domingo, dezembro 31, 2006
I spent my last New Years before moving here in NYC's Time Square, just so I could say I did it (froze my ass off standing so far away you could hardly see the ball, for 6 hours in one place, with no way to get out or pee or eat or anything - no drinking either: this is what 9/11 accomplished for us). Last year when we traveled there again to visit, we spent our first New Years as a family in the NYC subway, somewhere in Harlem, trying to visit a friend's party by 12AM.
But for every holiday here, the question is usually "where?" as in another city instead of "what?" as in activity. For São João (in June) we travel to the country side and act likes hicks, drinking and dancing in the main square of some city we would never be in otherwise, and usually where we don't really know a soul who lives there. For minor holidays one might travel to a resort type of area - Guarajuba or Praia do Forte, and spend the weekend. We never want to stay home it seems, enjoy our our surroundings we work so hard to preserve.
Or maybe it's to further avoid cleaning and looking at the mess we have created while the maid is on vacation.
terça-feira, dezembro 26, 2006
Mee-mee = movie/ filme. Usually only one in particular...
Boys and cars....
One of the first things Ju was able to name besides us and the cats was CAR. Cah-oh. Carro.
About a month ago my father sent the movie "Cars." I hadn't actually heard of it before, although products based on it have been flooding my preschool classroom since October. Ju has always be into cars, seems to be a genetic predisposition. He never had any cars really, nothing with wheels, until his nanny told me he liked very much to play with a car-like toy that belongs to his friend Mari, so we went out and bought him one of his own. For months it was almost the only thing he would play with, pushing it around in front of him as he crawled (when he was about 10 months or so).
For his first birthday, one of my good friends gave him a hotwheels she found in her house (she has two grown boys). It was an instant addiction. He would empty a whole box of little toys just to get out the hotwheels and play with it, stand next to the foot stool and "drive" it on the top. It was one of the few toys I took to the States and back, tied to a piece of BomFim tape to save my self from chasing around the floor of the plane when he threw it into the air. While State's side, he acquired a number of new toys, the favorites all having wheels (or related - one of the most popular toys I found for him was a V-tech Baby Driver steering wheel from the 80's).
When we returned, I was "forced" to buy him another hotwheels on two occations that I was out shopping and had to get something to appease him in the cart. Each time he chose orange ones. His father got him large plastic shiny trucks for Children's day presents, and my mother in law sent a Tonka tow truck that I tried to save for Xmas, but he found it and dragged it around in the box until it was liberated.
Now with the arrival of this movie, the obsession is getting worse. Every morning he asks for his "mee-mee cah-oh." And he will proceed to sit down and watch it almost without interruption. It is quite amazing, considering television never interested him for more than 10 minutes until now. While watching he gets all his hotwheels out (Santa filled his stocking with them this year - a motorcycle that is by far the favorite, another orange car that he chose, a bulldozer, a helicopter, and a by-plane) and drives them around, or just holds them in his hands, watching in awe. It's cute and disturbing at the same time.
Is it genetic? Does having a pinto automatically destine you to become obsessed with all things that have wheels? What is the deal? I am pretty sure I didn't foster this based on society stereotypes, so what is it?
segunda-feira, dezembro 18, 2006
domingo, dezembro 17, 2006
domingo, dezembro 10, 2006
sábado, dezembro 09, 2006
quarta-feira, dezembro 06, 2006
terça-feira, dezembro 05, 2006
Ow: agua = water in any form, puddle, pool, drinkable or otherwise
Boo-bay: Blueberry - a favorite dry fruit sent by kind grandparents in the States.
He seems to go in and out of wanting to imitate words and not. Some days he says things like "tattoo" but other days he just stares at me. Today he said boo-bay.
domingo, dezembro 03, 2006
A dictionary of understanding Ju:
OOOOOO-vah: Uva = grape
Ah-poo: apple or any white fruit that you have to cut up (this includes pears) - you'll notice this is the only word besides boob that he uses English
Boo: Boob/ I want a boob to suck on
Too-tah: Ducha = shower and also "I am ready for a nap" since he takes a shower before sleeping
Oh-ão: Avião = airplane or anything else in the sky
Mah-mão: Lava mão = wash my hands/ my hands are dirty/ I want a napkin to wipe my hands
Toh-toh: (I think) cocó = poop/ my diaper is dirty/ I want to take off my diaper
Pehshhhhh: Peixe = fish
Cah-o: Carro = car or anything with wheels
Pah-pah-poo: pato = duck
Pah-pah-too: Sapato = shoe or sandle or anything that goes on your feet
Oof: Lixo = something that goes in the trash, like a peice of paper or lint
Also to be noted: all finger puppets say "tchucka tchucka tchucka" for some reason. And "tugudah tugudah" may mean "agua e gas chegou" or it just might mean "truck."
It seems he has figured out I speak Portuguese, and everyone else is speaking Portuguese, so there is no real need for him to say things in English, since English is something that one person will understand versus the other 10 or so important people in his life, so Portuguese seems to be the way to go.
domingo, novembro 26, 2006
quinta-feira, novembro 23, 2006
The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven
The turkey shot out of the oven
and rocketed into the air,
it knocked every plate off the table
and partly demolished a chair.
It ricocheted into a corner
and burst with deafening boom,
then splattered all over the kitchen,
completely obscuring the room.
It stuck to the walls and the windows,
it totally coated the floor,
there was turkey attached to the ceiling,
where there'd never been turkey before.
It blanketed every appliance,
it smeared every saucer and bowl,
there wasn't a way I could stop it,
that turkey was out of control.
I scraped and I scrubbed with displeasure,
and thought with chagrin as I mopped,
that I'd never again stuff a turkey
with popcorn that hadn't been popped!
quinta-feira, novembro 16, 2006
And if that wasn't enough, I am just walking casually through the courtyard by the canteen just a little over an hour later, and BLOOP, a black thing comes plopping down beside me. Not that I would pay it much heed, with all the rain and leaks and what not, but it occured to me that rain isn't black, so I took a closer look and see the black thing is now crawling across the ground towards me - a baby bat! The hallway was totally empty, but I didn't want to let him out of my site for a moment, for fear someone would step on him, so I got a plastic cup from the classroom beside me and stuck it on the ground in front of me. He aimlessly crawled into the cup. Okay, mission accomplished, now what? In Michigan, I am sure I could take care of this bat, no problem, but this is a Brasilian bat so some how I am culturally inept. Next best thing - take it to the science teacher! So I walked it down to Alanna's classroom, where the students are instantly enthralled and volunteer to go get fruit to feed it from the canteen. So now the middle school science class has a pet. I hope it makes it through the night.
Let's see what kind of bicho arrives tomorow!
segunda-feira, novembro 13, 2006
2. No power = no refrigerator = no cold juice or preserved snacks = no food for kids to eat at snack time = cafeteria has no power to cook or refrigerate either (but luckily has gas), nor water to wash dishes = hungry kids SHOULD = school closes
3. Rain pouring down on the streets = chaotic lakes and rivers = areas with knee deep pools of water over the entire road and sidewalk = broken down cars = traffic jams = kids can't get to school unless then spend 2 hours in the car or more SHOULD = school closes
4. Rain pouring down in favelas = mud slide = hundreds of people left homeless or killed = protests on one of the two main roads through Salvador = traffic jams = kids don't make it to school or parents can't pick them up SHOULD = school closes
Now, I arrived at school at 7:20ish. The power went out before 8 AM. We were only in the first set of logical paths (number 1). Then some kids arrive, then some more. We have to combine the two sections of the class because one room is so dark that you can't see your hand in front of you. The kids are fascinated at the open door (open so we don't roast in the classroom with no AC), watching and waiting for the ankle deep lake forming outside to creep into the classroom. The high and mighty director comes in, says if there is no power by 9 AM, we can call it a "snow day" and send the kids home. Various parents are in the room, we pass on this information, so they stick around, having no way to leave anyway because rain is causing traffic jams all over. Frustrated with the noise level, I take the kids on a tour to see the disaster of water around the school including a huge water fall out the front gate. The parents follow. We see utter chaos all over because of the water flow.
Now 9 AM, the parents waiting around take their kids and leave. We are left with about half with both our classes combined. We visit the caf to make sure snack is available. A small group goes in search of the director, who is no where to be found. The principal tells us we are to wait until 9:30, when the situation will be reevaluated. So we wait some more. Eventually the director is found. Director says "I never said if there was no power by 9 AM that the kids would be dismissed." Teachers argue "yes, you did say that" while some stand dumb founded at the blatant lie. Could the director actually be lieing to our faces? Yes (although for most, this is not news).
Parents who tried to leave but got stuck and have come back to wander around the school waiting for some kind of decision. I tell a few that there is no water, no refrigeration, and the caf can't really cook like this, so it would make sense for them to take their kids home. Teachers are unable to get students to focus because parents are there asking questions, it is unbelievably hot in the classrooms, and water threatening to flood your class is just too exciting to ignore. We eat snack with the kids and I spend some time building a large city out of blocks with them.
Finally, word comes down that school will official be dismissed at 11:30 due to black out and rain. It is 10:30 at the time. We have now been without power for almost 3 hours. We are told they don't know when it will be back on, but that we can stay for lunch and take the vans home after. Now we have to call all the parents to inform them that school is dismissed. But, oh, yeah, did I forget to mention that the phones don't work when there is no power here? After we exhaust all the cell phone batteries, we have reached all the parents, and finally it seems we can leave.
But, oh, did you hear? There was a huge mud slide in a favela next to Parallela. Hundreds lost their homes. Huge protests on the road, fires, rocks, the works! So, Parallela is closed. So all the traffic (all 5 lanes in each direction) is now on Orla (the only other street one can take to get anywhere in this city), so traffic is not moving there either. Well, after all, it would have been a normal work day otherwise... Not that I can get any work done without a computer to type, look things up, or lights to read. But that's beside the point really. Because it all comes down to who the boss is that can make or not make a decision (usually the latter).
I pity the next school who takes this director on.
Oh, and did I mention, maybe we still won't have power tomorow? So I assume, when we show up, if we don't, it will probably be until at least 10 AM before they make the decision to send everyone home again. Don't you just love school politics?
domingo, novembro 05, 2006
There is an artistan fair that happens twice a month here, one I go to nearly every time it occurs, talking to the same vendors, looking at the same things. O MaridÃ£o isn't all that fond of it, but it has become sort of a social event for me, so he goes with just to humor me it seems. There are some sisters who make and sell dresses, and their origial classic style was a simpletiee dyed rayon sun dress - the kind you find in nearly all Latin American countries, popular as a keep-sake of the tropical memories for nearly every girl who hastraveledd through them. I have one from Mexico with a fish on it, and I have passed by them many times here thinking "I live here, so why bother." For some reason, these appealed to me at the time and so I have bought several over the course of the fairs, in various colors and styles - skirts and dresses, all with thistiee-dye pattern that seems to have died in popularity for everyone but me.
Having bought so many things from them, I decided to bring a few skirts to them to see if they could be copied so I could have more of them. Every fair I tell these women - Oh, yes, I forgot again. Fatefully, I remembered yesterday, and took two of them with me to leave on loan so they could make a pattern. The the midst of my explaining the merits of the designs, a loud screaming erupts and I turn to see ascragglyy looking woman being man-handled by two guys in security shirts who arewrestlingg a bag out of her hands, while trying to keep a hold on her arm. She is jumping and screaming and struggling and I am sort of reminded of agazellel, with all the air she is catching in her fight. Turns out she had just stolen two dresses from the table (one I was looking at seconds ago and am currently wearing), and these guys had been following her through the whole fair, knowing what was on her mind, waiting to catch her in the act.
Now, besides the fact that I was the one who had distracted these poor women who were almost stolen from with my unnecessarily lengthy explanation about the skirts, this whole disruption was literally in front of my feet, and Ju's feet, being that he was strapped in the stroller. Instead of backing up, or doing something, I just stand there dumb founded. No reaction. I seem to remain separated, unaware, unable to do anything useful.
After the fact, again, I feel thatweirdd sort of dirty feeling that I had after my cellphone was stolen. I couldn't sleep well and woke up at 3 AM to check that all the windows were locked and doors were shut and that nothing was amiss. Seeing that this happens all the time here, I know I should just get used to it, right? Brasilians live with this their whole lives and still want to return here if they happen to move to another country, despite this psychological pyramid safety thing. What is the secret? I wish I could figure it out.
domingo, outubro 29, 2006
segunda-feira, outubro 23, 2006
Since the beginning of the year, I get the feeling that our school is one giant window and the glass is slowly cracking from one little fracture, one little rock that hit, who this rock is, I will not reveal. Maybe it's more than one, I will give the rock some credit.
Since the duplo of teachers broke their contract and left in September of last year, I have spoken much more with the foreign hired teachers, just to get a perspective. There is so much of this "they get" and "we don't get" feeling that these dialogues are sort of difficult. Yet it seems even after the lessons of last year, nothing has really been done to resolve the abandonment issues the school seems to have.
Reports have told me that teachers come here without full paper work, or even a clear contract by the school, with promises of luxery and live it up on the beach life. What they get is an apartment that needs painting, with only one working toilet for the whole family (when there are 3 bathrooms), no advice about life in Brasil, and no help dealing with culture and language barriers. One teacher had a $2000 phone bill, due to long distance rates and the way that the phone company counts the "pulses" in a call. Had someone told her some of this common knowledge, or even just given a small booklet, outlining some "differences" between say, the States and Brasil, this probably could have been avoided. Now she is working virtually for free, having the money from her paycheck withdrawn to pay for one month of calls. Shortly after this shock, the electricity was shut off at their house. Why? Well, because they didn't know where to go to pay the bill and no one bothered to tell them how bill paying works here. When inquiring at the school, the explanation was "oh, yeah, we have someone who will take care of that for you, we just forgot about it."
Another teacher is reportedly so pissed off at the school that she decided not to go to work on Friday. Since her phone wasn't working (she has been trying to get the school to help her fix the phone since she moved here in July), she just didn't bother to call and tell anyone that she wouldn't be showing up. Since no one could get a hold of her by phone, they had to personally go looking for her at her apartment on Saturday. I cannot imagine what might have been said.
This year the school implemented a buddy system, pairing a veteran teacher with a new one, to try to coushine the fall I think. It isn't entirely clear if this was a school decision, or it was an initiative of the veteran teachers. So far, it doesn't seem to be very effective, considering we are still having these problems. I went and spent the day with a friend/new teacher (who is not my assigned buddy, by the way) and heard all these horror stories, how awful the culture shock has been, and how abandonded by the school they feel. It was a lovely day and I think we are both the better for it. From what I understand, this is not at all typical of international schools (one of these new teachers has taught in 15 different countries). So the question remains, why does it happen here? Year after year. After loosing two teachers for exactly these reasons and I am hearing now. It's like de ja vú. And the crack just keeps getting bigger.
sábado, outubro 21, 2006
domingo, outubro 15, 2006
He says "appooo" for apple, but he also says it for sapo, which is frog in Portuguese. I hope he doesn't get them confused.
When he wants me to do something, he will pinch my leg or pull my clothing in an attempt to get me to obey. If that doesn't work, he sits on the floor and screams.
He is a moncheechee doll when he doesn't want you to put him down; I can now let go and he hangs with no help from mom.
He runs around the house saying "nahnoh nahnoh" and waggeling his finger in the air (guess what word he hears a lot these days).
He loves to have a "job" like move all the shoes from one side of the room to the other, water the plants, or clean up the crayons. It's only a matter of time before I make him sweep the floor (that's why we have children, to do the everyday chores for us).
sábado, outubro 14, 2006
On the back of a bus yesterday, I saw a no-longer-shocking picture of a woman apparently nude, the focus of the camera on her face, but passing over her sultry arched up rear end, with some extremely small text printed underneath. I didn't think much of it at that precise moment - being here kind of desensitizes you to this kind of display. Consequently, a Brasilian friend who also happened to see it started to chat about the text which I had so quickly dismissed, something to the effect of "I renouced my political post to pose nude." Oh really, and wouldn't you know, it's Milena ass I was so passively staring at! I guess she sure as hell sold some image of herself during that campaign, I mean, to go from would-be politician to nude model in a famous magazine in less than two years, that has to count for something! And just in case we were confused, or wanted to make lewd comments about the fact that she seems to think it's not at all strange to run for political office and then pose nude, well she is publicly renouncing it on the back of a city bus! That's public relations for you.
I cannot actually see this seriously happening in the States, but I could be wrong. What's worse, a semi-sex scandal such as this wrapped up in politics, or the government lying to and spying on it's citizens? Hmmmmm....
sábado, outubro 07, 2006
When I first moved here, I couldn't live without NPR. I logged onto the internet nearly every single night, using our free dialup between 12am and 6am when the phone rates were cheaper, only to be frustrated by the unbelievably slow connection and the choppy feed. After Velox (AV) I used to log on and listen to "wait wait don't tell me" every Sunday while I expressed breast milk for Ju to have the next day when I went back to work. Even with my pathetic laptop speakers, it was better than being in the dark. I read Google news everyday, I followed common stories and read several versions just to get the facts strait from the leaning of the author, whether left or right.
And then suddenly, I just didn't care anymore, or something, because by the time I knew what happened in New Orleans, it had been happening for almost a week and been the talk of the country for just as long. Somehow, being a mother perhaps, I have become more and more indifferent, since I can't do anything specifically, and I have more central things to worry about, more significant things that cry when he's tired and tries to eat crayons if I don't watch him, and who really is affected by every decision I make.
Maybe that is why when it comes to Brasilian politics, which I should care about, which have consumed so many conversations of my friends, I am in the dark and not so bothered by it. If I were a voting citizen, sure I would have to pay attention. But as it stands, I cannot have any affect on what happens, and the need to know and understand is heavily shadowed by the immense stress and difficulty of reading/hearing/watching it all in Portuguese. By the time I have looked up one word I missed, the news report is finished, or I have forgotten what the main point of the article was, and then my indifference seems more justified. Why waste my time doing this when I have so many enjoyable things to occupy my few precious minutes here and there.
Hopefully there will be no military coupe or whatnot.
sábado, setembro 30, 2006
quarta-feira, setembro 27, 2006
domingo, agosto 20, 2006
quinta-feira, agosto 17, 2006
The whole situation with school is just too far gone to update properly. I am still teaching, will continue to do so, and probably won't be compensated for my time fairly. But it is fun, and I am enjoying it, and I hope next year we will have a human for an administrator, instead of someone who just says things without thinking about the consequences. I already have my hopes up for our new principal, who is one of the nicest administrative heads I have ever met.
quarta-feira, agosto 02, 2006
School started today, and yesterday it is sprung on me that I will be teaching what they are calling and "ESL" course to the G4 students during the hour that they used to have Portuguese, but now will not because the administrators want a full immersion program for the EC. So, after having 5 days to prep my G3 classroom as an assistant, I now was given about 18 hours to prep to teach a course that has never been taught, never existed before, with no direction or objectives other than "Use only English." Needless to say I was a tad stressed. Besides the fact that they didn't have a clear answer on what they would be paying me to play teacher in the afternoon, other than a "compensational stipend" which I actually think would be illegal in my case, since I qualify as a Brasilian.
Today, no answers still, and as of this afternoon it's possible I will only teach 3 days a week and the other two will be Portuguese. But no news other than that. Should I half ass it. Should I do nothing since they evidently won't pay me anyway? Why does nothing function like it's supposed to?
sexta-feira, julho 28, 2006
Ju's vocabulary has expanded to include the word PUM, which means fart (for those of you who don't know). He even laughs when he farts now, which is quite amuzing. Sometimes I hear a fart and I think it was O Maridão, but he always blames it on Ju. I'm not sure when he's lying.
I have to stop eating these damn dark chocolate m&m's. The nanny is getting slimmer and I'm getting fat.
domingo, julho 16, 2006
segunda-feira, junho 19, 2006
School is over for the semester and I am travelling to the States to visit in a few days. Ju is comming and O Maridão is staying here to pretend he has no obligations for a while. In a way, I envy him, but I would seriously die if I didn't see Ju for 3 weeks. I have no idea how he will survive.
Since the mugging incident, I have not gone out alone anywhere. Every time I go by that corner, I end up looking for the couple, as if by some miracle they would return and hang out there. I have no idea what I would do if I found them. Actually, I doubt I would recognize them at all. I only remember this woman's teeth as she talked through them. It's a shame because I would really like to go to Av. Sete, but I just can't bring myself to walk to the bus stop alone. I have two days off with the nanny here and I could go without Ju (a Miracle in it's self, go somewhere without the baby besides work), but I think it just won't happen. Stupid psycological impact....
I am cursed to never fit in physically here, I have to get over that. Besides having tatoos, I am too white, with light eyes.... it's a hopeless case. Pointy nose. Light brown hair. This makes me a target, right? Can't change it, right? What the hell is wrong with me?
segunda-feira, maio 15, 2006
quarta-feira, maio 10, 2006
Ju's birthday has come and gone. A long story, tiring to tell. A fun time was had by all, despite "inconvenient" visitors who arrived 3 hours late, after the party ended....
In other news, a friend was assaulted in front of her home in Villas on Monday, while getting into the car to take her son to school. The man took the car, purses, etc, but amazingly enough he was caught by police a few hours later and most things were returned, I think. At least the car was.
I always wondered about her place, when ever I would go visit there. There is just a huge empty lot space next to her house, never anyone in the streets... I would not want to live out there, just for the lack of civil assitance. She says she likes it because she can forget about the city when she's there. In the States, I suppose I would be the same way, but here I have grown to rely on the doormen, the gardener, the security guys patrolling the roads, even the street kids who know our car. I can't imagine being so isolated. See what city living does to you?
Even just now, my neighbors were at my window, asking for food donations for the daughter's school food drive. The girl from house 14 stops by peroidically to chat with Ju through the window. There are always kids out, running around, sounds of life everywhere. Brasilians call it openess or friendlyness or warmness. Most Americans would call it noseyness.
quinta-feira, abril 13, 2006
quarta-feira, abril 12, 2006
While talking to my father the other night, I suddenly analyzed the whole meaning, which I am rather excited about. The cats or pets were my old life, the life I had in the States, and the flight or the room was my new life. Do I leave the old life behind, never to be see again? Do I miss the new life to keep track of the old life? If I leave the old life, will it be okay without me? Neat, huh? Took my almost a year to figure it out, but at least now I know what it means.