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

The Dreams are Alive!

“Truth to be told is: My dreams were not taken away from me. They were put aside, while I work on other things. I lived some, I ate great food, I had different experiences that, for sure reflects, on my writing today.”

I’m a writer. I keep repeating this over and over in my head before I self-sabotage myself again.

I see it already happening. I got a job in a hotel, again, and it’s only a matter of time for me to put everything I’ve been working so hard, like creating content, my blog, and food photography aside, to just be another numbered employee. I have lived like this for the past 15 years.

There are days I freak out and cry thinking about the time I lost. I’m already 35, for God’s sake! How did the time go by so fast and where are all the dreams I had when I was in my 20’s?

Self-sabotaging works together with my lack of confidence in doing anything else that will turn out to be something that brings me fulfillment and joy. I love photography, but I’m too scared of turning my passion into a hobby and end up hating the only thing that makes me happy.

The majority of us can’t afford to live our dream life.

 

Image by Dariusz Sankowski from Pixabay

As ⅔ of the planet’s population, I cannot just focus on what makes me happy, because I have bills to pay and need food and a place to live. The majority of us can’t afford to live off dreams. I have been using this as an excuse for as long as I can remember.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what happened to my early 20’s dreams and where did life take the wrong exit. About a month ago, I had one of those epiphany moments where you get yourself thinking about your young adult dreams and what happened to them.

One of those mornings before work, I was listening to a horoscope podcast and I don’t know what kind of sorcery was that, it felt like it was saying directly to me, Joana.

“Good Morning, Libra. Today is the day that you will think about old dreams, and try to restore the passions you didn’t conquer from previous years” That was enough for me to spend the rest of the day thinking about my early 20’s expectations I had for the life ahead of me. I had many dreams and none of them were achieved successfully.

In some of my previous posts, I wrote about being raised by a generation that all they knew was to work and pay bills because that was considered a success. You feed yourself and can pay for the roof on your head, everything else is a given from God.

The podcast awakening

On that morning, that podcast awakens in me, the 20 something that had been put to sleep in 2007. Until that point, I had big dreams for myself, I was only 22 and I wanted to be a travel photographer, while I read the Lonely Planet magazine, I imagined myself writing articles and taking pictures of amazing places. National Geographic would work too, I thought, but let’s start somewhere. Time passed and I replaced that dream with the previous one, move to the United States.

While I’d be working in a hotel, I would be able to do whatever I had planned. What I didn’t know was that hotels would crush your soul and will to work on anything else. That’s where my dream got lost. I started to get tired to keep trying as I would have another 14 hours shifts the next day.

I made it to the United States in 2008. For a short period, the financial crisis sent all the foreigners who were working at the ski resort for the season, back home with canceled visas. I packed my bags and moved back home with my mom and dad, in Brazil.

Sometimes you need a setback in order to move forward.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

It was such a huge setback in my life, I put all my hopes and dreams aside and focused on moving to Australia, to do another internship in the hospitality business. My grip to leave Brazil for good was intense. My writing at that point or the dream of writing anything significant had been put in a box, on the back of my closet. So did my photography.

At that point, I was more inclined to learn how to cook, for who knows, maybe one day, become a Food and Beverage Manager or Director. In all reality, I wanted to be like Anthony Bourdain.

Disappointment after disappointment with the restaurant industry made me love food, but hate the way people work. I work relentlessly, hours and hours serving tables, working in different positions, I worked in every single job as the front of the house of the restaurant. Hostess, Busser, Food runner, Bartender, barback, Catering.

None of those fulfilled me or made me feel accomplished on anything. You are nothing but a number, a robot, a rusty machine. As you get older, you start to have pain in places you didn’t even know existed in your body. In 2016, after an acquaintance wrote on Facebook “I’d rather be in Brazil and than being a waitress in someone else’s country” Something hit me differently inside of me.

“Am I only a waitress in someone’s else country?”

The question played on repeat in my head. “Why have I become numb and just a working body?” As Josh was going through chiropractic school and shouting around the house that he was going to be a doctor and I was the only one working, I thought “What am I, but a waitress money-making machine?” It was time for a change. I already had my documents, so I proceed for the first time in 10 years, to create a blog about traveling.

If I only knew about blogging what I know now, it would probably be a different story. The blog was going to focus on showing the international students about life in the United States and how not everything is rainbows and flowers. I would travel to different colleges and universities, like cities that are considered “student towns” to show people how cool and different life in America is.

The only place I wrote about was Chicago and Orlando. I couldn’t afford to travel around, neither I would have the time. After 6 months, I deleted the blog. I felt deep in my heart, like once again, I had no right to dream. I had to start another 12 hours shift soon. I was bitter for the longest time, and my marriage was all over the place. Josh’s school offered some free therapy sessions, counseling for married students, so I ask him to set up an appointment.

You are the only person responsible for your happiness. Period.

My photo from 2010, in Broome, Western Australia.

At that point, I knew I need help. 2016 was an incredibly difficult year and 2017 wouldn’t be different. The devil took his place in the presidency. Josh and his entire family voted for him, my soul was nowhere to be found. So I went to therapy. On the first session, the therapist told me “You are the only person responsible for your happiness”

The next Monday I was slowly coming back to my body, got a phone call from Full Sail, and decided to go for it. That brings us back to today. I became a writer with a Creative Writing degree diploma.

“Truth to be told is: My dreams were not taken away from me. They were put aside, while I work on other things. I lived some, I ate great food, I had different experiences that, for sure reflects, on my writing today.”

I would not be writing the way I do today if I had to write 15 years ago. Joana from 15 years ago was naive, inexperienced, has a voice, and learned that sarcasm can take you long away, let me tell you that.

Not all is lost.

Hear me out! This week we are, hopefully purchasing a travel trailer, so I can somehow, make the dream to be a travel writer/photographer out of the box. It takes time, but you will make your dreams come true at some point.

This year, I will “summer” differently. I hope you do too!

Please let me know in the comments what are you working on to live your life to the fullest and how you are building your dreams!

J.S XXX

This is my Meditation Video on my new youtube channel called Mindful Edge! I’ve been testing my video editing skills! Subscribe if you like this type of content.

The New Roaring 20’s are coming!

When the new roaring ’20s finally starts!

After a week of feeling low, I’m back ! And since this blog is about empowerment and positivity, today I’m writing about The Roaring ’20s. As soon as the vaccine is in, I will start getting ready to be out. It’s easy to understand now why people from the roaring ’20s were always overdressed. I can’t wait to paint my face with make-up and do my hair to hang out at Target.

The 2020 decade we are still in the running to be able to enjoy. After endless hours of laughing at memes, watching reels of people I have no idea what intentions are, and the news saying we are all doomed, I want to start my roaring 20’s. The time I was morphing into my couch is over. I’m ready to shine.

Ready to shine into the new decade

This pandemic stuck us all in the house, living in a dystopian future, waiting for a vaccine and cure for some new virus we had no idea what was causing or how could we cure, except be away from each other. That for me it’s the worst part. Not being able to laugh with my friends in person, meet up for lunch, spending the holidays alone was borderline neurotic. Human are made to have contact with others. We needs hugs, smiles and electronic devices are not made for that.

Day after day, I lived in hope of being able to regain some control over my life, the hope of being able to walk around free. I don’t know about you, but I’m staying at home for almost a year now. At this point, I’m feral and I need to be introduced to the wild again. The other day when I went to the grocery store someone walked in my direction, and I flinch. Like the stranger was going to ask me something. That leads me to the question: are you ready to go outside and start to live your life again?

The 1920’s

After the 1918 Spanish Flu, which has a lot of similarity to the Corona Virus, also trapped people at home for almost two years, “The Roaring 20’s” got this name because of the new possibilities at the beginning of the decade and the new possibilities shining upon people.

The 1920s was a decade of a lot of progress, the 19th amendment finally passed in the State of Tennessee in August of 1920, women finally gain their rights to vote, the women were also gaining space on the job market and living a liberation unknown for them so far. It was a decade of industrial progress, people moving to big cities and suburban families being considered upper class.

It was also the decade that brought us Jazz and the Flappers. Ladies who were in short dresses and short shorts, dancing around and being free. Would we ever be able to be free like they once were? I hope so.

The Great Depression of 1929

Due to the crash market in 1929, the country went into a big recession. According to historians, because of the mass-produce of goods, consumer debts, and the stock market. It’s weird to think that now, we are living through the same difficulties because of bad virus management. You can tell me whatever, I still the virus was managed poorly due to 45th president. If the president told us, when he first got the briefing, instead of using us and our health, as a political weapon, we would have been better. Now he is finally out, we are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. It is about time. There was also the alcohol prohibition, I believe thats the era where the speakeasies had a huge boom. Drinking underground was the way to go.

What is going to be new in the New Roaring ’20s?

I think people will still be cautious for quite some time. The maniac hand washing. The inside sneeze when you are in the middle of the store. The explanatory after coughing “I’m not sick” eyes. After we get vaccinated, the media stop focusing so much on the death rate, and start focusing on the curve flattening ( did that ever happened at any point?). We will regain some confidence to go outside, and that my friends will be the moment we are all waiting for.

Once people realize that life is getting back on track, we will be able to go out with friends, barbecue with family, go to birthday parties (no blowing candles, that over forever). I wonder if single people will be able to date strangers from an app without asking for a negative covid test before agreeing to meet? Here is my million-dollar idea: The app may have to create a QR code, like a restaurant menu.

Are you gonna be able to sit next to a stranger?

Maybe we will drink from a stranger cup like they did before? If your best friend never offered you to try some of her drink at a festival, she is not your best friend. Life Pre-Covid was hell unsanitary. Licking your fingers to open a plastic bag at the grocery store? Never again.

Are we gonna be able to sit next to other people in theaters? How long it will take for us to feel comfortable sitting next to a stranger? Is the Waffle House big depression going to happen? Cause the restaurant is known specifically for their unsanitary behavior and there is no other place to go at 3 AM when you crawling back home from a bar.

I miss seating in a restaurant, with live music playing, or some karaoke bar, where people are convinced they are on The Voice. I need to showcase my talent to people other than my husband.

A few things I plan to do when the restriction are lifted :

Travel abroad. I’ve been stuck at home this entire time thinking about traveling to Greece. I follow an account of a photographer and the country is gorgeous. The scenery is idyllic and the water is crystal blue. I’m not going to even start it with the food.

Go back to school and get a certificate in Writing and Producing. I will probably have most of the classes taken, but I’m interested in learning about the Film Industry as a business and not only as an employee. I want to be able to produce my own content and for that, I need to learn. And no, I want to actually go to school and network. I took Creative Writing online and it led me nowhere, because of poor networking.

Go to a Carnival and eat all the food at the food stands. Hotdogs, Cotton Candy, popcorn, and just people watch.

Go to a concert. Or a show. Or just watch someone play the guitar so we could all sing along while drinking.

It’s about appreciating the little things!

It’s about appreciating the little things. The New Roaring 20’s has everything to be the best decade of our lives yet if we only allow it to be. If we are not so scared to live it up, after the hardship that was the beginning of the new decade.

The vaccine is here, soon it will be for everybody, and we will be finally free, but only if we want to be free. Some people might take longer to adjust, some might be too scared to go out again. Everyone should do as they please, but in my case, I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to go outside and make some memories. Other than stay at home and watch other people having fun.

The time is up! What is your plan when you are finally able to go outside without restriction? Sing at karaoke, eat at a Buffet in Las Vegas, go to a concert? Let me know in the comments because I need ideas too!

Stay healty! Stay Sane! We almost crossing the line!

J.G.Snelly

What I learned about Blogging in 10 months

We read a lot about how to start a blog, the correct niche, what works, and what doesn’t. What nobody tells you is that the road can be bumpy and it’s not that easy to write and make 10K a month working from home. Otherwise, everyone would be doing it. 

I’m not making money yet, what I’m sharing are a few steps to make it easier, and what I would like to know before I even started it.  

Here are some tips on what worked for me so far.

Choosing the right plan and platform. 

First and far most, choosing the website to host your blog will be a huge deal. I worked with most of it since I have been blogging with different platforms for 14 years. When I started, I used Blogger, which has a simple interface, and it’s easy if you want to test out your content and your niche.

I turned to Wix to host my Portfolio for Creative Writing school and it was chaotic, I couldn’t work with the columns. 

So when I decided to have my website and blog, I got WordPress basic, and once I started seeing a growth in my audience I upgraded to a Business account, that allowed me to choose in a variety of themes, Yost SEO among other important plugins

The niche is the most important aspect. 

When I first started, I had plans to write about my experience as an ESL writer in the USA, who has just graduated with a Creative Writing Degree. It worked while I was at school, but I didn’t have much to say after. I didn’t get any jobs in my field and decided to go full-time blogging. In the meantime, I learned about the audience I wanted to focus on and saw good potential if I stick to the subject. 

In the meantime, I realized that people like reading about: Food, Travel, Functional tips, like moving, adapting, creating, and Trash reality tv shows we all watch. 

Do your research about what you would like to talk about, your audience and what can you write about the subject. If you like Beauty and Fashion, make sure to be on point with what you writing, don’t derail. I do that a lot, as while I write about immigration and how life is here for an outsider, I also talk about the tv shows I enjoy watching.

In the past couple of months, I learned how to focus. My blog is a lifestyle blog and I write about my life here in America as an immigrant, the food I eat, and the places I visit. 

Social media is your friend (some more than others) 

As I’m still learning how to use Pinterest, I’m focusing on learning as the fantastic tool everyone its been telling me it is. Scheduling Pins has been a blessing and Canva is an amazing tool. What its been keeping my audience steady is some Twitter accounts like @usblogsretweet and @allthoseblogs where they do daily sharing threads with blog following and comments. Twitter has been my major traffic tool.

Schedule your pins to save you time. 

 Recently in my extensive research about how to improve the traffic on the blog, I learned about Tailwind. I’m still using the free version, but you can subscribe and schedule up to 400 pins a month. Marketing is what takes most of my time, as I do everything myself. Researching, writing, editing, posting, sharing, making pins, publishing it, tweeting, retweeting, engaging. It’s a full-time job. And only my ego gets paid.  

Participate in blogging groups and engage in social media. 

Being part of blogging groups will help you to stay motivated and learn more about what works or not. You will find out the necessary tools to improve traffic and realize it’s hard for most of us, beginners. I’m a part of a few Facebook Groups like Blogging for beginners and Creative Bloggers, where I receive daily updates on other people’s progress and some people asking the same question I had for the longest time and getting a few different answers.  

Keep a posting schedule. 

When I first started, I was posting once a month. And not sharing with anyone. I had no confidence about what I was writing and didn’t know that it is indeed a business. It’s not a hobby and if you want to succeed, but you will also have to put some time and dedication into it.

Unless you started with a whole team, that you can delegate tasks, so it doesn’t get hard on anyone. You will have to have a schedule and work it like a company to see results like a company. 

Post your own pictures, if possible. 

I’m trying to take photos related to what I’m posting, it’s better for the SEO. Most times, I use free stock image websites like PixalBay and Unsplash. Be careful of copyrights. 

Photo retrieved from Unsplashed

Create a Seo strategy and google analytics.

When you apply for the Business Plan at WordPress, the website offers you the plugin Yoast SEO, to help you to improve your chances to improve your traffic. Google Analytics will help you with extensive information about where your traffic is coming from. 

Don’t believe the hype. It’s hard and it cost money to make the wheel go round.

I have seen plenty of pins on Pinterest on how to grow your income to 10K a month blogging from home. I’m not even close to selling anything on my website, as I’m still applying to affiliated links this week, and the blog its been running for 10 months. I would not know how long it will take for me to make some income. 

Successful people tend to let you know they made it, they just don’t want to tell you the struggle it is. There is no point in being honest. And believe me, their advice is never free. All this free information comes with a course on how to make that money. I understand that it’s a business, but don’t trick me with a Pin that says one thing, and when I got the page, it’s all about your sales. 

What they also don’t tell you, is that you have to invest money in all these tools that they tell you to use. 

Believe in yourself as a random influencer believes in herself. 

I’m too awkward to even try to influence anyone.

First of all, believe in yourself and your content. There is nothing worse than finding a boring blog that says everything the same way the other ten thousand are saying. Be creative, be bold, be loud. I follow some blogs for a few years now, and they all have one thing in common, they are original and have original content. 

One of those is from Molly Yeh https://mynameisyeh.com/ She lives on a farm, cooks, and writes about her simple life, I follow her journey since 2015 and she inspired me a whole lot. Molly got her cook show called Girl Meets Farm, on FoodNetwork and that’s only one example of how far a successful blog can take you if you are true to yourself. 

About two months ago, I worked on a dinner event bachelorette party, with Chef Demeatrie, and the guest was just a super normal girl, who asked to take photos of the table we had just set up. “I’m an influencer”, she said and my mind immediately led me to “Great for you, for believing in yourself” 

I’m not an expert. I keep learning as I go.

My blog is still growing and I’m constantly improving. The steps above are what works to improve my traffic and get noticed. This week I will work on Affiliate marketing and Legal pages to add to my blog. I will let you know how it goes, as I promise I won’t sell classes next week!  

Be Safe! Stay healty!

J.G Snelly

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Ten things I still don’t get as an immigrant in the USA.

Being an outsider always lets you to interest conversations about habits and cultures. I chose to live in America when I was very young. As Princess Diana said, she knew was going to be royalty when she was a kid, I knew I was going to move to the United States eventually. After 8 years living here, there are some cultural habits I still scratch my head about it. I decided to make a list of the top ten items that still don’t make sense.

American Sports

I never understood the rules or the reason why the players play the way they do. The sports I watched growing up were volleyball, soccer, and dodgeball at school. When I moved to the United States, I had to quickly learn the difference between soccer and football.


Which makes no sense if you think logically, because football is supposedly played by foot, and yet, they play with their hands. They run, carrying the ball across the field, like a cousin who just wants to steal the ball to make you mad while you guys are playing. Once the player ran across the entire field, with all the other players chasing him, he is either jumped by the other side’s teammates or scores.

Let’s move on to baseball. Here is what I know: someone squat there making some hand gestures, whoever is throwing the ball gets ready, according to those gestures. The pitcher positions his legs far apart, winds up, and throws the ball. It’s a hit or miss for the guy holding the bat. If he hits it, he runs to the first base while a player on the other team has to run and catch the ball. If he misses, a song comes on and so does the Kiss cam, to distract us. I don’t know what happens next. I was just there for the music and hotdogs.

Prom


We always watch it in the movies, it looks like a special day, as you have to be formally invited, wear a nice dress and make memories with your friends. We don’t have that in Brazil. We have house parties that work the same. Nothing special and nobody buys a dress or expects to be invited, you just show up.

I don’t understand what Prom means, neither what is it for. My husband says he was nothing special, he took some photos, dance weirdly, and got back home later than usual, the same thing he does at any party until these days.

Thanksgiving

In Brazil, we don’t have a special date to sit around the table and give thanks for the entire year, during that day. We do this every Sunday, weather permitting. It’s called Barbecue, or Churrasco. We drink, we invite family members and friends, we dance and get ready for the week.

We don’t need to wait for a specific day to give thanks for what we have. What is crazy for me is the amount of food served, enough to put you in a food coma. The next thing is a turkey sandwich for a week, pasta with turkey, cranberry sauce cream face, mashed potatoes with Nutella french toast, and so on.

We never gather with anyone else, it’s usually the two of us, but a few times we gather with some other Latino friends and of them took a tray of spaghetti to the party, to my American husband horror. As other cultures don’t have Thanksgiving, we take whatever we feel like eating. Spaghetti is my friend’s comforting meal.

Christmas Snow

Unless you leave in the South, there is a bigger chance of you having a white, snowy Christmas. It’s a magical feeling, just like watching all those Christmas movies, like Home Alone, Santa Clause, and all the hallmark movies. I love the Christmas snow since I never have seen it until I was 23.

Christmas back home is not cozy, since it’s the starting of Summer. It gets hot, humid, sticky and eventually it rains. What makes no sense for me, its the mall Santa, dressed like he is in 30F weather when outside, it’s probably hitting 100F. Also, why would you let your kids sitting on a stranger’s lap to ask for stuff?

Driving at 16

When I turned 16, I got a bus pass and good luck wishes in getting a job since I could apply for a part-time position finally at that age. Kids in America get their driver’s license and usually a car key. They can barely control their legs yet, to walk, yet they are rewarded with a moving vehicle, that can kill them, or kill others.

Another thing that never made sense for me is the fact that they can have a killing machine in their hands, yet, they can’t legally buy drinks. Shouldn’t be the opposite? Most of us learn how to drive at 18. In cases where you have a present dad at home, or someone who drives to teach you. I had none.

The first time I drove a car, I was 26. In Sao Paulo, in the middle of that crazy traffic. I drove a manual car. I’m still traumatized and never got my license here in the states because I always lived in places where public transportation works. Or people to drive me around.

Leaving the house to go to college

Like a ritual, Senior year comes, all the college applications are sent and most likely you are shipped across the country, to live at a school dorm. With a stranger. You lived under your mom’s wings for the past 18 years and now, overnight, you are left alone to make your own decisions and take care of yourself.

That’s not maturing fast, that’s desperation and a whole lot of mistakes. It could be avoided if you leave the house once you are legal enough to buy your drinks. I grew up thinking that most Americans are more mature than the rest of the world because they get to leave their house early. I didn’t see how wrong I was until I work at a bar in Georgia and all those “mature” kids were breaking hell loose at my working place.

The Food

Should I start with my covid theory? No. Let’s talk about food, the American way of eating and feeding their body cells, so they could function. Middle ground America works too much and has no time for cooking, or they don’t enjoy cooking. They are stressed, anxious, and always worry about what’s next to come. It’s cultural.

The easiest way to feed themselves and others are frozen food, huge fruits filled with pesticides and no nutrients, 3 times sized chickens full of hormones, fish who come from a tank, and sugar cereal. In a country where the McSalad costs more than a big mac meal, it’s easy to see why the population is overweight.

Diabetic, has heart disease, iron deficiency among others. A full plate for Covid. It’s also hard when low-income people don’t have other choices when it comes to good food.

The Health System

People already don’t eat well, which pushes them to get sick and they can’t have the treatment, because they can’t afford it. A simple doctor’s appointment costs about 200 dollars just so they can look at your face and prescribe you medication. Universal Care should be free. My country is at a bottom of the eating chain, but we have free health care.

I cannot wrap my head around the fact that America, such a rich country, neglects their citizen’s health care. You have to be at work at least 3 months before applying for health insurance, most of the times, it doesn’t cover much. That’s actually if you are lucky, if you work in the service industry, you might as well die. Restaurants never give their employees insurance, but they expect you to be up and running at least 14 hours a day.

Obsession with reality tv shows and underground celebrities.

Kim Kardashian is probably one of the smartest persons around. Say whatever you want about her, but with a sex tape, she made her entire family rich, their brand is known across the globe and they will have money for generations to come. “Catch me out outside” girl is the same.

We don’t know if that was all an improvised act, but she turned herself around fast and morphed herself into Bhad Baby. A quick misbehaving on tv and she becomes a sensation. She is not a reality tv star yet, but I can see that coming.


I’m obsessed with all kinds of the reality show, the most relevant ones are the working/family relationship ones. I have a whole list of shows I can watch non-stop as I wrote here before, the 90-day fiance franchise, Below Deck, Love after lock-up, and recently I got into Welcome to Plathville. I will have to write about that one later.

Self-Check at the supermarket

First, let me say that would never work in my country. Not that we are not good people, there are just too many smart ones, who would take a few products without paying for granted. The supermarket would go broke. The first time I used a self-check I got very overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to do.
“Do you just pass the bar code?”, me looking at my roommate like I was stealing something,
“Yes, and then when you are done, you pay for it.” my roommate thinking it was a normal thing to do.
“Nobody comes to check if I paid?”
“No, you can just take the receipt and leave”
“What if I buy alcohol?”
“Then someone comes and check your ID’

My USAversary, in 2016.

Still makes no sense.

I try to live life as happy as I can, but some days are just harder than others.

Please let me know in the comments what kind of habits or situations are weird for you still, as an American or a foreigner living here.

Have a great week!

J.G.Snelly

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