Saturday, December 18, 2010

Learn to play the guitar in Russian

The hardest part about learning how to play the guitar in English is having to re-learn music language.

You'd think it's the reading of the staff or the positioning of your fingers. Well, those are all pretty hard. (I should have learned it as a child. Instead I played the brat and lost my chance. And my mom was never very much adept of second chances)

But, yeah, those are all hard things to learn. However those are hard things for everyone one.

It's hard having to understand that DÓ RÉ MI FÁ SOL LÁ SI are now called C D E F G A B

Bemol and sustenido are flat or sharp, and I don't even know which one is which.

See, maybe if you are a musician, those transfers are easier to you. But I am not. I am just a girl who likes to sing her favorite songs and who would like to play them in the guitar, just for fun.

Makes me think of my ELL students trying to learn science, math, social studies in English. They are not scientists or mathematicians, or historians or geographers. They are just normal children trying to survive in school.

Just like you and me once were.

And they have to relearn school language in English.

If you want to understand how your ELL students feel in your class, trying learning music in Russian or something.

Monday, December 13, 2010

:'(

Really all I wanted was to have gotten in that show and have had the chance to give my book to Paul.

Would I have been able to? I don't know.

But we were too late, and I didn't even have a chance to try. So, now I will never know.

Friday, December 10, 2010

My experience at a laundromat - clueless!!! like a sore thumb

This is a new experience for me - Today I was at a laundromat drying my clothes.

Quite an adventure.

I had no idea what to do at first. Here I was, trying to read every sign and pretend I was in complete control of the situation.

Can you imagine the scene? - hope your dryer never breaks down on you.

It's negative Celsius outside, by the way. Just a little side note. NEGATIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NE-GA-TIVE! Hey! I'm from Brazil, remember! Negative Celsius is bad!
    • Then I found out they have this wheeled basket I could have used to push my wet laundry around the store instead of dragging the bag across the floor.

      Everything about my being there screamed: NEWBIE.

      Now I understand the true meaning of the phrase "sticking out like a sore thumb"
    • Maybe you're not supposed to talk to other people's children in a laundromat. This lady was looking at me like I was the devil. I took a quick look at myself - not wearing a mini skirt, tight pants, low cuts... It's winter! I'm not myself! Why was she looking at me like I was the devil? I just smiled at the little guy and said "excuse me little guy, can I walk by here?"

      And by the way!!! The guy running the place was Asian!!! Just like in the song!!! "UN, DOS, TRES! TEM JAPONES LÁ NA LAVANDERIA! UN, DOS, TRES! UM PASSA E O OUTRO TRAZ!"

      I went to him to ask for coins, because I no longer carry this ancient form of money called cash on me. Had to go get some at the ATM and go to the guy to exchange it for coins!

      I sort of hoped they's do that, because it would be a smart thing to do at a coin-op laundromat. And I was right.

      I am pretty smart!


      Then I wanted to say ARIGATO, to show off what's left of my Japanese skills, but I was afraid he was like Korean or Chinese and kicked me out of his place for offensive behavior to his culture!

      So I just played the ignorant monolingual and said, "Thanks!"

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Learning a new game

I learned to play a new game last week. It's called Mancala. No, I know you know that Mancala is not a NEW game per se. it's a new game for me however.

I had seen children playing. And I even knew my husband had played it as a kid, but I had not the slightest idea what on earth that game was. to me it was just a bunch of little marbles being moved around. And fast. My goodness, those kids move those marbles around fast!

Anyway, one of my students became my teacher last week and taught me how to play the mancala and I am very happy about it. I love learning new thigns. Especially new games!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Paul on SNL

Yes, I am talking about Paul McCartney, the only other man in my life other than my husband and my two brothers.

He will be on SNL this Saturday and I will try to go see him.

And no, I don't want to go see him just because I am desperately in love wit him. I probably would not go through the trouble of getting in SNL if I did not have a very specific goal in my mind. I want Paul to receive my book. The one I wrote about the time machine. "The Little Girl from Yesterday".

I don't care if I never talk to him, though I wold appreciate the chance. I want him to read my book. Come on, I have waited my whole entire life to get this book to him. Only now I felt I actually had the knowledge to translate it into English. Now that it's ready, it's time he gets a copy of it.

So I don't care if he doesn't talk to me. I just want him to read my book.
LOL! Any resemblance to Paperback Writer is a mere coincidence.

Hard part of buying a guitar: learning how to play

So, I bought my guitar. I bought a Dean. No, not because it is the name of my love, well, ok, yes, it is because it's the name of my love, but I made sure to ask around first. People said it is a good guitar.

So I went to the store and checked out some models. I really wanted to buy the sunburst one, because being desperately in love with Paul McCartney - the other love of my life - I figured I'd get something that reminded me of him. Besides, the first guitar I ever saw in my life, in my church, was like that and I remember being mesmerized by the way the colors blended together. It was like... candy.

But then I thought, "No, I don't want to get something just to look like it's Paul McCartney's stuff. Besides, I am never going to be a hundredth of what he is, so... no. I actually want something that looks girly, like me. I wanted one that looked really made of pixie dust. However Dean guitars did not have any pixie-dusty stuff, and I really wanted the Dean. SO I got a red one. ... Yeah, girly enough. Cute like me. It reminds me of Kevin - my first car.

Once I knew what I wanted, I just waited fro Black Friday to come along and ordered it online. The discount? The discount was lousy. So much for waiting for Black Friday discounts. 15%. 15%??? What kind of a Black Friday sale gives you a mere 15-freaking-% discount? I don't know!!! Lousy. But I had to get my guitar on that day or I'd die!

No my guitar is here and I am trying to figure out how to learn it. I'm either a lousy learner or this guitar playing thing really is not the easiest thing in the world.

The tip of my fingers are hurting. My baby says that's how it's supposed to be. Man! I wish it was just like this - Get a guitar and Boom! Now you magically know how to play anything you want, starting with Puff the Magic Dragon, passing by Sandy & Junior, the king - Roberto - and ending with the Beatles.

Can't it just be that easy?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Abbey Road Brasileira - us - young, free and irresponsible


left to right:
Lua,*
Jamile,
Beta,*
Fernanda,
Vika,*
Samara.


*BFFs









Us - Beta, Lua and I - the Die Hard Trio. Someone decided to call Us that because Us were always together. Up and down the city. Laughing & crying, fighting & making up. Us. Always together. Always Us.


And we did lots of crazy stuff together.


Some of them were caught on camera:


  • Us laying on the floor of the parking garage at the mall.

  • Us on the crosswalk “a la Abbey Road”. Just that we were dancing and jumping, instead of calmly crossing like John, Paul, George and Ringo.

  • Us swinging from the lamp post in front of McDonald's.

  • Us holding the covers of all our Beatles CDs.

  • Us throwing eggs on my head to celebrate my b-day.

  • Us sleeping over at my aunt's.

  • Us doing group hug.

  • Us at my wedding.


Lots of crazy stuff we did together were never caught on camera:


  • Us crying on each other's shoulder every time a boyfriend did not work out.

  • Us making plans to live together and eat Ramen Noodles for ever.

  • Us making plans of world domination.

  • Us yelling at each other for never getting a chance to say anything.

  • Us yelling at each other for being late for our meeting at the mall.

  • Us screaming at the TV while we watched an old Beatles TV show.

  • Us being loud and messy on the bus.

  • Us growing apart and growing closer again.

  • Us saying we were sorry.

  • Us telling secrets that we won't even tell our moms.


Us. Always Us.

I miss Us.

I miss having friends like Us.



Sunday, November 21, 2010

No books? No texting? No way!

So I went for the MTEL on Saturday morning. And I was aware that there was a no electronics policy. So I left my cell in the car and grabbed myself a book. As soon as I walked into the classroom and sat down however, the proctor told me - you must not have a book on you.

A book? I thought. Must not have? Must not have a book?

Ok, I said. What do I do with it? Put it away by the window together with everyone else's pocket books.

Well, a policy is a policy, those who have the power make them, those who have working brains obey them. So I put the book away.

And for the next 30 minutes I sat there suffering from some sort of withdrawal syndrome - no book to read, no phone to mess around with. What am I supposed to do? I felt weird. I felt empty. I felt as if those 30 minutes would never come back. And I was wasting them by doing nothing.

Weird do-nothing feeling! Not used to it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

best of both worlds? can't have it.

I miss my friends.

When it comes that time in which you just want to be irresponsible, and do silly things, and just be your silly old self, you realize you miss your friends more than everything in life.

It's november 19, 2010, and I just found out Paul McCartney - yes, Paul McCartney, my favorite singer ever and the only guy I've liked for longer than my husband - is going to be playing at the SNL on December 11.

My husband said he'd come with me to NYC, to try something insane - stand in line for stand-by tickets for SNL the night before.

"However," says hubby, "if you can get a girl friend to go with you, I will stay home."

My baby is doing that for me - stand a whole night in a line to TRY to see Mr. McCartney - for me. How could I possibly ask God for a husband better than that? A husband who will put up with my madness?

I know he'd rather not go. He'd rather stay home and sleep in his nice cozy bed. If only I had a friend to go with me.

And that's when I realized - I have those friends. I have friends who would drop everything and come on an insane trip to try to see Paul, with me, without thinking twice. But they live a continent away.

I look around me, where I live, in this country I chose to be my home, and I don't see a single friend I'd dare to invite to join in for one of my crazy ideas.

Other than my husband, this angel sent from heaven, no one else would drop everything for me.

They say we only value things after we lose them.
That's not true for me.
I always knew what the girls and I had was special. I always knew our friendship was the most precious jewel I could have. I always knew it. We knew it. From the moment we decided we were going to be best friends, no matter what, we knew we were on to something special.

I just didn't realize how terribly I'd miss it. And how guilty I'd feel for having chosen to leave.

Even though our friendship is still there, I am not. I'm here, in the US - all by myself - while they are there, in my Brazil, with the rest of the stuff I chose to leave behind.

Maybe it's true that you can't have the best of both worlds.

I miss you, girls. Please, forgive me.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

more crazy dreams: Freedom, mom, and Paul McCartney

Why did I care so little about being with my family when I was a teenager? While everyone of my peers was terrified about spending a weekend away from mom and dad, I couldn't wait to get out of the house and see the world. "How silly can they be?" I asked myself.

Mom always told me, "I did not raise you for myself. I raised you to go out and see the world. I raised you to go after your dreams. I raised you to be free." So I guess she succeeded. I went out and saw the world. I followed my dreams. I didn't achieve everything I ever wanted, but I went after my dreams one by one with as much passion as I could, prioritizing the ones I thought were really important, leaving others in the back burner, I am still going after my dreams. The only part of that speech I could not accomplish was the "be free" part. I wake up every morning at 6 and go to work all day at a job I am not fond of. I left the job of my dreams to land something that would pay the bills and my dream vacations. Maybe I am free, just that I have to finance my own freedom. Mom also raised me to be responsible.

Why did I care so little about being with my family, while my peers were terrified about leaving home? Because mom told me too.

However today, as most of my peers are out in the world, with families of their own, and as they don't worry so much about being away from mom and dad anymore, why do I feel terribly homesick? Why do I miss mom and grandma and aunts more than anything? I do have a family of my own, as I have always dreamed of, ( no children, yet - I happen to value my freedom) but I wish, oh how I wish, I could just get in a car anytime and go see mommy, and just ask for a hug.

I had a nightmare last night. Mom and I were alone in a fancy house and someone bad tried to break in. I woke up crying, "Mom! Mommyyyy! Mo-o-o-o-ommm!" Mom came. We were at a pool house. With sliding window doors, and thick curtains. "It was just a bad dream. It's ok. Just make sure you lock the doors at night." That's when I woke up for real, and I was in my bed at Cross Street. With my husband's cat. My baby is away with his family. Just lock the doors, I remembered. Are the doors all locked? It's 12:30. Are the doors all locked? Well the doors to my floor are locked. What about the main doors to the house? I never lock them. Oh, my God, I never lock the main doors! And I am home alone! Of course I was still in a dream state. I ALWAYS lock the main doors. They are usually the only doors I lock. But in my half-awake half-asleep mind, I thought I never did. I tried called my baby, but he would not pick up the phone. He always says, "Wake me up if you have a nightmare." I tried.

I did not have a husband last night. I did not have Mommy last night. I was all alone... with my husband's cat to take care of.

Oh, you bet if someone broke into the house, the cat would be the last of my worries. I guess that shows I am not ready to be a mom.

But since my mind was half asleep, I closed my eyes again. Asked God to take care of me and my house, and went back to sleep.

I was with mommy, at the airport. And we spotted the one man I have loved since I was 10 years old. You guessed it! Paul McCartney! No fans. No crew. No band. No TV reporters. Just him. I'm sure he had his band with him. I am sure he was just wondering around the airport looking for something. I was hoping he was looking for me. But I knew he was not. There's a whole lot of things to do at an airport.

I was scared of talking to him and finding out he was not as nice as I always thought he'd be. But I went ahead anyway, and he was super nice. I asked for an autograph. "I can't talk right now. But give me 5 minutes and I will be back." And he was back! He gave me his autograph and I asked for a hug. A hug, of course. Would I have the nerve to ask for a hug in real life? Oh, I don't know. Maybe I will find it out someday. "Can I give you a hug?" it is the one thing I always ask him every time I have a dream in which he shows up. I was so mesmerized by having Paul right there that I could not talk about any subject for more than 5 seconds. It was like trying to fit everything you've always wanted to tell someone for the past 20 years in the few minutes you know you'll have that person with you. Then you'll never see him again.

"We're stuck here because our plane fell off the sky." "What?" Yup, I got his attention now. Just before he showed up, I saw a plane falling off the sky. I was the only one who had seen it and no one had paid attention to me until now. "Yes! I saw it! It was right over there! It just ...fell! Like this: voosh." He looked at where I was pointing as if what he had been thinking had started to make sense. Had he seen it too?

But then he really had to go. And so he did. "Nice meeting you." And only then I remembered, Your novel! Tell him about your novel! Oh, gee! Seriously? You could think of all mundane things in the world to spill out at Paul McCartney, except to tell him you wrote a novel? How stupid can you be? When will you have Paul McCartney's undivided attention again? Uh, never! Go after him! Run! And that's when I forgot I was a grown-up, I forgot Paul was walking around trying to be a normal person, I forgot Beatlemania was over and I ran and called out his name. Wow, I never knew calling out Paul McCartney's name would work out magic. Like magic, security people came up and made sure I did not get anywhere near him. "Wait! I wrote a novel about the Beatles. Can I send it to you? Will you read it?"
"Can you make it into a books on tape?"
"How about kindle?"
"I don't have one."
"Books on tape it is."
And then he really had to go.

So I took my plane home and in it I had a dream I really had a time machine and young Paul and a couple of my friends and I ended up in some early 20th century civilization and had to escape these evil people. Indiana Jones style. Now, yes, this was the young Paul from the Beatles years. However, he held a camcorder. A portable one. Like the one his son brought to Brazil in 1993.

We're struggling for our lives and you have a camcorder? Ok, help me up this rope first. You can film again as soon as you push be back to safety. He didn't look happy, almost as if saying, all you need me for is to keep you safe? What about my film? "Come on! We're running out of time!" Whatever, said the look in his face, if being safe is that important to you, I guess I will help. "Here, hold my camcorder, and I will push you up."

Yup, pretty surreal. Can you imagine someone going like, ok I know we're about to die, but, crap, let me get this on film! LOL! If anyone would do that it would probably be me!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Think of me - anti-homework version - by Vika

So much homework to do. All piled up. And I feel nothing like doing it. I hate homework. Hate it! Hate it! With all my heart, mind and soul!

I remember my middle school years, when I used to sing those anti-school versions of famous songs, the ones that use to be love songs and we turned into songs that talked about how much we did not want to go to school, like Roberto Carlos famous, "Everything can go to hell". Instead of "What good is the sun shining in the beautiful sky?", we sang "What good are books for students to study?" It's kind of like what Weird All does.

I don't know who wrote this Roberto Carlos version. What I do know is that I wrote this one version of "Pense em Mim" (Think of Me), by country duo Leandro & Leonardo. I will write the English translation here. It's reall just a translation, if you try singing it, it won't match. It's just to give you an idea of what we used to sing.

Think of Me - anti-homework version By Vika

"Instead of you staying home doing homework
Instead of you worrying about homework
Come and play, grab your soccer ball, come run with me
No, don't do your homework
Come and play, grab your soccer ball, come run with me
No, don't do your homework
Homework...
Forget about homework

Look outside, it's the best of the sun, the sun, the sun -ooh, ooh
Makes me feel like going out
Let's hop on the first bus
headed to the Barra Lighthouse
At the Barra Lighthouse
Only you and me

Come and play, grab your soccer ball, come run with me
No, don't do your homework
Come and play, grab your soccer ball, come run with me
No, don't do your homework

Homework...
Forget about homework"

Ah, Good old middle school years... Of course I could not forget about homework! I was responsible. But homework was torture. So I wrote this other anti-school version of a famous Leandro e Leonardo song: (again, this is just the word by word translation, if you try singing it in English it will sound really bad)

I'm sorry but I will cry (Desculpe mas eu vou chorar) - anti-school version by Vika again

The lights of my room are on
showing all the books on my desk
And I am sitting here with me
in sheer torment

I hear my friends playing outside
I'm the only who's here working
I'm the family nerd at work
that's my lament

Then I start to wonder
"is studying really worth it?"
The sometimes I even think
"I will run away"
But then I come to my senses
I don't want a bad grade in English
And I still have to do my Portuguese homework

I will cry, I am sorry, but I will cry
I can't study anymore, I can't take that much pressure
I will cry, I am sorry, but I will cry,
But when Christmas time is here, I will not be in Summer School"

The Little Girl From Yesterday

So, I was telling people about my book yesterday at belly dancing practice.
And one of my classmates told me her mom sneaked into the Beatles hotel room when she was a kid. And here was I thinking this kind of stuff only happened in movies... naive me...
Another classmate told me about this one little girl that simply walked up to John Lennon's door and asked for an autograph. Apparently he was impressed by how bold the little girl was and they became friends...
Ay,ay, if I had a time machine...
Anyway... if I do discover Paul McCartney's address, don't you think I will not go asking for an autograph? LOL No!!! I will go ask him to read my book. You bet I will.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Linda & Paul

Last night I had this dream that I got to meet Paul and Linda McCartney. That's a stupid dream because Linda passed away over 10 years ago. I was really upset when that happened. First I was sad for Paul and his family. He really loved her. Second I was upset because I really wanted to meet her (and him of course), some day. I just hope I get to meet him someday.


On a happier note, I really can't wait till I can start my guitar lessons. When the semester is over I will start. I can't start now because all of my nights are taken. Next semester I will save my Mondays for guitar lessons.

I am loving belly dancing lessons.

And I am having a blast with the drama club at school. The kids looooooove it. And I love leading them. It's my little way of keeping in touch with drama. I miss my drama team so much!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

I want to go back to Bahia

Winter time is getting closer. The leaves are turning. Soon the sun will not warm up my body anymore. And for a very long time.
I want to go back to Bahia. I just want to go back to Bahia.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Dreams of freedom

One more week starts today. Lêlê! Lêlê! Back to slavery!

The saying goes "When you see a slave sleeping, do not wake him up. He might be dreaming of freedom." But unfortunately, my alarm clock does wake me up every morning at 6am.

Drama Club

Absolute success!!!
Sign-up for clubs were today, and drama club was the among the most popular ones. It's really fun to see all those kids desperately trying to sign up for it. Some kids really want to make it to Nickelodeon or Disney Channel. I hope they do.
I mean, what are the chances that when they become famous they will say it on an interview, "I owe it all to my drama teacher, Mrs. Winters!" Nah, not happening. But I would be happy if one of my kids did achieve such dream.
I don't know if any one of them will be a famous actor or actress someday. But I do hope they have a good time in my club. I hope they enjoy bringing their characters to life. And I hope drama helps them in life, as much as it helped me.

The kids are excited. We're going to have a good year.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My B-day!!!... next June... I CAN'T WAIT! I CAN'T WAIT!

I can hardly wait for my b-day next year!
I will arrive in Salvador exactly on the 29th of June. I want a lot of St.John's food and a karaoke.
And then? Want more? My bffl Lua's bachelorette's party that we will plan nice and good.
Then we will have a friendship throw-back celebration time doing the exact same madness that we used to do when we were kids! We will make shirts with our names on them - the BLV shirts (Beta, Lua and Vika). We will drive the store owners mad by trying out all of their clothes and buying none. We will sit at the food court and make fun of funny looking people. We will be loud and obnoxious! Typical teenagers! But, hey, this is all about a throw-back, isn't it? Isn't it about celebrating the good'ol'times?
Then I will make shirts for my 2 brothers and I with the Jason Vorhees mask on them. A celebration of brother/sisterhood. And we will sit down and watch scary movies!
And then? Want more? There's more!!! There's the 15th b-day of my little bro JP.
What else? Then there's the knot-tying of my bffl Lua.
And, as if that was not enough, I will wander around the wonderful Northeastern beaches with the fam.
Come, come, June! You're a good month!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! TODAY IS YOUR DAY! WHAT A VERY SPECIAL DAY!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Friend

Life is not fun without your friends. Life is not even worth living without your friends. It feels like you're dead. Look back at your most fond memories. Were you alone? Who was there with you? I bet it was a friend. I bet you were not alone.
I miss my friends.

Monday, September 06, 2010

My father is dying of cancer

My father is dying of cancer. And I have no idea what to do. I knew he had had surgery in the beginning of the year. And I saw him last time I went to Brazil. He looked so different than the way he looked at my wedding, 2 years ago.

But I don't call him much. I rarely talk to him. We don't have much in common. We don't even have much for a history together. Good memories are few, very few. Bad memories abound.
This is the guy who wanted to cheat his way out of paying child support by lying in court about his job situation, the guy who was never a part of my life for 12 years and suddenly tried to tell me my skirt was too short (!), the guy who claimed he had no money to help me out because he had a baby with another woman, the guy who said he had no money to come to my wedding - the wedding of his only daughter!
I don't have much to say to this guy. He never got really involved in my life, I never got really involved in his. Thanks to him I never knew what having a father was like. I will never know what having a father is like.
However now this man is dying of cancer. And I have no idea what to do. I know I should have called him more. But I never knew what to say.
About 2 months ago I found out he was going in for a second surgery. I called him on that day. I called him just to say I would be praying for him. What else could I say? I love you? I don't. I don't love him. I don't even know him. But he is my father. And something tells me I must check on him.

Does his poor job as a father excuse me to do a poor job as a daughter? And do I think he does not look back in his life an regret the ways he failed? Or do I think I am the only person on earth who is not destitute of the capacity of repenting or even regretting poor choices?

So I asked my middle brother Leo to keep me posted. And Leo kept me posted: "Everything went well." Then:"He is still in pain." Then:"He is coming back for another exam." ANd just last week: "The doctors said there's nothing else they can do. They will be just treating the pain."

And that's how I found out - My father is dying of cancer. This man I hardly know. This man for whom I have no feelings - good or bad. This man is my father. And he is dying of cancer. And whatever I don't do now, I will never have a second chance to make up for it.

I don't know what to do. And I don't know why I am crying now.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Saudade - I miss my family

Saudade is a bittersweet word. Saudade is a feeling, but it is translated as a verb: missing something.

But saudade is much more than that. Saudade is more than just missing something. It is more than mere nostalgia. Saudade is the emptiness filling a place that once was full. It is the bitterness left in the place of something sweet. It is the burning feeling in which your heart sinks when you no longer have that which if you did would make the feeling go away. Saudade says that something has made me happy, but now it's gone. Saudade says I want back near my eyes that which has never left my heart. Saudade is the one word I can tell my family that will be enough for them to understand I love them.

I miss my family.

Every time I go places we went together,

Every time I do things we did together,

I miss my family.

Sometimes I'm just doing something they taught me,

Sometimes I'm just doing something I know they would like to do too.

I really miss my family.

And whenever I think I never know when I will ever see them again,

I miss them even more.

And whenever I think I never know IF I will ever see them again,

I miss them so much that it hurts.

Every time we say goodbye I always wonder,

"Is this the last time?"

And I just wish I could find the words to let them know

That everything I am today,

I owe to them.

And that they mean the world to me.

I just really miss my family.

not a patriot

I'm not a patriot.
I am proud to be Brazilian and I will get mad at you if you make fun of my country. But I don't really stand up for it. I don't know why, I guess I was just raised that way. "you stay out of those crowds, so you don't get yourself in trouble.". Implied: Crowds are trouble -> Now crowds usually stand for things -> Preserving my life is more important than standing for something.
So it's not like I don't believe in things. I just don't believe in things enough to put my life in the line for it. And here I am married to an American patriot who will not think twice to participate in a rally.
Destiny does play pranks on us.
Here I am at the Restoring Honor rally. A rally dedicated to bring the USA back to its founding values. Working hard, families helping families, that kinds of stuff.
This Glenn Beck is some guy in our generation, in our time, who is calling for a restoration. Every generation needs someone like that. It's happened before.
Why won't that happen in my country? Why don't we have any one standing out for such values? Where has my country gone wrong? The country I love? Let's say from the beginning something has gone wrong. I am not sure where.
Maybe that's why in my country too many people were raised to be like me? "Stay out of those crowds. It's just not worth it." We were raised to preserve our own lives. At the cost of our country's welfare. Because it is not worth fighting a lost cause. Why do we think that way? I don't know. Could have to do with the religion we profess? Could it have to do with the kind of people that first went there? Could it have something to do with the kind of help we never got from those American founding fathers - who never really supported the Brazilian Revolution when we asked for help? Yeah, you tend not to believe the values of a person who says something is good for them, but could care less about you.
Maybe I will never know. I just know I will probably never be the kind of patriot my husband is. For any country.

Voltaire

Who can say, like Voltaire, "I might disagree from what you say, but I will fight till death for your right to say it"?

on rights and governments

The constitution says certain rights are natural, given by the creator, inalienable. And governments exist to protect those rights so other men don't take take away - governments must protect men from themselves.
However, Just because certain rights are natural and inalienable, that does not mean that governments can't grant any other rights. Certain countries grant their citizens certain rights that other countries don't. So what is wrong with that?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why Great Britain instead of just England – heritage issues.

This was supposed to be a trip to England. We were thinking about the next place we would visit and we both knew that both of us really wanted to get to know England. We both want to visit Italy badly as well, but we settled for England for our first trip outside the American continent. I have a friend and former student who lives in England who is always asking me to go there to visit her. And my husband's heritage does go back to England. Yes, England was definitely the place that we should go first.
As a planner that I am, I got on to my computer and started planning. London, Liverpool, Bath, Nottingham, Sherwood forest. As I excitedly shared with Lu, my friend/ex-student, about our plans she even suggested we should include a couple of trips to France. Why not? it's so simple to get there from London! Lu lives nowhere near London. She, as a good Beatlemaniac, found herself a husband just a few miles away from Liverpool. Oh, when I think I taught that little girl her English... But she would not mind a trip to London and a quick escape to France!
I thought that was cool! My husband thought it was cool! That was it! We were going to see Paris, and a few Cinderella Castles, and the French Riviera. How tough could it be, right? Yeah... I know what you're thinking. Shhh, don't say anything, but she's crazy.
I soon found out however that there was too much ground to cover in France. Paris and a few castles around the area would do for a 4-day escape. After all, this is a trip to England! Or so I thought...
My talks with Lu went on. We should go camping in Scotland. Scotland? That is not England, is it? My husband however does have Scottish ancestry. He liked the idea. He also thought, since we were right there in Liverpool we should hop on a boat to Ireland and go visit an Irish pub. After all he does also have Irish - Northern Irish! The protestant ones! - ancestry.
The trip was getting packed. More packed than what I usually make sure they do. I have this problem - since I know I probably will not be going back to that place any time soon (because remember we want to travel the world before we start popping out babies), I want to include everything there is to do. And the days are packed. As in packed full. As in we-slept-soundly-through-every-night-of-our-honeymoon full.
However there's only so much cramping of activities one can do. It's not only the money issue. And do believe me, money was getting to be an issue. It was the time and distance issue. It was physically impossible to everything we wanted to do. How would you like to go on a trip that you've dreamed of going your whole life and have the feeling that you did not get to enjoy it? It was a constant hop-out! Picture! Hop-in! Quick! We must get to the next stop!
No, that was not what I wanted for our trip. It had to be enjoyable! Yes, fast-paced, packed full, but not a constant stress. That's when it hit me! We have two weeks and this trip is no longer about England and a quick escape to Paris! This trip is about the United Kingdom and a quick escape to Ireland! After all, doesn't Dean want to go visit the land of his ancestors? Doesn't he brag about the fact that he is x% English, y% Scottish, z% Northern Irish and n% American Indian? If we are going to see the land of those ancestors we can't waist time in France! France will have to come some other time. We're no longer going to England, we're going to Great Britain!

Cash?! Cash?! Cash?! Are you freaking nuts????

Why do some people still insist on using that ancient form of currency called "cash"? Why??????
Have they not heard of the invention of plastic? Nice, slim, shiny, fast! FAST! I spell it for you, indian: F-A-S-T!
It does not delay the life of everyone else waiting in line behind you!
It is easier to keep track of what you spend!
It avoids (that's right!!! Avoids!) painful and useless trips to that ancient meeting place called "the bank"!
Off the top of my head, there you are! 3 advantages for replacing your cash usage for credit card usage.
DO IT!!!!!!! And stop making everyone in line mad as you count your freaking pennies at the register!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Can you do that acording to the constitution?

If the constitution limits the power of the federal government, if, according to the constitution, anything not established in it is up to the states and the people, can the federal government establish an official language?
As a matter of fact the colonies didn't all speak one language. Aren't we forgetting our colonial past when we demand that there is a national official language?
It seems obvious to me that the government needs an official language, but imposing it on the people seems pretty unconstitutional.
Why don't the constitution defenders make no case against such a thing? Maybe because it goes against their own interests and agenda?
It's naive to think that people defending the constitution don't have an agenda, and that they will not immediately drop any trace of morals and constitution abiding ideas in order to pass their own agenda. Everyone, every sinner on the face of the Earth has an agenda, and it's just a matter of time till you find it.
Do you think I don't have one? Think again. We all do. You do too.

vacation in Brazil vs. Vacation in the U.S.

I am so sad my vacation is almost over.
I did not crave vacation in Brazil so much because in Brazil I could be on vacation any Saturday I wanted. The beach was always a 30 minute walk away.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

quote from Cinema Paradiso

"When you are here everyday you believe nothing will ever change. Then you leave for a year or two. When you come back everything has changed. The thread has been broken. You don't find what you expected to find. What was yours is not there anymore. You have to go away for many years to be able to come back and find your people." Alfredo

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

All free man can vote

Why would anyone argue against giving every free man the right to vote?
Why should you take away from free man the right to decide the destiny of his nation based on the fact that he does not own land or has a job or pay taxes?
Is it reasonable that a thinking free citizen be taken away the right to choose his lands magistrates?
It sounds like a plan. An evil plan. A plan to keep the have-not ones out of political power.
The argument that citizens who don't pay should not be allowed to choose the people who will govern over them, because they will don't care what those people will do with the money of those who pay assumes that people can't think of what's best for society, they can ONLY think of how to find ways to rob them.
And even if that be true to many, even the majority of those. Do we take the rights of free citizens who can think what's best for society, just because we fear that there will be those who can't?
Do we not know that anywhere, under any regulations, evil selfish people will be bad and find ways to take advantage of the system? Are we going to take things away from the good people so that the bad ones won't have it? Sensibly you will have to say, no! You make it easy for the good people, and go after the bad ones.
Every man, every citizen who owes nothing to the law must be able to have a voice in saying who he wants determining the destiny of his nation. Regardless of race, social class, religion, or wealth.

Laws or lack thereof - do they pass human dignity test?

Slavery was always part of human history. What suddenly made it so bad?
Slavery was never intended to be a lifetime condition until Europeans enslaved Africans in the American continent. Slavery was never so inhuman until it got to the American continent.

As for inhuman conditions, the slave ships packed as many people could fit in a small space, with no regards for personal hygiene or the need to breath. Probably so that they could bring as many of them as possible to sell for a profit. Sell for a profit - nothing wrong with that. We're in business to make money, right?

One of the must famous Brazilian poets, known as the Poet of the Slaves, wrote about the horrifying conditions of the slave ships. Slaves in Africa were used to being enslaved, it was part of life. They were not used to the inhuman conditions and treatment until they stepped into the slave ship. What's wrong with wanting a profit, you still ask?

As for lifetime slavery, the African people were not used to the idea of lifetime slavery either. African royalties could be made slaves and then be set free again. As it had happened in so many other cultures throughout history. Slaves in the British colonies actually used to have the right to buy their freedom... some of them owned land and even had servants of their own...for a little while.
But then the law changed:
-Slaves had to be African or Indians
-Slaves could never be set free.
-Africans had no right to own land. The ones that did had their land repossessed.
Why? Why did the government make these laws thwarting the rights of human beings just because they were different?
The answer:
-There was an economical need for it. The landowners needed more workers and the free ones wouldn't do the hard work needed. Without those slaves the plantation would fail, the economy would crash, the society would flunk. There was a pressing need for stricter slave laws. The economy needed. Yes! Indeed! Would want business to fail for lack of workers?
Nothing wrong with wanting people to work to keep the economy flowing well.

In the name of keeping the economy afloat we should pass laws that disregard the rights of certain people, namely the ones who don't have, so that other people, namely the ones who have, can keep things going. What's wrong with that, you still ask?

These are all very practical ideas from a timely perspective.
Are they honorable ideas from a timeless perspective?
As a Christian, we must understand that God values humans. And as the crown of creation, we are endowed with human dignity that another human does not have the right to take away in the name of profit or progress.

What about us? Look at the things you believe in. But really look at them. At their core.
The things we believe today, the things we fight for today, the things we bless today, do they have very sound practicalities that will be best for the well functioning of the society as we know it? Are they logical and good to the free market we so cherish?
However will they stand the timeless test of honoring human dignity?
500 years from now, when Christian kids think of the things we stood for in a society that will not mean much for them then, will they think of us as awful people who did everything it took for society to thrive? Or as people who were more concerned about the absolute value of a human being?
Yes, human beings have absolute values. And this is the real test for any new laws or lack thereof: Do consider, above all else, human dignity, regardless of color, race, social class, age, born or unborn status?
Do we put practical above honorable?
I don't care how good or bad something will do for society or for the economy. If our thinking can not stand the human dignity test, it will not be justified in history. It will not be justified before God.
How do you want to be remembered 200, 300, 500 years from now? How do you want to stand before God in no more than 100 years from now?

Disclaimer: I am not writing against any specific practices or ideas in here. I am just asking you to question your beliefs - your beliefs, not those of others in the present or in history - and see if they pass the test that God would probably use.

Locks 6-6-6-6

I had to use my knowledge of Math to figure out the combination of my bike lock that had been accidentally lost.
There was no way I could recover the combination, because it was not written anywhere. I had to try one by one.
The lock was cylindrical, with a 6-6-6-6 style. There are 6 options for each of the 4 positions. 6 to the 4th power, that is 6x6x6x6 = 1,296 possibilities.
I tried 1,186 of the possible combinations.
(6x6x6) x5 = 1080
(6x6) x2 = 72
(6) x5 = 30
+4

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

the lands we take from others

The land the U.S. took from Mexico, who did Mexico take it from?
The land the Jewish took from the Palestinians, who did the Palestinians take it from?
The land that now belongs to Italy, who did the Roman Empire take from?
The land that now belongs to England, who did the anglo-saxons take it from?
The land that the Portuguese took from the Tupis and Guaranis, did it belong to Tupis or Guaranis? ... they couldn't seem to agree on that.
Maybe we should all just go home to some little town in main land Europe. Would that solve the world's land problems?
Yeah, I didn't think so.
Maybe, just maybe, we should let history be. The land you are born in is your homeland, I don't care who it used to belong to - it is what it is.
Brazil originally belonged to Tupi-Guarani Indians. It belongs to me and my people now. It's the only homeland we will ever know.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Doc photo

It does not matter how much I dress up for document photographs, they always come up hideous!
I am so afraid of what my picture in my new green card will look like. It did not look good on the computer screen. I was not about to make a fool out of myself and ask the officer to take another one.
I am now really mad I did not ask him to do that!

I found a friend today

"My friend, my school mate, today I sing for joy for meeting you again."
Today I met an old school mate whom I had not seen since 8th grade.
I thought I had lost him forever. I had looked for him a couple of times before. I wondered, "how can any one fall of the face of the earth like that?"
This time I lucked out.
Facebook is a beautiful thing!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Land of immigrants

Every single person in this continent then is an immigrant.

Did the immigrants wanted to leave their lands?

I don't think so. I think they loved it and were proud of it. This is just my thinking.

"If Brazil is so great, why did you come here?" People at the New Haven church used to ask me.

Why did I leave the land I was proud of? Because the land I love could not offer me decent living conditions.

Immigrants usually come here because their conditions force them to make the tough choice of leaving their land.
Religious persecution, famine, war, political persecution, dire financial situations. People come with millions of hopes of finding freedom, work and peace in a new land. A land of dreams. A land of liberty. They are happy to have found the new hope. But are they happy to leave behind everything they loved, their climate, their culture, their foods, sometimes even loved ones?
I think the answer is no. And that's why I think there is no such a thing as giving up your culture. There is no such a thing as forgetting where you came from. Unless you are so scared of showing who you are, unless you're traumatized and believing that who you are is responsible for the mess that led you here, you will want to keep the things that made you who you are. Even if for a while you don't realize that. Even if there are not many of those things that are cherished. You can renounce your history.
I am not defending that cultures should not mingle and melt, but that immigrants have the right to keep them. Keeping one's culture is what makes America so rich.

The mingling and the melting will happen naturally. Immigrants want to learn about their new home. Part of them wants to be like the people in the new place. Especially as far as the new generations are concerned. The second generation of immigrants are the true bi-cultural ones. They will naturally deal with their parents culture and their country's culture and mix them up in one thing. And hopefully keep enough of their home culture to keep this country ever richer.

disclaimer: this is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of every immigrant.

Cross Continent

Could it be true that all the indians of this continent really came here through the Bearing Strait and then walked all the way down to South America?

Intriguing.

Sometimes I wish I did not have a life to take care of. I wish money was not an issue, I wish bills did not come every month. I wish I could put life on hold to travel on foot across the American continent, like the indians might have done.

Sometimes I just wish I could have lived every time of human history just to do these things I can only imagine and read about. Sometimes reading about things is just not enough. I really wish my time-machine was real and it took me places and times and allowed me to live a little of other lives.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The rest of the Disney ... er... Orlando Trip - Saturdayday

The alarms, both of them, rang at the right time. We chose to ignore them.

SO we left a few minutes late.

We saw a gas station as we were getting closer to the airport. But we chose to ignore it. Add 15 more minutes to the trip looking for a new gas station. One thing Dean and I have not learned to do yet is do the whole drive/navigate thing in harmony.

By the time we got to the airport we should be boarding.

Then the lady at the checkin counter could not find our tickets. Another 15 minutes.

When we had to go through security we waisted like 30 minutes because only one booth was working for all the national flights. I was bringing razor blades that I was going to try to convince them to let me take with me, cuz after all they cost me money, but at that point in time, I did not want to convince anyone of anything - just throw them all away! Quick quick quick!

When we finally go to security, guess who got picked for a random more detailed inspection? My husband.

See, that's why you don't start your day wrong. That's why you get up with the alarm. Because once you get one thing out of place, once you are five minutes late, you're done! Your whole day spins out of control. It's like a domino effect.

When he was let go by the security people, we put our shoes on and legs-why-do-I-need-you, as we say in Brazil. that means we ran as if our lives depended on it.

Wait! Honey wait! I don't care how late we are. I can not , I have no air in my body anymore. I am not physically prepared for that. The plane will have to wait.

I was the one who voiced it, but he was not much better than me.

We continued our way to the boarding area, at a fast pace, but no longer running. I was never a runner, I was always a wimpy, skinny, non-sportive little girl who would be taken by any strong wind had we had those in Brazil. It was not going to happen in plain adulthood. I was not about to become a runner not to miss my flight. Not unless God came down from heaven and performed a miracle, which he did not do.

We hurried. We got to the boarding area and the words from the airline person were "Dean and Virginia? We were waiting for you! Come right in!"

I felt like a rock superstar.

"Do you hate us already?"

"Not at all! You are just in time!"

As we walked into the airplane, I saw the looks - all eyes on me. And they were not kind eyes.

I overheard someone say "About time!"

Rockstar feeling was gone.

But at least we were in there, we were on our way home.

When we got to DC for our connection however, which was supposed to be a 2 hour layover, we found out that our plane was going to be delayed 2 more hours.
"Are you serious?"
"There is a problem in the plane and we are trying to make sure it's all fixed up." the airline lady told us.
"BY all means! Take your sweet time! Dont get me in that thing until you can take me home safely. I'd rather stay here all night!

And safely we got home. Late at night, but safely.

Thank you Lord, for a wonderful vacation, and a wacky, but safe return.

The rest of the Disney ... er... Orlando Trip - Friday

So the last day came. It came too fast. Even though those days there felt like a lifetime of fun, the end came too fast.
I was not ready to forget Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Soarin', Spider Man, the Tower of Terror, I was not ready to leave them behind yet. The day woke me up on a sad note. But I soon remember it was not over yet.
I still had a whole new park ahead of me. And Magic Kingdom was open till midnight. Oh, yes, we'd end our vacation with the golden key! (as we say in Brazil)
This next park had Jaws, MIB, the Simpsons, Terminator 2, the Mummy and ET. They were all super cool rides, except for ET. I was unimpressed with it. But maybe it's just that I am not a fan of mild rides. I am a Coca-cola kind of girl. (Coca-Cola's logo in Brazil is "strong emotions" , so to be a Coca-Cola kind of person means you like strong emotions)
Wehn we did the rides we wanted, we headed to the one ride I had been waiting for in that park - the brand new - the Hollywood RipRide Rockit. I was afraid I would not get to go in it, since I had dreamed of that ride months before our trip. ONce we go there however everytime we tried it, it was out of order. Eventually we got there and it was finally back on. We waited about an hour in line. In a terribly hot, humid CO2 filled line. For much of the wait I saw little stars and felt I was really going to faint. I was trying to be strong for my husband, because I new the last thing he needed to deal with in that hell hole was an unconscious wife, since his situation was not any better than mine. I was really consciously trying not to pass out. Everything was worth to ge to go in that super ride.
And may I say what a disappointment!
The ride was rad, that's true. But extremely bumpy, it gave us both headaches. Rides should not give you headaches, rides should not make your head bump against the cart a bugillion times! Rides should spin you and throw you up and down, but keep your head at a comfy position.

After that ride, that was it. Time to go to Magic Kingdom and enjoy the rides till the firworks , and then a few other rides till midnight.
We headed straight to Swiss FAmily Treehouse.
Then we re-did some mild rides that Dean likes. Like "There's a great and beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of everyday..." Carroussel of Progress.

Before it got dark we also took the steam boat trip. Then we got a fast pass to see Peter Pan, which was just as water and sugar as ET has been.

We re-did the Small World, and we got to go on the Big Thunder mountain, which we had fast passes for on Monday, but they closed it down and than we got rained out. We also re-did Pirates of the Caribbean maybe twice, and our last ride was the Haunted House. Then was about midnight, time to go home.

The Fireworks happened at 10. At close to 10 it was hard finding a place in front of the castle. I had to be in front of the castle though. I had to. We walked and walked and we finally found a place.
I think I drove my husband crazy, but I had to be in front of the castle! I just had to. Besides, I wanted to see Tinker Bell!!!!!!!

Well was it worth it? Yes, every minute of it!

The thought of end of vacation did not cross my mind any time in that day except for on the way back to the car and to the motel.

I wanted to go to bed at a reasonable time. But there is no going to bed at a reasonable time if your husband is named Dean. He does not get the whole "I need some sleep" speech.

Things like that don't come without consequences.

The rest of the Disney ... er... Orlando Trip - Thursday

I was very much pissed at the fact that we were not allowed in the park. More for Dean than for me. I did not know what I was missing. He did. HE did not want to leave without going on certain rides that we had not gone thinking we were goign to able to get back to when it was not raining.
Now our Disney days were over.
Now it was Universal Parks time.
But I told him we would not worry about that. Universal had two parks and the one we were going on Friday did not have as many rides we wanted to go. So we'd plan on leaving early on Friday and ending our trip with the Magic Kingdom's fireworks.

Well, on this day we were going to see Harry Potter's world! It was crazy, but we were not the only ones eager to see it! It took us forever to get in there, which made me really upset, because there was so much more to see! But it was worth it. Had we not gotten in right in the beginning of the day, we might not have gotten in at all!

The trip through the School of Wizardry is a must do! I wanted to go again, but they are not like Disney, they don't give free fast passes, and by the time we got there to go for the second ride the wait time as 200 minutes!

I'd have waited, but I had a husband and we was not as willing as I was. It would not have been fair.

We did try butterbeer. I did get cream all over my upper lips like Hermione did.

Then we went on to Jurassic Park ride, Spiderman ride, Poseidon Ride, The Hulk ride and ad Dr. Doom ride that I was not impressed with. too short. Spiderman was a seriously good ride! All cartoony, but ubber cool.

We thought we'd get home early that day and rest. But we did not. We went out for dinner and stayed out for a while.

The rest of the Disney ... er... Orlando Trip - Wednesday

That was technically our last day in Disney.
The plan was to go to the Epcot, do the thigns we hadn't done on 4th of July (since we arrived at the end of the afternoon), then go to Magic Kingdom and see the fireworks.

So we enjoyed Epcot! We ate at the Morrocan place, and from there I called my mom. It was fun talking to my mom from Morroco, where one of our novelas had taken place.

We also went on a ride called Soarin' , one of my favorites, because you fly through many different places in California on a little roller coaster cabin. Super awesome! The only bad thing about Soarin' is thatI did not tell Dean I wanted to go on it again until it was too late to get a fast pass and we had to leave to go watch the fireworks at Magic Kingdom.

We also went on a ride called - living with the land. where we learned about the history of agriculture and incredible things that Disney Parks is doing on the agricultural research field. They have Brazilian trees in their green house!!!! Like Cocoa and Jack fruit! I should have taken pictures!

At a reasonable time, around 8:30 pm we left for the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Well, surprise - the last entry allowed in our tickets could not be used on the same day! It had to be one park per 24 hour period.

Really upset, we headed back to the motel and ate at Checker's.

By this time I was craving a foot massage. But every time we got to the motel we were too tired. Too tired for every thing, if you know what I am saying, foot massages included. So that's how come we spent the whole time there with no foot massages, even thought my feet were "souwery" all the time, and with very little of other types of entertainment.


The rest of the Disney ... er... Orlando Trip - Tuesday

Tuesday was Hollywood Studios day!
We saw an awesome car stunt show, Indiana Jones stunt show and other movie related stuff. I was really glad with the real rides. The Rock'n'Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith and the Tower of Terror, which we rode twice! And it was not enough!
I like rides, and I like scary stuff and the Tower of Terror was both things together.
We also went on other movie rides, such as Star Wars. It was easy to get to rides on this day. Partly because there was not much we wanted to see there, and partly because , according to Dean, there were not a lot of people there.
It makes sense, not a great time to be in Orlando, since it's so hot and humid. Only those crazy Brazilians travel to Disney at this time of year - and man, there were Brazilians there. There were more Brazilians in Orlando than any other nationality including American. It was the BRAZILIAN INVASION!
But since we got everything done soon, Dean wanted to get to Downtown Disney to get those souvenirs.
But I wanted to watch the fireworks show - Fantasmic!!!!
Well, we decided to hurry to Downtown Disney, get those gifts and hurry back to the Park just in time for the show.
We did.
The store Dean was talking about was huge!!!! ANd they did have everything, literally everything that we had seen in all the other stores around the parks. By then we had been to all the three parks we has set out to go, and we has seen our share of souvenir stores. Everything we had seen was there. So we bought all of our gifts for the whole trip.

Ok. Let's hurry back to Hollywood Studios! We must see the fireworks. We saw the Fireworks at Epcot on 4th of July, we were going to see the Fantasmic show at Hollywood Studios, and we were going to see them the following day at Magic Kingdom. We would see the fireworks in the 3 parks!!!!

Yes, because since we had 5 tickets, we still had one more entry that we were not planning on using , but that came in handy due to the fact that we were rained out of the park on Monday.

We got there in time to watch the show and to go one more time on the TOWER OF TERROR! huahuahuahua!

No time to eat the huge smoked turkey I was eying since that morning, but I could do it later.


The rest of the Disney... er... Orlando trip - Monday

Monday's destination was the Magic Kingdom.
I had organized our trip in a way that we would only go to the parks when they did not have extra magic hours, this way the parks should be semi-empty when we got there in the morning.

It was still cloudy, and 30% chance of rain. Yeah, sure.

I was excited about Magic Kingdom because it's the image of Disney on movies and TV shows. The castle. The fireworks. Oh!!! The Fireworks at Cinderella's Castle! That's just MAgic. And as much as I had never cared about it before, I cared much about it now. I had to see that.

ONe beautiful thing about Disney is the fast pass. They don't charge you for it!

Oh, let me say something about Disney Parks - they know how to treat you well there. They know it. They know how to keep their parks nice, clean and organized too! It's a wonderful experience to be at a Disney Park. So the fast pass is a courtesy they give us, allowing us to not have to stand in too many lines.

We got to several rides. But halfway through the afternoon, before we were able to go to The Swiss Family Tree house, rain just down poured.

We thought we could wait it off. We were walked in the rain. We were singing in the rain. But Dean eventually said, it was not worth it and we decided to leave.

I was not happy. I wanted to stay. But he and the non-stopping rain convinced me to leave.
His argument - we can go to Downtown Disney and buy souvenirs. We made it to Downtown Disney, but not to the souvenir store. The rain was only getting worse, and eventually I just told me to stop saying it was a passing cloud, because every time he said that the rain got heavier.

We stopped at Downtown Disney on the opposite side of the stores. We started walking as brave people who are not afraid of the rain. Eventually he said enough was enough. He could no longer see through his very wet glasses.

BAck to the hotel we changed into dry clothes just to get soaked again - we had to go to the neighbor Waffle House, maybe 15 feet away if that much. But we did get soaked on the way there. That's how bad it was.

NYC

I was scared of NYC growing up.
I was scared of a lot of things growing up. Like driving.
Then God brought me to Connecticut. Or really Con-nec-ti-cut - as my friend Silvio would have me say. Because "Really, that is how it is said. Right? You're just trying to sound cool. But that's really how it is said, right?"
"No, Silvio. It's ... whatever."
In Connecticut I learned that NYC was not as bad as the media had made me think throughout my life.
There were always girls raped at Central Park on the news. There was my learning about a member of my favorite band shot dead by some maniac (which really happened when I was still too young to have a favorite band, but I learned about it just in time to add it to my fears). There was Jason Vorhees on a killing spree in the yucky undergrounds of the city. There was Home Alone 2, in which the boy I was planning on marrying when we both grew up got lost and chased by bad guys in creepy Central Park...
Then... where did I end up? Con-nec-ti-cut.
The hot thing to do in Connecticut is to travel to NYC.
Oh, of course! When I arrived from Brazil, I arrived through La Guardia. Still not sure of the whole New York thing. Just get me out of here, Mr. Bus Driver.
The bus driver who was picking us up from the airport and driving us to the au pair training center in Stamford-CT, was born and raised in NYC. He was proud of his city. He told us stories as he drove us to our final destination.
So people grow up here? Normal people? People like me? No, I did not say that to him. But I said it to myself. He stopped at Wendy's for a quick snack, because some of us had been travelling for over a day. Most of my au pair friends had never seen a Wendy's before. He was proud to introduce it to them.
"Yes, America has more than just McDonald's, ladies!"
I was scared of getting out of the bus. But he laughed at me, so I did. I don't take mockery very well.
On Christmas time I finally decided I'd get the special bus sponsored by the community center in the town I lived. The bus left town in the morning and took a bunch of elderly citizens - and I - to scary NYC.
I walked a lot. I had no friends with me and the one person I knew in the city would not be available to babysit me till evening.
So there I was, for the first time, alone in New York City. Time to face my fears.
I walked and walked because I was scared of the subway. Not so much of getting mugged, but of getting lost. I saw the places that looked interesting on a map, and on the map they did not look so far.
Bad map!
I ended the day with sore feet. I met my friend and he took me to the top of the Empire State Building.
"Isn't it beautiful?"
Yes, it was beautiful. I guess he too was proud of his city.
Then he brought me back to the elderly citizens bus just in time to leave back to Nowhereland, Connecticut. (that's a made up name. I called the town Nowhereland because I felt it was in the middle of nowhere.)
That's when I told him I did not believe in dating outside of my religion. And that was the last I heard of him. I wonder why.
Then came Brazilian Day - the day Brazilians living in the U.S. celebrate Brazil's independence from Portugal.
Some Au pairs told me about it.
Yeah, when a bunch of peers tell you do to something, you do it, right? That is called peer pressure. Ever heard of it? Me neither!
After you've seen New York on Brazilian Day, you are not afraid anymore. New York was no longer the scary scene of Friday the 13th, no longer the evil city that killed John Lennon. It was a fun place to go. A place with Brazilian music, TV actors and my hometown food - which cost an arm and a leg!
I got lost from my friends half-way through Brazilian day. I thought that was good. I thought I wanted to go and find myself a one-day boyfriend. So I did. But when he started asking for my phone number, I figured it was time to take Metro-North back home.
"Come on, let's go to the Brazilian dance club!"
"Oh! There's my friend!"
"Where?!?"
"Over there! 6 blocks down this road! She's waving at me! Bye!"
Now, how do I get to Metro-North again? What's the name of that station?
Asking for help from police officers and kind city-dwellers, always looking back to make sure I was not being followed by lovy-dovy new-found trouble, I got to Grand Central.
Surprise - surprise. Mr. Lovy-Dovy followed me to Grand Central Station. He put his hands on my eyes, and for a moment I was glad! I thought it was one of my friends!
"You're gonna leave without giving me a kiss?"
A kiss! I can't kiss! I don't know how to! And I can't let him know that I don't know.
Oh, my gosh, I forgot boys want to do the kissing thing when they are interested in you!
That's the last time I flirt with boys I don't know. Last time! Last time!
Now think fast! That's right, dunk!
"My kiss!"
"Where are you going to?"
"Danbury!"
Crap! He'd be on my train! I was dismayed. I had to find a way out. But how?
I couldn't have this guy trying to kiss me for 2 hours inside a train.
"I-I I will kiss you! At the train!"
"Where are you going to?"
"uh New... Boston! Boston! I'm going to Boston. That's where I live. My dad works for the police there. Hey! There's my friend again!"
"Where?"
I joined a crowd of tourists that spoke another language and hopped onto the express train. When he saw me again, the doors were closing. Free at last.
Icky-sticky-goo had a whole new meaning for me on that day.

A few months later someone to whom I had actually given my phone number on Brazilian Day, called me. It was a Brazilian school in New York City, CCLS. And before you know it I was commuting to scary NYC. Teaching English and training teachers.

When I met my husband, NYC became an obsession. We had to do something fun together, and I had to go as a tourist to see the place where I worked like dog for no reasonable explanation other than I really love to teach. Because the pay was not worth the 4 hours a night I had left to sleep.

One beautiful and cold Saturday morning in January, we did go there. And we walked to places I had been wanting to walk to without being by myself. The major tourist places. The Library, Times Square, the MET, the Brazilian Street. This time I had my boyfriend with me! It was so much more fun!
We saw the tribute to John Lennon at Central Park. I had never seen it before. I was so excited! I think we just ran into it, it was not planned! I had read about it before, but we had not planned to see it.

Unfortunately we also ran into the guy I had a crush on, and his girlfriend. What do you do when you are out with your official boyfriend, whom you think you like, and you see the guy you have a crush on, with his official girlfriend? Hold on tight to your official boyfriend before you start acting like a fool - that's what you do. That's what I did.

We never made it to Chinatown, Little Italy, or to the Statue of Liberty. In fact I would never make it there until one year after we were married. It took my family coming to visit, for us to take the trip to that part of town.

I really wanted to go there, but on this trip we stayed around the Central Park area, which was a place I was familiar with.

I was just glad to be out with my boyfriend. Actually travelling with someone that meant something to me. It was the first time that happened since I had gotten to America. That was good enough for me.

Corruption

Corruption is always surrounding power.
Political power gives people certain rights, privileges. And it scares people who don't have it. Who wants to go against someone who has the power to destroy their lives?
Political power gives people power over other people, their minds and their bodies.
Immunity to members of the congress, parliament immunity as we call it in Brazil, leads to the idea that they can get away with anything they want. And they take advantage of it. Who won't take advantage of license to get away with murder? Even people with good morals may slip. What to say of people without them?
We want to believe that some people of good character will stand up against people with with none. We want to believe that some politicians with a hint of what honesty means will fight the impunity of those who have never known it.
But if there are those who have the guts to stand up against politicians who are not afraid of anyone or anything, because they can buy them or control them, who will stand up for them?
Is a multi-party system any better than a two-party system in fighting corruption? I don't know. I think the only thing that makes one better than the other really is the people that are part of them.
But regardless of how good or bad people are, I have to say that maybe at two party system will fall into the trap of making the opposite party the enemy, and corruption gets overlooked if it's on your side.
In a multi-party system, because the lines of party loyalty are blurred maybe it's easier for everyone to join together against the corrupt ones - it does not matter which side you're on. Should that be the answer however, Brazil would be the cleanest country in the world. Should that be the answer we would not bitterly call our country the land of impunity.
Is a two-party system the answer? I already made my point why the answer is no.
The answer? From a strictly human point of view I don't know. I say make as many regulations as you can. I do believe that as much as possible people with power should be scrutinized - without the privilege of the party allies to protect them.
On the risk of sounding cheesy, I will speak as a Christian, the answer is not one system or the other. The answer is the people. People who take a stand of following the morals instituted by God.
Besides that I don't believe there is a perfect system. But I will still strive for one as faultless as humanly possible.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Old Sturbridge Village

Life back in the 1800's was so different! We take so much for granted nowadays. Last Saturday we visited Old Sturbridge Village.

I had been wanting to go visit (man! that's a lot of verbs!!!) OSV for a while. I was curious about that outdoor museum that recreated life in the XIX century. Thanks to my husband I called them and found out Mass teachers enter free. Yeah, I guess there are good things to being a teacher.

We went into houses and stores, shops and mills. We talked to a cooper (a guy who made round containers like buckets and kegs), a blacksmith, a tin man, a cobbler (a guy who makes shoes) and a potter. They showed us how they did their work.

We also talked to these ladies in a farm and they told us how they made cheese. It was fun finding out that cheese could be kept at room temperature, and the reason we can't do that today is because of all the fermentation and different fungi they add to the cheese, probably to make different types of cheese. Back then cheese was just cheese. And it tasted differently depending on how long it stayed there and where the cow had been feeding.

Cheese and butter making were actually ways to preserve milk, so they could not really go bad if left out of the fridge - the whole point of it was to not allow milk to go bad. And there were no fridges back then.

Shoes back then did not have left or right, they had only one shape. I tried one on!

In the mills I could see how they used water as a source of energy. I had always learned about that in school books, but nothing beats seeing it for real.

I also found out why people back then did not have a lot of clothes. Till not long ago then everything was manual. The wool or other raw-materials had to be manually open and worked (carding), then turned into lines then into cloth. I tried carding. A lot of work.

That's why our house only has only little closet that does not even fit all of Dean's clothes.

We visited the house of a poor family - THEY HAD A TWO STORY HOUSE! And you call them poor?! -, then the house of a middle class family and a rich family. The rich family house felt a lot like a castle. The middle class family house I could definitely relate to: they turned an old bed into a sofa, because sofas were a novelty and very expensive - sounds like something I would do. Middle class has always been a mommy-I-wanna-be-rich people. It's like a curse we will never escape for as long as we are middle class.

Also, because one of the houses was real, we could learn about the family that lived there but looking at the left overs of work such as sawing found under their floor.

The potter guy said his technique has been the same for hundreds of years. A lot of life then was about doing things that had been done for many generations. Wisdom passed by the older people.

I guess no one really could imagine that life as everyone had always known was about to change so radically in just over 100 years.

Of course in all began with the renaissance in the sixteenth century and the industrial revolution in the second half of the eighteenth century. Heck it all began with the invention of writing and paper thousands of years ago. But could anyone imagine how fast-paced things would ever get?

The twentieth century arrived with a whirlwind of technological advances that brought centuries worth of changes in just 100 years. Hard life and traditional ways of doing things changed into easy-to-make, paint-by-numbers, instant-food, virtual-reality, no-pain world.

Someone that died at the end of the XIX century would not recognize the world if he came back for a visit at the end of the XX century.

And we wonder why no one values older people anymore? Our world, with all the perks it's brought us, has been sending us the message that old is bad, and that older people just can't keep up. The toys children played with in that time were the same their parents and grandparents played with. Can we say the same of our times? In 100 years - we have different world. In 50 years - we have different world. In 20 years -we have a different world. In 10 years - we have a different world. Of course our children will think we're right out from the middle ages! And how much wisdom is lost in that kind of thinking. No, not everything is good unless we stop and think what our values really are. Nothing will be worse than to live in a world where the older people have no value. Yes, the way we interact with them will change, because it's true that with the fast changes people will fall behind. But the wisdom that comes with time and life experiences, this will never be traded by progress.

If Jesus doesn't return anytime soon, where will we go next? Are there any limits to what man can dream and invent and popularize? And are there any limits to how fast that can be done?

Hopefully not faster than we can realize the collateral effects of it in time to fix them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Child of famous people

Sad thing. A death so sudden for a life so young.


Bad thing. Cars running in the dead of night, lights out, through a tunnel banned. Suspected race. Suspected hit and run

Fatal error. The skater victim was also violating the prohibition of access for pedestrians and skaters.

Perplexity. Before the reality of death, does it make a difference whether the victim was walking on banned site? The dead would not have been victimized had he not disregarded the rules. The killer killed because he disregarded the rules.

To each according to the crime? The victim received improper punishment - life itself. Riding on banned site is not a sin of death. The criminal infringed a traffic law. Accident caused by a violation is intentional crime. Intent to kill is configured at the time the traffic rule is broken.

Yes, the survivor, once simply called irresponsible driver, now a criminal, will have to pay for the crime.

Would the same crime, however, have had that much attention had not the victim been the child famous people?