People say I'm a dreamer...I call it a defense mechanism against life.

Monday, June 22, 2009

There was a City Written in the Sea...

Last week I was fortunate enough to visit 3 wonderful Brazilian cities: Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. In my opinion each of these cities is unique and special in its own right, and they all have lovely and helpful people, who made my trip that much more enjoyable. Upon my return, I was eager to tell everyone about the wonderful architecture of Brasilia and the sophistication of Sao Paulo, yet I noticed people had a marked interest for Rio de Janeiro, they wanted to know absolutely everything about this legendary metropolis. So it is for this reason that I’ve decided to dedicate my first post to this marvelous city by the sea.

So how do I begin to describe this culturally rich and complex city? How can I, a mere passerby accurately portray this cluster of more than 10 million souls interacting daily, existing side by side. More importantly have I understood the soul of the city, that unique energy that makes Rio de Janeiro different from any other? Rio de Janeiro is a city of contrasts, not only geographically but economically, and for this reason it is many things to different people. So should I talk about the glamorous Rio filled with luxurious condos overlooking the sea and private yachts docked? Or should I talk about the populous favelas (slums) tucked in the surrounding hills, under the watchful eye of Christ the Redeemer? In reality, all I can do is describe Rio through a pair of fresh, uncorrupted eyes that are taking in all the sights, energy and people for the very first time.

As I’m preparing to deliver my account of this city, many scenes flash through my mind: The mellow feel of Copacabana beach, right there in the heart of the city, with its street vendors and sun worshipers; the hip and youthful atmosphere of Ipanema beach with its crowd of pretty, young things enjoying the surf and the social scene; the busy downtown where it seems some actual work gets done; the Pao de Azucar, the landmark hill that offers an incredible view of all the city; the spiraling road up to the Corcovado, with its many quaint houses where poor, rich, and middle class fit seamlessly; the North side, the less glamorous side of town, where the privileged few of Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon are left far behind to give way to the sobering reality of most of its inhabitants. So, is Rio essentially the sum of vastly different areas? Is it precisely the contrasts that define Rio or is there one common denominator that transcends beyond geography and economic class?

My mind is going in all directions trying to find a concise answer to these questions, when all of a sudden a solitary phrase floats through my head: “No mar estava escrita uma cidade”, which roughly translates to: “there was a city written in the sea”. I first encountered this phrase in my initial walk through Copacabana; there it was, engraved right next to the statue of its author, the great Brazilian poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade. I thought it was so simple and yet so beautiful. Now I realize that there was much more to this line, in 6 words it captured the essence of Rio de Janeiro. Like planets around the sun, the lives of cariocas (Rio natives) revolve around the ocean. The sun has just come up and the boardwalk of Copacabana is already filled with people, whether it’s for a spirited stroll or jog, a bike ride, some early surfing, or a quick splash in the water. As the day progresses the beaches are never lonely, its seems as if cariocas are pulled to the sea in search of life, in search of fuel for their souls. In the sand, class lines fade, for the sun and the sea do not know of inequality, they are noble, existing only to restore the hearts and bodies of a people whose lives are written in the sea.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Back home!

After 10 flights (most of them at ungodly hours), ocassional catnaps in airport benches, 3 hotel rooms, and countless taxi rides, Im back home! I spent last week traveling through Brazil for a business trip. Don't get me wrong I had so much fun, but at the same time it was exhausting due to the flight intinerary from hell! It seems like the office went out of its way to send me through the most indirect and annoying route they could find. Adding to this situation is my fear of flying, I get so damn paranoid everytime I'm on a plane! So imagine my fragile state of mind as I had to endure give or take 5 hours of turbulence. By the time I landed in Sao Paulo I was on the verge of going bat-shit crazy!

All of my troubles at 36,0000 feet above land where imediately erased by the new people and places I got to see. In my opinion one of the biggest thrills is to visit somewhere new, and for this part of my trip I am enternally grateful. I took tons of pics, and I'll be blogging about it for sure.

For now a ton of work awaits in my desk, guess its back to reality for me!

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Questionable Evolution of Stella K

It’s almost midnight and I’m sitting in my living room, the TV is on but I’m not paying much attention to it, its just there for background noise. The volume is high enough to emit sufficient sound to keep me company, but not high enough to distract me from my thoughts. As I look around my cozy lair, I’m not alone; my two cats are here, each one sitting in their self appointed seats in the couches. For me this is bliss, it is the peace I need to end the day. As my mind is flooded by a whirlwind of thoughts, as it usually happens at this hour, one of my best friends comes to mind. We went to school together all of our lives and during the last couple of years in high school we became best friends. She was the quintessential party animal, an unstoppable force of nature, never a dull moment with her. And I was her partner in crime. After high school we went our separate ways, I went to Canada for college, and she went to Florida. We kept in touch with the occasional email, but twice a year we returned home, and for those few weeks we were back on, full force. Our many nights out seemed to fuse into one big, confusing, drunken, fun blur.

Since graduating from college a lot has happened in her life, she got married and had a baby. In April I flew to Miami for a visit, even though I was so glad to see my friend I couldn’t help but realize how much she had changed. Life had changed her, the main difference being that it wasn’t all about her anymore, it was about the cute toddler walking around uncontrollably, it was about the new family she has created for herself.

This got me thinking, since high school how much have I changed myself? At first glance it seems not too much, I still like to go out, I’m still always late for everything, I’m still the class clown (well the office clown now), I still suck at relationships, and I’m still that incurable day dreamer who spends her days between the real world and the universe of fantasy within her head.

But then again I do feel I have changed; I can feel the changes that took place within me, in the core of me. First of all I’ve realized I have to open up to people more, otherwise it’s gonna be a lonely existence. I realized that in order to have good friends you have to be one yourself. I’ve also learned to give people a chance, don’t dismiss them so quickly, they may surprise you. Those you least expect are capable of great kindnesses.

When I was in high school I wasn’t the prettiest girl for sure, and during my teenage years I struggled with my self-image. Now I can say I’m quite happy with how I look, most importantly I’ve come to accept that the body and face I was given are not half bad. From experience I’ve learned that you can be sexy without being perfect, guys can sometimes love the imperfections that torture you. Yet, I like to think a homely girl still lives inside my head, she keeps me grounded, she keeps it real!

Now I realize that life is quite uncertain, we are put on this earth with no explanation or instructions, so the best we can do is act in a decent and humane way, not because we seek a prize in the afterlife but because it is the right thing to do, because we choose good over evil. We all share this same fate, so whenever we can we must help each other get through this.

During high school and my college years I wasted too much time being unproductive; I slept too much, and watched too much TV. Now I realize that there is a wealth of knowledge waiting to be learned. Now the only thing the truly excites me when I wake up in the morning is the possibility of learning something new. By learning I don’t necessarily mean formal learning, by exploring simple topics great lessons can be learned. For example a couple of years ago I took on gardening, and from it I’ve learned patience and discipline. Green leaves and beautiful flowers don’t happen overnight, they take constant effort and a lot of patience.

I’ve always consider myself creative, but for years I never took on any creative endeavor because I never found something I was good enough at. Now I know that the greatest reward doesn’t come from the quality of the finished product but from the fact that YOU made it. Before you created it didn’t exist. I guess this is the main reason why I blog and why I take photographs.

So perhaps I haven’t taken any of the “big” steps such as marriage or having kids, but I like to believe I have evolved, hopefully for the best. I can only hope I shall continue this path of growth (or at least what I consider growth). However I must clarify that I wish my sense of humor and my over-active imagination remain untouched, I like living with head a bit above the clouds...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I'm Being Chased!

The other day I was reading that there are some very common types of dreams, such as falling, flying, being naked, being chased, etc…In my case quite often I dream I’m being chased by someone or something. Usually these dreams are quite enjoyable for me because there’s a sense of excitement in outrunning and outwitting my tormentor, expect for maybe a few times where I’ve dreamt I was being hunted down by a psycho or serial killer.
Anyways, last night I had a very long dream, the kind where my surroundings are constantly changing. It all began with me going to an American consulate to renew my US visa, a pretty normal situation. But then as I was exiting the consulate I realized that I was now in a Cuban hospital, so I begin to poke around to see if the conditions were just as precarious as a recent report claimed. (Mind you, I have not recently read any news article on the Cuban health system so I have no idea where this is coming from). So as I make my way through the dark and decrepit halls of the hospital, I’m hiding from staff and discovering room after room that the hospital is filthy and completely inadequate. I see patients neglected and I feel awful, I'm determined to tell the world about what i've seen. But then suddenly I realize I have to get out of there, I’ve been discovered, so I make my way into the busy streets of what looks like Habana. I find a sort of train station, and as I am in the platform waiting for the train, a young Asian girl dressed in police uniform approaches me. She says something in a foreign language in an accusatory tone so I start running again and she is on my tail. Now the streets look different, I am in some Asian country with an oppressive regime. As I am making my escape I can hear the police woman talking into her radio, I assume she is calling for backup.

So she catches up with me and we struggle and somehow I manage to take away her gun, I point it at her and she’s on the floor looking down, waiting for the worst. But then I decide to spare her life and I throw the gun in a nearby river. She is surprised and grateful, so she grabs my hand and takes me to a hiding place, since more police officers are on their way. So we get to an abandoned house and all of a sudden I recognize the house, it’s the home I grew up in! Then I hear that the place is surrounded by the police, uh oh.. they’re gonna take to some dark awful jail! But then as I look again at my surroundings there’s no more police, I’m back in high school with all of my old classmates. Then…I wake up!
According to marginally credible sources online, chase dreams mean that I'm running away from my problems. Perhaps this maybe true, but for now I don't wish to spend time decifering my dreams. Instead I choose to be amazed at how the human mind works and enjoy the next adventure. I wonder who I'm gonna be tonight?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Good Luck...

The following post falls under the category of things that only I find interesting or relevant:
During the weekend I visited one of those huge home and hardware centers, and so as I made my way through the endless iles of merchandise I spotted the plants section. I found this plant which I thought was so pretty because of its shiny bright green leaves and bright pink flowers:

When I got home I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the plants name was "Suerte" which means Luck in spanish. Hopefully it will bring some my way...