This is a place where I’ll explore thoughts big and small on starting life in a new country, share news about Brazil and Switzerland, and, I’m sure, vent about the distinct pleasure and pain that is German 101.
Whether you’ve come because you’ve read Dancing with the Devil, because you’ve recently uprooted and moved yourself, or would like to move — thanks for stopping by. I hope you can stay a while.
Dancing with the Devil in the City of God launches on Tuesday; Wednesday will be my first public reading at Boston’s Porter Square Books. Nervous and excited doesn’t quite capture how I feel: this book pulls together experiences of a lifetime, touches on very personal questions of belonging, and is about a city, and country, to which I have the profoundest of connections. It’s also the book of a journalist, and it is written as such. As the old newsroom [...]
In Rio, silence had been elusive, sought-after; the screech of bus brakes, the tinny whine of motorcycles, the amplified kiddy-music of children’s birthday parties were constant, wearying company. Cariocas love sound; even in places where others go to be away from noise, they bring noise. They clip iPhones to their shorts and play them as loud as possible while hiking in the woods; they bring radios to a deserted beach. Noise has only positive connotations to them; it means fun [...]
There’s a lot of advice out there for those moving to a new country. In fact, there are a lot of helpful blogs with checklists, one-year plans or six-month plans, plus legal, tax and visa tips. If you prepare, the process can be smooth, organized, painless. I wouldn’t know about any of that. When I left San Francisco for Rio, I had three weeks’ warning, and barely enough time to rent my apartment, sell my car and give away my [...]
As the airplane prepared for landing, I strained to make out the landscape below through the white blur of a mid-winter snowstorm. The staggered flight from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Zurich, Switzerland (through São Paulo and Frankfurt) had taken nearly 24 hours; I was groggy with lack of sleep and the strange, untethered feeling that comes from taking big leaps across time zones. The fog and swirl outside my window matched my own nebulousness. I’d never been to Zurich, [...]