Tuesday, August 31, 2010

bring your own....stove?


Before Alex came back, he spent the day looking at potential apartments. In the areas we would 'like' to live in Sao Paulo, rent prices are on par with those in Manhattan. 'Like' translating to safe and near the highway as less time driving means more time living....literally (driving can be quite dangerous).

Our stylish little loft in the West Loop runs around 800 sq ft and is quite full. Looks like we are about to downsize. Most of my friends that have gotten married recently have purchased homes and wonderful new things to fill them with. In accordance with our 'road less traveled' plan, I've just learned we will be minimizing. However, fortunately we still get to purchase a few little things for our new home as well.

Like.... a stove, a refrigerator and a microwave. Yep, in all the places he saw, you bring your own. Goodbye marble counters, stainless steel double fridges, a washer and dryer and built-in microwaves. I've been so spoiled! We've had cabinets in the bathroom (in the apartments he saw its just a standing sink and shower), a bedroom that fits a queen bed AND a dresser (yep those bedrooms barely fit a bed) and...heres the kicker....CLOSETS! Yep, in a few of the places he saw no closets. Im on the lookout for a larger stove so it can double as my shoe storage!

The positive highlights? A fantastic pool and community area. Because most spaces in the buildings he looked at were smaller, people mingle and eat together. There were large kitchens by the pool area with tables for large gatherings and wonderful amenities. Much like cluster housing designs, learning to share communal space breeds socially supportive and environmentally responsible living. Don't worry, if you come visit us we will have a wonderful blow up mattress for you. You might be sleeping in the kitchen/dining room/fridge/oven/closet but we will make it work =)

As a fellow expat blogger wrote, "we have re-learned the joys of personal relationships as life enhancers." As we prepare to unstuff ourselves we also look forward to kicking off our first year of marriage in tight quarters and meeting lots of wonderful people. You cant argue with that trade off!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We are All Americans


Last night Mayor Bloomberg held a very insightful dinner amidst heavy criticism over the proposed Cultural Center in New York's Ground Zero. He supports the Park51 Project as do I however he was much better at articulating why. Americans always seem to live in fear. Fear of what we don't know, what we don't understand and as its becoming more and more comfortable its breeding some pretty twisted behavior. This should not define the elections in November but serve as a distinct shift in our Nation's maturity. Who are we to judge which religion gets space to build their faith. If it were a protestant church we wouldn't be having this debate. As Bloomberg states below, we must always lead by example. Isn't that what we teach our children?

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Stephen Prothero wrote today about Bloomberg's remarks.

{"The community center can and must be built at the Park51 site, he said. Anything less would “compromise our commitment to fighting terror with freedom." During his remarks, Bloomberg welcomed Talat Hamdani, whose son, Salman Hamdani, a paramedic and Ne York City Police Department cadet, died on 9/11. He also welcomed Sakibeh and Asaad Mustafa, whose children, he said, “have served our country overseas.”

Bloomberg brought home the point that the propaganda war now being waged on Islam in America threatens to undercut our counterinsurgency battle for "hearts and minds" in Iraq and Afghanistan. “If we do not practice here at home what we preach abroad–if we do not lead by example–we undermine our soldiers,” he said. “We undermine our foreign policy objectives. And we undermine our national security."

“In that spirit," Bloomberg concluded, in words that echoed John F. Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, "let me declare that we in New York are Jews and Christians and Muslims, and we always have been. And above all of that, we are Americans, each with an equal right to worship and pray where we choose. There is nowhere in the five boroughs that is off limits to any religion."}

*Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Visa frustrations


Alex landed, settled and began our new life in Sao Paulo. I am coming in a month as soon as I finish up my job and get the move organized. Two weeks in however, he is now coming back. Since he is his company's first american it is trial and error for both. His Visa is somewhere in the piles of government documents in Brasilia and he is flying home to wait it out. Their idea of efficiency is slightly different than ours so we could potentially be waiting for a while. I know he is very frustrated wanting to work, ready to work and trying to work however knowing he is coming back for just a few more weeks in chicago....I can't help but smile. These nuances are reminders of why we are moving to another country. We will get there eventually, and when we do I honestly cannot wait to throw ourselves into this crazy cultural mixing bowl and see where it takes us. Till then I get my husband back for a few weeks and we might just get to leave together this time.

a vida é boa

Monday, August 09, 2010

My American Life


As the sun sets on life here in the US, change is upon me...again. I've moved now about every three years since college, each time hesitant. Usually I embark knowing very few people if any at all and I'm full of curiosity and sadness. Did I make the right decision, will I make friends, will I find happiness, what things about that place will define me?! Colorado brought amazing friendships, best friendships in fact and an absolute passion for the mountains and my future career choice. As I drove away down highway 70 I was leaving the place where I really found myself. In my rear view I had my girls, my apartment, my lifestyle and ahead was a boy and a lot of questions.

It snowed a lot that first winter and I worked all the time. Rarely seeing Alex and my only good friend here I wondered if I had made the right choice. My job kept me from any girls nights as it was hard to find time for wine when I rarely had any hours of sleep. But spring came, life picked up and cafe tables popped up along the wide sidewalks I figured only for snow storage. I slowly started to make a group of friends and developed a passion for food I never thought possible. Alex and I got engaged and life was pretty perfect. Even some of my best friends ended up moving here right before I am to depart. And here we go again.

Im trying to stay strong amidst all the apprehension consuming me yet again, because I know in the end it will be a wonderful experience. If my american life has taught me anything, its that a new place can tell you things about yourself you didn't always know or understand and I think its important to be patient and learn as much as you can from that experience. But most of all, its taught me that friendships take time but once solid they are the foundation for happiness. I wouldn't have met such incredible people in college if it weren't for the girls I grew up with that set such a high standard, and so forth to Denver... Chicago and all the places in between.

I challenge you Brazil, not that the friends and the places get better, for I have had the best, but that I just gain a few more along the journey.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The NEW Brazil



"If the rise of Brazil was cast as a childhood story rather than a dry economics tract, the fable might go something like this.

Once upon a time, there was a skinny boy who was bullied at school. Every time there was a fight in the playground, he seemed to end up as the punchbag. The boy rarely complained, even though his sorry state did not match the glorious fate about which he often daydreamed. That just seemed to be the way things were.

One day, a new teacher arrived, bringing with him some new games for the classroom. These playthings distracted the big boys, and the fighting stopped. The skinny boy used the calm to do exercises, recommended by his canny stepmother, who also fed him a special soup to make him strong.

All good things come to end, however. The games broke, as they always do, and tempers flared again in the playground. This time, however, the big boys no longer bullied the skinny boy. He had become lean and fit, while they had grown fat and clumsy. Instead of pushing him around, they even seemed to look up to him. Standing in the school yard, blinking in the sun, the boy reveled in his new status. Would it last? He wanted to make sure it would.

The skinny boy is, of course, Brazil. His bullies are the financial markets of developed economies, the new games are the soothing palliative of the noughties credit boom, and the latest school-ground fight is the global financial crisis. His stepmother is China, the special soup he ate the commodity boom that has boosted Brazil’s economy, and his exercises represent the macroeconomic stabilization policies Brazil put in place in the mid-1990s. The result, in this simple tale first told by Brazilian commentator Ricardo Amorim, is the new Brazil: a slightly gangly adolescent, standing tall amid the world community, not fully grown into its new stature but confident and eager to make its mark."

An excerpt from The Financial Times, "South America’s giant comes of age"
By John Paul Rathbone

As I head to Brazil, I feel slightly the same, not fully grown, but confident and eager to make a mark....