Usually my birthday is a bit of a sore spot for me. I generally use it as a time to get very self critical and judge myself for not living up to my expectations. In short, what my birthday is to me, New Years in to everyone else.
The last two years however I was in relationships, so they were pretty manageable. Id’s even fo as far as to say I had great birthdays.
So this being the first time I have been single and without a man to deflect my attention since March of 2011, I was pretty worried about today. I feared I may crash and burn and not have anyone here so help me through it.
Today was simple and magnificent.
I had to get up at 5:45 to go teach English for the first time. Of course even though they’re intermediate students most of the know absolutely no English. I spoke so much Portuguese this morning, I was thinking in Portuguese for the rest of the day. I can’t even believe how I was holding my own in that room, with no assistance in a foreign language. I’m leaening more and more I am bigger than I thought.
After that I went to the Planetarium and then went to go see a movie in Spanish with Portuguese subtitles, called “Gloria”.
On the way home, after getting of the bus, I stopped at the Paderia where everyone is so nice to me for these cookies I like, and then I went to the Creme de Açai place a few blocks away from me. I’m in there at least once I week. I walk in, the counter girl, knew what ai wanted and we small talked. After I go my ticket, I stood there waiting for my order and I happened to catch myself in the mirror. I just started crying. I had to go outside.
I’m just so grateful. So grateful to be alive. So grateful to actually like myself. So grateful to be full or so much joy and to be at the center of it. Not a man or some accomplishment, but I felt full today just because it was my birthday and I made myself feel special. I had never felt joy lile that before. The type that was not contingent on external factors.
I just am so grateful. I can’t say ot enough.
1) Portuguese- I may not be fluent but I can communicate and get things done.
2) Get my arabesque to 90 degrees.
3) Do three pirouettes.
4) How to do a handstand/ headstand. I still need assistance but I finally got over my fear of inversions….for the most part.
5) How to operate my new tablet.
6) How to find “sem balança” restuarants and how to get as much food as I want for under 5USD.
7) How to get from place to place downtown. (Which for the record is really difficult because there are no number streets in BH only names and the ruas e avenidas aren’t on anything type of system that even resembles a grid.)
8) How to interlock my hair myself.9) How to set up my international phone. Which also involved me running around Central to get a Brasilian Social Security type number. 10) How to be comfortable being alone.
I am sad and tired.
I had the meeting with the coordinator today.
First of all, I need to remember that when people say, “So and so speaks English”, they mean that person speaks English like I speak Portuguese. We did the whole meeting in Portuguese.
As of right now I have 2 classes per week.
On the bright side the lesson plans are already made. My students are young adults around my age and it’s not “Business English” like a lot of the other schools. I sat in on a class.today and I think I could like it. And I genuinely like the staff and my bosses etc. They seem really nice.
I just had hopes that I was going to be walking into abundance. An abundance of money. And I’m not because I only have two clases per week.
But it doesn’t interfere with dance. And I did apply to a bunch of other schools. I’m also supposed to start teaching at the dance school post Carnaval. Perhaps, this will all turn out as good as I envisioned.
I just get tired of scarcity being the constant. I just want to have all of my ends meet and to have some disposable income to actually enjoy life. I always feel like I’m on the brink but it never comes through all the way.
I don’t mean to be ungrateful. I don’t mean to be negative. I just want the money to be able to live more freely. I want to feel more free.
On Saturday I decided to take myself to a dance performance based on the work of Tim Burton. I didn’t care for the performance (a little to improvisational looking for me) but something interesting happened.
So first of all, the venue was super far from where I live. The bus drivers were in the process of beginning a strike for higher pay, and this week is Pre-Carnaval so the streets Saturday night were an absolute mess. So needless to say, I showed up to the venue running late (fortunately everything in Brazil is on CP time) and stressed.
The show hadn’t started yet (people were still waiting to get in) but the box office was closed. So of course now I’m mad.
Out of now where this gorgeous woman of about my mother’s age, approaches me and asks me if I was buying a ticket for “Nowhereland”, the name of the performance. I was busy thinking in English, I didn’t even process what she was saying. She repeated herself, I said yes and she gave me a ticket for free. I was so grateful.
We spoke in the line for a few minutes and did the usual small talk. Turns out she is a former dancer (contemporary and folklore) and she now works as missionary and travels throughout parts of Africa (mostly the Portuguese speaking regions). She asked me how long I had been here and was I working. I told her I had been here just under month and then explained as best I could this whole English school fiasco. She said to me, in clear English and it was the only thing she said to me in my native tongue, “I would like to help you.” She switched back to Portuguese and told me that she knows a lot of people. She took all my information and then we went on into the performace, me completely awestruck at all that happened in matter of 15 minutes.
After the performance as I said goodbye and made my way to the bus stop, she asked me where I was going and she offered, or really demanded that she take me back to Central saving me one bus ride and one fare. I was really too through! The smallest simplest gestures, really did so much for me that evening.
So this morning, I sat on the floor umderneath my window where it’s coolest, proof reading my translated customer service resume so that I can go to Lanche spots and apply as a balconisto (counter boy). All of a sudden my Brazilian phone goes off.
I answer it, and as if understanding Português in person wasn’t hard enough, on the phone it’s IMPOSSIBLE. All I could really get was that I was given an address in a part of town I had never been before and was told to go there today.
After I got off the phone, I put 2 and 2 together and realized that it was the woman from this weekend with a job lead and she was telling me to drop off a resume.
Having no idea where I was going, according to google maps it being 2 hours away, and wearing my shortest pair of shorts and a tanktop, I rushed out the door, when to get a line up (priorities, people) and attempted to make it way over there and back to school so I could take class that evening.
All sorts of thoughts running through my head. I don’t even remember this womans name, I don’t know where I’m going, the streets are a mess because of Pre-Carnaval, the buses are messed up because of the strike and on and on. I’m scared. What if I get lost? What if it’s not really a language school or it’s closed?
Each and every day in Brazil I feel completely and totally vulnerable and exposed. Sometimes every moment of everyday. What would be the smallest things in NYC are enough to cause a stroke for me here.
I found the address luckily, and it was an up and running English school. I dig out my resume, put on my glasses for a physical barrier, get my Português ready and ring the buzzer.
I get inside and am greeted by a face I have seen before but can’t place. Turns out, I got hired by a school I took a test for a few weeks ago and they had me come in to a different location to pick up my teaching materials.
I was floored. Total shock.
I spoke to the woman, and set up a start date the first day after Carnaval, March 8th. I even found the courage to ask if anyone spoke English and tomorrow I’m meeting with the Coordinator to make sure I understood what happened today. I hope this is legit this time. They gave me materials and a start date. I hope they are serious.
I just can’t wait to start making money so I can take myself out to eat more, and travel. Even take day trips. I want a bit more adventure.
I also noticed today that they’re opening a new Pilates studio in my neighborhood within walking distance. You already know what time it is. I try not to be to naive and hopeful but now maybe I can take pilates consistently and buy new dance clothes. And new real clothes.
We shall see. Today at least I am feeling encouraged.
"Money, money, money, mun-nay…..MUN-NAY!"
1) I’m not going to be teaching English here. I have to let that go. Release it. Things aren’t going according to plan (were they ever though?) and thats okay. The 2 places I was hired at dropped the ball (known in Português as “Pisar de bola”) and though I’ve been applying to other places, we are now three weeks into the semester and everyone is fully staffed.
2) What keeps me from having an existential crisis about my finances is that I have spent the last 4 years consistently worried about rent and not knowing where it was going to come from month after month after month, and I am still here to tell the story. If I have learned nothing else in NYC, I have learned that poverty and the vulnerability that comes along with it will not kill me. The feeling of scarcity will not bury me alive.
3) Though I need reminders. I usually have signs up in my room but I haven’t done that yet. I need the word “SURRENDER” written across the back of my door. In spite of my experience, in spite of the fact that I’m actually good on next months rent, I have spent all of my time outside of dance worrying about this English School thing and spending countless hours walking around finding places to apply to like I haven’t eaten in 3 days. Why am I always living my life on Code Red? Why am I always at war? Why am I always so defensive? Always fighting. It’s unnecessary, it’s not sustainable and it’s exhausting. I need to exercise a bit of patience. A little bit of “Okay you’ve done your part. Now let’s take a step back and look at things objectively. Reassess.” I spend too much time in the thick of it, throwing everything at a wall it’s no wonder I’m always so tired and so disoriented.
4) Disoriented and focused on the wrong things. I don’t want to teach English. I only went hard at it because it seemed logical, that’s what all the websites and booklets I was reading recommended, and also my friend Jessica went to Turkey and did it so why not? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander right?…No it’s not. I love conversation, I love making exchanges and connections, but I have no interest in grammar, pronounciation or syntax. I already know had I gotten taken on to teach business English or whatever else these schools are doing, though the pay would be good, I would be extremely unhappy. (And also, what is “good pay” when I don’t have real expenses here? I need to stop focusing on money and start focusing on TIME. Because working full time teaching English, making great money would not make me as happy as working less and doing something else I’m mildly to extremely interested in even if it’s for less pay. Big is not always better, and more is not always more.)
5) I need to think about what I love. Not just “music, dance, yaaaay hearts, stars, horseshoes and other artsy fartsy things” but what I love from the ground up. I’m convinced I only acknowledge some of what I love, probably because I have always had to fight to pursue my passions. As I search for English schools, I see a lot of Lanche Spots (snack places) are hiring. Though it would probably be reminiscent of me rolling burritos my last few weeks in NY a few things a) That job at the burrito joint was by far the best job I had in NY b) I’m certain I’d be happier there than at an English School and c) I’ve already got dance covered here so I don’t think I would feel as much purposelessness. I’m going to try to translate my customer service resume into Português and see what happens.
6) Applying for jobs is vulnerable period. Doing it in a language you don’t have a solid grip on…HA! This is all preparing me for something.
7) It is amazing what taking class everyday can do to a persons body. For so long I really thought there were certain things I just would never be capable of, and after 2 weeks of consistent class I realize all I needed was class. I’m learning dance wise at least I really can do anything with practice. My teacher is from the Bolshoi and she pushes me like I push myself. But she also takes us all where we are at. And once we progress, she raises the bar and starts to ask for more. I noticed that today when she started giving me new corrections or more detailed ones. I can do this ballet thing. I can do it. I just needed to get myself into the right environment. And I’m surrounded by really talented and hard working dancers and I’m just so grateful. It calls me to the carpet. I makes me work harder even when I’m sore or tired because I am surrounded by people who aren’t doing this to stay in shape or for recreation but out of love. With my own drive, my teachers demands and the dedicated evironment of the class, this woman has me jumping like 5 feet off the floor and at times my legs are up there with the girls.
8) I realized a few days ago that though I’m jobless and I have no idea what is going to happen next and I also have no friends here, I’ve really never been happier. And that is not to say that my life in the states was piss poor or that I don’t yearn for certain things, but I have more of me than I ever have had before, and I get to dance 5 days a week in an environment that really…feels right. I may have had more things in NY but nothing, but I don’t believe I have ever had as much of what I have now. All my life I’ve always felt like I was skimming the surface in virtually every area of my life. Here it’s just me and dance but it’s so…deep. I can’t think of another word for it, my life just feels so full of what it does possess. This is joy.
8) I’ve been thinking a lot about comminity. When I first moved to Ceú Azul the people at the Paderia up the block from me were so welcoming. I went back another time and same thing. I would like to make a concentrated effort to purchase something from there and go talk to those people 3 times a week. Not only because it feels nice to be welcomed, but because this is how you build communities. By coming out of your solitude and showing up. I also would like to figure out how to do a language exchange with someone. My English for thier Português. I don’t know how to do that, but this is another great way to build comminity. There is also this drumming collective here i found on facebook which does events. I want to go. Meet musicians. It’s time to come out of my head and into the world. I came here to dance, but I also now realize I came her to live a full life. Not to have things, but to have exchanges and experiences. So here we go.