So first I have to share some adorable pictures of Garbage. Though there are quite a few on my camera, I'll just show you the two best ones:
She looks precious, but don't be fooled! She can be quite the terror. She has more energy than a little kid high on candy. She is very loving when I first wake up or when I first come home, but after a few minutes of affection, she strikes! We're doing our best with the whole positive reinforcement bit, but she's still a rambunctious kitten. At least we are never lacking in entertainment!
If you don't know yet, Conor Oberst broke off from Bright Eyes (I don't know if it's temporary) and made a solo-ish album, which is basically still just Bright Eyes but like, even more influenced by Bob Dylan, if that was possible. You can listen to it here. Adam is so great for emailing me to tell me about it! (Well, he's always great, but this just provides more evidence to that fact.) I really like the album so far.
Speaking of music, I was driving home from work the other day, listening to Death Cab, and I had one of my moments where I kind of mentally step back and realize where I am and what I'm doing and how crazy it all is. I realized how little of Brazilian pop culture I have absorbed/adopted. I don't really listen to any Portuguese music. I've watched only two movies that were actually made in Brazil and in Portuguese. I think there are 3 reasons for this lack of assimilation:
1. So much of Brazilian pop culture is really just Hollywood. 90% of the music videos on the two music channels we have are American. I would guess that 95% of the movies on TV and in the theatres are American-made, either dubbed or with subtitles. When I ask my students for groups or singers that they like, they almost always talk about American performers. I guess, in this way, these things are not just American culture that Brazilians are usurping/being forced to swallow, depending on your interpretation of things. They are also Brazilian culture, right?
2. Alexandre doesn't expose me to much of Brazilian pop culture. He has a couple of Brazilian singers/bands that he really likes, but anytime he chooses the music-- in the car, while he's studying-- it's Janis Joplin or Coldplay or ....sigh... Jack Johnson. Which brings me to the third reason I haven't adopted much of Brazilian pop culture:
3. I'm a total music and movie snob and it's hard for me to embrace movies and music to which I cannot memorize poetic words that can be later quoted on Facebook or while drunk. I can pretend I am less pretentious than my fellow Berkeley alumni, but sometimes it just seeps out of my pores. (To Mr. Ray Adkins: Go bears!)
These musings then led me to compare my situation to the situation for immigrants in the United States, and how irrational it is to expect people to assimilate to/in the US, especially when large groups from the same culture concentrate in a given area. It's impossible not to assimilate in many ways-- it's natural for people to try to hang onto what's familiar in an unfamiliar place. I spend a good chunk of my day struggling to communicate about my basic needs-- the price of a haircut, how many reais of alcól I want to put in the car, asking the saleswoman to just verify real quick that they don't sell ANY shoes in my size--that I find immense pleasure in being able to come home and sing Joanna realllllllly loud while I wash the dishes. (Hell... I found immense pleasure in doing that in the US, too-- much to Danette's dismay-- now I just have an excuse.) Ok so the point is, Americans can be very unforgiving when it comes to this notion of assimilation, and we need to be less so. My big lesson this week has been that it's important to try to be understanding, even when it's inconvenient. (Right, Nancy? ;o)
And then the final question of my inner monologue during that always-stressful drive: Am I an immigrant? The word has such specific connotations in English. I'll leave you all to answer that. And please don't say "no, because you're coming home soon," because I think everyone knows that that probably isn't going to be the case. I think it's pretty evident that Brazil and I are going to have a longstanding relationship.