Sunday, September 26, 2010

Aaaaand I'm back

Well, blank page.  We meet again.

After a 3 week hiatus from writing (or reading) any blogs, I'm going to actively try to get a new one out there.  It's not going to be easy - actually lately the pressure to write has felt so high that it turned me off of blogging altogether.  I'm just saying.  Sometimes I need to take a moment and remember WHO I'm writing this for.


Now, I know it's naive - well, actually it's just plain stupid - to think that I'm writing this for myself knowing full well that people read it.  But the more lost I get in writing for other people, the more pressure I feel to keep turning out clever, funny, interesting blogs and then this turns into a job.  And I got a job.

Anyway, the whole point of starting a blog was to document my feelings and experiences in Brazil.  There.  I'm bringing it home.

To be honest, I am officially calling the last 3 weeks "The Three Weeks that I Hated Brazil and Wanted to Yell Right In People's Faces (In English) and Just Go Home Already" Period.  Yeah, that about sums up my feelings of the last 3 weeks.
Actually it's been quite a while since I've felt any real rage towards Brazil.  The beginning had a lot, a lot of frustration and not understanding things, culturally and language-wise.  Then there would be occasional bouts of rage that generally lasted a day or a weekend.  They usually fizzled out after some quality time talking to someone from home or with my Honey.  But the last 3 weeks have been one big giant rage.
I hate meeting new Brazilians during these periods because, like clockwork, they will undoubtedly ask me if I'm gostando de Brasil?  And my answer at that moment is, not really.  And then they are sad.  Hey, you asked.

Ok, I almost started to type out exactly what it is that I'm not liking but I am actively trying to get past these rage-y feelings and I felt them start to bubble up inside me as soon as I started to type.  So, I'm not going to share specifics but it's nothing that any of my fellow ex-pats haven't experienced at one point or another.  It's not a secret why I've been feeling frustration and loneliness.  In fact, I'm sure that it's pretty crystal clear.

ANYWAY.  Moving on.

There are certain things I've been doing to relax myself and cope with my emotions.  Here's my list of things I try to do when I'm feeling crappy.

1.  Get a weekly manicure/pedicure.  Find a place that you like.  Don't settle for a crappy place just because your Family says it's cheaper.  If your manicure is awesome and costs R$10 more, who f'ing cares.  And do it because YOU want to feel pretty and pampered, not because everyone else does it. (Even though they do)

2.  Work out.  Even though it might kill you when you are down in the dumps and you might complain the entire time, you'll feel better later.   I can't say I've been doing really well at point #2 lately so if you're not feeling it, go directly to point #3.  

3.  Eat.  Nothing some good chocolate can't cure. Or chips. Or baking cookies/brownies.  Or pizza.

4.  Drink.  Alcohol, that is.  Yeah yeah, so they say it's a depressant.  Shut up.  I'm depressed and I want to get drunk.

5.  Get out of the house and buy something.  Go on.  You know you'll feel better if you have some new candles for the bedroom, or that shirt/belt/television you can't afford.  Whatever thing you like to buy that always makes you feel better for the rest of the day, go and buy it.

6.  Sleep.  So you want to sleep until 4 or 5 pm?  I say, fine by me.  I realize that this option isn't available to everyone but if it's an option for you, go ahead and indulge.

7.  Download all of the seasons of *insert favourite show here* and watch them all.  In one day.  I am currently on Season 6 of Sex and the City.  Past favourites include How I Met Your Mother, The Office, Glee, Breaking Bad and Friends.

So while the items on my list of helpful coping mechanisms don't actually make you productive, healthy or get you out of your slump, they do just what they intend to do.  Help you cope.
Sometimes being social (especially because you have to speak Portuguese) is even worse.  Sometimes it's good.  Depends on how good your Portuguese is (or their English). 

But as well as I know myself, I know that this slumpy period will pass.  It's just taking a little longer this time.  For now, I'm going to implement a little #2 followed by a #7 which may be later followed by a little #3 and #4.  We'll see how I feel.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Things always get better!

I have spoken A LOT of Portuguese this weekend.  I'm drunk right now so I can't really go into a lot of detail, but not for lack of trying!!! 

Sunday night - GOD this 'weekend' (Sunday - Tuesday) feels like a weekend for me.  All of my Monday students cancelled because of Brazilian Independence Day today.  All of my Tuesday students as well!  But why doesn't anyone do anything for Independence Day here?!?!?!?!  Fireworks?  Barbeques?  Parties??  No???

Então, I spend the afternoon grocery shopping with minha sogra and partying with minha cunhada.  GOOD TIMES!  I'm glad I convinced my MIL to go shopping because I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't helped her, she wouldn't have gone. Food in house, check one.

My SIL invited me to a barbeque (not for Independence Day - just a coincidence) of a friend who I know so I went and ended up knowing a couple of others there (hey, what's this now? I know people in the neighbourhood??).  It was a good ol' caipirinha time there.

On Sunday night I went ALONE to a churrasco at my husband's Aunt's house.  Alone without my husband but with my family.  Afterwards the cousins went to Casa Rosa in Larangeiras.  That place was really fun.  And really fun going with some peope who I can actually consider my FAMILY.  I've never gone out with my cousins before so I feel priviledged that my 'new' family lives close and I can spend some time with them. 

I really wish I could be more specific right now but I'm more or less just reporting on what's new.  I really like reading Fiona's blog because she has articulated so much nicer the things that I felt (and still feel) about adjusting to life here. 

All I can say, people, is that it gets better if you want it to.  You just have to find the things you like (it's not always easy - it takes effort, sometimes a lot of effort and sometimes too much effort) and, like Rachel said, you can't be picky about your friends.  You may just find yourself spending time with people, though, who you never expected to be friends with.  It's kind of a fantastic thing, this living abroad. 

Sometimes I feel like I can't stand it anymore and sometimes I feel like I could live here forever.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

No Brazilian Wives Here!

So ever since University (where I took many a Women's Studies course) I've had a little issue with male/female traditional roles.  Combine with it my aggressive and non-defeatest attitude and you have what some may call a feminist. 
At this point, I feel like some of these old ideas of male and female differences are ancient and stupid.  Like, who thinks that it's the men who should work and the women who should clean and cook anymore?

Oh, everyone in Brazil y'say?  Oh.

Well, maybe not everyone.  And maybe not so 1930's like.  But definitely 1950's.  Brazilian ideals of male and female roles has stopped in about 1950. 
For example, my inherited family's matriarch (my MIL) said to me today with searing pride in her eyes "Viu??  Viu o Rodrigo passou as ropas ontem??" (My husband did some of the ironing the other day because I asked him if he could help me with it). 

What kind of threw me off about her ecstatic joy that her oldest son had done some of his own ironing (see this post re how people view the oldest son in Brazil) was that a) I asked him do it. So thanks for helping when I ask.  And b) has she ever once shown the same ecstatic joy when *I* do ALL of the ironing, folding and putting away??? When I cook a whole meal by myself??? When I do 4 loads of laundry in one day???  When I clean and wash the bedroom, bathroom and her room??  Does she go running to Ro saying "Viu??? Viu o que a Lindsey fez hoje???"

No.  No she does not.  Because that is expected of me.  Nevermind the fact that I am working a full time job as well.  Nevermind the fact that just because I'm home doesn't mean I'm doing nothing.  I'm planning for my classes.  I'm working too. 

But being a woman in Brazil means that you are responsible for feeding and cleaning up after your entire family while they work and relax. 

Let's clarify that I don't DISAGREE with this.  I just firmly believe that if we're both working, we're both sharing the housework.  Equally.  None of this woman stays home to do all of this shit and man goes out to work.  I am used to, and enjoy, being the main breadwinner or at the very least, an equal breadwinner.  

There is a lot of sexism and inequality present in Brazil still.  You can see it in the way many people treat and look at women (or totally ignore them as I've experienced more times than I can count).  It's not even something people are aware of.  Just the same way that sexism exists in our language (the fact that we always say "hey guys" and many other examples I'll just not get into).  Brazil is a feminine and masculine language.  It's something that just exists culturally and was created a very long time ago.  It takes work to change a habit.  A lot of people aren't even aware that there's a problem. 

I never felt like an inadequate women/wife until I moved to Brazil and saw the role of the wife here.  There is so much responsibility that falls on women here.  I didn't grow up like that and even though Ro is a forward thinking person (which came from living on his own for several years in another country) I can still see that he is used to and ok with this dynamic.  

Sorry to break it to you but I will never be a Brazilian wife. 
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