Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Little by little

Yesterday was a full shopping day, again. We bought more things for the house and groceries, and I was so tired at the end of the day that we just got a cab to come back. We are finally getting the living room uncluttered, yay!!! We bought a nice little dining table (that can be opened to accomodate more people if we have visitors), and the nighstands finally arrived. The bad part is that everything has to be assembled, and I can't assemble furniture for the life of me, so it's left for Al to do all that! I know it's been hard for him, having to deal with my anxiety for having everything ready and having to keep up with his work...I try not to be so impatient but I know I still have a long way to go....hehehe

Decorating the house's been a (nice) struggle! We have very similar taste for broad and big things, but when it comes to details, forget about it...and it's precisely on the details that we're working on now, so, you imagine....we can spend hours discussing wether we should get a silver or a golden rod, or if we should put it horizontally or vertically, or if we should put it at all! hehehe (yesterday there was a huge on about a place to hang laundry...house-wise, the biggest challenge for me it's been having to deal with the set up of the houses here with no laundry area - in Brazil, even the smallest apts do - so, every solution for that I find really weird. I'll end up having to hang things in the bathroom, ugh!!!)


But more and more there are fewer things to work on. And it's getting really great! :D

Monday, January 29, 2007

Great Sunday =



double dating + brunch at IHOP + sunny day + Liberty State Park (pic) + finally assembling the bed frame* + Haagen Dazs ice cream for dessert. :)
Flickr really updated this time!

* there were three possible heights for the matress. He wanted it the higest possible and I wanted it the lowest (cause the matress is already high!) we settled for the medium height (in which my feet still don't touch the ground if I'm sitting on it!). The art of compromising....


Oh and it really snowed tonight!! It looked so beautiful this morning! I was moved to see our little yard covered in white! :D

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The moment you've all been waiting for

I got soooooooo lost yesterday!!!!!!! oh my, it was really bad. I was going to meet Tonya in person for the first time and, of course, we set up to see a ballet performance. Well, in the morning, Al and I went to a home improvement store called Lowe's, and we got a little carried away (him more than me actually! hehehe) so I didn't have time to come back home and change, put on some make-up, nothing. That was to begin with. So I left her a message saying I was gonna be a little bit later than the 1:30 pm we had set, and went...I was supposed to get off the PATH train on 33rd st, the last stop, then get the D train then the 1 (that's how Al had told me). But I was kindda alseep in the train (that's always happening here!!) and I end up getting off two stations before, on 14th. I looked aroudn to see if I could catch the MTA (ny subway) from there, and I could...but when I got to the entrance there was no D train there...but there was the 1, so I figured it was the same that I'd have to catch later. The thing is that this NY subway is a maze, and there are a million platforms, a million lines coming in each platform, and a million different stairs that lead you to hundred different directions. So I waited for 15 mins untill the train came, only to realize I was in the wrong platform (I was trying to follow the signs but it didn't quite work!!! :S). Then I finally got to the right platform...and then comes a 3 train....and then a 2...and then a 3 again!!! I'm like "wait a minute, what's happenning here???" But I heard the voice on the speakers saying sth about "1", so I asked a guy "is this the 1?" He said "yes, it's going local". Hum...ok...what's that supposed to mean?!?!?! So the train marked 3 becomes 1 cause it's "going local"...Geez! At that point, I was so frustrated and so mad with myself cause I hate letting people waiting for me, that I just thought I should take the chance. Gladly, it did left me where I wanted...only I got there one hour later!!! and the performance began at 2! It took me some more minutes to figure out where the entrance to the theater was, then I got in and I must've looked so lost that the security people "recognized" me right away and asked if "my firend was supposed to have let something for me". Yes!!! thank goodness Tonya made the right decision and got in the performance (a little bit late tho), leaving me the ticket in the box office. I got upstairs and people were begining to get out for the intermission. I spotted her right away and I was almost crying with embarassment! I don't remember feeling that embarassed in years!!! Gladly she's very sweet and understandable, and it was great meeting her! I watched the second half of the program, then we ate at this cute french bistro nearby, Le Pain Quotidien. (in which, by the way, the tea bowl is twice as big as the soup bowl! hahaha go figure...). My huge embarrasment aside, I had a really good time, and we're definitely meeting again, right Tonya? ;-) This is a rushed pic of he beaaaaaaaautiful State Theater (cause the guy wouldn't let us take pics inside.)

Al and I were supposed to go to his friend's b-day at night, but we both were so tired that we just flicked it... :S We had been in the mall here in Jersey City to get my phone (which was serioulsy in demand!!). Turns out a guy at the T-Mobile kioske there found a way to "bypass" that 90-day rule. Yay!!! I'll email you guys my number so we can text each other. (I even got MSN on my phone!)


Yesterday we had dinner at Times Square and then we watched Babel there (higly recommended!) at AMC theater, this huge complex with 25 rooms! It had been the coldest day in two years here, and in the morning my limbs were almost falling off frozen. :S I'll update my flickr with pics of my paralized and miserable self waiting for the bus (and more!). Here are some pics of the Times Sq and the restaurant we ate.


Also the day before yesterday, I was cleaning the bathroom and there I was throwing water all over the place, when Al gets by the door and asks "what are you doing?" me: "cleaning?" he: "but you can't throw water like that, there's no drain (ralo) in there!". Wow!! how I was supposed to know, I've never seen a bathroom without a drain in my whole life!! One more lesson learned.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Exploring

The dreaded moment finally came! On Wednesday I was home by myself in the morning while Al was in a meeting. Then he came back almost before lunch time (which for me is between noon and 2 pm), and I was doing some stuff and munching some snacks. Then he asked if I wanted to have lunch instead of eating snacks and I said yes, then he replied "ok, you can make whatever you want causeI'm not hungry". Then it hit me! I had totally forgotten that if I wanted to eat, I had to make something, the food is not gonna show up in front of me like it used to (good times!). I think I hate cooking, but actually I don't know cause I never had to cook at all in 23 years of life, always had someone else to do it for me. It's a whole new mindset you have to get used to. Luckly (for me), we were gonna go out soon so I just clumsily made some cheese omelettes and we left.

Then we went to his office in Manhattan, and I went upstairs with him so I could see the view, the building is just next to the WTC site. It's quite a view! We were in the 23rd floor. The PATH train that I have to get to go from Jersey City to NY passes inside the whole, it's this tunnel on the left side of the pic.

While he was in his meeting, I hang out around that area, that's Wall Street, and I walked up to the way up to the Saten Island Ferry, but unfortunately my camera was outta batteries so I don't have pics. (this was taken with Al's, that I forgot to take when he went for his meeting).

When I was near the Bull, a symbol of the financial district, a guy (in a heavy accent) stopped me and told me "u look like my desktop". "Computer". "The color scheme". hummm....ok. Am I supposed to be happy abou it???

Then we tried to buy my cell phone at T-Mobile (to get acess at Starbucks) but they didn't let us!! Al had cancelled a line from them in less than 90 days ago, so he was considered a returning customer, so he couldn't get the discount offered for new customers. And that would double the price of the phone! (advatange said to be that we wouldn't be subject to a 2-year contract and could cancel it at anytime, but why would I wanna cancel?). We got so upset! So now we're waiting untill Feb 15, when this stupid 90 days expire.

Yesterday I went out for the 1st time on my own! I was a bit worried cause Al hadn't really explained things to me, I was just following him the whole time, but I went fine, I didn't get lost! hehehe I had bought gloves and earcovers at Century 21, a department store, but I couldn't find the scarf of the same color, so I went to Macy's to search for it. Macy's is humoungous!!! well, they're actually the biggest store in the world, it's not just advertising. I think it's at least the size of the whole Shopping Paulista. They have one whole building for men and one for women, restaurants, things for the house etc. Tourists everywhere. Lots and lots of Brazilians (specially mineiros! o mineirada!! hehehe). Unfortunately, I didn't find the scarf I wanted.

I crossed the street and went to Victoria's Secret to browse. More Brazilians, this time both shoping and posing on the walls, Giselle Bundchen and Adriana Lima. I was a bit disappointed by their selection of underwear and pjs, personally I think our stores tehre have equivalent or even nicer stuff, but their make up and cosmetics are really great! Surprinsingly, I didn't buy anything, cause I figured I still can come back whenever I want! :D

To wrap up the day, I came back home, stopped for groceries and decided to make a nice dinner. A hard task, given the fact that we still only got one pan and one pot! We took 2 hours to make the whole thing (Al arrived and made the delicious pork chops), in which I count as my first official meal ever! Here's a pic. (note the disposable untensils, dishes and cups, and brown paper as a tablecloth! hehehe we're working on the house room by room, we're just done with the bedroom, now it's the kitchen turn, definitely!).






Impressions

I know I'm in huge debt with this blog, but there's just so many things to be done that it's difficult to stop to write.
Anyway, some random impressions so far:

- Every food item here is GIGANTIC! It upsets me so much! I wanna have a little something in the middle of the afternoon...impossible. I went to Starbucks on wednesday (my first!). To begin with, the smallest coffe you can get is the tall one! (copinho americano? esquece!). Then, I wanted sth like the size of a pao de queijo or a little salgado, but all you can get is those monster sandwiches or big slices of cake and etc. The bagel, one of the most popular breads here, one quarter of it gets me full. Even industrialized stuff that are the exact brand here and in Brazil, are bigger here...a package of Doritos is bigger than the biggest ones we have there, and even the Activia yogurt cup (by Dannon) is bigger!! No wonder obesity is one of the main public health problems here.

- It seems that for every 5 stores, 1 is a Starbucks and 1 is a Duane Reade (big pharmacy chain that's like a Brazilian supermarket without the food part - but they do also have snakcs!). They're everywhere. (I gotta admit Duane Reade's been a lifesaver. Every personal stuff I needed so far I bought there)

- The language mix - the conversations you hear in the streets can be divided as following: 1/4 English, 1/4 English with heavy accent from some place else, 1/4 Spanish and 1/4 random languages from all over the world.

- Sooo many things much more sense to me now! Hand moisturizers, for example. They're not just a "frescura", your hands get really dry and rough without them. It's a new must have item in my purse. Ballet legwarmers, pockets...everyday I figure out something new. It's a whole new world revealing itself for me! hehehehe

- Men wear lip balms and they're not shy to reapply them while they're in the train or in the streets. I found that so cool! I was suprised when I saw the first but now I've seen many more doing that.

- I feel tired and sleepy the whole day, and only today I realized why! It's not jet lag, it's because it's so cold you spend more energy trying to keep your normal body temperature. Now hybernation makes more sense too! hehehe

- Walking in the streets still feels like it's a dream or an hallucination. It feels like at any moment all the scenery will come apart and I'll be back in the streets and places I know. Also when people talk to me (expect Al), I get a weird feeling that their voice doesn't really belong to their body, and that at any moment they can switch form English to Portuguese. It also looks like anyone could be Brazilian, for their appeareance. (Or should I say that Brazilians can look like they're from anywhere, maybe that's more accurate. hehehe)

- I thought I'd feel more "out of place" here but I don't. I thought I'd feel too different, too short, too dumb...but I don't at all! that's a good thing! :D

- It's already Friday but it feels like it's still Monday. Since I don't have a routine to "tell me" that my day ended, I don't feel the time passing at all.


I'll try to post more often and take more pics.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pictures!

I uploaded more pictures at my flickr account! I made them only visible to friends, so you'll have to add me (and set up an account if you don't have one, but it's really easy and free). Check it out! ;-)
ps: I put the link to my account permanently on my sidebar

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

First day

It's amazing how many things can happen in such a short amount of time! I'm gonna write in items so it's easier to get an overview of how things went/have been going. Oh thanks for the welcome, Tonya! :D

THE TRIP
- the ride itself was really smooth, no delays, ok service, etc.

- the suprise: I ran into a guy from my building (!) at the departure gate, and turned out he was gonna be at the same flight. And not only that, but we found out we were sitting next to each other! It was so good to have someone I knew, and that had so many experience travelling abroad. (He was gonna make a connection in NY to Indiannapolis). It helped aleviate the anxiety a bit, but I was still nervous the whole flight, I couldn't sleep straight for more than one hour and a half.

- airplane movie: Woody Allen's Scoop (don't waste your time, really). I didn't know they played such recent movies onboard.

- immigration service: we had to wait for the long Americans line to finish untill they started to call people ar the foreigners line. Tiago, the guy I knew, told me they're usually nicer and have some booths for Americans and some for foreigners. Despite the long wait, the "interview" itself was ridiculously quick. Officer (speaking fast and inwards): "u student?" me: "no, tourist" Officer grabs the stamp and prints my passport. That was it, exactly like this.


ARRIVAL


- and off I went! Al was waiting for me with extra scarf, gloves, hat and coat. Inside the airport was warm and I couldn't wait to feel how negative temperatures (in Celsius) felt like, a first! It was -3 (28o F) when I got here. We just waited outside for the (very fancy) cab a bit, so it wasn't really a schock. But everything was great and exciting!





- the cab had this cool navigation system that showed our Ukranian driver the directions instantly. For what they said it's pretty normal here but for me it was a first too to see one of those actually "in action".



DEVELOPMENT


- I got here, ate something, then rested for the most of the day. Al had a very nice surprise to me (and this time it was really a surprise! hehe), he printed a poster size of his favorite pic of us, framed it and hanged on the bedroom wall. It's beautiful and really sweet! :D



- At night he took me to dinner at Sarabeth's, on the Upper West Side a nice and cozy restaurant that served "typical American food that's not burguer", in Al's own words, hehhee. I loved it! Next, headed for dessert at Cafe Mozart. I had a tricolate mousse cake. (three chocolates. you get the picture. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm). All very nice and romantic. At the end of the day I was exhausted already (and still feeling a little headache from the jet lag and the cold wind). At least our house is really close to the train station, so we got back fast!


- And it snowed lightly!! Wo-hooo! (I know, I know, that's so tourist-y...but I can't help it!). Al said it was a "freezing drizzle". It was so cute, the tiny snowflackes coming down. :D But I still got to see some "real" snow, that one good to build snowmen! hehehe I'll count that as a preview.


- I think Northern Hemisphere's winter is my new favorite season. Because it's soooooooo dry, my hair looks like I just flat-ironed it (chapinha)! How cool is that?



2nd DAY


-Today we spend the morning looking for nightsands, then went to Bed Bath & Beyond to get things for the house (sooo many options! you go crazy!). Next, we had lunch at a very nice cuban restauran't in downtown JC called Hard Grove Cafe, then came back home, where I finally finished unpacking. WIth all the new stuff, the apartment is getting cozier and cozier, I really love it here and I couldn't been happier!! :D When I finally settle to a routine I'll be able to tell the stories with more detail, but I guess you can tell I'm loving it! ;-)

Monday, January 22, 2007

I'm here!!


Finally this blog is actually serving its main purpose! I got here today and I got lots to tell! But it's nightime now and I'm really tired (plus the jet lag!!). So I just want to let everybody know that i got here fine, went through the immigration service unbelievably quick and everything's ok and according to the plans! I couldn't been happier!

I'll come back tomorrow for more news, for now, stay with this picture of my first US dawn, from the airplane. So unexpected and beautiful that it made me cry.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Heart attack

Oh my! I spent much more than I planned today going from bank to bank! At least I got my money, bought everything I had to buy and closed my last account. And just as I was walking to the union for the homolgation thinking that it couldn't get worse than wasting this hot and sunny day doing that, I had another suprise. They told me that they only had thigns appointed for 1:30 pm, so the girl from my former company that had to be there had come and gone already, so I couldn't do it today anymore! I swear my heart stopped for a minute. I couldn't believe it!! I called the company and they realized it was their mistake, then I explained all my situation (cause I'm travelling this weekend already, it had to be done today) And luckly the girl came back (we caught her just as she was living the office!) and I did everything I had to do too. Phew!

I finally decided what to buy for my mother-in-law (if you've been following you know it had been worrying me!). I really wanted to take something for her, but Al had told me she's a difficult person to give gifts to, and he wasn't helping very much (and when he finally decided to give me a hint I decided I didn't want to follow it). Anyway, it didn't had to be the gift of her life, just something to show I thought of her. With such narrowed options, I bought a fine chocolate box from Ofner. Who doesn't like chocolate, right? And it comes in a cute wood box painted white with a nice golden pattern on the lid that she can use to store small objects later.
One of the chocolate varieties had Cointreau filling (yummmm!), but I know that she doesn't drink at all. I really didn't want to take the chance of upsetting her, (even the filling being just a cream), so I asked for a replacement, I put coffe flavored ones instead. I hope she likes it! *fingers crossed*

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ready, Set...

I finished packing my 2nd bag. And I finished all my health check up exams, including the dentist. Now I only have to finish packing my hand luggage and buy my travelers checks tomorrow. (I was supposed to do it today but they still haven't deposited my money!!! I'm so mad at them! Usually the salary is available in the morning of the scheduled day, so I checked it the first thing today but it wasn't there...I called the HR and they said that they have untill midnight to do it! It's 3 pm now and it's still not there...They better not mess is up, I only have untill tomorrow to do it!!!)
I'm a bit worried about my bags, cause I think they're a bit past the weight limit. I weighted them on my neighbour's scale and they were ok, but then I had to include somethings I was just given today (very good coats and boots, by a mom's friend, yay!! - couldn't live that behind, I'd have to buy them anyway), but I'm too embarassed to ask for the scale again cause the heavy bags caused a crack on the scale's glass :s hehehehe Some friends told me that theu don't charge anything if it's only a little bit over. We'll see...
And I'm so happy that I found the Havaianas (Brazil's signature flip flop) I wanted! I tried to order from the website but they were out of stock, then today I found them totally by chance at a store I was passing by! :D (Don't despise Havaianas flip flops, man! Even Julia Roberts had worn them to the Oscars once!). I got the slim model in gold :D Not that I'll be using them outdoors anytime soon but anyway....

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Minas, trem bao demais da conta!

I'm back! :D
And this was a bit of my trip to Minas. It's funny because when I was little I hated to go there (and grandpa would drag my brother and I there every single vacation or holidays)! Perdoes is this really small town, full of old people and not many fun things for an active city kid to do. When I was growing up, I tried my best to define myself as opposed as I could to all the things and people there, but now, I have nothing but the dearest memories of the place. It's undeniable that this is part of what I am too. Most part of my mom's and dad's family's live there (though my father, my brother and I are from Sao Paulo), and now, one of the most important people of my life is also resting there forever, in the city of his heart, grandpa.
I tried to capture a bit of the Minas atmosphere (in my mind, Minas=Perdoes=Minas, they're interchangeable hehehehe).

THE ROAD
It takes a 6 hour and 2 stops bus trip to get there (which contributed to part of my discontentment of having to go there when I was a kid). By the road, lots of green hills, farms, cows, etc. The red arrow points to coffe bushes (not that I know all these plants, it's just that my paternal grandma used to work at the coffe's harvest, so she always used to point it out when she was on the bus with me)








THE CITY

Cobblestone streets and restored centuries-old houses. There's only one big apartment building (with 10 floors) in the whole city.













CITY LIFE


The clock definetly runs slower there. The church is the institution around which everything revolves. At the church's plaza, a place for the local band performances. The milkman brings the product straight from nearby farms on these big metal containers, and the coffe is always waiting on the top of log ovens.







THE FOOD


Ah, the food! If you visit 10 houses, they're gonna make you have "just a sip of coffe" in each one of them. Minas is known for their unique food (top to bottom): column 1 -Doce de leite, curau, biscoito de polvilho; column 2 - goiabada, pao de queijo, Minas cheese; column 3 - cake, milk straight from the cow (not that white water we usually drink), beans in the iron pan; column 4 - angu, frango com quiabo, doce de figo, pe-de-moleque. "Quase morri!" hahahaha




GRANDMA'S HOUSE

Meet grandma, this 96 - year-old cute little cotton-haired figure in the center. She lives in a dollhouse, with everything made in crochet (that she made, of course!). And when I say everything I mean everything! Cupboard mats, couch covers, table tops, curtains, towels, fridge and oven tops, mats, bed covers and even toilet paper holders (oh, and also this blouse she's wearing)! She stopped making crochet only a few years ago, because of her sight, and I'm the only grandchild (out of 20+) that learned to make it, though I'm nowhere near her beyond-pro level.




That's it. I hope you liked the pics (I'm still a Photoshop amateur, but I'm learning... ;-).

Friday, January 12, 2007

Later!

I'm going to MG tonight, as I said in the previous post. I'll be back on Monday night, so I'll only be posting now next Tuesday.

For now, some downtown Sao Paulo pics taken from the nice restaurant at the building where I work (or used to, from tomorrow on). Not bad a view huh? (I mean, it's not really pretty, but it's interesting and fascinating).



Center on this next one there's Copan, the S-shaped building by renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer (he was also on the team that designed UN's building in NYC).


And finally, a little montage I tried to do, inspired by Al's ones... (not very appealing, i know...heheh)






See ya later!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Run, Dea, Run!

I´ve been in such a rush these days. Today I picked up some college´s documents - my academic history and a statement proving that I finished the course - and closed one of my bank accounts. Then I came to work and decided to sign my resignation today, thought I´m still working untill tomorrow. Brazilian labor laws are really complicated, so there are lots of steps in the process untill I actually get my money and all. I´ve got to undergo a health check up exam, then go to the union to get some papers...and I can only do it after they deposit my money...but they have 8 days to do that, which means that I´ll only complete the whole process on the last minute, the last friday before I go!! :s (I totally forgot I´d have to do all that when i set up the date for the trip...but I don´t regret anyway...hehehe)
Tomorrow I´m gonna have my hair cut (and etc ;-) in the morning, then I´ll come for my last day at work, then I´ll probably go to MG (Minas Gerais - the state where part of my family lives) to say bye to some of my relatives, especially my dear grandma Geralda. I´ll spend three days there.
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Today I had lunch at the mall and at the elevator I ran into a girl in a very neat bun...which reminded me that it´s Cuballet time! aw, man! How I miss it!! Cuballet is a ballet (obviously) summer intensive course that lasts all of January, with great Cuban teachers, offered at the academy at that mall. I attended it last year and it was fantastic - very few things can make me happier than spending the whole morning every single day of the week taking dance classes (one of then being spending the whole morning AND the whole afternoon at the classes, which I couldn´t do because of my work!). I´d be there now if I wasn´t traveling this month already... I can´t wait to resume my classes, seriously!!
---
And I´m not even there yet but I already got things on my schedule. Yesterday Al´s friend invited him for his birthday on a NY club...only six days after I get there!! What a test!! And also another friend invited us to visit her in Boston and go skiing with her and her husband! How cool is that! Can´t wait either!!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Meet the sister

I (finally) met Al's sister yesterday, Alta! He introduced us through the webcam. I was dying to meet his family, but at the same time I was veeeeery nervous about it. He tried to surprise me saying he had "something to show me" when I got home, but he had used the same strategy when he "introduced" me to his mother last year, so I ended up figuring it out. On my way back home from work, I kept rehearsing in my head what I could say to her, but I didn't go very far...
Anyway, it was great! Although it wasn't quite a surprise to find her there (in our apartment), I was indeed suprised by how everything went. She's extremely nice and cool (and also very pretty!), and she was very happy when we told her everything (yeah, she didn't know any of the plans yet hehehe). She was also very supportive and said that she will go out with me to show me around and to help with girls' stuff. hehehe I really really liked her and hope we can be good friends :D I got really happy yesterday and it even made me forget the anticipated saudades and wish I was there already!!

That conversation also made me realize something: I think that Al instinctively slows down when he's talking to me, cause I thought she spoke so fast, and he also spoke faster when he was adressing her. You guys keep boosting my ego saying that my English is good, but I'm foreseeing weeks of adjustment in that matter :S hehehe