Wednesday, March 31, 2010


So, now with the 1000th post out of the way, we can continue on to our regularly scheduled programming. ;-)

This is one of the things I forgot in yesterday's post. If you were wondering which decision we made regarding this issue... I'll tell you in a minute. (And for a while there if you googled something like "Census 2010 are Brazilians Hispanic?" I was the third result. Wait a minute, I come in first now, but probably because Google "knows" I may be looking for my own post, ha ha).

First of all, perhaps you didn't see my friend Meredith's comment to that post, I liked it a lot, so here is part of it (the beginning is good too, about people who refuse to collaborate with the census, M is an economist, BTW):
[T]he Census Bureau will call you Hispanic if you call yourself Hispanic. But the "official" OMD definitions* make it clear that the government does not consider Brazilians to [b]e Hispanic because their origin is not a Spanish speaking country. (Yes, yes, there are a million problems with this. Your origin IS a Latin country.) The vast majority of Brazilians do not select "Hispanic" on the census form.
I also found this about the 2000 census here:
Among those born in Brazil,** 50.5 percent were identified as “not Hispanic” and 4.5 percent were “Hispanic” in both the CPS and Census 2000. However, 43.8 percent of Brazilians identified as “Hispanic” in CPS but were identified as “not Hispanic” in Census 2000. The main reason for this may be that respondents who identified as “Other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino” and wrote-in “Brazilian” were recoded into “not Hispanic” in Census 2000.
and I cannot, for the life of me, remember what I answered on the 2000 Census! In any case, if what I quoted above is true, we will end up not counted as Hispanic because what I put down in the end, because of K's insistence, but I guess he's right in the end, was "Hispanic Other" and added Brazilian. For the boys too, although maybe for them I should have put down "Brazilian American"?

Why did K (and his brother "K2" as well) insist we join the ranks of our Hispanic "brothers and sisters"? First, because the Census includes the word "Latino" and we're most definitely "Latinos," from "Latin America" -- a strange, non-geographic "area" to begin with since it encompasses Mexico in North America, most of Central America and South America, but then, again, if you guys in "this country of yours" (as K loves to say) considered America as ONE CONTINENT as I was taught in grade school in Brazil,*** saying "Latin America" might make more sense and signify more of a "place" too.

Now, the term "Latino(a)" is quite problematic because it derives from "Latin" and alludes to historical fact that the Romans invaded Spain, Portugal, etc. So it refers to domination, colonization, so some people think it's a negative term. In addition, French, Italian (and Romanian too, if I'm not entirely wrong) are "Latin Languages" and "Latin people" too, not only Spanish and Portuguese (and the former Spanish and Portuguese colonies in the Americas), so, "Latino(a)" is a very complicated term. I have to concede that I've always identified myself as "Latina," though (Brazilian first and foremost, obviously).

Going back to the discussion above, if our first reason was the "Latino" category, for the second one K argued that we have to identify with our fellow Hispanic immigrants, because we understand them (not just the language, but we "get them" in more general terms) and also join their ranks to make Hispanics less and less of a "minority" here in the U.S. And, BTW, my googling above led me to find out that some Hispanics are boycotting the census claiming that we need immigration reform. I don't see how this boycott would help them, though! Quite the contrary, the sheer numbers would prove that reform is needed, I guess.

OK, this is long enough already, but I guess that you can see how this issue is complicated for me. I guess I'm OK with having categorized myself as "Hispanic and Latino(a)." I do intend to really "learn" Spanish anyway at some point ;-). If I don't, it looks like I won't be able to have a teaching job in the future since I teaching Portuguese/Brazilian literature is not an option most anywhere in the country. :-( (I already missed a teaching opportunity in VA because of that).

* Meredith, maybe you can give us a link and let us know more what "OMD definitions" are? (I should have emailed you about this, I know).

**How in the world can the Census Bureau know that respondents were born in Brazil? Do they cross information with other agencies? I thought that these statements were strange.

***I discussed this here in the blog years ago, we are taught there are only 5 continents -- like in the Olympic rings -- not counting Antarctica, obviously.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Thousandth Post!!!! 20 Years Ago and a Mish Mash of Stuff

Over 5 years of blogging.

Exactly 1000 posts today.

I wanted to go all celebratory, post some beautiful pictures, yada yada yada...

Instead, you get this mishmash of a post. I'll use subtitles to help.

ETA: in the end I "celebrated" by changing my blog header and editing the "About me" a bit.

Twentieth "Anniversary" of Knowing Him

Twenty years ago today, on March 30, 1990, I met K (story here). What a wonderful twenty years these have been! I hope we have at least twenty more in our future together.

Withdrawn Information

There are a few things I haven't told you guys yet. Partly because of the item below.
1. K was going to get an offer from the second place he interviewed at, but obviously had to decline. 66% success rate in his interviews this, what about that? (and no, we haven't heard from the third place yet, OK?)
2. Place #1 already sent the contract. So K is all set, he definitely has the job. The paper hasn't been mailed back yet. (waiting a few more days)

There was something else to tell, but it has entirely "escaped me" right now. Maybe later.

A Foolish & Silly Delicate Fragile Flower
Ha, what a stupid way to talk about myself, but being self-deprecatory is the only way I can try to tackle this issue. The sad truth is that I haven't blogged more and more often because I'm this overly sensitive person at times (or most of the time)* and some blog comments just throw me off balance and make me feel a little sick to my stomach. So then I get somewhat afraid of blogging and shut down a bit...
*I hate, hate, hate to be that way, one of the things I wanted the most in life was to be thick skinned, but then again maybe I wouldn't be such an empathetic person -- I do like being that way. Those of you in whose blogs I comment copiously know that I am easily moved by what I read and I really really empathize with people (too much sometimes).

Tons more
There's so much more I want to blog about. Maybe a "preview list" can help me and remind me to do it. I want to blog about:
- the boys and reading
- spring flower photos
- about having the house on the market a second time
- etc. ;-)

And some other unrelated things, such as the fact that I was on pins and needles watching the health-reform vote and that I wanted to "celebrate" by writing a post about health care in Brazil, but then in the end didn't have time...

I am on pins & needles waiting to find out whether I'm going to have a 5th nephew or the very first niece. Sigh. K's family is just unbelievable. His parents had 4 boys, the 7th grandson will be born in July. Why can't we have a niece/grand-daughter in August? BIL "K3" swears it's another boy. We'll know soon.

Edited to add:
P.S. The greatest, historic, blogger meet up didn't happen this weekend, unfortunately. Maybe in May. Or July. Or... I don't know when, but someday in the future. If we move to VA, we'll be driving through this blogger's "whereabouts" every time we go to Montreal to visit the B&S in-law.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Here We Go Again! or Up for Grabs!

The house is officially up for sale today (yeah, and I write at midnight, so the day just officially started). I'm so happy about that! I mean, I like this house, but I can't wait to move and start our "new life."

"On to bigger things now!" Cheerfully exclaimed my friend Aliki in the last post's comment section. A friend's enthusiasm and support is priceless, isn't it?

Yeah, it was about time, we moved on, no?

More than anything, though, I'm thrilled that this year things are completely different from last year. Then, we grieved the impending loss of the house we didn't want to leave, but now we celebrate and welcome the impending changes. Now we're no longer burying the dream, we're cutting lose the strings that hold us to the ground so we can fly. Nothing like one day after the other!

P.S. we're traveling to Canada this weekend. I don't know how we'll do it since we're just so tired from getting the house ready. Maybe, just maybe, the biggest blogger meet up in the history of this blog could happen on Monday. I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Back in a Few Hours

I'm still up because I was talking to our houseguest, a friend from Brazil who arrived from NYC after midnight. (It was a "blogger meet up" of sorts since I didn't know him in person until tonight, just virtually, we chatted often on skype, but we didn't/don't really read each other's blogs).

It'll be a short night because K arrives from the West Coast on a "red-eye" flight and I have to pick him up in a little over 3 hours. Good timing with the friend's visit because I won't have to drag the boys out of bed to go drive the airport...

I'm so glad K is on his way back! It's been a long week... and it looks like it'll be a "long" weekend too! ;-) (house to put on the market within 7 days, friend visiting, etc, etc, etc) I don't know when I'll have time to write...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Moment of Truth, Census 2010, Hispanic or Non-Hispanic?

I've been dreading this moment for a while now and I cringe every time I fill job application forms, sometimes filling in "Hispanic" because I know they're looking for diversity and it might be a plus for me. Now comes the census form, the time when I have to take an "official" stand on this once and for all.

Are Brazilians Hispanic, though? We do not speak Spanish although most of us understand it and can communicate if we use a Spanish accent and include some Spanish words and speak "Portuñol," as I like to call it (Spanish speaking people cannot understand Portuguese unless they're used to it by having Brazilian friends or family, which annoys me to no end*). Are Brazilians "Latinos"? I guess sure, we are, but Hispanic?

However, the Census wording is: "Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin."

As far as "race" is concern, I'm mostly White/Caucasian/European. In my dad's side I'm 25% German & 25% Polish (dad's 50/50 obviously, his grandparents were born in Germany on his dad's side and Poland, on his mom's side, he has bright blue eyes). In my mom's side: 12.5% French (my great-grandma emigrated from France); 12.5% Italian-Austrian (great-grandpa) -- their daughter, my grandma, had bright blue eyes too; and 25% a mixture, I'm told that there's some English and maybe Spanish too. My grandpa from was Southern Brazil, and he's the most "mixed" of my ancestors, with olive skin, black eyes and curly-ish hair. Most of my ancestors emigrated from Europe to Brazil in the end of the 19th century.

"Race" has nothing to do with being Hispanic though!! I know that a lot of "Hispanics," particularly Argentinean (or Argentine), but also from other countries, also have mostly "Caucasian" ancestors, so "race" is not really a factor here.

I guess they have this question in the Census because then want a confirmation that "Hispanics" are the largest immigrant group in the country and if being from a Latin American country counts, then I guess I should say that yes, I'm Hispanic. Sigh. I'll let K decide. What about the boys? Are they Hispanic too? They're definitely Brazilian, but born here. I guess we have to go with whatever we decide for us, the parents.

This expatriate life is very confusing at times... ;-)

*Someday I want to find a linguist who studies this phenomenon of this "one way" thing that goes between some pairs of languages. I'd love to read a dissertation about the linguistic (phonetic & otherwise) reasons why Spanish speakers cannot understand Portuguese if both languages are so similar. I wonder if anyone has studied this yet.

Monday, March 15, 2010

That Empty Feeling

This post is totally related to that one.

So this evening, after we came back home from a boys' scout style meeting in church after which three of us mothers went to the Korean grocery store together (one mom is Chinese American and the other Indonesian), when I was driving into the garage, Kelvin said:

"Oh, the house feels so empty now!"

In the split second that took him to finish his thought I wondered whether he was going to complain about his friends not being home or, perhaps (less likely) about daddy being gone (the boys barely said goodbye because they were playing Wii with their friends), but what he said was:

"Because whe Wii Sports Resort is no longer here..."

Oh, the things they say! At least he's pretty honest about what he really values. And, BTW, tonight we ordered the object of this desire, using his birthday money from grandma and auntie.

I know that he will miss daddy greatly, though.

Cake Baking, Basement Flooding, Boys' Sleepover...

This was a busy and yet strangely relaxing weekend.

As those who are facebook & twitter friends with me already know, on Friday night I baked four cakes (two on a large sized silicone bundt pan) and two smaller vegan cakes (from Vegan Lunchbox) on small angel food cake pans (more precisely a "flan" pan from Brazil). These were for making two "8" shaped cakes to celebrate Kelvin's birthday in the church potluck and then in his sleepover party.

Then, we got home on Saturday afternoon to an unpleasant surprise -- one room in our basement (the one with the oil tank and furnace) was almost flooded! Nothing as catastrophic and unfortunate as what Geeky Mom's family is experiencing not too far from here, but still very annoying. What saved us was that we had several pieces of leftover carpet on the floor of that room and the carpet absorbed all the water, which didn't seep into the carpeting of the finished part of the basement. We had to dry it all up with an old sponge mop and rags... and we had people coming over in less than two hours. Sigh. I was pretty stressed out about it, but in the end it didn't take that long to dry/clean it and remove the soaked carpet pieces.

As for Kelvin's birthday celebration (I'll try to write a post about this later) in the end we had only two boys for Kelvin's sleepover, but one came in the evening with his family to play Wii and another came this morning, so there wasn't a lot of confusion and chaos in the house. I think I prefer smaller and calmer birthdays like these than the huge parties that we threw in all previous years. As I wrote on fb, I think that the years of "Brazilian style" birthday bashes for the boys are nearly over (we may still throw a big party for Linton in May/June as a "farewell event" too).

Anyhow, I don't think I'm looking forward to the rest of this week and I need to go to sleep soon because tomorrow we have tons of schoolwork to take care of.

Lone(ly) Parent

One more week of lone parenting for me... K is off to a conference in Portland, OR and will be back on Saturday morning.

The only problem -- besides trying to stay sane with the boys under my care 24h a day -- is that we need to put the house on the market ASAP and it's going to be hard to do anything in the way of cleaning/organizing, while K is gone. :-(

Wish me luck. I won't have the time, but in spite of that it is possible that I'll need to blog more this week. Weekend update post coming.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Seeing with Mine Own Eyes

I just thought I'd say, before way too much time has passed, that this past Monday we visited the possible place where we may be moving to this summer. I really liked it, particularly the school where we want the boys to go to.

Thanks to blogging and the introduction from one bloggy friend to another we were referred to an awesome realtor who not only showed us the whole area, but who became a friend in the course of one afternoon. We're looking forward to working with her!

Last week I became quite depressed after I spent some time looking at real estate listing there. It may be that all of a sudden I found myself more attached to this house than I thought I was and there's also the underlying fear that we will only be able to afford a much smaller, "worse" house than this. Visiting the area helped to dissipate some of those fears. K still wants a smaller house, but I'm pleading with him for not too small (only price-wise ;-).

I just baked four "bundt cakes" to make two "8 shaped" cakes to celebrate Kelvin's birthday tomorrow (the last one is finishing baking now, actually). Two of the cakes are vegan (one "fluffy white" and the other chocolate) -- I took the recipes from Vegan Lunchbox* -- because one of Kelvin's friends who's coming tomorrow night is vegan. The other two cakes I'm bringing to the church potluck. I'll try to post pictures later.

Well, I've got to go to bed now. Good night!

* This reminds me that I wanted to order the second edition of the book as well as the new Vegan Lunchbox Around the World one. Oh, and the cake recipes are for cupcakes, but I made them in a small bundt pan (it took a looong time to bake).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Nothing Short of Amazing (link post)

Lest you should think the title refers to us, I decided to include that parenthetical remark there.

Things are moving along here (while still somewhat suspenseful), but I'll be a bit laconic for a while because my husband asked me to. I may also temporarily add comment moderation so I can bring more discretion to K's job search experience since I'm already over-sharing as it is. Please email if you get too impatient and want to know more, OK?

I just wanted to "publicly" (or blog-ly) congratulate Leslie M-B on landing a tenure track job. This is a feat in itself on this wretched market, but in Leslie's case it is even more amazing considering that she got a job on a subject area (history) only tangentially related to her PhD in cultural studies.

The most amazing thing, though, was the unconventional way that led her to her previous job(s) and her newly acquired one. Let's just say that "academic mommy blogging" (what I've been doing for the past 5 years) had a major role to play in it!! That alone is incredible to me and comforting in a sense.

I will stop talking now and let you read for yourselves. The other thing that resonated with me was what she says about authenticity, which has been a touchstone in my life ever since I was a earnest young girl (now I'm an earnest almost-middle-aged woman, but the girl's still alive and well inside). I decided early on that I'd be always authentic, true to myself, and that has always been with me.

What Leslie says about her job is the only way I can ever imagine of getting and keeping a job:
So I'm absolutely delighted because I'm starting a job from a position of authenticity; I didn't build up a façade that I'll need to maintain or very carefully disassemble.
BRAVO Leslie! I'm delighted for you too! And your story gives me hope that if I keep on being authentic and passionate about my research interests someday I'll find a place for myself. I hope it'll be easier because I don't think I'd want a tt job (unless it would be the only way for me to do meaningful research). And I think I should definitely try to pursue "unconventional professional development" (e.g. set up a website with my research results).

Thanks for sharing your inspiring story, Leslie! And two thumbs up for blogging!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A Letter for my "Favoritest" Eight-year-old

Kelvin, my love,

You already know so much of what I'm going to write here because I tell you some of these things each and every day, but I'm never tired of saying them time and again.

The day you were born was the most amazing day of my life. I knew that having a baby was going to be special, but I had no idea how special and magic it would be. The world suddenly was a different place, particularly after we left the hospital with tiny you in the car seat. Everything seemed completely different and also strangely scary because now we had that fragile being to take care of. I don't think anyone can understand how precious human life is until one has to care for a newborn baby.

Things were quite hard in the beginning because you were jaundiced and sleepy and wouldn't nurse, and then wouldn't poop (really! I know you're going to think this is absolutely hilarious, since you and your brother find any mention of that word and others related to it so funny, but it was as serious problem and the doctor was also concerned!). You eventually did and then, after a long month you finally figured out the whole nursing thing and then things got to much easier!

You were a calm baby. Much too calm at times --not veryinterested in playing with your toys. This calmness lasted only until you learned to walk at 13 months. Then you just wanted to walk, walk, walk. You walked over a mile once, when we visited a cave in New Mexico you were only 15 months!) and you refused to sit on daddy's backpack carrier. You always had the cutest high pitched voice and we had lots of fun teaching you to say who the presidents of certain countries were (U.S., Brazil, Russia and France) and you would always answer on cue (even if we switched the questions around) for the amazement of all our friends.

As the first grandchild on both sides of the family you were nearly spoiled with tons of love and attention from your grandparents, uncles and aunts and I think that this is why to this day you love to have lots of friends and family around!

It is hard to summarize eight years of your life in a few paragraphs, but I wanted to say here that I'm very proud of how motivated in learning about science and how well you read. I'm thrilled that you enjoy reading and I hope the this interest in learning and in reading may continue throughout your life. Everyone is also amazed at how good you are with computers and gadgets of all kinds. Your auntie Marcia remarked this weekend, "Kelvin, you're the only person I know who reads manuals" (you were reading the manual to the toy she had just given you).

I really love how caring and loving you are, always giving us hugs and kisses and telling us you love us. I feel especially happy when you thank me for the food I make, saying it's the most delicious thin you've ever eaten! :-) You are always ready to forgive me if I make mistakes (you know that sometimes it's not easy to get you do do schoolwork and I get upset about it). Most importantly, my heart almost bursts when you say that I'm "the best mother in the world!" Of course once in a while you don't feel that way, but thankfully it doesn't last very long. ;-)

I could go on and on talking about you, but then I wouldn't get any sleep tonight, so I will end here. I'm thrilled that you are my son and I love you just so much! I hope you've had a nice birth-day!



When you don't have anything good to say...

... just don't say anything at all, right?

So, that was the case with me last week. I was a bit "bluesy" and sad for no good reason and I didn't want to post anything whiny here in the blog. I am a whiny person after all, that's why that anonymous person's comment upset me so much last month. So I'm trying to keep myself from annoying my readers when I'm a bit down. We had an extremely busy weekend too, so it was hard to post as well.

I'm feeling way better now for reasons I will blog about soon, so hang in there, I'll be back!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Freelancing, a BIG FIRST!

I can hardly believe it, but I just finished a translation job (two letters for a law firm) and sent them an invoice!! An invoice!! Me!! Wow.

This happened thanks to a wonderful friend, our Brazilian realtor, who referred me to them.

I feel a bit foolish for not having tried to work with this before, given that I have lots and lots of experience (I worked for my graduate institution's translation non-profit company for many years). So, yeah, maybe I should pursue it, in spite of the fact that I'd rather do research and teach, but the first one doesn't pay at all and the second pays rather poorly. That whole deal with "not wanting to change a thing" is tough when I realize that my "career" choices never focused on money at all (I hate money, after all, right?). OK, but earning it does feel good, I must say!

Looking Forward: Grocery Shopping and School Clothes

I finally began to look at stores, the boys' school (they're going to a specific private school, one of the reasons we wanted to move to the area), town and area websites, etc. in Virginia.

- Grocery store roster's pretty dismal: 1 WM Supercenter and 2 stores of the same chain supermarket: [edible thing+"King of the animals"] -- I will try to avoid those by switching from our customary, but non-existing there BJ's wholesale club to Costco -- at least the place has that!

Our staples Aldi and Trader Joe's are an hour or more away (as is Whole Foods).

- There are several farmer's market and produce places. I hope those are good. I have to check into the CSAs again.

The big surprise: it looks like the boys' school does NOT require that they were a uniform. This is **really** important to find out ASAP because if that's the case, I'll have to hit the sales racks hard in the next few weeks before the fall/winter clothes disappear for good. Sigh.

I don't think that's bad at all because I like the boys to wear varied clothes (and I like to shop for clothes ;-). In the two years that Kelvin wore uniform (solid, but several colors polo shirt + navy, black or khaki pants) I realized that I didn't need to buy him many clothes anymore because most of them remained unused. I need to plan ahead, though and I always buy everything in the season clearances.

Some Jumbled Thoughts on "All This"

You know... I think that to begin with, the reality of "all this" (K basically having a job now and all) hasn't yet sunk in for me. I'm having a hard time transitioning from a life-looking-forward-to-and- dreaming-of-a-future into a life in which concrete things are beginning to happen, in which the future is finally taking shape. It's been a long time in coming, after all.

I'm sure it's normal, but it just feels a bit paralyzing to me right now. I'm still stunned at how quickly things went. And a bit terrified of the perspective of perhaps moving into a place where we'll live for the next 20, 30 years? It's a big step in life, isn't it? And a step that's much more complicated for an expatriate person with solid, close-knit family relationships and who has been far away from said family for many years, moving around all the while. This sentence I just wrote? Could be broken down into countless posts, some of which I hope will still get written and "published" here.

First, I want to address Articulate Dad's question/comment to the previous post. K is very happy with this job offer. It was actually one of his first choices all along. What *I* seem to be more "upset" with is him accepting right away and then perhaps getting another offer from "the other school" (of course he could walk away from a contract, but that's something that one tries to avoid at all costs). In fact, I guess the whole "problem" for me has nothing to do with the fact that it is a prestige school. What is so unsettling to me is the fact that this school has *the* department in my area and is near to another school with another similar department. This alone makes me wish for the "impossible" -- K getting a job there. And I know that this is a bit foolish from my part because his job wouldn't mean that *I* would be able to work at this department. One can dream with the mere possibility though, right? I think that this is what's "making/tying knots in my head" as we say in Portuguese (I imagine it doesn't make any sense in English) and making me sound stressed out and not excited about K's job offer.

K does want to "buy" some time, though, if at all possible, so he'll try. He would also like to know if he has any chance at the other place, it's just natural, no? We are both happy with the offer, though, and we do think that (for several reasons) our family might be happier there than in the other place. We do think it's reasonable to argue that our family should visit the place before he accepts, don't you think?

So, yeah... "all this" is happy, nice, great, but also hard. Nothing in life is easy. And right now I'm feeling quite awful because instead of being all celebratory about it all I have is a huge bunch of mixed feelings.

They will get sorted out eventually, I know. Like a humongous pile of clean, fresh-smelling laundry that has to be put away.

Too bad sometimes I let my clean laundry sit in the basket for several days before I tackle it. I can try to do better this time.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

It is Written (in a Frightful Hurry)

So, you remember the verbal offer, right? After some delay on K's part (he was interviewing all of lat week after all), he sent his budget on Monday evening and the written offer one came today, not by old-fashioned snail mail, but my email.

And they gave K a deadline to respond. Yeah, exactly what we feared, a deadline.

Now... guess what the deadline was?



two. days.

Isn't that crazeeee?

We know that this means they really want K to go there that's why they're putting the pressure on, but it also doesn't give him any room whatsoever to hear back from elite school, which is still interviewing, at least until the end of this week, maybe into next week. Sigh.

K's contacting the other two universities right away, of course. And he's going to contact that dept. head tomorrow to ask for two things: (1) a slight hike in pay; (2) one more week to give an answer because he wants to take our family there.* That's reasonable, right?

Breathe deeply. The roller coaster continues, my friends!

* we'll go next week on Tuesday, after the boys' music lesson (Kelvin's 8th birthday, BTW!) -- we can't go this weekend b/c K's youngest brother-in-law & his wife are coming to visit from Canada + the BIL from Maryland & his family.