Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's Mah Birfday!

Today my husband woke me up at 7am to a really beautiful breakfast-in-bed of eggs, bacon, toast, orange juice and coffee!  He has to work today so we did an extra early celebration. 
A little dark out but some editing brightened that up!

Today is the first day I think I've ever spent my birthday alone and I have to say, I am LOVING this day.  After that great start, I read a little and then went back to sleep with my two lovely cats and my new birthday present. 

Later in the day, we did some yoga together.

And now I'm going to ride my bike to teach the one class I have to teach!  Such a simple day but I've been feeling SO. MUCH. LOVE! 

And now The Beatles will sing me Happy Birthday :-)

Monday, December 26, 2011

It's Boxing Day! But where are all the boxes?

I can't figure out what to do with my day today.  In Canada (as in the UK), today is Boxing Day.  That means Holiday.  That means giant sales.  That means more family time, ultimately making Christmas a 3-day long event, which is followed on the 27th by my birthday and the 31st by New Years. 

This week is otherwise known as a giant holiday week where I do as much eating and as little working as possible.  So why'd I go to work today???? 

Right.  Because I'm in Brazil. 

Working on December 26 just feels wrong!! It makes the Christmas holiday feel incomplete somehow!  (I'm whining for nothing - I only actually had one student today, but my HUSBAND has to work and I'm a little lonely without him here) 

So, it doesn't really feel like Monday OR Boxing Day, but this weekend happily felt like Christmas for me.  December 24th is the Big Day in Brazil, where everyone gathers together (at my Aunt's house in our case) to eat a TON of food, drink a LOT, and wait for midnight.  At midnight everyone shouts Feliz Natal! Feliz Natal! and runs around hugging and kissing and smiling and laughing.  Then, even without children there to announce it Tom, someone inevitably shouts Amigo Oculto!! which is the Brazilian version of Secret Santa. 

My Christmas sounds a lot like Tom's actually, I swear we are part of different families!

Well, as Tom explained, the game in Brazil is to describe your secret friend in a tricky way and make the others guess who you have.  I try to distract myself while waiting for my name to be called because when it inevitably is, that means two things:
1.You have to gratefully accept your gift (in Portuguese)
and 2. You have to describe your secret friend in a funny and clever way (in Portuguese). 

Luckily for me, just the way I speak Portuguese is funny enough for my family so it's usually not toooo much effort, apart from a little embarrassment (but I'm used to that by now)!  Just to be sure, I practiced my speech for about a week.  All four sentences of it.  It turned out great.

 This year we also celebrated with my immediate family "Canadian Style" on Christmas Morning.  Laura brought stockings for me on her trip here last month, so everyone had a full stocking to open and after we opened up all the gifts to each other.  I got the feeling that everyone liked my family's tradition of opening presents one person at a time, from youngest to oldest.

Only a few tears from me this year, on Christmas Eve morning!  As soon as the sweet Carribbean sound of Boney-M's "Mary's Boy Child" started up, I couldn't control them.  Listen to it and I dare you not to cry.  Haha.  Love that album!  I hope everyone had a nice holiday!

Friday, December 23, 2011

How will you be spending YOUR Christmas?

Ahhh... and so ends my crazy week from hell.  I guess it wasn't really that bad - I just lack the vocabulary to describe it any other more creative way.  I'mma tired.

Since most of my students are taking the last week of December off, I smushed them all into the first couple of weeks of this month so I wouldn't lose the money they would stay consistent.  Word to the wise, Teachers.  You should always insist on rescheduling (by not giving an option!) when there is a holiday.  "Oh, it's a holiday?  Well let's do that class the Wednesday before, then."  FECHADO!

Joking aside, it really is better for your students to stay consistent.

The end of the teaching week means that Christmas has arrived!!!  My first Christmas here was, well, shitty.  We had just arrived in Brazil and I couldn't get over a Christmas with palm trees, celebrated on December 24, with an Amigo Oculto (Secret Santa) gift exchange ONLY, and rice served with my turkey.  I couldn't accept that I was drinking beer, sweating my butt off in shorts and a tank top, and listening to Christmas carols in Portuguese.  It wasn't fair that there was no Santa, no stockings, and no snow.  

I thought, "This is NOT Christmas.  These people don't even know what Christmas is."

Then last year, I went home last-minute because I couldn't handle the thought of another unfamiliar and lonely Christmas.  But my husband couldn't come with me.  And the normal location of our Christmas changed due to the death of my uncle.  So Christmas at 'home' wasn't like any Christmas I as used to, aside from the snow, stockings and Santa (and my wonderful family, of course!).

But it was then that I realized that Christmas could, and would, be different now that I was married, had gained a family, lost some family and shared my life with someone else (and in another country to boot!).  It was a good opportunity to start new traditions and create 'our own' traditions (I'm pretty big on traditions).

This year my therapist really brought it home for me by explaining that Christmas, for many people, is the biggest event of the year because it's the time that we like to 'reflect and connect'.  It's a time to look inside ourselves, evaluate our years, and connect with all the most important people in our lives.  When it's 1000 degrees outside, it's not so easy to come by that 'warm, cozy' feeling - instead, you have more of that 'sweltering, crazy' feeling.  But despite the haze of heat, we foreigners have to summon the 'feeling' of Christmas and re-create it in way that lets us tap into the real reason we love this holiday.  Food, Family and the Joy of Sharing, Giving, and Receiving.  And that can be done just about anywhere!

My advice if you're feeling sad this Christmas?  Try to repeat at least one of the most important traditions you and your family have shared in the past.  Mine is stockings on Christmas morning and opening our gifts one gift and one person at a time.  We're also going to make North American Breakfast on Christmas morning.

But we're also going to have Brazilian Christmas on the 24th!  The key is to combine the best of both worlds and create new traditions that make everyone remember the reason for the season!  (P.S. This is the time of year my Brazilian sappiness really comes out!)
Christmas just isn't Christmas without some cats wearing Santa hats...

So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or whatever tradition it is that you like to celebrate!  Here in Brazil, we'll be opening stockings on Christmas morning and going to the beach in the afternoon!  It's a crazy life...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bonding Time with Friends: A Story of Waxing, Beers, and Haircuts

There is nothing quite like the value of friendship.  Especially when you are a Stranger in a Strange Land.  (YES!  You don't know how happy I am to make that reference for myself, finally!)

Maybe you've been wondering, "How can I bring my friendships closer?  How can we have a more intimate relationship with my girlfriends?"  The answer is:  Waxing.
Girls waxing their crotches together is a speedy and reliable way to bring you to a level of comfort and  intimacy you never thought possible.  I've referenced other intimate waxing experiences in the past *ahem, watched Laura get a Brazilian, ahem* so you can trust me that I'm experienced in this field.  

Haha!  Waxing neither feels nor looks ANYTHING like this!
Just the nature of the activity demands that you discuss your crotches in detail with each other.  Details you'd probably be embarrassed to share in any other circumstance (but this is Brazil and Brazilians are notorious for being insanely comfortable talking about and showing off their bodies, so you join the party).

It's extra special when two of your party are getting the wax for the very first time, ever.  It's total unknown territory, and the idea of a stranger putting her hands all over an area which in the past has strictly been reserved for yourself, your partner, and your doctor is a little unnerving and guaranteed to bring you closer to your friends (physically closer, out of pure terror).

Then when one friend says, "This comes without the anus, right?"
and you say, "Oh no, this one comes with the anus waxed"
and she says, "No!! I don't want to wax my anus!!"
and you say, "Yes you do.  You definitely want to wax your anus.  She'll have the Virilha Total WITH the anus waxed, please."

Well, it goes without saying that you've now discussed waxing your friends' anus and therefore you are now, officially, closer than ever. 

The anus in question come up again later as you're, as gently as possible, trying to coach your friends through the waxing process.

"Then she will tell you to vira and segura seu bum bum".
"We have to turn over and hold our asses open to wax the anus?!?!?!??!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!"
(Exclamations NOT an exaggeration!!!!!!!!)
"Yes, you will need to hold the cheeks to help her out."
"Do we have to get on all fours???????" (this one made us laugh hysterically for around 7 minutes)
"No", I answer while wiping tears away.  "You can lay on your stomach, just hold your bum open!"

 **** Several stressful moments (for everyone) later, you're all smooth as a baby****

Having a freshly waxed crotch also makes you want to, obviously, drop your pants and show it off!  This may or may not be a good idea, but I suppose that depends on the deepness of the intimacy of your friendships.  My friends and I still have a few more waxes to get through before we reach this level, but it was definitely on the table!

After a lot of sweating and heart pounding, but albeit a good quality wax, beer is a definite must.  You need to discuss, in detail, the proceedings of the waxing.
"Did it hurt as much as you thought?"
"Well, she put one slab of wax on and couldn't get it off because the hair was too long!  I started to wonder if maybe I could just live with this giant slab of dried wax on my crotch forever."

After you get a little tipsy at the bar, it's time to part ways.  Two of you decide to make it a whole day of hair removal and get your hair cut (even though we already know how this is another stress point for you).  Since you have no evidence of a good place to cut your hair, you wander into the best looking place you pass.

Hair cutting with a friend is very intimate, especially because you get to watch, and be watched, during that moment in every haircut that makes you think "Oh no, this is gonna look like shit.... oh wait, she fixed that part.  Ok, crisis averted."

In the end, it works out because you are with your friend and that gives you some kind of super power moral support!

And so concludes The Guide to Bonding With Your Friends!  A lovely day it was!  Thanks girls :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I've Been Featured!

Amelia and Laura over at The Harvest Kitchen Sisters have featured me as a guest on their blog!  How exciting for me!!

I've linked their site before, particularly for Amelia's amazing pancake recipe (that is decidedly my ONLY pancake recipe - and one that my Brazilian husband has MASTERED).

Anyway, please visit their site for my latest blog about Hiring a Housekeeper in Brazil

Saturday, December 3, 2011

December already?

The last two weeks have gone by so fast!  Since Laura left, I've been keeping busy with work, friends and believe it or not, reading.

Seeing as I have one month left in this year, I wanted to reflect on everything that's gone right and that I've changed for the better in my life.  Actually, looking back on the past year (which has flown by!!!), I'm a little disappointed, yet not at all surprised, that I didn't keep my New Year's Non Resolutions.

1.  Blog more funny stories.  Well, just by counting the number of posts this year vs. last year, I've already failed on the NUMBER of blogs I've produced, but at least my blogs haven't gone down in quality!  (Well, you all can be the judges of that one)

2. Start taking Portuguese classes.  Do the two classes I took count?  I took two, didn't really like her, made up some crappy excuse, and never looked back.

3. Settle in and make Rio my 'home'.  After a rocky start with our first apartment, I can happily say that this one we have accomplished.

4. Learn to drive stick shift.  Ha.  Well, I did go out for one driving lesson with Ro when I got back from Canada.  But we sold our car earlier this year (thank the lord!).  So no stick shift.  But also (happily) no car.

Alright, so if we were to evaluate purely by what I wrote down, it looks as if I didn't do so well.  But some other "non-resolutions" that I came up with throughout the year I did better with.  So let's examine my B-Side resolutions instead.

1b) Read more. (And later, read more Margaret Atwood).   Win!  In the two months I read a book per month and one of those was Margaret Atwood.  That equals 2 books in case you were feeling confused (it happens).

2b) Try to find my own Happiness.  I read the book The Happiness Project but more importantly, after moving to Botafogo, I was able to pursue my friendships, spend more time with my husband, ride my bike, and run in some beautiful places - HUGE sources of my happiness.

3b) See a Psychologist.  I found the most wonderful woman (thanks to a good friend) who speaks English!  She is not covered by my Health Plan but it doesn't matter.  Paying her with my hard-earned cash has been one of the most releasing experiences in understanding myself, my actions, and also how to let things GO! 

4b) Do acupuncture.  Before we moved to Botafogo I did 3 sessions of Acupuncture which made me feel AMAZING.  It was a quick run, but it made a big difference.

So did anyone else out there make any 'non-resolutions'?  How are they going?  Do you usually keep your goals or let them shrivel up like George's penis?  :)  Happy December!
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