Tuesday, October 28, 2008

MorceeegoOOHHH NO!

A little before 3am a noise jolted me from sleep. I later discovered a large moth (maybe an inch and a half long) hitting the window, falling to the floor, and thrashing around a bit before taking flight again to repeat the escape attempt. I convinced myself that it just sounded more impressive in my sleep.

Prior to annihilating the moth, as I lay quietly under my blanket listening, I felt a terrible stomach ache. It was the kind that fades until you adjust your position and then starts again. So my mind wanders…

Maybe I have jabuticaba poisoning. You see, I bought a blender yesterday and made a smoothie with a mango, strawberries, and some of these weird grape-like fruits. I start wondering about the jabuticaba – since I had gone off half-cocked and thrown a dozen of them into the mix. Maybe locals know something I don’t. Maybe you shouldn’t eat the skin, or the seeds? I fire up the laptop and Google the fruit, looking for the earmarks of an overdose. No three-piece limit. No imminent health risk.

My health crisis was interrupted by the sound of wings flapping just above my head. MORCEGO!!! I had been warned not to leave my screen-less kitchen windows open at night because of the population density of bats in Centro. True to form, I learned the hard way. My first reaction was to hide under the covers. Maybe I can sleep through it? Should I put in earplugs and make a cotton sheet cocoon? Nope, can’t sleep.

So I race through my arsenal of bat-knowledge acquired on some elementary school field trip to the museum, but it’s hazy. I know the expression “blind as a bat,” so does that mean it can’t see me? (I think the thing crashed into me in my sleep-which explains the whole waking-with-flailing-limbs thing.) Bats have great hearing, right? So I try a whistle, like the big bad human Boss that I am. Nothing. Let’s see, I think they like sweet stuff...??? Did the strawberry remains in the kitchen garbage pique its curiosity? Are bats attracted to body heat? Should I call Victoria to devise a plan? Call Dad? I continued my strategy of hiding for a while. Listening. Ten minutes of silence followed by another failed escape attempt. [bat: thump, flounder, flounder. me: shiver.]

I peak out of my safe house and see El Vampiro clinging to the screen near the top of the window above the bed. Gathering my nerve, I reach up and forcefully slide the screen to the right, leaving the left half of the window open to either grant its freedom or, worse, welcome its’ buddies to join in my pre-dawn torment. After a few more seconds of hiding, I peak out again. Old rubber wings is still fixed in the same spot on the screen and appears afraid to move. This, I feel, gives temporary grounds for peace talks. Or at least, gives me a bit of confidence to leap from the bed and fetch the broom.

Standing on the bed in the dark with heart palpitations, I try to stun it with the bristle side of the broom. Wait…is that a bat??? It’s the size of my palm but (albeit, observed in the dark) I think it might have iridescent wings. If that isn’t a bat, I don’t even want to know... Anyway, I hold my breath and poke at it twice but the flimsy bristles aren’t enough to do anything but piss the bicho off. I think I hear it fall on the floor but I am too busy leaping toward the light switch, and then back on the bed. I peer over the far edge toward the floor space by the windows. Nothing. Crap. It’s under the bed, lying in wait for revenge. I stab the broom, jerkily, trying to push it out. Then I work up the nerve to get down on the floor for a look. Nothing.

Did it fly past me into the other room? Did it fly out the open window? Either action would have been very stealthy for a stunned bat. After a cursory search of the apartment, once illuminated, I closed the kitchen windows, the small kitchen door, and the bedroom door. I figured, if it’s still in the bedroom, might as well encourage it toward the open window by limiting airspace.

I waited under the covers with my eyes on the window. After an hour on night watch, I am almost comfortably certain that it’s gone. I decide to get up and write notes of the event. Another hour passes and still no noises...

I learned this evening that, in fact, there are moths the size of birds here (yikes). In the end I don’t know what it was. But just in time for Halloween, I am totally jumpy at the slightest noise tonight.

Shiver and quiver,


Thursday, October 23, 2008

A bola rola

The last time Inter confronted Boca Juniors, in 2005, I was in Bombonera in Buenos Aires. Although I was thrilled to watch my team in one of the world’s most famous venues—for a variation of the classic Brasil x Argentina grudge match to boot— for personal safety I had to stifle my cheers when Inter scored, just as I stifled my disappointment when Boca planted the next four goals. Ouch. That memory made tonight’s 2x0 victory on home turf arguably sweeter than the recent GreNal. Spectacular. Draped in red, I have attended the last 4 home games, chanted and clapped wildly, and left celebrating victory each time.

try to catch you up on my excursion to rural Butiá and my favorite new discoveries around town over the weekend.

é mais,

Thursday, October 16, 2008

“olhos tristes”

The expression, I was told, is used for someone with blue eyes. Though my eyes are blue, the literal translation “sad eyes” is quite fitting these days too. I have been feeling blue for months now as I’ve struggled to nurse a broken heart. Things got worse this week when I learned that my uncle, my biggest cheerleader, passed away. My blue eyes have been red with tears a lot lately.

on a writing hiatus until I feel a little better. In the meantime, friends, take care of each other.

Loquinha Gauchinha

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I am beset with minor, but irritating, problems at the moment.

First, and highest on my irritation list, I am experiencing internet problems. In our modern times, who doesn’t rely on the internet? I certainly do. I rely on email to communicate and transfer documents for work, on Skype to keep my sweet little Grandma satisfied with at-least-weekly chats, and internet browsing just for my own sanity. This week? Not so much. I removed Firefox, installed Opera, reinstalled Firefox, did a System Restore, anti-virus and anti-spam searches, defragmentation… that is to say I exhausted my small bag of tricks, and still no solution. In fact, it seems worse. Aside from throwing a wrench in the communication works, my connectivity issues are impeding on my mental health.

nother techie problem: I tried playing the few DVDs I brought from home in order to create class lessons, and received the dreaded “Wrong Region” failure. Puta que pariu! I was aware of this issue with portable DVD players, but on my laptop too? I am trying to tap into my understanding nature regarding the anti-piracy motivations behind such controls. At the same time, it irks me that I can’t play DVDs that I purchased, albeit in different regions of the world, on a computer I also purchased. Garrumph.

is pronounced gah humff by the way, because I am also beginning to blur the phonetic lines between Portuguese and English. I know this because earlier today, as I was writing “beginning” on a note, I started B-I-G… wait… and I realized that I’m getting linguistically cloudy. I also noticed recently that I used the word “legends” in conversation when I meant to say “subtitles”, because in Portuguese the word is legendas. That’s weird. That’s cool—because I suppose it means that Portuguese is finally and truly starting to creep into my hard-headed, all-English brain. Then again, this kind of confusion is not helpful to an aspiring writer.

to me and my problems. There’s one more. I seem to have either a crazy person or an addict living above me. (Parental Units: Do not be alarmed. Situation is under control.) There were a few… let’s call them episodes… about a week ago that left me a little panicked. The first involved wooden boards, light bulbs, and bricks being thrown from the 6th floor apartment window, quite randomly, at 4:30 in the morning. The second episode was some madrugada (early morning hour) screams and thumps that left me feeling completely freaked out and helpless. Luckily, in Brazil, everything is done through “your people” – and I have two teams of people. One team is keeping tabs on the odd neighbor, and the other team is helping find suitable alternate housing in case there’s a third episode.

In the face of challenge, nothing like a good laugh, ? I didn’t have my camera with me today despite previous vow-to-self to carry it regularly. Therefore no picture can accompany this tidbit. It’s probably better that way because part of me feels that this image isn’t something for "show and tell". So I’m walking through the park today, en route to meet a friend for lunch. There’s a monument that looks like a headstone—name, birth and death year etched in marble—on the grass. Laying (Lying? Great. I'm teaching English and I can't use it correctly anymore!) just so on the grass was a homeless man, using the memorial to support a worn duffel bag, which in turn was supporting his head as he napped. I don’t mean to smirk at his misfortune, but his positioning just begged the caption "Gravediggers on strike once again in Porto Alegre."

eep peaceful breath. Well, there is the beautiful sunshine... and there are the wonderful trees...

internet is beneficent once again,