Monday, December 13, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
But as I sit here and wait for her to decide to get back to her office, I wonder if I should even bother. Do I really want to be back in the classroom another year? Sure, I could use the money. Hell, I need the money. I have a bloody high car payment to make! Not to mention a certain lifestyle that I've been accustom to. Which entails ridiculous spending and no saving--okay, maybe that's not the best reason to keep my job. But also, I want to teach literature, maybe ESL isn't exactly the best way to do that, but everyone has to pay their dues. Everyone has to start somewhere, and this is my somewhere.
On the flip-side, it's kind of a release.I mean, I did want to get out of Laredo, and I do want to go back to college full-time, maybe this is where my life is supposed to go right now. Maybe, taking a break away from teaching and from the pressures of it will reinvigorate me. After all, let's face it. I've been in a bit of a rut as of late. Maybe this is the kick in the ass that I need to finally get my ass in motion. To pursue what I really want to to be a professional dancer. Wait, no, that's not me. I mean, being a professor of English and writing for a living. How can I possibly write the next Harry Potter if I can't find the bloody time to write!? It's not like I don't have options, after all. I could retake my certification exams and become a personal trainer, I know Gold's and rock would hire me, and I'm pretty sure I'd be a shoe in at Olympus. Then I could move up north, and get clientèle somewhere else. I'm sure I could do well in Austin.
My only pressing concern is my car payment. It's a bitch and a half, and I don't want to ruin my mom's or my own credit.
I guess things will work out in their own way. They always do.
In Faith, Hope, and Love,
Luis A. Ramirez
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
It's like your stuck in a place, stuck in a routine, a rut, a recurring dream, and you can't get out.
Do you think it's the city, your family, your friends, your responsibilities, your own fears?
What's really keeping you here, that is assuming you think you want to escape?
What's keeping me here?
As the days progress, I find myself struggling more and more to answer that question. Yeah, I have friends, and a life, and a family, and things I do here. But what is it, really that has kept me from advancing in my life.
I'm not doing bad, by any means. In fact, I consider myself pretty bloody successful. At 24 I have a career, a car, and I haven't knocked up anyone or acquired an addiction to anything. I workout, a lot. I'm healthy.I have great friends and I have great family. On paper, that sounds like a pretty good life to me.
The problem is, that it's comfortable.
Alright, well, It might not be a problem to you, but it's a problem to me. There's a very fine line between comfort and complacency. At this juncture of my life I feel like I've become complacent. Stagnant. My old boss, Tony DLG used to always say that if you're not moving forward, then your moving backwards. And I never really understood it until now.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
It's the place where William Shakespeare was born. It's one of the top tourist sites in all of
The comedy show was hilarious! I loved it. The guy in the middle definitely stole the show. I had been warned by people about the English humor and how we might not understand the humor or the accent but seriously, this was right up my alley. The theatre was amazing and the crowd was alive and riveting. The "German" act was pretty funny but there was way too much…um…exposure. Let's just leave it at that. It's pretty cool to see comedy from another country it's really not that difference. Also, Al Capone's Pizza has delicious food and it's cheap! Delicious + cheap = Awesome.
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So today we went to Wakefield Cathedral and to
This was seriously one of my favorite excursions so far. It was really too cold during the game but I loved the tour and the walk to the cricket grounds. It was great. I definitely want to jog it a few times while I'm here. But anyway, back to the excursion: The tour that we got of the facilities was pretty awesome. Seeing the training going on and the interest and enthusiasm that these people have for this sport is uplifting. I played high school football and it reminded me of the same enthusiasm that we had for our team back in the day. We were given complete VIP treatment, we met the broadcasters and saw some players and apparently it's a pretty big thing. The excitement on Rachel's face was priceless. She even called her brother to brag about it. It was great. I particularly liked the rugby grounds. I would have LOVED to seen a game of rugby. One of our guides/coaches was an ex-professional rugby player. He seemed like a pretty small guy but then again sports have changed from back then. The game itself was pretty cool I enjoyed it and I would have stayed longer if I hadn't worn jeans with a HUGE hole in them. It seemed like they weren't giving it their all though. But then again, I wasn't on the field. The game of cricket was a little different from what I expected and was definitely a big change up from the sports that we're used to in the states. It wasn't as intense I'd say as what we're used to but I can see how a person could grow to love it. Something I found really interesting was the posters for the next game against rival
Well, the city of
Castle Howard was ridiculous! When I found out it wasn't really a castle I was kind of disappointed but really wow the house is AMAZING. The rooms are spectacular, although I could have done without a lot of the commentary….or being in line behind old people. The grand entrance was great. Hell, the back entrance was great. It was picturesque—something you would see in movies and people actually live there. There are books there that are probably older than some cities in the
So today we visited the Armley Mills Textile Factory turned museum. It wasn't as exciting as many of the other things that we've visited but it was pretty interesting at some points. It was interesting to get a glimpse back into history by watching "Bygone Leeds". The dark room wasn't such a great idea considering I had only slept a few hours but all in all it was a pretty funny film. I couldn't get over the women's race. It was pretty hilarious. I mean, they're wearing skirts and I think they were wearing heels and speed walking to the finish. Makes me wonder if it was unsightly to see women run back in those days? I don't know. People get crazy ideas in their heads—especially back in those days. Old school track and field was still pretty athletic. Considering it was time before gyms were prevalent and steroids were unheard of—these Englishmen were pretty athletic. It surprised me. But I digress. The mill itself was an interesting bit of history. It filled in some gaps of information about how clothes are made and all. That's not to say that I spend my time pondering the creation of fabric, but it's crossed my mind a time or two. I'm just glad they don't use urine to matte the fibers together anymore. We'd be one stinky group of people I'll tell u that much. It's interesting looking at all the old cameras and comparing them to the digital ones that we have now. It's a pretty big leap I'd say.
The real highlight of my day was Kirkstall Abbey. Aside from it being pretty chilly it was an astounding place. Stepping foot into these buildings never ceases to amaze me. They are simply breath taking. A humorous note though: the guide kept referring to the monks focus on simplicity and how they wanted to get back to God. But I really couldn't see the simplicity in a building that's about seven times the size of any church in
Monday, June 28, 2010
Written April 7, 2009
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I don't think It can ever be said enough. Food is perhaps the quintessential essence of a culture, a city, a state, even a person. Think about it for a second. Think about your childhood growing up. Think about the holidays that you celebrate, the traditions that you hold dear, the late night food runs you have when you've had a few drinks--T.P, Whataburger, Mexican Hot dogs, anyone? i can personally attest for the power of the late night Whataburger meal. I've had some of my best ideas and conversations sitting on the booth in the far left corner of the Whataburger on Jacaman road here in Laredo. Sitting under the American themed Laredo Bucks Hockey Jersey and an old framed newspaper, I've spilled my guts, laughed until it hurts, seen my friends pass out and other unspeakable things, conceptualized the novel I will write that will change the world while in a drunken stupor and established a comic book company. Still doubting the power of it? Then you should stop reading right now and go watch something a bit more to your taste, like Hannah Montanna or that Wizards Show on Disney.But, I digress, I'm writing this spiel about food because my mom just made me the most amazing tostadas in the world: Siberia style. If you don't know what that is, then 1.) you haven't been into Nuevo Laredo and 2.) your missing out. A Siberia style tostada is a tostada (see: fried tortilla) smothered in guacamole (see: Avocado and diced tomato), topped with shredded chicken, and then a dallop of fresh cream (Vacita brand please, for authenticity), then topped with another tostada: for maximum scoopability. It's a simple dish. The chicken is simply boiled then shredded, the tostadas come from a bag, and the guacamole is relatively easy to make. But there's so much more to the dish than just the way it's created. It envokes memories. It reminds me of a time when crossing into Mexico wasn't a gamble on your life and, perhaps most importantly, a time when my father was still alive.My dad passed away when I was in the fifth grade. Heart complications due to a prolonged and untreated battle with pneumonia. But prior to that, we would go into Nuevo Laredo a lot. Both my mom and dad had family over there and we loved to visit and frankly, we loved to go eat there. So, on a sleepy Saturday or Sunday afternoon we'd pack into our 1994 Chrysler/Lincoln (to be totally honest, i don't remember what it was) that we called "El Indio"-- name given to it by my older brother's friend Juan who dubbed it that because it belted out puffs of smoke from its exhaust reminiscent of indian (native American) smoke signals. Anywho, we'd pack into our little green Indio, cross the bridge, and were instantaneously in a different land. A land where every street corner held a Pandora's box of flavor. An explosion of culinary authenticy and local flavor. Elotes preparados, tacos de Venado, aguas frescas, hot dogs mexican style, nieve de limon, chicarones, churros, tacitos con cilantro, cebolla, y salsa. All slathered in either grease or butter and except for the aguas and nieve all containing some sort of spicy salsa or chile. Ah yes. This is one of two Mexicos I remember--the other being a city radiating in it's nightlife and raging with debaucharey, but I'll touch on that on a later date. This Nuevo Laredo was my childhood Nuevo Laredo. Street vendors, family, knock-off toys and bracelets at every turn. Pigeons picking up the dropped elote of a misfortunate consumer in the plaza. It was a bit further down this same wonderful street that we'll find the origins of this famed tostada I speak of. About three (very long) blocks down; one to the left. "La Siberia" literally The Siberia, no idea where the name comes from, but frankly, who cares? It's menu was, and remains, simple. Tostada, Tacos, Caldo. That's it. You get three menu items and your selection of Coca Cola, Coco Cola Light (diet), or Joya (Manzana, pina, naranja). That's it. No, you can't get wheat tortillas, or organic chicken. No, you may not request it without grease or oil. You're in the wrong place if your looking for babying. Sidenote: although, they will substitue regular avocado for guacamole: probably because its readily available before mixing with said tomato. Ah. Those were the days. The days that said tostadas were as big as my head and I couldn't even fathom completing one much less two (as I so consumed a few months ago). It was a time when my family was complete. There were four children, two parents. No extended family as of yet, as we were all still young. It was a time when the innocence and ignorance of childhood prevented me from seeing the beauty that lay before my eyes: one of the last times that my family would be complete and unscathed. My immediate family in its purest form. After eating our tostadas, we'd walk around El Centro (downtown) and look at shoes, clothes, and buy food at the local fruit market. Then we'd visit my Tia Eva's and Tio Nono's house. These two people were and continue to be two of the most genuinely good hearted people that I have ever come across. Their home,humble; made of stucco; with two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen. Nothing extravagant. No Super Nintendo or big screen TV (keep in mind, this is the 1990's). There was no hint of the age of the internet to be seen; no foreshadowing of the technological revolution that we were experiencing even then. But yet, I would have taken this house and it's owners over the grandest of toy stores. I love being there. In fact, It was the only place I ever spent the night as a child. Food was plentiful. Little tortillas, different from my moms, but equally as good, if not better. Homemade frijoles, huevos, carne. You name it.Then their was the signature dish. Tia Eva's "Pachucos". Cornmeal dough, kneaded stuffed with a mixture of ground beef and tiny diced potatoes, fried on a skillet and placed to dry in a big bowl. Then you slice it open and stuff it with avocado or chile, or your choice of condiment. Pure. Heaven. I don't think there's a thing in this world that isn't made better by frying it. As a trainer, fitness enthusiast and competitive amateur body builder, that makes me cringe. But as a man who loves food, it warms my heart a bit. Of course, that could also be the heart burn. These little packages of culinary extasy were fantastic. One of my favorite dishes still to this day. Especially, since they were so rare. It was only on special occasions that we'd get these. Then there were the little juices! I almost forgot about these. They're mexican "fruit" juices called Pau-Pau and Frutsi. Think of the Mexican equivalent of a CapriSun. Ah. My childhood was amazing. These are some of the fondest memories I have of my family and they're still something that I long for today. With the situation in Mexico being what it is--aside from the heavy congestion at the International Bridges--it's harder to go across the border and visit now. It's more of a hassle and at times, more of a risk. La Siberia still stands and still runs strong pumping out gallons of guacamole and crema a day and hundreds of pounds of chicken to its loyal customers. It's menu still as rudimentary and wonderful as it was almost 15 years ago. The street vendors are still there and my Tio and Tia are still as wonderful as they were before. But times are different now. My dad has passed on; my brother has three kids and a granddaughter, my sister has a husband and a daughter, and my other sister is recently married and pregnant. As for me, I'm a graduate student and an English teacher and looking to explore the world. I've traded in my cargo pants and parted hair for jeans and a mohawk. But there are times, like today for example, when food and family get together, for something as simple as tostadas at my mom's house, that brings me back to my childhood. It takes me back to a place where the food was delicious, the people were great, the times were good and nothing in the world was ever going to change that. For a brief moment in time, I, Luis Ramirez, was 9 again, sitting beside my dad at a table at La Siberia eating a tostada and loving every single minute of it.