Friday, April 26, 2013

I need to read more poetry...

... in fact, everyone should read more poetry. I think we'd have a better world if more people read poetry.

I'm going to teach my "next to last" class in a few minutes. The almost last class in the very first literature class I get to teach in my own language, of the literature of "my people." I don't know if the course was that great, but I'm glad we're ending with poetry.

I need to read more poetry. I bought three anthologies in São Paulo's fascinating, sprawling used-book stores, we call them sebos, a weird name, since "sebo" means excessive fat (in people's skin or animal fat too). I bought Mário de Andrade, Manuel Bandeira (my favorite!!) and Carlos Drummond de Andrade. But I need more. Much much more! Ferreira Gullar is glorious!


I also need to write more poetry. When I read it, my entire being yearns for it, both reading and writing, but the latter is very difficult. Because when you really know literature, when you really know and love art, calling yourself an artist is a very difficult, nearly impossible, thing to do.

If there's one thing I've always wanted in my life, ever since I was thirteen years old, was to be...

... dare I say it? It's so hard!

... a poet.

One more...

... photo of my baby niece. This was taken soon after she was born:
I think she looks a lot more like her daddy (my brother) as a baby than her own little brother did when he was born only a year and five months ago (they are so close in age, my nephew and niece!). I will try to post photos of my brother as a baby and his own babies later.

I can't believe I repeat myself so much in the blog (and, I'm sure in real-life interactions). When my nephew was born I had the same rant about the advantages of the metric system then that I wrote two days ago. Sigh... My apologies for being so repetitive! :(

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A presidential WHAT????

I don't know if this was the weirdest (Freudian?) slip EVER, but just now K was watching a couple of clips from the opening of Bush's memorial library when, out of nowhere, I began to ask K a question:

"This garage....

"Wait! This library..." (and we both burst out laughing so hard that tears sprang to my eyes)

What I wanted to ask was whether the library was for the first George Bush or his son Dubya.

And it's not like I didn't know anything about the library, but I had read tweets from my friends about Bush's presidential library (I didn't listen to NPR today at all), so I did know about it.


What does this "garage" mean? Just that I'm a crazy absent-minded person? ;-)

(I know, this post really classifies as "Really Random Stuff"!)

Three Twelve Hour Days, Preceded by a Night away from home

This week was grueling and it hasn't even ended. Sigh...

On Sunday, after a quick 24h trip to Maryland to see our oldest son perform in a band festival...

(we drove there on Friday night and came back late on Saturday night and I still had to cook for the next day before going to bed!)

... I left home around 12 pm with the car loaded with food items.

I cooked Brazilian food all afternoon and served it to my students -- too bad only half of them showed up and I had tons of leftovers! I stayed overnight at a friend's house because I had to teach the next day. The best thing that happened Sunday was meeting a Brazilian woman who is a visiting scholar and who is staying at the place where I was hosting my students. She helped me cook and it was great to make a new friend!

After teaching and then spending hours working and never even making a dent on my never-ending "to-do-list" I drove back home in absolute record time (59 minutes -- really crazy).

Left home at 9 am, returned past 9 pm. Taught class, stopped at farmer's market, had lunch with friends, went to the dentist, had a meeting with this faculty fellowship group I'm part of, had a meeting with a struggling student, grabbed something to eat and went to a long (albeit interesting) reading of Dante's Divine Comedy in which I read in Portuguese at the request of the department chair (at U#1, not where I work full-time).

Drove to U#2, taught, had office hours in which I tried to keep on working on my to-do-list, went to yoga (thankfully!), then I took my new Brazilian friend (see Monday) and two other Brazilian women for dinner! It was great, but I didn't get back home until past 10 pm.

I'm sick and tired of 12 hour days and barely seeing my kids. :(

Today I had a more reasonable day (with a yoga/pilates class to boot!), but I'm stressed because I still have tons of things to do and they keep multiplying (typical end-of-semester woes, I know!)

I have so much grading to do that maybe I need to drink some strong tea and try to pull an all-nighter, but I'm sure I can't. :( My students will have to be patient with me.

The worst part of the story? Next week promises to be just as bad. :( Well, maybe a little less because I will only teach one day, but maybe worse because I will actually drive to U#3 to give the final exam in person (and to serve a meal for my students!).

Let's see how it goes... Sigh...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

She's here!

No photos yet, but my niece was born about three hours ago and everything went well.

My brother's email has the stats (3.13 kg = 6 lbs 14 oz or, "6.9 lbs"* and 48.5 cm = 19.05 in), but he gave my mom more details when he called her (and then she talked to me on skype): my niece has lots of hair (I LOVE hairy babies!) and she was already breastfeeding well.

I hope my sister-in-law has a swift recovery. I'm a bit concerned that no one can stay with her overnight in the hospital :( , but I'm hoping she will be fine. I can't wait for the photos!!!

*I HATE expressing weight (particularly babies') in pounds and ounces, I think it's a pathetic way to measure, every Brazilian I know who lives here in the U.S. gets their newborns' babies' weight wrong because of the lbs oz thing!! The metric system is so much better in every way. Sigh...

Monday, April 22, 2013


Tomorrow my niece is coming!

We know that it's tomorrow because she is still breech and will be born via c-section. We are all praying that all will go well and we can't wait!

The boys and I (with some designing help from K) made this for her a month and a half ago:
 It was inspired by the nursery set that her other aunt bought for her. I can't wait to see photos of her, since it'll be quite a while before I get to see her in person. Sigh...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston: Just Like the Ending of Fahrenheit 451

As a former teacher of dystopian fiction, all I can think about right now is the ending of Fahrenheit 451 with the overwhelming manhunt.

Of course the crime that the protagonist was guilty of in the novel was reading books and he actually escaped to safety...

The unprecedented manhunt and multi-city lockdown that is going out right now in Boston is scary and quite different. I just hope that the outcome is not the same.


How sad that the older brother has a wife and a three year old daughter...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Car Fever (and it's unintended consequences... hello composting!? :)

The fever has abated already... last night and even more this morning, but we were on the brink of doing something we had promised ourselves we would NEVER! EVER! do again: buy a new car.*

Do I hear a sigh of relief from those of you who agree with that resolution?

K spent his every waking hour in the past week or two researching cars and alternatives (we were debating between two Hondas: the Fit or the Civic). Then, a few days ago he wanted to know more about the battery of the Prius, so he googled something about and found Mr. Money Moustache (MMM). So... besides learning all about the Prius and myths about owning one, he began to learn from MMM about a more frugal (if extreme in this guy's case) lifestyle.

He was up until 1 am reading MMM last night! (I'm always extremely amused when K gets into a blog, it's something so natural for me, but new to him) He doesn't necessarily like MMM's forceful style and he doesn't think we need to be as extreme as him, but he likes what he has to say.

I can hardly believe that I woke up to find a husband who has finally, finally!!! seen the usefulness (and economic advantages) of having a vegetable garden and (yes!!) composting.

You have no idea, NO IDEA how long I've been trying to convince him to take an interest in gardening (flower or vegetable). So I'm very thankful for this random blogger from Colorado for hopefully changing the life of our family for the better! :) You bet I'll be blogging more about this in the near future.

I know that K is not really "into" plants (he claims that the problem is that he grew up living in cramped apartments with his three brothers, so he doesn't have a "green thumb" like I do), but if he can see the advantages of doing it, he can at least help me. I hope he does and we can make progress in this aspect of our lives!

P.S. If K cannot help me with gardening I might as well not do it. Not only do I need physical help with getting beds installed, but I need all kinds of support because my ADHD makes it hard for me to consistently (and persistently) take care of a vegetable garden. That's why I've mostly only concentrated on flowers until now.

* We bought a new (dark green) Honda Civic back in 1999. I'm sure it was good for our credit, but we later realized it hadn't been a smart decision and that we'd tossed several thousand dollars basically in the trash just for the comfort and convenience of having a new car. We sold it for less than half what we paid for it only four years later.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Summer Teaching -- Nothing Short of a Miracle

I really wanted to teach a class this summer. I received permission from the department chair at the holiday party back in December. Early in the semester I mentioned it to the secretary, however, when time to open the summer classes for enrollment came in late March she completely forgot about my class and never added it to the roster.

Meanwhile, I got delayed asking the other secretary to prepare a poster so I could advertise my class and she took a while to do it. In fact, I think it was because of this poster that the main secretary realized that she had forgotten to add my class to the system. :(

In this case, "better late than never" won't help me, though. :(

I only need 6 students to make the cut and help pay our debts by earning 7K, but I don't think it's going to happen.

I started putting posters up last week on Tuesday, but I am just so busy and without energy that I didn't put any more out. I had the secretary for Latin American studies email all the minors, but thtat isn't helping either.

I'm really hopeless about this class right now. Nothing short of a miracle could get it to work. :(

I'll keep you posted, but I am not optimistic about this at all...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What can I say about Boston?

I heard it all on the radio yesterday and today. I didn't watch any TV, I didn't even spend any time trying to look at news, photos, videos online. I am still planning to do it. I think I was just waiting for things to unfold, given that so little was known yesterday.

I don't know exactly why I haven't looked for videos, etc, except that it's hard to even think about it. The hows and the how comes and, much harder, the whys.

This evening I cooked beans and, as most every Brazilian in the planet, I used my (Brazilian) pressure cooker. And then I looked at my 8 year old son and I wanted to sit down and cry. He was excitedly (and unknowingly) talking about pressure cookers, how they make this noise, how they can/could explode. Yes... I thought, this simple cooking implement (though dangerous at times, my husband is traumatized from an explosion of cooking soybeans that half ruined his family's kitchen when he was a young boy) was used for evil. You're right, my son, I thought in my head, it can indeed explode and it did yesterday.

That's when I nearly cried. I ran my fingers through his curly hair and told him that someone had used pressure cookers to hurt people yesterday. He immediately started saying very loudly "Meanies! Meanies! Why did they do that?"

Yes, my son, why? (why so many nails and other pieces of metal? Why deliberately hurting innocent people so horribly? Sigh...).

My boys heard about Boston from NPR and K & I last night (K actually learned from me around 7:15 pm. He hadn't heard the news at all, having been home since 3:30 pm, working and not listening to the radio). My sons also heard it discussed in school today.

I don't believe in overly sheltering my sons, but sometimes I want to preserve their innocence a little bit longer, so I don't like talk about violent occurrences with them very much (I think we only talked about Newtown in passing)  I don't watch any news myself, so they are never exposed to it. I'm glad to hear that I'm already following Dawn's first recommendation. I think I'm going to follow her other pieces of advice very closely (asking what they know first and talking honestly to my tween -- does eleven classify as tween? I can't believe my son is ELEVEN!!! Sigh... And, of course, most importantly, spending time with family).

Last, but not least, I know Boston really well. Massachusetts was our first "home" here in the U.S. and we lived there for eight years. It is still the state we identify with the most, having lived there the longest, as well as the state where our sons were born.

Back in 2009 two of our friends lived only a couple of blocks from where the explosions happened and we visited them after their daughter was born, so I can picture that area in my head pretty well.

The hardest thing is to think about the people who were killed and maimed. A really senseless tragedy.

I just want to finish by putting things into perspective. Earlier today Michael Moore re-tweeted a link to this NYT story about the violence and killings in Iraq yesterday: 37 killed, over 140 wounded. They have these bombing attacks with multiple casualties there nearly every day. We had it yesterday and it was an unspeakable tragedy, but we need to be aware that it could be worse, much worse. :(

My prayers and thoughts are with the victims and their families.

Peace & love to you all.

Edited to add: It will be hard to read these stories. This one of the father seeing son's photo already has me nearly in tears. Sigh...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Random thoughts about comment sections

I was re-reading old posts to send them to a friend and then I started to write a post about the one really nasty and "troll-y" comment I received before I disabled anonymous comments in the blog. However, I  decided not to write the post after all...

I had forgotten that back in February 2010,*  I had actually engaged in a few fruitless and nerve-racking interactions with "anonymous" in a subsequent blog post and its comment section and I don't want to comment on that because it was very foolish of my part to think that I could successfully argue with that unreasonable person (you can check the archives if you're curious, February 2010, starting on the "regret" post of the 8th).

Comment sections can lead to volatile reactions and petty fights, maybe the aforementioned interactions traumatized me a bit, so I generally don't comment back too much (in the comment section).

In any case, one thing is to disagree with someone and criticize them in a civil manner and it's another thing altogether to gratuitously distribute personal attacks and nasty words, particularly to someone who may be already fragile from a stressful and sad situation as mine was.

I think these thoughts from the draft of my post are good, though:

I hope I can learn a precious lesson from this and other nasty comments:

I hope I will never ever react in this extreme way and use my words to purposefully hurt a blogger or person who is sharing their views online, no matter how annoyed I am with them. I hope that comment can make me be a more compassionate and caring person towards the suffering of others.

I think it already has, because empathy is something I feel very strongly, almost physically.

Most importantly, I hope I can slowly become more thicker skinned and confident enough on my abilities in order not to let unfair and overly negative comments get to me too much.
I'll be happy to remain a really "small" and irrelevant blogger if that guarantees that I get way less hate mail than famous bloggers out there! (and that does sound horribly selfish! Sigh...).

*right around the time my husband was ready to go on job interviews (and he had 4 interviews and 3 offers!)

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

A Silly Poem on What Being 40+ Looks Like

Sleeping together
Sitting up on the couch
We try to work later into the night
And fail

This post goes really well with that one. ;)

23 Years Ago... (late posts)

On March 30 K & I remembered that we had met precisely 30 years before.

Then, this weekend we traveled to PA so we could see a concert (it was superb, BTW, I don't have the words to describe how much so!) to celebrate 23 years together, as we started dating on April 7.

On the day itself we were at our friends' house, I had to go shopping at the Korean grocery store (freshly made tofu! YUM!) and we had to drive back home, so we didn't do anything.

Trying to make up for that, today we went out to eat Thai food in the middle of a super hectic day. Sigh. Having busy lives isn't easy, but we're happy to be "running around" together for the past 23 years!

I love you, K!! I'm thrilled that we've been together for so many years!

Academics have funny nightmares

Sunday morning my husband told me that he'd had a horrible nightmare the previous night.

He dreamed that he had a paper to present at a conference, but that he never made it there and that his time slot went empty. It was for a weird reason too...

A former college roommate of his that we hadn't seen since 1992, but whom we recently met at a party, had come to visit, and K had to spend time with him. K also had to let him know that we were going to have guests, so the guy couldn't stay at our house for a week as he intended too.

The missed conference presentation dream was very vivid and pretty disturbing to K, so he had to share it with me in the morning.

I have had these kinds of nightmares before as well... Particularly those hat have to do with not being ready to teach a class or not getting there on time. These things that we academics worry about...

(mostly written on Sunday, could have been way better, but I'll "publish" anyway)

Peak Bloom

Today was peak bloom for the cherry trees blossoming in Washington D.C. I wish I could have been there to see it. I did go twice in the past, but every year I wish I could go again. I think last time was five or six years ago.


And right now, I have so much work to do that I'm completely overwhelmed. :( So I obviously shouldn't be blogging, but I am. And maybe I'll even write one or two more posts. We'll see.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Philadelphia traumatized us...

...not the city itself, but the multitude of negative experiences we had in our six years here...

Even our two boys remark that they don't like Philly. I'm sure they were also impacted by what their parents went through. I blogged all of it (and I'll include links later), but here is a recap, motivated by our quick weekend visit to see him singing in Reading!

From a chaotic year and a half of unbelievable conflict between my husband and the hard-headed and utterly inefficient Hispanic "pastor" of our close-knit but complex Brazilian congregation (immigration situation woes were the least of the troubles there) -- a conflict that was so troubling that he spent several late nights recounting it in detail to his brothers, to a point that it became a joke in our family...

...To buying a catastrophic fixer-upper house and two months later, on the day the first mortgage payment was sent, K being laid off. He was rehired, but six months later decided to walk away and come back to academia...

From having a 50% reduction in income when he started a second post-doc and facing the prospect of losing our house* (the same one we spent around 30K fixing -- roof, siding, flooring, appliances, bathroom, etc with K's severance package money)...

... To a demoralizing and depression-inducing conflict regarding our small church school where I "worked" for a year, but where I no longer was welcome to help (quite the contrary). Not to mention that the head-teacher questioned my mothering abilities and effectiveness in front of other people (the leadership of the church) behind my back and not only no key defended me, but I had no chance of defending myself against her accusations.

All that followed by an extremely hard year of cyber-schooling the boys and then... finally!!! Selling the house for a good price and moving.

Too bad the we lost our cat during the move, which traumatized me (and the boys too) even further... Sigh...

In any case, our troubles with this city and state go well beyond the always present annoyance with how the roads and highways are extremely poorly designed and how hard it is to get anywhere, how ugly North Philly (where we go visit friends & the aforementioned church) is, how bad traffic is, etc.

Of course we have good memories, good friends, and we love the cultural side of the city, but we just have a really heavy negative baggage that is associated with that time and this place. I don't know if we'll ever be able to get rid of that. Our feelings change over the years (and I have mostly gotten over losing my cat), but every time we come back we can't help but think back...

Gotta go to the concert now! I'll let you know how it goes.

* Thankfully we were saved by a renegotiation made possible by the financial crisis bail out... Phew!!

Friday, April 05, 2013

My Wish Came True!

Take a look at the last sentence of my last blog post!

Now... Can you believe it that my wish came true? I'm so thankful and thrilled!

In August my brother and his family will be relocating to Brazil where he will be a manager in his area for Brazil's biggest paper & forestry company!

It looks like we not only will be spending Christmas together, but the week after, in "paradise" (photos at the end of the post)! Such a joy, such a blessing!!!

I'm nearly spechless and my mom is infinite times happier than me -- she will have one of her children and her two youngest grandchildren close by! YAY!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013


My sister-in-law is in her 36th week of gestation and I can't wait for my sweet niece J to be born.

The only problem is that J (who was head down until last week) has moved and is now in a breech presentation! :(

The last thing my SIL wants is to have a C-section, but maybe she will need to have one. :(

Please keep my SIL in your thoughts and prayers in the next few days!

P.S. I wish my brother didn't live so far away in New Zealand... I wish I could meet my nephew, who's only 16 months, BTW (I imagine it will be hard having children so close together)... I hope my brother and his family move back to Brazil so I can see them at the end of the year.