Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saying Goodbye

I've held off on saying goodbye to this blog for a long time now. I guess I wanted to end with something deep and profound and I am some months later, integrated back into my life in the United States and marveling at the memories of people in a place that I was privileged enough to experience this year.

And so as a goodbye, here is a link to the site I put together of the photography and writing of the youth I worked with in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Please, please leave them comments and thoughts on their work. I'll be sure to translate your words into Portuguese too, hoping that not too much gets lost in translation:


As for where I am now, I'm feeling the urge to start blogging again about life and times in Austin, Texas. In the moments, when I'm able to translate that urge into actual blog posts, you'll be able to find them here:


Blue Bird

Obrigada por tudo e até mais.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Back-in-Texas To Do List

At some point soon, I will actually end this blog...and begin another...It's a bit hard to let go. A voicemail from my former housemate A. on Sunday made me a little sad and full of saudade. Then there are the "scraps" left by Brazilian friends on Orkut (the most popular online social network in Brazil) and the updates from former colleagues. For example, there was some money left-over from the photo project we did with the kids and I donated it to one of the youth programs. They just used some of it to take the youth to the movies. For some of the teenagers, this was their first time seeing a film in the theater. Awesome. Wish I could have been there with them.

However, given that I'm no longer in Brazil, I'm not exactly living in some sort of Brazilian quotidian anymore. Although, this morning when I tried to use my Spanish to offer the Mexican house painter some water with ice, it certainly sounded like I was still lost in the Portuguese language. The guy looked at me with a bemused expression and kept saying, "It's cool, it's cool. Don't worry" as I mourned my inability in Portuguese-heavy Portoñol (or is it Portunhol?) to say things the way I wanted.

So, that's one thing on my Back-in-Texas To Do list: recover my Spanish!

Luckily, I am the type of person who likes to add things to my Back-in-Texas To Do list that are easy to check off that list. So far so good.

#1 Graduate
I checked that off the list about 10 days ago, walked across the stage during two different graduations (the University of Texas Graduate School graduation and the University of Texas School of Social Work graduation), got hooded, got handed pieces of paper saying that they'd mail me my diploma, got pictures taken, enjoyed the hugs and love and attention of family and friends, and felt thoroughly content to be back in Texas.

Mother & Daughter

The two years it took to get my Master's in Science in Social Work were long and hard and fun and full of ridiculous amounts of learning and now, from a distance of a few weeks, seem to have absolutely flown by. I still haven't completely grasped that I'm no longer a student. I get to temporarily be in fun stage called, "Being done" where I still feel somewhat protected from the realities of what that actually means.

#2 Go to the Beach
Luckily, I am not yet able to check this off the list because I'm still here in South Padre Island enjoying a real vacation with my boyfriend. I'm savoring the "Being done" stage, while I am still in it. Biking, swimming, strolling down the sea shore, eating lots of fresh fruit, hanging out with my boyfriend's family that live nearby, reading all the New Yorkers that arrived when I was in Brazil. [Note: This is my second time at the beach this year. The last time was in the beautiful state of Santa Catarina. As gorgeous as it was, I unfortunately came down with pneumonia. This time my plan includes not getting sick. I hope to abide by that.]

South Padre Island

Ah, isn't the beach beautiful? Before moving to Texas, I didn't fully grasp that the state has beaches, and living here, I am so grateful that it does.

#3 Begin the Job-Search

This will begin in earnest next week when I'm back in Austin.

The last time I searched for a job, I was fairly indiscriminate. It was March of 2005. I had recently moved to Austin from France, sans either gainful employment or an apartment to call my own. It took about a month, during which I filled out applications for any possible job, ranging from secretarial work to working at Einstein's Bagels. I would have worked about anywhere that would take me, except for perhaps a fast food restaurant. And no, Einstein's Bagels did not call me back for an interview. It appears that my college degree placed me in an odd no-man's land, either overqualified or underqualified for the task at hand. Luckily, an idealistic law firm took a chance on me based on being impressed by my Brown University degree, my ability to speak Spanish (darnit, I've got to get that ability back) and my Nantucket roots, and took me on board. They forever changed my impressions about lawyers, client advocacy and about what my life's work might entail. From there I ended up in Social Work school. From there I ended up in southern Brazil in an amazing internship with youth in conflict with the law.

This time around, the job search feels like a much weightier thing, sure to inspire a few existential crises along the way, as I try to find where I belong. Any hints, tips, suggestions, ideas as to how to go about this process are very welcomed!

Sea Bird

And now, back to taking it easy for a few more days...ah, self-care, what a lovely concept that's even better in practice.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rainy Days in PoA

It rained a lot in Porto Alegre.

Testing for Rain, Again

Perhaps I should have taken it as a clue when I first arrived and the airplane had to circle the city for quite some time before landing.

Rain in the Distance

But, I liked the rain.

O Cachorrinho Likes All This Rain

Except when it soaked through my shoes and into my socks.

And except when cars surfed by on the road and splashed me on the sidewalk.

Except for those things.

Toxic Rainbow

There was just something almost romantic and adventurous in setting out, armed with an umbrella, to hop through a downpour on my way to the bus...

It did feel like hopping. There were all sorts of gaping puddles to avoid. And there were also strange pieces of sidewalk, where it appeared that square foot tiles had been placed upon uneven dirt. Sometimes you'd step on the wrong tile to discover that it was only loosely covering a well of water that would promptly come raining down upon your ankle and foot.


But, no, really. It's not just romantic conjecture now that I'm no longer there and am recalling my time tere wistfully.


I did enjoy the rain. The sound of it battering the windowpanes as I slept. How Cipote would always want to cuddle because it scared him. How big the drops of water were. How absolutely saturated and green the world became.


The happy reflection of the sky on the wet ground in between showers...

Ah, so beautiful...

Walking the Wall

Cais do Porto, is a port on the lake/river (depends on who you ask) Guaíba in downtown Porto Alegre...the views of the water are lovely.

But the bliss-inducing reason for going there, is to walk down the ridiculous long wall outside the port and fall in love with the street art.


I think even my camera was overwhelmed with the fabulousness of these artists' work. So much so that it stopped working on my walk back to the public market and it took some hours before it would turn on again.


P.S. Some of the artists' painted their websites on the wall too, if you'd like to view more of their work. Also, more of the pictures I took of this wall can be found here.

Reasons Why I Love Austin, Texas

The Gang at the Springs

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Coming Back to Texas

 O Cachorrinho is Ready to Fly!

Who knew it could be so hard to say goodbye to a place. That heavy, choked up feeling in your chest. Pressing my hand against the window as though I was leaving a lover forever. In a sense it's true. I may come back, but it will be a new experience. I was saying goodbye to an amazing four months over a certain time in a certain place that will never exist again. Yup, eyes welling up. A few tears.

Goodbye Porto Alegre

And I was also ready to be going home. I began to note the language transition after I landed in São Paulo and everyone spoke to me in English, despite me (unconsciously) responding in Portuguese.

Then all of a sudden there I was in Houston and making small talk was effortless again because it was in my native tongue. Though also, the lovely sound of Portuguese was still there too: several Brazilians set across from me discussing the (lack of) internet connection. Across the way, I overheard conversation in Spanish. Ah, the United States. Gotta love the language blend.

With a ringing in my ear (nothing like flying when you've got a cold), I drank coffee and watched the sky light up with morning and played Sudoku on my iPhone. 

Morning in Houston

My sweet boyfriend greeted me at the Austin airport with a mug of my favorite tea with evaporated milk and we stopped for breakfast tacos at Taco Deli before heading home. 

I am back and actually already unpacked. 

But, I'm not ready to be done with this blog yet. More posts to come!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rainy Day Goodbye


It's Tuesday afternoon and soon, verrrry soon, I'll be heading to the airport.

It's raining cats and dogs. My fingers are crossed that my flight leaves on time for São Paulo.

Drinking a cup of black tea. Bags packed. Petting Cipote. Oh Cipote, I'm gonna miss you.

It feels a bit surreal.

I have been running around, going non-stop, trying to get everything done. And so, as I write, the kids involved in the photography project are on their way to the Santander Cultural for their exposition. N., T., & E., who collaborated with me on this have promised to take photographs.

I wish I could be there, but I am also ready to board my flight home.

Here are some pictures of the setting up of the show.


I was there just a few hours ago, helping with the final touches. But it was really T. & N. who devoted their entire day to getting this ready yesterday. They are amazing, and yes, somewhat indecisive too. Ha. Two indecisive creative people trying to decide where to hang photographs.



I can only imagine! I was with them until about 1 PM yesterday and couldn't return until 5:30. They were crazy at that point after being cooped in the museum basement all day long. Lots of giggling ensued.




I'm going to miss them. And I am so full of love and affection for the kids who took these photographs.

Stay tuned for more pictures!