A surprising number of my countrymen do not appear to be entirely sure what languages are spoken in Brazil and Argentina, respectively.


lar, doce…

How do I miss thee, Rio? Let me count the ways.

I miss being able to get around, for one thing. Lots of times, if the bus didn’t come right away and I was feeling particularly pensive, I’d just start walking – taking the beach avenue or the Lagoa path, making my way up to Jardim Botânico or across to Copacabana. You could do that in here, the voice of reason points out – it’s only 10 square miles. The problem, however, is twofold. In Rio you can get away with walking just about anyplace for a good long spell without having to stroll along a bypass; not so here. And the whole point of walking in Rio was the human scenery, the endless streams of radically different people to quietly and happily gawk at. The most traffic my sleepy residential street gets is when the family a couple houses up decides to go on a collective walk.

I still have to rid myself of a few Rio habits. First off, the double-kiss greeting (I’ve stopped myself on the brink multiple times). Second, the language issue. Whenever someone addressed me in English in Brazil, my instinctive chip-on-the-shoulder reaction would be to spout back in carioquíssima Portuguese to prove that I was as Brazilian as the next person. This does not function so well back in the motherland, especially not with mall employees. Continue reading

feliz natalversário

In order to tell you why I’m breaking my blog-fast, let me explain something: I hate Facebook chat. It’s aggravating, you’re forced to socialize with everyone from elementary school playmates to preceptors at the same time, and I always forget that it’s on. I never turn it on unless I’m desperate for a warm body to vet the translation of a phrase into English. Or unless, as happened today, Facebook changes its format again and makes me sign onto chat without realizing it.  I heard the aggravating little chat blip. Ready to disable the damned thing permanently, if necessary, I opened the tab.

“Did you see that Caetano wrote about you again?” Continue reading

this is not a sign-off

Hello, readers.

How’s it going?

I have to say, this wasn’t what I imagined when I reluctantly shrugged on the blogger mantle back in late May. Your procrastination, idle clicks and Facebook likes made this little project take on very unexpected dimensions. Over the course of my 195 days in Brazil I wrote over 100,000 words on this blog (mostly not including the parts where I copied and pasted poems and passages that I like, because that’s cheating), had the intellectual stamina to think up about 300 posts (even if 20% of those were something along the lines of “listen to this neat song”), racked up nearly 20,000 page views and have consequently developed a crippling attachment to checking said page views that will probably haunt me for the rest of my adult life. Congratulations.

So, what’s next for ruiva no rio? A literal and slightly melodramatic answer would be to say that now that the ruiva is no longer in Rio, the blog has no reason to continue to exist. A lazier answer would be to point out that I have just written the equivalent of 5 SPO senior theses over the course of a semester and would like to take a quick break now to gorge on Christmas cookies. Let’s go with a slightly less embarrassing combination of the two, shall we? I am anticipating quite a bit of culture shock when I get back, so I’m sure there will be things to comment on, but I very much doubt that I’ll be keeping up the post-a-day rhythm. (A surefire way to not miss any new posts: subscribe to the blog! That way you get an email from the WordPress elves every time I feel the need to grace you all with my wisdom.) But I’ll be writing from time to time. Be sure to check back in for posts about Carnaval. Or don’t, depending on if you are a parent, faculty member, or future employer. Anyway, it was a fun ride. Beijos!

P.S. Like any good franchise, the sequel is already in the works.

so what’d you think

Last full day in Rio*. As my departure date has slowly snuck up on me (and is now pulling faces and waving its arms in the air in front of me while I valiantly try to ignore it), people have begun asking me the big question again. Almost as soon as I set foot in Galeão, well before I knew the difference between São Conrado and São Cristóvão and when I was blissfully unaware of the existence of Sílvio Santos, everyone wanted to know what did I think of Brazil. Which is fair enough, you know, first impressions and all, but I would generally try to politely defer having to give an answer. “I’ve just gotten here,” I’d beg off. Six months later, the question has come back with renewed vigor. But I think I still have to go with that non-answer.

First of all because I am not Sérgio Buarque de Hollanda and this is not Raízes do Brasil. But my crippling humility aside, I have another good reason. Nelson Rodrigues – the Recife-born carioca who had difficulty imagining anything past Bangu – put it this way, upon hearing a friend, just back from vacation, go into ecstasies over the European landscapes. The traveler is blind. Landscape is time, landscape is patience, landscape is love; a certain sky, or a certain woman, or a certain lake… Whoever sees a landscape for the first time has really seen nothing at all.  Continue reading

louco, sim, louco

All right, so my letter was a failure. I can’t say I was really expecting anything different; by the time the announcement that João Gilberto had canceled the tour finally came, I could only laugh. I’d been expecting it for so long that, at this stage of the game, having to go to São Paulo and back on Sunday would have been both highly unexpected and inconvenient.

When I got to the piauí offices on Wednesday, after the piece in the Folha de S. Paulo but before O Globo had officially announced the cancellation of the tour, the first person I saw was a fellow João Gilberto fan – a die-hard with tickets for the December 21st show in Rio. We’d been corresponding through the whole two-month ordeal; it was through him that I found out about the first delay, and he’d offered up a place for me to stay in São Paulo if I did go see the show. “Ah, it’s finally shot to hell,” I said glumly, going in for a sympathetic hug. When I drew back I saw a look of confusion on his face. “But he hasn’t canceled his show in Rio yet,” he said.

Now, let’s examine the situation at hand. The man is a notoriously eccentric 80-year-old invalid who evidently has no intention of leaving his bedroom (João Gilberto, that is, not my friend). The show in Salvador had just been canceled. The show in São Paulo was canceled. But the fact that no João Gilberto rep had officially said, “THERE WILL BE NO SHOW IN RIO” burned like a tiny eternal spark in my friend’s breast. He still had hope. (Hope that would be crushed the next day.)

And this may be the true legacy of João Gilberto. Not the vozinha e violão, not the reinterpretation of the classic sambistas, but a fanbase that will follow him from one end of the earth to the other, crossing seabeds and mountaintops if necessary. It’s almost like a newfound Sebastianismo. In 500 years, I imagine Joãogilbertianos with copies of Chega de Saudade hung over their mantels, murmuring “Desafinado” like the Lord’s Prayer before every meal, firm in the certainty that some day, be it November or December or 2012 or 2112, João o rei bom will rise from his Leblon apartment and take the stage. And this time, he will sing.

Louco, sim, louco, porque quis grandeza
Qual a Sorte a não dá.
Não coube em mim minha certeza;
Por isso onde o areal está

Ficou meu ser que houve, não o que há.
Minha loucura, outros que me a tomem
Com o que nela ia.
Sem a loucura que é o homem

Mais que a besta sadia,
Cadáver adiado que procria?