yo so how dem mists of avalon coming along? my kindle tells me i am about 76% done with my copy (lack of page numbers still seems weird to me). this book is like that damn comedy sketch of the guy talking about the energizer bunny: it just keeps going and going and goooing and just when you think it’s about to stop, it GOOOOES. but at least it’s interesting.
LOVE AND LIGHT from são paulo, a city without much of either sometimes. good thing i’m getting the eff out!
I am indeed in Brazil, just beginning my second year of living here (moved here January 2, 2012). I was teaching English as a foreign language here in São Paulo for almost the full year, which started to really wear on me: I was teaching adults, mainly one-on-one lessons, etc., and in December I opted the fuck out of that situation. They didn’t pay enough to make it worthwhile. The tentative plan is to get a masters in English Lit and Translation down here and get some work doing [hopefully literary] translations. In the meantime, I’m moving out of São Paulo (15 million people and no beaches makes for a whole lot of bad times in the summer, plus at every damn rush hour of every day) and going to Florianópolis.
Back in Sampa (nickname for São Paulo) until Saturday, when I head south the the island (as some call Florianópolis, or Floripa). Brazilians looooove nicknames, but in this case I do too since “Florianópolis” is kind of hard to type, with that accent and all. I am pretty sure everyone has a nickname. I myself have been referred to as: Little Pepper (because I like spicy food), White Girl, Little White Girl (somehow these two not so much about race as it is about the fact that I am relatively really pale), Little Foreigner (again, not so much discriminatory as it is factual), Adorable/Cute (however, the word literally means “soft”)… Notice a trend? Brazilians love using the diminutive! For ladies’ nicknames, anyway. It’s kind of insulting as men’s nicknames go, and only used with people you know who are younger than you (cousins, brothers, nephews) and maybe dudes you’ve known since childhood.
So, much in the way that you might go about nailing Jell-O to the wall or herding a bunch of cats, I have been slowly getting my documents in order. The other day, I got my CPF
, which allows me to open a bank account and subsequently buy things online and stuff. That’s all well and good, but I actually went into that day trying to get something else bureaucratic done. But in Brazil there is no arguing with bureaucracy: you go where the tide of paperwork takes you, and I always get really angry for the first 4 minutes or so but then after a point it’s just so ridiculous that being angry is just really futile and then a sort of Zen state is reached. It’s especially frustrating because nobody seems to know what is going on or how to do something, so they send you all over the damn map, and everyone else tells you something different. Sometimes, though, you can just sort of fake it and tell them what to do. In the case of the CPF, I went to the Bank of Brazil to pay the initial fee, and they told me they couldn’t help me because I don’t have a Brazilian identity card. Bullshit! After leaving angrily, I came back and told them to just put in my passport number, and they did, and voilá! Then they sent me to this other registry office, the Receita Federal, about a 20 minute walk, and when I arrived, the people at the office told me that they couldn’t help me, and they sent me to another office almost literally next door to the bank where I started out. Like, they had little slips of paper they gave out to people saying that no, you’ve come to the wrong office, go to this other one. All these people are involved in the same bureaucratic process and do this shit all the time, and there has been a fundamental lack of communication! I am imagining streams of people making this same damn voyage every week. This is so emblematic of trying to get things done in this country. So I went all the way back to pretty much where I started and waited in line for an hour and a half on the top floor of a shopping mall of all places (at least there was A/C), and voila! I have a CPF number. All this, mind you, after being told at the beginning of the day that I can’t do what I originally wanted to do because I didn’t have one of these numbers. Two steps back, one step forward in a different direction.
Today after 3, I pick up the certified translation of my birth certificate, and after that I have to go to one of the myriad civil registry offices (although, in this case, I can’t just go to any of them, I have to go to a specific one downtown, where everything looks the same and I always get lost) and register my birth certificate, already verified by the damn Brazilian consulate and translated by a translator certified by the government, as a document that is recognized in Brazil. Needless to say I am leaving the whole damn day tomorrow free to tackle this task. I have been told that the Portuguese are responsible for this suffocating bureaucracy–is it any surprise, then, that I enjoy the most jokes I hear about the Portuguese? Well, that, and they sort of just took all of Brazil’s mineral wealth, left the country in a mess, and peaced out. Can’t forget that. Aaargh Portugal.
So I hope to have all that done by Friday. I fly to Floripa on Saturday, which I am expecting to be a revelatory, life-changing experience: until now, I have only ever traveled there by overnight bus, which novelty really wears off after the first time. There really is no comparison between 1 hour in the sky versus 11 hours on the road sitting next to some farty old dude who snores or in front of a loud kid who kicks your seat (or more if your bus breaks down, which mine did once, stretching the pain to a full 17 hours and guaranteeing that my first stop in Floripa was at a gas station to buy not one, but two beers because damn was that harrowing–oh yeah, and the whole trip I was sitting next to a group of 20-somethings from Portugal who were playing board games into the wee hours with their seat lights on). So one could say that, yep, I am really jazzed about not taking the bus this time.
You guys, I live 20 minutes from the beach! I have never lived in a non-landlocked place before!
okay, so, like i just said on gchat, almost done with the ol’ tome. um, how naive was my last email where i said it’s too long but at least it’s interesting?
let’s talk about:
the multiple endings she seems to have tacked on. like, she woke up the day after she thought she was done: “oooh, i know, to make it longer, let’s make morgause turn into the queen of darkness! never mind the fact that she never had magical education and seems to have pulled these Dark Magicks out of her un-aging ass or whatever! yeah, because at the end of the first chapter, if your brains aren’t too weary of this book for you to remember, morgause is the ~fourth, evil~ side of the Goddess, yeah that’ll be a great addition. but I am too lazy to work in any foreshadowing besides that one sentence anywhere in the past 500 pages so i will just spackle this onto the end and nobody will call me on it because this book is so batshit crazy that it’s a miracle the critics finish it and have the mettle to write a review.”
so greetings from florianópolis first and foremost! i am here safe and sound and we seem to have already found a house to rent (we are waiting on the rental contract, fingers crossed) that’s only a 20-minute walk from the beach, with a bus that goes directly to the university, etc. things are good on that front. also need to get things worked out with respect to the university situation, which is kind of hard because they are between semesters and therefore on holiday.
what else? oh, i desperately need a haircut. like, my hair is a big white-yellow cloud and i am almost ashamed to go into a salon with it looking like this, ha. i did, however, successfully dye my roots about two weeks back, so at least all hope isn’t lost.
(fun fact: we are also moving tomorrow. w00t. i am exhausted just thinking about it. our new house has a jerry-rigged bright blue spiral staircase that i am deathly afraid of, and it’s the only way to get up or down between floors, but other than that i looooove it!)
in other news, i got a haircut here on the island that i hate. it is very short and just puffs up. i look like someone’s grandmother. this was on friday. also on friday, i moved into the new house. since then, we have worked out: refrigerator, oven/stove, and internet, all of which ended up coming today. we also have a grill, a crappy old mattress and two chairs, as well as a bookcase and a cabinet that the previous inhabitant sold us. we also ordered some plants and herbs for our garden out front, and i guess the next steps would be a washing machine and a bed to put the mattress on. then a hammock for the front yard. i think the neighbors think we are really eccentric but the truth is i can’t understand their accents very well, ha.