Into the Desert

Hello World!

Lately, I’ve been feeling at odds with myself. I was almost ready to move out on my own in February, but I decided to push it back. Why? I don’t think I’m ready to let go of where I am right now. I’ve started anew back home, and I don’t want to be all on my own too soon. I have started a relationship, connected with some friends, and kept busy with my new job. It’s tough to change once again. Or maybe I don’t need to.

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Masks & Walls: The Two Facades

Hello World!

Masking is quite difficult.

There is one aspect of being autistic that I don’t always understand: masking. Masking is a way that autistics have tried to adapt to the neurotypical world. We see what ways non-autistics might communicate, through verbal and nonverbal communication, and we use what we see to blend in. Sometimes these skills are taught through personal experiences or bad therapy, but it puts on a false facade. It makes us look “normal”, but it’s not our normal. It isn’t an accurate display of autism.

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2019: Twenty Nineteen

“And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”

– Luke 2:19

On the first day of the New Year, the Catholic church celebrates the Solemnity of Holy Mary, the Mother of God. In today’s gospel, after the shepherds proclaimed the Good News of Jesus’s birth, Mary, the mother of God, reflected on all that happened. I would like to do the same over the past year. I wish I could have done it last year, but it’s 2020, and maybe I’ll see it clearly now.

This past year has been a whirlwind of events. To be honest, the beginning of 2019 seems so far away from me. I began 2019 at home in Houston. Within in the first week, I flew on plane to Indianapolis, Indiana, or now should I say Andy-anapolis. I attended SEEK, a biannual conference for Catholic college students to grow in their faith, and seek God, as He seeks each one of us. I had listened to His voice, telling me I was good. I wanted to rest on that. I got to watch some amazing talks, listen to some amazing music as they had Needtobreathe and Matt Maher in concert, and pray and reflect on my spiritual life.

Welcome to Indianapolis, or Andy-anapolis!

Later that month, I went back to school to finish up my last semester at the University of Texas at Austin. In February, I went on a Silent Retreat. This time I understood the humility of silence, and being silent meant on a spiritual level. In March during Spring Break, I went on Austin CARITAS 2019. This inner-city mission trip hosted by the Schoenshatt University Men and the University Catholic Center, usually occurs in January, but due to World Youth Day and Schoenshatt’s involvement in that, it moved to Spring Break. It focuses on both serving the community of Austin through charities such as Central Texas Food Bank. Helping Hand Home, and the State Supported Living Center, it also focuses on forming the spiritual life of the missionaries through prayer and adoration. This is where I truly learned what being on mission meant: a pilgrimage to Heaven. I also realized that going home isn’t a bad thing as Heaven is our home.

Some picture from Austin CARITAS 2019.

During the semester I kept myself busy working towards getting a job after graduation. I had Longhorn Pep Band to keep me busy going to basketball games and rehearsal for the first half of the semester. Once basketball season ended, I had a lot more time to focus on finishing up my schoolwork. I enjoyed my last set of classes, especially classes such as my Architectural history topic, “Loos and Mies”. I also liked Engineering Professionalism, where I worked with a group to design a rain garden for an elementary school. I learned to the true meaning of hard work and teamwork, as my Engineering Professionalism group had to struggle with a team member not taking his part seriously and making the rest of us do more work. .

Longhorn Pep Band is quite fun.

In April, I staffed my last Longhorn Awakening, LA 66. It was great time to pray for others and it was a good way to finish off my involvement in Longhorn Awakening. I know it was difficult because of a sudden shutdown, but I’m glad my friends helped me feel rejuvenated and more committed to praying for the retreatants. I also staffed my last STRONG retreat. In late April, I went on the first ever University Catholic Center Senior Retreat. It was a great gathering of the seniors or anyone in the Class of 2019 who was involved with the University Catholic Center. It was good to reflect on stories, community, and figure out what the future held for each of us after graduation. I’m glad that God brought this community together throughout college.

My last family for Longhorn Awakening 66.
My last STRONG Retreat in April.

Then in late May came the big weekend: Graduation. It was everything I hoped for and more. I was so glad to be done with school. The ending was bittersweet because graduation meant I was leaving all of my friends in Austin. I enjoyed every minute of graduation, despite the struggle of attending too many ceremonies. Then it was over. I went to a small party on Memorial Day and went home to Houston.

Some of my UCC friends pose for a picture after the Cockrell School graduation
I’m showing off my graduation cap at the Baccalaureate Mass.
Here’s a picture from my 23rd birthday.

I stayed at home most of the summer, still searching for a job in my Civil Engineering field. I kept myself busy going to church frequently, working on my hobbies such as playing the piano, and applying for jobs. I did travel once to Cedar Park, near Austin, for one interview. This was my first time driving there and back in one day. It wore me out. I was freaking out on the way home driving in the evening. I drove most of the day for almost 7-8 hours, so I was very loopy and tired. I struggled to find a job until I emailed my resume to Barry Engineering one day. Shortly after that, I interviewed for an Engineer in Training position and got hired on contract for three months. I started on July 24, two months after I walked across the stage.

My interview outfit for my first job after college.

Back stepping a little, during July, my sister Jennifer and I attended Cafe Catholica at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church near the Uptown/Galleria area of Houston. This event was every Monday in July, where they had Young Adults from all over the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston gather for prayer, Mass, food, and a talk. I wasn’t able to attend every part of every week, but this led to us finding out that Epiphany of the Lord, our old home parish in Katy, had a Young Adult group. I did more research, and found out that they had bible study on Wednesdays. So, one Wednesday night in mid-July, Jennifer and I decided to make the trip. Turns out, the group decided to watch a movie, the Greatest Showman that night. That was also the night I met Tracey, my girlfriend. Jennifer and I have been attending the bible study as often as we could throughout the rest of the year, as it supported my prayer life.

I’m dressed for work.

I worked throughout the summer and fall at Barry Engineering on contract. I got an extension in late October to my contract to mid-December. I had struggled adjusting to work life, commuting over an hour round trip from West Houston to Cypress, (Barker-Cypress Road, all the way.) I had a lot to learn that I didn’t know about designing the Structural Engineering behind mostly wood and steel apartment buildings and a wedding venue. At work, I learned so much that school didn’t teach me, my boss sometime wonders at my college education and credibility. I worked hard to improve my work, and I finally got hired in December as a full-time employee. I’m glad to work there because it is a good group of people who work hard and enjoy each other.

I mustache you a question, but I’ll shave it for later.

Meanwhile, I decided to ask my friend Tracey from bible study on a date, We got coffee and talked for about four hours. Then we went on a few other dates. On December 21, I asked her to be my girlfriend or as I called it my “left-hand girl” as we are both left handed. She said Yes.

Tracey and I take a picture on New Year’s Eve.

I’m glad for all the gifts of this past year. This is not everything that happened. This past year as not been without hardships, especially struggling with going home, the decrease of involvement in my faith community, and dealing with the anxieties of time management and anxious habitual prayers. As much as my life seems great on the outside, I realize that my reflections have to start from the inside of my heart. There are many blessings that have come of this past year, as I have moved forward in life and enjoying living life. I’m very grateful for where I am. I wish the best for 2020. Happy New Year!

Happy New Year,

The Nerd of May

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Wait for the Lord

Hello World!

The advent season is coming to a close. I’ve wanted to give a reflection on waiting for the Lord earlier this Advent season. Then, things just slowed down to a near stop. It wasn’t the hustle and bustle that caused it to stop. Usually, it is the doing and giving of Advent that prepares you for the Christmas season that can be overwhelming. Not this time. Things got harder for the circumstances out of my control. Then I learned what patience really means.

Patience isn’t just standing there, waiting, doing nothing. It’s an action. Patience in itself requires you to slow down and realize what life is really all about in this Advent season: Hope.

Of course, we can talk about the gift of Jesus, but before he was born, there were prophecies. Messages of hope proclaiming than a savior will come. That’s what Advent is all about to me.

I’ve previously talked about what faith, hope and love are in a previous post, but I want to talk about it a little bit differently. Faith is trusting in the Lord. It’s letting go and holding on God. Love is giving of the heart. It is essential. God is love. Hope, I feel, gets overlooked sometimes. . Hope is the longing, the promise of something better.

That something better is the gift of himself. The gift of love to save us all. He didn’t come in a big flashy way. He was not rich. He was poor. Jesus was born humbly just as we are, and maybe more than some of us would believe. As Christmas is approaching rather quickly, we anticipate the coming of Jesus, the birth and the Second coming. We listen to the words of St. John the Baptist to ” “Repent,” and prepare the way. Now, we let God into our hearts. He is present as much as any present under the tree. This gives us hope, to continue each day.

Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!

Psalms 27:14

I want to end with a poem, which at one point was a song about waiting. Initially I think of a hard guitar rock sound. I also imagine a bit of the solemn Taize singing of the refrain of “Wait for the Lord.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7GexIvX8HU Either way, here it is.

 "Wait for the Lord"

 I have nothing to offer
 I thirst for the living water
 I long to see your face
 I’m longing for your grace
  
 I’m giving up control
 Of my life and my soul
 I’m not living in the cold 
 With no hand there to hold 
  
 All my cards are on the table
 If you can and I am able
 To walk on top of the cable
  
 Wait for the Lord, Wait for the Lord
 You don’t know what’s going to happen next
 Wait for the Lord, Wait for the Lord
 He’s coming at an hour you might not expect.
 So, I am waiting 

 My lamp is filled and ready
 I keep my eyes steady
 I’m prepared for you to come
 I’m awake before the sun
                           
 All my cards are on the table
 If you can and I am able
 To walk on top of the cable
  
 Wait for the Lord, Wait for the Lord
 You don’t know what’s going to happen next
 Wait for the Lord, Wait for the Lord
 He’s coming at an hour you might not expect.
  
 So, I am waiting for the light 
 In the middle of the night
 I can see it coming, coming, 
 While I’m waiting!  

Merry Christmas,

The Nerd of May

Tank-full of Thankfulness for Transitions

Hello World!

As is in the season of giving thanks, and Thanksgiving being a few days away, there’s a lot for me to be thankful for in my life. I am grateful for where I am and what joys I have currently in my life, the joys and sufferings of my past that have led me to where I am, and the hope for the future. Most importantly, I want to thank God, the creator of my life, including my yesterdays, today, and tomorrows, for all these things.

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Next Bus Home

Hello World! Happy Halloween! Another month passes by and yet this blog passes my mind, I don’t have nearly enough time or commitment value to keep it going. So this month, I’m just going to include song lyrics from a darker time of my life, a couple of summers ago. The lyrics below are for a song called “Next Bus Home.” The songs that are somewhat similar to what it could sound like would be “More Heart, Less Attack” by NeedtoBreathe or “Sink or Swim” by Jason Wade. I was staying the summer in Austin, but I couldn’t keep myself busy enough between my two jobs after finishing my summer class, so I had to go home. I am grateful that God has gotten through those hard times where I all I wanted to do to go home rather than keep going. Here’s “Next Bus Home.”

 Every time I have tried
For every tear I cried
There’s no reason to deny
I was never satisfied
 
If I had a reason to stay
To not want to go away
I remind myself that I’m okay
And that’s all I have to say
 
I didn't know I would get this far,
I thought I would've fallen apart.
So take my broken open heart.
Let me be a light in the dark.
 
Dispel all my doubts and fears
I want your love to live here
I want it all to disappear
I’ll hold on and kept you near
 
I didn't know I would get this far,
by now, I should've fallen apart.
So know the desires of my heart.
Give me a place to start
So take my broken open heart.
Let me be a light in the dark.
 
The epiphany I’ve been shown
To the all fear I had known
I don’t want to go it alone
I’ll be leaving on the next bus home.
 
I’ll be heading, to where I am home.

Until next time,

The Nerd of May