Thursday, December 23, 2004

Saudade.../ Holiday blues...

It's hard to be here and have most of the family down in sunny and warm Brazil, eating tons of delicious fruit, enjoying the beach, and, most importantly, each other's company.

After spending 3 consecutive Christmases with family (01 and 02 with my in-laws and last year with both sets of grandparents in my mom's house in Brazil) this year it's just the four of us - oh, and it's the first Christmas we're a foursome.

It's a little sad, but considering that we saw most of our family members several times this year (we had graduations, a wedding, two births - all here in the U.S.), we're better off than many Brazilian expatriates we know. We're having a potluck Christmas dinner with a group of Brazilian friends, and that should be fun!

The tree's decorated, most presents are wrapped, the food shopping is done, all that remains now is this nostalgia. The right word is untranslatable: saudade. This word is said to be unique to the Portuguese language. It means homesickness, a deep longing, feeling blue, nostalgic. All of that and more. I'm sure people who speak other languages feel it too, they just don't have the "right" word to describe it.

Well, even with lots of saudade I hope we have a good holiday season, and that next year, we can be together with our WHOLE family again!

Monday, December 13, 2004

so what?/ a que vim?

I started a blog, but I’m not even writing on it. Partly because of the awareness that it's almost useless - nobody reads it yet. I have no idea whether anybody will ever read it, but just the fact of having it gives me a certain comfort... I don't really belong to this cyber community yet, only unilaterally (I do read other blogs), but MAYBE someday I will belong, I will be read, heard, feel truly connected. I have yet to figure out how to add links to other blogs I read, sites I recommend and the like. I know nothing of HTML and that makes things a little bit harder…

The second reason why I haven’t written any more is that my son (the 6 month old) has been teething (first tooth is out, yeay!), and our sleep has been extremely compromised because of that in the past few weeks. We also traveled on Thanksgiving, had friends over the next weekend, and traveled again last weekend.

The third reason is that I feel a bit intimidated about writing something “public.” Even though English is not my “mother tongue”, as an academic, particularly in literature, I’m supposed to write at least tolerably, and that makes me think twice before posting. I’m not too confident in my abilities as a writer, I wish I could write only half as well as, for example, Catharine Newman (I’m the BIGGEST fan of her online weekly journal, Bringing up Ben and Birdy: Today, however, I decided to just go for it, it may be worth it… and if I don’t even try, nothing will ever come of it.

Let's see...

Monday, November 15, 2004

As an Introduction.../ À Guisa de Introdução...

My first question was: do I write a blog in English or in Portuguese?

In spite of having English as my main "writing" and "thinking" (academically) language in the past 8 years, I speak Portuguese at home with my husband and sons. I even write most of my journal entries (when I have time) in Portuguese. As a matter of fact, my 2 year and 8 months old son does not speak nor understand English - I can't even recount his witty and funny sayings here without translating and probably adulterating their meaning. Hence the mama in translation. More precisely, mamãe in translation since that's what I am, my son doesn't call me mama or mommy.

Some facts:
I am an ABD (all but dissertation) comparative literature doctoral student. My husband just got his Ph.D. in physics and is now working as a postdoc. We are foreign students from Brazil who just moved from MA to Philadelphia, PA.

For most of our graduate student careers, in addition to our respective TA and RA "jobs", we had a sponsorship from a private college in Brazil - that helped (meaning, we didn't starve, we were able to save some money, we even got a small townhouse) - but we owe a lot (healthcare, a few raises) to the strong graduate student union at our former university. Because of our flexible schedules as TA (me) and RA (husband), and my retired parents who came from Brazil to help, we never needed childcare for my oldest son (that's why he only speaks Portuguese), and I never stopped teaching (even in the summer) until I had my 2nd son last May.

I have no idea how I'm going to write my dissertation, now that my parents are back in Brazil. They spent 6 months here to help us in the crazy processes of caring for a toddler, having a baby, moving to a different city (selling one house, buying another), while my husband finished and defended his dissertation.

I'm currently a stay-at-home mom (lucky me! yes, I mean it... I feel sorry for those who need to have childcare for their precious children, e.g., in a new city, with very few friends, very little money, and the need to be endlessly creative to entertain a toddler, and keep an infant from screaming all day long. Of course I'm ready to scream myself!

That's why I started a blog.

PS1 on the "translation theme", should I mention that my dissertation is about translation?
OK, I just did, so, to be more precise, it's on Brazilians in English translation.

PS2 I want to "thank" my former teacher John Milton for starting a blog - I enjoyed it, and it motivated me to start one as well:

Sunday, November 14, 2004

a picture is worth...

Well, as my obsession with photographs would have it, the first thing I posted to my blog was a picture. I was trying to figure out how hello works so I could add a picture to my profile and then - click! - I added a photo as my first post. I hope it IS worth a thousand words, since I can't describe what my youngest son Linton means to me. Not even in a thousand words.

Mamãe & Linton Posted by Hello