Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Layout!

I changed things up a bit. I also added blogs that I like to the sidebar. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Last night was the semi-annual barbecue for Alexandre's Brazilian public medical school. Brazilian public medical school barbecues are pretty much, like, the epitome of all that I hate about Brazil. If you're Brazilian or have lived here for any significant amount of time, you will probably understand and may even empathize. It should go without saying that I went out with 2 girl friends while Alexandre went to the party.

But yesterday, we ... ahem... legally and legitimately... got all of the TV channels turned on in our apartment. Before, we had only 2 American channels: National Geographic and something called "Universal Channel", which plays treats such as Law and Order SVU and Forensic Files, but which plays the same episodes 3 times a day and twice a month.

Now... we have EVERYTHING!

Alexandre made it home from said stupid barbecue with relatively little drama, and we then spent the day today enjoying our new array of channels. We moved the bed to the living room and got to watch Family Guy, Simpsons, Oprah, Friends, Will and Grace, movies, and CNN! (Did you notice that I didn't mention our 10 new soccer channels? Can you guess who was controlling the remote?) Some things are dubbed (and don't accept SAP ;oP) but most things are subtitled or change back to English using SAP.

Today was the first Saturday since I started working here on which I officially had NO students scheduled. I am working way too much, so, in an attempt to save my sanity, I told most of my non-contract students that they needed to sign contracts if they wanted to continue (conveniently, almost all of them quit, including Saturday Girl). Fine by me-- it gives me more time for my American Job and saves me the stress/drama of flaky-ass private students.

All in all, it's been a fabulous weekend. We just had dinner at a pizza/salad bar place. Brazilian pizza places sell dessert pizzas... not as good as Pizookie, but more widely available, and excellent in their own right. We had slices of brigadeiro, romeo and juliet (cheese with guava), and some other delicious things. And I had 2 capirinhas.

Life is good!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Gym and How People Underestimate My Listening Skills

So when we got back from the US, I joined a gym. It was the one that previously wanted a bill in my name. But the gym has a sort of agreement/discount with the hospital, and Alexandre knows the owner guy and worked out there for a long time before switching to another one. So he bypassed the receptionist and went in to talk to the owner guy, who let me join in a very unofficial, paper-and-pencil-records kind of way.

The gym is small, and doubles as a physiotherapy center. The owner is actually a physical therapist. So my first "session" was actually a sort of evaluation. He took all of my measurements and weight and all that. Everything was done in the metric system. so the exact extent of my flabby-ness is still more or less a mystery to me. (It's probably for the best.) After the evaluation, he made up a weekly workout routine for me to do.

So my first day of actual exercise was the owner guy just teaching me how to use all of the machines correctly, and constantly correcting my posture. He's not really pushing me too hard-- his logic is that I need to learn how to do things correctly, and to build up resistance slowly. Also, if I'm in pain, I won't come back.

There are trainers/instructors that walk around the gym along with the owner guy and offer help to the people working out. But since the gym is so small, and there are never more than about 10 people there at a time (and even fewer in the mornings), and a lot of them seem to be long-time members. So that means I essentially get a personal trainer every day. The gym really does offer quality service.

I just finished my first week. The first days have gone something like this:

Instructor: Ok. Put your legs here. No, here. Stretch them out straight. Straighter. Sit up straight. Ok go. Good. No, Posture. Put your head straight. Posture. Head. Posture. Posture. Head. Why are you turning your hip to the side like that? Straight. Straight.
Me: grahhhhh

It's no fault of the very helpful and friendly instructors. It's totally me and my awkward-ness. Good thing I'm not dancing.

Another funny thing of the gym is the way the owner and the instructors think they are helping me by modifying their Portuguese. They speak very slow, and repeat themselves, and seem to have no notion of English, because they do things like this:

Instructor: Este exercício é para melhorar seus músculos abdominais.
(This exercise is to improve your abdominal muscles.)
Me: Tá bom. (Ok.)
Instructor: Entendeu? Sua BARRIGA. (Did you understand? Your belly.)
Me: Sim, entendi. (Yes, I understand.)

They have very good intentions, so it's no problem. They just think my Portuguese is like a child's. They assume that words that will be difficult for children (like "músculos abdominais") would also be difficult for me, and they instead say "barriga" (belly), which is actually a much more difficult word for an English/Spanish speaker learning Portuguese. One of the girls kept doing that (another example was when she said "glutus" and then "corrected" herself and said "bum bum," thinking it would be easier), so I finally told her, "I understand the formal words and the medical words better than the easy words, Ok?" I mostly just wanted to save time and confusion in the conversation.

But I have learned some helpful body part words, like knees, elbows, wrist, etc. And I'm starting to pick up some nice translations for phrasal verbs.

Come on. Going to the gym is a chore. I have to entertain myself somehow!

Oh, and of course, word has already got out at the gym (after my whopping 4 visits) that I "ain't from around these here parts."
Last night was particularly... interesting. It was more crowded than I had seen it on the first 3 days. When I got there, I passed the middle-aged receptionist and two older women who were chit-chatting at the front desk. I waved, and then went around the corner to put my stuff in the lockers. The lockers are in the actual work-out room, so I waved a hello to the instructor on duty. Then I went back out to the lobby to use the bathroom.

While in the bathroom (which is just to the side of the front desk), I heard the receptionist saying in Portuguese, "Yeah, she moved here to live with her boyfriend." When I came out of the bathroom, the 3 older women were all staring at me and smiling. Sigh.

Then I went back into the workout room and hopped onto the stationary bike, the first step of my routine every day. Three older men were on the bikes to the side. I came in at the middle of the conversation, but I figured out that they were joking about politicians and soccer. Then one man said,
"Obama would definitely be a Corinthians fan!" (Corinthians is a soccer team from Sao Paulo, and Alexandre's favorite.)
Two of the men started laughing, but the third said "shh, shh!" and pointed at me.

... Because I would be offended about something like that? I assumed that they were not Corinthians fans and thought that calling someone a corinthiano is an insult.

I just smiled at them. Don't know if they knew that I understood or not. I felt like saying "Nice to meet you, too. I don't care if you joke about Obama's possible soccer alliances." But more importantly, how did they know who I was, and that I was American? I can only assume that while I was in the bathroom, the instructor girl said something to them.

It didn't end there. The instructor girl on duty (a tiny 5-ft-tall evangelical girl who bears a striking resemblance to Nelly Furtado) led me to the next machine on my routine list. While she was observing me, another woman walked by. She said to me, "Oh, this is [lady's name, I don't remember]. She is a translator and English teacher, too!"
"Que legal," I said, smiling politely at the woman. (That's nice.)
"She's American!" the instructor told the woman.
"Oh, are you Danielle?" the woman asked. "My daughter and her friends took classes with you. I called you once to see if you could give private classes to my other daughter, but you weren't free at night."

[I remembered this lady's phone call. Her daughter and her daughter's friends were some of the flakiest and snobbiest students I've ever had, and I had no interest in changing my schedule for anyone in that family. She also wanted me to drive out to her house on the other side of town, even though her daughter told me in class that her dad is rich and this lady doesn't work. (Let me point out here that Brazilians do this what I consider annoying thing that they say "I'm a [job]" just because they studied for that job, even if they aren't working or are working in something else. So when this woman says "I'm a translator," she could really be saying "I studied humanities/translation 25 years ago and haven't worked since I married my rich husband.") Folgada. Plus, if she's trained as a translator and teacher, why doesn't she teach English to her kids herself?]

Anyway. I said, "Oh, yeah, I remember."
"Well what's your schedule like now?"
"Yeah, I'm just super busy right now. I'm working on a project for an American company. You can try calling me in a few months..."

That wasn't a complete lie-- I AM super busy and considering telling any new people that I'm not available-- but it was a definite "no" for this woman.

But yeah. Sometimes I feel like a famous person, with all the whispering and questioning and being recognized, but without the money and assistants and other cool stuff.

I'm tired of having to talk about how different I am. But at least I'm gonna get skinny and buff and improve my atrocious posture.

PS: I saw one of these outside my window the other day. It was a woodpecker! I think it was this one. Fun!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Optimism Post!

Many of my last posts have been pretty blah and complain-y. Here are some things that I'm happy and thankful for (in no particular order, don't get pissy now):

1. Good weather
2. The ability to walk to work instead of drive
3. Working from home most of the day
4. Delicious, cheap, and healthy food
5. The funniest, sweetest cat in the world
6. A great family
7. My close friends
8. My perfect-for-me boyfriend and the little life we've made
9. Making more money than I ever have and having nothing to spend it on because I'm good with what I've got
10. Not being stressed about money for the first time ever
11. All-you-can-eat sushi
12. Churrascarias
13. Decent bosses
14. Microvilar ;)
15. I never thought I'd say this, but our maid
16. Airplanes, internet, and the postal service (the literal one, not the band)
17. My brain
18. Good music
19. Perspective
20. Words

There's probably more, but I have to go to a work meeting. What do your lists look like?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hello, my name is Danielle. I do not work for the consulate. But I still disagree with you.

Rant tiiime

Let me first point out one thing: From what I know of the American visa process for Brazilians, in order for a Brazilian to get even a tourist visa to the US, they have to prove that they have a stable job and some fixed things in Brazil, whether it be a car or a house or kids, that show that they have a reason to come back. That's because so many people that are considered illegal immigrants today were people that originally entered legally on a tourist or student visa. So the consulate employees are suspicious when say, for example, a young unmarried guy who lives with his parents and doesn't have a steady job in Brazil says that he wants to go to the US "just to visit." It sucks, because maybe some people in this situation have honestly just saved up for a vacation and plan to return to Brazil, but enough people from all over the world have taken advantage of this way into the country to result in stricter screening processes for visas.

So I have a student who shows up sparingly to class. Let's say her name is Rosa. Rosa is a shrewd woman in her 40s who I met for the first time a few weeks ago when she came into class for the first time in the semester (we were about 2 weeks in). She came in late, so I didn't really get a chance to have any kind of introduction with her. (It was kind of like "Oh hi, you must be Rosa, nice to meet you, welcome to class.") Anyway, after her first class, Rosa came up to me as I was erasing the board.

"Americans are rude!" she said.

I was a bit taken aback. "Excuse me?" (Nice to meet you, too, I was thinking.)

"I had to go to the consulate this week for my son's visa. He wants to do a foreign exchange program in the US. All of the consulate employees were SO rude!"

I sighed. "Yeah, consulate people can be frustrating. I'm sorry you had a bad experience. But...I mean, does that mean all Americans are rude? If the first Brazilians I met were employees of the policia federal, could I say 'All Brazilians are so rude?'"

The rhetorical device seemed to be lost on Rosa. She just kind of huffed at me, still eager to rant. "They talked to us like we were criminals!" she continued. But before she could go on, another teacher came in to ask me a question, and interrupted her. She stalked off while he was still talking.

This was before our trip to the US. I didn't see Rosa again until today.

But let me first interject with another related but unconnected story. On Saturday night, the other teachers and I went out for some drinks to celebrate a teacher's birthday. It was a lovely time and we enjoyed laughs and good conversation in a fun mix of English and Portuguese. However, there's one relatively new teacher who I've ranted about before. He's totally naive and always makes the most obnoxious comments.

Anyway, while at the bar, I was having a great conversation with two teachers who have both lived abroad, comparing cultural norms, funny differences, etiquette, etc. Dumb Little Boy Teacher came up and took a seat at our end of the table. After listening for about 6 seconds, he butted in, "The US is so unfair! They wouldn't give me a visa, just because I don't have a house or anything in my name. All I want to do is go visit!"

Despite my and the other teachers' defenses and interjections, his rant continued, changing direction a bit. "Americans have such a terrible image of Brazil. There was an episode of The Simpsons that made us look so bad! They came for Carnival and there were monkeys in the streets--"

"But there ARE monkeys in the streets! There are monkeys that run around your university!" I noted.

"No, but they were like, in the streets with cars!"

"It's The Simpsons!" another teacher butted in. "Of course it was dramatic. They make fun of everything, most of all Americans."

This guy had no good responses. He's really got his mind set. "Americans have a bad image of Brazil because Brazilian directors just make bad movies that show the bad sides of Brazil."

I had a capirinha and a beer under my belt, and I was really tired of this guy. "First, Is that America's fault that Brazilian directors only seem to make movies about drugs and favelas? Second, I don't think you can say that ALL Americans have a bad image of Brazil. If anything, they don't have much of an image of all. Most Americans just don't know much about the country, good or bad. Third, don't you think it's equally damaging that so many Brazilians have an idealized image of America, that everything is perfect?"

His response? "Well, I've seen the movies. I know how it is. It must be really wonderful there!"

Jesus. "No. You're not listening. Do you really honestly think that? That ALL of the US is like the US you see in the movies?"

"Of course not. I know you have Harlem."
Another teacher blatantly laughed at him, so I didn't have to. But I went on.

"No, but really. It's just as damaging to think that everything is perfect as it is to think that everything is bad. Neither one can be true. And besides, I think you need to decide if you like the US or not. Because on the one hand you're saying that everything there is hunky-dory, and on the other hand you're criticizing the visa system and what you perceive to be American ignorance just because you saw a goddamned episode of The Simpsons. Think about it!"

He just shook his head and mumbled how he was going to go for a cigarette break. And then we all talked crap about him.

Yes Ok. So after that lovely exchange, I went into my class this evening, and my darling friend Rosa was there. And the activities in the book for the day were debates. And the book had a little article about The Minutemen Project and asked for the students opinions on immigration in the US.

All of the students agreed that The Minutemen Project was doing the right thing. Sigh. But Ok. But then Rosa decided that this was her chance to try to get another jab about how bad Americans are based on her experience at the consulate. She started complaining in Portuguese (and refused to speak in English, despite my many requests... I mean, the point of the exercise was to practice critical thinking and opinion-giving in English, not to berate the teacher) with things like "your country's laws are ridiculous" and "I had to bring a TON of papers there, prove that I had a car and a bank account and everything, just so my son could go study there!" and "They yelled at us and made me feel pressured like I was doing something wrong the whole time."

I mean, I was still working, so I tried to get the other students to respond before I did. One guy was kind enough to actually try to practice his English. "In Europe, it's the same thing. It's also very difficult to get visas to European countries."

"No, no! All Brazilians can go to all European countries whenever they want." said Rosa. I knew that was 100% not true. So did the other students, who tried telling her so.

Another student said something to the effect of "Many people go to move to the United States. If many people tried to come to Brazil, we would need the same laws as the US. We would need to be more strict, too."

But Rosa didn't want to quit. "No, but it's so unnecessary! My friend just wanted to go on vacation to New York, and your country wouldn't let her have a visa just because she couldn't show any property or ownership of anything in Brazil. Brazil welcomes everyone. America doesn't let anyone come."


Really? I mean... what can I say to a person who thinks like that? Her opinions are not based in fact. She is clearly not interested in learning anything or seeing another perspective. All she wanted was to make sure that SOME American, it didn't matter who, got "paid back" for her "mistreatment" at the consulate (and apparently, her definition of mistreatment was having to prove that she had an income to pay her underage son's way to study in the US before they gave him a visa). She doesn't see her own hypocrisy. She said that she supported The Minutemen Project because Americans need to "protect their territory" but then believed that America shouldn't have strict visa laws...?

I sympathize with her that the visa process is frustrating. It's bureaucratic, just like anything that involves any level of any government in the world. It's unfortunate that not everyone can just go to the US whenever they want. It's unfortunate that anyone can't just travel anywhere they want. Sure, life would be easier. But not everything in life can be easy. And I don't appreciate being personally blamed and attacked for something that is a logical result of the huge immigration issue in the US. My opinions have changed a lot over the last few years. I do agree that visa laws need to be strict in the US. Not because I am xenophobic or I think that people need to stay in their countries and that America is for Americans or any of that crap. I agree with it for the same reason that I agree with universities having application processes. As great as it would be, you can't open the doors for everyone. I don't agree with The Minutemen or the image that they send of the US. I don't agree with the giant fence or ICE. I think that if the American government really wants to slow immigration, at least from Mexico and China, and other countries where we have a ton of factories, we should try to work more with helping the government enforce labor laws in American-owned factories and companies so that people have fewer reasons to come in the first place. But we also can't force other countries to enforce or change their laws.

But in the end, I'm not annoyed with Rosa for disagreeing with the visa process, even if she's being ignorant about it. I'm annoyed with her for being so rude to me personally about it. We've had a ton of drama with getting my permanent visa and work permit and RG here in Brazil, but do I walk up to people and, when I meet them for the first time, say, "All Brazilians are rude!"? Of course not. I rant to Alexandre (because that's what boyfriends are for, and because he's dealing with the same people I am), but I don't blame Brazil or Brazilians. Paperwork is just a part of life, especially if you're trying to work with a government agency to get something good for very cheap / free (in her case, an American education for her son. In my case, a life with Alexandre). So she needs to quit her bitchin'.

Comment away. Agree, disagree, put in your two cents or your visa stories, whatever you'd like. Now, I just want a break from people for a little while. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Slow Road to Independence

So first let me tell you that our trip to the US was great. Alexandre got to meet EVERYONE and everyone got to meet him. He got to see the more family-style side of the US, since his first time there (when we met) he was staying with a Vietnamese host family in a big city and only had access to a car when I had time to drive him places.

The highlights of the trip (apart from the family, of course) were the Dodgers game and Las Vegas. :D So sad that we couldn't make it up to Berkeley/ San Francisco, but maybe next time.

Here are a couple of pictures of the highlights:

Haha, Alexandre, #1 Dodger fan, after a supersize beer and Jamie's present (the foam hand)

Baby's Boyfriend's First Christmas Casino
Vegas at the beginning of the night
...and.... Vegas at the end of the night:

So yes. That was the trip. But what I really wanted to write about on here today was how going home reminded me how nice it is to be able to take care of things myself, and not to depend on other people. It also showed Alexandre how nice and less stressful it is for HIM when I'm in charge of logistical things (especially money). He's not exactly the king of initiative, especially when it comes to household bureaucracy (calling the landlord to get things fixed, paying bills, etc). I mean, I understand. He spends 60 hours a week at the hospital. He's also a 23 (almost 24!)-year-old Brazilian male, which should speak for itself. :oP But I can't do things if no one teaches me, right?

Alright. So our Objective #1 was to get me a bank account. Checking accounts aren't an option, because I don't work here legally (shh...) and anything from my American job doesn't cut it because it's in English. One reader recommended Citibank, but there's no checking account branch within a 4-hour radius, and the HSBC people here were totally useless.... the perils of being the only immigrant around.

Anyway, Alexandre first taught me how to use the ATMs. Then he went into his bank to actually talk to the employees, and they informed him that a way around the checking account problem would be for me to open a savings account. I'd still get a debit card for it, and I'd still be able to pay bills with it (hold that thought), but my checks would have 30-day holds.

Oh, I'd also like to point out that some Brazilian banks (including Alexandre's) give you a 10-day overdraft grace period on checking accounts. Yup. If you're overdrawn, you can be overdrawn for 10 days before they charge you anything. If you get back up to zero before the 10 days are up, then no fees! (The amount you can be overdrawn depends on your banking history.)

Ok, but I don't need that feature, really. And if a savings account is the only choice, that's the only choice, right? Alexandre can cash my checks in his account and give me the cash. So we started the paperwork.... and then the lady wanted a bill in my name.

SOooOo we put the bank account stuff on hold and went over to the electricity company to change the bill to my name. I don't have a Brazilian ID (RG), so the mentally challenged (literally) receptionist/security guy was giving us a hard time, and wouldn't even let us in to see an attendant. But finally Alexandre convinced him, and the attendant let me use my passport. Once the next electric bill comes, it'll be addressed to me. :D Then I can open a savings account.

Something important (and AWESOME) that I need to point out about bills here is that almost every bill you receive (for anything, even from a hospital) comes with a bar code on it. All ATMs have bar code readers. So if you have a bank account, you can pay bills directly from your account by bringing the bills with you to the ATM and scanning the bar code. Isn't that great?! Very efficient. Bravo, Brazil.

Also, each bill has a specific bank associated with it. If you don't have a bank account (like me), you can go to each individual bank listed on the bills and pay at the ATMs without a card. It's time-consuming (because you may have to go to 4 or 5 banks), but for people who pay everything in cash, it's (what we thought was) the only way.

All right so anyway, I was determined to start taking the bills to be paid myself. We figured out another way, almost on accident. There is another type of place here called "Lotéricos". Yes, they ARE the place where you can buy lottery tickets-- but they're also a place to pay bills that are overdue (bills that your bank's barcode won't read). They're tiny little offices hidden inside of shopping malls and our super Wal-Mart mini-city building. Alexandre knew that we could pay overdue bills there, so he sent me there to pay one for apartment taxes that "we" forgot about last month.

While I was at the Lotérico, I started chatting it up with the clerk. She seemed friendly enough, so I played the "I'm an American" card to get more information out of her. (I certainly didn't want her to think that I was some 24-year-old who didn't know how to pay bills, even though that wouldn't be exactly abnormal here.) She praised me for learning (thanks, tia) and told me that, in fact, I can pay ANY bill at the Lotérico that's not more than 30 days past due! That means that I wouldn't have to go to 5 different banks. So I pushed all of the papers I had in my purse through her window and was like "then I'd like to pay all of these, please!" Took care of the new and old apartment taxes, 2 month's worth of "condominio" (aka robbery, an extra thing we pay with our rent that the rent should already be covering, like common areas), electricity, and internet/cable.

So now with my newfound knowledge of the power of the Lotérico, I'm not as worried about opening the bank account. I guess I'll still do it, just in case, but it's not, like, AS urgent as I thought.

So yes, taking care of all of the bills gave me a boost of confidence. The next project to tackle? A new dining room table.

Since we moved into our new apartment (wow, it's been a year, I guess it's not so new anymore), we've had only one table that we use both for eating and for my private classes at home. I usually have 2-3 people a day here, so that means shuffling the table back and forth, usually twice a day (and...psh... cleaning it after every meal). We've always put off buying another table... sometimes for money reasons, sometimes because I wasn't sure how many students I'd have in the long-term. But I've been saving for it, and today I went ALL BY MYSELF to the area downtown with all of the furniture stores (some sell used furniture). I found a great new wooden dining room set at the price that most stores were charging for dingy used ones with broken chairs. (One of my pet peeves is broken chairs that wobble from side to side.) I decided to get the table and chair set.

Since I paid with cash, the lady threw in a free bookshelf. (Kristin may be the only person reading this who knows what a sorry state our current, wire bookshelf is in.) Delivery's free, and it's all coming, assembled, tomorrow. :D

I was on a confidence roll, and the table was cheaper than I budgeted for, so I stopped in an office furniture store that I had seen and bought a small basic swivel chair with wheels. It's great for my little classroom because I get up and down over and over during the class, and right now I have to scrape our old plastic chairs with the broken feet across the floor every time. Learning from the first store, I asked the girl if there was any kind of special for people paying with cash. She told me that I'd get a 10% discount. Woot!

The initiative doesn't stop there. Another problem in our crappy apartment is that the bathroom pipes are leaking and slowly destroying the wall in my classroom (along with mold building up). (San Diego style, right Danette?) I've asked Alexandre to call the "condomino" people to come check it out a million times (I mean, what else do we pay them for? They just eat up our money! Sorry, I really have a thing against condominos.), but he never gets around to it. So I figured, "if I can buy a dining room set by myself, I can call to report a leaky pipe, right?" When I got home from furniture shopping, I found the number to the condomino office on the bill, and called, asked to speak with whoever deals with our building, and told them about the problem. I explained, "I wouldn't want to wait and leave this mold to grow, because it's only going to get worse for you!" which translates to both "hurry up and get over here" and "don't say I didn't tell you and then try to charge me for it later". The lady said that they'd send someone out tomorrow, which is also when the new dining room set and bookshelf gonna come. :D

So the moral of this story (more for Alexandre than anyone), is that, if I know how to do stuff, stuff gets done! Also, that my independence depends on a confidence snowball. Also, that I need to be patient with myself-- it took years of trial and error for me to learn how to be a grown-up in the US... it certainly isn't going to happen here overnight.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Coming Soon!

I know, I disappeared!

First, I was getting ready for our trip to the US.

Then, we went to the US (Fabulous! Not long enough! I miss you all already! I didn't get to see half the people that I wanted to see!).

Now I'm back, and since my immediate boss at my American job and I were both on vacation, we're now scrambling to catch up on the project to get the higher-up bosses off her back (and therefore getting her off my back... hooray bureaucracy).

Pictures and stories to come... I've gotta download a new picture program (Unless someone knows a way to get me a copy of HP Photosmart Premier version 6.0... not 6.5, not 7, and not 3.5. 6.0 was the absolute best program ever and I can't figure out any of the other 5 programs that I've downloaded that made me want to throw the computer against the wall). I also have to find time to resize/edit the pics.

Monday's Labor Day in the US, and, coincidentally, Independence Day in Brazil. But Alexandre's got a 12-hour shift at the hospital (7am-7pm) and I'll be using the day to finish a very overdue translation project.

I'll get back to the blog eventually...

In the meantime, my dear friend Kristin (remember the one who came to visit? The one who watched me get attacked by a bird?) started a blog! Yay! Check it out here (or here:

More later!
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