Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Panty Chat

Even though Alexandre and I have a questionably legal cable box with about 75 channels, I still often find myself hard pressed to find something good to watch on TV (I mean, a girl can only take so much "Two and a Half Men," and Animal Planet's “Baby Planet” is only on once in a while ). I have a general rule against dubbed (unless it's a documentary), and, well, I'm a snob. 

Anyway, my channel surfing led me into a rip tide of late-night television in the form of Papo Calcinha.  This is a Brazilian show whose name translates to "Panty Chat". Now, it may sound like it's one of those secret porn reality shows, but it's not (but only because they're dressed). Papo Calcinha is a sort of slutty, younger version of “The View.” Just like “The View,” the show has a token black girl and also a token lesbian (you know, because the show is so progressive). It's basically just a bunch of biscates my age all overdone and overdressed, sitting in the living-room-style TV set and justifying their sluttyness by insisting upon "universal truths" about men and women (things like, "all men are smart about attracting women, but we are smarter about attracting them!").  

It's a room full of women talking over each other, talking out of their asses, throwing out incorrect English words and phrases to sound cool, and acting like the terms "slut" and "progressive feminist" are synonyms... in other words, my worst nightmare.  

Some of the girls are from Rio, so I learned some valuable Carioca slang, like the super common use of the super word "super".  One of the girls was talking about some guy she f*%^ed, and she said, "a gente super ficou!" What does that even mean?!?!  

On top of that, I learned the verb "facebookiar", which the linguist in me couldn't help but like a little.

The girls' conversation was also a good lesson in 
turn taking, which, as every second language learner knows, is difficult to pick up when you're immersed in the culture of your new language. "Panty Chat" taught me that, apparently, the Brazilian way to maintain your turn in the conversation and to keep people from interrupting you is to reach your arm out and SNAP AT THEM if they utter a sound so that they shut up and you can finish your story about how your friend wanted to get with your ex-boyfriend and you thought it just wasn't cool at all. 

I'm mostly sad that my language learning skills are wasted on this kind of Portuguese. I still can't understand my bank statements, but I can understand everything these shameless whores are saying. 

I agree that perhaps it'd be nice if there was some female version of sports commentary shows, but, please, Globo Network. This is not it. Talking about her sex life on national TV and making the first (and second, and third...) move every time doesn't make a woman "modern".  If you want a show about progressive, modern-day women, make a show about women multi-tasking like woah and rocking it at all kinds of normal life things, like studying, working and moving up in their careers, maintaining a house and a family, taking care of all of the bureaucracy-related things in their household, remembering everything that the men in their lives forget, filling about 15 different roles at once, AND most important of all, not kissing and telling.

An honest-to-goodness modern day woman doesn't brag about how many guys she's slept with. She doesn't reduce a relationship down to the man's penis size. She doesn't pretend that she's having sex with all these random guys just because she likes sex.

These kinds of women on Papo Calcinha are the opposite of a modern woman. They are still focusing all of their attention on men, and defining themselves by their history with men. One girl told a story about how she pined after a guy for 6 months before he finally gave her the time of day, and then at Carnival, she threw herself at him and he agreed to have sex. She went to study abroad, and he promptly started dating one of her friends. So where's the modernity in that? The girl was still chasing after a guy that ignored her, and she thought she was successful for finally getting him to sleep with her, and didn't realize that she wanted the relationship and then just got desperate for ANY kind of attention and settled for just the sex. 

It's just this nasty shameful storm of mixed messages and hypocrisy and superficiality. It's women saying that they have nothing better to think about than their underwear. 

Shows like these make me want to just stop watching TV all together. Ok, not all together. If I still have Animal Planet's "Baby Planet", I'll be fine.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Moving Musings

Over the last couple of days, I've had some time to process the fact that we're moving, and what that means for me. And I've come to a few pleasant realizations:

*No more giant moths!!!!!!! HOWEVER, I'll likely be faced with a multitude of other bugs, the likes of which I am unable to imagine. Happy Gatinha, sad Danielle.

*I won't run into either of Alexandre's ex-girlfriends on the street (always a bit awkward), because we won't live in the same city as them anymore.  (Came to this realization after running into one yesterday.)

*There's no way we're going to have an apartment that's as awesomely awesome and huge as our apartment is now, especially for the low low small-town price that we pay for it (I mean... our rent is practically pennies). On the upside, I know this because a lot of the imobiliárias (leasing offices) in the new town actually have websites with helpful information (!!!) like the apartments available for rent and the prices (cry) and lots of pictures. Now, if I could only find a map with the neighborhoods on it...

*According to Google Maps, Alexandre's work is a 19-minute walk to the shore. I imagine we'll live in the same neighborhood, and I walk fast. So I'll be living about 15 minutes away from the beach.

*I could probably auction off my living room as a hotel during Carnival and make sweet bank. (Came to this conclusion after everyone responded to my news of moving with the question, "Can I stay at your place during Carnival!??")

*I think I'll buy a bicycle.  :)

*Beach corn!!!!

*The drive down to our new home from Hicktown is so long that it'll turn into a road trip.

*ROAD TRIP!

*According to Google Maps, I'll be about an hour from São Paulo!! I can go and come back IN THE SAME DAY. As a matter of fact, I could go in the morning, buy a book in a bookstore, and make it back in time to read it on the beach in the afternoon. I mean, I probably wouldn't do that, but I COULD, if I were so inclined.

*Because we won't be so far away from an ocean and from São Paulo, the sushi restaurants will have fish options that aren't salmon, tuna, salmon, and tuna.

*As Ray pointed out, I'm going to have to get used to a new accent! But that means I won't be able to get away with my English Rs anymore, because I won't be living in the "interior".

*I don't have to live in Caiprópolis anymore! Things are on the up and up!

Later, I'll make a list of things I'll miss about this town, but right now I'm just going to bask in my excitement and keep bouncing up and down on my computer chair.

EDIT: ANOTHER realization: HELLO!!!! If it only takes Alexandre 15 minutes to walk to work from the beach, then he is walking! Why not live right on the coast, if possible?!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

MOVING!!!

Today was the big day!!! Alexandre went to his meeting for the military!!!!!


I have good news, average news, and bad news (but not that bad):

Bad news: 
Alexandre wasn't offered Manaus for the military, so that's out. 
Alexandre got into a residency in São Paulo, but decided to choose a different one outside of São Paulo because the program is better. 

Average news:
Alexandre is guaranteed a spot in the residency next year after doing this year of military service. 
That means we'll live in the military city for only 11 months, and we'll have to move again. 

GOOD NEWS:

We're moving to the beach!!!!! 

I'm going to maintain my policy of not saying exactly where I live on my blog, mostly because I'll still be in a relatively small town. But I'll tell you that it's a beautiful town close to Santos. 

Alexandre is going to be making a ridiculous amount of money. So if I were one of those kinds of girls, I could just sit at the beach all day and read books and get my nails done and do nothing productive. But I'm not one of those kinds of girls. So I'll pick up a few students and continue my translations, and clean really well so we don't have to pay for a maid. The goal will be to save up all of that ridiculous amount of money to use during the residency.  So I mean, maybe I'll only be able to spend mornings at the beach, and not the whole day. What a terrible life. 

Here are some pictures from where we'll be living, mostly to make you ooze with jealousy:



 


Can you believe it?!!?!! 



Alexandre has to go to training for about a month, so I'll stay home and work. He gets weekends free, so we can go look for apartments during February, and then we'll make the official move sometime in mid-March.



Ok friends back home, if you haven't come to visit me yet, maybe this will motivate you! And if you already have, well, you've already got a visa! 

beachbeachbeachbeachbeachbeachbeachbeachbeachbeachbeachsfslfkhslkshgskgsk!!!!!111  


                 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Internet and Access to Information

So I'd like to open a discussion comparing the following concept in the US and Brazil: the amount of access to information and the way people access information. I know that's general, so I'll try to explain myself a bit. Basically, when I say “access information,” I'm going to focus on the business aspect-- basically, how to get information that you need from a business. When people want to know something, what means do they use to get the information???

I've made a LONG list showing how my American ways of acquiring information (namely by phone and internet, or, if necessary, from company employees) just does NOT warrant the information I need here in Brazil. Look at my list so that this entry doesn't feel so ambiguous:


*When I moved here, I tried to learn about the buses in town. Local bus lines are mainly controlled by one government-subsidized company. However, this company has no website, no listing in the front of the phone book, no maps with the lines or times, and few clearly demarcated stops (the stops that ARE obvious do not have any kind of signs, just a post, and sometimes a bench).

Alexandre found the bus company's office number listed in the white pages. When he called the office, the girl said, “well, where are you going?” and then told him that one bus route. (Are people supposed to do that every time they need a bus?)

*When I went to sign up for a plan for a cell phone (worst idea ever), the salesgirl didn't have a written contract for me (like with the rules of the plan). She didn't know where I could find one. It took me a month of asking friends and TIM employees at other stores to figure out that employees can download the contracts from the TIM site (but by then I'd already canceled the plan).

*Dogs don't have collars with the owner's name and number, so you often see lost dogs just running around, with no way to return them. "Lost dog" signs often don't have phone numbers (just the dog's name and a pic). (I know this is not a business example, but I think it's related to this access to information topic.)

*A friend of mine is currently in a mess between her building manager, the owner of her apartment, and the leasing office. Long story short, the building manager stopped providing services in the building, but is still getting paid. The leasing office says that only apartment owners can vote him out, but residents aren't “allowed” to know who owns their apartments in order to request that a new building manager be voted in.

*Company websites rarely have the info you think they'd have. They usually have great pictures, but no phone number or hours. 

*Because answering machines aren't used, when you call a number and no one answers, it just rings and rings, so you don't even know if it's the right number.

*One of the few decent hotels in town doesn't answer their phones-- either that, or the number on the site is wrong, or they just ignore the calls. Alexandre had to physically go there to make the reservation for his family for the graduation. What are people from out of town supposed to do?

*When we had the corn festival in a nearby town, one marketing technique was to just put a giant corn statue downtown, and get people talking about it. Then the day before it started, the news had a 2-minute segment about it with the location and the days. But the newspaper and news channel sites didn't have any information. The church planning the festival didn't have a site or any info about the festival. So then I thought that maybe it was so popular and such a tradition that people didn't NEED that kind of information. But when I asked my students what the corn was, almost no one knew. So if I hadn't caught that 2-minute news segment, we wouldn't have gone. (How did everyone else learn about it?)
----------------------------------------

I guess I just feel so lost because Brazil is totally an internet country. Even in our relatively small town, most everyone has access to internet-- and usually at home. Internet cafés are also cheap and are always crowded. Almost every English school that I've been to has extra computers for students to use. However, it seems like the internet (or business websites) are just not people's first instinct when they want information.

Something interesting about information on the internet is the way that information is informally available. Orkut forums and communities are hugely popular, and you can use them to find anything from college entrance exam details to hotel recommendations for a city. (However, shouldn't the college entrance exam details be available from the college's website? Or at the high schools?)

Another common use of the internet are a lot of unofficial white pages websites, which will often list business phone numbers, even when the business does not have a website.

What I've learned so far about Brazilian access to information is that the most popular way to get information here is asking friends and family, and someone usually knows a guy who knows a guy. Not even going to the company directly always proves helpful. But what if you don't want to call up friends every time you need a plumber or something? And are you supposed to just walk around your neighborhood asking people where the bus stop is? Is that just not considered annoying, the way it would be in the US?

Another question: Is this lack of information just limited to our region of small towns? In general, I've noticed that it's much easier to find information online about São Paulo (for example, even restaurants have websites, with menus and their address and how to get there, which is almost unheard of in our city). However, during my friend Jamie's visit, she and I were trying to find out about 2 different museums in São Paulo. Their websites had pretty pictures of the displays and the buildings, but NO information about hours of operation, where the museums are located, which metros to take, or even a phone number. We had to call dear buddy Bruna, who found the museum's phone numbers in her local Sao Paulo phone book. But even then, only one of the museums that she called even answered the phone.

Is it just me and my generation? Are we just too dependent on the internet for information? Is it illogical for me to imagine that Brazilians also rely on internet for business information, if so many people have access to the internet?

So WHAT IS IT?! Am I doing something wrong? Is it that everyone else just learns stuff some other way, or is it just that people are just content with this lack of information? Does everyone else just drive to the museum and hope for the best? Do people go on vacations without reserving hotels first?

I'm trying not to be judgmental, but is it something negative? Is it a lack of internet awareness, a lack of internet culture (doubtful), or a lack of business sense?

If you think about it, Americans are big on sharing information online and making websites and reviews and things, just because they like it. I've been researching Toronto for my students, and I found lots of information very very fast. But interestingly, most Google searches that I perform in English or related to the US and Canada reveal very helpful information that isn't even put up by government websites, but instead by people who are just really interested in the topic and want to share what they know.

Is it just not a common Brazilian hobby to make websites about something that interests you?

Another possibility: Is there just a Brazilian cultural idea that it's good to share information with friends and family if they ask for it, but that it's not necessary to make that information more public? Alexandre teases that Americans are too opinionated (he insists that Yelp will never take off in Brazil, because Brazilians just aren't interested in spending their free time writing their opinions about a given business when it has no benefit for them personally). But I think it's more than that; I think there's a certain cultural instinct in the US to share info with the masses, to spread what you know, and, business-wise, to imagine what other people would need to know about your business, to make doing business more streamlined and convenient.

So that's it; this entry is long enough. Those are all of my questions and observations. It's kind of general, so take it how you want, provide examples that you want. What do YOU do to get information? Do you think it's a cultural difference, a technological difference, or what? Do Brazilians feel the same way when they're living abroad? 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Calling All Canadians

I am calling on my Canadian readers in this entry (that includes you, Lindsey and Fiona). I have two students (married) who are moving to Toronto in a couple of months and paying for a ridiculous amount of classes this month to get their English strong enough to thrive there.

I'd like to plan a really nice intensive English schedule for them. They're following my little grammar and conversation book, but I'd like to incorporate more Canadian culture stuff into their lesson plan. Their English is strong enough that they're kind of past all that "let's practice ordering at a restaurant or checking in a hotel" kind of stuff, and they're also super smart surgeon geniuses, well traveled and cultured and all that (so none of those "tell me about your favorite movie" kind of cocktail party conversation questions).

I've never been to Canada, and I'm trying to avoid doing that horrible American thing of just assuming that everything in Canada is the same as it is in the US. So I'd like your tips about what kinds of topics I can discuss. I'm really good at internet research (and I might make them do some of it, too), but I don't know where to start. I'd like to focus on healthcare, because they're doctors and will have to have a good working knowledge of the Canadian healthcare system. I'd also like to give them some ideas of local events, hangouts, schools, dramas, etc in Toronto. (They have a toddler so aren't super night scene people, and would be much more interested in knowing how to choose a daycare or good parks in town.)

The trick is to present them with something interesting or controversial about Canada and/or Toronto (Immigration and race? Food politics? Problems that result from snow? I'm just guessing), and get them to share their opinions about it and go home and research it more, as opposed to just presenting them with standard bullet point information.

So what's going on up there in your neck of the woods, my dear Canadian neighbors?!  Anything to get me started would be great-- just topics (something I can google), current events, websites, articles, newspaper columnists, etc.  I also welcome and would love comments from Brazilians that have been to or lived in Canada (esp. Toronto) and what was very different for them and what would be interesting to talk about.

Thanks everyone!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

McDonald's

So Alexandre and I are fans of the late-night McDonald's ice cream run, especially when I'm feeling homesick or... ya know, when it's a Tuesday. Or when I'm living and breathing.

These very American late-night McDonald's runs are made possible by the McDonald's drive-thru in town that just recently became 23 hours (notice that it's NOT 24, but it's still BIG NEWS!).

I'd like to tell you a little about our McDonald's in town. It is NOTHING like an American McDonald's, in which the employees are reminiscent of cows chewing cud.

(I made this)

In an American McDonald's, things take much longer than necessary (which is traditionally the Brazilian hallmark), and the employees need timers on the drive-thru windows to make sure they don't drag the order out too much, and somehow, they still manage to screw up your order most of the time. And then, in California McDonald's enterprises, you've got the added challenge of employees that hardly speak any English.

(I'm allowed to make these jokes. I used to work at a Taco Bell, and I was one of exactly two native English speakers on staff. It's like someone being allowed to make jokes about their own race. I'm not dissing immigrants, but I am arguing that the language barrier makes it harder to order at a fast food restaurant.)

My local Brazilian McDonald's, however, is a buzzing hive of efficiency and ingenuity, which seems to be based on entirely its own awesome model. They've got 3 -- count 'em -- 3 windows, plus employees on foot that accompany the cars and take the orders of people in line.  These employees are always super friendly and alert, and they don't short-circuit or overheat when I ask them to modify my orders to my picky liking (that usually just means extra chocolate or no mayo). After the on-foot drive-thru employees take your order, they rush your order slip to the appropriate window, and then other on-foot employees show up at your car in line with a wireless debit card machine if you're not paying cash. I mean, what usually ends up happening is that the walking employees are so quick that you don't even end up stopping at the first two windows. It's like a Ford factory on caffeine and amphetamine pills.

We always get out of the drive-thru in less than 2 minutes, no matter how long the line is (and, because of poor construction planning, it usually winds all the way down the drive-thru and onto the main avenue, blocking the turning lane and messing up the traffic. Come on. I'm still in the Brazilian countryside. You can't expect too much).

All I have to say is this: If the rest of Brazil was as efficient and problem-solving as this McDonald's branch, Brazil would, without a doubt, be the world's first superpower. Brazil has most everything else solved: the natural resources, the available land for development and farming, ideal weather for a variety of livestock and crops, an admirable public healthcare model, a Latin alphabet, cultural diversity and general cultural awareness and acceptance, a democratic, likable president...  I could go on. If all levels of government could just learn from the business sense of this McDonald's branch, who knows what the country would achieve?

(I mean, one thing that this McDonald's has in common with Brazilian branches of government is the excess of employees, but at least McDonald's uses these employees for good, as opposed to "ghost payroll", as the saying goes in Portuguese.)

The best thing about this McDonald's, however, is a new sandwich they're selling called the crocante mexicano. During Jamie's visit, she and I decided that the translation of this is "crunchy Mexican." Here's a picture so you know I'm not making it up:



For only 4 reais (which is insanely cheap for McDonald's in Brazil [proof here]-- most of the sandwiches are 10-15 reais), you get the bun, the patty, fake McDonald's cheddar, TORTILLA CHIPS, "tomatoes", and-- the best part-- cheese sauce. I think the cheese sauce is mayo-based, but even with that, it's pretty much the only non-dessert item that I'll eat at McDonald's.

Even though I'm ordering it in Portuguese, I still can't help but laugh when I say crocante mexicano, because I'm still thinking "crunchy Mexican", and that's as hilarious as the McDonald's is efficient.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Porn Surprise

So Brazilian TV has a special kind of late-night show. I call it "The Secret Porn Reality Show".

Picture this scenario: You're in Brazil. You're facing a bout of insomnia, or you drank too much delicious Brazilian coffee in the afternoon. So you decide to watch some late-night TV until you start to feel sleepy. Your Portuguese isn't good enough to lull yourself to sleep using Brazilian C-Span, so you flip through the cable channels, trying to find something in monotone English (CNN usually works).

You stumble upon a seemingly-inoffensive reality show (I take that back... how many reality shows are "inoffensive"? Like zero). Let's call it a generic reality show ("7 people picked to live in a house" type of deal). People are gossiping, people are lounging around in jacuzzis, people are giving interviews in the present tense, the usual. You're not even tuned into one of the two 24-hour cable porn channels, so you are totally unsuspecting.

Their reality show conversation is kind of superficial (shocker), so you decide to watch a few minutes of it to see if you can figure out the premise of the show (mostly in order to better understand joke blogs and celebrity gossip websites later). You're watching, you're figuring, sometimes for as long as 10 minutes, and then BAM!!! The screen is filled with a woman's ass, and suddenly people are doing the hanky panky.

Or, BAM!!! The girls that were in the pool gossiping about a housemate suddenly take off their bikini tops and start massaging each other's breasts and giggling while some creep-o balding douche guy in the pool with them watches with a yucky grin on his face.

If this happens to you, you've been hit by The Secret Porn Reality Show. It's soft-core porn that's made to look like a reality show. It has long stretches of dialogue without any porn-related scenes, so it's very deceiving.

Now some may consider it a pleasant surprise, right? Like in some people's brains, I think it's like, "Hey! Boobs! Awesome!", no matter what the context. But in my opinion, porn is the kind of thing you wanna know you're watching in advance. Like you've gotta be "mentally prepared" (interpret that however you want) to see a zoomed in shot of another person's crack. I'm usually just a little bit annoyed and disappointed with these porn surprises ("aw man! And I was stupid enough to be hoping for another Beauty and the Geek!").

I've learned that the 2 channels that get you the most with the Secret Porn Reality Shows are MulitShow and TeleCine Action. You can take that as a warning or a tip.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Verbs

Hello, dear readers. Would you like a fun language lesson? Probably not, but I'll try to entertain you anyway.

Many people learning a second language have a lot of opinions on their second language relative to their first language. They love to say things like "oh, my second language is easier than my first," or the opposite, "my first language is easier than my second language." They also like to say that one language clearly has more words than the other.

Every time someone says something like this, god smites down a family of precious baby squirrels.

TIME TO DISPEL THE MYTHS!

Myth 1: Language A is harder to learn than Language B.

Fact: There is no such thing as a "hard" or "easy" language. It's RELATIVE. Relativity! Please!! The ease or difficulty that a person has learning a second language depends on the language that they already speak. If you are a native Spanish speaker, Portuguese will be easier for you than Chinese.  So English is not "harder" or "easier" than Portuguese. So if you are teaching a language and your student says something like the myth above, give them an example that shows that it's relative. Pretty please.

Myth 2: Language A has more words than Language B. 

Fact: Kind of. There is some relatively new linguistic research about a concept called verb framing. I sat through a really interesting guest lecture once in a bilingualism class in college that felt kind of sudden (what's this guy talking about? Where'd he come from?). Turns out he was Dan Slobin, the guy to come up with this theory, and that I was super lucky to hear him talk about it first-hand.

Anyway, I loved his idea because he basically said that there are 2 kinds of languages: satellite-framed languages and verb-framed languages. These two kinds of languages treat verbs in different ways. Satellite-framed languages (like English) create separate verbs or phrasal verbs to show physical information, while verb-framed languages (like Portuguese) rely on adverbs or just a more general definition of a verb to show the same information.

Mr. Slobin was fluent in Spanish, not Portuguese. So one of his many examples were the English words "walk," "stroll," and "pace," vs. the Spanish (and practically Portuguese) word "pasear." He says that verb-framed language speakers will say (or write) "pasear pensativo" or "pasear preocupado" to give the idea of "pace", because "pasear" alone is more general.

Get it? So Satellite-framed languages (English) have more verbs and phrasal verbs (verbs + prepositions), while verb-framed languages have more adverbs and expressions that get attached to a few general verbs.
But neither language necessarily has MORE words. They just have more of different kinds of words. (The guy actually did a whole bunch of research COUNTING types of words that different languages used in literature. He found that English had almost twice as many verbs used in literature than Spanish did, while Spanish literature used far more expressions (things like "andar con cuidado" for "creep"). He repeated the counting tests with other languages and the results were consistent.)

In his presentation, the guy showed a lot of literature translations from English into other languages. An example was between English and French.

The original English sentence was: "I crept around the house."
The literal translation into French was "I made a circuit of the house."


I often don't know translations for very specific English verbs and phrasal verbs.


Is that because Portuguese verbs aren't as specific as English verbs? My Portuguese vocabulary is about 1/20 the size of my English vocabulary, so it's more likely that it's just my own knowledge of Portuguese that's lacking.

The real question is if there can be completely accurate translations. Is there really a verb, or a verb + adverb, or a verb + expression, that will get the exact meanings of those verbs above, and vise versa? Are there perfect English verbs for the Portuguese verb/adverb/expression combos?

What do you guys think? Does this info resonate with any language learning or translations that you've experienced? Any words or expressions in your native language (or second language!) that you think are very hard to translate? Anyone disagree?

I have way too much free time and I need some academic stimulation. Please humor me.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"Depois Eu Faço"

If you have a Brazilian spouse, perhaps you have heard him or her use the worst phrase in the history of phrases:

"DEPOIS EU FAÇO."

The best short translation of depois eu faço is "I'll do it later." Sometimes the verb changes to things like depois eu limpo (I'll clean it later) or depois eu ligo (I'll call later) or depois eu vou lá (I'll go there later).  But the construction of depois eu... and the frustration that the phrase causes do not change. 

Adam wrote a helpful blog entry about this phrase in a polite, teacher-y way, but clearly, he does not have a Brazilian husband with a new computer game and cable TV.  The real translation of depois eu faço is:

"I really have no intention of doing what you're asking -- in fact, I'm barely listening to you -- but I'm hoping if I just say something nice really fast, it'll shut you up and I can get back to Age of Empires III / the Kibe Louco jokes blog / ESPN sports commentary show #930830. So you might as well go do it yourself, because I'm never going to do it."

I swear that just hearing Alexandre start to mumble it now while staring intently at the computer screen and exploding tiny pixels of indigenous people makes my heart start to beat faster (and not in that good way). I sigh loudly A LOT. Then I say in very annoyed English, "That means never!!!" and I just go angrily do it myself. 

And then when I'm just finishing up whatever it was that I originally wanted him to do, he comes to me and says, "Aw, you did it? I said I'd do it." 

And then I tell him,  "No, no you didn't. You said, 'Depois eu faço'.  And that means never." 

"Ok," he says, "Next time I'll do it." 

And then the cycle continues, forever and ever. 

I've never had a live-in American boyfriend. But there must be equivalent phrases in English. 

Empathy, anyone?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Slow January

So I thought that teaching was slow in December, but I should've remembered that January is just as bad.... in fact, it's starting to feel worse. I'm at 0 students right now. Not a typo. Zero. My short teaching time this year coupled with students' tight budgets after the holidays has put English class last on people's lists of priorities. (One translation client did email me with a small project, so that's good...)

But this is what we'd planned for. I had no idea what would be going on at this time of year. I knew there was a big chance I wouldn't work much, if at all, in January, so all the money I saved during the year (minus what I thought I'd earn back in December), was meant to be used during these transition months.

Soooo... what to do with myself this month?  Here are some of my ideas:

*Be a reaaallllllyyyyyy good housewife (this includes cooking a lot, and trying out new recipes!)
*Burn off all the holiday food weight
*Write blog entries to entertain all of you fine people
*Make a little cook book to organize the recipes I have all over the place (kitchen drawers, emails, computer documents, the cooking blog)
*Continue teaching free classes to my manicurist (even more now that I have more free time)
*Revamp the grammar book I made in the middle of the year (it was successful, but needs some work. I'll get it nice and ready for my students in the new city)
*Clean out the closet of forgetting once and for all! (Moving is a great excuse to throw a certain someone's crap away)
*Research the three possible places where we will be living
*Watch copious amounts of Medical Detectives and Forensic Files

I have (well, had) one student who is in charge of the biology department at a local university. She has organized a small volunteering group that goes to a poor neighborhood in town to serve donated food and also teach free classes on reproductive health (how to use a condom and things like that). She always invites me to go and help out, so now's the time! Maybe I can be the assistant who puts the condom on the banana. (Totally joking, she's doing a crucially important and serious thing that I 110% believe in.)

The other good thing about this little break is that I'll feel like teaching again by the time it's over. I was pretty burnt out by the end of the year.

Any other ideas for me to pass the time?

Good news! In the time it took me to write this, 2 students responded (well, they're married, so one did), and they want to continue their classes. 1.5-hour workweeks are awesome in the short-term!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Day Trip to Piracicaba

A quick blog note: I revamped the blog a little in an attempt to clean up the side bar, which had been overwhelmed with links. If you check out the top, you can see the new link setup, as well as an "about me and my blog" page that I wrote. :) If you're reading this in Google Reader, clickity-click on the entry to see the actual blog. I hope it's easier to look at!


So on my friend Jamie's last day visiting us in Brazil, we all drove out to a town called Piracicaba. According to Google maps, it's just over 2 hours from São Paulo, but I think it's more. It's also a short way's away from the in-laws' house. The in-laws recommended it as something to do for the day, explaining that it had a big river with little food and drink stands, and pretty views. Nature and street food? I was totally in.

The Piracicaba River is wide and powerful, and seems to be a sanctuary for a lot of wildlife and locals alike. We saw neotropical cormorants lounging on the rocks and playing in the strong streams that met the main body of water. We saw flying fish, and families fishing for them.






Around the river, there are little trails and vista points. There were a lot of families walking around like we were, taking pictures like we were, and enjoying their time together, like we were. It seems like a beautiful and safe place to let your kids run around and get tired.

There's also a waterfall:


And giant ancient trees:



And as I mentioned, there are lots of little food stands selling the always flavorful Brazilian street food, like pamonha, churros, and candy apples. Alexandre was extra pleased to find a booth selling Bahia treats, including acarajé and tapioca desserts.  If you're more in the mood for an actual meal, there are lots of casual riverfront restaurants that specialize in seafood. Unfortunately, we ate lunch before we went, so we stuck to the snacks. My treat of choice was suco de milho-- corn juice. So thick and delicious! I've decided that one of my goals for the month is to figure out how to make it.

If all that isn't enough to entertain you, there's also an abandoned sugar factory on one side of the river. The name of this factory place is The Engenho Central. It's super interesting because it's all dilapidated and open, and you can see how nature has just totally taken over in the 40 years or so since it was abandoned.


So if you live in the greater São Paulo area, I recommend this little place as a pleasant, relaxing, and aesthetically pleasing day trip. It has a really peaceful vibe to it.

I'd really like to go back soon. Next time, we'll go on empty stomachs in order to eat at a restaurant. Also, as we were leaving, I saw swan boats, like these:


And I am so totally going to ride in one.

You can check out the rest of my pictures from the day here. Also, I went ahead and uploaded all my bird pictures from the week to my bird folder on my Flickr. You can click here to see it, if you care (Tracy).

Jamie's gone now. :( And tomorrow we leave the in-laws' house and go back home. I may or may not be working this month. Everything with this residency and military stuff is still up in the air, and it's moderately stressful. Just trying to enjoy pleasant days like these until we know what's going on. :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Our Beach Adventure

Happy New Year, everyone! 

I wanted to be sure to write a little about our few days at the Brazilian family's beach house.

It was just fabulous.

So Jamie, Alexandre, and I borrowed the sister-in-law's car (she's been progressively nicer), but were limited to her CD options, which included Fergie, Axé, and her mixed CDs with names like "Top Hits e Sucessos Verão 2005".  Needless to say, we listened to a lot of news radio. (Ok, not gonna lie-- a lot of Fergie, too.)

Since we got into town on Christmas day, the beach city was still pretty open and easy to get around. But as the days crept closer to New Year's, the place just got packed. I went to the beach every morning before lunch (ALONE, because my fellow travelers were big on sleeping in), and each morning it was harder and harder to find a nice spot for me and my towel and my book. It was important to go before lunch because it rained almost every afternoon.

But luckily, the beach house also has a very unnecessary pool (we are so spoiled!). So when the beach was too crowded and I got too annoyed with all the patricinhas, I could just go back and hang out with the pool and the homebodies. So this was me, for most of the week:

Sun, book, sunblock (futile), flip flops, smile! 

Hope you all enjoy the little skirt that I added on in Paint. Hiding the cellulite AND protecting myself from creep-os!

Also, can you see the entrance to the little mata (rainforest-y area that is apparently "restinga" in English, but that I'm just gonna keep calling mata) behind the house? More daunting than it seems! The first time I braved it, I was immediately greeted with a little squirrel darting in front of me!

Yes, squirrels in Brazil! The Portuguese word is apparently Caxinguelê!

The second time I braved the mata, I made Alexandre go with me, but then I was bitten by some bug (we're guessing spider) and my leg got swollen and so itchy. So no more mata exploring. But to answer Tracy's question, I AM slowly developing a tolerance for mosquito bites! Not sure if that's physically normal or just psychological, but they get less swollen and itch for less time and heal much faster. 

ANYWAY ANYWAY. The result of my avoidance of the mata was that all of my bird pictures were from far away. But here ya go: 

Brazilian Tanager

house wren momma

house wren baby (baaaaabbbiiieeee)

scaly-headed parrots


roadside hawk 
(This little guy woke me up at 6am. Yes... I got out of bed to see what it was and take its picture. WORTH IT! But Alexandre was not amused.)


red-breasted toucan! 
(It was about 20 feet away, but I got a video of it calling, which confirmed which one it was.)


I even got Jamie and Alexandre in on the bird watching. It's contagious, especially when you're not doing anything except lounging around in the backyard reading good books. Jamie was very helpful in taking pictures and recording videos during my naps! 

Continuing on with the beach adventure! We didn't have the neighbor's wireless internet to steal this year, so our only way to get online was to go to a little mall in town that had free wi-fi (hence my last beach post). So that meant we had to find other ways to entertain ourselves at night. 

We watched documentaries on Cultura, which is a Brazilian channel akin to PBS in the United States. We got 3 good ones, 3 nights in a row! One was about Aldous Huxley's life (complete with interviews with his totally screwed-up-after-years-of-LSD nonsensical second wife), one was about the Brazilian family that sailed around the world (compared it a lot to my friend Rachel's current and similar adventure!), and one about the folk singers who recorded the songs for the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack.

We also barbecued a lot! Alexandre made the best bbq ribs I've ever had: 
(I made the beans)

And we also got drunk on beer and cheap wine (I heart you, Dom Bosco) and went down to the beach at 2am: 

In case you can't tell, that's Alexandre wrapped up in the blanket next to me. Photos by Jamie, who was smart enough not to be in the drunk pictures.

On our last full day, I really wanted to try to actually get a tan. So I spent like 5 hours in direct sunlight in a bathing suit (between the pool and the actual beach). I was just way too eager. I thought I was being so good, and reapplying sunblock constantly, but my skin is no match for the equatorial UV rays. I fried up like a shrimp, as the metaphor goes in Portuguese.  It was unfortunate. Still is, in fact. The sunburn combined with the spider bite has left me in a lot of pain. 

We left the beach house on the 30th to spend actual New Year's Eve with the Brazilian family. I know that's like, sacrilegious in the state of São Paulo ("You left the free beach house BEFORE the New Year?!"), but it was getting super crowded and Alexandre wanted more family time. Awww. 

So that's all! Vacations are the best! And we've got a great year ahead of us. More on that soon. :) Happy 2011!
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