Thursday, July 28, 2005

Just for the sake of posting...

I know, I haven't posted for over 10 days, even though I've been reading blogs as usual. I decided to break the silence, following swisslovebaby and expatmama, who recently posted (at least I know that they usually visit here : )

The past week or so two babies were born, and one adopted by people whose blogs I check regularly (chicagomama/incarcerated uterus had a baby daughter the same day her husband met their adopted daughter in China, the "famous" Chez Miscarriage finally had her son, who was born to the surrogate mom), and I've been following those...

Anyway... I've been quite busy with the boys and also with guests. After a weekend with an aunt, uncle and two cousins of my husband visiting, this week we have my mother-in-law with us. Kelvin is on cloud 9 (is that how you say it? I think in Portuguese we just say he's in the clouds, or something), because he LOVES to be around people, particularly family. My parents should be here in a month or so, because I finally decided I was going to ask them for help to try to finish my dissertation. Can't write about that too much, my mom might read this : ) It will definitely be great for Kelvin, probably not so great for me, because I'll have no excuse whatsoever not to work.

Let me change the subject, quick, before I get too upset. Things have been happening that might have future consequences. A university in Brazil has called my husband to do a short talk (it is a loooooong shot, but he's planning to go), he's also planning to apply to a university in Florida. We'll see... He needs to work really hard all this month to get things moving (publications, applications, etc).

It's been extremely hot and humid here. I think this is the very first summer in our 9 years in the US when we're using the AC most of the days. It does help that we live in a newer, more energy-efficient house, so it's not too expensive. Of course it'd be hard for the boys if we didn't use AC.

Last but not least, I've been working on a post that should -- hopefully -- be fun. I'll try to finish and post it soon, OK?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Enter toddler, exit baby

(edited to add picture)
Linton's walking. It's been a week now, but I'm still mistified by his pretty sure steps. All this week I'd be working at the computer, and then I'd hear this noise and wonder, who's that? Oh, yes, it's Linton walking by -- it does sound completely different from the softer noises made from crawling on the carpet, and different from Kelvin's more "mature" steps.

All right, I admit that by the "medical definition" (taking 3 steps) he's been walking for well over a month now (he actually took his first "3 steps" the day after the doctor told me this definition at the 12 month check-up), but my definition is a bit more comprehensive. For me, walking means walking not just from me to the sofa, or taking a few steps and then falling down, which he was doing a lot, but walking away from people, and walking, say, all the way from the living room to the kitchen. That only started last week, and he's already trying to "run" and jump. I thought he'd walk earlier than his brother, because he started crawling almost 2 months earlier, and was always very strong. I was actually wondering why he wasn't walking, since he knew how to, and his legs were (are) so strong that he could get up without support when sitting on the floor, and, when standing, squat and get right up again. I started to joke that he was a perfectionist, and only wanted to walk when he felt he'd be "perfect" at it. That's a "possibility" given how sure he looks now that he's doing it.

I'll miss my crawling baby, though, since they say now he's no longer a baby, but a toddler. And it's really amazing, but all of a sudden he's doing so much in such a short time! Saying new words everyday, pointing to objects, wanting to eat only by himself... And he does look like a whole new person now that he no longer needs to be a "quadruped", but can join the rest of his family in the biped world : )

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I'm blogging, therefore I won't get a job in academia

Tonight I decided to google some words to try to find other dissertating (or recent Ph.D. graduate) mothers in blogosphere, and I was successful! I haven't yet read much of these blogs, but they look promising:ABDmom (a fellow All But Dissertation mother), Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast (a mother of two working on her dissertation), 11D (recent Ph.D. and mother). And I know there should be more out there.

Both SITBB and 11D mention a recent article in
The Chronicle of Higher Education that I don't know if I can link to here because I'm not a subscriber (you could get there from the above mentioned blog entries). The title is pretty scary: "Bloggers Need Not Apply" and I once again think that I have no future as an academic. No, not because I blog, but because reading about the process of hiring, interviewing, evaluating candidates, etc, makes me think again that I don't fit in. And the most important part - I don't really want to, or care too much [edited to add - see, if a search committee ever reads this, I'll be in deep trouble, right? You're supposed to "worship academia" and all it represents, I guess].

The difficult part with this whole academic "thing" is: I still have to go through the motions, the painful process of writing a dissertation, all for "nothing". Yes, because I do want to finish, even if I don't know if I'll get (or think I have any chance of getting) an academic job. Well, more on that later (I mean, in a future post).

The funny thing is that I have thought before about whether blogging could jeopardize my "academic career", and I've even written in an earlier post that probably nothing would happen to a graduate student. Well, maybe not. Oh, yeah, cyberspace can be "dangerous" in more ways than one realizes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Birthday, visit from friends, busy translating - oh, and reading

I've been quite busy...

Last weekend we had two of our closest friends from Brazil staying with us for a little over 24h. Before staying up all night talking to them on Friday, we'd gone to bed really late in the previous days trying to get the house in shape (that's one of the things we love about guests - they "force" us to clean up the house!), then this week, I finally had some work to do - two translations (and I'm still not done, 2 more due on Friday), and I stayed up very late again for 2 nights. So... I'm a wreck, but - guess what - sleep can wait (a few more years, probably) because here I am, blogging away...

Should I mention that part of my late night working the past 2 days was due to the fact that I spent part of Sunday and ALL of Monday reading a book? Now, come on, don't chastise me, I haven't read a book of fiction of my own choice for years now... Everything I've read in the past 7 years was either for a class I was taking or for a class I was teaching.

The book I read was: I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson. I enjoyed it, it would be fun to read reviews and comments from the time it was published, since I'm coming to it soooo late (it's from 2002), but I have no time. I had read something about it because the author is writing a new book, and set up a website to collect experiences from women who want to contribute to it (Dawn linked to it): Women Doing It Then, coincidentaly, I came across the book at one of those "close out" stores, for 3.99, and couldn't resist. It just made me think that moms that stay at home also work a lot, and don't necessarily remember everything or have a clean or organized home either.

Last but not least, I had a birthday on the 7th. 7/7, that really made me like the number 7. No big celebration, since we were getting ready for our guests, but I enjoyed the day - went to a bookstore to get a scrapbooking and a gardening book. The first one is just for me to fantasize about scrapbooking (something I haven't done in 5 years, and intend to start again after I finish my dissertation as a consolation prize, ha ha ha :) and the second is to help me garden right now, and plan for next year.

Very boring post, I know... but that's what I've been doing. The boys are great, will post about them separately.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Expatriates, 9 years and counting

June 20 came and went, and this year I didn't even remember it was the "anniversary" of our arrival in the States in 1996. One of the reasons is that we no longer live in Massachusetts, the place we went to in the first place and lived in for 8 years. There, whenever June came around, we usually reminisced about our arrival, and looked back to the years since then, also wondering about what we'd do in the future.

Nine years is a long time, it's almost as long as we've been married (it'll be 11 years in December), almost a decade! We still feel connected to Brazil, especially to the friends we left there, they are still the best friends we have. We visit every year or two, family members come to visit often, we speak only Portuguese at home, but the deep, visceral saudade ("homesickness", longing, yearning, etc - this word is basically untranslatable) that we used to feel all the time now is almost gone. It only comes back once in a (long) while, like for example in the rare visits from close friends, when we realize how much we are missing in terms of wonderfully close, meaningful and enriching human interaction. That's what we're missing here. In these nine years we had few moments of real "fulfillment" in terms of friendships and interacting with people who are "kindred spirits."

Otherwise, our lives have been wonderful. We had many opportunities that we'd never have in Brazil (mostly for lack of money), like spending a month studying French in France (just me, in 1999), backpacking in Europe for a month (2000), visiting London for a week (2001), apart from the opportunity of getting a Ph.D. in a large university, and just living in the U.S., getting to learn and internalize its culture. Dreams come true, no doubt, but at what cost? Sometimes I feel our lives are pretty "empty", because of the lack in friendships.

And about the future? It's still up in the air. Right now we feel strongly that it would be great to go back to Brazil, but my husband would have to get a job in a public university, preferably in Sao Paulo state, and that's not very easy. On the other hand, it would be more "practical" to go back only after we had permanent residency, so we could come back easily, not having the hassle of Visas, etc. This would take at least 5 years or more to happen. How would it be to go back to live in Brazil after 13-15 years abroad? I'm sure it wouldn't be easy, but there at least we have family and friends, our "roots" -- we certainly have no kind of roots here, but that's the kind of choice immigrants have to make, right? Whoa, I used this word, immigrant, but I've never seen myself as one. I always felt it was only temporary, "We're just foreign students, we have to go back, we don't really want to stay here." I don't know if I feel the same way, even though I still have difficulty to see myself as an immigrant, and, technically, I'm not one either.

Technicalities aside, I guess I can say I would have no problem staying here. It's the "easy" way out, since in Brazil life is harder (less money, access to culture and arts, much more violence, insecurity), but when I think of our children, not growing up with the kinds of friendships we have in Brazil, when I think of ourselves, not having those friends around, I see a dreary future ahead. Not to mention our families -- what to do when our parents get really old and need our care?

I know, I know, there's nothing I can do about it right now, but those are the kinds of thoughts I entertain every single day of my life as an expatriate, and I imagine most people in my situation do too. The fact that I am a mother also puts a different spin on all these musings. Where do I want my sons to grow up? Do I want to provide them with the same kind of opportunities/experiences I had when growing up? How are they going to fell with respect to both countries and the choice I (we) make for them?

There are many, many more questions, and they linger in my mind whenever I think about our decisions, past and future ones. Back in 1996 we didn't really see them coming, all these questions and doubts, but they're all part of the process, after all, we chose to come here, and now we have to deal with it!
Well, just before I forget, I'm not the only one looking back into the past and thinking about how life has been, Sophie has written an interesting entry about her experience as an expatriate, now back in her country.

Monday, July 04, 2005

MIT Survey

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

I participated, it was interesting. I prefer to think that I made some science than that I'm just a statistic (the other "label" I could have chosen. Well... I guess I am just a statistic, just someone else out here in virtual space... I'll try to post soon, I guess. Oh, yes, I decided to do the survey after seeing it in Kate's blog (Expat Mama). I hope she and her family have a good trip back. I have been busy with family/friends visiting, etc... but I'll write about it some other time.