Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hot and Sweaty! Who? Me?

It's 4pm and I smell like a wet Saint Bernard. It's not pretty. I'm sweating like a heavy weight boxer in the middle of a championship. My hair is up and I'm wearing my lightest summer dress. Hell, I even ditched the bra but it didn't make a difference. 

I stumbled into the metro station this afternoon, dripping sweat and my body covered in patchwork red heat splotches. It was as if I was a reject blanket from the Amish sewing circle. 

And there she was, of course, The Brazilian.  Her hair was down and perfect, just like a Pantene ProV Conditioner ad. She had on an adorable, professional, and yet still totally hot outfit.  She was sweating, obviously, but it was different. Her sweat looked like she was spritzed with body oil before a magazine shoot. I looked like I was urinated on by a bum standing on a bridge. 

Not fair!  I know my body is not made for this heat, I step outside and my feet start running North, but I should be adapting by now.  I have the right attire, I bath at least 3 times daily like any good Carioca, and I reapply deodorant regularly.  Yet, my body still insists on overheating anytime the temp reaches 31 (87 F) or above. 

The best is when this kind of woman turns and says "It's so hot isn't it! So muggy!"  I always answer with the typical "I know!" or " It is. Hopefully it'll rain soon" or "Tell me about it. I wish I was at the beach".

What I really want to ask is: Does that Brazilian ass convert into a portable air conditioner come summer?

Really World, I think it's time

People, it's time to legalize the good stuff. Oh, I'm serious here and I'm not talking about bacon. 

Rio de Janeiro just got into a war with drug traffickers, Willie Nelson was arrested, and even Mommy bloggers are talking about how they used the stuff to combat morning sickness.  It's time to stop the madness!

So what is a girl to do?  Legalize Marijuana!  For goodness sake, cigarettes are legal and smoking those is like sucking on an exhaust pipe full of rat poop.  Oh, people can kill themselves slowly but they can't get happy while they do it? I don't see the contradiction in that at all.

The thing is, weed would be one hell of a cash crop.  Just think about it, Rio de Janeiro just arrested all those drug traffickers.  Let's put their knowledge to good use.  Bust out some fields, make them work it as community service while serving time, roll 'em up, box 'em, and then tax the crap out of them.  Do governments not realize how many people would be stoners if it were socially acceptable?  We're talking an end to National Debt.

And on a side note, cut out the middle man. If our kids want to get some of Puff the Magic Dragon's treats, let them get it from a safe place. Nothing safer than a gas station. It's my bunker of choice.  And cut out the connection to harder drugs.  Once your kid has a dealer, it's only a matter of time until other drugs come up in the conversation. Ok, that's really apples and oranges, peaches and tires, but maybe there's some logic in there somewhere.  

I'm just saying, Legalize Marijuana as a Method to Reduce Crime rate and make a little cash while the Government is at it. 

What are your thoughts on the legalization of Marijuana?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Signs you've become a Carioca Part 1

1. You only wear your flip flops inside of your neighborhood (sometimes not even then) and to the beach.  It'd just be gross to wear them anywhere else.

2. Women- You wax everything, including your big toe. Hell, it's included most of the time.

3. Rice and beans = yes

4. Rice is not a carb. Farofa is not a carb. Maybe rice and farofa together equal 1 carb but they certainly don't count, especially if you are eating at your Grandma's house.

5. You can drink 37 chopps (draft beers) in 4 hours and not be an obnoxious drunk. Only flirty and even friendlier, if that is possible.

6. You don't go out in the rain because... well, it's raining! Duh.

7. A fresh bread roll and a piece of fruit is your breakfast of champions.

8. You wear 30spf to the beach, reapply and, of course, you have a golden tan.  We live below the equator people, you get a tan sitting in a tent.

9. You are regular but not gassy. Thank you black beans, papaya, mango, fresh juices, and farmer's market leafy greens.

10.  You never say no and you never say yes, yet everyone understands what you actually mean.

Bathing Like a Brazilian

Summer is quickly approaching in Rio de Janeiro and that can sometimes be intimidating for foreigners.  Bathing suits, for both men and women alike, are enough to make you run to your hotel/hostel pool and stay there with the other white folk.

Don't be scared! The beaches here are not just for the excessively toned and tanned!  Put on that Brazilian bikini, aka. post-its on string, and get your ass out there. You are not alone.

Every Brazilian body type, and there are many, sport the barely there suits on a beach.  Hell, even Great Aunt Julia, all 200 + pounds, is wearing a smaller suit than you.

Every time I suit up for the beach, I go in front of the mirror to pinch and groan. Oh how the glory days have passed.  Of course I suck it up and head out with the family.  Upon arrival, I look around.  Sure, there are the hot bodies and the not bodies, and everything in between.  It's enough to make this stomach obsessed girl from California finally breath.

The beach in Brazil isn't really about how hot you look, not once you pass 25 anyway.  It's about being there, enjoying it, and burning off the drama from the workweek.

In the words of the Caricoa: "There's nothing a good day at the beach can't cure."

Amen! And don't forget your sunscreen!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Amnesty International can Kiss this Rio de Janeiro Resident's...

Check out this quote from Amnesty International:

“This violence is totally unacceptable but the police response has put communities at risk. The authorities must ensure that the security and well-being of the broader population comes first and foremost in any operation carried out in residential areas,” said Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty International’s Brazil researcher.

According to the Municipal Education Secretary, 17 schools and 12 creches have been closed in Rio this week, leaving more than 12,000 children without education. Thousands across the north zone of the city have been unable to go to work and large numbers of residents have been left without water or electricity.

“The current wave of criminal violence is symptomatic of wider failures throughout the criminal justice system,” said Patrick Wilcken. 

My favorite was the leaving children without education. Oh my goodness, how dare they! A 3 year old's need to learn numbers comes before the fact that crazy drug traffickers are running around with potentially crazier police men after them.  Well, Maracana should have been turned into an impromptu school so no one missed out on their education during all this. 

HELLO! Which country are you talking about again?!  Is it just me or if crime in a city gets this bad, don't you think a couple of days of missed school is beside the point. If you want to talk about school, talk about the amount of children who just don't go in the first place and the fact that they are not forced to.  We're struggling with public safety people, don't even get us started on the faltering public education system. 

And please try not to shoot residences. Thank goodness Amnesty international came out and gave that statement. I'm sure the police and drug traffickers haven't realized that they are putting other people in danger. I bet if they hadn't said anything, the people themselves wouldn't even realize they are in danger.  My question is, why aren't they there, in the favela, handing out yellow jumpsuits to the drug traffickers and red ones to the policemen? Easier targets make gunfights safer for everyone.  Don't forget your protective goggles.

I know that you, Amnesty International, are just trying to take care of the world. And Patrick, I bet your research is top notch. But sometimes, just on special occasions such as these, maybe you should keep your mouth shut and watch with the rest of the world. That is, unless you are physically in there, you know, trying to make sure kids are getting their education.

Maybe I'm being a little defensive. Ok, quite possibly I'm being very defensive.  But to make a statement stating the obvious while managing to sound condescending, well no one talks about my city like that except for me, thank you very much!

Bope Going to War

Early this morning, we heard the sirens of the police.  It turns out it was the Bope, and they were ready for war.  Neighbors from other buildings also looked down to see the Bope trucks with the flatbeds full of Bope men, many with their faces painted.

They are going to war.

A Bope yelled, his fist in the air. The rest of the truck followed.  A neighbor clapped in response and it started a commotion. With each truck, the few but spirited neighbors cheered for the men. The men cheered back. 

I even had a moment. I was in the window with my two boys. We were cheering for our men before they went into war.  One looked right at the boys and I, smiled a proud smile, and waved.  It almost brought a tear to my eye.

Just like the American troops, the Bope are going into war.  It's not their fault there's a war, they are just the men Rio de Janeiro puts in to fight their physical battle. Regardless of the politics, the is it or isn't it of this situation in Rio de Janeiro, these men are going to war. They are putting their life on the line.  They deserve our cheers!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

How to talk on the Phone in Rio de Janeiro

I learned the hard way about super socially polite Brazilian ways. I was 18 years old and dating the Brazilian exchange student at my little High school in Coronado, California. Oh yes, I was cool like that.

I used to call his place, where he lived with his older sister (10 years older so much older to an 18 year old).  I used to call, per all American fashion, like so: Her "Hello?"  Me "Hi, is So-and-so home?" 

One day I was asked why I didn't like his sister. For the record, I didn't but of course I didn't say that to him.  I asked him what on Earth he meant! Apparently, I was supposed to ask how she is, what's been going on, and so on and so forth each and every time I called.  For an 18 year old girlfriend that is like 4 to 5 times a day! 

Well, that was going to make calling a whole new story. Obviously I was calling to talk to him so I would only be asking to be polite. What's the point?

In Brazil, that is the point. You should want to know.  You should want to chat with anyone who is willing to chat. 

Fast forward many years and 5 years of living in Brazil later.

I do it. I can't help myself. It doesn't matter if the person who answers in senile. I will ask how things in her world are. I will marvel at the pink elephants she's seeing. I will agree that they too should eat their bananas and that even pink elephants should go to time out if they refuse. 

What I didn't get in my young, inexperienced traveler mindset of 18 years was that a phone call isn't just to talk to a person. You are calling to touch base, converse, and stay a part of their world. Whomever answers is also a part of that world. 

So when you call someone in Brazil and they ask who is speaking, you say who you are, ask who they are, and you chat. Chat like that little drunk girl at a bar hitting on a waiter... ok, maybe not so enthusiastic but you get where I'm going.  Just because there is a phone line between you, it does not excuse you. Even your husband's secretary deserves a 'Hello, how are the kids?".  I don't care if they are sleeping together. It's about respecting the culture.

That being said, "Hello, How are you this evening?"

Friday, November 26, 2010

Home, it does a Body Good

 I'm heading stateside to my native land to celebrate the holiday season and then some.  I'm excited for all the obvious reasons and some not so obvious.  Rule #3 of survival living abroad, I don't allow myself to focus on the things I miss. That goes out the window when a trip home approaches. 

Here is my mental list so far:

1. Drink milk!  Milk does a body good and it is one of the #1 things I miss about home. I don't know if our milk farmers spoon their cows at night, but they do something that works.

2. Curl up in a blanket on the couch.  I plan to abuse my Mother like the stepchild I never had, or at least don't know of yet.  For 1 hr out of the trip, if not more, I plan to curl up on her wonderfully soft couch in one of her amazingly soft blankets and let her run after my boys. Oh my, it'll actually be cool enough to curl up in a blanket without my husband calling me crazy! 

3. Good bad TV.  I've had so much good conversation, culture, good movies, and books while here in Brazil, it's time to drain the brain. You know, Celebrity Fit club and How'd you get so rich.  Good stuff that will just suck the brains right out of me, what's left after children anyway. 

4. Eat. My goal is to not put on the normal 10lbs (5 kilos) this time around. The more realistic goal is to only gain 10lbs (5 kilos). Let's think Christmas. Restaurants. Candy that I can't get here therefore eat by the truckload.  Salty snacks I also eat by the truckload. My theory is that if I eat as much as I want, I will eventually get sick of it and not miss the food/snacks when I come back to Brazil. It does work. I leave thinking if I see another Poptart I'll barf... not that Poptarts really count as food but I eat them anyway. 

5. Not be aware of my surroundings. I know I'm aware here but I never really get how much so until I get home. That's what happens when you live in Rio de Janeiro. You are blissfully unaware of how aware you are. It's very Born Identity how you can walk along with your kids, chatting and scolding, yet still know there are 3 people behind you (2 are men) and 4 in front.  And it's not stressful, it's just how it is. The moment I land stateside, I get my symbolic cup of Starbucks coffee, which I don't even like anymore after living in Brazil for 5 years, and I let it go. Let the totally unaware American way flow with my laptop falling out of my backpack and my kids playing with my itouch while I barely pay attention. 

Of course there will also be many trips to Target, certain stores to buy items I only buy stateside, grocery stores to stock up on bring to Brazil items, and many other things. 

I'm the most excited about seeing my family. Being involved in the family gossip and trash talk. Seeing my nieces, annoying my brothers, and hugging my parents.  I'm even excited for the criticism and the inevitable 'If I were you..."  There's a beauty in living abroad.  Even the annoying things are charming. 

What do you look forward to when you go home for a visit? What are your favorite things about home?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Google Maps of Rio Violence

Google Maps is noting the locations of the attacks and car fires for... well, I'm sure they have their reasons. I doubt it to terrify us residents. Likely it's to inform us and the rest of the world, find a pattern, and/or make the news. Hell, I'm posting it on my blog.

Here's the link:  http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=100971781051706942637.000495a46500c8fde152b

It's quite nerve racking and interesting to see. Don't be scared Mom and Dad, we're being careful!

Rio de Janeiro takes on the Bullies.

Oh yes, I've jumped on the blogging Rio de Janeiro is in chaos bandwagon. All the cool kids are doing it. 

Seriously though, it's all around us and is impossible not to think about.  I live in Rio meaning I've never been super stoked to hear police sirens in my neighborhood. You always look to see what's going on, make sure it's something mellow. These days it makes a girl a little nervous. That oh I just peed a little in my pants nervous.  Thank goodness it's warm and laundry is drying quickly.

So that foreigner part of me is like, 'Sweet, I'm leaving in a week for Christmas in the state, I just won't come back until it's done'  Call it the survivor, Chicken Little, in me.  Of course that won't work.  I live here.  For better or worse, this is our city.

It's unfair of us, including expats, to enjoy the beach, the beer, the good times, and then run when the going gets tough.  I'm no fair weather friend! Just ask my friends. I'm just much more of a pesky little tick friend. The kind that when you think you burned it off, you realized the head is still stuck in your ass. Oh yeah, that's me.

We have a standoff happening in our city. Very classic Western movie type of standoff.  And while the sheriff hasn't always been the obvious good guy in our movie, he's probably got a back story we wouldn't understand.  And quite possibly, this is the climax of Rio's movie. This is the make it or break it, all nerds stand together against the bully kind of thing.

As difficult as that may be, if the good guys conquer all, this city will be an even better place. (note that I'm leaving out a bunch of other conditions that should change because I just don't have the time and no one wants to read a 300 page blog post).

I choose to believe what I tell my boys, the good guys will win. Why? Because good always conquers over evil.  And you know what, I consider people who light full vans and buses on fire pretty damn evil.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Because it was too good not to post

What would you do for a dishwasher?

A fellow expat and Mommy blogger, Stay at Home Babe, got me thinking about dishes. Hell, life got me thinking about dishes. Living in Rio de Janeiro means I do not have a dishwasher, not even the human one.  Well, I can't lie, I do have a maid twice a week who absorbs my dish washing and other household duties.  I love my Mondays and Thursdays and I love my maid!

Anyway, there are two things that take a lot of my time and energy.  One, as you have obviously guessed, is washing dishes.  The other is...

Who am I kidding?  I have a huge list! I'm a mother of 2 kids under 5 and I don't have the typical daily or live in help.  I dream of pimping my house.  Screw date nights, nice clothes, and jewelry.  I want appliances!  I want a dishwasher, dryer, water heater (not these damn gas ones!), central air, and a garbage disposal... oh that last one got me a little hot just thinking about it. 

I think I've come up with a reasonable argument for buying these items. It's one I think my husband will relate to on a personal level.  If I should get them, I will be so happy and have so much more free time that he'll probably get laid daily for several months.  Hell, I'll make it a year and throw in twice weekly nooners.  Oh yes, we're talking sexual bribery. Is there any other kind in a marriage?

What appliances would you sleep with your husband/partner/live-in to get?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Classics & Imports

So I was strolling Lojas Americanas (Brazilian Semi-Target) today with my semi-sicky, home from school, restless toddler.  It's the best thing to do with an irritated child on a hot Brazilian day.  It's out of the house, it's air conditioned, it's free, and there are toys to look at. 

Imagine my surprise when I ran into the legendary Hershey's candy box!  Ok, maybe it's not legendary but it should be.  An awesome blog reader of mine, Ms. Stephanie, mentioned that she found this box in Zona Sul. I had kept one eye open but never saw it at my neighborhood Zona Sul.  I was starting to lose hope until...

It just happened so fast. I was innocently strolling the candy isle, as the eternal child inside me likes to do, when the clouds parted. Yes, apparently there were clouds in Lojas Americanas. I hadn't noticed until they parted. 

Anyway, the clouds parted and then angels started to cry.  Yes, real Angels! And their tears stung... do you think I should be worried about that?

That's when I started to cry. Not only did I find a box of Hersey's Candies, so appropriately named "Classics and Imports" (Portuguese "Clássicos & Importados"), it included Reese's Peanut Butter cups!  I almost fainted right then and there but how would I buy and eat the candy if I was passed out on the floor?!

Upon opening the box, I was a smidgen disappointed with the serving size of the candy and there are only two Peanut Butter cups. I'm so pathetic I actually, quietly, gave thanks that my 4 year old may have a peanut allergy. It meant one less to share the 2 cups with! But per the size of the box and the price (a shockingly low R$6.99), I'd say it's worth the splurge people. 

Oh how my Rio de Janeiro is changing. When I first got here I couldn't find anything imported. I was happy when I found the Brazilian version of Worcestershire sauce, and I hardly use the stuff.  Imagine my joy when I actually found Skippy (that Peter Pan stuff is horrible and waaayyy overpriced) Have you guys noticed the same thing?  What have you found lately that made your panties jump up and tie in a very excited knot?  What do you wish they would import here?

My Bank Hates Me

Now, not only are my Mother, 4th grade teacher, English students, and my husband complaining about my penmanship, it's also my bank.

Apparently, our bank has informed my husband that they will no longer be accepting checks written by me because my signature is too inconsistent.  I'm all about bank safety but this is just ridiculous.  I guess my signature has been straying and straying from the one they have on file to the point that it's not recognizable.

And that is what gets me here. Signatures are SUPER DUPER important in Brazil and they have to be perfect every time.  I practically get stage fright every time I hold a pen.  I have to pump myself up, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!  And sign!

Alright, there is a reason.  There's a lot of theft here and they do, as far as I know, have far less incidences of identity theft in Brazil.  Could you imagine stealing someone's identity here?! It would be hard core. You'd need finger prints, knowledge of their official signature, friends to vouch for any official signature with their registered official signature.  You'd need their CPF (Brazilian version of SS #) and ID, and your first born child as an offering to the Cartorio Gods.

It's not just signatures either. Heaven forbid you misspell a word on a check. Throw it in the trash! No little scribble and re-write.  Trust me, I know. My kids' school has to call me about 50% of the time to come in and re-write tuition checks for some little reason or another. Rachel, there is no U in dois.  Rachel, Rio de Janeiro goes before the date.  Rachel, you tried to only pay us R$2,00. I swear that last one was a mistake.

It's all a bit overwhelming for this girl.  Hell, I used to sign my credit card recipes with different celebrity names just to prove that my US credit card didn't check signatures.  And, you know what, they didn't!  Bob Hope, Jackie O, and Bill Clinton have used my card, just to name a few.

So I guess I'm off to the bank to double check what the official signature is. I'm ADD when it comes to signature.  They change on an hourly basis and basically consist of different levels of scribbles.  Maybe they'll let me do an X, it'll just make all our lives easier.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bra Science

For those of you non-bra wearers or males, finding the correct bra is a science. It's like the neuroscience of the breasts.  And finding one in Brazil is even more of a headache.

I had only just figured out bra science of the US. The whole cup and rip cage stuff. Imagine my surprise when I came down here and saw that bras were in one size and that was a 40, 44, or something like that.

What about the cup? Isn't the actual boulder holder part of the bra the most important? And there is no size for that?!  

I think that is why many women in Brazil suffer from the ever serious problem called Quad-boob.  As much as most of you males think that 4 boobs would look great. I mean, the more the merrier, right?

Wrong! It's like S&M of the breast, only no pleasure... not that I imagine S&M is pleasurable in and of itself.

These poor breast look like caged tigers trying to escape the circus.  It's a horrible tragedy, especially in the eyes of this small breasted woman.  If I had girls like that, they would be cupped and caressed by their bra, equally balanced between display and support.  

But this bra plight is not just with the large breasted Brazilian woman. The bra of the small breasted is even worse. We're talking fields and fields of cotton being used to fill the mounds they call cups.  They are so padded I can hardly fit my half sized girls in them.  And we can all tell it's all stuffing. I really don't feel comfortable walking around looking falsely aerodynamic.

Of course I could go into the fancy underwear shops in the mall. I did once. I had the same problems and I really didn't appreciate a R$200 price tag. The girls did, however, look fabulous. The stuffing is made of much better cotton in the fancy stores.  It was one of those bras that would make a guy pick a girl up in a bar and then wonder where her breasts went once he took her home. Gosh, that brings me back to my twenties...

Anyway, this girl has stopped her half-assed Brazilian bra hunt and judgments over quad-boob.  It's not their fault!  They are only a product of their bra surroundings.  Luckily, I get to go home and buy overpriced bras in my own country.  It's ok though, I'm willing to pay extra for the cup size and professional sizer.  A girl only gets one set of breasts, until she manages to save up to buy some new ones, so it's best to take care of them.

Poland vs Rio: Round 1

Oh those Polish. Trying to be bigger than Brazilians.  Really, this is a Polish joke just waiting to happen.

So they have built their own Christ statue and it is bigger than the one in Rio de Janeiro. And by the way, it does not count if the French didn't give it to you.  All monuments in the form of human figures have to come from the French. I really couldn't tell you why but it's just how it's done. 

But in all seriousness, the Polish people have donated their hard earned cash to pay for this huge statue in the middle of nowhere.  It's a pilgrimage destination... I'm not sure about that last one.  I'd much rather pilgrimage my ass over to Rio to see a big old Christ. Then again, there's a lot less temptation in a Polish field than on a Rio de Janeiro Mountain. 

Here's the link to the report on BBC. This isn't the actual title but I do feel it's much better than theirs:

Poland vs Rio: Round one

Friday, November 19, 2010


I have always been perplexed with the inter-sexing between my husband's group of friends. Oh wait, that sounds bad. The inter-sexing that happened before they all settled down.

Oh yes, the late teens/early 20s were good years in this group.  Per most young Carioca adults, they used to travel together to different places during holiday weekends.  The group ranged from 10 to 20 to 30 (big trips) people. And yes, they all slept with each other. No, not an orgy... or at least I've yet to hear that story. 

They were all friends, they all partied together, and if the mood struck people would pair off. So this is where it gets interesting. I know of at least 3 women that both my brother-in-law and husband have slept with... oh and another friend of theirs.  And that is basically how it is for the entire group, men and women alike.

So I asked my group class about it today. Had a bit of an awkward moment when I just blurted out "Do you all hook up with each other?" We had been talking about a trip a group of 8 friends are taking this weekend. Of course, my question wasn't very clear and they asked "The three of us?"

I'm not that blunt!  But it would be an interesting story, 2 girls and a guy, to say the least.  I clarified, no the group? 

Shocker, "Yes. It happens. We're all friends."


Is this common place here in Rio? YES! They said yes! Well thank goodness. I was starting to think that my husband and our friends were just a bunch of horny bastards. Ok, I still think that but at least everyone is. 

So where is the drama?  When Susy sleeps with Pedro casually and then Pedro ends up dating Susy's best friend Isabel, doesn't it get awkward?  I mean, when the girls get together to talk shop over drinks and Isabel talks about Pedro's obsession with anal, to which Susy confirms, isn't that weird?

Maybe I'm just a prude.  Maybe I'm just a drama queen.  Maybe it's both.  The class did confirm that there can be hidden drama.  Hidden being the key word. No one talks about it, it just floats around like a beer drinking elephant at all the parties. 

At the same time, this seems like a great way of having the sex you want without the risk, assuming people are careful and take the obvious tests. I may know Pedro well but I would still want him to go get that junk swabbed at the doctors before I would put it anywhere. 

And what if Susy really liked Pedro but was just playing it cool?  No no, I just want the sex too kind of game, which never works by the way. Well, I can't really say but I can't see the logic behind it.

What about you guys? Could you hang in this kind of group? Would you be the drama queen?  What about the Cariocas and Brazilians out there. Have you slept with a large majority of your friends?

Out of Control

My Sindico (spelling?), basically our building manager, is out of control. Well, not really out of control but not under control.

We were notified the day before yesterday that the lights would, once again, but turned off all day.  Keep in mind that the day before yesterday notification was posted after 9pm. I'm in hibernation mode by that point, just trying to get the little monkeys down and get some alone time. I'm not cruising the elevator looking for notices.

So I was notified yesterday. Now here's the issue, our emergency lights in the stairwell die after 3 and a half hours. Say what? That's just plain stupid. And you need power back on to charge them again. I talked to my building manager about this and he said that it's just how it is. I asked him if he really thought an emergency in Rio de Janeiro could be handled in under 3 hrs. Hell no! You can hardly get an ambulance in under 3 hrs!

And let's not talk about the old people in this building. Of course they all live on the upper floors.  We're risking hip breakage with every step down those stairs. But no, we could not rent a generator.  Too expensive. But have I mentioned that he has spent building money on new mail boxes. There wasn't anything wrong with the old one. A customized doormat, new doormen uniforms, tinted front windows on the building, water pipes, new intercoms, plants, handouts on how to save water... daily, etc etc.

I almost distributed handouts on how to save paper just to annoy him, and to point out how obnoxious his handouts are.  His are especially annoying because we are supposed to save water but he has the doormen spraying down the sidewalk in front of the building and outside the gate daily.  Heard of a broom much? And the other doorman makes extra cash by washing cars in the building. Bye bye water.

But he does do good. He deals with the crazy upstairs neighbors. Actually, he deals with the complaints from other people about the crazy upstairs neighbors.  We sometimes get concerned about their safety when we hear things being thrown. My building manager has a strict, and very unBrazilian, it's none of our business standpoint. I'm sure that has benefited us on numerous occasions.

So I will, once again, be AWOL today. I'm already going through withdrawals. Is it just me or has someone sucked all the internet... I mean oxygen out of the building? 

I will be ok! I'll take it one hour at a time.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cara de Pau!

I'm starting to think my waxer is mocking me. 

I went to the salon to get my feet demasculated, when I decided I should just get my legs waxed too. Nothing turns on a husband more than a painted and de-haired woman.

My waxer, being the gem she is, was available.  Of course I'm a glutton for punishment and started up the chit chat. I really shouldn't be allowed to chit chat. 

Push came to shove and it came out that I'm an English teacher by profession. Shocker, she's taking a course and has one questions. Just one!

Sure I'll take a look at it. No problem. 

Post wax and 10 minutes of free English class later, I'm doing her homework!  As we would say in Brazil 'Cara de Pau!'. I think it sounds so much better in English: Penis Face!  I'm so mature, I know.

Anyway, I really did attempt to teach her as opposed to doing her homework but she wouldn't have it.  I would start to explain, in Portuguese, and she would push the whole 'but what would I write?'.  For starters, it's against all the 3 beliefs I have to teach English in Portuguese.  Secondly, she isn't my student. I withheld my, 'you are only hurting yourself' speech because it is directly followed by the 'you are not paying me to speak to you in Portuguese' speech. She wasn't paying me at all!  Actually, I paid her to rip my hair out and cause me pain only to give her a free mini-class. 

Really, it's not a big deal. I didn't mind.  But when she pulled a second worksheet out of the chapter I had already helped her finish, I said enough! I promptly did the worksheet with little explanation. Yes, I'm a wuss. So what. She got her homework and I kept my tip. Oh yeah, I kept my R$5 as payment.  She actually sat there and waited in an awkward silence, giving me that where's the extra look. 

I do not feel awkward that easily. If I did, I'd be living in a closet at this point in my life. When it hit me what she was waiting for, I gave a little wave and went about my ex-pat way.

Nothing in life is free. Not English class and not even a paid wax.

Scream Free Flights?

The New York Times published an interesting article recently about flying, namely flying with kids.  Well, let me rephrase that, it's actually about NOT flying with kids.

What's irritating is the line drawn between families and the childless.  Hello, I want to be on your side!  But if I fly on the child free flight, who's flying with the kids?  Do the family flights come with chaperones?

In all seriousness, suck it up people! Yes, it's annoying to have a screaming kid on a flight. News flash, it's also annoying to their parents, not to mention embarrassing. 

Well, that is unless they're that breed of parent who are afraid of their children. You can tell who they are because their kid throws a tantrum and they go "oh oh oh honey. Let's not... oh oh oh it's ok"  To say I'm not a fan of that parenting style is like saying I'm not a fan of being run over by a car. It's a slight understatement.

And as much as I would like to call Ian Burford of Boston a self-important douche, it's not all the childless traveler's fault.  We parents need to get on the ball.  I travel internationally with my boys and I'm always prepared. 

All principals must go out the window.  If you are a no junk food parent, that can wait until they are off the flight. If you are a no medication parent and the flight is over 6 hours, do us all a favor and drug the little person if they start showing signs of raising hell.  Hell, drug them before they can! We know our kids. Be honest with yourself. If little Johny is a pain in the ass, he's going to be a royal one when trapped on a plane. Prepare accordingly.

And Bribery is your friend on a plane. I bring one new bigger toy and numerous new little toys.  Dance for the banana little monkeys! That's right, DANCE!  Actually, it's sit still and be quiet for the banana but you get my point. 

As for you childless bastards who have to be put out by everything because someone didn't tell you the world doesn't revolve around you, suck it up a little bit.  It's like 6 hours out of your life. Deal.  No one likes a whiner and you are starting to sound more annoying than the kids you are complaining about.  I mean, bitch bitch bitch. Just get together and buy your own plane.

Oh, and don't assume all kids on planes are bad news. Every time I get on a plane with my boys, all the people around me have a panic attack.  I have to talk them down off the ledge. My boys are awesome little fliers and I bust my ass to make sure of that.  A little credit for the non-screamers would be nice, thank you very much!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Opening my world: blog post for another site


Yes, I'm writing about Penises

I fell over laughing when I saw this ad for XXL condoms online.  Seriously, genius!

But it also got me thinking, which country has the biggest penis? If you ask any Brazilian man, they will say they are the biggest and/or have the most beautiful little men. That or they'll just offer to show you.

By the way, I do not recommend actually asking a Brazilian man unless they are securely tied down and you are out of the splash zone.  Making eye contact for over a half a second is practically an invitation for sex. If you say the word penis you may get attacked or their head will explode.

Sadly, (Mr. Rant I'm only saying that for blogging purposes), I don't have a lot of experience in Brazilian penis measuring.  Then again, this girl was so overjoyed that she married this one right away. I'm talking about the man, not the penis... ok, maybe both.

Now my single friends have had their fair share and, from what their gossip tells me, Brazilians rank right up there with the big boys.  I know what you are thinking, maybe they were exaggerating.  I'm sorry but here are four things you should know about women: 1. We are pretty honest when it comes to what our mate is packing, at least to our close girlfriends. 2. We are always honest about what a hook up is packing. 3. We have told all of our friends about both types.  4. If your wife/girlfriends say she has never talked about your package and or skills, she is lying.  By our second drink out with our friends, it's ALL we talk about.

So I decided to do some research and I found this chart. It was particularly difficult for me to read it at first. I'm American so I have never learned about other countries' flags. Hey, at least I know they have them!  Thank goodness for the source list.

I do have a problem with some of the numbers though. I'd like to first say, I am not racist. This is purely un-educated babble talking.

Anyway, I have an issue with the Lebanese measurement of 6.6 inches, .4 inches bigger than Brazilians and the same size as Ghana's 6.7.  Really? What measuring tape were you using?

As for the Congo's 7.1 inches, I expected more... Overall, the averages seem a bit small. I guess you could say I've been a lucky girl.

And, finally, can we send out a virtual hug to South Korea please.  Korea, don't worry, it's not the size of the boat. It's the motion of the ocean. I swear!

How realistic do you think this chart is? 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Are you Calling me Fat? And other Handy Distractions

I use humor, shocker, daily in my life. It gets me out and into a lot of trouble.

So when my husband has a legitimate complaint about something, I like to think of ways to throw him off.  It's not that I don't want to hear him out. Of course I do, communication is the key to any successful marriage. But success can be boring and we all need a good laugh.

Thus, how to distract your husband when he is complaining:

1. Ask if he's calling you fat. You can throw this in just about anywhere.  For example my husband's last complaint: "Why can't you just put things away when you are done with them?" Answer: "Are you calling me fat?"  His answer: " What does that have to do with anything?  Of course I don't think you're fat..." And mission accomplished.  Men are afraid of accidentally calling their wives fat... well, mine's not but it still works.

2. Take off your clothes.  This works even better in public, total guess on my part, I swear.  In private they enter into naked-woman-in front-of-me mode. In public they enter into all-other-men-seeing-naked-woman-aka-my-wife-in-front-of-them mode. Both very successful.

3. Produce a homemade baked good. Could be cookies, could be cake, ideally is sweet. For example, he comes home and bitch bitch bitch. "Wait a second sweety. I have those cookies you like in the kitchen"  Husband: "Mmmmm cookies."  Done and done.

4. Tell him you called his Mother. This works best if you have a questionable relationship with said Mother.  This produces the Am-I-in-trouble panic and/or what-did-you-two-decide panic.  He'll ask why and the conversation will automatically switch course. Just be careful not to start talking shit. That will start a whole new argument. And, note to self, nothing distracts a man from protecting his Momma.

5. Bring up a lesbian experience you had in college. The wonderful thing about men is that you don't need to have a natural conversational entrance into a lesbian experience story.  He could be talking about a new car he wants and you ask if you told him about that sexual encounter you had with the stripper in college. All eyes are on you.  Keep in mind, these stories don't have to be real. He does not care either way.

6. Say blow job. This is a low blow, pun intended.  Last resort distraction option and may require fulfilling the desires that come up because you said these two sacred man words. Use this with discretion. 

Now use your force for good and go makes some cookies!

Here are a few of my favorite things

Because I can sometimes seem like a negative Nelly, I wanted to post on a few of my favorite things about living in Rio de Janeiro.

1.  How Cariocas can chill. Only in Rio could you have a brunch that goes until 4pm where your childless friends spend the entire afternoon watching Cinderella with your kids and playing Uno, while simultaneously chatting amongst themselves. These guys chill so well they sometimes seem comatose.  A trip to Rio de Janeiro should be mandatory for type A personalities.

2.  The food. I've said it before and I'll say it again, who knew black beans and rice could be so damn good. Don't worry, after a while your bowels get used to the fiber and the gas subsides.  We're still waiting for that at our house but fingers are crossed.

3.  You can take your kids anywhere and everywhere and they can, gasp, act like kids. You will not be shunned if your kids scream or drop something on the floor. You will, however, be given a series of dirty looks if you do not let the table next to yours give your kids some of their fries while you are waiting for your order.

4.  The beach.  For starters, they are beautiful, all 300 + we have here.  Add in that you don't have to bring anything (city beaches anyway) and I'm a happy camper. I'm talking no cooler with snacks, no beach chairs unless you want to, and the seriously lazy don't even have to bring sunscreen although you'll pay out the nose. You can buy it all there! 

5.  Coconut water. Sir, could you please bust out a machete and whack open a stupidly cold coconut for me? Two straw and R$3 later = heaven!

6.  Chopps. I really do love cold Brazilian draft beer. Even more, I love getting together with friends to drink it. For the serious chopp lovers, you can also bring your kids. Oh yes, it is ok to bring your kids to a bar, even at 1030pm. I have yet to get to that point in my Brazilian-ness and I don't think I will, but it's always nice to have the option.  I do, however, drink beer at birthday parties, the beach, and bbqs.

7. The activities.  Rio de Janeiro is like a book of 1001 outdoor activities to do on the 359 sunny days a year. Hike, climb, swim, run, ride bikes, bird watch, waterfall hunt, or just sit on a beach chair at one of the many beaches. We really do have it all. 

8. Movies.  Cariocas love their movies, both foreign and local. There are festivals on top of the already well represented movie theater industry.  Now I just need to get a babysitter so my husband and I can start going again!

9. The culture. There's always some new exhibit somewhere, a dance performance, or a play (adult and children's). It's very cutting edge here and you will see some amazingly good stuff and total crap, all of which are pretty entertaining.  Hell, a friend of mine went to a play that wasn't even a play. They paid R$30 to go into and wait to see a play that was never going to happen. A kind of psychological experiment if you will.  So it's a grab bag and you never quite know what you are going to get.

10. The people. People here are so helpful and kind.  They are so helpful that strangers have no problem telling you that your kid is going to die of strep throat just because you gave them cold water.  And they will chase after you, 2 city blocks, to give you back the shoe that your kid kicked off.  That's caring with a capital I know how expensive shoes are and you were going to be pissed when you got home.

11. Destinations. Want to get away for the weekend? There's Buzios, Paraty, Ilha Grande, Visconde de Maua,Teresopolis, Petropolis, Cabo Frio, etc etc and so on and so forth. We have country, "mountains", beaches, and islands.  It's all beautiful and you can go cheap or expensive or rich and obnoxious. 

It comes down to Rio de Janeiro being a truly unique place.  Smiles, sunshine, live music, large asses, street food, and beans on the side. I'll take one please.

Ignorance is bliss so just give me a hot dog!

I roll with the super healthy here in Rio de Janeiro. It's kind of odd seeing I've never been a part of a "healthy" group before. Hell, in college my dietary triangle consisted of fats, salts, microwaveable, pasta, and alcohol. 

Of course, things change.  Living in a country where fresh fruits and veggies are not just readily available but actually cheaper than other food has helped quite a bit.  I felt I was on the right track.

That was until I entered into the super healthy super Mom group.  These are the ladies that do yoga at least 3 times a week, also throwing in a run now and then. All of them have had natural births (meaning no pain killers) and some home births.  They read labels, do not normally consume sugar, and their kids do not know what McDonalds is.

And it's a good thing. These Mommas can tell you where to find the rare fresh milk of Rio de Janeiro and if that one type has to be boiled or not before drinking. They know the organic fairs and which organic stores will deliver staple items on a weekly basis.  They can give you whole wheat, no dairy, no sugar recipes that only taste slightly like cardboard.  It's eye opening.

At the same time there are problems. There are things I don't want to know. I do not want to know there is msg in my bouillon cubes. I really don't want to know what msg is because I plan to keep on using my precious cubes! I live in Rio and there is no way I'm going to boil a whole freakin' chicken just to get some broth.  Cooking here is time consuming enough.  Next I'm going to have to convert my laundry area into a chicken coop just to make sure they are antibiotic free.  Heaven forbid, actually give the bird up totally!  I'm already done with pork.  What's next? Vegetarianism?  I'd rather stop eating all together.

It's almost enough to make a lady feel subpar in the taking care of your family/spouse department. And this isn't just reserved for Moms. My sister-in-law has my brother-in-law on a special no taste, very expensive diet too. Steamed veggies and whole grain rice are becoming a staple when out to lunch with friends.  Are we all growing up or just trying to avoid daily doses of Metamucil?

In the end, it is a good thing.  I find myself, at the very least, adapting my own diet.  My children see veggies on their plate twice a day, if not more.  Hey, you can bring a kid to veggies but you can not make them eat. And fruit is now part of my vocabulary outside of apple martini.  That's a good thing. 

Will I be giving up real pizza, fries, greasy Mexican food (when I can find it), butter, or sugar. Hell no!  But maybe I'll put said butter on some broccoli and the sugar on some strawberries. It's a start, right?  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Danger in Rio

Danger in Rio is a fact of life. It happens just like dog poop on the street and samba music.  It's a big enough topic that both Daily Life in Rio and Becoming Brazilian have both discussed it, along with numerous others I'm sure.

So what are we scared of? I can't speak for all of you but I have my Rio de Janeiro fears.

I am afraid of getting carjacked by gun point.  When I drive, I'm usually alone with both my kids. How would I get them both out of the car in time enough to not piss off the crazy guy with the gun??  What if he drove off with one or both of my kids?  I find no way around this fear.  I drive where I'm familiar. I leave space to turn around, when possible. I keep the windows up and the door locked.  Short of a bullet proof car, which I'm not willing to pay the R$50,000 I don't have to buy one, what can you do?

My other fear is a random gun fight while on the street.  It's not that common but can happen.  I do have contingency plans. Yes, I'm that bad. I would run into a building with my boys and take cover.  That or roll with them under a car.  Yeah, I'm paranoid sometimes. It happens when you have little ones!  It's like two pieces of my soul cruising the streets.  I worry.  

The next is even more ridiculous but not at the same time. I'm from the states where fire drills are done everywhere!  The firemen used to bring a fake house to the school, fill it with smoke, and train us kids how to get out correctly.  Annually!  Imagine the shock of the head of my oldest's first daycare when I asked them their plan in case of fire. They had like 200 kids smooshed into a three story house!  Fire hazard much!  Her answer, get them out. I just looked at her, dumbfounded, until I realized that was it.

People, it wasn't just the school. I think the same way about buildings. Where are the alarms? I brought alarms from the US when I was pregnant with my first. I was like super safety lady.  My husband's thing is that the buildings are made of concrete, it won't burn down the whole thing.  This did not make me feel better.  But my alarms were taken down the first time the maid fried some chicken.  There just is no way to do it.  It's like hanging an alarm above a camp fire in the woods, just doesn't work.

So what did I do? I dealt with it until it was absorbed like cheap baby oil on my kid's toosh.  What can you do? I live here and every place has their flaws.  You can't head out on the street in bullet proof vests with fire extinguishers in your pocket. In an ideal world, I'd become a ninja.  I've thought about it but it's just not in the cards. I'm already 30 and really not that flexible. I think my face kick would hit them in the jugular... could work though.  I would love to be able to Alias someone's ass! Not only would it be effective, my ass would look great after all the training!

What fears do you guys have in your cities? 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gay Pride Almost Made Me Anorexic!

I headed over to the Gay Pride Parade in Copacabana this afternoon with some lady friends of mine.  Overall, it was a fun and interesting experience. 

I enjoyed that I could dance, and look like the ass I do, as no one would even notice me. It's really hard to take the attention away from the 6'3" tree of a man in pink fuzzy undies and a bra, 4 inch heels, and a tiara standing behind you.

I also loved all the greased up hotties in speedos on the music cars.  It was almost enough to make a women stuff a sock in her pants just to get a closer look.  Then again, way out of my league. I almost became anorexic just looking at the hotness of the hotness of the super hot gay man! I'd hate to be a main squeeze. Talk about high maintenance.  I bet the beauty/workout regiment is like a woman's but on crack, weed, a little LSD, and some Argentinian Malbec.

Not to mention the insecurity issues! I didn't think men looked like that unless carved out of marble.  I stand by the belief that things that beautiful are meant be to looked at, not touched... that is unless he's straight and has an obsession with tall awkward women who have popped out a couple of babies. Then touching is not only allowed but is recommended. 

It got even more interesting when I got into a cab on the way home. I really know how to pick 'em, don't I. 

He asked if I was a sympathizer.  What? Are the gays the newest group of Nazis out there and no one told me? Now that would be a bit mind blogging to see, wouldn't it.

I asked him to clarify.  He asked me, very gently, if I was pro-gay.  I guess everything is on the ballot these days.  

I told him of course! My husband is gay.

I had a peaceful drive home after that.


Modern in the Plaza

Culture is important, that's why I decided to take my oldest to a dance performance for Mommy/big boy afternoon out. 

I was searching for something other than the normal let's go to the park and have you run around like a drunk monkey. Lucky for me, oi Futuro in Flamengo had an 1130am modern dance performance scheduled.  I thought, Perfect!  It's dancing, which all kids love to watch, and modern, which means a lot of rolling around on the floor and fake falling. I don't need to tell you how that goes over well with 4 year old boys. 

So we get there and are told to go to the 8th floor of the building. Strange, seeing that is the coffee shop.  Oh, you have got to love modern dance these days since there weren't any actual dancers there. Nope, video screens, lights, and a sound system. Oh there were dancers, but they were in the plaza across the street. The show was "special" because they mixed it with other videos while doing a live stream of the dancers in the plaza.

Now call me traditional, but when I go see a dance performance, I like to see dancers.  I can watch a video at home. So even though my son was down to sit and watch the big screen, shocker, we left to go watch the actual dancers across the street.

That is where it became interesting. My 4 year old and I started a game of who in the plaza is the actual dancer.  You see, if you aren't familiar with modern dance, it can sometimes be a dance which uses common day movements as dance.  Fun but confusing for a 4 year old when in a plaza mixed with other people. Thankfully, at one point, they grouped together and stopped, like statues, for a period of time.  We finally got to identify the performers.  Made it easier to play who's a dancer and who's just crazy?

The crazies snapping at the performers, the other crazies trying to play with the pigeons the performers were manipulating, and the people just getting in the way, made the whole experience interesting enough to watch. Of course, my 4 year old has far more sophisticated taste than me and started asking to leave to go sit on the riding toys in the gallery. Oh kids, art critics by nature. 

All in all, it was fun enough, at the very least different from the norm, as the big boy asked me to write about it in his school agenda in the 'what we did this weekend' slot.  Something tells me he'll have an entertaining review of the whole thing. I'm guessing something along the lines of 'Modern dance is when people walk all at the same time and fall down'. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Coffee realizations

My Mother-in-Law came over today.  I thought she seemed emotionally tired.  As always, I asked her if she would like me to make some coffee.

Note, if your Mother-in-Law is Brazilian and drinks coffee, always ask if she would like some the moment she arrives at your place.  Coffee is almost as important as the kiss on the cheek.  If she says, "no, it's ok. I don't want to cause you any trouble." The correct answer is, "It is no trouble at all." Yes, there is a right answer and no, it really isn't a big deal to make a pot of coffee.

If she should say "Only if you are making yourself some or only if you are going to have some", there are numerous answers but it all ends up with you making coffee.  I usually opt to just drink some. There's about a tablespoon in that tiny cup and it saves me from using up my allotted Portuguese words for the day.

I have found that after a certain number of Portuguese words, my brain stops producing them. You'd think after 5 years my brain would stop going on strike but it persists. I think it's as stubborn as I am. Go figure.

Anyway, today I asked her if she'd like some coffee.  She looked at me, sighed, and said "yes, yes I would."

I didn't know what to do with myself at first.  A direct answer from someone down here?!  There was a little fizz and a bit of smoke came out of my ears.

After all these years, I thought I would be so happy without the typical hoop jumping, but instead it saddened me.  First off, I had my jumping shoes on and ready to go. Secondly, I missed the social norms, the prearranged opening script.  A huge red flag started waving over her head, warning warning something amiss.

And honestly, there was. It sucked to see someone I love hurt and so emotionally worn. 

Of course, coffee was served and emotions started to flow, venting was done, and everyone was a smidgen lighter.  Not only is coffee a great Brazilian crop and a potential social landmine for foreigners, it's an opportunity to sit and share.

Coffee anyone?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sorry, did you say Labia or Apartment for rent?

Waxing chit chat has always weirded me out.  It's like a strange social volleyball match, working to keep the the conversation going back and forth while all players attempt to not get anything burnt off. 

It's just odd.

Take today, for example. I went in to get my lady parts beautified and ended up talking real estate. 

That should be outlawed! No one should have to discuss rising mortgage rates while someone is messing around in between their legs.  It was either that or my viewpoint, as a foreigner, on Dilma's win.  I chose the lesser of two evils.

I know what you are going to say, why talk at all.  Well, that just makes it worse.  I end up having flashbacks to my early boyfriends, just waiting for them to finish down there so I can get on with my day.  Some memories are best left dormant.

And I won't even begin to imagine what she's thinking.  She's working, she's having to be on for the client, and she has to try not to rip anything important off with the hair.  I'm sure she was like, "great another foreigner who I have to attempt to understand while de-beastifying."

Of course, she's Brazilian, kinder by nature than us Americans, so I bet it was more like,"oh, a foreigner, I wonder how she likes Rio. I bet we're going to need the spatula for this one."

But this is what society has come to. We are small talkers and uncomfortable in silence. 

I will say though, my favorite little chit chat moment today went something like this:

Waxer: "You know how it is, everything in Brazil is just done a little half-assed. I'm finish, is it ok? (pointing to her work)"

Me: " You missed a spot"

Waxer: "See what I mean."

History Lesson

On my trip to Argentina, I was told the story of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo.  I plead American on this one because I had NO idea and do not remember ever learning about it in school.  And the story stuck with me.  I haven't been able to get it out of my head for days, thus this post.

In case you can plead as ignorant as I did, here's the summarized version.  During the gnarly Argentinian Dictatorship, the Argentinian government kidnapped pregnant women, or mothers and their very young babies, who were a part of the anti-dictatorship movement and killed them, giving their babies up for adoption to military families. 

The Grandmas, being fierce as only Grandmas can be, have been fighting to find their Grandchildren since 1977.  Some of these women were killed in the process to find the truth. They are searching for potential lost children and demanding DNA tests to prove their true paternity. 

Not surprisingly, some of these children (now in their early 30s) are resisting.  They either think they are the biological children of their parents or are protecting their adoptive parents, many of whom have said they saved them from certain death.   Some, obviously, just don't want the only family they know to be throw in jail. 

One of the big cases going on is against one of the richest women in the country.  There's a huge back and forth that the government is against her and that her children were adopted out of love in a time where you didn't question the government. Her children have given DNA samples and been harassed into giving more.  No testing have been done since the two sides can not agree on where to do them.  Here's the original article: Time Magazine

My question is, who do you think is right?  I agree that the people should be punished for stealing these children and the murder of their Mothers. Of course!  But are the Grandmothers thinking of the children when they rip apart the only family they know?  Is it the best thing to send the only parents they have to jail and shake up their world beyond repair?  On there hand, aren't the Grandmothers only trying to mend a world that was originally shaken up by the baby stealers in the first place?

As a Mother, I'm torn.  I would hate for my children to have to deal with the pain of such a tremendous revelation.  Regardless of the intent, it will sting.  At the same time, I would break my heart to not have them know the truth or their family.  To die in anonymity, without my own child knowing who carried them with so much love is a thought that just breaks my heart.  I think that's what the Grandmothers are trying to undo.  I will say, it's hard to stomach letting something so wrong go unpunished!

What do you think?  Do we let the past go or do we expose it?  

Here are some more interesting articles on the subject: Truth vs Right To Privacy: The Battle of the Abuelas



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

T'is the Season

No, not the season you think. It's almost Smelly Man season. Oh yes, outside of Rio de Janeiro, people refer to this season as summer.

Today was one of the first very warm days in a while, and I was lucky enough to get to take the metro downtown. There's nothing like the sway of the metro swinging you into the stink ozone of a sweaty person to make you say, oh summer is finally arriving.

And you know what, I think I have finally adapted to it.  For starters, I was pressed up between two sweaty men on the metro today, one exceptionally hairy, and I found that I wasn't nauseated at all.  Hell, I even noticed that one man's sweat was beading up on his hair like dew on a spiderweb... I really need to start bring a book or something.

I've adapted to the sweaty man because, I too, am a sweaty man.  We are all sweaty men. That is the beauty to Rio de Janeiro heat, it does not discriminate.  Rich or poor, fat or thin, hairy or bald, you will be uncomfortably warm. 

Welcome summer! May you bring warm winds, cool waves, and plenty of deodorant.

Sprinklers Rio de Janeiro style

We live in a big city, a big HOT city 4 months (or more) out of the year.  In my day, we kiddies would spend hot days running through sprinklers in the yard.  Hell, when we lived in Florida, my Mom would send us out into the summer rain in our swimsuits. 

Could you imagine that here?!  Cariocas melt in the rain, even when it's 100 degrees. I think they would create social services just to come take my poor children away if I ever let them play in the rain on a hot day.  Heaven forbid if  I let them do it in the mud! 

In their defense, I live in Rio and the mud is probably more feces than actual dirt.

What to do?  I can't drag my bunch to the beach everyday and my building does not have a pool.  I have considered New York styling it and busting open a fire hydrant but, yet again, I would be flogged.  Plus that is just wasteful, and I don't know how to open them anyway. 

So I joined a club.  Oh yes, a country club baby, if you can call it that. It's the Fluminense club. It's more like paying to use a large, rundown common area of an apartment complex.  But you know what, it gets the job done and it gets it done close enough that we can walk there from home. 

I joined this club for one main reason, the shower in the walled-in park.  They have a little shower area, an aquatic park if you will, that consists of 3 showers, a faucet, and a padded floor for the little ones. Of course they took 3 out of 4 knobs off the showers/faucet so we can only turn on one shower. 

Water conservation so we heard.  And it gets a little knock down drag out fight-ish during the peak of the summer when there are 20 kids trying to play under it.  What can you do. It's our sprinkler. 

And the big posse full of kids only brings up more more memories from my youth. Some kids are totally prepared in their bathing suits with towels waiting for them. And then there are kids like mine, who's Mom totally forgot to bring anything. They run around in their underwear, or naked if they are little enough. They air dry while eating a Popsicle on their way home. 

There's screaming and hollering, laughing and spilling of buckets of water over other kids' heads and sometimes the feet of the grown ups.  We big people sit on chairs a couple feet away from the shower, watching and chatting amongst ourselves. 

It's very simple and very pleasant.  And in a weird way, I feel like my boys are getting a taste of my youth, in Portuguese.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

You know you are sick in Brazil when:

1. You have a blanket up to your neck while everyone else is under the fan with their shirts off.

2. You are told to go see a doctor and NOT self medicate, as all good Americans like to do.

3. You are informed by your doctor that while the antibiotics you picked for yourself would have been perfect in the states, they are not the best option in South America, as the bacterias here are stronger.  Do you mind switching, there will be no harm no foul?  Of course not! She could have said you need to take donkey stool and I'd ask if it was available in powdered tablet form. 

4. You did not get told off for self-medicating!  In so many words...

5. When the doctor asks you about your symptoms and you complain that you feel like you are dying, she compliments you on your Portuguese.

6. You want to cry because you want a Popsicle.  You are informed that you can't because cold is bad for your sore throat. You say but you always ate them when you had a sore throat as a child.  Response: Maybe that's why you always had sore throats as a child. Touché. 

7. You are automatically given Floratil (healthy bacterial tablets) when you are given antibiotics. Just say no to the poops! Amen!

8. You have started to like the taste of Própolis.

9. The quantity of tea that you have been given is not helping Floratil from #6 do it's job.  

10. Someone suggests you may have a macumba (actual term fez um trabalho/did a work) from Candomble.

What did I forget?

Monday, November 8, 2010

74% of hottest people of mixed race

They must be talking about me. I'm totally mixed race.  Irish and German.  Before you go and say that they are both white, I have to disagree with you. It's very eggshell and off-white thank you very much.

But in all seriousness, it's very Darwin.  Psychologist at Cardiff University asked subjects to rate the attractiveness of facial photos of 1205 men and women who were black, white, or of any mix of races.  The mixed races were far more popular. 

"Darwin believed that crossbreeding (love when we are talked about like the animals we are) within a species leads to offspring that are genetically fitter than their parents. " - said the Briliant psychologist Michael B Lewis. Got to love a psychologist who's job is to ask 'do you think they are pretty? And them?'

Personally, I love this! I 100% agree!  I guess I can kiss my KKK membership card goodbye.  Oh wait, I did that when I married my Brazilian husband. Brazilians are the most mixed people in the world! They have a little native, African, European, onion, and garlic. A little bit of everything.  And they are either horribly unattractive or very doable. Alright, that is a sweeping generalization, but isn't most of my blog and this study as well.  But I think we can easily say that Brazilians are a good looking bunch. 

In all honesty, I do think there is something behind it.  Interbreeding too much was the downfall of the English.  I mean, what else could explain those teeth! Joking, joking. Come on, totally joking... really, I swear.

Does crossbreeding really make us stronger?  More attractive?

I have to say, I totally agree with the more attractive thing and crossbreeding sounds like a fun, calorie burning activity.  What are your thoughts? 

Here's the original article: Mixed race people perceived as more attractive

I'm Home!

Buenos Aires was beautiful. I can't say it wasn't. It was so clean, had amazing wine, few people begging on the street (only because they live too far from the city), and lovable meat. 

By the way, when I say lovable meat, I really mean orgasmic.  Seriously, you go to the right place and it's so orgasmic you are practically being inappropriate at the table. Of course, who wouldn't expect me to be inappropriate...

But in the end, I was ready to come home to my city. I missed the overt PDAs, the the muffin tops, and the beer.  There are some skinny Argentinians in Buenos Aires and some stores that don't carry 'your size'.  Not here baby. My ass is like the ass of a child in Brazil. It's so small in comparison that I'm practically a petite. 

And I missed people talking loudly.  Why you ask? Because I have adapted to Brazil and, until now, I didn't realize that I also talk loudly.  Maybe that's why people actually referred to me as Brazilian!  That or the fact that I was speaking really REALLY bad Portanol.  Either way it's crazy since I basically have an American flat tattooed on my forehead, I look so stinking American. 

Anyway, I recommend a visit to Buenos Aires.  It's a fun city, not that much cheaper than Rio, hate to break it to you.  You get 2.2 pesos per real.  Then keep in mind that, for example, a cheaper bottle of wine at the grocery store costs 30 pesos thus 15 reais. Basically the same thing. A little cheaper, but nothing to write home about. 

So I recommend a mini trip and running around.  Then I recommend coming back to Rio. Really, you just can't beat this city! 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Even more love for my Brazilian residency card! I was able to enter Argentina without paying the $140 visa fee for Americans! Good for you Argentina! As a reward, I will attempt to use that money to stimulate you country. I am so altruistic.

This will be my one post from here as the gods of melbec are taking away my technology and forcing me to have real grown up conversations with (get this) real life people! Omg, what am I going to wear?!

See you on Monday, figuratively speaking of course.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

You'll Always Have a Place in my Heart!

I met the wonderful people at the federal police as a newly wed.  We bonded the at first sight of yet another confused foreigner, who spoke no Portuguese, waiting in the long line downtown. Oh yes, when I started my process, the Federal Police was still in the old building no centro.  Oh how time flies when you are having fun.

We bonded over our joint killing of trees. They liked me so much there that they asked for numerous copies of my documents. I knew they were each taking one home to frame and hang on the wall. I mean, that's the only logical explanation for why they would need 20 copies of the same document, all with official stamps. 

Since the people at the federal police are kind of needy, they had me visiting every 6 months. Of course they promised the card would come before the next 6 months was up. They always said that, but I knew the truth. They'd miss me too much.

So life continued. I was a newlywed, then a pregnant. I was called into a interview to "prove" my relationship with my husband. I knew they really just wanted to look at my scrapbook. I told them they needn't be so formal but those Federal Police like to play hard to get.

Then they switch addresses on me. I got a little nervous. Is this relationship over already? After all the time we've spent staring at each other?!

No, of course not. Those teases.

But it did finally come to an end, as all romance stories do. At least they were kind enough to wait until they moved to their new office at Galeão International Airport. They knew how hurt I would be if I didn't get to see their new pad. It was very mature of them.

So I took my new baby, about 6 months old at the time, and they all got to see him.  Awkward seeing I didn't invite any of them to the baby shower! Thankfully, they understood.

Now all I have is my card to remind me of my almost 3 year relationship with the federal police.  Don't worry though!  I'll get to see them again in 2016 when it expires.  You can't get rid of this girl that easily!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane

This Momma is packing her bags! No, I am not fleeing the homestead for greener pastures. I'm going away for the weekend!

No kids - check
No husband - check
Girlfriends - check
Sweet hotel - double check

I like to play it super cool but I'm a bit control-freaked out about leaving my boys behind. I'm going to be depending on the Argentinian wine industry to keep me from turning the cab around and going back to the airport. Yes, I will be driving the cab.  And yes, I am that neurotic. 

Not really, I just actually enjoy the sleep deprivation and total lack of time to meander around.  I dig my boys, what can say.

But Momma needs some time away and the travel bug is biting. Of course taking a little flight to Buenos Aires and staying in a WAY chicer hotel than I'm used to doesn't really fit into my definition of travel. I may not be backpacking the world but I will wine and dine with some of my favorite lady friends. 

It's really a shame I don't swing the other way because this has the potential of being a very romantic trip.  That's ok.  I'll just have to settle for the best meat in the world (the kind on your plate people! I'm married!), great shopping, and my Reais actually beating out another currency! 

I can I get a WOOT WOOT on the Real finally being the bigger man!  1 to 2.3!  There may end up being some shopping done.  I can't promise anything, but it could happen. 

So I will, obviously, post before I leave tomorrow afternoon, but this is what is in my head right now.  Bag packed, airport transport planned, and big belly-sucking-in panties on.  Well, they are packed. Hey, that dress does not give me any wiggle room and I will finally have an opportunity to wear it.  Think of it as an old woman chastity belt. 

On Dancer! On Prancer!  To the airport we go!

Is Going Off the Grid

No, this is not a political statement of any kind. I am quite literally going off the electrical grid. 

My darn building has to change the heart and soul of our electrical system. Apparently it is quite old, consists of a kite, key, and lightening or something to that effect.

So Rachel is going caveman apartment style.  We're talking no tv, dvds, computer, or internet *sob* all day long.  It's going to be quality time on crack! 

And I'm not even going to take the kids out. Seems crazy, right.  Well, how many times do you want to cruise down 5 flights of stairs, with only the use of emergency lights and two active little men. Does not sound like fun to me.

So enjoy your day. I hope to pop on with something sassy to say in the early evening.  For now, I will go finger paint my story on my living room wall. Caveman is so the new the black.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Twitter hates Nordestinos?

So there is a new twitter hate campaign out there and it's focused on the Northeast of Brazil.

Apparently there are quite of few Brazilians, who shall remain nameless (Damn Paulistas... oops), that are blaming the people of the Northeast for Dilma's win. 

It's a total smear/hate campaign calling them ignorant, poor, stupid, and saying they shouldn't be able to vote because they aren't educated enough in the first place. 

First of all, all the stats show that Dilma would have won even if you didn't count the Northeast. So go suck on that you pseudo-intellectual, "educated" people. 

And who are you to talk shit about another group, especially one who didn't grow up with a knock off Lojas Americana's silver spoon being put into his mouth by his nanny, who raised ya, and who is from the Northeast in the first place!

North easterners are feisty survivors who speak a Portuguese I have no chance in hell of understanding! And it does not matter how long I've lived here. They are the forgotten step children of this country. 

Go on, claim corruption. Right, like that has never been a problem in this country. That's like blaming the pizza instead of the deliveryman for it arriving late.  It is not going to work if the system doesn't. Everyone will, and does, steal because the system allows it.  And if you high and mighty figure out a way to fix it, bottle it up and sell it to the rest of the world. Maybe you'll be able to bump yourself up to real silver. 

The thing is, I know all kinds of people from the northeast and they aren't just doormen, they are family and close friends. They are the feistiest, smartest, and best survivors out of everyone I've yet to meet. Hell, we city folk panic when we can't get our Brazilian passports on time or our maid doesn't show up one day. OH MY GOODNESS! Who will raise my children, wash my dishes, and what on Earth are we going to eat?!

It comes down to this.  Brazil would survive my presidency without a problem.  This country has had it's fill of drama.  Dilma is not going to kill it. If Bush didn't kill my country, and he sure did try, Dilma is not going to kill yours. And why hate your brothers from other mothers?  They were only trying to pick a lesser of two evils.  Apparently the vast majority of Brazil, and the world, disagree with you.

Deal with it. Start a blog. I know I did.  Oh wait, maybe that's what you are doing with twitter in the first place.  Well then just shove it.  No one wants to party with the pity partiers, and if they do, they are no better. 

I swear, I'm going to start an island for countries to send their prejudice bastards. Sadly, my Grandma may have to go too. I'd hate to see her go but I'm no hypocrite, most of the time.