Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Maybe you can go home again, kinda

I wouldn't know where to begin if I tried.

And I'm not even in the mood to try, because it's late and I've spent almost two evenings "at home" in the last few weeks. Don't misread that as a complaint--I have had the most unbelievably enjoyable weeks...catching up with family and friends from all of my previous incarnations.

I am posting from my new, beloved MacBook. (Yay!) I love it, but am still low on the learning curve. Add to that the hour, the wine, and the general confusion (of South v. North, of summer v. winter, of freelance v. full-time, of open agenda v. scheduling chaos), and you can likely forgive the whateverness of this post, right?

My Dad met me at the airport. Man, that hug was the best ever.

I spent the first few days nestled in Dad and Kris' warm home. I cuddled human-dog Spot a lot.

When I made it downtown, I parked my stuff at my dear friends Roberta & Michael's gorgeous condo. My friends are living in Wales at the moment, and they very graciously allowed me to crash at their place during my stay. I think I'm getting spoiled. Their home, a 20th floor condo in the heart of the city, is beautiful and comfortable. Forget the baby grand piano that I can't play and the 3 bathrooms, forget the fireplace I can't operate and the espresso machine I can--I'm living it up with a washer and dryer! The location is sweet and super-convenient to work. The tallest building in view from their living room is the new Trump Tower. It was under construction when I left--needless to say, it's done now. Enjoy this lovely evening view... as I do nightly.

I started working at Compass Lexecon, my former employer, on the Monday following my arrival and was surprised at how quickly and comfortably I transitioned back to the corporate environment. Dare I say, I think that one day I might even return to the "real world"... but not yet! Regardless, I was blessed with lots of great company at "Lex," but the one I had bonded with (and missed) the most was my girl Jackie. She's a rock star, I tell you. See for yourself...

...and Katie... she's an incredible girl with a spirit to match. Man, I missed these girls.

As I said, I've been out a lot. Reconnecting. Reliving. Reviving a little piece of my me, at the perfect time. When I visited Thiera, she had been in her new apartment approximately 36 hours. Still, she served me a big ol' glass of vinho tinto in a giant plastic cup--to which I responded: "this is why I love you." (One of the multitude of reasons, truthfully.)

A few evenings later, Thiera and I met Marcelo, my Paulista friend (and former Portuguese teacher) at a cute pub. (Tangent: I always knew, but just remembered, that Chicago has such a wealth of world class restaurants and bars--there are a million different places to go here, something for every mood, budget, and taste. We, if I can still count myself in that collective, are very fortunate for that.) Anyway, afterwards, Marcelo gave us a ride home in his new car. Marcelo has lived in Chicago for five years but, as he never had a car, he never had to clean off the ice and snow. As he peeled the cardboard packaging from his snow brush/ice scraper to do the deed for the first time, he proclaimed, "I'm living the American Dream!" and Thiera and I fell about the place laughing.

There are so many other bits and pics and stuff. The people I know here (like those in Brazil, and in Ireland, in Spain, in anyplace) are so amazing--so whole, so interesting, so admirable--that I feel like I am slighting them somehow by not writing a story for each person I cherish, conveying why and how they have impacted me. I don't want to slight them (you) all. Maybe, in time, I will manage to tell all these stories in words that do justice.

For now, though, I am happy here. I am freaking cold here. Still, it's been an enormous--surprising, even--pleasure. I trekked back here feeling a bit apprehensive about the ways I've changed... and the ways others might have changed in ways that I wasn't a part of... but I love love love this city. I love seeing my Dad, my friends--I even love working the grind (because of the previous bonds).

I've still changed. And I'm not done with my adventure. Please don't ask me what I'm looking for, because I don't know myself... but I'm not done.

But if and when I am done, I'll come back to Sweet Home Chicago. And I hope with all my hope that the people I adore are still here and just as welcoming as they are to me today--after my lengthy absence.

I leave you on ice, for now...

Happy 2010...

Loquinha Everywhere

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Old habits..."

Winter isn't hitting me as hard (yet) as I expected it to. I fell right back into the swing of my old job, though I sense that I have a better attitude than I remember. Maybe because I'm more relaxed in general, maybe because the work is fleeting; either way I'm enjoying it.

I was surprised at how much information (passwords, procedures, phone numbers, etc.) bubbled up from the depths of my mind on Monday, my first day back to The Cube. And what I didn't remember on a conscious level, my weird robotic hand seems to recall for me. Today, I paused by the photocopier, thinking, "hmm, what was that employee number I used to enter to make this thing do its magic?" My digits responded automatically to the thought, keying in the requisite digits! Holy smokes, que estranho!

Yesterday I was treated by my old boss--"Chief", or "Denny", as I playfully refer to him--to lunch. Chief happens to occupy a high position on my list of most-respected people, and I am far from alone in that assessment. We had a really dynamic conversation, from matters of the heart to those of the world, as usual. It has been so fun to reconnect with all the people, colleagues and otherwise, from my other life, that even the cold weather isn't troubling me as much as I suspected it would.

The only thing that has me completely discombobulated is the southerly slant to the sun's trajectory. My inner GPS, my only real innate talent, is completely out-of-whack. Somehow, even though I'm in a city I recently knew like the back of my hand, North has becomes South. [Which creates an interesting side-ponder: how do all those migratory birds manage to keep it all straight?]

But the Southerners shouldn't worry. I'll find my way back soon enough.
Beijos pelo mundo inteiro,

Friday, December 11, 2009

Victoria Day

I don't mean the Canadian holiday. I mean my good kiwi friend, Victoria.
I'm going to miss her real party to celebrate the completion of her MBA (studying international business in Portuguese, while holding down two full time jobs, gasp!), but we had a pre-party, if you will, last month.

I am so proud of my friend. She is strong and ambitious, and will truly be a force to be reckoned with as she moves forward with her career.

Long distance-wishing you a great celebration.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Change of scenery

I woke up at seven this morning, which is absurd. With the unplanned extra time and the bright blue sky, I moved like a tornado, scrubbing every surface of my apartment. (Luckily the place is small.) I even hand-washed the summery clothes I'll leave behind. At least my apartment should be wonderful and welcoming to return to.

[Don't buy cheap paper towels.]

It feels very strange, after a year and nearly nine months, and about a million changes--expected and unexpected--to be en route to Chicago: back to a skyline, but no visible stars; sideways to a corporate routine for a reminder of another reality; and forward to the cusp of 2010, in both of my worlds and accompanied by both of my personas.

Should be pretty cool; the forecast says that some seriously shocking temperatures will greet me. On the up side, so will my Dad.

Hello Sweet Home Chicago--and Tchau (for now) Porto Alegre!

Loquinha com certeza

P.S. The other working title for this post was "Mother's Little Helper"...because Engov We Trust.
Why don't we have this little miracle hangover remedy in the US? I've armed myself with a supply. Let the reunions and holiday festivities begin!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Roxo e doente! (Ammended)

Way back in 2005, I spent a lot of time and energy trying to procure an Internacional jersey for a creative project I was working on to surprise my then-boyfriend. I was living 6,000 miles away and didn't speak a word of Portuguese, so it was much more challenging than your standard shirt-shopping expedition.

Aided (or, perhaps, injured) by Google Translator, I engaged in "dialogue" with a sales rep named Eliane, which continued, little by little, over the course of about a month. We became kind of close, actually, as we gestured virtually (using clip art and pictures) to try and communicate.

At the closing of one email she wrote, "Roxo e doente!" According to Google, she had become "purple and sick" and I was taken aback in horror and concern for my new amiga. I sent a caring and sympathetic message...or at least, I tried to. She responded the following day in, what I suspect was, post-rolling-on-floor-risos (laughter).

I came to learn, much later, that "roxo e doente" is a phrase that Colorados (Inter fans) use to express their passion for the team.

Later today, rain or shine, I'll be at Estádio Beira-Rio to cheer on my darlings for the last game of the 2009 Brasileirão, and the last game of the teams' Centenário, or 100th Anniversary.

We had a great start to this season, a rough middle, and have come very close to claiming the national title this year. [There's a huge national controversy swirling this week over the likely sabotage predicted for later today
by rival club Grêmio]. Our likely finish as "vice liderança" will still give good cause for a happy post-game celebration at the sold-out stadium.

Canta forte, minha galera!
Loquinha "purple and sick"

As letras da musica "Minha Camisa Vermelha"

Inter, estaremos contigo... / Inter, we are with you...
Tu és minha paixão! / You are my passion!
Não importa o que digam / It doesn't matter what 'they' say
Sempre levarei comigo / I always carry with me
Minha camisa vermelha... / My red jersey
e a cachaça na mão / and a
cachaça in my hand
O Gigante me espera... / [the stadium] awaits me...
Para começar a festa! / To begin the celebration!

Xalaialaiaa, Xalaialaiaa, Xalaialaiaa! / Sha la ya la ya (3x)
Você me deixa doidão! / You make me [a nutter]!

Xalaialaiaa, Xalaialaiaa, Xalaialaiaa! / Sha la ya la ya (3x)
Inter do meu coração! / Inter, of my heart.

Addendum 12/7/09:

The weather was befitting: a perfect storm--Inter fighting for the championship that was in the hands of their rival.

The team arrived at the stadium right after I did. As you can see, the scene was energetic!


Another in the little-thing-made-big series, I love love love our new flag that covers about 3,000 people in the stands. I also love how fast they "raise" and "lower"--as if it was water washing over the crowd. Neat!

Canta, galera!


Inter did their part--winning 4x1 against Santo André. Unfortunately, so did Grêmio--losing to Flamengo 2x1. Sem problema, sou orgulho de ser colorada! (No problem, I'm proud to be an Inter fan!)

Oh, the neighbor kids (a girl of about 11 and a boy of about 9--each of whom possesses a talent for malabarismos [fancy footwork]) are colorados too. Sometimes they make me laugh as I spy on their backyard soccer games and their mock "announcing" of the plays in the most recent game. Today, though, the girl is wearing a Flamengo jersey. Awww, man. Que triste!

Friday, December 4, 2009


These are (some of) the people in my neighborhood.
[in my neighborhood, in my neigh-bor-ho-od!]

This is Paulo. He (apparently) owns a small parking lot next to my apartment and splits the 24/7 operation with his son. Paulo is from the interior, or countryside, and as such, his accent is so thick and so laden with colloquial speech that I can hardly ever understand more than 25% of what he's telling me. I pretend to get more, and I sometimes go sit on his extra stool, pet his adopted stray dog Pretinha, and try to communicate as best I can. He and his son are very pleasant, and it's nice to know that they are always there--keeping a finger on the pulse of the 'hood and looking out for me like little guardians.

This is the owner of the mini-mercado around the corner. I forgot his name, and feel too silly to ask him again after all this time. We wave to each other every day as I pass, occasionally indulging in a little chat about our team's recent performance. Sometimes when I walk by looking tired or hungover, he teases me about it--in a half-fatherly, half-friendly way.

Marcelo? I am terrible with names! This, though, is 1/2 owner of the little café I frequent most often. His girlfriend is the other half and we are always swapping stories, jokes, cultural insights, etc. He's posing with the special mug they have acquired to accommodate my special needs.

This is just a smattering, but there are lots of people that I enjoy greeting almost daily. I feel like they each look out for me and that feels really nice.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

For my Dad

Hot off the press...

...thinking of you, Dad, and I can hardly wait for us to have the hugs we deserve next week.

"How'd you get to be so cute?"