Friday, December 15, 2017

Greatest Fear Revised

Back in 2011 I blogged about my greatest fear (wow, I was already living in this house and it was also December!) and then revisited that idea/post in March 2015 when my husband's cousin's wife had a very scary brush with death.

Well... I guess my greatest fear has changed now that my sons are older and it has reverted back to what it was before I became a mother. If I die now, my sons will not only have lots of memories of me and our relationship, but they are older and while that would still be awful, they don't need me as much anymore (well, they do, but I don't feel so scared and helpless with the thought of leaving them behind).

My greatest fear has always been losing my mind, having a mental breakdown, going crazy. Whatever you wanna call it. My dad's family immediate has a history of mental-health issues. His youngest brother was schizophrenic (I pretty much told his life in my post about my "three uncles" a couple years ago) and his sisters are pretty troubled (bipolar, probably? and we don't know what the other one has).

The fact that I am not neuro-typical by having ADHD doesn't help my fear and there's something I've experienced since I was 16, which I never discussed with a mental health professional (not that I've seen one for long anyway and I was unhappy with him) -- I experience these "dream attacks" that I guess one could call "panic attacks," but not so serious (I haven't researched much about panic attacks either). I can write a post about that, exploring how and when it started (it's an interesting story) but the experience is just brief moments of feeling that I'm "living inside" my own previous dream and it's very unsettling. It's happened often enough in my life that I'm capable of weathering and brushing it off much more than I could do when I was 16.

Anyway, in days like today, when I'm extremely stressed out by all the things I desperately need to do and don't have enough time: FINISH GRADING,  it TAKES FOREVER!, The Xmas Cards have been printed and ready to go for THREE WEEKS and I haven't mailed them :-( , the house is filthy and needs cleaning, guests arrive on Sunday evening and the house needs cleaning and I need to plan food for guests while K and I go on our anniversary getaway for two nights. OH, and there's laundry to be done! (but I wish I could line dry it, but it's too cold!!) Sigh...

Yeah, not a recipe for a good place mental-health wise. Sigh...

Well, even though nobody is reading I needed the free therapy of blogging this morning to help me cope with the busy-ness. And I will constantly be praying that I won't ever lose my mind. That I will find good professionals to help me so it can be avoided. HOPEFULLY!!

P.S. it doesn't help that this presidency/regime is angering and stressing me out so much! I have a blog post in the drafts folder about the CHIP program, in addition to the net-neutrality worries.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

NOOOOO!!!! Net Neutrality was Killed!!

A small victory one day (Doug Jones wins) and large setbacks the next day. How are we going to survive this horrible administration?

They are beginning to interfere with our lives in very tangible ways!!

Sigh... I don't even know what else to say, except that I feel powerless and that how can we effectively RESIST if big corporations and their profits are given more and more power over our lives?

I'm so angry! This anger and stress and daily worries will take its toll on all of us, seriously!

I have to go find more things to read, but this commentary is good.

P.S. it's like Brad, Jo's friend said, after Doug Jones's Alabama victory on Tuesday, we had to get a bad thing happen before the end of the week. We couldn't get both. :-(

Monday, December 11, 2017

Found!

Last time I blogged I was upset because I couldn't find something I'd written and I found it the next day on my phone's notes.

I will post it, maybe later today, but I feel I need to write an update since I have been posting very sparsely, no? Sigh...

I'm at the orthodontist's office with my youngest son right now and this morning I had to drive to school to take an inhaler to my oldest (he hardly ever needs it, but I guess running during P.E. made him wheezy, I hope he'll keep the inhaler in his backpack and use it as needed).

The past two weekends were extremely busy, first we did our annual "mega-volunteering" for our church's Christmas community outreach event: a very involved "guided tour" of 1 AD Bethlehem. My husband and I are guides as is our 15 year old with a classmate. We help for over 4 hours 5 nights straight (plus a couple of hours two days before for the dress rehearsal).

This past weekend our high-schooler and his classmates had the Christmas concerts weekend: Candlelight concert Friday night with a repeat performance Saturday afternoon, performances at church in the morning and a Pop concert on Saturday night.

I'm tired! But I'm happy that yesterday I was able to put up a small Christmas tree. I hope to share photos soon!

Appointment is done and we're off!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

When you think you wrote something...

... and then can't find it.

I thought I'd blogged it, so I looked in my archives this year (easy peasy because, hello! only 62 posts, the most depressing number ever), part of last year (wow, what a depressing year 2016 was!) and came up empty.

It may be in my journal somewhere, that's what I'm hoping. If it is maybe I'll even post a photo.

Yesterday a former blogger I really like* and who often posts funny things on facebook that all her really cool friends comment on and we always have great interactions in the comment sections couldn't sleep and wrote a post with chapters of a "book" of self-condemnation items. People chimed in with chapter titles and appendices and what not, and I wrote a comment outlining my own very sad book of regrets & other negative things.

However, a while back -- a few months? half a year? a year? I was feeling like literally writing such a list of negative things, but I stopped myself and wrote a list of the things I'm best of.

That's what I'm looking for. I'll go look in my journal, maybe it's there.

* and one of a select group of bloggers I met several times in person, in her case and two others because of LLL!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Headed to the Big Apple!

We're headed to NYC later today. It's going to be the second time we stay in Manhattan.

The first time was only for ONE NIGHT and it was December 30, 2001 -- right after 9/11 and when I was heavily pregnant with my eldest son. We went to NYC with my husband K's three brothers, K2 and his wife, K3 and his girlfriend, and K4 who was still single then.

On Dec. 31st we stood in line for many hours to see ground zero with our very own eyes. :-( And while we were there, Rudy Giuliani and his girlfriend came to pay a visit on his last day in office. We took photos. Yuck, Giuliani!

Anyway... we ALMOST went to see the ball drop in Times Square, but I had a silly old backpack (I was pregnant and needed water & snacks) which I didn't want to toss in the trash -- maybe I should have?  So we drove back up to Massachusetts while K3 (who had his own car) and his girlfriend stayed behind to see it.

We're staying in a hotel close to the Brooklyn bridge. We are wondering if the cheaper prices downtown have anything to do with the latest terrorist attack (that unfortunately killed 5 Argentine men from Rosario, my dear Argentine graduate school friend's hometown. BTW, did you hear about the Argentine submarine that went missing? So sad!).

Then, on Thanksgiving day we will drive up to Montreal to visit K4 and his family. It'll be a short visit because it's not a holiday for them. We'll see them again at Christmas, which we're spending with K's whole family in a house we rented in the Poconos, PA.

I'll try to post from NYC!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Highly Curated Content versus Relatively Raw & Unflitered...

... or the Instagram/Pinterest versus the Blogger/WordPress generations.

Nothing like a scattered and hastily written blog post to dispel writer's block, I guess? ;-) ;-P

Yes, I know that smiley faces make me look less intelligent, but this is not a work email, and I don't care. Although I am bravely resisting the urge of adding emoticons to my emails to students. I still draw smileys on exams, though. ;-)


I have wanted to say this for a while and I wish I could write a highly edited and curated blog post, but a quick one will have to do, before the writer's block sets in again! (can you feel the despair in my voice?)
;-P

In any case, first of all, I think this is a generational difference... (that's why I added the "Aging" label -- I don't have one about different generations) younger people (and by that, I  mean folks 10-15 years younger than me) have a "thing" going. At least the sample of younger people that I know and interact with -- most are originally from Brazil, BTW. They are very intentional in the way they decorate their house, plan and execute their weddings, pose for photos, not to mention fashion choices. They also photograph everything daily life & events very selectively and at expert angles & lighting and post it to Instagram.

I guess it all started with Pinterest and the ability to curate content online (so people would find the same things cute & "fashion" would become even more uniform than it already is) and then Instagram made it easy to share one's highly photogenic choices and lifestyle.

There are some older people (although maybe still slightly younger than me) such as Dooce and other professional bloggers who have been very picture perfect in their online life, although not exactly like the younger people I know -- but those are the "professional" web content creators. Today, everyone looks perfect like that, I mean, at least the sample I'm exposed to.

One thing that is kind of scary to me is how fads and styles have become the same here and in Brazil. The style of wedding decoration and children's parties, for example... Wooden things, greenery, mason jars for drinking, naked cakes, hanging lights...

Sigh...

Can you tell I'm slightly irritated by all this perfection?

I miss words, many many words rather than pretty images. I miss raw feeling and relatively unfiltered thoughts. I still attempt to share them here, but I confess that I'm becoming more and more overwhelmed by the millennials that create such perfect content online now. I severely limit my exposure to such folks, only following a few people I know on Instagram, but even this small exposure already influences me.

Looking at their neutral colors, extremely beautiful party decor, lovely assortment of picture frames arranged on walls, is making me feel ugly and old and too colorful and LOUD, even.

I LOVE who I am, I love my funky style, all the colors, all the flowers, but sometimes I feel like I want some of that stereotypically beautiful style that today's younger generation likes.

A prime example is the new Magnolia line at Target. I have also been photographing things in this style for a while on my phone and I'll try to illustrate my point with photos later.

For now I just want to say that I really, really, REALLY miss the community of bloggers that I was active part of from 2005-2009, maybe 2010. I have some more thoughts about this (that have to do with the openness that came along the advent of blogging and that has now waned), but I'll try to share those later.

Have you noticed this new Pinterest/Instagram trend? What do you think?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Gotta Write Something! (And a Xmas Card brought to you by... Lowered Expectations!)

OK, I have FIVE posts sitting in the draft folder right now, all my latest posts, and about 5 more in draft since June.

I'm tired of thinking of the draft folder. I also think that the internet and my phone are exacerbating my ADHD to such a point that I'm becoming a useless person. Really.

So I've gotta write and publish something. ANYTHING!!

It's cold and I think that now that I've been back from my trip for a week I'm finally back to "normal" -- especially today that I finally took my medication again (it had run out a few days before my trip and I had not had time to fill the prescription and did so only yesterday).

And back to normal is not especially pleasant since I feel HORRIBLY guilty that I have a HUGE number of compositions and online work from my students that I haven't read and graded since the beginning of the semester. Yes, I am a horrible person and a horrible teacher. Sigh...

I hate online homework. I don't know how I can make that better. All the "PTSD" from the horrible University of Phoenix gig (from like 8 years ago!) is still a factor.

Ok, what else can I say?

We've decided to go to Montreal next week to visit my youngest brother-in-law and his family. Oldest son is suggesting we stop for a night or two in NYC and get a hotel in Manhattan.

Youngest son is grumbling that he hates cities and it will be torture (this is the poor kid that was "forced" to spend his 12th birthday in Manhattan with us last year -- MoMA (which he loved, BTW) and Top of the ROK.

What else? Oh, yeah, Last night I ordered our Christmas Card at Costco and we picked them up today. This is the photo paper one that I send to Brazil to be mailed to all our family and friends. I order extra-early so my mother-in-law can take them to Brazil for me for my mom to mail them out.

We had NO nice photos at all, so I used a photo taken at a sunset at the beach in FL (and the light looks horrible in the print out) and -- GASP!!! -- a SELFIE! How low have I gone!? A selfie in a Xmas card? Talk about lowered expectations!! Then I added two more photos -- one of our youngest son and I in San Francisco and the other a nice photo of K and Kelvin on my new phone. It's not too horrible.

That should be enough for one post.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Back "Home"

Today was one of those days of literal "in-betweeness" in which I have to re-enter the country and face all the angst of my choice of living here. When I'm there, in the confusion and mess that is South America (Argentina is messier than Brazil, and I'm not referring to the soccer player here. I know, pathetic cliché pun), I have some feelings of longing to come back to the orderly U.S., but once I'm here, now that I'm going to become a citizen, I don't feel so sure.

Sigh...

I wish I didn't have to feel this uncertain, but, as my husband said to me on the phone, it's hard to come back to the country (on election day, no less, the anniversary of one of our worst collective nightmares) with this creature as president.

I just posted 185 photos of our trip on facebook. I bought an iPhone 7+ on purpose so I could have its top-notch camera on the trip and it was so worth it! Let me know if you want to be facebook friends. I'll try to post some photos here later, but with no blogging app it's hard.

I have another flight to take and then a 3 hour drive home. Thankfully I'm using a pass to be at the United Club, so I'm having hot drinks and I'm about to eat some fruit. Back to real life as soon as I land. Good thing in a month the semester will be nearly done!

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Oh, Boy, it's November! But I'm in the Southernmost City in the World!

I could have possibly blogged last night, but I was EXHAUSTED! First night sleeping in a bed in three days! First longish night of sleep in four days.

My parents and brother arrived this morning and we are so delighted to be traveling together. This hasn't happened since... I don't know... many many years ago? I have traveled a lot with my parents ever since we left Brazil back in 1996, but I haven't traveled with my brother SINCE OUR CHILDHOODS ENDED! Years ago!! Sigh...

Anyway, I desperately need to sleep, so I have to stop. But I will try to blog more often, once a day or more, throughout this month.

Greetings all the way from Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, the Southermost city in the world (only reason why Argentina HAD to "steal" half of this island from Chile -- they wanted the bragging rights!) ;-P

Monday, October 30, 2017

Airport Blogging, Part 8

I don’t know how many “airport posts” I’ve written in the blog— no time to check now, but I’m guessing 7. ;-)

Travel is EVERYTHING. I’ve said it before that I’m happiest when I’m on the go and I wish I could be constantly traveling. Seriously! It’s magical to get to know new places, it’s just the best thing in the world. At least to me!!

I just wish that traveling wasn’t [it should be weren’t because it’s the subjunctive, but nobody used it, so it sounds so wrong!!] so stressful. Sigh... I mean, generally it all works out in the end, but packing, loading the car, making sure you have all the documents, driving to the airport with time to spare, going to security, waiting at the gate, boarding the plane, the uncomfortable plane ride, making the connections, landing, getting luggage — and then doing it ALL OVER again on the way back. That is stressful and kind of exhausting.

When you travel as often and as extensively as we do (I know I want to travel more, but I am delighted at how much we do travel, I know how lucky we are), you get so used to it that it’s annoying, but kind of second nature to do everything. My sons have been traveling since infancy — my youngest is so proud for having flown at 6 days old!! — and are such pro travelers it’s a joy to behold. It’s also fun to have the luxury of traveling without them!

My last trip, to San Francisco with my son’s robotics team was from this same airport! This is helpful to me because I feel comfortable that I’ve been here before. Ok, I meant to blog to say that I still don’t know for sure if I will be able to board my plane to Argentina because my upcoming flight has a delay. But I hope I can!!  I’ll try to update this post.

The Year of the Unfortunately Thwarted Travels - Part II

Today I leave for another trip, but this trip has also been altered by events outside of our control. I hope it will have a true "happy ending," in spite of the stress it has caused us.

My dad turns 80 on November 6 and my brother decided that it would be a good idea to make my dad's dream to visit Tierra del Fuego -- the Southernmost place on a continent on Earth -- come true. So he talked to my mom and they planned a surprise trip for dad. They also asked if I could come and after consulting with my colleague I decided to find people to help with my classes and to go too!

Well, the first thing that went wrong was that my dad (who was suspicious because of some charges from Argentina in his credit card) went through my mom's emails and found out about the trip. They kept telling him I wasn't going, though, to try to keep at least this part a surprise.

I leave the U.S. today, but my parents and my brother were leaving Brazil on Tuesday, since my brother is finishing his MBA and has classes on Monday nights. Friday night, my brother received a series of ominous emails from Aerolineas Argentinas saying that they had scheduled a general strike for Tuesday 10/31 and that their flights were cancelled!

When I got up Saturday morning I noticed that my Tuesday flight had been cancelled from my reservation as well! :-( We all spent several hours calling airlines and trying to change our flight and we finally did -- except that my parents and brother will miss TWO WHOLE DAYS of a six-day trip. :-( I am missing only Tuesday evening, since I'll get to Ushuaia (the world's Southernmost town) on Wednesday morning. My family will join me on Thursday.

For a moment there I thought we would have to completely cancel, and we probably should have, since my brother and my mom, whose previous tickets had been purchased with miles, had to cancel those and purchase new tickets, which cost them a lot of money!

I hope with all my heart that the trip will be uneventful even in spite of these unfortunate circumstances. I will try to keep you posted!


Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Year of the Unfortunately Thwarted Travels - Part I

If you're a longtime reader you know our family travels a lot! It used to be mostly within the U.S., to Canada, and to & from Brazil where we are from and where most of our extended family members live. Starting in 2012, though, we began to go on a few trips to other faraway places thanks to my mother-in-law's successful travel agency business!

First it was an amazing trip to South Africa (I wrote 10 posts about that one!) in March 2012, then, a couple of trips to Brazil, and in 2015 we had a long and marvelous "Epic Family trip" first to the Middle East (Egypt, Jordan, and Israel) and then to Europe (Germany, Switzerland & a tiny corner of France -- Chamonix/Mont Blanc). I even created a label about the epic trip so I could link to all posts together here. Last year I barely blogged out trip to Brazil since I didn't have a laptop in which I could download my photos (now I do! It's a work laptop, but I will be using it to blog!), but on that nearly 6 weeks long trip we did two "epic" things, visited Foz do Iguaçu and the Iguaçu/Iguazu Falls (Cataratas do Iguaçu) and spent two short, but marvelous days in Rio de Janeiro.

So, this year didn't begin with grandiose travel plans, except that my brother-in-law K3 who lives in Doha, Qatar (they teach at the American school there), invited the whole family to spend Christmas with them. My mother-in-law decided it would be more exciting if we spent a week in Dubai (United Arab Emirates -- UAE) first, so she booked a few suites there and was planning some outings for us, and then we'd spend a week in Doha. So in the end we were having one major trip in 2017.

In April, I think, my husband decided to go ahead and purchase our tickets to go on the trip. We were flying in and out of Dubai because it was cheaper, and would buy our flight to and from Doha later (it's less than 1 hour flying, and pretty cheap). As you may remember from reading/listening to the news, it turns out that because of the TV channel Al Jazeera and some other disputes, several Arabic countries (UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia & Bahrain) decided on a blockade against Qatar in the early summer, hence completely destroying the plans for our trip.

Of course we were the only ones who had actually bought tickets, so we had to think of alternate plans. United was kind enough to let us switch the flight from Dubai to Doha, Qatar, and also the date, from Christmas from Thanksgiving. I wasn't very happy about this because my thinking is that if you're spending more than 3K on a trip it should be longer than six days, but whatever... In any case, you won't believe what happened! Lufthansa cancelled its Frankfurt Doha flight ENTIRELY back in September. Seriously!! And the annoying customer service people at United kept saying our flight was ok (in spite of us telling them we'd read in the news Lufthansa had announced the cancellation), until they found out it wasn't (DUH!) a week later and called us frantically several times.

In conclusion, we asked for our refund and had to sadly tell our brother-in-law, SIL, nephew and niece that we wouldn't be visiting them after all. :-( I felt sorry for the kids who were looking forward to having guests! We debated going to Europe (our initially desired destination before this whole brouhaha started in April) to meet up with K3, but he bought their tickets to fly here instead, so the whole family will meet up for the holidays (my mother-in-law rented a house in the Poconos, PA, since there are 17 of us. We are hoping to hit a few indoor water-parks there, since we don't know if it will be snowy/cold enough to hit the slopes).

That's all there is about that huge thwarted trip, but there's one more messed up trip (not entirely!), and I hope to blog about that shortly!

Drum-roll!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

66 or 23 more posts to go

Once more, I want to pursue the "silly" goal of 117 posts in 2017.

If I find it too hard to write 66 posts, which would be PRECISELY one post a day until Dec. 31st (yikes!!), I'll settle for 77. ;-)  That's way more manageable, only 23 more posts to go!

In any case, if I post daily in November, I should be good, shouldn't I? (old NaBloPoMo!) In any case, I know that once I get going, or "start talking writing" it'll be easy to keep going.

So... yeah, I have a feeling that 66  more posts would be relatively easy. OK, let me post this and get started right away! I feel good about the prospect of blogging more often. I just wish the Blogger app still worked so I could blog from my phone more easily. Now with a bigger screen I can probably manage doing it from the browser.

I'll be back soon!