Yes.

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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?

An Interview With Myself

Wow!  It has been a minute since I blogged here.   I had to stop writing to focus on school.  Well, the good news is that I graduated in Dec. 2015.  So, I met my goal of not allowing anything make me drop out of school.    I was tempted several times to quit but, as they say, a weakness (a.k.a stubbornness) can be a strength.

So, was it worth it?

I will like to believe that it was.  I had an interest which I had been pursuing on my own for years and now, I have the degree to back it up.  I took the risk, and even though I will be paying for that risk for some years to come, I do not regret it. That risk brought me to Texas.

 

Was your school a good school?

Yes.  It is a good school.  I am very grateful for the scholarship that I received which enabled me accomplish my goal.

Beyond the Educational bits, what else did I learn from grad. school?

So many things, namely:

a) Grad. schools are different.  This was my second sojourn into the world of graduate schools and my first experience was actually nice even though I worked full-time and received some financial support from my organization but there was a greater symbiotic relationship between profs. and students.   My second experience was not as ‘symbiotic’.

b)  Grad schools are influenced by their environments: In New York, where I completed my first graduate program,  there was a level of freedom that I had to ask questions.   In Texas, before you ask your question, you need to wrap it up in pretty paper, place a bow on it, lower your voice, pretend to be meek and then ask.  I did not feel as free in school.  Of course, I had some profs. that were exceptional who wanted us to ask questions and be engaged in class.  These profs. focused on their subject matter.  A couple come to mind.

c) To survive the educational system in Texas (my experience at one school), you need to be psychologically prepared and resilient. There will be times, that you will feel that [the system/some profs.] might be going  out of their way to break you (psychologically, physically and emotionally).  Just be prepared.

d)Favoritism might be the order of the day.  I will just leave this here.

e) There will always be a silver lining.  I had some great profs. who came to class and focused on the subject matter.  No attacks; no, I want to see if I can overwhelm you; just pure subject matter interspersed with stories of their lives.  I will always be grateful  to them because  they helped me maintain my sanity.

 

How did I survive?

a) Stubbornness and persistence.  There were several reasons that made me choose to leave the East Coast.  One was to have a fresh start and the second was to acquire an education in an area of interest.  I was sticking to that goal.  I refused to be a statistic.

b) Avoidance:  I ignored a lot of things and when I knew that I couldn’t ignore any more, I avoided.  There were some classes that I spent more time studying on my own than in the classroom because I felt that the classroom situation was just too distracting.

c) Learn on your own.  There are many tools/tutors online that can get you through a class, particularly a distracting class.

 

What Next?

Well, I am still looking for a masters level opportunity that will provide an opportunity to utilize my educational backgrounds.  But, if I can’t find that for whatever reason, then on to the next.  I will not be returning to the East Coast.

 

Do I regret moving to Texas?

No, I do not.  Texas taught me or is still teaching me that I am tougher than I think.  Surprisingly, I like this very weird state.

Anymore  schooling in my future?

I come from a family (extended and nuclear) of highly educated professionals.  So, if I am not learning anything new via my workplace, then do not be surprised to find me back at school (either online, evenings or over the weekend).

 

PhD, maybe?

If I find an interesting subject matter that brings it all together, I just might.  My mother has one, so why not?  But,  it will not be this year.

 

Any advice?

Keep learning.   You are strong.  Go outside your comfort zone.  Always, have a way to relax.  Pray!

 

 

 

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.