The big D; a poem

My boyfriend says I drink too much

that I complain, that I’m mean,

that I tease too hard;

that we’re stagnant lately.

We, not I, because I

have been stagnant far longer.

A fetid pool of a dead-

end job

screaming children, melted brain, eyes

glazed-over with a Klonopin shine.

 

He says I’m not supposed to call my crazy pills

my crazy pills

but they feel like they are

and I like the honesty of that.

Anything that makes you feel (even a little, sometimes) less crazy

you should be allowed to call whatever the hell you want.

 

He thinks I’m reckless

that boozy night-time desert bike rides and climbs

and falls

are unattractive.

Well I’m not trying to be sexy

I’m trying to excite

myself by pretending my life feels different than it is.

Blinders on.

Blinders off, and I have bloodied knees   broken bones   a hangover

as souvenirs.

I suppose it’s also a form of self-punishment,

cutting

away my failures

but they multiply

 

And I hide for fear of judgment

and there is judgment

because I’ve done it.

 

So people spout big ideas–

so much privilege

so full of opportunity

it’s all a matter of perspective.

 

Tell me, exactly,

how does one change one’s perspective?

Asking for an enemy.

Advertisements

7 things Brazil does better than the U.S.

After living here for more than nine months, I’ve had my fair share of frustrations. But, as in all things, there have been pleasant surprises along the way. Here are a few things Brazil does better than the U.S., adding to my list of things I’ll miss when I leave.

1. Starting light, Tums. Yeah, those tablets you chew when you have heartburn or indigestion. It’s as if you’ve picked up a piece of chalk from your grade school blackboard and chomped on it. Just thinking about the sensation between my teeth makes me cringe. Here they have Eno, a powder you dissolve into water and drink. Think Alkaseltzer, only it tastes like pineapples or guarana. And it’s so much more effective; you’re back to new in just a few minutes, whereas with Tums, a 50% improvement is a good thing. Free advertisement, Eno. You’re welcome.

2. Sweets. Brigadeiro, goiabada, passoca, pamonha, pe de moleke, fresh, sweet juices. Just to name a few. I didn’t even have a sweet tooth, but I’ve grown one here.

3. Today I saw the new Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire, a week before it comes out in the U.S. But that’s not even the best part. I saw it in the VIP movie theater. These are a staple in malls all over Brazil. There’s a regular theater, but that’s merely plebeian for those of high society who are willing to pay a couple dollars more for the same movie. In exchange for those two dollars, they get to sit in leather reclining chairs (ok, let’s get real, probably pleather) and not wait in a long line for popcorn or beer, as they have their own food counter. The most important part of all this is that they don’t have to deal with the loud, cheap shitheads who normally flock to the theater on a Friday night. As their unavoidable chatter and mid-movie phone calls are a particular pet peeve of mine, I will never go to a regular theater again. Thank you, Brazilian classism.

4. I had health insurance before leaving the U.S. to work in Brazil, but even so, it didn’t cover all the vaccinations my company recommended. I chose not to get the yellow fever or hepatitis B vaccines because of their high price tags. I went to a public health center here and got them for free, no questions asked about my insurance or country or origin, no forms to fill out.

5. Brazilians are better at not doing anything. I get that American work itch; I go on vacation, enjoy the first day or two, then I get the urge to be productive, do something of worth, and going to the beach and not thinking about anything are not cutting it. Then I mentally flog myself for that illogical thought after looking forward to this vacation for months. I hate myself for never just living in the moment. Brazilians know how to do that, and it’s a trait I hope to pick up.

6. Speaking of the beach, Brazilians know how to love their bodies more. Or if their sentiments don’t quite reach love, at least they’re proud to wear whatever they decide to the beach. Which is usually a thong for women and something slightly larger than a speedo for men, regardless of age, body type, or weight. There are 80-year-old whales of women wearing thongs on the beach, and I love it. It makes me want to stop sucking my stomach in, go order another caipirinha, and people watch.

7. Finally, Brazilians know how to have more realistic professional relationships. I work at a university with professors, and students call them all by their first names. They get drinks with them. They friend them on Facebook. Some may call it unprofessional, but I like having an atmosphere where I can be myself and students respect me for who I am, not for the cold, professional front I put up because it’s expected by my superiors. It’s a cessation of a mental and emotional stomach-sucking-in, and it makes my life a little bit more comfortable.

the art of running away

I’ve had two ideas plaguing me the past couple of months. The first is that travel is more about running away from what you had than running toward something specific. Before coming to Brazil, I read Wanderlust: A Love Affair with 5 Continents by Elizabeth Eaves, and it both terrified me and broke my heart. I don’t want to be her when I grow up, living a seemingly glamorous, travel-inundated youth to wake up at 34, living nowhere I like, surrounded by unhealthy relationships, career-less, jaded to everything and moving back in with my parents.

Yet, I see myself in her, using travel as an escape. Before moving here I worked as a polysomnographic technician, which is just a fancy name for putting electrodes all over dirty people’s heads and watching them sleep. I worked my way through grad school that way, but then started working there full-time after graduation. It was killing me slowly. The boredom, the patients, the night hours, the lack of all interest on my part. I had few friends and a quickly souring relationship. In that kind of situation, how could I not put stock in Brazil as a fix-all? I can’t count the number of times I thought if only I were in Brazil, everything would be better. Of course, that’s not true, and makes me wonder when I’ll stop chasing something so elusive as happiness when nothing external will ever grant that.

Which brings me to the other idea that’s been everywhere lately. I’ve met a lot of people in the last month and a half, and many of them have told me of a place they just felt like they fit, their favorite place in the world. Whether it’s Mexico, Japan, Spain, or somewhere in between, these people have found where they feel they belong, and everything is about getting back there. A huge part of me wants to find my place like that. I’ve lived a lot of places and have never felt that sense of belonging. A piece of me suspects that that’s my primary motivator for traveling so feverishly this year. I’ve sensed for years that Brazil would be that place, and where I’ve been so far hasn’t been. But on the other hand, would that place make me as happy as it seems it has others?

Until I find out for sure, I guess I’ll keep wandering.