In the District

June 6, 2010

We were in Washington, DC this weekend for my friends’ Callie and Rob’s wedding.  It was beautiful, perfect, and extremely them.  She looked gorgeous and ethereal and Rob gave a fantastic toast and they both found time to really talk to all of their guests and dance and have fun.

It was nice to be in Washington, too and to see my closest college girls.  It’s been a long time and I hadn’t realized how much I needed it.  It felt incredible to sit on Emily’s screened-in porch and sip wine and eat cheese and grapes and catch up with each other.  We live so far apart (New York, New Orleans, Charlottesville, and San Francisco) and there’s no question that we have more ways to keep in touch than ever before, but it’s not the same as all sitting there together, trading stories, talking about jobs and relationships, laughing at ourselves from before.

I also have to say that DC, and particularly Georgetown, is one of the most homogenous places I’ve ever been.  Everyone looks the same!

Also, one last thing.  Zach sent me a photo album of Yanni today.  He’s too perfect not to include in this post.

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We spent yesterday looking for apartments again.  We walked all over the Upper West Side with a few different brokers, looking at one shoebox after another.  Some had gorgeous kitchens, others had big outdoor spaces, some were on the top floor of sixth floor walk ups.  None were perfect.  We walked up to 89th street, to an apartment that we had seen that Scott liked that I was luke warm on.  I tried to sell myself on the area.  We stopped, exhausted, to get a drink at a restaurant and regroup and I burst into tears.  I realized I didn’t want to live up there, and Scott never had, he just felt like it made the most sense considering I had gotten into Columbia.  So we switched gears, drove down to Brooklyn Heights and looked at my parents’ friends’ son’s apartment that he’s moving out of soon.  It’s a 1300 square foot loft.  The commute will be a drag at times, I’m sure, but it’s kind of a no brainer. Scott and I have talked about getting an enormous dining table and having weekly Friday night dinners at our place.  Friends, will you come out to Brooklyn?

We left Brooklyn, elated and went to dinner with a big group of my high school friends.  I can’t say this emphatically enough–it was so good to see them.  I hadn’t realized how much I missed having friends–close friends, friends I know well and have known for a long time.  It really felt like coming home.  Later on I met up with friends from school, some visiting from Vancouver and caught up with them as well, before meeting up with Scott and his friends again.  The Lower East Side and East Village were packed–maybe because it was such a beautiful day, maybe it was Spring fever, but it seemed like everything was so alive and pulsing almost.  I know I won’t get many of those first nights back after so long and I’ve seen almost everyone now, but it just felt so special.

Tapas!

January 31, 2010

We had a really special night last night. I don’t know if it was special for our hosts, our Argentinean friends who live across the street and invited us over for a night of tapas, but we had a blast.  (Thank you Carina and Lisandro!!).  With our own adjustments to Brazil, it was nice to hear about other people’s experience living internationally, their adventures in Lima, Peru, Columbus, OH, and now Sao Paulo–it was illuminating.  Their eleven-year-old son was extremely charming, and totally, impressively fluent in three languages.

Scott and I needed to get out of our heads a little bit, and it was just great to have smart conversation about books and movies and our favorite television shows, the differences between Stewart and Colbert and the benefits of the iPad, or the shortcomings (turns out not everyone is as crazy about it as I am).  Where to travel and why most furniture should be bought at Ikea (what are the chances you’re going to like what you buy for longer than a couple of years? as Lisandro said, unless it’s a really special, iconic piece of furniture.)

And the food.  From the sangria (white and then red) to the cheese and bread, all the way to the end it was delicious.  Carina and Lisandro had just come back from Rio where they ate at our favorite Tapas restaurant on Rua Dias Ferreira, Venga!, and tried to recreate some of their meal there.  They made delicious stuffed peppers, cheesy and bubbling in homemade tomato sauce, and then the octopus dish from Venga! that was tender and had crispy potatoes.  I’m so impressed that they tackled making octopus.  I forget exactly what they said about how to prepare it, but it was something like, “you have to beat it and scare it.”  You literally have to beat it against the ground and then dip the tips of the tentacles in the boiling water so the muscles relax.  Wild.  It was awesome.  We ended the meal close to 1.30am with more laughter and chocolate mouse with olive oil and flaky salt.  Heavenly.  Just perfect.

I only wish our apartment was bigger so we could repay the hospitality and invite them over here as well.

Settling In

December 14, 2009

Now that we’ve been in Sao Paulo for a week and a half, and we’re mostly all set up and we’ve done a fair amount of exploring, it was time to create a schedule, to focus, to get to work.  The major discovery of today is that in the plaza below our building there is free wireless, so I can bring my fully-charged laptop downstairs and work outside until the battery depletes.  I have never been good at working where I live, and so this is an excellent solution.  Plus, I’m outside, which makes me feel less antsy in doing work.

The next thing that I would like to work on is tapping into the expat community here. I know there has to be one, but I haven’t figured out how to get to it yet.  We’ve hit the point much faster than in Rio where we can’t be tourists here, it’s important for us to settle and to get into rhythms and patterns.  We need to figure out a community, no matter how small.

Contemporary Rio

August 23, 2009

Andrew and Amy arrived yesterday morning, and we’ve been navigating the best parts of Rio in a group of six.  It’s been amazingly fun to show off our city, despite a lack of cooperation with the weather yesterday afternoon.  It presented its worst, most cloudy, drizzly side.    We took the ferry across the bay to visit the Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Niteroi (Niteroi is Rio’s Hoboken), which was designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer.  The collection was small and sort of awkwardly spaced in the building–which is clearly the main attraction in itself–but I very much liked the work by Alfonso Tostes.  It was organic and beautiful, fusing wood (drift, rafters, and others) with polish, and human looking joints notched in.

virgilio_02

From Niteroi we went to Copa to check out one of the street fairs, and spent the night at Diagonal, our favorite neighborhood Brazilian restaurant and Lapa.

Lapa, while always fun, was especially great with so many friends around.  It made for much more lively discussion drinking in the center island between the Arcos, and more fun spinning and foot shuffling at Carioca da Gema.

On our way home, our cab driver got pulled over by the police.  Everything was fine, but it was totally unclear what had happened.  He may have run a red light (something that happens all the time, every night here), and he claimed that the cops had confused him with someone else, which was sort of amusing.

Today was filled with açaí, Koni, surprisingly sunny weather, a very exciting Botafogo v. Corinthians game (3-3 tie, street fair day in Cincinnati! seriously), and lots of basking in having everyone here.

Oh, and we also discovered that there’s an American couple living on the 8th floor of our building, about our age, teaching at the American School.  Potential friends?