Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Live the life you want to live. (Part 2)

I had hoped I'd have some words of wisdom to wrap up the blog before I depart. I don't. Partly because I've been too busy with the preparations, and partly because there are so many divergent thoughts whirring in my head that I don't know yet, myself, what to make of them.

One of my favorite sights on Avenida Paulista.
I was reflecting on my first post, a little over 3 years and 4 months ago, and considering which of the goals I had set forth I have since achieved, and which I have not. Basically, I achieved them all, here and there, in bursts--though some of them, I have discovered, are goals that will be a lifetime in addressing, while others just ceased to be ambitions. The things I said I would miss about my Stateside life were missed, and will soon be regained: things I said I wouldn't miss will soon be a part of my life again--which now seems okay, for the time being. Things I declared I would cherish--the long and aimless rambles, the fruits and a la minuta, agua de coco, and futebol--well, I've satiated myself, again, for the time being. I did adapt--to crime, to "the system," and to machismo--at least, as much as I ever will. My wacky plan of waiting for amnesty worked, and now I have gained permanent residency. Among many other gains in my time here are a command of the language, and a solid understanding of the national history and cultural nuance, including the various sub-cultures that create Brasil.
But what is missing from that initial post, and indeed was greatly underestimated in my vision, became the most provocative element of all: the enrichment of my life and profound impact on my being through the amazing the friendships I made.

Victoria, Shelley & Rafael, Ivan, Lisa, Fifi, Maureen & Rudimar, Gina, Clair, Natália, Leila, Joanna, Roberto & Marianna, Adri, Eliana, Roxanne & Rudy, Kristin, Allison, Scott & Eliana, Anthony, Ahmet & Anelise, Juliana, Fernando, Danilo, Tanya, Vanessa & Rafael, Carolina & Mariana, my friends at Casa Club, and many others--you've been signposts, shining stars, and lighthouses along the way. I am fortunate and grateful to have shared this path with you.
In response to my own command "Live the life you want to live," I would, today, offer a resilient, experienced, positive, and optimistic, "I'm working on it."
As Adri wisely counseled a year ago: you're not starting a new chapter, you're starting a new book. I've enjoyed having this space to share my thoughts, reactions, anecdotes, and experiences. Though I was writing for myself (as my dear, late Uncle Greg reminded me), it was really uplifting to get feedback and encouragement from friends (and from strangers who became friends), and to know that, throughout this book, people quite literally all over the world were laughing with me and rooting for me. Thank you for that, and thanks for reading.

Louquinha Gauchinha Paulistinha no coração 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Street Art

Time is short. Nevertheless, I have a few more pics of wonderful street art to share.

Across from Theatro Municipal-

In the tunnel from Paulista to Rebouças-

"You are a slave to transit."

Coming out of the same tunnel-

In this post, my favorite is the Saci painting graffiti, hot on the trail of a wind-up-doll city work, working to cover it up.


I finally discovered the name of my favorite graffiti artists, Os Gêmeos, and learned that (unsurprisingly) these Paulista twins are world famous, and their art has far exceeded the limits of São Paulo, with pieces throughout the U.S. and Europe. Look 'em up. They're cool.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Theatro Municipal

During most of my time in São Paulo, Theatro Municipal was closed for renovations. I admired the building, though, which graces Praça Ramos in Centro. It reminded me of, a fond memory indeed, my last experience in such an elegant old theatre, when cousin Leslie and I saw a gorgeous ballet in Budapest in 2001. So when it opened again in June, I went in to buy a ticket for...anything... just so I could get a glimpse of the interior. I bought a ticket for a late July performance of Cisne Negro, or Black Swan.
The building did not disappoint...

...which is more than I can say for the performance. I had expected the ballet. I got a modern, too modern for my tastes, rendition of... something un-swan-like. At one point, a female dancer was writhing on the floor to bizarre music, communicating some sort of disastrous pain. (Yeah, I feel ya sistah.) I didn't care though. Being inside that stunning palace of art and music was plenty rewarding for me.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Oh yeah, It's Ladies Nights

I had planned to spend a week in Porto Alegre before leaving Brazil, to have a proper despedida, or going away party(z), but changed my mind because I (rightly) decided that saying 30 goodbyes would just be too depressing.

Instead, last Friday I met Victoria and Lisa at the airport. They had come to me. (Bless them.) What followed was a week of girl fun: restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shopping malls, late breakfasts and in-depth chats.
Friday was our nutty night. We went to my staple: Casa Club Hostel Bar to visit friends, meet strangers, and listen to my friend Leo's band. Carol got up to sing with the band--her on-the-spot rendition of the Cranberries' "Zombie"--was a real treat, especially as I'd never heard her sing live before. Good times.

Mari, Carol, e eu
Suddenly we (and the group had multiplied, as they tend to do on the best of nights) found ourselves drinking Belgian beers at Miró. The next thing I know, we're jamming to Interpol, Bowie, and Rage Against the Machine at Matrix. (I grilled my friend Felipe on who's oversight led to me never knowing, over the past year, about this dream-dive-nightspot?! Que loucura cara!) Ok, maybe the beer helped, but I was singing and dancing like the angst-ridden teenager that I sometimes am, in secret, and it was the best! Luckily, me and my antics were in great company.

eu, Victoria, e Lisa

Victoria rocking out to God-knows-what and Lisa, reacting

Mari, eu e Felipe

Don't ask me. At this point, I could not be held accountable.

Eu, Victoria e Mari
I (we) went to bed at 7am. (Yep, still got it.)
Mas, bah!, nota dez, aquela noite!
Except, for the next two days, Victoria and I suffered a stiff neck from our special dancing. (Maybe we don't still have it!)
A couple other highlights from the week:
1) when a friend from Casa Club, whom I shall call Spooney, made the most hilarious remark in regards to the hosteling crowd, dressed in their alpaca jacket-ponchos and hats: "We've all been to Bolivia, and we're going to wear it for three months."
2) eating a delicious-but-$40 cheeseburger at Lanchonete da Cidade at Shopping Cidade Jardim (which, admittedly, was a very neat mall, architecturally speaking), before checking out the million-dollar boats in Tools & Toys. Que chique, gente!
But aside from the fun, I confess there were a few tears when Victoria and I hugged goodbye yesterday. It was silly because we'll see each other soon in Chicago, but there's just this thing: we were really in this together. I share that feeling with everyone in my POA clan. We were totally in it together. Tightly bonded (like whoa). And as necessary as it sometimes is, it hurts to release it, so that it may grow into a different friendship, as we give space for our lives to also grow. Yin and Yang I suppose.
I saw my acupuncturist yesterday afternoon and, noticing that I was less chatty, he asked (simply), "triste?" And I started to cry again. Yes.
Nevertheless, my life is moving forward.
Tonight I had a meeting of the United Nations (of Ladies): a cocktail conference with Nika (Poland/US), Glaucy (Brazil), Gaby (Venezuela), and Sandi (France). After the soup buffet (yes, you read that correctly) at Bella Paulista, we ended up at Drosophyla--another very cool haunt that I wished I'd known before, and our gaúcho waiter only added to our fun.

eu, Glaucy, Nika, Gaby e Sandi
E aí? (And now?) I have arranged some lunches and dinners and beers with some Paulista friends, but I'm packed and ready. And on Tuesday, I'm out.
I have no idea what to expect from my re-acclimation to Chicago life. Well, that's not entirely true: I have some expectations, but I don't know where I'll be living or working a month from now. That fact is both intimidating and brilliant, because it evidences the presence of natural fear and how far I have pushed myself in confronting it.
There will be a proper festa with my Porto Alegre peeps, but it's a few months off yet. I'm looking forward to it, as a celebration of the progress in each of our lives--because, among us, there are new homes to visit and new babies to kiss.