Monday, June 9, 2014

20 Things You Should Know About San Antonio

Main Plaza and San Fernando Cathedral 

When you visit San Antonio/SA-town/Alamo City/River City/San Antone, there are some things you ought to know.

1) Visit the Alamo but don't you dare say you're underwhelmed. Plot twist:  It's not famous for its grandeur, it's famous for being the site of one of the most inspiring defeats in history. Visit to get the whole story, but know that it is hallowed ground, not a theme park.

2) If you're coming in summer, think long and hard--do you want to bear scars from seat belts and steering wheels for the remainder of your life? If the answer is "yes, these are honorable battle wounds," by all means come and join the game of surviving the heat! If not, come for the holiday lights in December. It'll only be 50 degrees.

3) The dynamic in this city is diverse in the truest sense of the word. It's a colorful mix of Mexican/American/Southwestern/Cowboy influence. There are areas where you will find billboards composed entirely of Spanish (you quickly learn to read it at at least a rudimentary level), and chic barbeque restaurants (yes this is a thing). Eat the TexMex food. Go to the Seattle-like coffee shop.

4) We have so much history downtown. (As a history major and history buff and lover of all things history, this town is a treasure trove.) Hit up:

-Market Square, the old farmer's market
-La Villita (one of the city's first neighborhoods)
-The St. Anthony (hot spot of the 1930s and 40s, lodging of many an A-list golden age Hollywood celebrity),
-The Menger Hotel (Teddy Roosevelt stayed here, need I say more?)
-San Fernando Cathedral (oldest operational cathedral in the US, full of history and old-world charm)

The St. Anthony 
5) Read some O. Henry stories set in and around San Antonio on your way here--it makes it just that much cooler. And then visit the O. Henry house. Because there's honestly no end to the historic sites you could track down here.

6) Don't wear the logo of any NBA team that is not the Spurs. San Antonians are typically nice and welcoming, but nothing will earn our wrath and outright animosity as quickly as a Mavs or (Lord help you) Heat t-shirt.

7) This city is all about colors. Fiesta colors. They're everywhere, and yes, they clash with the Texas flag but who cares?

8) Visit the Riverwalk. Just do it. Eat at Schilos (a German restaurant founded in the 1910's and stationed at its current location since the 1930s), and then take a Riverboat tour or just walk. It's beautiful.

9) Cowboy hats and cowboy boots are common sights. People wear them on a day-to-day basis Also, camo. Trucks are camo, boys wear camo, girls wear camo. The whole redneck schtick is kind of the furthest thing from my taste (I'm definitely a city girl), but it's something to know.

10) This is Military City, USA. There are 4 air force bases in this town, and if a new family shows up in church, there's about a 75% chance they're military. You will see a plethora of uniforms if you go downtown or to a theme park on a holiday. Support our troops!

11) Everybody drives trucks. Unfortunately, not everybody is particularly try not to lose your mind when you see the over-sized truck parked in a compact car spot (!!!). Also, some people who drive these trucks do not have correspondingly large brains or particularly sweeping peripheral vision, so watch yourself.

12) Visit the Pearl Brewery, especially on a Saturday mornings for the Farmer's Market. You can eat at La Gloria or Cured (both of which I hear are quite good. I am a poor college student, so I can't testify first hand), visit a fancy shop, grab an empanada at a food stand, or just stroll along the Riverwalk. The Pearl is historic, renovated--very chic, and just all around good fun.

13) On many evenings in summer and certainly during the holidays, there's a bagpiper (or bagpipers) on the corner of Losoya and West Market St, across from the Convention center. Always fun to run into them on your way to La Villita.

14) Broadway is really fun--yes, San Antonio has a Broadway street. Pick a cool fall day, get a some walking in (or just drive). There are so many used book stores, antique shops, restaurants, bakeries--not to mention University of the Incarnate Word, which has a gorgeous and historic campus. Hit up Central Market, drive through Alamo Heights to see 1920's houses, visit an antique store, hike through the Botanical and Japanese Tea Gardens, visit The Bird Bakery (interesting fact--it is owned by Armie Hammer's wife, Elizabeth Chambers, and she's often there...but not only is it connected to celebrities, it serves some pretty good cupcakes, is really cute and staffed by very nice people), and take the zoo train through Brackenridge Park.

15) It usually takes about 1/2 an hour to get places, so be aware of that.

16) This is very much a maƱana town. Don't expect business transactions to happen between Friday at 4:00 and Monday at 10:00. There is no such thing as urgent. People are generally not in a hurry, even if they're late. Northerners, stay calm. Take deep breaths. Don't lose your minds.

16) If you're not used to driving in a big city with spaghetti bowl highways, make sure that you call a taxi or me. Driving in this town is a skill as you become accustomed to never seeing a blinker on a lane change and incredibly indecisive drivers. And don't even bother trying to look at a map, you'll just hypnotize yourself with the psychedelic circles that make up our freeway system.

17) This is about the most San Antonio thing to ever happen.

18) Go

19) Spurs

20) GO!!!!!!!!

Come visit, y'all!

Fellow natives and former tourists--what would you add to this list?

Friday, June 6, 2014

June 6th, 1944

Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of D-Day today:

"Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is will trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!
Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower's Orders for the Day, June 6, 1944 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Oh, Another One.

I have decided to take up blogging again. I should probably stop taking these unannounced hiatuses, but life ( and laziness) does have a way of getting IN the way. But this time, I'm going to go at it. I even have a list.

A lot has happened in the 11 odd months since I posted. 

Mistakes. Decisions. Stress. Excitement.

In December, we took a lovely vacation to California. We drove. Texas to Arizona to California, it was kind of an epic Southwest road trip. We even took the Yorkie. I do love to travel--could literally do it all day.

We did a lot, saw a lot. But this picture typifies the drive to Cali,  I think the view is gorgeous and I'm too lazy to upload more pics. Sorry. 

In February, I earned my Suzuki Violin Book 1 registration. Officially registered as a violin teacher! I currently have a pretty active private violin studio--17 students, give or take...but I'm always looking for more (hint hint, San Antonio friends). I even have a fancy dandy (free, wordpress) website! (Violin Studio of Olivia Morales)


Last year, I made mistakes in the college planning process--missed deadlines, procrastinated checklists, "OK" SAT scores-these things were not deciding factors, but they were instrumental in the decision to stay at home and take a "gap year." This decision is one I'm glad I made, but the end of the last year did teach me a lot about the problems of procrastination.

I spent the better part of the Fall semester boot-camp studying to raise my SAT Scores. Through an awesome tutor and very nice software setup, I raised them 290 points, enough to get me into all of the schools to which I applied.

I say all--in a zealous effort to compensate for my deadline-missing streak of last school year, I applied to not 4, not 5, but 7 colleges around the country. I really, really wanted to move away from San Antonio--not from disloyalty or a hatred of my native city, but from a desire to see the rest of the country, to what the world outside this unique bubble is like. 

However, the Lord did not have that in his blueprint of my life. Overshadowing my immediate sense of restlessness is a head knowledge that I should really, really avoid the pit of $80,000 debt for an undergraduate degree, and I decided to attend a school in my town. I am blessed to have been accepted to the Honors College and to live just 20 minutes away, making commuting easy--I will remain at home, work and learn, and (Lord willing) finish my Bachelor's degree unhampered by crippling debt. UIW is also an historic school, founded by nuns in 1881--a few original buildings and lots of history, a pretty campus...I'm certainly not complaining. I plan on majoring in History, and then going on to either law or graduate school in a related field--we shall see how I feel in four years.

Over this coming summer, I am trying to build my studio, earn (and save) my money, and stay cool(ish), like any San Antonian. I also want to make it my summer project to blog more actively, hence this catch up/promise/hopeful post.

How does your summer/recent life look, dear reader? Comment below!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Like Painted Kites

Wow. These past couple of months have been insane. Bam, bam, bam. First came the driver's license and the freedom to go places without my mom. Then came that little thing known as "high school graduation."  And then, to top it off, I became a legal adult. (Apparently, I could buy a monkey now. Or dry ice. Just what I always wanted.)

All this whiplash has had me thinking.

 It's so easy to fall into a trap of doing nothing. I am faced with two options here: I could stay as close to my comfort zone as possible (which, as I have detailed earlier, is quite comfortable for me) or I can live "on the edge*." I can take risks. I could dig myself out of this comfort zone and try new things.

As Helen Keller put it (and she ought to know) "life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

        How true this is....think of it.

If we don't put our all into every day, no matter how stressful or tedious, and think of it as at least a portion of an adventure, how do we expect to live to the fullest? Some people have easy lives. Some have incredibly hard ones. But there is no reason on God's green earth for us to just "kill the time," to put to death each moment rife with potential energy for good.

We are given one life to live. We don't come back to this earth to try again. I want to make mine count.

I admit. I'm certainly not the best at this. Much of the time, it's a struggle. I'm not always particularly motivated. But I can and will change. I have gotten an idea of how short life can feel, and I've also discovered that there're no worse feelings in the world worse than 1)eating too much sugar in a sitting and 2) realizing that you've wasted an entire day, one that you'll never get it back.

I'm determined to feel neither ever again.

I like my comfort zone. I'm tired. "Burned out." I don't like this, I don't like that. I'm afraid.

I need to learn to ignore these excuses. They are stalling me. If I give them leverage, I will end up wasting my life.

But why is this so very important? As I read over my previous paragraphs, I see that it really sounds like another one of those motivational speeches.


Whole books have been written on the subject; a leap in the sale of these tomes was just experienced over graduation season. So why bother? Well, aside from the fact that this is my blog and I like to use it as my sounding-board sometimes, I think it's very important to realize the "one life to live" dilemma above.

I'm a child of God. I'm not always the best, or the most devoted. I'm working on that. But I do know that God is the one who gave me this life. He put me on earth for some reason. Because I am saved by the blood of Jesus, I realize this even more fully. I was put here to make a difference, whether big or small (by the world's standards). So that's just what I need to do. It will involve risks and hard work, but what else am I going to do with my life? Sit around and conserve energy until I'm dead?

Nope. So what am I going to do about this? the interest of saving time and not having the blog post balloon into one of those endless essays, I will end here.

I'm just kind of aesthetically minded like that.

But! This post will be continued. Soon.

Possibly tomorrow.

Thanks for sitting through my ramblings. I hope to continue skipping through the fields of my mind, which are clearly full of rabbit trails. ;)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

On Spring and Incredible Gifts

It's officially spring in Texas. I say "spring...."

What I really mean is:

The weather is 10x more bipolar than usual. Texas is unpredictable at best, but the weather seems to have worse mood swings in the spring. It must be the transition or something. Pick a climate already! 

The trees became green literally overnight. Which is nice, except the view from my window is going away in 3...2...1 because of the large bushy tree right outside.

We lost an hour of sleep. That was fun.

They're already saying that we'll be in a Stage 4 drought by end of April.

The birds have started singing. I think there's a nest outside our kitchen window. Which I love. So, so much.

It's been more overcast than usual.

What was that? I can feel summer coming. 

Even so, spring is for us what is for everyone, everywhere. New life. Hope. Renewal. 

I suppose that, since God is in control of everything (including timing), that is why the events that we remember during Holy Week happened in springtime.

It's really quite amazing, beautiful and awe-inspiring what happened.

The Son of God relinquished the glory He had every right to hold on to in order to come to earth and take a human body and live a human life. A life, which, though it can seem pretty marvelous to us, is not even comparable to anything in Heaven. He did not have to do this. He was (and is) God. However, we humans had a problem. A huge, insurmountable problem.

Humanity had begun to sin almost right out of the gate. From the very beginning, there was a reckoning coming. The wages of sin is death. That's how it works. God is Holy.

In order to successfully pay for sin, a perfect sacrifice was required. How is a perfect sacrifice to be offered if we are all sinners? None of us are capable of reaching the perfection required. It is not a certain level of "good enough" or a matter of "good outweighing bad." Sin is sin, and we're all guilty.

God is absolute perfection, and nothing short of His level of holiness would do. There is no person on this earth who could even come close.

So the only possible solution was promised, right there at the fall. The Son of God would come to earth, be born of a virgin, walk this earth perfectly and then die an accursed death. Jesus Christ, the Son of God (who is God himself) would sacrifice himself for humanity's hopeless cause. He would give hope of Salvation. All those who are saved by his perfect blood would be saved for all eternity. The crimson would be washed as white as snow. 

He died a horrible, wretched and despised death--one reserved for criminals. While doing this, the worst possible thing happened to him. He was separated from the Father when he took all our sins on himself.

The marvelous thing, though, is that He did not stay in the clutches of death for long. On the third day, he rose again, and ascended into heaven 40 days later. He is not on this earth any longer, he is not a corpse in a tomb.

Christ's was the triumph over death, sin, and Satan himself. He is alive, sitting at the right hand of God the Father. In him, we are safe from the righteous wrath of God.

Jesus' death was all that was needed. All those who are in him are forgiven, washed clean. On this earth, the saved aren't perfect--but we have perfection promised to us in Heaven. We have a promise of life in Heaven, a life that will never end.

His sacrifice was all that was needed. We can't complete it. There is nothing we can do to earn, deserve or have any part in it. Salvation is the free gift of God. He quickens us to accept his son--the very belief that comes into the heart so that the confession with the mouth can take place and so that a person is saved is granted to us by Him.

Death has not victory over us.

No sting.

For the Christian, death is nothing more than the beginning. There is nothing to fear, thanks to Jesus' death and resurrection.

It's getting to be cliche now, but it is worth saying: Easter is not about the rabbits, or the chicks, or the delicious chocolate and Peeps. These are all lovely things, representations of God's gift of life.

But the real point of Easter--the whole reason it's celebrated--is the sacrifice of the ultimate, perfect Passover lamb. The lamb without defect. This one paid for sins, permanently. There is no need for a yearly sacrifice...Jesus died and rose again, having completed the work that had been waited for for upwards of 2500 years. We are saved by his perfect, ultimate gift. The gift that only He could give.

The Crucifixion

"After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." (John 19:28-30)

The Resurrection 

 "Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you. So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.  And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:1-10)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Things I Love About the BBC--Part 1

So. If anyone follows me on Pinterest, is friends with me on Facebook, or has turned that white button blue on my Twitter, or--the more dire consequence of being my friend-- has been pulled kicking and screaming into a shared vortex of fandom by yours truly, you know quite well that my poor little Anglophile self is hopelessly infatuated with the BBC.

To those who do not share my love *"I am so, so sorry"...for you. Your life is bereft of something truly marvelous. We must work to rectify this situation.

To those who do share my opinion...enjoy the following post!

*Doctor Who quote. Gotta love some David Tennant.

Things I Love About the BBC.
Part 1 of what I am confident will be a very long series. 
I am not writing an essay, why am I employing these awkward elementary titling techniques?

Beauty is in the eye of  the beholder. Not the software of Photoshop. Let that be said and declared, amen.

A person who (through a strange and rather contrived sequence of events) dropped out of the sky into the good ol' U.S.A. and, without seeing any of the natives, immediately went into a confined area to read a magazine and watch TV would naturally form a few opinions about what the people here looked like. 

They may say that all are relatively uniform, with some slight variation of coloring. The women are possessed of straight hair. Tan skin. Impossibly (and I mean impossibly) tiny measurements. 5'1"--5'11" and 100 pounds. High, affected voices. Sometimes vulgar sense of humor. Unnaturally perfect faces. The men are, apparently, all tall, body-building and tan with faces that may as well have been chiseled off of a Greek statue..and glued on. Not much to say, and when there's something--it's dirty.  

A predicament, if I ever saw one.

As a girl living in America, 5'8" and *ahem* not 100 pounds, with features that don't necessary fit the ideal that a plastic surgeon may present you with, I find this image of "beauty" rather frustrating. Through extensive internet research, I've gathered that I'm not alone.

No matter how much you know in your head that you are created by God in the exact way he wanted you,  or that you are you and there is no duplicate, having your thoughts pummelled with unattainable images of what the masses say is "attractive" can be tear-inducing. 

The BBC, on the other hand, takes women that would not necessarily be considered "beautiful" by today's one-dimensional standards and casts them in their shows. Some have curves that you wouldn't normally see an American actress comfortable with keeping. Some have aquiline noses that, here, would be shaved away (or whatever it is those men in masks do). Some have soft, pale skin that would be obliterated in a tanning bed. 

However, all of them manage to make their roles interesting. They act with intelligence and class.  They have wit. They can lend depth to their roles.

Not to ignore the men-folk! The ignorant observer of the fan-bases of Doctor Who and Sherlock would assume that these stars must be really classically good-looking men.

Buff, tan...right?

David Tennant? Matt Smith? Benedict Cumberbatch? Martin Freeman? A host of others? Girls, one look won't set your heart fluttering. But then they turn on the charm of witty, sarcastic, intelligent acting. 

You see them in character. Then you should fall head over heels. 

Or is that just me?

A random photograph of Benedict the Brilliant

I guess the lesson here is "substance over silly." Or something akin to that sentiment.

 It's getting late here in South Texas and it's been a long day. 

Well. What was supposed to be a bullet point on a list turned into a long-ish post. I'm thinking that this may turn into a series, demand or no demand. ;) I have a growing list of what I love about the BBC, and I must vent

Until next rant! 

 ( I left out plenty of examples and pictures...feel free to point them out in the comments if you are a fellow BBC fan! )

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Olivia is back online

As I haven't posted since August, I feel that a little bit of catch-up may be in order. I have recently been inspired to get back into the blogging game by a number of things...a new-found love of BBC television shows that I simply have to talk (read: fangirl) about non-stop, reconnecting with Nana lots of thoughts, new developments in life, Les Miserables, the journey to driving solo, school, friends, happenings, Texas, 1940s, sewing...well, you  get the picture.

All of the above may or may not be the reason for my extended absence from the world of Blogger.

Pinterest may also have had a strong hand in this.

And Twitter.

And Netflix and Facebook. 

*Shame face.*


Senior year. I honestly never believed I would make it this far, though I didn't ever really have an alternative in mind. But I am at the brink of adulthood, freedom and enormous responsibility. While I am planning on living at home for however long I feel led to, I am looking with trepidation and excitement towards what is around the bend. We shall see what Teaching certificate? Job? All options are open.

 I am enjoying the actual school work of this year (except the math. Always except the math)--most of which is quite voluntary and not required, since I actually have enough credits to graduate--and I love the class of people I spend time with every week. We don't always agree on the fundamentals, but the fact that we're all able to remain friends and get along is a real delight. 

New Interests

The BBC. Downton Abbey, Sherlock, Doctor Who....I'm loving all of them. British television, even the "corniest" has masses more substance than American. As they say--Britain produced a magical channel (the BBC) full of magical shows (Sherlock, Dr. Who, Downton Abbey, etc)...and all America could seem to come up with was 'Honey Boo-Boo' and 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians.' 

I must say, this Pinterest thing has helped in the therapy following the end of S2 of Sherlock. I am glad to know that I am not the only victim of the psychological phenomenon known as "Moffat Trauma." (Trauma experienced at the merciless hand of the televised writings of Steven Moffat.)

Les Miserables 

After seeing the play when it came through town last year, and hearing all my friends talk about the movie soon to premiere, anticipation began to build within me. After seeing this film, I was completely sold, and am now an enormous fanatic. The story is an amazing one of redemption and legalism vs grace, I would have never guess that those actors could carry a tune, and Eddie Redmayne has ruined my life. I have always been known to my family as a "robot," never crying at key emotional parts of films---but I seem to have been cured of this insensitivity during the course of this 3-hour movie. My face was basically converted into a waterfall. That's a piece of golden cinema right there.


Let's just start this by saying that driving in Texas is a challenge. Driving in my hometown is absolutely terrifying. The ratio of smart drivers to dumb drivers is just a little on the unfavorably-weighted side...and the freeway? Sometimes I wonder about the IQ and critical thinking of some of those engineers involved in the creation of our roads. 

Other and Miscellaneous 

Well, in this topic....not sure what I could say! I still teach/play violin, I'm still single (though just lately coming to the full realization that I'm content with it--right now. More to come), still homeschooled, still fiercely Texan, still an Anglophile (interesting mix, I know), still Mexican, still in love with chocolate and coffee--still me.

However, I am looking forward to a life that is more disciplined and includes more blogging! I have missed it dearly, however it may have looked by my absence on this blog.