Wednesday, September 26, 2012

locked in

it looks like we've just been locked in a 2.875% 15 year fixed-rate to refinance our place.

Is this awesome or what? we're going to be saving quite a bit of money, thankfully. YAY!!

edited to add, wow. and quite a bit of money it is, according to a mortgage calculator, we'll save124K in interest!!

My New Toy or... Why iKelvin is on iCloud 9

I bought the "toy"on 8/21 (the day we got back from Brazil), I started writing the post on 9/01 and only today I'm getting to finish it. Sigh... busy much? :)
Here are the photos: 

As you may (or may not) know, my son is an "Apple fanatic." In fact, he's been one for three years or more, since he was six or even. We did not have any apple computers in the house, though (only some older ipods, ipod touches and the boy's cracked ipad). So this was a momentous purchase for my eldest son. Of course he doesn't get to use it much because I take it to work, but he's still happy.

I joke that I'm not yet truly "converted," but I think it's going to be a process, not a one time "transformational event." ;)  There are plenty of things I still haven't gotten used to and maybe I never will. Meanwhile, I'll be happy to be "bi-lingual" in my computer usage too.

What pushed me into finally deciding to get a MacBookPro (not the newer retina display, still too expensive) is that we'd decided to get iphones (mine arrived in the mail yesterday, we're still waiting for K's). We'll see how things will go.

Have you switched from a PC to a Mac? How was the transition? Please let me know!

how talking helps

I just had an excellent conversation with my husband over the phone about the "delicate subject" I've been blogging about daily for some days now.

It turns out the things he had to say were excellent and because he really knows me and wants what is best for me (and us), the points he raised should definitely be taken into consideration as I debate what to do next. In fact, I don't know the reason why we were having a hard time talking about it.

According to K the biggest problem of this situation is when I start ranting about how academia is bad, and this and that, and he said that what he doesn't want to see happen is me applying for this and then being upset about it later. 

I cannot discuss some of the main issues that he pointed out because I would be further disclosing details about our two institutions that I don't want to disclose, lest we lose our semi-anonymity  (and, as you know, I maintain that as a request from my husband who doesn't want people to find him out through my blog or colleagues of him finding out that I have a blog).

I'll be happy to discuss more details over email if you're curious. Thank you SOOOO much, B* for your supportive comments, they mean the world to me. I will address some of the issues you brought up below.

Regarding my employment now and this position that is opening, I was hired as a last minute substitute for an ABD adjunct who left (for Harvard!). They value what I am doing and everyone keeps thanking me for being there, etc. The thing is, I wasn't looking for this job, it "found" me (via a friend's email), and when I applied for this late position, I had no idea they had done a search last year (in fact, it was great that I did not know and had not applied). When they hired me they already knew they were going ahead with the search. Maybe they won't mind if I apply, but K thinks it would be awkward -- particularly for me, if not for them.

Why could this be a problem for me? Well... it turns out that I have horribly thin skin. I do not handle feedback and rejection well. Quite the opposite. I cannot read student evaluations, they make me sick to my stomach. I get depressed and all my insecurities come rushing to my conscious life and suddenly I'm in the depths of despair. For several days, weeks even.

I know, I need therapy, lots of it, but I haven't done it yet.

So K had many valid points. And that, coupled with my inability to be productive and concentrate and work -- I need to get diagnosed (or not) with adhd and treated too are only two of the reasons why I always thought that a tenure track job could not be for me. And I think there are more reasons.

What upsets me and always has is that it's very hard/nearly impossible to continue to pursue my passion for research in the humanities if one is not in a tt position. Why?? Because it's useless!! You don't get paid for it and it doesn't count for anything and one's also lacking the external motivation (the fact that you are required to do it helps one be productive).

so, yeah... and K himself gave up a much more demanding tt job (&half a million!) because he thought it wasn't the right thing for our family (place too). In a few years I'm going to have two teenage boys and we are not going to move because we live next to the academy where they're going to go to school, so the commuting would continue indefinitely. Is this really what I would want for me and our family?

And in the end, I think it's a useless discussion because no matter whether I apply or not, I don't think they're hiring me. I BET they will hire one of those again. ;) Yeah... and have I mentioned that applying makes me a pile of nerves and is really bad for me? Do I really want to go through this hassle again when it's basically guaranteed that I will keep my job as it is for the foreseeable future? (even at the two universities at the same time).

Things could change as I try to casually talk to people about this, but... Nah... I don't think this will be happening.

Edited to add: My friend Anjali posted an excellent question in the comment section below. Yes, I will keep my job, they renew it yearly, they always have a "professor" and an underling (lecturer or adjunct). I just won't get to teach any upper level classes (the more "fun" ones) and I'm not expected to do research (part and parcel of a tt job), just teach, do my job well, and carry on...

Curiosity which I will delete tomorrow: my dept. chair here is married to a dept. chair at my husband university (where I still teach one class). fascinating! ;)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Problem is...

... I can't have what I (belatedly realized I) want without having done what I should have done to get it.

(this is an answer to Anjali's comment: "Figure out what you want, first. But don't beat yourself up for what you didn't do in the past." Thanks my friend! )

Don't worry about me, I'm fine, I just have to process everything and it takes time and it's really complicated. As far as regret goes, I think I may be the least regretful person in the planet regarding my choices in the past, particularly in what I decided to study.

So in the end the problem is just that I can't foresee the future, but I am confident that things will probably turn out just fine. Time is the best solution for everything in life.

Thanks for bearing with me. I know I must sound horribly whiny when I am in fact quite happy with my life. 

P.S. and you are perfecctly right, Anjali, I need to figure out what I want and I don't know exactly what it is. I never thought I would primarily be teaching language and I am enjoying it. I don't mind doing that indefinitely as long as I can pursue other more fulfilling subjects on the side.

Tenure Track or non-Tenure Track, that is (NOT) the question!

 I mean, it is the question... for a lot of people. Perhaps for most people who get a phd, or those who start a PhD program.

This can't really be the question or the choice anymore for a lot of people, though because there are many more newly-minted PhDs than tenure track jobs in most areas (Bright*'s is an exception, oh, and there are areas such as engineering in which people with doctorates can easily get industry jobs).

It was never a question for me after I started blogging and found out the sad state of academia in the humanities, after I connected with many brilliant people (such as "Articulate Dad") who applied to hundreds of jobs and got just one interview and no offers.

My husband says that other people's blogs poisoned me. And I suppose they did and it didn't help that I'm a "pessismistic realist" or something. old readers of this blog will remember how much I have struggled with academia over the years, how ambivalent I feel about it (it's more or less a love/hate relationship).

It was too late to turn back, though, when I found out that there probably wasn't a future for me out there, so I finished the phd anyway and proceeded with my life -- i.e. I didn't publish anything and only did "superficial" research that led to many conference presentations.

It's a vicious cycle, you see? There's no external motivation to research and publish (no monetary compensation, no tenure requirements, no structure when one's not teaching and too much work when one is adjuncting) and even less internal motivation.

So here I am. It's four years too late and I can't turn back the clock. If a tt position at my former university (where I'm still teaching one class) opens up I think I might have a good chance, but not at the new institution.

If only there were more "middle ground" jobs -- "senior lectureships" which had a decent salary and some modest incentive for research and publication -- those would be ideal for me, but they are rare right now (and not available in the two institutions I'm involved with at the moment).

Would I enjoy doing research? Absolutely! Do I feel prepared to face the grueling requirements for a tt job? No. I would probably have to undergo some heavy therapy and possibly even take adhd medication if I were to be efficient. And then my insecurities come to plague me. Sigh...

I need to figure out who to ask regarding whether I should apply for the job I think it's impossible for me to get, though. I'll keep you posted. At least tonight I think I sound a bit less truncated than last night!

And thank you so much for your supporting comment, anonymous, it prompted me to write this post (BTW, a tenure track job in academia is the position of assistant professor, which has the potential of becoming a permanent position after six years of really hard work).

A very delicate (frustrating, difficult, etc.) situation

I probably shouldn't be blogging this because I want to remain semi-anonymous, but since it's one of the biggest things in my head lately, it's just hard to avoid altogether.

When I accepted my current "position" I knew that there had been a search for a tt person which had failed (I did write about it pretty indignantly). I also knew there was going to be another search. Well... it's one thing to know something intellectually and to try to prepare for it (because I knew that I would have no chance whatsoever in such a search) and it's another, completely different thing, to live through the experience (in this case reading the ad). So, after I saw the ad last week I was depressed for a few days and felt discouraged and upset.

It's a nice, broad ad (unlike that now infamous ad that seems to discriminate against adjuncts), but I know that I need not/should not apply because I just wasted the past four years of my life by not conducting research and submitting stuff for publication. I never thought I would in fact regret that... and I don't, but who knew I'd be in this situation someday?

Another tough thing about this issue is that I simply cannot discuss it with my hubby, the tt professor. First, because he's a guy, a rational person who has little patience for my whiny ways and my feelings of inadequacy and second, because he DOES have the tt job & I don't, so, yeah... tough stuff.

K says, mostly correctly, that "it's all vanity..." (wanting/having a tt job) ... all the publishing and service, etc... a lot of it is just to "show off," not necessarily to help knowledge advance. Oh, and there's the detail of the higher salary... hmmm.... yeah, as if that weren't a fair reason already.

In any case, this is a disjointed post that I'm writing while really sleepy and juggling laundry and trying to plan for tomorrow.

What happened last week was that I felt dumb for not having prepared for the possibility of being able to apply for a tt job (that was never a priority for me because 1) yeah, I'm lazy & adhd and didn't feel motivated to pursue publications & stuff; 2) I was waiting for K to get a job so I'd know where we'd end up). And in this process all my insecurities came to the forefront. I know I have some strengths, but lots of weaknesses and thinking that I may not be tt material is devastating at times, "vanity" and all. ('cause it is vanity, but not only).

OK. I promise this is almost over. One of the most frustrating aspects of all this is that if I remain doing what I'm doing for the rest of my life ("under" a tt person), I will not really enjoy "the fruits of my labor." i.e. I'm teaching some pretty weak students in the upper level course right now and I'm thinking about how in a year my current students will be much better prepared to take the upper level class. Except that if I remain in this position I probably won't ever get to teach the upper level classes. And that thought sucks big time. 

I think K can understand that part of my angst. But we still can't talk about it much. That's why I need to blog about this. I need to process this information.

Last, but not least, I will try to talk to people in my department and  try to determine if I should even bother to apply. I think I should not, but if it won't hurt me (re. my future chance of continuing employed after applying), maybe I have nothing to lose? 

What would you do in a similar situation?? 

I have a feeling that those of you in academia would probably agree that it would be awkward to proceed. Even if students love me and that right now I'm the only person in my area they have. BUT I AM ONLY AN ADJUNCT. Why would they care for me? (I need to blog more about this "position" and how clear the dept. has demarcated the line between US and them, all in a really nice way, feeding us lunch & stuff, yeah... Anastasia knows about these things, they happened to her a lot too). so, yeah... I can now cross out a line from that list/post.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's the least wonderful time of the year...

Frankly, I don't know which season I like the least. I know for sure that Spring is my favorite, but the others...

I love to wear dresses and sandals and I to eat the great tasting fruit and fresh vegetables available during summer. It's also lovely to see how luxuriously green everything becomes. However, summer is way too hot and worst of all, humid. Summers were quite different in the South and Southeast of Brazil where I grew up. Way milder, even chilly at times when it rained. I have slowly grown to dread the stuffy hot summers here in the U.S.

I think that winter is positively the hardest season for me. I get really tired of wearing long underwear constantly for over 6 months of the year, (I need to because I just feel so cold all the time) and of my limited winter wardrobe. I don't like to be cold, so I don't ever wear skirts or dresses (my favorite outfit) and wearing pants and boots gets old pretty fast. However, during Winter the days start getting longer and one can feel Spring slowly returning...

I used to enjoy the beautiful colors of Fall, particularly when we lived in Massachusetts (here in Virginia is totally blah in comparison), and one of my favorite drinks is apple cider, but the fact that Fall leads to winter is just so depressing that it makes me dread this otherwise nice season. The weather is gorgeously crisp most days and I wish I could just enjoy it all without feeling sad that Winter is coming. Sigh...

I'm going to mark the Fall Equinox by changing the "Welcome" sign at my door by the Fall themed one, but I don't really welcome cold weather and too-short days. Thankfully I don't suffer from depression (like Dooce) or seasonal affective disorder (like AmFam), but Fall and Winter do make me a bit sad.

It's been over 16 years since I moved to this country and began to experience the cycle of seasons, but I think I'm still not used to the incredible contrast between summer and winter.

I hope I can learn to fully enjoy the cyclical changes... meanwhile, I'm hoping that blogging about this issue will help me a bit.

taken last year in October
Happy Fall, everyone!

Friday, September 21, 2012


Last week I had my last eye-doctor visit after having LASIK surgery back in June and I was told that I have 20/15 vision (better than the standard 20/20 vision). Isn't that great?

So the "modern day miracle" of this surgery really did work!! Yeah, there are a lot of things that money can't buy, but getting rid of contacts and eye-glasses isn't one of them (for those who qualify for the surgery)! ;)

I will be paying for the next two years... 137 dollars per month, but I think that it's more than worth it! If only I didn't have to dread the days I will need reading glasses! Sigh... ;)

Thursday, September 20, 2012


If I hadn't had the fairly strict religious upbringing that I had...
(and which, BTW, I'm perfectly happy & fine with, not to mention thankful for. It didn't prevent me from becoming an open-minded person, an academic, etc.)
... I would probably be one of those "bohemian types." ;)

and would hang out with poets and musicians and like-minded thinkers and artists and stay up all night talking about literature and art, listening to and making music, etc.

yeah... of course I can still do some of that even now, but it's not the "way of life" it could have been if I didn't have a more conventional life, a family, etc.

and that is fine too.

But once in a while, a more "bohemian" night is pretty cool! ;)

P.S. I had an awesome yoga class tonight (more like hatha) and it was for FREEEE!!! My friend and I are going every single Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The things I want/need to write here

I want(ed)/need(ed) to write about...

... my car and more about the drive/commute...

... being away from the family...

(my lovely hosts)

... my abandoned garden/house/kitchen/everything...

... not taking photographs (in spite of much dreamed about brand new camera)

... the boys' soccer...

... involvement in sons' school...

... my new toy & pains in arm/hand...

... fears of "going smart" (in about a week! ai ai ai!!)

... work angst (that one is coming up soon)...

... future travel plans...

... my cats (?)... nah, not really, just kidding! ;)

Maybe I'll edit if I remember anything else.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Fleeting Vision

I was walking to class this morning when I saw him. There was a sea of students coming from the opposite side and passing me. Students walk quickly and purposefully in between various buildings on campus at this time because there are only 10 minutes in-between classes at my new university. I try to avoid the multitudes as much as possible, but this morning I stopped by my office before class, so I just had to walk around and across dozens of students to get to class.

It was in this fleeting, hurried moment that I passed the young man with the zip-style quart bag half-full of cheerios. While walking, he would dip his hand into the bag and fill his mouth with the crunchy "Os," and I couldn't help it, the vision just came to me.

He was slightly short, had a cleanly shaved face, bright blue eyes and light brown/dirty blond hair, but in that instant I saw the beautiful baby he must have been, with his blue eyes intently concentrated in guiding his chubby hands to the little circles of cereal. I could "see" him stuffing his mouth with the cheerios   that covered his high chair's tray, perhaps spilling onto the floor below.

The vision lasted just a few seconds, but I knew that this moment had surely happened in his past. I also knew that the present moment was the perfect link between the baby he had been and the man he was becoming: the cereal that he'd learned to enjoy at such a young age can still sustain him as he goes about his day as a busy university student. Unconsciously, he must feel comforted by that familiar crunch and taste in his mouth. He grew up, but the baby is still in there.

I didn't have much time to think of his mother, but I'm sure she would have been happy to know that he was trying to get some breakfast on his way to class. She must have packed hundreds of lunches, cereal bags and sandwiches for him, and now he's on his own. Someday my sons will too and I hope they can find comfort in little things such as a baggie of cereal...

This post is meant to echo (very dimly, for I still have a long ways to go in my writing) the wonderful, evocative posts that my friend Aliki used to write and those that Jo(e) still writes. I miss Aliki's blogging so much! Good thing Jo(e) is always there to deliver her beautiful posts.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I had great plans...

... for catching up on blogging tonight, but it obviously didn't happen.

I laid down with my youngest son for a bit and fell asleep for hours, waking up in a haze, my arms really cold, climbing down from the loft bed and covering my oldest who is sleeping shirtless lately and was getting cold.

Came to the computer and spend sometime reading blogs, only to find out, through Laura (Apt 11D) that some crazy things have happened in academia this past week that have a lot to do with me and which I totally missed. Thanks, Laura!!

1. Professor breastfeeds in class (while lecturing) and takes a lot of flack for it. I dimly recall reading that Jo(e) did that a few times. I never did -- I had my four month old in summer class -(3 hours long) only a couple of times when I was showing films. I held him on a Baby Bjorn, that was it. And I wasn't a "professor," only a teaching assistant teaching my own class.

2. Colorado state posted a job ad that discriminated against adjuncts. UGH!!!! Scary stuff. I haven't had time to follow up on it, but it seems that the MLA will disapprove the ad (scroll down to the end of the post) -- really??? WOW!

OK, tons of other things happened this week -- 9/11's 11th anniversary and horrible shootings in Libya, followed by violence against American and foreign embassies. Always sobering. And the fed trying to help out the economy. yeah... whatever.

So... I still have tons I need to blog about (mostly fluff) and can't just yet. Before I forget, let me just quickly say it that it's soccer season and the boys & I are lovin' it. really!

Friday, September 14, 2012


My dear (and supportive) friend Anjali asked me how long, exactly is my commute, so here is the answer. Seventy-six miles.

A number that reminds me of our old stomping grounds, Anjali. :)  (Philadelphia, for those who are not in the know).

Yes, 76 miles from my door to the parking lot. And from there to my classes it's a 10 minute walk.

I've been planning a post specifically about the driving, so I'll say more about the distance and the commute on that one, OK?

p.s. this is a scheduled post, I don't want to post too much on one night. ;)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

On Smart Women & Hugs from real (girl) friends (Linky Love!!)

Two posts inspired me today, so much so that I feel compelled to send some link-love their way! (cheesy, I know, but we all need some cheesiness once in a while and I sent some cheesiness my students' way today by way of a song ;)

[oh, and I've written another disgruntled post earlier, in case you missed it]

On smart women:

Laura (Apt 11D) wrote this evocative and thought-provoking post titled The Rise of Smart Women, inspired by her "aunt" Theresa who died recently. It is good to know that smart women have many more option beyond becoming a teacher (and an old maid) nowadays!

On hanging out with real lady-friends:

I haven't linked to Rebecca Wolf here yet, but I have fallen head over heels for her blog Girl's Gone Child in the past year. I hope I can read more of her archives because her writing is just so wonderful and raw and heart-felt! I hope someday I'll find the time to link to her posts more often.

and... what I love love love the most about her blog is the abundance of photos everywhere!! That's how I would ideally blog...  countless photos on every post.

Why don't I do it?? I really don't know why not, but I think it has something to do with the fact that I'm afraid I won't have time to write the countless words that crowd my brain and get distracted curating the images and...

...on a deeper level, I think I'm afraid to just be seen as a "superficial" blogger. Photos make me, oh, sooooo happy, but sometimes I suppose that because I feel guilty to be wasting my time with blogging and can't spend even more time fiddling with my beloved photos, so I self-sabotage my happiness and don't do it. I'm trying to be more discipline and not to let my heart have free rein over my blog, so that's basically it.

OK, Rebecca's post is about getting lost and finding oneself again (if you don't read her blog: she had twin girls a year ago tomorrow and she already had two kids, so she has four now). Her post spoke to me because as much as I adore my teeny tiny blogging community/readership and as much as it changed my life (really!! can't believe I wrote that SIX years ago!), I need to make an effort to spend real time with the few women friends in my life. In that respect it's been great to be commuting to another town and staying at a (girl) friend's house and making more woman friends.

Hey, Jen, I'm looking forward to our Thursday nights! ;) it won't be much, but something. We'll toast with froyo. ;)

Beyond Exhausted and... shouldn't be blogging because forearm/wrist hurt :(

I think that over the summer, when I wasn't using a mouse that often, particularly during the weeks I used my MIL's macbook pro's trackpad (different from the trackpad in a pc laptop) -- I developed some kind of tendinitis or elbow/forearm/wrist condition (something such as lateral epicondylitis, radial tunnel syndrome or some kind of repetitive strain/stress injury [RSI] -- BLAH!).

The worst part is that blow-drying my hair three times a week makes the pain much worse (this happened last night) and I simply do not want to go back to curly right now!! :(

That is the least of my worries, obviously, since I use my wrist and arm CONSTANTLY because I'm on the computer all the time writing handouts and emails, etc.

So... yeah, I shouldn't even be writing this post, but I am...

I was reading some on RSI and I feel frustrated that I was literally FORCED to stop using a desktop (my preferred computer to use at home) after we moved to Virginia -- first, the desktop was in the upstairs bedroom in our small townhome and then... the office in our new house does NOT have a phone outlet where we can plug the DLS so our old laptop can't go online!

OK, this was a huge tangent... I just wanted to write that I'm really exhausted and that the commute is getting to me. I think I'm going to start asking for friends to watch the boys one more day at least twice a month on Mondays so I can stay overnight twice a week every other week... Sigh.

I knew it was going to be hard, but three weeks in I'm already DYING and there are eleven more weeks, ELEVEN!!

The work makes me happy, though. But it is a HUGE amount of grading. Teaching is a crazy job because it involves so much work at home and everywhere outside of the classroom...

I'll stop now because this is a really scattered post, just like my head right now. :(

P.S. also because it is really annoying to feel pain, even if it's really mild pain. It's worrisome.

Bikram Yoga -- Holy Cow!

Last night I attended a free session of bikram yoga (with 60 other people, YIKES!) and...

that's some crazy stuff!!! (for those who don't know what it is, it is hot yoga practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees!! For one hour and a half!!)

I never sweated that much in my life and I think it was an OK workout, but I didn't love it. I think I could do it once or twice a month, but not at 8:30 pm, no, thanks.

So... yeah, and can you believe it that this was the first time I attended a yoga class in nearly four months? :(  So so sad.

And to think that I had arranged my whole teaching schedule at my former university around the FREE yoga classes that they offer!!!  :( :( :(

(My Mon/Wed class was even on the same building where two of the yoga classes I attended took place. I just had to go upstairs and teach. Isn't that just so sad? OK, not really, the class was a hard one to teach and students couldn't care less about the subject).

Now the crazy commute & still picking up my boys three days a week doesn't allow me to do much yoga. Let's see if I can find a way to fit some in soon.

Monday, September 10, 2012

And... just like that, summer's gone! :(

just like that

Last week it was nearly 100% humid, muggy and hot. Friday the rain was gone and it was a bit drier, but still positively hot.

Now that is all gone and replaced by gorgeous crisp air and blue skies. Sun's still pretty hot, but summer is gone for sure. :(

Of course it is beautiful and it feels so much better, not to mention that now and I can go back to pretending that I have straight hair without the embarrassing effects of humidity on my unruly bob. ;)

My apologies for the lack of updates. Last week I was still fine-tuning and writing syllabi -- I finished writing the last one (for a class I'm teaching for the very first time) at 4 am on Friday morning, just to get up and leave at 8 am and come back home exhausted at 7 pm. And... of course driving back and forth!

And now, ha! Guess what? I'm up to my neck in grading and will be, with ups and downs, until the end of the semester. choppy roller-coaster ride.

I'm still very happy and everything is going well, but all that driving will require that I do my best I quit my favorite addiction: staying up late every night. I really need to get more sleep if I want to remain a caffeine-free person and still drive long distances.... oh well! Something's gotta give! (as you'd say here in America). Good thing that next semester my first class is at 11 am!! YAY!!! More later, hopefully. Is there anything you'd like to know?

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Forever Changed (Revisiting the South Africa Trip 7 Months Later)

Travel changes you forever.

That is why I don't mind spending money on travel, quite the contrary, it's the one thing I most enjoy spending with and the one I think it's most worth it.

I have traveled a whole lot. Unfortunately most of the travels in my life took place were before I turned 2 years old! :( And I blogged a bit about it here. I have been trying to change that since 1993 when I boarded an airplane for the first time in my life at 22 years old to fly to the U.S. with my future husband's family. Then in 1996 K & I moved here and began to travel more.
~ ~ ~    ~    ~ ~ ~
The first five lines of this post were all I had managed to write back in March, when I wanted to share some of my feelings about our 10 day trip to South Africa. I am trying to make a photo book of the trip and I have just gone through a selection of 600+ photos of the trip, so I think it's a good moment to finish this post.

I really have no words to describe how this trip to South Africa changed me. I saw so little, especially in terms of the "real Africa" since everyone says that (for horrendous reasons, in fact) South Africa is the "first world" or the "United States" of Africa. Sigh...

A few general impressions. Africa reminded me of Brazil a whole lot. Same hemisphere, nearly identical climate and vegetation (except at the Cape Peninsula). I kept wondering what the unfortunate people displaced because of slavery thought when then arrived in Brazil. I kept thinking that Africa and Brazil are "sibling countries" in a sense. Did you know that because of the particularities of the Brazilian African diaspora (the sheer number of people forcibly transported there to be slaves) Brazil is the country with the most descendants of Africans in the world?

Africa is such a culturally rich and diverse continent! So many languages (nine official ones in South Africa alone), so many ethnic groups, and yet, European colonization sought to obliterate as much as they could. I am glad that they weren't as successful as they were in the Americas with the widespread destruction of the Native American (or "First Nation") people and cultures. Thinking of what happened in the past made me tearful just listening to the languages or the music during the trip.

And then there was the Kruger Park experience. Seeing wild African animals in their natural habitat is an incredible and life-changing experience. I cannot fathom how people (mostly from Asian) can still poach and kill the rhinoceros for their horn! Or how unbelievably sad is to think of elephants being hunted for the ivory. I never liked zoos, even though I suppose one can argue about their importance to make people aware that these animals need to be preserved, but going to Africa made them loathe them, really. It is beyond cruel to jail these animals so people can see what they look like. I know... how will people ever see them if they cannot afford to go to Africa, yadda, yadda, yadda. No matter what one says, it's still cruel.

After visiting a nature reserve such as Kruger park one experiences a sense of urgency for the need to prevent that these animals one day disappear. Oh... and I was just SO GLAD that my kids had never watched the Lion King* (and I too only saw it once, many, many years ago) so they could enjoy all the animals without immediately calling them "Simba" or "Pumba" or whatever other names they have there. Ironically, the names of our vehicles for the game drives were all taken from this film! ;)

Looking at the photos seven months later brings back many of the emotions that I felt during the trip and soon after. There is nothing like travel in a person's life and my greatest dream in life is to keep on traveling everywhere I can. I can't wait to take my sons to Europe! Time to go back to those photos now...

* My sons have never watched one "Disney" Disney movie, only a handful of Pixar ones -- Cars, A Bug's Life, Toy Story. They don't watch TV or movies, basically. It's a choice we made, this is not meant as a criticism of anyone else.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Riding Clouds

This morning was my first experience driving through fog to my new work (I had been forewarned about this by various people)...

It was a bit scary to drive with such limited visibility. I'm glad it was only for about 10 minutes or less, but I reduced my speed very drastically, to nearly 30 miles per hour.

the truth is, if one's not flying on an airplane, being "in the clouds" is pretty dangerous!

Safety is my biggest concern with the long commute.

Clouds... yeah, I have seen them from both sides now.  ;)

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Artificially Blond(ish)

This is a "hair" post. 
If you read me earlier this year, back in this January post, 
you'll know that I've got tons of  "hair issues." ;-)

I have mixed feelings about it, but I caved in got highlights again in Brazil (2 different tones).Take a look:

But now I'm having second thoughts & thinking that it's so artificial and whatnot and that I shouldn't have done it and should have remained a brunette (these are the photos of my haircut back in March that I never got around to showing you):
 One thing is certain (IMO), the highlights look best when I wear my hair blown straight and not naturally curly like below (though with the bathroom lighting, my hair-color does look OK with the curls + 7 months old highlights in this April 2011 photo):
 Unkempt Curls -- it could be worse, believe me!
 Tamed to be more photogenic:
(I took these photos to register the hair & got to show the glasses too -- remember that I was forced to wear glasses for nearly a year because of this, I couldn't me more thrilled with my lasik surgery!! :)

Oh, and BTW, my new haircut? (from the top 2 photos above) It looks positively AWFUL with curls. :( I'm not kidding! The longer tips at the front just don't go with curly!

Anyway, unlike in past years, I'm planning to redo the hightlights on a regular basis with our hairdresser from church (the one who lost her son, a senior in high school, to a motorcycle accident a month before graduation) and not let my hair grow for two years without redoing the coloring.

It's a bit sad, however, to think that with my two latest haircuts (first on my birthday in July last year, then twice earlier this year) I had gotten rid of all old color in the tips and the hair was uniformly brown. Hmmm... well, with a few white ones here & there (nothing that required the highlights to hide, so that was not my point in getting them... it's that silly childhood with to be blonde surfacing from my unconscious, ha ha ha).

One thing is very true: I never liked myself with glasses and now I don't like to see myself with curly hair. Maybe it's sad, but I think it's ok. I'm not chemically straightening my hair, just "physically" doing so with the blow drier (maybe 'cause my husband is in the latter science, not the former, there you go! ) ;)