Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On the light side (II)

When Shelley was in town we went strolling in Ibirapuera park. There, on a gorgeous afternoon, we stumbled upon a bigtime runway show for the opening of São Paulo Fashion Week. A little surreal to see a bunch of mega-models and paparazzi all over the place, but interesting.

There's a picole (popsicle) place near my apartment. They have every fruit flavor you can imagine and many you cannot. I tried the ginger. Yum! So yum that I got it again on my second visit even though I realized it was a disservice to my adventure-loving taste buds.

Remember my breakfast-cohort-in-havaianas, Mr. Sugary Cereal? Here's Mr. Chocolate Ball. Slightly more formal, with smart shoes and a bowtie, he juggles his friends, but it looks like everyone's having a good time.

Funny enough, it was a Brazilian that first taught me about the USAmerican cartoon Wacky Races or (much more fun), in Portuguese, A Corrida Maluca. On an early trip here, of course I ran right out and bought the DVD box set thinking (erroneously) that it would be a good learning tool. Not for an undisciplined beginner, it wasn't. Anyway, I donated them to the language school. Maybe one cold winter weekend I'll borrow them and have a Corrida Maluca marathon with my comforter and some hot chocolate. That sounds nice.

I digress. In the meantime, back in São Paulo...

One of the elevators in my apartment building: notice the button to detonate The Bomb on the upper left. Under what circumstance am I supposed to use this? Stumbling in after a hard night out on the town? When I want to let everyone know I'm having a sassy day?

Oh, it's just to summon the Bombeiros (firemen)? I see.

Monday, June 27, 2011

On the light side

Believe me, I'm no Pollyanna. I get as frustrated with certain events or cultural nuances here in Brazil as I used to in the US. My policy, though, is to leave it off the blog. Some thoughts (or observations, or reactions) aren't worth documenting--putting out there in the NetVerse for, potentially, years to come.

That will, however, explain one part of the recent gaps in posting.

[Beware: Kermit's in a bad mood too.]

So while I sort out my thoughts and find where I left my mojo, please enjoy more of the great street art I have discovered around town.

A Saci painting on the sidewalk in República in central São Paulo (where I would very much like to buy a modest little vintage apartment someday, sigh). O Saci also happens to be the mascot for my darlings, Internacional. Certainly, you can image my, umm, shock when, during my first trip to Brazil in 2005 I discovered this connection. Not knowing, at the time, the leprechaun-like, folkloric, legendary status of the character--I just thought it politically incorrect and grossly insensitive to have a one-legged little black kid smoking a "magic pipe" as a soccer team mascot. Ahhh, just remembering that early lesson in Brazilian culture makes me smile. Needed that.

Now my Dad guards my Saci doll at his office, for luck.

Check out the metal work on this, the neatest world map I've ever seen. First, a look up close...

...at a bit of a distance...

...and from the street.

The remnants of this old tree have been made more colorful with recyclables. Clever.


What an enchanting little diversion...

The tiled mosaic on the sidewalk, aptly, in front of a café.

Ahh, but no more caffeine for this artist, please.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Thanks, Maureen!

Maureen is very thoughtful. When she arrived, on her birthday, she brought me a present!

I find Brazilians to be entertainingly particular about temperature. Beer is for hot weather, while red wine is, exclusively, for cold weather--like soup and fondue. And slippers.
See, now, I'm a little more whimsical with my interpretations of hot/cold appropriateness. Red wine and slippers are every day pleasures, as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, the delineation explains why, on my last, autumnal visit to Porto Alegre, my search for new Internacional slippers was unsuccessful. Maureen remembered. Hard-soled, pleathery, and totally grandpa-esque, this pair is as cool as can be! Thanks, Maureen!

I enjoyed showing Maureen some of my favorite haunts (Mercado Municipal, Casa Club, Praça Benedito Calixto, República, Sé, Vila Madalena) and crossing a few things off my To See list (like the monk-cakes at São Bento).

As usual, I learned a few things...

This is jaborandi. You can make shampoo or lotion with it. The oil is good for the skin (and hair, it would seem).

This is the way to start your day.

There is a phone booth (the lime green thing in the lower right corner) inside the cemetery. (Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters. duh.)

This interesting façade (just two blocks from my apartment--though I never noticed it), is actually a house of ill repute. We discovered this golden nugget late one evening when, as we drove past in a taxi, Maureen asked the driver what it was and he stuttered and stammered for a moment. "Como é que eu posso lhe dizer?" he meekly replied, before we all broke out in laughter: "aiii, já sabemos!"

I learned that, aside from being a super-chic mall with prices to match, you can bring your dog to Shopping Pátio Higienópolis. Everybody else is doing it.

I did not, however, figure out what Dried Jew's Mallow is.

Until, that is, I Googled it just now. Not only do I know, but now I've learned that Canadian Gary Barwin, like me, is a sucker for packaging.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cha cha cha cha changes...

I've been in a weird space for a couple months now, knowing that I might be nearing the end of My Life In Havaianas. I have been wrestling with a lot of "shoulds"--and I believe that whenever I find myself uttering "should," an examination is required.

I adore São Paulo and am not ready to leave it, especially yet-so-unexplored and unconquered. On the other hand, I put a lot of faith in things I perceive as signs. My intuition--when followed--is almost always validated. When I first traveled to Porto Alegre and felt a twinge of home... When I moved there in March 2008, laughing in the face of uncertainty, and everything fell into place so effortlessly... When I moved to São Paulo last year and landed in the perfect neighborhood with generous and caring new friends as roomies... Brazil has always felt right.

Well, almost always.

This year has been a bigger challenge than the others: it's been hard to find reliable and reasonable income and difficult to stay motivated and happy in a constant state of major transition. Simply put: my life just hasn't been flowing in the way that I've grown accustomed to. Nor in the way that I demand--that is to say, I've learned to demand a certain level of responsibility, of ownership, from myself when it comes to choices, irrespective of fear or hesitance. At first, I fought the idea of moving back, seeing it as some sort of defeat. Then I got depressed, wondering where my net had gone. Finally, I've decided to accept the obvious changes that need to be made, and focus on the positive.

Since I've already taken this post to a more personal level than usual, I'll throw out another from my collection of Words to Live By:
1. Accept your feelings.
2. Know your purpose.
3. Do what needs to be done.

While there still might be a change (after all, if there's one thing I learned on this mission...), I am planning my move back to Chicago in August. The search for interesting career opportunities is already underway (help!), and I have registered to begin a masters program at DePaul University in September. The focus on international commerce and exchange between Brazil and the U.S. will hopefully prove as stimulating as it appears. I'll also be back to class at Brazil In Chicago, working to maintain and, frankly, improve my still-stunted Portuguese.

Of course I will bring my Havaianas with me, and all the friendships and memories forged. Moreover, I will be back. (Paulistinha is still louquinha, and thus has ideas kicking around already for the next prison break.)

Visitors are welcome in the meantime, though I'm toying with a prospective birthday trip to São Luís and Lençois Maranhenses.

In closing, when I was devastated by the end of a relationship just 10 weeks before my move to Brazil, my wise and dear friend Stacee counseled: "Just make the time count." Now, with (apparently) 9 weeks left in Brazil, I fully intend to put her words in action, again.

Vamo lá gente!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Chicago: Dunes & Foxy's Signs

Maureen is on her way into the city from Guarulhos so I still have some time to kill. I'm drinking a bloody mary, solely for the side effect of warmth. (Though, who am I kidding? The fuzzy is good too.) It is really cold in my unheated apartment these days, and especially these nights. I confess I have half-a-mind to buy an airline ticket somewhere warmer.

Rather than a reckless visit to Hostelworld, I'll just post a few pics from Chicago.

Dad and I made a quick run to the Dunes on Saturday to fix a couple things in preparation for the summer rental season. The weather--more specifically, the light--was really strange that day. Granted my iPod Touch doesn't take the best pics, but it sure captured the slightly surreal feel of the beach that day.

Right, Spot?

Look! The sun shining over the rain.

On the way back to Dad's on Sunday, we narrowly missed having a bull through the windshield. Weirdest car accident scene I've ever seen. I'm thrilled that we had stopped for gas.

Last Chicago tidbit: Foxy's rules. No, I don't mean Grandma Foxypants. I mean the amusing decor at Foxy's Laundromat in Villa Park, where I went to wash a comforter for my parents one afternoon.


(That reminds me of that great Pearl Jam lyric: "no l-o-i-t-e-r-i-n-g a-llowed"!)

Hi-Tech. Uh-huh.

No Wandering Jenny's in the dryer, please.

Que pena! Now what am I gonna do?

Foxy clearly believes in maintaining order.

I confess. I weighed my options. Despite being tempted by sheer taboo, e a vontade de revolução completa tipo brasileira, ultimately I fell in line, sitting quietly and reading my book.