Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28th.


I can't believe it was two years ago today that I woke up to a nearly lifeless, Marco. My worst fear was coming true. The day I had dreaded, the day I had made myself believe would never come...was here. As we were on our way to the emergency room with you I knew that I wouldn't be coming back home with you, but I wished so hard that the vet would have different news for me.

As I sit here thinking back I can feel the lump in my throat forming and the heaviness fall upon my heart. Marco was such a special kitty to me. I thought I loved cats before & was an advocate for felines. His Feline Diabetes diagnoses made my feelings even stronger. Through him and his treatment I learned so much more about feline care, behavior, diet, and about the hearts of people.

I would plan our days to ensure that we were home in time to ensure he didn't miss his shot time, not even by a minute. I would do those nights of setting my alarm in one hour intervals all over again in a heartbeat. Thankfully those were few and far in between.

Marco, you and your Mom took a piece of my heart that will never grow back. I hope that y'all are across the rainbow bridge as healthy as ever.


You can read about our furkids here.

Friday, October 18, 2013

...and then I lost my mind.


If you follow me on Instagram you saw me post the following photo.

I think I've officially lost my mind. I signed up for the Mud Challenger...

A Navy Seal & Black Ops designed obstacle course... and you don't know what obstacles there will be until you get there. The keyword here is obstacle course. This isn't a race. The challenge is 4-6 miles and the goal is to complete the challenge with your team.

I am no where near the fitness level of a Navy Seal, but I know I can do this and I am up for the challenge.

This event was actually created by a guy I know! We aren't besties or anything but we were both Ambassadors for the University of Houston and he was a super stand up guy.

Anywho - I've got some training to do, some serious training!

If you're in the Houston area or if you just want to travel to Houston I think you should sign up to be on my team! Registration just opened up a couple days ago.

Here are the details:

Houston, TX
March 29th, 2014
Go here to register.
Choose "Join Existing Team" and type in Mighty Mudskippers.
Select the 9:00AM Wave.
Use Promo Code: 10312014 to reduce your registration fee to $49.00, but hurry this is a limited time special and prices increase at the end of the month!
** You can purchase tickets for spectators at the same time**

Click here to find out what your registration gets you.

And if you need some motivation to sign up, watch this video.









Thursday, August 22, 2013

Oh. Hey!

Well, it's been a while. No?

Let's catch up? What have you been up to?

Me?

  •  I decided to take Advocare seriously. I've been a distributor since last July, and only dipped my toes in here and there. This time around I hit the ground running and decided that I was going to turn what I loved into a mini business for me. I have an entrepreneurial spirit in me and this way I get to be healthy, use products I love, and spread the word to help others with their health goals. It's been fun, I feel amazing, and I really love helping others. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me and you can browse my site here.
  • I've been spending a lot of time with my husband, and really spending time with him. I've been setting up little mini dates and finding interesting things for us to do in our area. Play tourist around home. I'll be posting on our blog about our latest adventure.
  • A highschool friend is a founding member and brand rep for Bona Clara which is a skin care line + more. I ordered from her recently and so far I am loving it! In fact I haven't worn makeup all week because my skin just feels that amazing! I'll tell you more about it later. If you're curious now you can visit her site here.
  • We are gearing up for UH Cougar Football Season. We just got our season tickets and are beyond thrilled to be seated with our friends. Despite not having our own stadium this year, I just know its going to be an amazing season.



  • I've been taking time to relax and spend time with our little furkids. They really are the best things ever. They help remind me to slow down.
  • We spent my husband's 29th birthday sailing with our closest friends. It was such a relaxing time, I think we all needed it. Full blog post coming to our blog.
  • My new Erin Condren planner came in and I am so in l-o-v-e. It's really been helping me organize my time and our time.

You can follow me on Instagram and stalk for what else has been going on. =) Unless you don't like people who post multiple times a day. Then I'm not the person for you. It can get a little crazy. ;)

Talk to you soon!



Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

 
Photo Credit

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

You were my first best-friend! And to this day, you are still the best girlfriend I could ask for. The one who never turns her back on me, and always tells me the truth. You always want the best for me. You taught me to stand on my own two feet, respect everyone, don't judge (sorry about that one...) and to never depend on anyone but myself. You've always held my hand through any of life's troubles.

I watched you be the best wife a man could ask for, and I hope that I can be that wife for Mychael.

Mychael and I have only been married for 6 months, and you have already given me the best advice regarding my career, marriage, and balancing it all when I needed it the most.

Thank you & love you to pieces!


Photo Credit

This year I get to wish another amazing woman a Happy Mother's Day. My Mum-in-law! Thank you for raising such an amazing son who I now get to call my husband.

Did you know I cried in your guest bedroom during one of my first trips to Tennessee? I just knew that you didn't like me. Then we connected in New Orleans sitting on the back porch. You gave me your best relationship advice and I knew we were golden.

I look forward to getting to know you even more over the years. I promise to always take care of your baby boy.



Friday, May 10, 2013

Story of My Life


Notice any changes around here? Chelsea gave this blog an overhaul and I absolutely love it! If you need any blog work done definitely check her out! 



I was born on New Year’s Eve in 1984 to the most loving parents a girl could wish for. Apparently I was a handful, because after me, Momma said no more! I absolutely love being an only child, but at the same time the future scares me.

I grew up in the Clear Lake area of Houston, TX where I still reside with my husband. I’m not sure if I will ever leave this area, but it is fun to dream. 

My life hasn’t been a piece of cake, but it sure has made me the strong woman I am today. I started working when I was 15 16, and held two jobs until I was about 20 when I decided to attend University of Houston full time. 

In 2008 I had no other choice but to quit school and look for a job that made more than $9 an hour. This was the roughest time I have ever been through and don’t wish it on anyone. I was also lucky to fall into a great field, and this would be the start of a very promising career. I tried going back to school, but mentally I haven’t been ready. I do intend to finish my degree, one day.

In 2010, Mychael and I bought our first home together. This year I also lost my first kitty. 

In 2011, Mychael, completely unexpected, asked me to marry him. My diabetic kitty also passed away.

October 12, 2013 we became Mr & Mrs Houck!


I am excited for the future, and can’t wait to write the rest of our story.





Thursday, May 9, 2013

I haven't been myself...

I've been hiding around this blog world. And I didn't even realize it until I read Whitney's post yesterday.



I thought I lost my mojo.

I thought I didn't enjoy or want the online friendships turned real life friendships.

I thought my time in blog world was up.

I thought I had nothing more to say...

It wasn't until yesterday that I realized so many more people have found out about my blog. Not necessarily by my mouth, but by the mouths of others who happened to really enjoy reading my blog...and that kind of scared me. I felt like all eyes were on me...

I still have the urge to write.

I love my online friends who sometimes I talk to on a more regular basis than my real life friends. Don't worry real life friends, I still love you to pieces. But girls like Nikki, Kenya, Alexa, & Vicki, they are right there in my phone at any time of the day - and that's how our friendship works. I don't feel like I am bugging them when I send them a message and I don't feel like they should answer me that very moment. They understand a different side of me. Probably a more raw part of me. There are countless others who inspire me daily to be a better me, a healthier me, a better daughter, a better employee, and a better wife. I will highlight these people in the coming months. They are very much a part of my life.

This month marks 5yrs writing around these parts, my time here in blog world is just beginning. Heck - I still haven't finished telling you our wedding story.

My blog is getting an overhaul by Chelsea and it should be launching soon! I can't wait to reveal it to y'all! I promise, to you, and most importantly to myself to write more. To go back to having this place be my little diary (even though others will tell you a blog isn't your diary, well this one is mine!), my me time, my me place, and to write as if no one was reading. 

See y'all soon!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Let's talk about fitness... and catty beezies.


Oh hey, look! That's me! I was showing Nikki my little muscles. ;)

If you have been following this blog of mine for any amount of time I am sure you have heard me flapping my gums about health and fitness. But don't mistake me for a health and fitness nut.

I spent my entire youth and early twenties trying my hardest to GAIN weight. Now that I have finally been able to do that I want to maintain a healthy body. =)

So here I am again, getting back into my routine. I even bought this nifty Polar FT4 gadget to help me along the way. Who doesn't love a new gadget?


I saw all of my FitFluential and Fitness loving friends sporting these, and just knew I had to have one! It is so hard to track your calorie burning when you aren't on a machine. Even when you are on a treadmill, elliptical, or bike... that damn thing always tells me I am dead when I am trying to see what my heart-rate is and I question the accuracy.

My short term goals are:
  • Hit the gym 3 times a week consistently from here on out.
  • Run a 5K in September. 

My long term goals are:
  • Ride in the MS150, on a bike... not in a car along side the cyclist. hehe.
  • Run a half marathon. 


Girls compete with each other. Women empower one another. Remember that.

Girls (and some guys) are catty. End of story. I have watched ladies that I loved because they weren't catty, turn into the cattiest and most passive aggressive bitches I've met. I am in such a happy place in my life right now, I don't have time to deal with any of that. I don't care to either.

So whether it is in your fitness journey, your educational/career path, or love life don't let anyone get you down. Brush them off and keep pushing forward.





Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Olive & Ivy's Blogiversary Giveaway

Good morning! Today I'm sharing a giveaway with you from Olive and Ivy!

There are over 30 bloggers involved. Whoa! There's something here for everyone!

I partnered with Monica's Closet Essentials to bring you a $50 gift card to her store! If you remember I raved about this shop here.

Good luck and I hope you win big! =)





a Rafflecopter giveaway




a Rafflecopter giveaway




a Rafflecopter giveaway




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 22, 2013

Redbull & Coffee




Happy Monday... uh, no. Not from this girl today. I've got my pissy pants on. Womp. BUT Paige posted this photo a couple weeks ago and I laughed my butt off! So I figured YOU could use a laugh this Monday morning. =)

Did I make you laugh? Tell me a joke?

Giveaway tomorrow so be sure to come back!

...maybe I will be in a better mood tomorrow too!

Monday, April 15, 2013

5 for Five

Good day friends!

So today, I'm setting some goals for myself! You should join me!


PartyOfOne


Goals this week:

1.) Get out of bed the first time my alarm goes off. (5am!)
2.) Get to the gym Tuesday and Thursday during lunch.
3.) Blog at least twice here and on Houck Diaries.
4.) Go to bed by 10pm each weeknight.
5.) Drink 100oz of water a day.

Also - hurry and join me and Mrs. Monologues for a Diet Bet! Join here, and find out more info here. But you HAVE to sign up now, weigh in is tomorrow!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Happies & Crappies

It's finally Friday! Which means its my early day! Wahoo! 

Also. Two blog posts this week? Does this mean I've got my blogging mojo back? Perhaps. We will see! 

The Vintage Modern Wife: Happies and Crappies Link Up




Happies: 

* Mychael and I have been focusing on "making a life" together. It is so easy for us to get wrapped up in our careers that we forget to get wrapped up in our marriage. 
* I tried sushi again during a lunch meeting and, I liked it! Other than the eel, I loved everything! BUT I did not spit out the eel. That is a huuuuge accomplishment for me! 
* Mychael and I are eyeballing properties and houses for our future house #2, luckily we know the market in our area pretty well. It's really fun to dream and work towards those dreams. 
* We received our letter letting us know season ticket renewals for University of Houston Football are upon us and we should receive details in the coming weeks! So excited to get our group together again!



Crappies: 

* 5 day work weeks. Who came up with that? I vote for 4 day work weeks and 3 day weekends! 
* Conflict. I despise conflict and most of the time, unless I am being paid to deal with it or its with my husband. I don't. But sometimes you really just need to deal with it. Things always work better when you communicate.



So there we have it, my first ever happies and crappies post. 

Now it's your turn to write yours and link up! =)


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

YOU are annoying on social media...

this post has been a long time coming.
i mean every time you turn around there is new "research" on how annoying people are on social media. 
or new "research" on how you are supposed to act on social media. 
or perhaps someone bitching about how annoying other people are on... you guessed it. social media. 

seriously. i don't know what people expect of others. 

let's touch on what i most commonly see as "annoying" behavior: 

  • Those who post about their workouts. People can't stand when you post about going to the gym, your weight loss, the goals you have met, or how hard you have pushed yourself. 
    • My thoughts? I love when my friends posts about their workouts, whether they are checking in, posting their stats, posting a progress photo or video. I love it all. I learn about new workouts, I get inspired and sometimes learn about new workout gear! So if you do this, KEEP DOING IT! YOU ARE MOTIVATING OTHERS!
  • Those who post about their food. People can't stand when you post pictures of the dish you just made, the goodies you just baked, or the ridiculously delicious/strong drink you are about to consume after your horrible day/week/month. 
    • My thoughts? I love food, and I am exploring new foods. So I love when I see new dishes in my feeds. Whether it is healthy or junk, I can still appreciate it. Everything is good in moderation. I mean, just don't post yourself eating a spoonful of butter. That... well that would be weird. I can appreciate a nice drink after a stressful day, or week. If it helps you keep your sanity and you are drinking responsibly. DO WHAT YOU WANT! 
  • Those who post about their children. People can't stand when you post photos of your children, or when you share little accomplishments. 
    • My thoughts: I don't have kids, I don't get annoyed with people who have kids. I mean, the only thing that annoys a whee little bit is the "my kid is the smartest" - um yea, okay. so is every child. I love my friends who are so in love with their kids though and it gives me something to look forward to when I have children. I want to feel that love that seems like non-other. I love hearing about little accomplishments. Seriously, I don't even care if you tell me your child pooped for the first time! Do I need to know that? No. Does it bother me? No, It's a normal bodily function. Do I think its a little odd that you shared? Just a little... then again I am the furmom that has inspected her cats poop so that she could give the vet good feedback. The one thing I do find annoying is when parents have their kids as their profile pictures. I don't get that. That would be like having Mychael's picture up as my profile picture... but who cares. KEEP LOVING YOUR CHILD AND KEEP SHARING! 
  • Those who check-in to places. People can't stand when you check in on FourSquare, Yelp, or Facebook. 
    • My thoughts: Mind your own. Now, I do admit I find it annoying when people check in to stupid shit. Like, why do you need to check into your couch? Your shower? The damn stop light? Don't get me wrong, I fell into that black hole for a bit too - then I slapped myself and asked myself what the hell was I doing? I do love seeing where people go, where they dine, and what they thought. Perhaps if I am in their neck of the woods I will know what places to check out. If used correctly - it provides great feedback! KEEP CHECKING IN, I NEED TO KNOW WHAT TO DO AND WHERE TO EAT! 
  • Those who promote themselves (or others). People can't stand when you promote your facebook page, your blog posts, or any of your other social media sites. 
    • My thoughts: Y'all I read blog posts, like facebook pages, follow Instagram accounts, etc all though people self-promoting. I rarely have time to sit down and read a blog. So Twitter or my Facebook feed is where I stay connected to this bloggy world I love. I LOVE to see others promoting other bloggers, and helping each other reach their goals. At the same time, I also know that EVERYONE is your best friend if they think you will spend your hard earned money sponsoring them or if you are currently sponsoring them. So, just be careful. People aren't always who they seem when you are paying them to be your friend. KEEP TWEETING/FACEBOOKING YOUR LINKS I LOVE IT! 

So my friends, who cares what other people think. You will never ever be able to please everyone. I violate every single thing listed above. And without that stuff up there, what else would you post about????

Also - I am sure the grammar police are having a BALL with this post. They are probably having an anxiety attack and are about to fall off their chair. Seriously.

I don't give a hoot! 

I am sure I have offended SOMEONE, but honestly I don't care. People are always going to talk. Might as well give them something to talk about.

Have a great Tuesday! 
 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Make a Life


Hello friends. Is anyone out there still? I know I have been neglecting this little blog of mine.

I haven't fallen out of love with blogging, rather I have been spending my free time with family, friends, my cats, and the hubby.

I'm still active on Instagram and Twitter so if you're not following on those you should look to the right and click on those pretty buttons! =)

I'll be cohosting a bloglovin link up next week so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!

And in case you missed it my husband and I have started a blog together over here. Don't expect a daily post, but we will be blogging regularly. 



Sunday, March 17, 2013

Have you heard of Greenling?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Baseball Season is here! If you've been following me long enough you know that I love my sports. Football is a time for friends, letting loose, and having fun. Baseball though, I love to just sit, bask in the sun and relax. I enjoy sitting with my honey, trying to make the calls, and day dreaming about our future munchkins.


Baseball season also is a time when we start to peel of layers of clothes. We go from pants and sweaters to shorts and cute tees. Eep!

I'm not one for "diets" so to speak, but I do like to keep a healthy lifestyle. As much as I can. The local radio stations started promoting Greeling, and after hearing them promote it so much I just had to check it out.


I received my first shipment a couple weeks ago. I just went light on some fruits and we loved it! Greenling offers local and organic fruits, veggies, meats, and dairy + other items. I definitely recommend checking it out.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you know that I meal plan and we shop for two weeks at a time. Sometimes we have to make weekly stops at the grocery store for fruits/veggies. With this Greenling service, I can see us being able to put a stop to those weekly mini trips! Which means there will definitely be less impulse buys which equals less unnecessary spending. Yay!

If you use my link here you'll receive 10% off your first order! Let me know if you try out Greenling!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Instagram + Vine ... do IT!

Good morning y'all!

Apparently, I lost a handful of blog followers yesterday. Well... my guess is they are party poopers who don't know how to have fun! Who doesn't love a good drink? ;) 

Anywho. I wanted to share a really great blog hop with y'all today from A Night Owl Blog. Now, I have seen this pop up in my feed a few times and I'm always sad I missed out. This morning it popped up and I said. I'm gonna do this!

Even though I haven't been that active on this 'ole blog of mine I am very active on Instagram, and a little on Vine! I love finding new people to follow!!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Imma go broke y'all!

...if I keep looking at Monica's Closet Essentials

Seriously. Have you looked at her items?  Here I'll make it easy for you. Follow on Instagram and get sucked in like ME!

My first purchase from her online boutique was Rhinestone Cross Bracelet.

It's only $12 y'all! It's a steal and comes in gold or silver! My Momma loved mine when she saw it so I ordered her one in gold. She'll be the trendiest little Momma you ever did see!

My next purchase was Light Pink Crochet Button Up Blouse.

I love this top, it is so light and flowy! I wore it a couple weeks ago on a date night with the mister and he loved it! I paired it with some skinny jeans, a bauble necklace, and the cross ring pictured above. I also wore it last night to a professional networking event for Young Women in Energy. I paired it with my black slacks, leopard print shoes, and my JA bracelet. It was a great way to still be professional but not feel stuffy.

I also purchased the Tri-Color top and can't wait to wear it!!!

The following are on my wish list and I will not be upset if you buy them for me and they end up on my door step! I'm a size small or medium, depending on how tight they are on the chest. Just throwing that out there... just in case...

Not Your Average Tank
Off the Shoulder Blouse - one in every color puuuhlease!
Animal Print Shine Top
Striped Tee with Zipper....    

.... ok, so basically order me one of everything on her site.

Are you obsessed yet?

Do you have a favorite online boutique? 
I need to know!


Monday, February 4, 2013

Rootbeer adds a little pep to your step?

I'm going to be quite honest with y'all. There is no motivation for me to work today. 

Maybe because it's gloomy outside. 

I always want to just curl up on the couch with a blanket and watch movies all day.

So, to add a little smile to my face I ran down to the vending machine to grab a Root Beer to go with my lunch! Then I was sad because I realized it would be so much better with a scoop of ice-cream! 
Am I right, or am I right?


Here's to me hoping you have a productive day, and my motivation gets back to me!

Happy Monday!

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Nail Files - Shellac

Hello Friday!!! I have been waiting for yooooooouuuuu!
February, why did you wait so long to show up? 









It's been forever since I linked up with my friend, Vicki for The Nail Files!

Today I wanted to share with you, my first ever Shellac manicure!


Pretty, right? 
 
Last Friday, I had reached a breaking point. I had a jam packed weekend and I just couldn't. I'm sure had I of attended the event that night I would have had a blast but I needed time all to myself. My husband was out with a friend for the night and I decided I was going to take some much needed ME time! 

I headed over to the nail salon, and sat my but in the chair to wait for my first ever Shellac manicure! 
I have to say I am a tad disappointed, one of my nails started to peel a bit by the cuticle. I don't know if this is normal.It hasn't spread... so I hope it was just that one spot. I am in love with the shine and low maintenance feel to them! 

Have you ever had Shellac before? 
What were your thoughts? 
Have you ever just had to back away from everything and everyone for just one night? 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Things I {don't} Love + Giveaway

Yay! We are just one day away from Friday! Also. Today is the last day of January! I'm beyond done with this month! 

Today, I'm doing a new (to me) linkup with one of my fellow button swappers! So let's get started! 








Things I don't love... 
  • Getting in my very first car accident... 
  • Having my car broken into for the very first time (only days after my car was taken out of the collision center)... and all they stole was a makeup bag. Full of ELF products!!! 
  • Getting rear ended not even a week after my car was broken into... 
  • Grandma Houck passed away this month... sweetest little lady I've ever met (besides my own Momma)
  • Having major anxiety sometimes
  • Having to give up extra activities that I am involved in because of my anxiety
  • Not having a post written by me during the month of January
  • Not being able to give my swap partners as much attention as I wanted. 

I had planned on telling you all about my swap partners, some new friends and some oldies... but for now see the questions below that I asked, and they answered.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? 
Rebecca - Let Them Eat Cake: I would live somewhere completely tropical like FIGI. I could spend my life living on a sandy beach day after day with crystal clear waters, and a golden brown tan. Figi seems to be paradise and that's where I want to be
Vicki - My Vickilicious Life: Hmmm ... I love, love, love NYC ... I really cannot imagine myself ever living anywhere else.  BUT I think it would be amazing to live somewhere with a milder climate ... Like somewhere that is forever fall/spring weather ... Not too cold, not too hot! :)
Nikki - My Life My Way: If I could live anywhere in the world I would live in the USA only I would move out west. I love America and we as Americans take it for granted. Now don't get me wrong I love to travel and explore the world but there is so much right here in our grasp and I personally want to soak it all in. I would move to Arizona, Texas, Cali, or Washington State in a heart beat if I could! 
Kenya - Life with Giggles: Somewhere in the southern US. I am CONVINCED I was a southern belle in a past life. I talk with a southern accent and have no idea how or why. But everyone is always asking me if I am from the south. Ha! 


What is one book everyone should read?
Melissa - Lulu and Sweet Pea: One book I think everyone should read is Harry Potter! (it's actually 7 books, but you have to start somewhere) They are really well written and even adults can enjoy them. My all time favorite series!


...and NOW a lovely giveaway from these two ladies!!! 
Here's the catch: You only have 24hrs to enter! So hurry and spread the word! 

Let Them Eat Cake






a Rafflecopter giveaway





Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Vox Culture - Winding Road: My Immigration Story (Part 3)

Happy Wednesday, friends! 
Tomorrow is the last day of January and let's just say I am seriously over January. I'm hoping February is a better month and the rest of this year is a breeze to get through. 
There has been a lot on my mind this month, and a lot of anxiety. I'm letting go of some of my extra activities, and after letting go of just a couple small ones I am already feeling better! 
I plan on blogging a little tomorrow, recapping how my past month has been. Don't expect a happy happy joy joy post, but at the same time it isn't going to make you want to fall off a cliff. 

Here is Viktor with his final post for the month on his immigration story. 
I hope you have enjoyed having him around!


With no luck in the job hunt up in Washington, D.C., and feeling that I needed a new start, I decided to head for Texas and look for a Political Science Master’s Degree program that was still taking applicants in December (in order to begin in January). I ended up signing up with the University of Texas at San Antonio, where I received my renewed F-1 student visa.

During my last semester at UTSA, I would begin to look for job opportunities again, but having been worn out from all the moving in a short period of time, I began focusing on offers within Texas. In addition, another major reason for my decision to stick around in Texas had to do with my parents’ immigration battle.


My parents on their wedding day.

After a total of nearly thirteen years, they were still unable to obtain a Green Card, and to make matters worse, after the application for their Green Card had been denied originally in 2009 (which led to a further appeal of the decision), the INS had sent them a letter in the earlier part of 2012, asking for additional evidence to appeal the decision. The reason for the 2009 denial and 2012 letter from the INS was because, our now former lawyer (who was fired just a few years before from the law firm we are using) had made a mistake when sending the application for my father to the INS in 2007. In the simplest terms possible, the mistake was in regards to listing my father’s education on the application at a higher level than what it really was. The INS, being an institution that only sees the black and the white, and really does not use much actual thought for anything else, saw this mistake as an attempt of being “dishonest” in the application and stated that based on the job description and education requirements given by our previous lawyer, that my father was “not qualified” for a job in the field that he has been in for about 35 years, and who is one of the most respected and sought after individuals in the global shipping community.



Pictures of my father, during his younger years sailing on the ship.

However, despite using certain “connections” through acquaintances in an attempt to write letters and intervene, and the law firm admitting that it was in fact their mistake and providing further proof required by the government, we have yet to hear back from the INS as to what the final verdict will be. All our lawyers however have said that the worst is to be expected, and therefore my parents, with the full support of my father’s company’s headquarters in Germany, have already made arrangements to leave the U.S. for a minimum of 12 months, during which they will be in Hamburg, Germany. While they were supposed to hear from the INS in December, they have not as of yet, but the latest the verdict would come in is expected at the end of February 2013. If our fears are confirmed they would leave the country soon after, and make a comeback in about 15 months under what is called the L visa… which we were told MUCH later by the same law firm that we had used all this time that, had we applied for the L visa, specially for someone in my father’s position, the process may have gone much quicker and smoother.


Recent picture of my folks.

Expecting this outcome, I began making preparations to move from San Antonio to Houston for what I thought would be a brief period. Balancing the thought of maybe leaving the U.S. as well and taking one of several offers in Europe, around the same time, a friend of mine who had then been working with a communications company up in Dallas told me of a position that had become available that he thought I’d be a great fit for. Little behold, just as I began typing in the communications company’s name online, the search option pulled up the name of a different organization that had a similar name to the communications company up in Dallas. This one though was called Vox Culture Houston. Thinking that is was somehow affiliated with the communications company (which turned out to be that it was not); I decided to check it out and was immediately hooked by what I saw. The rest, as it is said, is history, and I am where I am today. What happens next only tomorrow will tell.


Helping present at a Vox Culture event.

As I stated in the very first blog posting, if I could sum up my experience in the U.S. so far in one word, I do not believe it would be one that would be appropriate from a professional stance. However, when I look back at the last thirteen (going on fourteen) years of my life, where I’ve been and where I am now… I have found that my overall experience with the immigration system has played a key part in the making of who I am today. The challenges that I face (together with my family) are still there, and will likely remain as such for the foreseeable future… and while there have been bumps along my path where I’ve felt lost and broken, having found this unplanned and unexpected path that I’m currently on has given my soul a sense of resurrection. Doing the work that I do now has given me a sense of definition and completion, while giving me the optimism to believe that something better lies ahead. More importantly, I believe, it has given me the will and the energy to stand up and fight for what I believe is right, and try to live my life by my own rules and choices as best possible, while giving a voice to a side of an issue many are unaware of. What I am most grateful for however, is that when I look at the overall experience… I realize that I have become more aware of who I am and what I stand for.

In order for brevity, I will end this chapter of my story with a poem by William Ernest Henley, Invictus, that over the years I’ve found both inspiration in (the poem as well as the poet himself), and which I have felt best captures this winding road, my immigration story.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be,
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears,
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years,
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.


****

Introduction to My Immigration Story | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3


If you would like to learn more about Vox Culture and see how it has connected the Houston community to social causes in creative ways, "Like" their FaceBook page. A sponsor will donate $1 to the organization's Vision Fund for every fan.  




Thursday, January 24, 2013

Vox Culture - Winding Road: My Immigration Story (Part 2)

Good day friends!

Life has been quite hectic lately.
I have a Type A personality and plan plan plan. Right now, I feel completely disorganized which puts me in a grumpy mood.
Oh well, I'm fixing that ...and think I over booked myself for this weekends commitments. Argh!

I announced on Instagram and Twitter that the mister and I are starting a blog together. If you're interested in following our married journey together go over there.
Currently, we only have our About Us section complete but our first post is coming soon!

The Houck Diaries




Are you enjoying these blog posts from Viktor? I know I am!
He's back for part 2 of his immigration story.


My immigration story would reach a new level of complication following the events of September 11, 2001. With the perpetrators of 9/11 having been able to obtain visa’s for the United States, many politicians deemed it necessary to add further scrutiny, more background checks, and additional requirements in order to obtain a Green Card. In the process this would lead to a backlog in the immigration system as well as prolong the waiting period for applicants.

In the first three to four years following the events of 9/11, as many immigrants (especially those of darker skin, from the Middle East, or those of Muslim of Sikh belief may) may attest to, it was near impossible to get pulled over by a police officer without being asked “where are you from?” or “are you Arab?” or be selected for greater scrutiny in security checks at airports, or even museums for that matter. While the majority of people I knew, or those who were around me, were still welcoming and friendly towards me as a foreigner, it was a hard not to take note of moments such as getting randomly pulled out of line at a airport security checkpoint, made to take off your shirt behind make-shift cubicles used for “privacy” while standing next to other folks that look “similar” to you, and get questioned and searched. After a few years however, the tensions and these types of situations, would begin to decrease.


Dressed up for my highschool senior prom... something my folks used to joke about as being another step to becoming more "Americanized".

The changes and extension in the Green Card application process also led to some individuals trying to take advantage of immigrant workers. For example, when my father wanted to depart from New Orleans for Houston, to take a job at a German shipping company’s office in Houston, his now former boss threatened to use "legal action", in the hopes that it would scare him into wanting to stay in New Orleans and work at the same company. While in her case it did not work, there have been other situations where immigrants have chosen to remain where they are working, even if they are unhappy, out of fear of any repercussions by their employers.

Now living in Baton Rouge and going to Louisiana State University, I began to face new challenges in my immigration status. My status as a foreign student at LSU was complicated. Given that I was a resident of Louisiana and I had come into the U.S. as a minor with an H-4 visa, I did not have to apply for an F-1 visa (one of the main types of visa’s given to foreign students). Had I been arriving from outside of the U.S. and just starting to apply for university, then I would be required to have applied for an F-1 visa.


Third from the right: With some of my teammates back in the day, when I was on the LSU Rugby team.

However, what our lawyer in Houston had failed to tell us was that, by the age of 21, no matter if I held residency within Louisiana and had been legally inside the U.S. with an H-4 visa, I would also have to apply for an F-1 visa to stay in status legally (as an adult child, you cannot be dependent on an H-1B visa holder). It was not until we asked the lawyer, only a few months before I turned 21 did she bother to say, “oh, you didn’t know?” and when asking for what would be some other solutions to the situation in case if the application did not go through or was too late… “just get  married, it’ll make it easier.” To avoid repercussions with the INS and to be able to complete my studies successfully, I changed my status from the H-4 visa to the F-1 student visa.

Furthermore, I also had to face certain challenges as an immigrant in the career path that I chose. As a political science major at LSU, it was a goal of mine to work within the U.S. intelligence community or the State Department. While I knew certain opportunities, like being the president of the United States, were out of question; other jobs, where logically speaking you would think they would value someone of multinational origins and multilingual skills were also out of reach. To make matters worse, I would not realize this until my senior year in college. Luckily though, I had found out about the think-tank world.


At the NATO Allied Command Transformation Base during a visit to gather research for work.

With the potential of a job opportunity in Washington, D.C., based off a project I was working on, with one of the most respected think-tanks in the world, I also applied for what is called the Optional Practical Training status in the hopes that if the project went well, the company would support me with an H-1B. The OPT is a period during which undergraduate and graduate students with F-1 status who have completed or have been pursuing their degrees for more than nine months are permitted by the USCIS to work for at most one year on a student visa – for which you are given a work card. While the project I had been working on was developing smoothly, the recent global recession had dried up the funds necessary to complete the project, and the company had quickly realigned its priorities. This left me in limbo for a period, and disillusioned, given the political atmosphere in D.C. at that time.


At an art exhibit event at the Croatian embassy in D.C..

While I continued to use what was left on the time period of my OPT to do some miscellaneous tasks at this company, I began job hunting in the hopes of finding another company or organization willing to support me with an H-1B. The best opportunity that I had gotten was through one of my then-boss’ connections. The interview went great and the gentleman had even said that I was a “shoo-in” for the position. However, talking over the phone the next day with the gentleman, when I mentioned the support I needed for an H-1B, he kindly let me know that they would not be able to do so “due to the strains and time consumption, and other aspects of the process,” and from there wished me farewell and all the best. The feeling that I remember most after having gotten that phone call was that, in some cases, I was being looked more in terms of who I am rather than what I have to offer. Feeling out of luck, I decided it was time for a change...
 
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Wow. So rough. I can't even imagine! I know in educational and career path I have felt confused at times. I even felt like I wouldn't be able to do what I truly wanted to do, but the only thing standing in my way, was me.  I can't wait for part 3 next week!

Introduction to My Immigration Story | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
 

If you would like to learn more about Vox Culture and see how it has connected the Houston community to social causes in creative ways, "Like" their FaceBook page. A sponsor will donate $1 to the organization's Vision Fund for every fan.