Category Archives: culture

“Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Opus 64”

I can’t believe that is has basically been half a year since I posted anything. Since then I’ve survived my first administration of TAKS as a teacher, taken and passed the dreaded PPR, completed my internship ( now I have to pay my fee for my certification and wait on my piece of paper to arrive stating that ‘I r a tichur,’ finished buying furniture for my apartment and signed a contract for next year.

Life has been a blur but I can’t say anything other than I’ve been vey blessed even when things weren’t the greatest. Like the 5 year turnover of friends, cultural frustrations, learning ugly truths about myself, have the delight of starting over yet again, being reminded o my failings, etc. But yes the clichéd terms, I’m better for it.

I’ve been productive enough to have completed most of my summer to-do list which means I can attack the piles of books that I purchased during the school year and did not get around to reading until now. As well as experiment in the kitchen. And enjoy the beautiful nights listening to the Houston Symphony at Miller. ^^

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“Jingle Bell Rock”

It’s weird because the last couple of years, with the exception of living in Slovakia, I’ve felt pretty disconnected from the Christmas holiday, I figured that it was because I wasn’t living in Christian-based countries. But it was a bit surprising to find that after seeing Christmas decorations being put up in October before Halloween and the “buying” season being stretched to last almost three months, I haven’t been too much into the spirit of Christmas.

So I thought that the best way to feel more in tune with the Christmas spirit would be to bake some cookies. So I made a plan to leave work as soon as possible and begin the mini-Christmas-baking-a-thon. I usually make chocolate chip cookies, Heath bars and Russian tea cakes, but this year I wanted to make something different, so I made dark chocolate brownies and chocolate kissed patties (with either mint truffles Hersey kisses or Cherry Hersey kisses).

I have to admit with my tree up and the smell of fresh baked cookies, as well as the fact that I have a half day [translation it’s possible that I could leave work at 2pm or as soon as my work is all done, whichever comes first] left before two weeks of no work and that friends are coming over on Saturday, all have picked me up a bit. ^^

“Kudos”

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. By the time I’m home from teaching, I’m tired and I don’t particularly want to type any more or look at my computer, just food, a little news, a little TV, shower, some light reading and then straight to sleep. Since then some interesting articles:

One of the first court cases that helped pave the way for equality in America: which took place in Houston.

A commentary on Dez Bryant’s spending spree.

The Houston Ballet has a special event called the Nutcracker Market…call me interested. ^^

Another event, because let’s be honest Houston has great falls, perfect for walking and enjoying the evening.

The past couple of weeks I’ve been glued to my TV because this is finally the year that my childhood baseball team, the Texas Rangers, have a chance at winning the World Series. I cheered for the ‘stros, but the Rangers have always have a special place in my heart and to see them, especially with the personal back stories of the players and members of management, you have to root for them. Last night, the Rangers have finally made it for the first time in franchise history to the World Series by beating the team with best record and the defending world champs (and getting Alex Rodriguez as the last out was a bit of poetic justice – it was even better than plunking him hard for sabotaging the Rangers when he played for us so he could get more homers)!! One thing that I really liked to is that the team acknowledges one of their teammate’s struggles with alcohol and drugs, that they have been having ginger ale celebrations so that he can participate. The last two fan comments are the best in response to the Yankees’ plans to get Cliff Lee and a parody on the MasterCard commercials.

Liberty Station

Now that I’ve completely and permanently moved back to Houston, I decided it was about time to get in touch with other RPCVs. Being a Peace Corps Volunteer was such an important part of my life but yet it’s hard to share with people who haven’t been a part of that experience. In some ways, it’s really only other RPCVs understand that experience or are even interested in it. My friend Lisa, is a member of both the official and the unofficial RPCV groups and added me to the lists. So about once a month the groups meet. Yesterday we met at Liberty Station, a bar that was converted from an old gas station. (It’s a bit hard to find, so keep your eyes peeled.)

It was a bit of an eventful evening. After dinner, I had to go through downtown to get to 45 to get to Liberty Station. Since I really haven’t driven in Houston for about four-five years, I have AT&T’s navigator system on my phone and depending on the signal strength sometimes is how fast it changes to the next step. At some point in time, I had to make a right and then an immediate left to get to 45. I made the right and then with my left blinker on changed lanes until I was in the left turning lane, all the while making sure that there was room for me to change lanes. I changed lanes in front of a Houston PD car, but there was more than enough space. Sat at the light and then turned left once the light turned green and there wasn’t an traffic, since it wasn’t a protected left turn. Immediately after the police officer turns, he flips his lights on. I freak out because I haven’t really gotten any tickets ever, I never had D-Hall in my life as a student, etc. So I pull over because maybe I’m in his way keeping him from responding to an emergency. But no it’s me he’s pulling over. I am mentally upset, but I’m actually pretty calm. The conversation when like this:

HPD: Do you know why I pulled you over?

Me: No I don’t. What did I do?

HPD: You made a left turn from the right lane.

Me: But I was in the right lane to turn.

HPD: Exactly, you were in the right lane and made a left had turn.

Me: No, I was in the turning lane, the left turning lane, when I made the turn.

HPD: Well, then, you kinda cut me off.

Me: I did? I’m so sorry. I didn’t know. I’m so sorry.

HPD: License and registration.

Me: I’m so sorry. I never meant to. I’m really sorry.

HPD: Did you hear me honk.

Me: Honk? No. I didn’t. I was lost and trying to find my way.

HPD: Registration. How many tickets have you had.

Me: None.

HPD: None? None? No accidents?

Me: No. No. I had one in college ten years ago.

HPD: What was it for?

Me: Speeding. Here’s all my insurance papers, which one is the one you need?

HPD: This one. *Looks at it and basically throws my drivers license and my insurance at me* Nevermind.

I sat stunned for a bit, then clarity come and I realized he couldn’t really give me a ticket because his original “reason” was not true and the real reason was a bit petty, especially with my driving history.

I eventually made it Liberty Station. It’s an eclectic place, a pretty big outdoor seating area, interesting paintings. The things that I was so impressed with were the seating areas are far enough apart that you can’t hear the tables near by, but close enough that their conversation “buzzes” in your ears and the music is a bit too loud, both make it a bit hard to hear the person next to you.

I’ve come to realize that I never really experienced the much talked about reverse culture shock of readjusting to life in America after being a PCV when I first returned, but I almost immediately left for Ireland, then I returned  for a month or two and then it was off to Slovakia, etc. So I’m experiencing a massive extended reverse culture shock and it’s a bit disorientating at times. Which means that I can get all kinds of advice from RPCVs that know what I’m going through.

Now if I could find a job…

“Untitled”

There are days that I wonder where my life is taking me. It’s already August, but I’m still sending out cover letters and resumes, hoping someone will have an open position, like what they read in my application/cover letter/resume, call me for an interview, like what see and hear, and then offer me a job.

I’ve been meeting new people catching up with a few friends, trying to fit into American life, finding new places to eat, enjoying everything that Holy Cross offers my soul, taking advantage of Borders and their nice comfy chairs that are meant to curl up with a cup of chai and a book. LG. Life’s Good.

“I Come With Joy”

Café Catholica

Cafe Catholica is a weekly hangout in Houston where young adults come together to have Mass, eat dinner, listen to a guest speaker talk about topics related to being Catholic, socialize, etc. Tonight was the last one of 2010, so I figured that I should go and tonight’s topic was about evangelism. The following are my notes because he was very interesting and made some points that were fascinating and thought provoking and some where down right hilarious.

The hard part. Holiness brings out the best in you. It makes you the best you can be. Makes you unique. All we have to offer others is our weaknesses. Look at the Saints. St. Francis for example. Everyone’s sinned. If you haven’t, then your name is either Jesus or Mary. (it must have been hard to be Joseph…there’s three of us in this family…holy…holy…oh man.)

The scary part. The universal call to be an evangelist. If you call yourself Catholic, you have to evangelize. What do you think about, when you hear the word “evangelism”? There are ordinary (take the open doors to talk to people) and extraordinary (going door to door, preach on the corner, etc.) ways to evangelize.

‘I was saved 2,000 years ago when Jesus was crucified. I am being saved today as St. Paul said through trials and tribulations. I will be saved when Jesus comes again or when I died.’

Faith is not something to beat people over the head with, it’s not to simply win. It’s to meet people where they are and lift them up. You don’t tear down someone to teach them, you bandage and help them.

Apologetics is a reason debate of the Faith. It can’t bring someone to the trouble; it’s to break down roadblocks.

Who should we evangelize to? Everyone. Even, especially our families. Be willing to talk, to go beyond ourselves. Each one of us has received the call. We have been confirmed…it’s not just that we’re Catholic adults…we are to evangelize. How much do you have to hate a person to not tell them that there’s a hell and they’re on the path to hell: Penn & Teller. Success is not in making converts but in faithfulness. Perfection is not the requirement, your identity as sons and daughters is though. Use your gift, your way to evangelize, to love.

The last one. Our unspoken fears. You are not alone, you have a billion people who have your back.

Aggiecatholic.org

“La La Song”

Here are some random links that were of interest to me:

Obama’s Gambit to Get Re-Elected.

A ridiculously expensive new hotel in Morocco that makes me sad to see all the artisan work because there’s no way that the artisans actually were fairly compensated for their work/art.

Reasons 5,941-5,955 why you should grill more often.

Mother Nature Network’s Top 10 Organic Fast Food Restaurant.