72 Hours in Rio- Part 2

Part 2 –

We took the stairs to the bottom level, where the more upscale restaurants are located. We went to this Italian restaurant because Josh wanted pizza and it was the cheapest thing we could find to share. 

Rio is a very expensive city.

It has always been. It is very touristic, very impressive and a cool place to be. No matter where you are if you say “I was in Rio” they know, you most likely had a good time. 

When in Rome, you make him eat pizza with a knife and fork. It took two seconds after the picture for him to drop it.

Uber again, which is cheap by the way, and hit the hotel. At night, we were going to meet some of my friends.  

It was the hugs that got me.

I miss hugging my friends and letting the conversation flow without having to stop and explain my references. These people are my references, they participate in my stories, they help to create them. Seating in a bar and just talking about life, not trying to impress anyone, just being cool with the surrounding, took a huge weight off my shoulders. It felt like my soul finally met my body. It was a weird feeling of was I off my body this entire time? 

In America, for some reason, I’m always on my tiptoes. Walking in eggs shells, watching all my moves. It’s exhausting. It seems like if I say something wrong, I will either be told to go back home or not to be weird. I always have to be watching what I say, and how I say it. Not in Rio. 

Day 3 – It’s Not Goodbye, it’s I see you soon. 

Saturday morning we for breakfast with one of my childhood friends/Teenage years/Young adult friend. Once again, my heart was full. We went to a hippie neighborhood, to have brunch, in a place where they serve Northeast food. Which by the way is my favorite type of food in Brazil.  

We had to wait for a little because it was just the way I like it unorganized and chaotic, but I didn’t care, because I was with my friend and her family. She has the cutest baby and the coolest husband, who joined me while eating compulsively, for one hour nonstop. In this restaurant, you have to mark on the list what would you like them to bring next, and we marked down everything. Josh was too tired to enjoy, but I made sure I ate for both of us.  

All these little bowls with food, typical from Northeast Brazil.

Leticia was the one who got me into writing stories. When we were about 12/14, we used to write fanfics, about the backstreet boys and exchange notebooks with each other’s stories, and comment on, like real-life feedback. It was the coolest writing room experience ever. 

The restaurant is called Cafe do Alto, and its located in the Santa Teresa neighborhood.

I only have 7 close friends, but I made sure to see them all. 

At night, still drowsy by so much food in the morning, I went to meet the other set of people. I have about seven close friends, and I made sure to see all of them. Lilly is my school friend, known her for 20 years, but it feels like I know her from a previous life.

We don’t talk every day, but we are always here for each other. We sat by a table in the street, where there was a tent selling craft beers. The guys put some tap beers, with beers I believe he makes himself, and sell it for a cheaper price than the bars on the street. 

Out of nowhere, Lilly was laughing and I asked her why she said “The homeless guy that just passed by, look at Josh and said he was a gorgeous man. Emphasis on the gorgeous” Not that my husband is not gorgeous, but never in America, a homeless guy told him he was beautiful and didn’t even ask him for change. Josh felt precious and I mock him for the next hours.  

When in Rio, just go for it.

Soon after, Fabiano joined the group, and the nonsense starts. Gosh, I missed Rio! We started talking about Karaoke, so Fabiano gets up and decides to takes us to Karaoke. We were all asking but where? Where? And all he could say was “Follow me” Oh well, when in Rio, just go for it. 

We walked to the place he said the Karaoke was, we knock, and the security guy told us that they were not having Karaoke Saturdays, due to Corona and they didn’t want a crowd a place and get shut down. So we kept walking. Once again, on our way to having dinner at the mall, Fabiano suddenly stops and rings at someone’s door.

“What are you doing? Oh no, he is gonna get shot. Just keep walking, he will follow us.” A guy opens the door, gives Fabiano a big hug like they don’t see each other in months, and invite us all in. The house was a recording studio/bar. 

The guy brought us a table and some chairs and we bought some drinks. We got beers, Josh tried cachaca, the distilled liquor made from sugar cane juice and we listen to music in a borrowed Bluetooth sound system. Just us, in an empty garage, having a great time. Forget about Corona, forget about the life pains, forget all your troubles. All it matters is here and now. 

The night moved on to meet the same friend from the previous day, Renata, at Outback. Renata is also a friend for over 20 years, she was there for all the important moments of my life and I’m here anxious, waiting for the day we are finally going to Disney together to celebrate.

Outback in Brazil is fancy and upscale.

If you say you are having dinner at Outback it means you can afford some prestigious five-star dinner. When I tell this to Americans, they think I’m out of my mind, since Outback here is so random. 

I said goodbye to my friends, but I didn’t want them to leave. So they all decided to go to have dinner with us. What was planned for 3, now got a table for 8? It took us over an hour to have a table, but again, I didn’t care. I was enjoying the time I had with my friends. I didn’t have that impostor syndrome that is constant in the back of my head. 

Our flight was leaving for Vitoria early in the morning, so we couldn’t stay as much as we would like to. Again, saying goodbye had to be fast, otherwise, I would have just stayed. And I mean stayed, not coming back. It sounds reckless, but I didn’t have this feeling of belonging since I moved to the States in 2012. I miss the feeling of belonging somewhere. All I’ve been doing is pushing through it. Elections, pandemic, elections, vaccines, mask, job changes, online college, moving again. 

What’s next?

It’s not fun to live in a constant state of “what’s next?” Where nothing looks familiar and you have scattered friends.

Leaving Rio in a haze of emotions and decisions for the future. I had the best time and I will be looking into writing some scripts in Portuguese, once they are ready, I will try to find them a house. In Brazil. Because have some success where I was born and raised will have a completely different taste. 

To all my friends who made time to see me, Lilly, Pedro, Fabiano, Fran, Renata, Lele, Leo, Simone, Phillipe, Patricia, Pablo. You guys are the best.

See you soon, my friends! Stay Healthy and Stay Busy.

XXX

J.Snell

   

 

72 Hours in Rio. Part 1

 

I rang the doorbell.

“Open up, it’s me, Joana, I’m going up”. That’s all I needed to say. The flashback moment in my head, I was 16 again and had just forgotten my house keys. They know my voice. They know who it’s me, I don’t need much more information besides my first name.

These people raised me, helped me to shape myself into who I’m today, and are the most basic foundations of my existence. People say it takes a village to raise a kid. My neighbors in that building were from that village and played the part of a family I didn’t have during my teenage/early 20’s.

They were like an extended family to be exact. They knew how hard my mom worked and they saw how much of a dreamer I was. So after nine years of living abroad, I rang the doorbell like it’s 2002 again.

 Rio is home. It’s where I grew up, where I have all my friends, where I know the streets like the palm of my hand.

The city where I know how to place the purse close to my body and be vigilant, to whoever is crossing the street. Growing up in Rio, a 7 million population city and the second biggest city in Brazil, I developed a sense of danger.

Sometimes, those street kid thieves come around, out of nowhere, just slapping the flip flops against the pavement, and you know you need to move faster. This time, I took Josh to see the city, after multiple times in Vitoria, meet my friends and the place I grew up. We only had three days and this is what we’re able to see and do 

Day 01 – The arrival 

 Josh, me, and my mom arrived at Santos Dumont airport. Which is the domestic airport and centrally located. As soon as you get out of the arrivals, you would see a lot of taxi drivers, ready to give you the wrong information about Uber, because they hate each other, and snatch on each other’s business.

I should have known better than to ask one of the taxi drivers about Uber. The guy who informed us about Uber sent us in the wrong direction. Lucky for us, a lady heard us and told us to go to the other side. When you leave Arrivals, go to your left, to the Uber lounge, located at the mall, inside the airport. 

After we checked in at the hotel, we all went to meet one of my best friends at the mall to have lunch. All my history in Rio is connected to the mall. The mall where I got my first job, at the movie theater, where I had my first boyfriend, where I broke up with my first boyfriend. Where I was taken to have a nice date/dinner, that it wasn’t at the food court. A real restaurant, with someone serving me? Hooray! This time around, we ate at the food court with our friends. 

After lunch, we moved along to the building where I lived for 10 years. Going up those stairs, where I manifested all I have today, was priceless. It was like the 35 years old was meeting the 16 years old me and screaming “WE DID IT!”  

I guess all the emotions took away my hungriness. Josh ate, my mom ate. I couldn’t do it. 

Day 1.2 – Girl from Rio 

 Our dearest friend invited us to have breakfast at a coffee shop inside of a supermarket. It’s very popular in Brazil to have a buffet-style restaurant where they charge your food by weight. For example, 1kg of food on your plate, would cost you around $19,00 reais.

I don’t know anyone who would ever put a kilo of food on the plate unless you fill up with coxinhas and pie. It is never the case. I’d asked the lady at the counter if it was brewed coffee. My friend was quick to make fun of me, saying that brewed coffee was only at home. They have expresso, and the brewed coffee does not refill, like in America.

Of course, it’s Brazilian coffee and you don’t need it. After breakfast, we took part ways. My mom went downtown with her friend, and we went to Copacabana. 

Again, my mind filled with memories, I showed Josh the way I used to take to go to school. He asked me if it was normal for you to study in one neighborhood and live in a different one. I have never thought about that, but I guess it’s normal.

We learn very early on how to take the bus by ourselves and move around the city freely. What I mean by that is, I used to escape school a lot. I was never good with rules. 

The school gates were open. Now it has a big blue gate, that doesn’t allow anyone to see from the outside. Whatever is inside, it’s a mystery. I pushed the gate and walked in. It still looks the same, while I made my way in, I heard voices in my head, coming from that time. 

“You are going to fail again, and you never going to leave this place”

That teacher was right. I would never leave that place. It would be part of me for the rest of my life. Everything I lived while I was there, all the emotions, all the crying, all the D’s and F’s, prepared me for who I’m today, but regardless of what she said, I’m not a failure.

2002.

The fact I could go back there, as an adult and be proud of what I’m now, makes me a winner. Walking around the patio and the iconic 2001 rock we all took a picture of it, thinking about that time I stood in line to get bread, and one of my friends saying that it was his 12th time in line, the poor kid was hungry.  

We walked around Copacabana, had an Acai for lunch, and headed back for the hotel. I was planning to go to Urca and see the Sugar Loaf, but I got overwhelmed. At night, we met with my best friend for a beer in one of the bars in Botafogo.

Botafogo its is very gentrified now, with a lot of fancy bars and expensive appetizers. Again, I just wanted fries and a beer. Out of nowhere, we heard a lady running and screaming on the street that a thief stole her purse.

 We all got up from our chairs and sat back down “She should be paying attention” It is that normal and people always blame the victim. Hooray, Josh had seen his first robbery in Rio! It’s like the baptism of the city.  

Day 02- For Christ Redeemer

 

Note to self: Need to improve my Photoshop Skills

The day was cloudy but it was the only chance we would have to go up to see the Christ Redeemer. We moved on with our plans anyway. It was very quiet, and about 17 dollars per person to go up with the train. We took some photos at the entrance and board.

To get up is about 15 minutes and it’s a beautiful way up, surrounded by the national forest. Once you get there, you have stairs walk up to, we should have taken the escalator, but never mind. 

The last time I was there was about 16 years ago, and It was also cloudy. The major difference now is the influencers and the influencer’s photographers. It’s a very crowded place and if you see a picture of someone at the Christ Redeemer and it’s empty, it’s a lie.

She either slept there or used an app to delete everyone. Oh! And there are also the Hoes, who dress up nicely because they think they are going to get proposed by their gringos. I lost my chance. 

Josh told me he was never so scared of someone driving like that Uber driver was. One of the first things you realize in Rio is how reckless everyone drives. After the Christ Redeemer, we went to the mall. Where I could show him, where I used to spend hours walking around with my friends.

He asked us where we were going to have lunch. Without thinking I took him to the same place I used to always go and he said “That’s just cheese bread. Let’s find somewhere else”. Sorry, my bad. 

Stay Tune for part 2!

Stay Healthy,

XXX

JS Snellenberger

Back to Basis to where I’m not an immigrant

Every night, before I put myself to sleep, I thought about that place. The streets, the people, my former teachers. I Imagined myself walking around and going back to the stores I once couldn’t afford to buy anything.

In my mind, there was always a sense of victory, if I could go back, and show everyone the new me. I would do it in style. I will never forget the day that a boy from my school, look at me and say “If you want to be beautiful, you have to be born again”.

15 year old me, heavily bullied by schoolmates.

My only plan was to leave that place.

I haven’t thought about having a career, money, or any type of what is considered “success” in the eyes of society. I just wanted to leave and the rest I could figure later.

And I left.

After many years of living in the States, I’m now married, and with the life, I built to myself, a life based on a day by day achievements. I didn’t get rich, and it’s not a life based on what money could buy if I worked 70 hours a week.

I learned fast that nothing of that “hard work” matters if you are not happy with what you are doing. Eventually, you end up sick and depress, with a house full of stuff you don’t need. Stuff you bought to fill spaces that were missing in your life.

I live in a 1 bedroom apartment while working part-time and I’m still able to travel internationally two times a year. Ask me how. I would probably don’t know the answer.

Back to Basis.

On this last trip, I decided to take a few days from Vitoria, where my mom lives, and back to Rio de Janeiro. The jungle that raised me, that made me who I’m today.

It was the most eye-opening trip of my life. At the end of the trip, I was emotionally exhausted, but it was all worth it. Seeing my friends, and receive a long hug, that hug you receive from friends who have known you your entire life. It hits you differently. When friends that you consider family: “That’s Joana, I know her how she is” It brings you back to the ground.

Living in the United States for the past nine years, part of me lacks having my references. What I mean by that is, having people actively participate in my stories, or create new ones.

I have friends who can tell my stories for me. Because they were there.

In Rio, If I’m telling a story, it’s guarantee a friend will add to it, sometimes is nonsense, but still participates. If I have to tell a story here in the States, first they will not get any of my references, and second, they will not listen because it’s not interesting to them.

I do have friends here, but they are always too busy in their chaos to have time to hang out. Here in the States, time is money. In my country, we have no money, It is what it is, so we just hang out freestyle.

While walking around those streets, I saw my younger self, the one who used to be brave. The me that was not always in the shadows, afraid of getting yelled at “go back to your country” and then I realized what it was.

My country, my culture, my language. 

Brasil is my country, my language, my culture. Something I will never have in the States. The United States, feels like a borrowed beautiful dress, that I want to, but it doesn’t fit me. Almost like Cinderella’s shoes, that I somehow made it fit. It hurts, it’s never going to be comfortable, but I still insist on wearing it.

I went on a crusade of places I wanted to show my husband. My school, the building I used to live in, the mall I used to hang out at, the Chinese food parlor I used to take my broken ass to eat after school. It was so cheap, I used to question where the meat was coming from. The tale of the pigeon sandwich. I will write about this some other day.

We had three days filled with emotions, trying to find cheap places to eat because after all, I still consider myself a local and refuse to pay more because I have a gringo by my side. I did pay for overpriced pizza at the mall, but it was one time, and I was ok with that.

My mom was there too and, it was priceless to be able to see her coming back to our place. I have to dedicate an entire post about what to do in Rio, in 3 days. There is a lot I want to say.

I have a place in this world. 

Going back to Rio made me realize, that yes, I have a place in this world. A place where I don’t need to worry about making mistakes and be deported, or feeling unwanted like I don’t belong. A place where I have friends and family. Part of me got back to the United States with a less worrying feeling. If anything happened, I would have a place that I used to call home.

I missed the feeling from when I used to run those streets. Rio is the only place on earth that if I don’t have a phone or if my phone dies I can still go around, and get to places. No questions asked.

There is no way it will not take me another nine years to come back. In the next post, I’m going to write about my 72 hours in Rio and all the cool stuff we were able to do.

Stay tuned, stay safe, and be healthy.

And keep living out loud too!

Is she too old for that TikTok mess?

 

TikTok has been around as a successful platform for about two years. At least for my knowledge. At first, it was a platform for dancing teenagers and voiceovers, now everyone has space on it. It took me forever to get into it, as I was very resistant to the idea of dancing or doing some funny stuff. I’m not very shy, but in all honesty, I think I’m.

The platform of instant Pandemic celebrities

The platform of instant Pandemic celebrities, millions and millions of views, and in my case a very diverse For You page. I learned that your page, most likely because of algorithms, will show what you like to see. I’ve seen all kinds of different content and I support them all. People forget that the internet is also a place where you can learn about different lives and points of view. Learn about people’s journeys and cherish their stories. I follow trans people, indigenous, lgbtq+, people of color, immigrants, and people who indeed need their voices heard and found on TikTok a safe space to share. My 35-year-old bum is there to laugh and learn.

I had different goals when I created the account

When I first created my account, back this past February, I did it with the intention of finally put the Shrubbery Show into a fast-paced platform, to have some visibility, as after I gain some followers, I would drag these people to youtube. Again, I was too shy. I had everything ready, the skits, the characters, the scenes, as I got ready to film I realized I knew nothing about the app. And I mean nothing.

My video editing learning curve stopped in 2009 when I used to work on Windows Movie Maker, putting files together, and sharing on youtube. It’s been so long, that at that time, you could use any kind of music you wanted to make videos and it wasn’t infringing copyrights. Today, if I sing in my video, they drop it, because I’m singing without permission.

The greedy people really ruined my Mariah Carey performance.

I also couldn’t keep up with the new software because one: I didn’t have a computer, I mean a decent one, two, I couldn’t afford the software. And 3 I always doubted my abilities to learn the software.

The Shrubbery Show got put aside, again when it may, we bought a 1995 truck camper to remodel and travel around Colorado. So I decided to change the name of the channel, to travel with the camper, and then change again to Live Out Loud Too – Travels, and next month when the app allows me, I will do it again. But I do feel that Live Out Loud too as my brand, should work fine.

I’m 35 and I can’t figure out how TikTok works.

The videos I’ve been putting there are short videos of our first trip, as I couldn’t figure out how to edit it properly. I don’t know how to put my persona out there, without feeling stupid, so it all seems too serious. It happens with my blog too.

I’m constantly held back because I’m afraid of being criticized by strangers, who are not always too nice with other people’s ideas, so I’m still testing the water. I have seen some people of my age group doing the funniest thing because they don’t care. I need to get on their level of confidence.

How much time do you need to be successful on TikTok?

I heard that to be on what the app considers a success level you have to post 3 videos a day. There is no way unless you are 16 this is your only job. You just dance away and get endorsed to show products. So I started to calculate that to be an influencer, you have to live a life on your phone.

Paris Hilton said in her documentary that she stays 16 hours a day logged in, and guess what? She just got her own cooking show.

Pinterest says you have to post 100 pins, IG said you have to make reels and post fresh content at least once a day. You have to have a Facebook Group and be active on it. Look how much you have to do, only to remain relevant. I’ve seen people who steal content from others, people who criticize people for being themselves, but I also saw some very funny people.

I’m the person who watches your video to the end, likes it, shares it, and makes comments on it. And I do that mostly with small accounts, just like mine. When it comes to creating videos, I rarely show my face on them. The other day, I saw a video from a Pakistani girl, who makes cooking videos. She talked on that video about how someone in the comments said her accent was giving headaches.

“I’m sorry my accent gives you headaches”

I felt so sorry for her, especially because of how nasty people can be when this is not our first language, and we don’t sound like we are from the Valley. If you read this blog, you know how much this type of attitude irritates me and my entire soul. I followed her immediately and commented on it. “Your English is amazing, please don’t let people discourage you, your accent it’s great too!”

I’m all here for all kinds of diversity creators. I’m too old to give a 16-year-old audience, just because she dances. I need more.

I need more cooking with accents. Trans people teaching how to fix things around the house, Indigenous people telling me how they feel, and talking about their culture. People who gossip about celebrities and make fun of movies.

Just because I don’t seem to have the app figure out yet, that doesn’t mean I don’t spend a good amount of time watching it. I wrote all that to say that, last week we went camping for the first time.

 

We went to Thunder Ridge Camp Ground, which is 2.5 hours away from home. These are the TikTok videos I created. The only thing I could think of was making a mash-up of Crib MTV and Pimp My Ride. The camper is from 1995, after all. As you can see, it was all filmed in one shot.

MTV Cribs and Pimp My ride.

I will post more about the trip on a different post. If you have TikTok and you follow me here, follow me there too.

Thanks for reading and keep up with my mid 30’s crisis! See you next week!

Be safe, Stay healthy!

J.S

 

The Impostor Syndrome and self-sabotage are best friends forever.

A lot has been said and discussed in the past couple of weeks. Mostly with my coworkers and my outside of work friends about the impostor syndrome and the self-sabotage most of us suffer from. Some of us suffer in silence because if you say it out loud, you make it real and a problem to be solved.

I’m the queen of self-sabotage. It’s not that I can’t do it, it’s because I rather play it safe, than take the risks I need in order to get things done. You can see it clearly in my writing. In my mind, I already failed too much, too many times. I keep thinking that the clock is ticking and I’m getting nothing out of life, when in fact, I’m just protecting myself from another failure.

That’s how I was raised. I was never good at school, so why would I even try it? I was always mocked by family members, until recently, when I decided to go to Culinary school.

“You never cooked. Why do you want to try this now? What are you gonna cook by the way?” they said with a smirk on their face.

Life passes by me because even though I’m not a great mastermind, I still can get things done when my brain it’s not being interrupted by self-consciousness. I saw a meme on Instagram the other day saying “I can cook, study, be a good mom, a good employee, a good wife and so on” and one of my friends said “I can also do all that, but I’m not good at any of it” and that’s exactly how I feel.

The pressure to be good at everything these days is exhausting.

I have been looking for help in podcasts, my horoscope, my close friends, people that know me from childhood, and it’s been very helpful. Being an immigrant also aggravates the impostor syndrome to its highest levels.

It always feels like I’m trying something I’m not supposed to be doing.

Then there is always an American who will get more done at work or will get more of what they are doing in life in general. Sometimes I freeze, thinking I’m trying too hard.

Another reason why I always end up working in hotels, even having experiences in different areas, I’m never confident enough to venture out of my comfort zone.

Why would I actually get a job I’m passionate about, instead of staying in a position where I know how everything is going to unroll, day after day, year after year? It’s the commodity of not taking chances because again, you don’t feel capable to compete on the same level with others, so you don’t apply.

Maybe because you don’t have all the qualifications they ask from you, not all the software, not the 5 year+ portfolios.

The impostor syndrome has been haunting me since I moved to the United States. That has a lot to deal with the people you surround yourself with, and how they are going to push you forward.

If you grew up in an environment where people kept doubting your abilities to do anything other than what it expects from you, you have the tendency of thinking you are not worthy of anything. That only got worse when I saw how competitive with everything Americans really are. I couldn’t keep up and I still can’t keep up with it.

My job was to wait tables, endlessly. I never saw my value outside of the restaurant industry.

For a great number of years, I only thought I was a great server, and a great server only. My job was to wait tables, endlessly. I never saw my value outside of the restaurant industry, because, in my mind, that was the only thing I was able to do.

I learned along the way that my value is not based on the job I’m good at. One Day one guest at the table I was serving asked me “Are you a server and what?”.

At first, I didn’t understand the question, but then I realized that he was asking that because everyone in that field is getting ready for something else.

Either a music career, to be a nurse, or a photographer. In my case, I told him “I’m server for now, but soon I will be a writer”.

That phrase alone gave me goosebumps. For the rest of the night, I questioned if  I would ever indeed write something worthy and if I was ever going to be ready to be a writer.

That’s where the self-sabotage and the impostor syndrome hold hands and plot against me.

The self-sabotage works in destroying my confidence, and the impostor syndrome works to show me I will never be good enough. But I’m good enough, and so are you.

What I’m trying to work on now, is take it day by day, without thinking too far in advance, so I don’t sink my own plans along the way, as I usually do. Take small steps and make sure you are moving forward. Make plans and be sure to be true to yourself and what you want.

If it’s working as a CEO of Google, fight for it, if it’s to have your own business, go for it. If it’s to write a novel, go for it. Don’t let anyone trick you into thinking you are not good enough. I had to work so hard to keep this blog alive, because of all the doubts I had about writing in a second language.

I was scared to sound fake, to look like I was trying to use a cause I defend so much my anchor, and/or why would people want to read something from someone whose first language is not English?

Until the day I found my voice and here I’m today saying, if I could do all that, in a second language, so could you. I wrote a few other posts about that, that I’m gonna link here so you can tag along on how I did it. One of my favorite posts I wrote so far is  https://liveoutloudtoo.com/papercuts/ 

also https://liveoutloudtoo.com/you-are-enough/

XXX

I just realized today that I have more followers on this blog than I expected. And for you, I’m thankful. I’m just an immigrant trying to live out loud, in all the complexity that it is to leave away from my home country.

I also know that are millions and millions of us out here trying so hard. Crying in our sleep, sending money home, buying unnecessary stuff to keep us happy.

Don’t you ever feel like you don’t belong!

Thanks for reading! I see you somewhere out there!

J.Snelly