Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Late-Night Shennanigans

Good news!

Every month, the TV company teases us some channels in hopes that we'll buckle down and pay for the premium cable package. Last week, we had the movie channels, which was awesome because 99% of the movies are in English.

Today, they turned on all of the American channels! We have Fox (Family Guy), FX (The Office), CNN (news in English), "the Sony channel," which I think is NBC and whatever else Sony owns (Grey's, Scrubs, America's Next Top Model), a channel called "GNT" which I think is from Canada (Oprah), a bunch of ESPN-esque things (soccer for Alexandre, and I watched a few minutes of the Packers-Saints game before I remembered that I hate football), Cartoon Network, Discovery Channel and Discovery Home and Family (Nanny 911), and a bunch of other channels.

Perfect timing! I think it'll only be turned on for a week (the transliteration is not turned on, but "liberated" .... haha), but that means I've got my entertainment set for 4 of my 8 days of solitude!

Oh yes, and We've changed the cat's name to Ginger. After Ginger Rogers... because she is a classy dancing star (whether or not her stardom is by choice is beside the point). We've made some lovely videos of her dancing and "singing" (Alexandre helps her out when she forgets the words). Maybe it'll just be a nickname

I made a delicious midnight dinner (classes until 11pm) of baked chicken wings covered in a sauce made of soy sauce, honey, and garlic, with rice on the side. Alexandre has just made brigadera, which is this fabulous Brazilian pudding-type concoction that I would like to make at Christmas dinner, if that's okay with Nanny.

This is what happens when all of my classes are after 6pm and I sleep in until noon! :D

Monday, November 24, 2008

T-3 Days

I only have 3 more days with Alexandre and Internet. Don't expect blogs after Wednesday, maybe not anymore, since I don't think I'll have much to update you on in the next two days, I don't want to risk opening the blog on my boss's laptop, and I have to pay by the half-hour at Internet cafés.

But you can still send me emails, which would be a warm welcome! I fear I may go mad with such little human contact. (The few friends I've made through Alexandre are aslo finished with school for the semester, so they'll be going to their respective parents' houses and also leaving the city.)

Family members and rich friends are welcome to call-- email me for the phone number!

I'm also making up my itinerary for when I'll be home and where I'll be when, so if you want to meet up, you can send me emails/Facebook messages and tell me where YOU'LL be and we'll work something out. Also, New Year's in San Diego for anyone who's interested. Maybe we can share a hotel if enough people come!

So...that's it. I'm boring. See you soon!

EDIT: Of course I'll keep writing in the blog when I come back. But why would I write about Danielle in Brazil when I'm in America? Plus, I'll be WITH You, so I won't have to tell you what I'm doing, family!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Battles with the Boss, Part III

Today we had a meeting at Primary Job (the one with the crazy and disorganized boss) in which we were supposed to be to decide our schedules for the next semester.

But of course, my boss didn't bring the most important thing: a list of all the classes at the school! Instead, he spent most of the meeting (as per usual) complaining about how the school is so disorganized and how we teachers are inconsistent and he's really "counting on us" (without telling us what he needs, exactly) and la de da. Then he went around the room to ask us what we thought the school needed to be better.

The conversation was something like this:

Teacher 1 (a ditzy older lady with terrible English, and a total suck up): Well, sir, you know best. Whatever you want us to do, we're here for you!

Teacher 2 (a nice motherly lady who lived in the US for a long time and who always translates meetings for me when there's too much Portuguese): Maybe you could stop teaching so many classes so that you can focus more on administrative things...?

Boss: Yeah, I should. I need to give you all my classes and just focus on bringing in more students, making more money. (He has said this at every meeting for the last 6 months.) Danielle?

...I proceeded to say everything I honestly thought. I tried to be polite and use euphemisms at first, but after awhile I mostly gave up. I explained that I could only speak for myself, but that I assumed that it was true for the other teachers too: none of us want to work at 2 schools; none of us want to change or schedules-- we want to be loyal and we want to help the school grow, but we don't have any motivation to be loyal when the boss isn't loyal to us. He makes us promises that he doesn't keep; he takes away classes; he doesn't pay us when students don't show up; he gives us erratic schedules instead of taking the time to condense them, etc. To sound a little nicer, I explained that we all know that the boss is overwhelmed and overworked, but, in the end, we have to pay our bills, too.

Well. The room got quiet. The suck up teacher pursed her lips and raised her eyebrows. The new teacher (whose face is comforting because of its resemblance to Joanna Newsom's) looked a little scared. The motherly teacher and the secretary were trying to hold back smiles. We waited for my boss to react to my candor.

"I guess I really needed to hear that," he said. "I've really gotten lost these last few months. I have so many things for you to do. I want to involve you teachers more."

"So make a list," I said, "of everything you do in a week. Write down all of your responsibilities, plus things you want to see, like a grading system or keeping track of attendance. Decide what you still need to do yourself, and then delegate the rest."

"That's good, that's good. I never thought to do that," he said.

"But then you need to decide how many hours you want us to spend on each task each week, and you need to compensate us for the work. We have no motivation to develop grading systems for you if you're not going to pay us. We could be using that time to teach at other schools."

"I should pay you if you're doing that," he said incredulously, as if it was his frist time to consider that idea. "you are working."

We waited for the little mouse to keep running on the wheel in the boss's head.

"This is going to make my wife so happy," he said. "She's been so upset with me lately because I've been working so much. But, you know, I've always been a teacher, and not a businessman. A lot of this is new for me." I couldn't believe he would admit something like that.
"So, okay. This weekend then. I'll make my list. And next week-- boom boom boom-- sharing the responsibilities! It's gonna be really nice."

I had to leave the meeting then, because I had to start my class. Afterwards, the boss came into my room as I was putting away the listening materials and cleaning the board. I decided to save/set the stage for the conversation by apologizing. I said sorry if he thought I was too strong during the meeting (choosing to describe myself as "strong" because I didn't think I would have much luck with words like "crass" or "brazen" or even "forward"). His reaction surprised me. He said that he gets frustrated when the other teachers just go along with whatever he says, because they're saying that they want leadership roles but never give him ideas and are never honest with him. We acknowledged that it was largely cultural, but he said he needed it nonetheless. But then he started up with all of his promises again, how I should quit the other school because he wants to make a bigger role for me at his school, la de da.

Since he wasn't mad at me or anything, I kept up with the niceities, and just said, "that sounds great! So, you tell me when you have a schedule for me, and then I'll quit the other job."

So do you guys think he'll change? Do you think he'll actually make that list? Vote!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Counting Down

Alexandre is leaving a week from today. :o( But I'll be home in 18 days!

Today we went downtown to get some batteries for Alexandre's camera. The illegal copyright-infringement shopping area in our city has been institutionalized and given a building, and the sellers have been given numbered, air-conditioned booths, probably after paying some new taxes. The city allows them to sell illegal pirated knock-offs brought in from Paraguay, and, in turn, they pay a little extra to the city. Everybody wins! Right? ;)

I have just over 2 weeks of work left; I'll be hopefully/ideally planning my schedules for the new semester over the next few days; I'm trying to come up with ways to entertain myself for 11 days without Alexandre OR the internet (since he's taking his laptop with him, and some of you may remember that mine broke a few months back). I plan to make myself elaborate meals, play with the cat, detail-clean the apartment, rent movies, and try not to go crazy. If you have any other ideas, let me know.

I'll also have about 24 hours by myself with Alexandre's parents, who are very graciously taking me to the airport before I leave. If you guys have any idea of talking points, that would be even more helpful, because it could easily become awkwaaaard.... What do parents like talking about?

I don't have much else to talk about. I'm mostly updating this so Nanny doesn't have to look at the last post anymore. :oP

See you soon!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Meet Maísa!

This is Maísa. She and Shirley Temple are similar. I didn't see much of the real Shirley Temple, so I don't know if it's a similarity or a difference that this little girl is totally creepy. She has a kids' game show of sorts on TV. She's smart-mouthed and talks like an adult. When she has adult guests, she makes fun of them and mocks them.

Kids can also call into her show to play games with her. Below is a clip of this. From what I can gather, the kids calling are from a different region, so they have an accent (according to Maísa, of course). So they pronounce the more common "alô" (hello?) as "alor." So she mocks them and corrects them. How does anyone from any age group enjoy this?! Try to watch it. Even if you don't speak Portuguese, you'll get the general idea, and you can also hear her creepy voice (for the Spanish speakers, "fala" means "habla," and the rest should be a bit more understandable:



It is very funny in small doses, though. CQC, a Daily-Show-esque program, makes fun of her every week.

Oh, and here's another video where she first announces that her microphone is stuck in her underwear, and then makes fun of the child calling because she can't understand her name, and then says all the numbers in English with a cute Portuguese accent:




You can also hear her say Alexandre's name correctly, since I can't.
Vote! Totally cute or totally creepy?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Not Naked... Yet

I'm running low on clothes. I didn't pack correctly when I came here-- I brought a lot of dressy shirts and skirts thinking I would need them for work. I also didn't predict the heat, and I have a lot of long-sleeved shirts. Danette and Nancy know about the wonder that is "The Closet," the San Diego boutique store with the insanely cheap clothes. Well, everything I brought from there (the majority of my wardrobe) is too big for me now. :( (:

Shopping in Brazil-- at least in this relatively rich city-- doesn't mesh well with my Ross-shopping personality. ("Digging for gold," as Patty so aptly puts it!) 99% of the clothing stores here are tiny, overpriced boutiques with really pushy salespeople. Nothing is "made in Bangladesh," with is good for the economies in some ways but bad in most. There are more factories (and therefore factory jobs) in Brazil, but the clothes are so expensive that people don't buy them, so I don't know if the jobs balance out. I used to be really, really against outsourcing, but seeing the other side of the coin, I realize that it doesn't have to be a bad thing if the employees in the other countries are just treated more fairly. The products can still be cheaper than the domestic factory price, even if the governments enforce labor laws. One result is that domestic citizens work in stores instead of factories (like the US), and the country's retail power improves. And these are the types of things that "standard of living" comes from. Besides, it's not like factory employees in Brazil have great working conditions, even when they're managed by fellow citizens and making products for fellow citizens. So it's a toss up. Thoughts?

All I know is I've only bought 2 new articles of clothing in the last 7 months... a little unheard of for me, and they both came from one of the only two department stores in the city. (Even there, I was asked like 4 times if I needed any help, and I still had to find someone to "represent me" in the fitting rooms.) It's going to be nice to go to Target.

Last night, I convinced Alexandre to buy cheddar cheese (a rare luxury here! Danette would die) so I could make my mom's enchilada recipe. It came out faaaaaaabulous! It was our dinner last night, and will be our lunch and dinner today. He said that it was one of his favorite things that I've cooked, tied with Nanny's ribs. So, ladies, you can be proud.

That's it for now. Just wrapping things up and counting down/lamenting over the days until Alexandre leaves and we're apart for almost 6 weeks. :o(

Friday, November 14, 2008

Just a Couple More Weeks!

Not too much to update here. Alexandre's birthday was nice-- just a quiet dinner squeezed in between his final exams and studying. We went to our favorite sushi restaurant (the one where the waiters know us), so when I told them it was his birthday, they brought him a little fried ice cream with an orange cut in the shape of a sun. The ice cream had a little firecracker on it, but much to Alexandre's pleasure, they didn't sing or anything. Their "parabens" and "feliz aniversario"s were discreet.

I have class with a group of 4 girls who are studying linguistics and translation at one of the big private universities here. They cancel class a lot because they're young, flighty, and unreliable, but when they DO come to class, we have fun because we're the same age and it's all girls and they like my linguistics jokes.
Anyhoo, they did something very nice without my asking. Apparently, one of their English professors quit, and the director of the program let her choose her replacement (Brazilian nepotism at its finest). But the replacement teacher is really terrible, and all of the students went to the director to complain. During their meeting with him, my students told him that they know an American who lives in the city-- she's a native speaker, she has a degree in linguistics, and she taught in both the US and Brazil. He was interested, and told them to ask me if I could come in next week to meet him and bring my resumé!
I'm not getting my hopes up because this is Brazil and all but.... I'm still getting my hopes up, just a little.

I have another student/friend in one of my basic classes. We've gone out with him a couple of times and had nice chats. He studied linguistics too (but at a different private school) but never learned how to actually speak English. (Hence, my classes.) He's been encouraging me to apply to universities for a while now. I told him about the interview, and he asked if I would email him my resumé. He said he would drop it off with a professor from his university that he's still close to and put in a good word for me. I thanked him graciously and said that would be very nice of him.

So yeah... my chances are slim, being as I don't have a work visa and I'm not friends with deans and all, but it doesn't hurt to try. It was mostly nice to see small moments of altruism in a country that usually lacks anything close to it.

When I go home, aside from seeing family and friends of course, I am excited about:
-food (Mexican, Thai, Ethiopian...)
-English TV (i.e. Comedy Central)
-text messaging
-Target
-driving on roads that have 2 complete lanes
-the lack of motorcycles
-cheap tequila
-fixing my computer
-waiters that speak English
-fluent English in general
-books and magazines

lots more were in my head but now that I sit down to write it I can't remember. Anyhoo. Excited.
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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Roma e Roupa

Alexandre's dad, a huge history buff and History Channel addict, let us borrow the DVDs for the first and second season of HBO's series, Rome.

I don't know if the show was/is popular in the US, or when it came out, or if it's still on, but man, is it engaging! It's got drama, politics, romance, fighting scenes, old English... something for everyone! We started watching it yesterday (after Alexandre's favorite team's soccer game, of course) and have watched... 6 episodes. That's 6 straight hours, since HBO doesn't have commercials. But I'm sure everyone reading this has had at least one season of a TV show on DVD that they watched in some embarrassingly short length of time.

It's Alexandre's birthday on Tuesday. He absolutely can't stand surprises and made me give him his present already. :oP He received a nice and girly gift... a picture frame with pictures of us and of a forest from our road trip, and a poem that I wrote that my students helped me translate into Portuguese. I think he was hoping for a new video game controller, but that will just have to do. :) On Tuesday we're going to sushi (surprise) and then to a bar with some of his friends.

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In other news, we're well into South American equatorial summer, which means that just about every day, we have some bout of crazy heat and a few hours of intense wind and rain. If the rain is overnight/in the morning, it's nice because it makes the heat slightly less intolerable. If the rain is in the afternoon, it's nice because it's a great break from the heat. The only problem is the unpredictability-- it's unfortunate when we (and by we, I mean Alexandre, since I usually drive to work) gets stuck walking home from the hospital or the gym in the rain. Oh yeah, and the bugs. But luckily, we haven't had any more incidents with giant killer moths, and the cat is pretty good at taking care of the rest.
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Some of you may remember mentioning in my blog with the tips for teaching English in Brazil that the dress code for jobs in general is much more casual than that of the US. My cultural instinct is always surprise when I see the other teachers wearing cut-off tank tops and legging-pants to work, and then I remember that it's simply a different standard here. I discussed it once during my training classes for Old Job, because my boss commented that I was dressed awfully formally for a job training-- I had a button-down blouse on over a tank-top! Another teacher in the training, who had lived in California for quite a few years, pointed out that Americans always dress up more for work than Brazilians, and chaulked up the difference to the heat and lack of air conditioners in Brazil. "It's hot here!" she said simply. "We understand that people don't want to wear suits to work when it's 95 degrees in the office."
I saw the epitome of this the other day when I was watching GloboNews, which is like CNN. A Brazilian news reporter was interviewing a British economist to talk about the global financial crisis. The British man was wearing a suit and a tie-- he was on TV, after all-- and the reporter lady was wearing a track suit jacket, leggings, and flip flops. I can't imagine what they thought of each other! :)
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We found someone to watch the cat during our respective vacations: a nice student of mine named Carol. She lives with her mom and they have a cat and a big enough house, and she was excited about the idea. Today, we took Garbage over to Carol's house so the cats could meet and we could be sure they didn't want to kill each other. Like almost every Brazilian middle and upper-class home, Carol's house had a big gate and lots of little rooms. The gatinha had plenty to explore and was thuroughly comfortable and entertained. The cats were a bit skiddish around each other, but overall were friendly and comfortable. We feel a lot better. :)
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I guess that's it for now. I miss you all very much. As Auntie Tammy informed me, I'll be home in 30 days! :D

Friday, November 7, 2008

Visa!!

I got two great things this week: A new president, and a 2-year visa for Brazil!

I realize that these two things are slightly contradictory, but... I'm happy nonetheless.

We went to the visa office on Wednesday, convinced that we had all the papers that we needed. We just wanted to get everything verified one last time before we pay the fee at the bank, since the receipt from the bank is only valid for one day. We got there at 12:10, only to learn that their new lunch hours are from 12:00-2:00pm, because apparently an hour and a half of lunch for the entire office at the same time isn't enough.

So when we went back on Thursday, we were sure to get there before noon, and arrived at around 11:45. (It's hard to fit in times for us to get to this place-- it's 20 minutes away, and our schedules don't always match up.) But when we got inside, the short gimpy immigration guy shooed us away.

"It's my lunch time," he said curtly. "Come back in the afternoon between 2 and 5."
"But sir," Alexandre said, cool as a cucumber, "it's only 11:45, and the door says you close at 2. We just wanted you to check a few papers really fast before we go to the bank to pay the fee."
"No no. Some other time."
"Só um minutinho!" I piped in, laying out the papers on the counter and trying to hide my very obvious rage from this short lazy bastard.
He glanced over the papers halfheartedly while answering his cell phone from the doucheclip on his pants.
"They're fine." he mumbled as he walked away. "Bring them back with the receipt later."
We followed him outside so we could know which car to key later, only to learn that he parks in a gated and guarded garage, so it looks like our vengance will not satisfied after all. :(

Grahhhhh.
So we paid the fee this morning and then went back this afternoon (3rd try now) between my classes. When the immigration guy saw us, he sighed and limped up to the counter.
"We believe we have everything now, sir," Alexandre said. I still don't know how he manages such cordiality with these people.
To be helpful, I had neatly organized the documents in the order that they were on the checklist, being so kind as to paperclip the appropriate papers together and everything. As I handed over the packet, I even said, "they're in order." The immigration guy, of course, procceeded to rift through them quickly and mix them all up, and then spent another 10 minutes putting them in order again. rageragerageI-have-a-Class-in-30-minutes-ragerage.

"Okay," he said. "It'll be a few minutes. Have a seat." Then he disappeared into his cubicle. He had no idea what to do next, and had to make some phone calls.

We waited... and waited... and waited. We expected it to take only a few minutes, but had given ourselves an hour and a half just in case. But after an hour passed and the time moved closer to the start of my class, I started to worry. When I was officially late for work and there was no hope that the guy would be coming out anytime soon (since he had decided to help other people in the process), I called my boss to ask if he could teach the class, at least for the first part. It's the only class I have with teenagers, and only 2 out of 10 had shown up anyway, so my boss said no to worry about it (and was actually reasonable and understanding for once).

We waited for another 10 minutes or so, at which point the immigration guy came out to ask if I had "a little photo," one of those typical Latin American mini portraits that are often required for documents like job resumés or whatever. (If you don't know what I'm talking about and therefore aren't laughing right now, they're like little passport-sized photos that people carry around to give out with official documents.) Luckily, I took them when I first came here, and had brought them with me just in case. I was 14 pounds heavier and had the cheeks to prove it, but it sufficed.

I gave my little photo to the guy, and on his way back to his cubicle, he tried to reach up and turn off the air conditioner, but the switch was relatively high on the wall, and he couldn't reach! He kept doing these little jumps to try smack at the switch. Alexandre made a karma joke. I tried really hard not to laugh by using my childhood technique of "think bad thoughts think bad thoughts wars your family dying if you laugh right now you can never come back to Brazil DON'TLAUGH AT THE EVIL CHUBBY SHORT MAN UNABLE TO PERFORM SIMPLE HUMAN TASKS!"

It worked. FINALLY, about an hour and a half after we had initially walked into the office, and miraculously past closing time, the immigration guy emerged, waving my passport in his hand.
"Here, this is your temporary visa until the other one is sent by the capitol. You can go in and out of the country with this." He held up a form in his other hand. "You just have to sign this form saying that you'll pay the fine for being in the country illegally for one month. I've dated it for today, even though you can't go pay it until Monday. That way, you don't have to pay for the weekend."

"That's surprisingly nice of you," I thought, "but it would've been a lot nicer if you had done your job over the last 3 months that we've been trying to work with you so that I DIDN'T stay here illegally." But of course, I just stayed quiet, signed my form, and let Alexandre take care of the gracious thank yous.

But after all was said and done, and lots of money later, I got my passport with its fancy little stamp that says I can go in and out of Brazil for no more than 90 days at a time until I receive the permanent visa. Alexandre made the guy explain it a few times just to be clear, and also said "so she can go to the US for Christmas and can come back in January?" The guy said yes, so it seems like everything's FINALLY taken care of once we go pay that fine.

We're going to celebrate with sushi (surprise) and go on with our lives. I must say that all the work is well worth it. ;)


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Christmas Morning!

Obama!

It was a slightly frustrating experience not being able to have American TV to keep me posted on the election results. I only had the electoral college maps that were posted on CNN and MSNBC, and they were slow to update. According to the maps, John McCain was winning for a while, and I was panicking a bit, but Patty had to assure me via IM that he actually wasn't winning, and to just wait for the maps to update.

I stayed awake long enough to see Obama take Ohio, but with the 6-hour time difference between Brazil and the west coast of the US, I couldn't stay awake to see it through to the finish. It was like waiting for Santa on Christmas morning-- you want to stay awake to hope to get a glimpse of the sleigh or the reindeer, but you also want to go to sleep so that the presents come faster!

Because college students are the same in most every country, Alexandre woke up at 5:30am to finish studying for a test at 7:30am. Ha. But he came in and woke me up saying, "Congratulations, honey, you have a new president. Obama won!"

I was so happy. "It's Christmas morning!" I said. "What a great present!"

And then of course I couldn't go back to sleep. I was all excited and had to look at the electoral college map again and just had to read the transcript from Obama's acceptance speech and then I had to give the computer back to Alexandre so he could finish reviewing his Power Point slides.

Check out a short and very nicely written CNN article here.

The results were all over the Brazilian news, which was showing clips of Obama giving his speech and Jesse Jackson crying and people cheering and celebrating all over the country. Then they showed a little montage of Obama screen caps and played U2's "Beautiful Day." :)

Though most people ignore this, the equally important part of the election is that democrats pwned the House and the Senate. (Am I used pwned right, Danette? Because if I am, then it could be very effective in this sentence.) That means that everything Barack Obama is talking about might actually come to fruition, since, you know, he can't actually initiate the laws. I personally would like to see:
1. A complete overhaul of the No Child Left Behind Act
2. Tax redistribution
3. NATIONAL HEALTHCARE-- come on, people
4. That elusive "timetable" for withdrawing the troops from Iraq
5. An overhaul of trade laws like NAFTA, CAFTA, and the WTO agreements with China to make them more fair for overseas workers so that people aren't forced to immigrate to America because they have bad jobs HELLLOOOOOO
6. Any other deliciously democratic things that congress wants to pass.

I'm so proud of America. We chose optimism over fear. We chose the common good over the individual. We chose initiative over "tradition." We chose cultural experience over wartime experience. A black man in America didn't have a father and he still went to Columbia and Harvard and now he's the president. It looks like there's hope for us after all.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I Miss Clorox: Tales of Housewifery

Life is slow. I'm not working much, and we haven't had elections in America yet. I'll try to make a basic topic entertaining with the following:

So my mother and grandmother have heard my complaints about how I can't seem to find a bleach that seems to make any difference to white clothes.

Some of you may know that when we moved into the new apartment, we fired the maid (yipee!).
After 4 months of her bossing me around and trying to gradually pass her responsibilties on to me, plus the complete and total wierdness of having a stranger in my house touching all my stuff, I was finally free to be my stubborn self in private, even if that meant I had to be in charge of all of the white clothes and most other cleaning responsibilities (the perils of having a boyfriend with a full-time work/school schedule and a life of maids... I choose my battles).

Anyhoo. I was ready to do a way better job than that silly old maid, who, upon being informed of her termination, commented that I "needed" her because "washing white clothes is much too difficult for [me]." Psh. How insulting! I'd show her. Nothing a little bleach and hard-headedness couldn't solve. I wanted to say, "lady, I spent a large part of my teenage and adult life washing my own clothes just fine. Don't assume that I'm like the other princesses twenty-somethings that you clean apartments for. I'm not going to fall for that crap."

The first time I went to Wal-Mart to buy some bleach, I didn't know the word in Portuguese. I figured I'd see something that I understood, but everything I saw said "agua sanitaria." I thought that meant sanitary water, which for me is the weak compound used in the last stage of dishwashing in American restaurants.

I decided to ask some of the Wal-Mart employees. I tried making up a word for bleach following the sound change rules between Spanish and Portuguese: "branqueadora." I asked the guys where I could buy branqueadora, and they didn't understand. (Blast! You fail me this time, historical linguitsics!) So I said, "Which of these products will make my clothes very white? I don't care if it's strong."

The employees were two men who clearly had no experience washing clothes. Plus, it was 8 in the morning (my 7:30am student hadn't shown up for class), so they were kind of out of it. They kind of stared at me, and stared at each other. Then, being the loyal Wal-Mart employee that he is, one of the men pointed to the most expensive bleach and said "that one's good."

I sighed. "You don't even get comission," I said in English.
"Que?"
"Nada, disculpa. Obrigada." (Nothing, sorry, thank you.)

At least I was sure that "agua santiaria," whether it was the same chemical compounds as bleach or not, was the closest I was going to get to Clorox. So I bought the middle-priced one (not the Wal-Mart brand, and not the "Vanish" American brand) and called it a morning.

I've bought different products every time we've gone to the store. Nothing works. I soak my lovely's all white hospital outfits (sigh) in mixtures of water and this agua sanitaria nonsense with ratios that are much higher than the bottle recommends. I scrub the clothes in the little sink in our laundry room. Nothing works! GRAHHHHH WHY DOES BRAZIL NEED TO MAKE SIMPLE THINGS SO DIFFICULT?!

I decided to figure out the difference once and for all. Some basic Wikipedia searches and comparisons to the bottles I have here revealed that, while American bleach products have 6.2% of sodium hypochlorite, the main product in bleach, plus sodium percarbonate mixed in, the 2 products I have here have only 2% of NaClO, and don't even bother with the percarbonate.

So there ya go. The problem is that the bleach doesn't have any bleach in it. So it turns out that "agua sanitaria" is the more appropriate name after all.

Yes. This entire entry was a rant about bleach. I wish I had something more interesting to tell you. Here's a funny you-tube video...?



Thanks to Michelle for being obsessed with it. :) Alexandre loves this video, mostly because the little boy says "ouch!" and he thinks that "ouch" is one of the funniest words in English.

Have a good weekend! :)
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