March 21, 2006

TODAY - and everything in between (almost)

Okay, so I want to move on and forward. I am too lazy to cull through the old emails, and honestly, I don’t have much interest in reading about it, so I can’t imagine who else would. Besides, I’m ready to move on and write about what this was really intended for – my day to day observations and experiences about living here in Brazil. But just for the sake of being somewhat thorough, I’ll try to re-cap of what has happened since October and Carnegie Hall. Can’t promise it will be either interesting or short, but I’ll try.

First off, it was great to go back to New York in October as it kept the looming specter of homesickness somewhat off balance. But it was also a little hard. C rehearsed 12 hours a day and stayed mostly uptown in the Bronx. I lived off E’s couch in Brooklyn which was great. She gave me a home base from which to run around and catch up with people and take a lot of yoga classes – the awesome Jasmine and Dana at Laughing Lotus gave me a vip pass for the time I was there – and seeing as how tight money was, it seemed the very best option for spending my time. Practicing yoga and not spending money. I guess it was hard in the sense that it rained a lot, C and I didn’t have cell phones – imagine! – and it was just weird being only a little bit gone from NYC, but not entirely a stranger. It felt familiar and un-rooted, like home but homeless. Friends were going on about their lives and business and there I was rattling around for attention, a tourist, but not really. I listened to a lot of Brazilian music on my ipod (the Apple store actually replaced the one I broke in Brazil with a brand new one, one very wet rainy day – wonders never cease!) and was actually a little homesick for some Portuguese. It was really really great to see my mom and hubby F who came into town for a little business, but mostly for me.

(For all of my dearest friends who I didn’t see while I was there, I apologize. If you remember, it rained almost non-stop last October, which seriously impeded my getting around. Being broke I spent a good bit of time with a friend in Connecticut and stayed close to E's couch, till mom got here, then I freeloaded off her. I promise next visit back I'll be in touch with all!)

C and I got back at the end October and I spent a couple of weeks readjusting. Our apartment renovations finally wrapped up with the installation of cabinets in our kitchen and bathrooms. Not without a hitch though. The day of the kitchen cabinet installations, the workers didn’t read the apartment schematic correctly and drilled right into the water main pipe above the shut off valve.. The kitchen got flooded before we could figure out how to shut the water off for the whole building. Our neighbors loved us… A plumber was called but all the cabinets had to be uninstalled and left to dry before being rehung. A pain, but what can I say – in the end it’s the most beautiful kitchen I’ve ever had. I unpacked all my dishes and kitchen stuff, had plenty of room for everything and still have cabinets left over!

Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday here so that came and went sadly un-noticed. Well not quite. I had loosely planned to host our first dinner party the weekend before thanksgiving, but a bunch of people cancelled at the last minute and I moved the party to the following Friday, the day after thanksgiving. So it felt like a substitute. Indian food is barely known here as there are virtually no Indian immigrants. I had brought a bunch of Indian spices and food stuff back from New York, so I cooked a big dinner with chutneys and curries. We didn’t have any furniture in our living/dining area (still don’t as of writing this) so everyone sat on the floor on an old tapestry. I lit a bunch of candles and played some Indian ragas and made it a very themed event. It went over mostly well, except that I forgot to add salt to the basmati rice and it tasted bland, especially for Brazilians where lack of salt in food is a serious culinary violation. I think they have more salt in their blood than there is in the sea.

Christmas was nothing special -- I kept it that way so I wouldn't get too homesick. Spent Christmas Eve with friends Paulo and Monica at her “sitio” which basically is a term for a small peace of land in the country, usually 2 – 10 acres, that city folk use as weekend get away houses. Bigger pieces of land are called “fazendas” or farms but people also use them for weekend country homes. Christmas day I made pancakes and C and I exchanged presents. I told him that because neither of us were yet making money, and I didn’t know my way around very well that I would like us to make presents for each other. So I wrote him a song. Just lyrics, not music as I have zero talent in that department. It was fun and inspiring to write. I hope to do more. He gave me a skirt and top which I have only worn once, on Christmas, recalling for those of you who might remember, the fiasco over the “stupid hat” present I gave to him some years back – he ran out of time to make anything apparently. But I like it, as his taste is generally (not specifically) good.

We held New Years Eve on our terrace. I poured over old Gourmet and Bon App’s and to find hors d’oeuvres recipes and made a bunch of good stuff. Couldn’t have been a more beautiful starlit night. We showed films on our big white wall and everyone ate and drank way too much. New Years day we continued the party at Max's sito with a pool side bbq. Brazilians are very serious when it comes to grilling meat as anyone who's ever been to a Brazilain "churrasqueira" restaurant knows -- it's meat meat and more meat. I brought eggplant and zuchinni to grill and people actually thought I was joking. Here's C's mom and me looking a little tired after cleaning up from the previous night's festivities.

C’s mom was here visiting for most of the month of January. It was really great to have her here. I think she is a lama or Buddha reincarnated. I can’t say I’ve ever met anyone like her. She’s calm, kind, positive and always in a good mood. I’ve never seen her get angry or excited or complain about anything. She’s gentle and sweet and everyone loves to be near her. I feel like a big warty mean ogre around her most of the time. This was especially made true during her last visit as C and I had a blow out fight one night in our room and in his anger at me stormed upstairs into her room and vented. Blessedly she really is a little Buddha and didn’t judge me at all. I think she realized that her normally peaceful son was just spouting off in frustration. She left for a week to visit her older son who lives in São Paulo and had just adopted a baby boy, and when she returned it was like nothing had ever happened. I of course stressed about her return the whole week and cried and brow beat myself and C for the fight, but it was of course completely unnecessary angst. I really hope we can spend more time with her during our time here in Brazil and that I can learn from her. I can probably learn more from this simple little woman that from many illustrious yogi’s.

The last week in January was probably the best week yet here in Brazil. We went for 10 days to a 300 year old city about 2 hours from us for a film festival. However, this post is getting way too long and probably boring. So more on Tiradentes later.

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