Making Friends In Texas

A truth that many will agree with is that as one gets older, it becomes more difficult to make friends.   But, what do you do when you find yourself in a new town with no friends?  How do you go about making new friends?  Do you even bother?  What of if you are an introvert?

I really do not know if I have friends in Texas but I do know that there are a couple of people here that I can ask their opinions and expect a somewhat honest answer.  How did I do it?

a) By being myself.  One of the joys of getting older is that it becomes easier to become who you are because you really do not care.  You  believe that those who like you will,  and those who don’t will fall to the side.

b)By pursuing my own interest: Pursuing a hobby that you love provides an opportunity to meet people of similar interests.  Sometimes, saying hello leads to something deeper.

c)Work relationships:  One of the positives of working in crappy positions is that you meet with different people and gain a different perspective.  Some of these work friendships continue after the work day is over.

d) Loving yourself: you might find out that you actually prefer your own company to the company of others.  Introvert issues (finding that constant interaction with people leaves you tired).  If that is the case, own it and pursue fun activities on your own.   It isn’t a crime to travel, explore the city or check out a new restaurant on your own.

Disclaimer:

It is important to know who and why someone is in your life. Ensure that only authentic people are allowed into your circle. This ensures you do not get hurt.  Warning:  These are the reasons that some might want to be your friend. a) They want to get something from you. b) They want to copy you.  c) They want to have a front row seat to watch you fall on your face. Understand this ,and don’t be scared to refuse to engage, if you think that  you are dealing with someone who isn’t truly genuine.   When you have the right people around you, things often end up working out the way they should.

Take away message:  it is always great to make friends but it is more important to be your own best friend and advocate.

Surviving In Texas.

Houston is a city in which networking pays.   It is very possible to see someone who has never had a job, gain access to a job in which he/she is trained to ensure that he/she has the professional skills necessary to be competitive.  You will see this occur repeatedly.

When I moved to Houston and started my program, I was coming in with more than a decade worth of experience working in the healthcare sector.  I came in with soft skills  that were and are easily transferable into different sectors in the healthcare continuum but it was as if my years working in New York was wiped off as if it  never existed. (At a point, I wondered if there was a conspiracy in place to bring me back to New York but then I had to tell myself to stop being paranoid).

This was troubling because I am someone who has always taken her work seriously and ensured that I put in my best,but, then I realized that in Houston,  it really isn’t about being intelligent, or the type of experience you have but who you know.   No, this is not about favor, for my religious folks.

How have I survived?

a) experience –  Most of the time I lived in New York, I was always dealing with multiple issues and this actually trained me to think worst case scenario and to work around that.

b) budget and expenses – you will have to pay close attention to your expenses and think of alternative ways to cut costs.  For example, rather than pay 33 dollars or so per month for the gym, look into what free services exists in your community, purchase cheaper gym tools and use them at home, join a meetup for sport activities etc.  Do the same for other needs.  Food – you might need to become a flexitarian, shop at the farmer’s market and explore foods from other regions that use less stuff. Housing – shop, shop and the list goes on.

c) staffing firms – I worked with several staffing firms in Houston, working several crappy jobs.    But, with staffing firms you have to be careful, some of these workplaces are very tricky.  They won’t tell the staffing firm, the position they want to have you working in, neither will they notify the staffing firms of what they want you to do. Do not stay in those places too long.  I learned that the hard way.

d)others have survived by using other skills they have – cooking, baking, making repairs, tutoring, selling items, babysitting etc.

But, to really survive in Houston, you need to learn how to network in person. This might get you that job with absolutely no qualifications whatsoever.  Being an introvert, this is a skill that I am still learning.

 

 

Traveling

 

When I moved to Texas, my intention was to explore different parts of this very large land mass but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.  I have not visited El Paseo nor San Antonio, but, I am quite curious about El Paseo.

However, I’ve visited other ‘main’ places in Texas.  Of all the places that I visited in Texas, my favorite was Corpus Christi.   There’s just something about beach towns that get to me.  I just fell in love with everything.  Everyone was so friendly, I got to hang around the beach, visit some historical places etc.  To be quite honest,  if I receive an offer to move to  the Corpus Christi area, I will be gone before anyone says, ‘Jiminy Cricket’.  I am such a water child.

Have you ever visited Corpus Christi?  What did you think of the area?  What fun things can one do at El Paseo?

My First Cinco De Mayo Event

“Literally “the Fifth of May,” Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican Holiday celebrating the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, 1862. In 1861, France sent a massive army to invade Mexico, as they wanted to collect on some war debts. The French army was much larger, better trained and equipped than the Mexicans struggling to defend the road to Mexico City. It rolled through Mexico until it reached Puebla, where the Mexicans made a valiant stand, and, against all logic, won a huge victory. It was short-lived, as the French army regrouped and continued; eventually taking Mexico City, but the euphoria of an unlikely victory against overwhelming odds is remembered every May fifth”.  (http://latinamericanhistory.about.com/od/thehistoryofmexico/p/10cincodemayobasics.htm).

When I lived in New York, I attended many cultural parades and events but I never attended a Cinco de Mayo event.  I was definitely excited to be at this event, particularly since Texas, used to be Mexico’s territory.  I was looking forward to a very authentic/real experience. An experience akin to the one that one will experience in Mexico. It was a very different event and there were things that I saw occur at the parade that I’ve never seen before, in any parade.  For example, people participating in the parade threw items like candies, cookies, mexican spices, Doritos at individuals in the crowd.  I understood this as a cultural happening and went with the flow.  Yes, I admit, I picked up that candy and took the mexican spice.  Like seriously, who can refuse spices?  No, not me!

 Another thing, I loved about the Cinco De Mayo parade was that it showcased the melange that is Mexican culture.   From the way that participants were dressed you could see the influence of Spanish, Native American and American culture.

This event occurred in downtown Houston, a couple of weeks ago.  I wasn’t dressed in a traditional outfit.  LOOOOOL!!!  It was an interesting event.  Here are some pictures… enjoy….:)

 *I am not quite ready to write on the Nigeria happenings yet.

So Far

 houston 030I’ve been catching up on the social scene in my neck of the woods.   I am slowly stepping out.  When, I lived in New York, I had retreated from things I used to do for fun.  I used to go to the museum with my friends, go out to eat or stay at their house and eat their food, go out to events/concerts.  I still kept up with the concerts because I love Music, particularly African music but a lot of other things had fallen through the cracks because life got in the way. 

 In the past two weeks, I’ve been learning more about this city that I live in  and trying to see if there is anything here beyond school that will make me put down my second nail. (think analogy of building a house).  This search led me to the Menil and also to a Japanese festival.

The Japanese festival was a lot of fun.  Many lovers of Japanese culture displayed aspects of Japanese music, food, dance etc.  Of course, with Anime being rather huge in the United States,there were many native Texans dressed as Anime characters which was quite interesting to see, when one considers that many view Texans as being ultra conservative. Houstonians love to have a good time and they will create that good time in this urban jungle.  Yes, I used the phrase urban jungle.  If you are a lover of nature, be ready to be depressed for a couple of weeks before you snap out of it.  

This event took place at the Herman Memorial Park which I fell in love with instantly.  Oh my goodness! I think being in that park with the water falls and the bodies of water (man-made) but clean not murky or brown was like nirvana. A weight was lifted off my shoulders.  

But, I really enjoyed the Japanese festival.  It was a lot of fun seeing people embrace a culture that really isn’t theirs; it was great seeing people of Japanese origins being willing to share that part of who they are.  🙂

My second fun outing experience was to the Menil Museum.  I had heard so much about the Menil Museum from many Houstonians that I just had to go check it out. My first lesson when I got there was to realize that people actually do dress up to go to the museum. As an aside,’i wonder if people dress up to go to the zoo.  They had cocktails and served food- (goat meat, another meat, and more meat with some korean dumpling).  The food tasted really good but I had to  separate the dumplings from the goat meat and just had the dumplings and the vegetables.  So delicious.

Since I am not an Arts aficionado, I lost that mojo many years ago, I was now looking at Art just as a lay person and enjoying it without the extra knowledge.   I really enjoyed viewing the selection of pieces from Greece, different parts of Africa, India etc.  It was like stepping back in time to my world history class in high school. Many of the objects looked familiar.  That part was fun.  

The main attraction was the ‘mystery of the ordinary’ which was made up of art works from private collections. My favorite pieces were the ‘acrobat’s ideas’, le double secret (the double secret), la clairvoyance,  la magic noire.

The acrobats ideas just spoke to me of the multiple juggling of realities that many women have to go through often on a daily basis.

 Ie double secret – spoke to me of the dual personalities that many women often have.  We show different faces dependent on who we are speaking with and what the environment is like. You can be an extrovert in one setting and be a complete introvert in another.

La clairvoyance spoke to me of seeing further.  Some might  see just an egg which could be cracked open and fried but someone who is visionary, sees the potential within that egg.  This person sees the future; this person sees a big bird that can fly to the sky.  Some can view the painter in this picture as a holy being, i.e God  but others who aren’t spiritual might view the painter as a guide,a parent,  a  person who wants the best for that little egg.  

La magic noire was simply a woman standing by the sea but the question really is this, is she human or isn’t she?  

I believe good art makes one think and question.  Those spoke to me but there were many pieces that I really did not understand.  I hope to go back before June 1st.  Did I forget to add this?  You do not have to pay a fee to visit the museum.  It is completely free.  You know how I love my free stuff!  🙂  It is open till June 1st. 

That’s it for now…. I hope to take my books and head out to a park in my neck of the woods,  this weekend.  Maybe, I will find another place that might make me put down my third nail.  

 

 

 

 

 

I was in Houston, Texas for a couple of days and I fell deeply in love with this highly organized cosmopolitan city. Why did I go in earlier than planned? Well, on campus housing was booked to the tee and it was best to get the housing aspect of admission taken care of.  I spoke to a lady in Houston  who was looking for a roommate and the plan was that I will spend the weekend in Houston, meet her and sign the contract necessary to be apartment mates.  But, unfortunately, that plan fell through the cracks and my plans were turned upside down.  Despite, the little upheaval to my plans, I did get to explore Houston a little bit, I got to go to my school on Sunday and gained a deeper appreciation for google maps.  My school is absolutely beautiful by the way.

The good news is that I did achieve my aim of getting a place to stay that met my criteria.  It is amazing how it all worked out.    There were many times that I felt frustrated and I thought I will return back to my temporary abode without achieving anything but when you keep calm and appraise your situation rationally, things generally fall in place.

What are my thoughts on Houston?  I love it and I am definitely looking forward to spending some years in this city even though, I have this weird feeling that my roots might eventually be in a different Texan town but this is okay for now.  Houston is actually very funny.  In New York, the disparity between the rich and the poor were pretty obvious in terms of the cities and towns that they choose to live in but in Houston that really isn’t the case.  The rich and the poor seem to live side by side amicably. But, I found a little undercurrent of racial tension in Houston.  Now, before typing my experiences, do realize that these are first impressions, so they might not be how things really are.  Secondly, I might be looking at everything from New York eyes, so my view might be a little flawed.

I stayed in a little place where international travelers et al, generally stay and I came in very exhausted and had to find somewhere to eat.  I have to admit that I did not look at my room number when I was taken up, my mind was only on food and eventual rest.  After eating my little heart out and returning back to the place that I had to stay, I realized that I did not know my room number, it wasn’t written on any document, so I walked up to the lady in charge at the receptionist desk to ask her what my room number is.  She looked at me, opened up her fingers  and said room five.  I was taken aback.  You know how people use their hands to communicate with those who they feel can’t understand English, that’s what she did and I wanted to slap her silly with those fingers of hers but I just shook my head and told myself that maybe I misunderstood what she was doing.  She was Caucasian.

The second place of racial undercurrent was when I went in to eat. I chose to eat at a Chinese restaurant because I could not find a Mexican restaurant that could promise me the kind of spicy food I needed.  Once, I stepped into the restaurant, the server scowled at me but still led me to my chair.  She gave me the menu and I made my order.  When she came to give me the food i ordered, she kind of slammed the food on my table. I was like, huh, but thought maybe I could be over reacting.  But, then , I listened to her talking to a caucasian man who she was asking how his food was and she was very pleasant and showed a different side from what she showed me.  I was very turned off by her behavior.  I tipped her, but only because I wanted her to see that black people do not go into restaurants with trouble making written on their foreheads.  The waiter was Asian.

The third place was when I was looking for a place to live for the new semester.  The guy who was managing/supervising the place was Hispanic.  The first comment that rang some bells was when I came in , he seemed taken aback by my appearance and then the next statement he said was,”I have no problems with race, I believe we are all one” He said all these without any conversation about race. Once, I heard that, I knew I had to be on my guard.  Then, he mentioned, that he only had two black tenants living in the apartment  complex and he sent the other black tenants out.  He went ahead to mention that he had refused to rent his apartment to some black people because he had a bad feeling about them even though they were qualified and had the money necessary to rent the apartment.  Then he went ahead to insinuate about my legal status in this country.  You know at that point,  I was mentally counting up to ten.  Then he goes ahead to say that the reason that a certain country in Africa was better and more organized is because white people are still in power, of course, I had to correct his history because he obviously had his facts wrong about that country.   Then, he refused to give me documents to fill my tax information and then gave me a form to fill out all my information which he wanted to fully investigate.  I shook my head.  This man obviously had issues with race, okay, black people to call a horse, a bloody horse.  But, I was polite to him because, seriously, my mind was focused on one objective which was to get a place to live next semester.

But beyond, these three instances showing the undercurrent of racial tensions in Houston, everything was okay.  I noticed that the homeless cut across racial lines.   That was meh!

What did I learn from this trip?

a) Do not take any road trips that is more than 6 hours long.   All you get from it is a cramped back, lack of sleep, and a jacked up system.

b) Houston has some delectable eating places.

c) Houston is a very organized city.

d) Houston is cosmopolitan.

e) Houston has some very friendly people and some very hot men!!  *ahem*

f) Google maps is the business.

g) Keep an open mind, open log, relax and enjoy the flow!

🙂

Me.

What Are You Scared Of?

When I was younger and I had to move, one of the things that I was really scared of was that I will not make any friends.  At that time, the thought of spending Saturdays at home, watching TV or a movie and not being out with others at either a function (concerts) or hanging out with a very good friend of mine was what nightmares were made of.

But, as I grew older and I moved from one place to the other, I found out that my fears took other forms.  Making or not making friends was no longer on my fear list rather my fears took more solid forms.

So do I have any fears about my move to Texas even though I am no longer in New York but rather in the Southern part of U.S.A?  Yes, most definitely.  Some of my fears are the following:

a) The roaches:  I’ve heard so much about the roaches in Texas and how the roaches are in control . Supposedly, these roaches have no problem leaping from a great distance to get to your eyes.  I hate spiders but after reading up on these leaping and flying roaches, I believe I hate those more.  I’ve not lived in a house with roaches in ages.  I’ve been fortunate that most of the houses i’ve lived in had no issues with pest control, apart from a spider or two from time to time.  I really do not know how I will deal with a state in which roaches have made their communal home.

b)apartment living: I’ve never lived in what one considers an apartment.  I’ve always lived in  a house that was converted.  Living in an apartment and dealing with all those personalities a.k.a nosy neighbours is frightening.

c)Having roommates:  The only time I had a ‘house mate’  after undergrad was a horror experience.  It was with a woman from Guyana who clearly had issues and had ‘friends of questionable repute’.  I promised myself after that experience that I will never have a roommate for as long as I can get away with it and I have kept that promise…..but, it looks as if I might need a roommate who knows the ropes for a couple of months. That’s frightening.

d) Crime:  In my search for apartments, I’ve been reading a lot about cars getting jacked, people being mugged and a lot of safety issues. Since, I will be a single woman in Texas who might have night classes, this is very frightening.

e) Another New York:  I mentioned earlier that one of the reasons that I moved out of New York was in search of  a slower pace of life.  Houston is the fourth largest city in the U.S.A. I do not want to find myself in another fast paced New York or I will mentally scream.

That’s it for now……..

I know that despite these fears, I will be in Texas because I have something to do and it is better late than never

**  I just remembered I had another housemate when I lived upstate and she was okay even though, she tended to get depressed from time to time.