 2” taller. I think it would bring me a bit more respect, and it would be easier to buy jeans.
However, my husband Fermin is about 5’8”, so in that respect, my height is perfect.
Fermin was born in April of 1979, in a tiny hut on a hillside in a very rural area of Puebla, Mexico.
I grew up in an upper-middle class suburban home and never wonted for any necessity.
Fermin’s family was very poor when he was growing up.
It’s difficult to say whose childhood was happier. Both were reportedly quite nice.
I met Fermin one month after I graduated college. He was one of the first Mexican people with whom I meaningfully interacted.
The first memory I have of Fermin was thinking he was a bit intimidating and scary, because for a few weeks during the opening of the restaurant, he rarely spoke and never smiled.
We became friends and started seeing each other while I was the assistant manager and technically his boss. We kept it a secret for a while, and it truly didn’t interfere with our jobs.
In May of 2004 we got married at the Milwaukee County Courthouse.
I never envisioned myself in a big princess wedding, although I feared my parents would have preferred it. But hey, it’s my life, right? I have no regrets about it.
My husband’s name is pronounced something like Fehr-mean, with a rolled “r” sound in the middle.
Fermin, who entered the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant in the late 1990s, could not adjust his status in the U.S. like most Americans assume happens when any immigrant marries a U.S. citizen.
He in fact had to exit the U.S. for a visa interview at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez in 2006.
At that time he was denied a visa and we had to submit a packet that documented the extreme hardship I would suffer were he not allowed to return to the U.S. for 10 years.
The Consulate in Ciudad Juarez accepts roughly 1000 of these waivers per month.
I put together the best hardship packet I could and we were approved in 2007.
Fermin was outside the U.S. for a total of 11 months.
This time was very stressful on our lives as individuals and as a married couple. In many ways it made both of us much, much stronger.
When I started learning Spanish in elementary school I discovered I was incapable of producing the rolled ‘r’ sound critical for good Spanish pronunciation.
This makes me almost unable to pronounce my husband’s name correctly, which I admit is quite a personal embarrassment.
I pride myself on at least attempting to pronounce most “foreign” words as correctly as possible.
Despite attending an elementary school that had a rare foreign language program, I rarely applied myself to learning Spanish and was never exceptionally good at it.
In 1999, I took my first trip abroad to China, and my attitude toward foreign language changed forever.
Being thrown into situations where I was incapable of communicating with anyone around me made me realize how much I took for granted living in a society where I could almost always communicate with anyone.
I later lived in Beijing for one year. I was there on a college mission trip, although now I see that time as one of the most formative in my life, for many non-spiritual reasons.
I learned a ton about myself, about accepting people the way they are, about cultural nuances and getting to know a place as home.
After becoming fairly proficient in Chinese, I graduated from college and entered a work environment where Spanish was a very important asset.
I set out to relearn Spanish.
For several months, when I would hear someone say certain things in Spanish, my mind would want to respond in Chinese.
Once, when I called one of my employees, I became flustered because I couldn’t understand his Spanish over the phone and started responding in Chinese.
My Spanish has become fairly proficient after several years working as a restaurant manager with Mexican cooks, besides living with Fermin and his siblings for the last three years.
I also credit some of the acceleration of my comprehension to my obsession with the telenovela “La Madrastra” in 2005.
I am a fairly levelheaded, logical person, but I will admit I like to be in the know, and sometimes participate in gossip.
For several years after I graduated college, I was a restaurant manager. I was extremely stressed and partially burned out a lot of the time. I decided to quit before I was too old to reference my degree in any meaningful way in a job interview.
My current job involves managing customer accounts and assisting outside sales representatives in New York and Virginia.
It’s a low-stress position that I do well, but has no opportunity for advancement.
Because of this job I can now differentiate between a Long Island and a Brooklyn accent.
During my immigration-related separation from Fermin, I became an active member of an online immigration support community (Immigrate2us.net), where I have met a lot of wonderful people going through the same process.
Between our immigration journey, my involvement with this web site and my acquaintance with an excellent immigration attorney, I have decided to pursue a career as an immigration attorney myself.
I love reading. I started when I was four years old, and never really stopped.
I am a terrible dancer, really terrible. Perhaps that is why I adore the shows Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance.
I am terrible at saving money. If I could change one thing about myself, I would become more frugal.
I have a strange capability to remember obscure numbers. Until recently I remembered many of the phone numbers of high-school friends.
Cell phones make memorizing phone numbers mostly obsolete, but I do know the six-digit account numbers for probably 150 of my accounts and probably 50 of their phone numbers by sight.
I am not a morning person. I inherited this curse from my mother, who once told me that well into her 40s she had trouble getting up for work. Boo.
My dad, on the other hand, gets up before 6 every day. I cannot think of a time he ever was still in bed when I woke up.
While I thankfully have outgrown my ability to sleep for 14 hours straight if I do not set an alarm, I still consider myself a very good sleeper.
I have been teaching myself to garden since we bought our house. I have three years of experience under my belt now. I grow a big, mean tomato plant.
I live with my husband and five of his family members. His sister and husband have a two-year old toddler, and oh my god, he’s the cutest thing in the world.
Advice to women who start yearning for children but feel they shouldn’t really start a family yet: move in with someone who has a really nice baby – you can get your fix, without all the responsibility.
In the past, when a friend, family member or co-worker would confront me about something in the past, I would occasionally laugh. It was very inappropriate, and I knew it, but I guess it was a coping mechanism.
I love trying new cuisines. Eating out at a new restaurant or experimenting with cooking ethnic cuisine are equally great pleasures for me.
I have the unfortunate tendency to look down upon those who don’t like onions, spicy food or anything that isn’t “American.”
I enjoy trying to convince people to eat things they normally wouldn’t. This also gets me into trouble.
I once ate some dog stir-fry in China. Contrary to popular belief, dog is not part of typical Chinese cuisine, however, it is eaten regularly in Korea, and therefore some restaurants in Beijing (and I am sure many other places in China) serve it.
I really enjoy navigating on road trips.
I love maps, mapquest.com, atlases, etc. I always have a Milwaukee and Waukesha county map as well as a U.S. atlas in my car for emergency situations. Because of this, I almost never get lost.
I have never had a cavity, which is a testament to having strong teeth, not because I avoid sweets.
I am quite competitive, but only in a few areas. Those include any games I play with family and friends, ie. Monopoly, euchre, spades, etc.
Scattergories is my favorite board game.
I have severe devil’s advocate syndrome. I tend to immediately comment on the negative possibilities of any idea presented, in just about any situation.
The way I see it, it’s nice to have a devil’s advocate. I provide reason and balance, but I think I also bring annoyance and irritation to my husband, friends or my boss at times.
Sometimes, when I am tired, especially at work, I have a tendency to mumble.
Like my father, I sometimes learn a new hobby or craft and go totally gung-ho about it. Examples include scrapbooking, photography, baking bread and gardening.
Some of those hobbies stick, others fall to the wayside after I have invested maybe $100 and 15-20 hours.
I love coffee, but until December of 2007, had never really understood what it looked like on the tree. As Fermin and I were driving through a small town in the state of Veracruz, Mexico, I pointed out some red, green and yellow berries, and he informed me those were coffee plants. I had no idea!