Saturday, August 13, 2005


Here is one of those crazy dreams I have in which I am part of a scary movie I have watched.

It was night. And I have no idea where this takes place. I was with some girls from my American church and we had to run somewhere to save our guy friends from the living-dead creatures. It was either a grocery store or a clothing store, maybe a Target... no, no, it was definetely a Marshalls. Was it? Who knows!

Anyway, the living-dead creatures would suck your blood, like vampires do, and then you would become a living-dead too. Yes, just like the movie, no big news. The only difference is the vampire fashion of deadifying the people.

Once you became a living-dead thingy you'd become black and white. Yes, really, including your clothes, as if you were in a black and white movie.

I know, that sounds really stupid, but that is what happens when you keep watching scary movies. Though I haven't been watching that many scary movies. I've been watching a whole bunch of action and science fiction movies lately. But I guess Charmed can count as scary and I have been watching a lot of charmed lately.

Anyway, the movie, I mean, the story, I mean, the dream begins with these girls and I trying to get to this place to rescue these guy friends of ours. I think we had a car. And one of our pastors, Clay, was with us.

We drove by a street with several small shops, just like downtown Salvador (Sep.7Ave), and I spot my best friend Luana in one of them. "LUA! LUA! RUN! THE LIVING-DEAD ARE COMING! ... LUANA! LOOK AT ME! YOU GOTTA RUN!"

She, as usual, was from one side of the store to the other, looking at this , asking to see that ... well, can't blame her. We are very much alike, my best friend and I. We go into the store just for the sake of it, give the salesperson a hard time and leave saying we'll be back later. I know - that is mean. But that is us. That might sound vain and futile but here is one thing I really miss - the way we had so much fun together, not really caring much about anything. Not feeling time going by. Not taking life too seriously. We would just look at each other and laugh, no need for words, isn't that what being best friends is all about?

She only identified where the cries were coming from when my car was way too far for her to see me. "Oh, God, my best friend is going to die."
ONe of the girls overheard me and said, "Sorry, Virginia, she is too far now. There is nothing we can do."

We got to where the guys were just a little bit too late. All of our guy friends had been deadifyed. (I know, I know, What a waste! Now I can say that all the guys worth dating are either married, gay, or dead)

"Uh-oh, girls, too late, they are all dead." I say. "Let's get out of here before they see us."

"Are you crazy? They're our friends!" Lauri said and tried to run into the store.

I grabbed her arm. "No they are not! Not anymore! They are dead! They are enemies now." But point was if we went in there, we'd have to fight them. And I didn't want to fight my friends. "Let's get the heck out of here!"

But guess what, the girls started running to the store. And Dumbo here ran after them and back again, not knowing whether to try to save them or to run for my life.
"Girls, come on, think! We can't rescue them anymore! Let's please go away!" but then when I looked up... surprise surprise "Oh... darn... too late ... uh... hi, guys." Phoney smile.

They were some 3 feet away from us. And only then the girls realized the guys were really not friends anymore. The only thing not grey on them was the fresh blood dripping from their mouths.

"... Oh, my gosh! what happened to them?"

"See! what did I say! Let's get out of here! NOW! Come on, people, run!!!!!"

I ran, some girls followed me, some stayed, doing what? I don't know. And our pastor had got trapped in the way out.

At a safe distance I stop and look back. "Wo, wo! Where- is- Clay?"

"He got trapped trying to leave."

"Darn!" I say to myself, "this is only getting worse."

"We have to save him. If they get him, we're all dead."

"I KNOW! I KNOW, OK! ... just ... let me think."

"Well, can't you think any faster? They're getting closer!"

Everyone that is left is getting into cars, and I am standing there trying to figure out what to do about Clay when I realize there's no more cars left.

"oh, s***."

Lua shows up just as the creatures spot me and start running my way.
"Lua! oh, God! you're alive! Thank God!"

"Vika! Hurry! Hop in!!!! Or they will get you."

She has a weird car that did not fit the 2 of us, so I ride on the top of it.

"Lua, we have to get back there."

"What? Are you crazy? Those things almost got you!"

"My pastor is in there! They can't get him!" Point being, if Clay was down it was no good to keep on fighting, since he was the best man we had. Er, actually, he was the only man we had at that point.

Anyway, for reasons that I do not know, we get somewhere and come back with more people for Clay. Some lady from church (I think she was some lady from my Brazilian church) came running to us.

"CLAY! Where is Clay?" I yelled as soon as she approached.

"You're too late. They got him."

"You gotta be kiddin' me."

"If you were here 2 minutes earlier you'd have saved him."

"... no..." My first reaction was denial, but the approaching creatures left me no choice but to accept the facts. After all, I was still alive, and I wanted to keep on living. "Ok, gang, with Clay in the other team all we can do is run."

Apparently Clay was the strongest player in the game. That is why we were so hopeless without him.

But before we could run, suddenly the living dead were negotiating their rights ... with the mayor???? And the mayor was... Preston??? And, for some reason unkown to me, I was kind of a mediator in the whole negotiation.

So I remember that everytime they wanted to claim something, one of them got literally too close for comfort, and I would yell at them "BACK OFF!" Threatening not to negotiate anything anymore.

I was told to tell them they'd have the right to "live" in that store and have their own government. But their way of debating was pretty much that of the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil: coming forward, yelling things, and blaming it all on politics:

"Do you think we don't know? it's all about the tax money!"

Yeah, sure, whatever that meant. I hate being in a situation in which I have to take action not really knowing what is going on. I figured though that since they did not have a lot of money and the living people did, they'd not have a lot of things done in their territory.

I looked back trying to get someone to tell me how to answer to that, but had to turn around and tell them to back off again. I move I few steps to the side and two of them get too close. I hollered "back off" but one of them thought he could tricking me, hiding in one of those clothes racks. I looked at the rack and yelled right at it "And I am talking to you!"

The two of them went back into the store. When these two old ladies come forward to complain about the fashion, the type of clothes that they would supposedly be forced to wear if they were to "live" in that place.
They showed me this hippy/gipsy skirt and said that most people my age like that stuff and frizzy/curly hair, but not them, and the government could not force them to wear that.

Mommy!!!! Do I really have to deal with that?

"Ok, lady, I totally agree with you. No one can force you to wear what you don't want. But see, no one will..."

At that point I realized I was talking to the wind, because even before I started to say anything, the old women had gone back into the store, and I saw them showing the skirt to other older women, and angrily pointing at me.

Why are they pointing at me again? What on earth had I got myself into and how? And how was I to get out of that kind of trouble? Fortunately I heard this very annoying and deafening beeping sound. It was my alarm clock that brought me back to my bed, and woke me up.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Do you feel american already?

Yesterday a friend asked me if I felt American already.

The question caught me by surprise, and the only answer I could think of was "I still don't like peanut butter". I know there are Americans who do not like peanut butter, but it is an American staple. An American who doesn't like peanut butter is like a Brazilian who doesn't like feijoada - he is just odd. But the true answer to my friend's question is "no".

I don't feel American. As a matter of fact, I feel more Brazilian everyday. And more lonely. I miss everything about home. Places, food, friends, culture ... I miss the simple safe knowledge that I know what is going on around me, that that is my area.

I know that I have changed. That if I go back home everyone will think I am different... or weird. There is no way you can be the same after spending some time in a different place and in a different culture. That is why I can't help feeling like I lived in another world, another life, and that I died for that life.

Today I know how much my family loved me and cared for me. Today I know how important my friends were. But as of today, I don't have any of them anymore. I can't be with them, or hug them or just give them a call to talk about trivialities. I can only miss them and hope everything goes well. That is why it feels like I am dead.

I feel like Bras Cubas, a book carachter that wrote his bio after he died. The writer Machado de Assis completely absorbs the point of view his main charachters, never letting you know whether it is reality or interpretation. In the case of Bras Cubas, he is dead, but, he still has his own view of reality, he judges people, draws conclusions and gathers arguments to justify his thinking. Like anyone of us, he only sees what he wants to see and only tells us what he wants to tell.

Do I feel American already? I don't know. And I don't know if I ever will.