Saturday, October 28, 2006

Feeling Normal

When you find yourself living abroad, especially in a place like Costa Rica, you will soon come to realize that reminders of home go a long way. These reminders start out pretty small. Movies in English, familiar products in the grocery store, and they grow over time to larger things like Lunch at the fancy Marriott and visits to EPA (the Costa Rican equivalent of Home depot.) Wal-Mart has just broken ground in several locations throughout San Jose, so I�m sure once completed that too will become a haven of normalcy for the ExPats. While things here are drastically different from what Im used to in the States, the longer im here the more normal things seem. Waiting in lines everywhere, livestock and children in the roads, horrendous drivers, the rain, all of these things have become part of my daily routine. I have my �people� here too. The guy who pumps my gas, the grocery clerk who packs my car and the girl who checks me out at my favorite discount store. They now all recognize me and it makes me feel more at home here. My security guard Ramon, my maid Lorrena and our driver Christian complete the �welcome home� trifecta. All of these people and places provide a sense of belonging for me here in Central America.

As October 31st approaches and my professional engagement here hangs in the balance, I feel conflicted about potentially leaving this all behind so soon. On one hand, im looking forward to rediscovering my fantastic life in the States, but on the other, I feel like I�ve just now found my groove here in Costa Rica. This whole experience was meant to serve as my swan song. That one final �crazy� opportunity taken before pushing my professional and personal life to a new, more permanent level. I don�t think im ready to throw in the towel just yet. Of course none of this is up to me at this point.

Whatever the outcome on Tuesday, I�m glad I took this opportunity. I have learned a great deal about myself and I�ve grown professionally as well. The people I work with and the ones I have met here along the way are all fantastic and unique in their own ways. Our shared experiences here will impact our lives forever and if that�s all I leave with Im still coming out ahead.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Life as I know it...

Costa Rican Days
My empty Office

Costa Rican Nights
Ivonne, Kim and Jason at Living

Self-Aggrandizing A-Hole gets his 15

In case you havent seen this. This guy submitted this video along with an 11-page resume to several Wall Street Investment firms after he graduated from Yale in an attempt to get a job. Instead he has become the laughing stock of Wall Street and now the internet in general, and for good reason. What a complete tool...

Eternal Nightime of the Spotless Mind

I think im suffering from a temporary anxiety disorder.. I can�t sleep..and when I do I dream of strange things like Spiders in my pillowcases and eating Dim Sum in Chinatown with Madonna and her black baby. While im not worried about my well being in general, the effects of sitting in a professional holding pattern in a foreign country seem to be manifesting themselves nightly during the REM stage. Since all my work has been put on hold, I�ve been trying to organize my life in various ways. I signed Francisco�s walking papers, I donated a bunch of clothes to the local church mission, I got an international move quote, and activated my professional network back in the States. I�d rather be a step ahead in the process if I find out on Tuesday that the company is moving forward without the North American team.

Keeping the worst case scenario in mind�. the financial liability of shutting down my life here in Central America, moving and restarting things back in Texas could be sizable. I will lose thousands of dollars in housing costs/deposits, I�ll have to pay for an international move, Ill be made ineligible for the foreign earned income tax credit which will amount to tens of thousands of dollars in income taxes owed to the US, I have to buy a new car, find a new home, and of course secure a new gig to help pay for all of the above.

If a downsize is imminent, I hope my company does the responsible thing and properly compensates the employees affected. In my opinion international work contracts come with a social responsibility to care for the employees who uprooted their lives to serve the company�s best interests abroad. While no one could have foreseen the events that transpired that put our jobs in jeopardy, cutting us lose and not properly compensating us would just be in poor taste. I�m not sure how far matters of couth go in a public company with a billion dollar bottom line at stake but I�m about to find out in cinco dias

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Speak Softly and Carry A Big Shoe

It's 1 am and im sequestered in my guest bedroom because I left the door that leads to the backyard open and a spider the size of Magic Johnsons hand got inside. I wouldnt have even seen it except I heard a hissing sound and spotted it on the wall behind my bed just as I was dozing off. I unsucessfully attempted to smash it with a library of magazines that were tossed from a safe distance from the other side of the room. Of course all that did was 1. Piss it off and 2. Forced it to drop to the floor behind my bed. So now I have no idea where it is and im not about to go to sleep in a room with a big ass Costa Rican death fang spider who now has a score to settle. Quite frankly I probably wont go back into my room for a few days until I know it's run out of food and water and lying on it's overdue deathbed. Im so dedicated to this cause that I'll wear what I have on until that happens.

There are "hemp" ,"poly-blend" and "egyptian cotton" people in this world. I'm definately the latter. I dont do "rustic", or "primitave" and if theres the posibility of an insect/rodent/reptile encounter, well you can count me out. Im not sure how all this will play out on the African Safari I want to take. I think Abercrombie and Kent have some packages that include an army of people whose jobs are to kill insect and wildlife that threaten your $2500 a night comfort. Even then, I would request a nightly sweep of my tent for anything non-luxurious and otherwise uninvited. Picture: Joan Collins on Safari.

Clearly I dont belong in Costa Rica. Everything here is big, hairy, mean, scary and venomous. Even the plants here look like they could eat a small child. Until I leave, I will continue to wage my war with the outside. Hoping that one day the word will get out that the only way outta my house is on the bottom of a shoe.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Situation is as follows:

I am still sitting here with my thumb up my ass waiting for my company to restructure and mobilize itself after a major legal blow that was delivered courtesy of the United States Government a little over 2 weeks ago. All of our work has been grinded to a halt and we literally have nothing to do until we are given more direction from the big office in the sky (London). Plans have been promised by Oct 31. We have watched several of our competitors crumble under the new legislation while scrambling to find (and monetize) new markets. Of course we are all hoping this isn�t an indication of things to come on our end, but you can�t help but to think about it. I�ve had many people ask me what I think is going to happen and I�ve always supplied a suitable prediction based on the information I had to date. I�m no longer speculating about it, just when it seems I�ve got it figured out, I hear something that makes me think differently. Its extremely difficult working for a multi-national company whose key decision makers are spread across 3 continents. Getting accurate, up-to-date information across multiple time zones is never easy. Given all of the uncertainties, my colleagues and I are handling it all pretty well I think. We do have our freak out moments, but there�s comfort in numbers. The handful of us whose fates are all hanging in the balance are all well adjusted professionals who know were covered if we are forced to leave these jobs. Until then, none of us are complaining about continuously receiving our paychecks.

Because change begets change, there seems to be a lot of it going on in my life at the moment. Exactly one week ago I sent Francisco back home to live with his sister on the other side of town. This was all in an attempt to deemphasize the comfort zone my being here creates for him. While he was not �officially� living with me, the time he spent in my house greatly outnumbered the times that he did not. Contemplating a premature departure from Costa Rica is difficult enough; simultaneously feeling responsible for a 27 year old �kid� whose world revolves around me proved to be just too much. In typical Tico/Latin-machismo fashion, he took it completely the wrong way, feeling ousted and uncared for. We have not spoken one word since he left and I know unless I contact him, we won�t ever again. I miss having him here but I know until things shake out at work, I�ts better for him not to count on me emotionally (and physically)

Because Im never down and out for long� I have accomplished the following things since breaking things off with Francisco.

1. Got forced into a kiss with a straight German guy in a bathroom stall at my favorite bar.
2. I had a date with a Columbian guy named Gustavo who left Columbia for reasons he purposely didn�t expand on.
3. Re invigorated my personal ad and contacting prospective as we speak.

As you ALL should know by now�The best way to get over an ex is to get under another one!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Dont tell your momma I told you this... has been all over the news recently as they have secured a 1+ BILLION dollar buy out from Google. Not bad for a bunch of 30 somethings who never spent ONE DIME on advertising. The internet has completley revolutioned distribution models. It's the equivilant to giving over 60% of the world; Tv's with cable, Cars with gas , every magazine subscription avaiable and a shopping mall in ther front yards. It gives every user an all access pass to millions of products and services and advertisements without even having to leave their homes. If youre clever enough and your product has wide enough appeal, like YouTube, you can collect millions of users at little to no cost. Thats one hell of an effeciency model.

In the spirit of YouTube, I bring you should not be a suprise to anyone that when user generated content and video became the newest internet craze, the flesh starved public would answer in kind to technologies call-of-duty. Now you can upload and watch millions of ammeture skin flciks for free. While it's never been hard to find free porn online, XTube's adoption of YouTube's catogorization and viral distribution components makes it a first in the adult content category. Even the Pope himself would have to appreciate XTube's ease of navigation and categorization. Im amazed at how many people are willing upload their intimate lives for the world to see. Its scary and refreshing all at once.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Baby Steps

Im not much of an activist, espicially when it comes to voicing my opinions about my sexuality. I ran across this article on the CNN homepage this morning during my daily news scan and couldnt help but to give CNN a bit of an applause. Instead of trying to talk around, explain away, demoralize, or play down Gerry Studds relationship with his partner, they refer to him as his "husband". Something you rarely see or hear in the media. The media's willingness to stop sensationalizing gay lifestyles by focusing on the actions of its fringe elements will help lead to better understanding and overall acceptance of gay people all over the world. Of course the gay community has alot of work to do as well. People are prompted to discriminate when you hand them reasons to.

BOSTON, Massachusetts (AP) -- Former U.S. Rep. Gerry Studds, the first openly gay person elected to Congress, died early Saturday at Boston Medical Center, several days after he collapsed while walking his dog, his husband said.

Studds fell unconscious October 3 because of what doctors later determined was a blood clot in his lung, Dean Hara said.

Studds regained consciousness, remained in the hospital, and seemed to be improving. He was scheduled to be transferred to a rehabilitation center, but his condition deteriorated Friday and he died at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, Hara said.

Hara, who married Studds shortly after gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts in 2004, said Studds was a pioneer who gave courage to gay people everywhere by winning re-election after publicly acknowledging his homosexuality.

"He gave people of his generation, or my generation, of future generations, the courage to do whatever they wanted to do," he said.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

12 O'Clock High

There was this movie from my childhood called 3 O�clock high. The plot involved a boy who had accidentally volunteered himself for a fight with the new school bully at 3:00pm in the parking lot after school. The movie centered around the boys complete mental and physical breakdown during the hours leading up to the fight. This plotline entered my cranial awareness yesterday after I received and email from my boss. Evidentially our company has decided to shut down all US operations and our CEO has asked for us all to gather at the office today at 12 noon for a �discussion�. Having been through several startup companies that barely �started up�, I know that this typically isn�t indicative of good news. Also, having the title �Online Marketing Director, North America� doesn�t bode well either. But even with that grim awareness, I remain optimistic that we will hear something good today at 12 noon. Maybe a title change to �Online Czar, Pan-Asia� or something equally as exotic would work?

Despite what happens, I feel like I�m covered. Being a typical product of the .com generation, I learned a long time ago to keep a few pokers in the fire at all times. I�ve often explained this to people as both a blessing and a curse. Not completely cutting yourself off from opportunity can sometimes affect your ability to feel settled with what you�re doing now. It�s like someone explained to me the other day about dating in LA; You knows there�s a lot more where that come from, so you keep yourself from getting attached. It can become a viscious cycle.

Like the kid in 3 O�clock high, Ill go out swinging. I didn�t move to this crime infested, underdeveloped, non-air conditioned country for nothing! Even if it was for a finite period of time, I want to go out on my own terms. Stay posted people� this should be good.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Treetop Airlines

I recorded our take off from Tamarindo airport for no reason whatsoever.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Unconscious in Conchal

SO in light of the disturbing news out of the United States last week concerning the online gaming industry that my company services, we all headed to Playa Conchal on the Pacific side to the Sol Melia for another company sponsored R&R/ Oh-Shit-Strategy session. We were supposed to be joined by our euro offices but they were grounded at the last minute. So Jen, Kim and I decided to take our life into our own hands and hop a local airline rather than drive the 4+ hours to the resort with the rest of the office. Despite being asked to step on a scale with our bags to �weigh in� when we checked in, AND being informed that the plane was too heavy for our luggage to accompany us, we took off and quasi-enjoyed the quick 30 minute trip to Tamarindo airstrip. I use �Airstrip� because there is no airport�just a single dirt runway carved out in the jungle and an open sided shed beside it. It was all very "Romancing the Stone". We landed just fine, despite our obvious concerns. As not to jinx our return flight tomorrow, Ill stop right here.

Weve been enjoying the all inclusive plan here which has obligated us to belly up to the pool bar for bottomless anything most all day long. We often take breaks to listen to madonna covers being sung in strange language translation poolside by the house band..Its well worth the confusion and slight headache youll get. Sunset cruises, massages and horseback riding in the ocean are all on the agenda. While the fate of our industry and our company are in the forefront of our minds, we couldnt be in a better place to contemplate our futures.

Proof is in the picture:

1. The View from "First Class" 2. Jen Pretending to enjoy the flight

1. Birds Eye View 2. Concorse A, Tamarindo International Airport

Sol Melia- Paradisus shines on

1. Mountain View 2. Pool cool

1. "Central Americas Largest Pool" 2. Scott and Kerri striking an aqua pose

Sunset Cruise

untouched, deserted beaches all for me

1. Rocks at low tide 2. Local Yocals