Friday, September 30, 2005


"A friend is something you keep under seven keys, inside your heart, that's how the song goes. ... Even when time and distance say no. Even when you forget the song. Someday, friend, I will come back to meet you."

I was thinking about Lua a lot today. So, as silly as it may sound writing about friendship, that is what I will do now. Friendship is the kind of relationship that should be the basis for any other close relationship.
And though I have a handful of very dear friends here in the U.S. (I'd name them, but they know who they are, and enough is enough - I tend to become too melodramatic when i get into this subject), Luana is still my best friend. Even though we are far away.

The best thing about our friendship is how long we've been friends for - 11 years now. That is so awesome. One day, 11 years ago, we decided we would be best friends. I know that sounds a little weird, maybe childish. But we were kids then and kids do silly things like deciding to become best friends.

A lot of people that were probably as old I as am today told me that having a best friend was silly, just kid's stuff, that one day I'd grow up and grow out of it.

Honestly - I am glad I never believed them. And I still don't. I believe having a best friend is the best thing that can ever happen to someone. Having someone special you can always count on, someone to laugh with, cry with, fight with, share secrets with... yeah, someone to share.

Honestly - I think anyone who says best friend is a kid's thing is an unhappy creature who forgot a whole lot about loving and caring.

But yeah, one day we made a pledge to be best friends from that day on. And it was one of the best things I ever did, since I never really had a close friend before (besides my brother of course, but my brother was well on his way to find his own friends and girlfriends and I was really being left on my own). Sudenly I had someone who was not part of my family to play with, and do those fun things only friends do - like being silly and not minding it, going to the movies whenever, talking about boys, and being irresponsibly happy.

We helped each other grow up. And when we realized it had been 10 years we had decided to become friends, we went to the mall and bought a pair of pink blouses and had our names embroided on them. Talk about being irresponsably happy - we did it just for the sake of it, as we have always done. Oh yeah, we are no longer teenagers, but if best friends is a kid's stuff, we can still act very much like kids.

Everytime I think of Lua I have to thank God for the gift of friendship. Everytime I think of Lua I can't imagine my life without her, because everytime I think of her most of my life comes to my mind in flashback. Sleep-overs, outings, phone talks, letters in colored envelopes, beatles CD's, Bible studies, camps, and so much more. Oh! Oh Yeah! I hope she forgive me for writing this here, but ... I also can't help thinking of all the times she broke up with her boyfriends and I was the shoulder she'd have to cry on. Everytime I answered the phone and a crying voice begged me to come over and talk, I knew I had a long long afternoon ahead of me.

11 years... wow! isn't that something!

Now that we have grown up and have gone our own separate ways, maybe we won't be as close nor have as many memories in common. I don't know what will happen from now on. I think maybe we should re-start the letter-writing practice. Distance and time are 2 things that cause a lot of trouble. But we have to get on with life , right?

And maybe part of being best friends is figuring out how to keep th erealtionship even when time and distance say no. We won't live in the past. I refuse to look back and think what a great friendship we had. We have a great friendship and that will not die. Best friends is not a kid's stuff, it is a lifetime commitment.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Home Alone 2

Ok, the title of this posting was supposed to be "Lost in New York". But then I remembered that M. Culkin had a movie with the same name, Home Alone 2:Lost in New York. So, yeah, that's where I got the idea for this title from - See? How extremely creative I am!

Yesterday I went to NYC on business.

(Just in case you are reading this blog and you know me, DO NOT assume anything - I was really there on business, but I won't jinx it by blabbering about it.)

Well, the whole day went perfectly fine. My business meeting couldn't have been better.
And I was proud of myself, because I had never used the subway before and I did not screw up or anything. Got into the right one, got off at the right station, took the right direction to the place... everything was perfect till it was time to come back home.

My meeting lasted longer than what I had expected and I realized that by the time I would get home there would be no more buses running.

Well, the family I live with had offered to pick me up at the station, but I'd rather not bother them. After trying a lot of alternatives that did not work out though, I was pretty desperate. That's when I decided to give them a call. I was on the subway when I called them.

I had gotten the right subway, but got off at the wrong exit. Don't ask me how, but I looked at the map and thought I had it all figured out.

I walked for 10 minutes absolutely certain that I was going the right way. Next thing I knew I was arriving at Central Park.

"Wait, I was trying to get to Grand Central! What I am doing here?"

Besides, Central Park + night... not a good combination. Remember Home Alone 2? And remember the Brazilian grad student murdered there? Yeah, when I saw the name Central Park at the sign , chills went down my spine.

"I-I shouldn't be here. I am not giving another step forward." Really? Funny! My feet kept moving. I don't think they believed I was actually at Central Park. Those eyes of mine could be deceiving me. I was tired, maybe I was seeing things.

FEET! STOP MOVING! THAT THING ACROSS THE STREET IS CENTRAL PARK AND YOU ARE NOT GOING IN THERE! Ok, that is pretty much what my brain told my feet, so, guess what! they stopped.

Let's see, I needed to get to Grand Central, I had no idea which way to take and even less of an idea why I ended up a street away from Central Park, and please, let's keep in mind that I do not know NYC and it was a little bit past 10 pm. I needed help. And I needed help right away.

But of course I would just not stop anyone on the street and ask for help. Who knows what kind of weirdos walk by Central Park at that time of night. Na-na-nee-na-nahn, I would not talk to anyone who was not wearing a uniform. One thing I've learned as a city girl is to never trust any passer-by after dark. And, as scared as I am of NYC, I never trust any passer-by there @ anytime of day or night.

Looked around to scan the enviroment. Spotted target: hotel on the corner, doorman.

It was a little upsetting, though, realizing he had a very think accent. But I figured that in order to be a hotel doorman, he would probably understand English pretty well, and be able to give directions to Grand Central. And I was right.

"Sir would you please tell me how I get to Grand Central?"

"You have to catch the subway."

"The subway????" No, no, no, he doesn't understand English. Oh, God, why did I go to someone that does not understand English???? "Sir, I just got off the subway. Can't I walk to Grand Central?"

"Well, G.C. is on 42nd and you are on 57th. You can walk if you want to."

"42ND?!?!?!?!" Yeah, 42nd?! How the heck did I end up so far off the target? "So did I turn the wrong way? Was that it?"

"I don't know." Of course he wouldn't know it, Dumbo! How was he supposed to know how you screwed things up? Duh!

"Uh... yes, I did. So what do I do now?"

"You have to get on the subway..."

He would point in a totally different direction of the one I came as he spoke. My head spinned and I stopped listening, though I could see his lips moving. Getting back in the subway was not an option! Going anywhere I hadn't been to before was not an option, trying to figure out new directions in NYC at that time of night was not an option! Sir, do me a favor and just tell me what I want to hear.

"So if I wanted to walk there, which way should I go?"

He pointed me the way. So I thanked him and started walking.

After a little while, I understood why the funny look in his face when I used the verb 'to walk'. Argh! My kingdom for a cab!

I started looking for a cab. And many cabs drove by - all packed. A few would stop to drop people off, but before I could any closer to them, someone else would get in. Beautiful! I am just not aggressive enough to get a cab in NYC. ... uh... not yet. And maybye I never will be, since NYC is not my dream land.

So I did the rest of my walking, my legs weighing more and more by the minute.... until... WOW! I finally spotted GC! It was a block away! But even then getting there felt like forever . By the time I made it to the entrance, each leg weighed a ton and I had to use a lot of willpower to get them off the ground.

It was 5 of 11, meaning I had been walking for almost an hour. For somone who had plans to get the 10:30 train to Stamford, I was a little bit late. By 10:40 I had called the family and left a message with their little girl "Tell your mom to go to bed, I got lost and it took me forever to get to the train station." And my phone died. Good. I didn't want them to call back and say they were picking me up anyway, I'd feel the most inconsiderate person on the face of the earth."

The train was leaving at 11:22. I made it to the train, my legs begging "mercy, please! Just forget the Miss Manners walk and drop down on a seat!" ...hum... no, not yet. I had to find a seat with an outlet. Even though I was not going to let the family call me, I had to have some battery life to make sure I was safe in case of an emergency.

Once I found the right seat, I finally dropped down and forgot about the whole manners thing - I connected the phone and passed out. And I had this weird dreams that I had missed my stop and ended up in New Haven. Oh, what a troubled sleep.

At last I got to Stamford and got a cab home that cost me 12 bucks. Oh! An arrow through my heart! 12 bucks is just so much more than what I was expecting to spend on that day! But - I was home safe, and that was all that mattered at that point.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Driving on the Merrit makes me feel like I am in a car race. Especially Exit 33 South, when you have to go from a complete Stop to 70mph in a matter of , let's say, 30 seconds?!?!?!
That really brings me back to my childhood. I feel like I am Ayrton Senna in my F-1 white and red McLaren.
Of course, the car I drive looks nothing like Senna's McLaren, and it's not nearly as fast, but the fact that I have to go from zero to 70 leaving from the STOP sign, in something like half a minute, switching through all the gears of the car in the process, definetely gives me the feeling that I just entered the race circuit. Images of Ayrton pass in my mind like a flash back.

Well, everything is not always beautiful. Evrytime some dumb driver does something stupid in front of me I kind of remember Senna's fatal accident at the Tamburello bend, in the San Marino GP, in Ital y. The blood, the delay of the medical crew, the words that came out of Roberto Cabrini's mouth hours later, when he finally gave the saddest news of my whole life then - "Ayrton Senna da Silva is dead - News that I wish I never had to give".

That was it. My childhood was officially over. The man I had admired even before I could understand what a car race was, the hero, the patriot. Ayrton Senna da Silva was more commonly know as Ayrton Senna do Brasil, and wherever he was, he was never ashamed of lifting our flag.

Other kids I knew would still watch F-1 races after that. I had no reason to do it. I never valued the race, I valued the man, his morals, his honor, and the delightfull memories that he had forever produced in my childhood. Memories of the brazilian flag being raised up high, memories of my family gathering together around the TV hollering "Go Senna! Go BRazil!" When Senna died, a lot of my childhood was over.

I also remember the huge sign that is still posted at BR124 (the road that takes me from Salvador to Feira, in Brazil): "Senna gets paid to speed, you don't," then I feel that maybe I should not be going so fast. But... can't really help it, every Brazilian has a little of Ayrton inside, and the notion of danger seems to fade away.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Brazilian Day

Every year the Brazilian community in the U.S. celebrates Independence Day (Sept. 7) on the first Sunday of Spetember in NYC.

Having found out about it, I had to go there, right? And even though the bands playing were not my all-time favorites, it had everyting to be a perfect day, especially because I was dying for some typical food.

There was no time to be wasted, I got on the phone and put a group together. But pretty soon I would find out that I had picked the wrong group to go with. They complained about everthing and before the day was over they went home and left me behind.

I wasn’t totally innocent on the issue. Staying behind was my own choice. I simply refused to leave anytime before sunset. There was way too much going on for me to leave! So I stayed, mingled with the crowd and danced till my legs were num.

Between one concert and the other, we sang the National Anthem. It was beautiful! I held my flag up all the way through it and had to fight back a few tears.

The lady that sang the American National Anthem though did a very bad job. She thought she was Whitney Houston and hollered the words out, instead of doing some actual singing. Pitiful. The land we live in deserved better.

Artists from TV Globo (the Brazilian equivalent to Hollywood) were there, like Thiago Lacerda and Luigi Barricelli, good-looking guys that most of my friends in Brazil would die to see. Andre Marques, the cute chubby host from Video Show (a daily TV Globo show), hosted the party and shot some images for his TV program.
“Hey, Mom, I am on TV Globo!” Ok, ok, I was just one amongst the crowd, but I was on Globo indeed anyway! Next year I will write a huge sign saying the words “Film I here!” which draws attention from the camera because the grammar is so wrong!

Andre Marques asked the people from different states to holler as he said the names of the places. Minas Gerais was the largest crowd. Sao Paulo was the runner-up. Bahia was really small, but I cried my lungs out when he said “The people from Bahia-a-a-a-a-a!”

I would have hollered even louder if Miss Dumbo with me hadn’t pulled my arms down to say “My ‘Our Lady’! We are the only ones from Bahia!”

If you have ever looked at someone with a truthfull desire to kill the person, you’d recognize the look in my eyes. What did I care and why wouldn’t she let me holler?

Foodwise, I was disappointed. I paid SEVEN DOLLARS FOR AN ACARAJE!!!! There is acaraje being sold on every street of my hometown for a dollar! Seven dollars?!?! Shoot me!

Acaraje is a small cake made from crushed beans and you eat it with lots of different fillings, like a sandwich. It is a typical and unique food from Bahia.

When I say unique I mean it literally “not found anywhere else”. Oops, I am lying. Actually there is a lady in Sao Paulo that makes it, but it is pitiful. She wakes up at 4 am, and bakes the cakes at 5 am. At 5 pm she is still selling those same cakes that she made 12 hours ago! Well,you can not save an acaraje for the next hour, let alone 12 hours!

But as I said before, I was dying for some typical food, so I paid the 7 dollars with true pain in my heart. And it wasn’t even the best acaraje I’ve had. As a matter of fact when you’ve had Dinha’s and Deborah’s cakes you will not find anything better ever again. Soft dull, crunchy crust, fresh and ripe tomatoes for the salad, tasty vatapa... everything with those baianas is just right.

There was also churrasquinho (shih-kebab), but I guess it was not the one made in bahia, because the pieces in Bahia are smaller and crunchier and they come with slices of fresh tomato and onion on the tip of the stick.

The other thing they had was churros, some kind of dull with caramel inside. But the dull was too thick.

There were no preserves like tamarindo or groselha; no fruits like pinha, jamelao, jambo; no roasted qualho cheese. Things that I miss more than life! They were also serving feijoada and that green leafy thing that might kill you if it’s not well washed and cooked long enough, I forgot what it is called. Those are things you do not want to buy at the street.

When the party was over some guys I met found out I was from Bahia and asked me to go dance Forrall with them at some dance club on 47th. Forall is a typical north-eastern rythm. But then that samba lyric “moro em jasanan, se eu perder esse trem que sai agora as 11 horas, so amanha de manha.” (I live in jasanan, if I miss this train that leaves now at 11, only tomorrow morning.) Yeah, i had a train to catch and I had no idea what kind of transportation would expect me at my arrival in Stamford. I had better leave. So I passed on the Forrall, with true heart ache.

As I walked to Grand Central I realized my legs wieghed 100 lbs. each. But I was still trying to walk like a lady. I still had to get away from thi guy that proclaimed himself my boyfriend and would n't leave me alone. Guess what! he found me again at the station when I got there.

Overall, it was a fun day. It was worth it, and next year I am doing it again!