Monday, December 05, 2016

Done!

I am done teaching for the semester! Two exams and grading to go and that's it!

It feels great not to have several last days!

Friday, December 02, 2016

Pledging Allegiance? Bearing Arms? Conflicted feelings about (not) joining the Divided States of America


I have always had qualms about becoming a citizen anyway, always. As a self described accidental immigrant* who spent years proudly saying that I didn't like it here, that I wanted to go back to Brazil, etc., when we ended up staying and becoming residents (back in 2008) I suspected we might become citizens someday just for the convenience of it, if not by conviction.
    (big parenthetical remark:)
In fact, the main reason why we haven't done it since we became eligible in late 2012 is that we weren't willing to "pay up." K's brothers tease us mercilessly about this, but $ 1,600 makes a big difference when you have a tight budget. We kept deciding to use that money to travel (mostly to Brazil). Oh, and there's also the question of travel -- it seems you can't leave the country while applying for citizenship until it's all approved -- and we're always traveling outside the country (even if just to visit brother-in-law K4 and his family in Canada). So, in addition to the money situation, we hadn't really decided we were committed to doing it, we were not convinced we wanted to go ahead, so we kept putting it off.

We seemed to be very close to that conviction when we arrived from Brazil back in August, though (I even blogged about filling the application and What Now? congratulated us -- thanks! ;-). My husband talked about how he felt he belonged here more than he did in Brazil (it's been 20 years, after all) and he started filling out the forms and checking what we needed to do to finally become citizens. His father's sudden death meant that now his mother is very interested in becoming a resident and she cannot do that through my other two brother-in-law who are naturalized because they are living abroad now. K was also relieved that his father got sick and died here because of the good care he received, particularly the "end of life" part of it (facilitated by my mother-in-law's cousin, a nurse who specializes in this area). K thought that being in the U.S. in this heartbreaking situation made very tangible difference for his dad, his mom and him and his brothers. It would have been different in Brazil in many ways, particularly in unlimited access to the patient in the ICU, and the ability to make certain decisions to ensure a peaceful end with minimal intervention

However, while filling the forms, K came across a little box that he/we needed to check. It said that he/we would be willing to bear arms to defend this country under circumstances that would warrant it. Interestingly, if you're born here, you don't ever have to say such a thing (a friend of ours remarked that if she had to say that to be a citizen she wouldn't want to do it either). It seems that one can still become a citizen while saying it's against one's conscience to bear arms;** we think that K's uncle did that and we were planning to ask him how it went. Taking such a stance, however, would certainly delay the processing of our application and we were in a hurry, wishing to travel abroad next Summer. 

Then, we got really busy and put it off once more and then...

... the election happened. 

You know, I was upset that I couldn't vote and was looking forward to the day I would be able to, but this "creature's" election has given us fresh new reasons not to "pledge allegiance" to this nation. Being an immigrant is hard enough, but having to put up with this level of xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment is excruciating. Maybe being a citizen would be helpful, at least I wouldn't have to hear my young son ask whether I could be kicked out of the country and what would be of him if that happened. I wanted to vote to elect a different president next time, but right now, it feels really good to be able to say that this man not my president because I don't really "belong" to this country in that way. I live here, though, and we have decided to do so permanently. I have nothing to fear -- except in the case of the fear of becoming a political dissident if the threats to free speech continue -- so maybe I should just go ahead and "join" you all, but I'm just too conflicted right now to make this decision! 

I finally (only now!) got to read "Farewell America" an excellent essay by Neal Gabler from Nov. 10 and its opening lines make this decision even more complex:
America died on Nov. 8, 2016, not with a bang or a whimper, but at its own hand via electoral suicide. We the people chose a man who has shredded our values, our morals, our compassion, our tolerance, our decency, our sense of common purpose, our very identity — all the things that, however tenuously, made a nation out of a country.
If this country died, why should I join it? Is there anything left to join? And he continues:
Whatever place we now live in is not the same place it was on Nov. 7. No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on Nov. 7, they will now look at us differently. We are likely to be a pariah country. And we are lost for it.
I am looking at this country differently. Heck, I'm looking at life differently, something shattered, life is not the same. Sarah Kendzior's beautiful essay talks about how Americans elected someone bent on destroying the country and advises us, well, more like begs us, to reflect on our lives and values before it's too late. I hadn't read her essay until last night, but its title had already inspired an unwritten blog post that sits in my drafts. I'd titled it "I always try to be my own light" and I do. That's why I'm writing this post, that's why I've been blogging for 12 years. She says: "I want you to write about who you are, what you have experienced, and what you have endured." Check, I've written over 2,000 posts about this (maybe I need to back up this blog, right? So it cannot be taken away by Google). She continues:
Write down what you value; what standards you hold for yourself and for others. Write about your dreams for the future and your hopes for your children. Write about the struggle of your ancestors and how the hardship they overcame shaped the person you are today.

Write your biography, write down your memories. Because if you do not do it now, you may forget.
And this is what I have been trying to do all along and will strive to do more.

I am upset and angry, I don't know what to do next. K and I will have to talk this whole "citizenship idea" over a lot. Sigh... I know there's a lot more I wanted to say, but I've been trying to write this post for weeks and I want to "publish" it before it becomes too dated. I'm sure I'll be blogging more about this issue since life as an immigrant is one of the main topics of this blog!

(I wrote the final paragraph before writing the previous ones with the quotations, but I will leave the ending as is) 

*I'm sure I'm not the original creator of this term, but I love to use it and I have yet to do a search to see who else has been using it.

** There is a film about a man from our particular religious denomination who was a "conscientious objector" playing in theaters right now (I haven't seen it, but may see it someday).

scheduled post, finished at 1:24 am. 

Some light heartdedness before I go "heavy" on here

Nah, this is really not going to be light-hearted. It's mostly a post about the things that are bothering me right now. Well... these are light, compared to the "heavier" things I want to share in posts I have already started writing or am planning to write, that's all. Sigh...

First, I'd like to remark (in a meta-blogging kind of way) that I haven't been blogging more often and also sharing more "fluff" and photos as I'd like to because the blogger app is no longer working on my phone. I wasn't aware of it (because it still worked for me), but back in February the app was pulled by Google from the iphone's app store. Now I found out about it because I can't get the app to work, it's frustrating. :-(

Second, I am overwhelmed by lots of "little things" that I haven't been doing or haven't had time to do and which weigh in my conscience and make me full of angst and cranky. Examples: I need to transfer photos from my phone and from the camera's memory cards so I can back them up (and free space on the phone to take more photos, duh). I haven't taken care of the weeds in the garden in months and months! BTW, that's not a little thing, it's a HUGE depressing thing that is driving me nuts because the ground will freeze and it will be all horrible and ARGHHHHH!!! My next house won't have a yard so I can't ever feel bad like this again... this is killing me! :-(  (and has been for the better part of the five years we've been in this house). Not to mention the messy garage that we never have time to tackle and yada yada yada. Most boring whiny post ever, I know.

OK, I will label this post (Blah) and move on.

Last, but not least, it's time again for this very demanding volunteer project at our church. I haven't really said too much about it in the past five years we've been part of it (only as part of a short post last year and a few lines in 2013)... but it's a "live theater" kind of event, extremely elaborate (particularly in the number of people involved). It has a (first) advent theme, but it's not really a "nativity" play. It lasts over 40 minutes for each group of 20 people who go through many scenes and a small Palestinian town with a market place, craftspeople, etc. There are 19-20 groups each night, leaving every 10 minutes, so the whole thing goes for nearly 4 hours. My husband and I are guides, so we have the longest speaking parts, but also the less demanding role (doing your part 3 times per night, while walking and interacting with the group and other people for 40 minutes versus doing the same thing 19-20 times for 3.5 hours with short breaks and being cold a lot because most of it is outdoors). The event goes on for FIVE nights (Thu-Mon), so it's a huge commitment, but it's also very enjoyable -- we interact with lots of people, not only from the church, but the guests that come. Our 14 year old son is a guide this year as well with one of his classmates. Our youngest has been a "school-boy" for 5 years (as was his brother until two years ago).

Yeah... OK, now let me try to finish one of those "heavy" posts...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thanksgiving in Michigan... thinking of other bloggers during trip

I'm still grieving and upset, but I am actively choosing to avoid listening to or reading the news. I feel a knot in my stomach just by looking at email updates from Time magazine (we're still print subscribers) and thinking about their (now dreaded for me) "person of the year" issue. Sigh... My dear friend wrote very poignantly a couple of days ago about the thought of "empty tomorrows." I've always looked forward to future days, but right now it's hard to look into the unpredictable future that awaits those living in this country. OK, moving on from that, this is supposed to be an "Update" post and those are often cheery.

Last week we traveled to a place close to Michigan's Southwestern shore to spend Thanksgiving with K's cousin D who is finishing his master's degree there. D and his wife are expecting a baby girl (due Jan. 1st) and it was very nice to spend time with them. We did a quick side trip to Chicago on Friday and we played lots of board game. Their friends had a potluck Thanksgiving celebration at the house of their friend who is a pretty well-known Brazilian food blogger (I'm linking to her Christmas dinner "post" so you can see some of the decorations that were actually used in our dinner. I have photos, maybe I'll include some of them later). It was nice, and I was the one providing all of the "traditional" American Thanksgiving touches: cranberry sauce (I had made "only" 14 quarts of cranberry sauce for my son's elementary school banquet last week and I had taken leftovers), the Yams with Pecan Praline (a recipe I posted TEN YEARS ago!), roasted Brussels sprouts, and butternut squash "pudding" (crust-less pie).

What I really wanted to blog about, though, is that during the whole trip I kept thinking of the bloggers and former bloggers who live (or grew up) in places not too far from our route or from our destination. When we drove around Pittsburgh and into Ohio, I thought of Jenna who grew up there. Then, when I saw the sign for Fort Wayne I thought of my friend and former blogger Professing Mama. And when we went to Chicago I thought of Doctor Mama Esquire who lives there now, and of Jamie who is not that far away. I still want to meet these women! And I really miss all those who quit blogging along the way and who are one of the main reasons I'm on facebook a lot.

OK, gotta go because I have lots to do! I have one week of classes left (YAY!) and I have tons of grading to do. Hopefully I'll blog more in the coming days. 19 more posts to get to my "116" total for 2016. Yeah, I'm doing that, just to be cute. That was the main reason why I skipped "NaBloPoMo" for the first time in 9 years (with the exception of 2012 when I wrote only 25 times in November) -- very silly, right? In a way I'm glad I wasn't blogging daily. There would have been lots of anguish and despair about the election. Sigh... 2016 was a crazy year, that's for sure! :-(   

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Still Grieving and Anxious about this Unprecedented Election... It's Scary to be in Uncharted Territory!

A few things I haven't shared in the blog, if you're my facebook friend (which you're welcome to be!) you've seen the first one:
  • Last Wednesday it was tough to teach. I was stunned and upset and students were too. Students were crying. One Asian(-American) young woman cried non-stop for 10 minutes or more. I think she was trying to control herself, but I after I started the class speaking English to them, saying that I was going to let them speak about the election for a bit (and do some "therapy"), so I think that motivated her not to hold it in and just cry. I mentioned something about this kind of happening before when Al Gore lost and so they earnestly asked me what had happened in 2000, so I pulled information about that and showed it to them (it was heartbreaking to think about that too). And when I switched to Portuguese the review grammar lesson I'd planned was actually about the election too. In the second section nobody was crying, but they teared up when I mentioned the student who cried. It seems all of my students were in agreement, outraged, and confused. If anyone disagreed they were quiet and didn't let it show at all.
  • On Wednesday night my 12 year old was worried and asked whether the fact that we're not citizens yet (more on that in another post, my husband is now against becoming a citizen) meant that they could kick us out of the country. "What would happend to me?" he wondered. I suppose they could deny the renewal of our green-cards, but I feel that's unlikely, unless maybe we become activists or something -- which I totally wanted to do, not to be kicked out of the country, of course, but just because it would feel useful. Sigh... In any case, how many millions of children are legitimately scared about this possibility? And what about the thousands (700K) of young people on DACA?
  • My husband was so troubled, particularly on Thursday morning. He wasn't sleeping well and was very upset, like I have seen him very few times.
  •  I have been spending way too much time on Facebook -- thankfully a tiny percentage of people I'm in touch with there has unsavory things to say about the election. In a way it felt like a huge support group, but after a while the negativity builds up and it gets a bit toxic. I have to try to not be on facebook that much. I'm glad I was on and saw my friend Sarah mention that the opening of SNL had been great, so I didn't miss Dave Chappelle's great show.
  • It took me a while to be able to stomach listening to the news (I don't watch news, I only listen to NPR) and I am planning on avoiding as much as possible seeing or listening to the voice of that man. During SNL's Weekend Update I actually covered part of the TV screen so I wouldn't see his face. That's another reason why I should stay off Facebook.
I'm sure there would be lots more to say, but I just wanted to finish by saying that the worst part of all this is the "unprecedented" and "uncharted territory" -- it's impossible to foresee what's going to happen! Not only because this has never happened -- the election of a completely unprepared person who seems to be actually unwilling to do the actual work of POTUS, but also because of his unpredictable ways. Everyone is saying that they would "love to be wrong," but right now there is still lots of reasons to fear.

I hope we're wrong, but something tells me, deep down, that it won't be good. I can't be good. And... what if this creature is reelected? What if? :-(

There are just too many worries and concerns. It's hard to stop grieving and move on. What about the environment? Foreign relations? the Middle East & Syria and the refuge crisis? What about the immigrants (including me)? What about marriage equality and access to contraceptives and Roe vs. Wade? And the Affordable Care Act?

Let's all hope we're wrong, that our fears are unfounded, I'm sure everyone would love to be proven wrong. Sigh...

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Dystopian Future is Here :-(

Although I hope I may be wrong. I'd LOVE to be wrong, really!! I never hoped so much in my life that I may be wrong about my gut feelings and impressions about "this man" and his upcoming "regime" (which is what he called the current presidency). This hasn't been funny for a long time, but now it's downright despair-inducing and terrifying.

This is what I wrote on facebook at 1:52 am on election night. I tried to post this from my phone multiple times yesterday morning, but I think the Blogger app is broken:
The dystopian future that literature has been warning about for years and years is here. The Brave New World of 1984, Fahrenheit 451, The Handmaid's Tale, Parable of the Sower, and, more recently, The Hunger Games is closer to reality. Go read those books if you haven't and let's prepare for a new reality in which facts may not matter anymore and prejudices speak louder than reason.
(I taught these classic "dystopian fiction" books multiple times as a teaching assistant and I learned to love the genre, these books are important, especially now! It's just kind of sad that they make me realize all that could happen if extremists ideas are carried out to their full extent.)

Thankfully most people weren't online, or I might have gotten a handful of negative comments, so that didn't happen. In any case, I with I had received more comments from like-minded people, but I decided not to re-post my thoughts yesterday. Just because I have a few people as "friends" who disagree with me and because I feel very unsafe on facebook, although I've spent many many hours there in the past two days.

I stayed up to the bitter end, on election night. I took screenshots on my phone of the unbelievable progression of NYT's graphs and charts. I also took photos of the TV screen, as it was so unbelievable -- Trump saying his victory speech while most of the networks hadn't still called his victory (not even Fox, at first). It was very surreal.

I didn't have a chance to finish watching Hillary's concession speech from yesterday (my brother- and sister-in-law facetimed us from Canada as we were watching the broadcast online and K spent a long time talking to them and explaining it). I haven't read many pieces on the elections, I have, though, read what most of my friends on facebook had to say.

I unfollowed a few people during the election, a couple of which ended up commenting back to me on other people's threads recently. I have spent some time trying gently to tell some people to be more sensitive (this one woman I know was saying the protesters should "grow up and get over it."

Sigh... There are too many thoughts in my head right now. I hope to write a couple more posts to share them and do "cheap therapy." Oh, yeah...

Last, but not least, if you're a Back to the Future fan the way our family is, you'll know that yesterday we woke up on the alternate 1985 and Biff Tannen is in charge, check out the image in this tweet. Sigh...

We need to find a way to fix it, too bad we can't travel back in time!

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Oh no! Is she going to lose?????

What some people are saying is that this countryside INCREDIBLY sexist, even more than it is racist. 

Sigh...

Unbelievable. And the two third party candidates seem to be doing real harm. :-(

10:20 NYT says 80% chance of Trump winning! :-(


Tuesday, November 01, 2016

NaBloPoMo?

I guess that maybe I'm going to try blogging daily in November once more, although that will defeat this recent idea I had of maybe posting 116 times this year (to look cute, since I can't possibly reach 216). Writing every day in November will take me to 123. ;-P

Oh well, maybe I'll change my mind so I can do 116 posts.

More tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Quick "Hi" & ULTRA Busy Weekend Recap

I'm alive, just busy. Maybe not as overwhelmed, due to the fact that I'm working less and one other thing I will hopefully blog about at some point.

I've started at least one link-filled post about laundry (last Sunday!) and in the end didn't finish. The funny thing is that I'm doing laundry right now, and will have to be up until the wash is done and I can stick it all in the drier (so I should go finish that post! but I won't).

OK, yeah, lame post. Just to recap the last week: I began shopping for the once a semester dinner that I cook for all my students (40-50 people!) a week ago. Then I started preparing some of the food ahead of time to freeze. More shopping followed on Thursday & Friday.

The weekend started with a BANG: an event at church which involved the 200 students of the boarding academy my son attends (as a day student); then we had friends for lunch the next day after church (something our sons had been asking for, given that this other family's son is my one of my eldest son's closets friends). Then Saturday night there was an event at the elementary school. K dropped our youngest son off and I went an hour later, but managed to escape and (just because I was super busy and had to continue cooking for the next day's dinner...  HAHAHA!) I took my eldest son to town to shop for some clothes because I had a couple of coupons and he really needs/wants a suit. We hit Kohls and Target and came back, and I cooked until 1 am.

I did sleep in on Sunday (till 9!) even though I shouldn't have, but my husband was coming with me to help me with the dinner for the first time in 4.5 years, so I indulged. We had to make sure we had arranged rides for both sons who had, respectively, a soccer game (for which we were providing snacks) & a "barn party" at school, and we were successful with those arrangements. K drove and I sent a bunch of frantic last minute emails to students about parking and reminders.

It went really well, even though my colleague (formerly "new hire" here in the blog) forgot about the event and did not show up! Two graduate students came as well as a few former-students, including one who drove from out of town (U#1) and invited two late-coming guests.

We made it back home and I didn't have to stay at my friends' house!

Guess what we're going this week/weekend -- are we taking it easy and doing low-key stuff?

ABSOLUTELY NOT, we're crazy, that's who we are. We're driving to the D.C. area tomorrow to spend about 15-6 hours with my mother-in-law since she's there with a tour group. Then we come back home and... wait for it! Drive to Philly for the weekend. In spite of a soccer game on Sunday, I'm not really in a rush to get back. We'll see, if we miss soccer it's fine...

Yeah, and I should be working now (preparing exams), and here I am, blogging, of course!

Friday, October 07, 2016

First Red! ;-) :-/

Most of the post was written while I was getting my pedicure. 

K and I are flying to LA tomorrow to attend a friend's wedding on Monday (this is the year of friends' weddings galore!). It's crazy to do a whirlwind trip like this in the middle of the semester, but hopefully it will be a nice getaway for the two of us.

I bought a dress yesterday (at Anthropologie, on clearance!) 
and today I picked nail polish colors to match. I had never done red before and I love it! 
Except that I just walked inside mg house carrying a large Costco pizza, my backpacks, and some bags, and... I bumped into one of the brick steps and chipped my one hour old pedicure!!!!!! :-(
So frustrating! 

The fingernails are lighter and I hope they won't chip before Monday! 
Sigh...
ETA:
P.S. Jen, I'm sorry I did my nails without you, I never do that! ;-) ;-P  But I think you weren't done at work yet! Oh, and I also went to Tammy's instead of Holly. They're a tad more expensive, but I think they're a bit better! (and their chairs most definitely work). Still creepy old men, sigh... :-/

I can't believe I didn't have a "Fluff" label!! Hahahaha, created!

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Another 12 Hour Day

They are much less frequent now (YAY!), but once in a while I still pull out a 12-hour-day out of the house. 

Sometimes (ok, often) not because of work, but because I go shopping or browsing, but today I really did work late, past 5:30 pm. 

Glad to have just arrived home, though! 

Blogroll mostly back

I spent some time today trying to remember as best as I could the blogs that were in my now-gone blogroll and I think that I was able to do it for the most part.

This brought home the sad realization that there are very few people left in "blogland" and most people aren't posting anymore. :-(

oh well... I do this mostly for myself, so I'm still here.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

All the Music Ever (OK, Almost!) ;-)

We resisted, I resisted...

Digital music is/was not my thing. I like to buy/own CDs, I love to read the liner notes. I want to know what year songs were written -- ok, that last part is generally available online. I like to OWN my music, but not paying track by track and I was outraged at the idea to pay a monthly fee for music, for video, for anything. So we've been using Spotify free for as long as it's been available (I think we began using it the day it came out or the day after -- for a few things we're early adopters).

In addition to Spotify, I did buy a few digital albums here and there in the past few years. I bought some CDs too (mostly when the music was not available digitally) and really cheap in Brazil (on my birthday).

A few months ago, though, our teenager began to pay monthly for a Google Play/YouTube Red membership, out of his own money (which he actually needs to pay for his Minecraft server and other things) and it didn't make any sense not to upgrade to a family membership, it just didn't...

(I also did some research, mostly by reading this very thorough comparison of Google Play, Spotify & Apple Music) 

So last weekend my husband got the family membership and just now I accessed it for the first time and began to add albums. I've had the app on my phone for a while, but haven't used.

And, you know...

... as much as I hate to admit it, I think this is going to work! ;-) It will be tremendous time-suck to have access to nearly all the music ever, but I think it'll be great.

I just found last year's album by my favorite (OK, I have many favorites!) Brazilian singer, Ivan Lins, that I hadn't known about before. And look at that album art, gorgeous!

So, yeah... let me go back to cleaning the family room with some lovely samba/Brazilian music in the background. I seriously want to print out this album art for my office!!

Sunday, October 02, 2016

I now don't like NBC but l'm still watching SNL

And thankfully the debate spoof wasn't that terrible. I think SNL doesn't have much influence in the electorate, does it? I really enjoyed all previous elections (since I started watching SNL).

Oh, they finally have a Hispanic woman, wow! 

Hmmm... Have they ever had any Asian of any gender? 

Anyway, I keep watching and not finishing this post...

(BTW, it's the first show my 14 year old is watching with us (after all, it's PG-14)

... But the "Family Feud" game show political edition was really funny! With a bonus Daryl Hammond as Bill Clinton. 

Ok, that's it for unintentionally live-blogging SNL tonight. ;-P

ETA: I really disliked Weekend Update! They were trying to be equally negative about both... Not really funny. 

Ok, to be fair the black vs white banter between Colin & Michael was good/funny  & Kenan Thompson's David Ortiz was HILARIOUS!! I love, love, love Kenan!!