Thursday, December 31, 2009

Aldo, Luciana, and the Cathedral

Italian painter Aldo Locatelli left Italy in 1948, invited by Dom Antônio Zattera, bishop of Pelotas, in Southern Brazil, to paint the frescos of the São Francisco de Paula Cathedral. The result is what you see in the photos. I love the place where I was baptized, but more than it representing my belonging in any sort of religion - I don´t worship, I live - it is a place of calm and tranquility, where I sometimes like to be, when I go back to "the initial shores of my life", as in Sophia Andresen´s poem.

This is the Brazilian map where I circled (ok, it´s not a circle) Pelotas: 



Pictures from the interior of the Cathedral:




















 

 

 




Monday, December 21, 2009

Poem of the Child

For the divine child who lives inside each one of us. May he/she always tell us stories. Merry Christmas!

Poema do Menino Jesus (Fernando Pessoa)

At noon, on a Spring day I had a dream, just like a photograph:
I saw Jesus Christ descend to Earth .
He ran down a hill, but He was a boy again running and rolling in the grass
Picking flowers and laughing so hard, that you could hear Him far away.
He had escaped Heaven.
He was ours, so much ours, to pretend to be the Second Person of the Trinity.
One day that God was sleeping and the Holy Ghost was flying around, He went to the box of miracles, And stole three of them:
With the first He made no one notice He had escaped; with the second He created Himself eternally human and child; and with the third He created a Christ eternally in the cross and left him nailed in the cross to serve as a model to the other ones .
Then He fled to the Sun and came down on the first sunbeam He was able to catch. Nowadays He lives in my village, with me.
He´s a beautiful child, with a natural smile.
He wipes His nose with His right arm, jumps in the puddles, picks flowers- He likes them- forgets things. throws stones, picks fruit in the orchards and runs away from the dogs.
Just because He knows they don´t like it, and everybody laughs at that, He runs after the girls who carry jugs on their head and pulls up their skirts.

To me, He taught me everything.
He taught me how to look at things.
He shows me all the colors there are in the flowers and shows me how pebbles can be funny when we have them in our hands and carefully look at them.
We get along so well, with everything, that we never think about each other.
We live, both of us, in a close agreement, like the right hand and the left hand.
When it starts to grow dark, we play the five little rocks on my doorstep. Very seriously, as it suits to a GOD and a poet. As if each little rock were the whole Universe and it would be very dangerous to let it fall.
Then I tell Him stories about humankind. And He smiles, because they are all incredible. He laughs at the kings and at the ones who are not kings. And He´s sorry to hear about the wars and the greed.
After that He falls asleep and I carry Him in my arms to my home, I lay Him in my bed, in a ritual, all human and all motherly.
He sleeps inside my soul.
Sometimes He wakes up in the middle of the night, plays with my dreams. Turns some of them upside down, piles them up, and claps, alone, smiling at my dreams.

When I die, Little Son, I´ll be the child, the littlest one. You´ll carry me in Your arms, take me to Your home. lay me down in Your bed, to sleep. Undress my being, tired and human. Tell me stories in case I wake up, so that I go back to sleep, and give me Your dreams – to play.



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Growing Up

In the first pages of Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie, Wendy, then two years old, brings a flower to her mother . Mrs Darling “put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can´t you remain like this forever!’ “ Hearing this, Wendy understood that she had to grow up. Barrie continues by saying that “two is the beginning of the end” and that (and this tells a lot about mothers and daughters) “Of course they lived at 14, and until Wendy came her mother was the chief one”.
Is it really a loving thing to say to a child, oh you´ll always be a child to me ? I don´t think so. I think we should tell our children “I´ll always love you, no matter what” , and that´s a completely different thing. When parents tell their children they will always be children, what they really mean is “ you´ll never outshine me. I´ll be the chief one, always.” They´re afraid of the painful and inevitable little deaths we go through every day in parenthood.
As I write this, my five –year –old (almost, almost six, according to herself) daughter is in a school excursion in a Farm Hotel 200 km away from here. They left early in the morning and will be back tomorrow evening.


She has always been very independent, that one. In her first day of school (she was two) , I arrived with her at the school gate and when we were crossing it she turned to me and said “Go home, mom”. Of course I didn´t go home immediately. I stayed there for a little while in case she “needed me”, but then realized I was obviously not needed, and came home. I thought it was going to be like her brother´s first months of school, that I had to be there all the time. Her brother had spoiled me.
When the trip permit came in her notebook I asked her if she wanted to go. I was expecting her to be at least hesitant, but no. I got an “of course” fired straight at me… Yesterday, when I went to help her pack, to my surprise she had managed to read a few items of the packing list sent by the school and had already separated them. I feel a mixture of pride and anxiety. I´m really proud of this beautiful little project of woman I´m raising and I´m proud of my ten-year-old boy, who told me this morning: don´t worry mom, I´ll be there with her. And I´m anxious because I don´t want them to grow before their time.
All in all, in these past few days I realized that the only certain thing I can give those two is my love in many ways. It´s imprinted in them and they´ll carry it wherever they go. All else will be up to them.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Words



Some things are better left unsaid. Really? And what do you do with them, since they cannot be left unfelt? Where do they go? To the same place as Broken Dreams and Missed Opportunities? Where is it? I know where it is, but I don´t think there´s enough room any longer.
Countless times the words stop in my throat, and go back in. And they stay there, mocking me for not being brave enough to have said them. Words can be quite scary. Glances and gestures many times give you the benefit of the doubt, but not loud and clear words. And once they are out, they cannot be taken in again.
The written word is no different. Poems and stories are like people. Once you´ve met them, even in a brief encounter, they´re there forever. When you think they´ve disappeared, they pop out of nowhere in your dreams, in a song, in a stranger´s face.
I have a deep respect for stories. There are books and movies in my shelves waiting to be read or seen, and still, I haven´t found the courage to do so. I want them, but I fear the change their words might cause. Crazy, I know. As Paul Auster said in a recent interview, […]clarity, I think, is the most unsettling thing possible. It allows the reader, in some sense, if you can do it well, ideally to forget that the medium of expression is language. You´re just somehow in what the words are saying. You´re not even thinking about the words anymore.[…] . If that can be achieved, then the story becomes part of you. It enters your mind and soul and finds a place to stay. That can be unsettling, but it is part of the experience of being alive.
At the same time, there are poems and stories I go back to frequently, because they resonate inside of me. They´re comfortable, and have a face I like to look at. They keep me alive, also, but in a different way.
These days I want to say and hear the unsaid . What is kept in that labyrinthian and misty place within my heart.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wings

Beautiful poem 'Wings', by Kim Antieau.

Avian Friendship

It must be great to feel the wind on your face when you´re flying. Spread your wings and fly over land obstacles. That´s the usual impression I get from birds. Freedom.
I´ve never had any bird as a pet in my life. They always came to me. Robins, seagulls, lapwings, owls, even cranes. You name it. They don´t fear me. I don´t know if that´s a good thing, it just is. I stay where I am and they come around. Sometimes I happen to have a camera at hand.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dog-sitting

In response to Rebb´s blog post , I´m posting this photo from a trillion years ago (you can see that in my teenage-like face), when I used to dog-sit. Those two ladies by my side were called Sadie and Heidi. They were like water and wine. Sadie (the setter) was very mature and independent, and Heidi was a big, adorable, baby. They´re both gone now, obviously, but looking at Rebb´s Kyo made me think of them again.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Magnificent

I was 13 when I first heard about this Irish band, U2. Thought that name was really strange, but hey, band´s names are always unusual. Have been listening to them ever since. Every time they come up with a new album I think it can´t get any better than the previous one. And they always are.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Old photos



This one was some years later than the one with Xodó.  Again, taken by my uncle Eddie in the staircase in his house.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Life as a Dog

I´m a dog. Or so I´m told by the Chinese Zodiac page :-D Well at least that means I´m loyal to my friends, root for the underdogs, and will do anything to protect my offspring. Good, good. That might also explain my love for the canines. Rummaging through old family photos I found this one of Xodó, my earliest partner in crime. I was probably trying to teach him some trick - that he never learned, by the way.



Thursday, November 5, 2009

Body, Mind and Soul

This is Grupo Corpo, with the ballet Bach. Couples dancing in harmony and partnership, supporting each other. I think they´re perfect!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Why the Ocean...

Sophia Andresen, in one of her poems, addresses the sea with this line: You are a mystery, made only for me (És um mistério feito só para mim). Every time I get a chance to contemplate the ocean, I get the same feeling: I know nothing. Whenever the cold southern waves invite me into their waters, I follow them in a mixture of curiosity and caution: I never know what they might have reserved for me. I love the magnetic , though many times dangerous, freedom of being one with the sea. When my feet change from sand to water, I usually complain about the cold, but welcome the touch. I love to watch the waves come and go and I´m always curious about what the high tide might bring to shore. Some months ago, when I was visiting my hometown, after two days of strong winds and turbulent waters, there were two dead sea turtles and a dead sea lion, besides hundreds of seashells on the sand, brought by the storm. Some years ago, the Southern Atlantic tide brought a shipwreck to Cassino Beach. That´s the cycle of life.
We all have our ways of connecting with Nature, whether we´re aware of them or not. Some people see nature as a mother, some as an enemy, and some others as a slave. I see nature within myself. I have my mountains, my oceans, my trees, my high and low tides, my tempests, my hurricanes, my sunny days but, most importantly, I have that mixed feeling of uncertainty and curiosity about life that makes me appreciate every single experience, as if it had been brought by the waves.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Inhabiting One´s Own Body

Some time ago I was attending a funeral service and there was this acquaintance right beside me who kept muttering, this is so sad, although her face remained unmoved, frozen. She had just had botox injected all over her face that morning, and could barely speak. Another acquaintance whom I thought I´d see there couldn´t make it, because she had just had liposuction the day before and it was still very painful to move. Both women are about my age: 39 years old, and have always been attractive, healthy women who really didn´t need those interventions.
I´m not saying we shouldn´t care about beauty. There´s nothing wrong with females (and males) trying to look good. Make-up, moisturizing creams, jewelry, perfume. I love all of that. The problem is when we can´t draw the line. When we stop being human beings above everything and live our lives around cosmetic procedures that will make us look like this or that celebrity, sometimes of the opposite sex ;-). Why are we, women, so obsessed about being someone else? First of all, let´s absolve the guys. It has absolutely nothing to do with them. In fact, most men are perfectly fine with the way we look. Second, I don´t think it has to do with beauty. I can´t be convinced that substituting your actual and normal nose for something that looks like a light switch will make you look more beautiful.
I think I´ve had a glimpse to where the problem may lie observing mothers and daughters, including myself and my daughter: our daughters growing up means we´re getting older. That´s basic. But I´ve been observing something else in this complex relationship: mothers can do many damages to their daughters´ self-esteem when, instead of behaving like parents, they behave like same-age friends with a credit card. Instead of saying- my love, you don´t need those (astronomically expensive) jeans to be beautiful, you are beautiful being yourself- we go ahead and buy them those jeans because all her friends have them, too. Now, when we buy that , and into that, what we´re actually saying to that young girl is: yes, a pair of very expensive jeans is all we, women, need to make us feel we´re worth something. It can also be a handbag, sunglasses, a pair of shoes, a boob job, a car, a crystal engraved cell phone, the list is endless.
I have wrinkles around my eyes, and they are most evident when I smile. It´s part of me. Many times I don´t say anything, I just smile with my eyes and the people I love know what I mean. I also don´t wear expensive and exclusive clothes. I choose clothes that are beautiful (in my opinion) and comfortable, and that have to do with my personality. My nose is not small, but it´s exactly like my father´s, and I´m proud to have inherited it, among his many other traits: he was an awesome man. I think the best I can teach my daughter is that being comfortable in one´s skin, that is living in one´s own body, is one of the most beautiful things you can find in a person.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

To Live in this World

This was a very intense week. I met wonderful people, and some of them I wish I could keep with me. This is the thing with loving people: they become a part of you and still, you got to let them go... Oh, well. I think that what best describes that feeling is in a poem I love and keep with me ever since I first read it : Mary Oliver´s "In Blackwater Woods" :

To live in this world
you must be able 
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it against your bones
knowing your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go;
to let it go.

I got to live in this world. There´s no other one.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Collective Existence

32.
Existence is infinite, not to be defined;
And, though it seem but a bit of wood in your hand, to carve as you please,
It is not to be lightly played with and laid down.
When rulers adhered to the way of life,
They were upheld by natural loyalty:
Heaven and earth were joined and made fertile,
Life was a freshness of rain,
Subject to none,
Free to all.
But men of culture came, with their grades and their distinctions;
And as soon as such differences had been devised
No one knew where to end them,
Though the one who does know the end of all such differences
Is the sound man:
Existence
Might be likened to the course
Of many rivers reaching the one sea.
(Witter Bynner´s version of Tao-Te Ching)

Is cyberspace the "one sea" where the many rivers flow? Are we drops of water that exist, but cease to have an individual existence in that sea? Is this the space where we can experience a collective existence?

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Sword God



One of the most beautiful stories I´ve heard from Yoruba ( West African) mythology is related to the deity Ogun, the fierce warrior. Those stories were brought here by the people from African nations that the Portuguese, and later the Brazilians, enslaved and shipped to Brazil to work in nothing less than building the country from the 16th to the 19th century. Besides owing Africa a lot of what we have today, we also owe it a big part of the Brazilian soul.
It goes like this: After fighting many battles and spending many years away from home, Ogun decided to go back to the city of Irê, where his son ruled. When he arrived, he addressed the people and expected to be celebrated, but no one talked to him. People looked at him, but did not seem excited. He would talk to them, but they would not answer. Ogun is not very patient and, without trying to investigate what was wrong with his son´s subjects, became enraged and started cutting off the head of whoever came in his way. That´s when his son comes and offers him his (Ogun´s) favorite food and drink. His son reminded him that it was a sacred day and people were forbidden to speak and cheer by orders of the great Ogun, himself. Ogun then remebered that, and was ashamed of what he had done . I´ve lived enough, he said. He then put the tip of his sword on the ground, and went down into earth with a thunderous sound. From that day on, he became an orixá, an owner of head.
Yoruba is also a religion ( Candomblé and Umbanda in Brazil) and I suspect that this close relationship between the stories and the worship of deities is what prevents its ancient mythology from becoming more popular.
I´m not a follower of any religion. I usually say that I am culturally Catholic, because it is the dominat religion among the groups I was raised with, but I have a great interest in all religions. More than the rituals of Catholicism or even Candomblé, I´ve always found the stories fascinating. Their symbols and metaphors contain valuable teachings about every day life that are usually missed when people are too worried about miracles or sins.
Everytime I remember Ogun´s story, I smile and think that even the most powerful ones make mistakes and learn a lesson one day. Never take yourself too seriously. It´s very dangerous.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quintanares



The soul is what keeps asking us whether the soul really exists. This is one of the many witty, wise, and many times ironic quotes of Brazilian poet, jornalist and translator Mario Quintana. I met him when I was in College. He was already very sick, but was very kind to have the visit of a group of young adults passionate about his work. I thought I´d translate some other ones to share:
- The secret is not to run after the butterflies...It is to look after your garden, so they´ll come to you;
- Lavoisier´s reflection after he found out they had stolen his wallet: nothing is lost, everything changes ownership;
- It really does not matter to know if we believe in God: the important is to know whether God believes in us; -If someone asks you what you meant with a poem, ask him what God meant with this world;
-Time is eternity´s insomnia;
-The alarm clock is a traffic accident in our sleep;
- The art of being good : Be good./But to your heart/Discretion and caution provide./The one who covers himself with honey,/will end up being licked by bears.
- The worst about our problems is that no one else has anything to do with them;
- What really concerns me when I look at the apes is not that we came from them: it is that we might be turning into them again;
- To dream is to wake up inside ourselves;
-A good poem is the one that reads us;
-The most ferocius of animals is the clock on the wall. It has devoured three generations of my family already.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"Nothing Human is Alien to Me"

Terence answered to his neighbor, who told him to mind his own business: Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto. - I am a man, nothing human is alien to me. Immigration is always a very curious issue to me. Especially in the Americas. As I write, I keep thinking that I´d simply not exist, as I know myself, had my ancestors been detained at customs. Those were other times,though. At that time, Europe was "exporting" its unwanted or extra people. On my mother´s side, they were new christians ( or, if you wish, forcibily baptised old jews) who had to leave Portugal around the end of the 18th century, and settled in Northeastern Brazil. On my father´s side, my great grandparents, after escaping an arson attack on their house, and having seen everything they built burned down to ashes, decided to come to this promising land in the Southern hemisphere, and were able to make a living here. My great grand father, Jean-Baptiste Lhullier, became the town photographer and even changed his name to Baptista, because he felt Brazilian. Most immigrants leave their homeland because they want to live better, or live. It´s as simple as that. All in all, it can be a matter of perspective whether you spend money and energy on building walls and fences, so people won´t come to ruin your beautiful garden(we know, as members of the human race, where misanthropy can lead us to), or on helping communities, so people don´t need to leave them, and are able to grow their own gardens. Just some thoughts on where I stand in this world... http://bit.ly/yq8ai

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Universe Within

Here´s another one, fellow blogger Vincent :-)

Poem Da Minha Aldeia (From My Village) by Fernando Pessoa under his heteronomy Alberto Caieiro., from the collection of poems O Guardador de Rebanhos (The herd keeper).

From my village I see the universe.
That´s why my village is as big as any other one
Because I am the size of what I see
And not the size of my height.

In the cities life is smaller
than it is here in my house on the hill.
In the city big houses block our view
hide the horizon, push our eyes away from the sky,
make us small, because they take away from us what our eyes can give us
and impoverish us, because our only wealth is what we see.

From my village I see the universe
That´s why my village is as big as any other one
Because I am the size of what I see
And not the size of my height.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Existing in a Foreign Language

Algerian author and filmmaker Abdelwahab Hammoudi (http://www.youtube.com/user/dirwahab)says that learning a language can be a powerful tool for more understanding and less violence in the world. I totally agree.
Languages are ways of existence. Speaking a language is a way of "being" in the world, and learning a second, third language is a way of experiencing other ways of existing in the same world. Like when in Portuguese we use "to have" to talk about age and in English it is "to be". So, in Portuguese I´d say : I have 38 years . As if I could own time...
I´m Brazilian, so my first language is Portuguese. I´ve never learned Spanish formally. I can read and understand it perfectly, but if I want to communicate with someone who´s a native speaker of Spanish, I speak Portuñol (or Portunhol), which is a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish spoken in places close to the Uruguayan and Argentinian borders. And I can´t write it at all. French is an acquired language, a family thing, but not much formal study there, too. Just the basics for communication.
I started studying English as a kid, 9, 10 years old. And that was a totally new world to me. I love music, so I could sing and understand the lyrics, and pronouncing the words was fun. English is not a Romance, or Neolatin, language like Portuguese, French and Spanish, so there were not many analogies that could be made. I was literally stepping in someone else´s shoes, and loving it. I still do.
Would my life have been different had I not learned foreign languages? No doubt about it. I wouldn´t be writing this, in the first place. I wouldn´t be able to read the interesting things people write in their blogs, I wouldn´t be able to see their points and reflect on their perspectives, I would have to depend on translations when I travel, or when I read certain authors, just to think of some examples.
It´s never too late to start. Japanese, here I come!

Princes all of them

It´s been a tough week. I´ll just share my humble and imperfect, thus free, translation of Poema em Linha Reta by Álvaro de Campos (Fernando Pessoa):

Poem in a Straight Line

I´ve never met anyone who´d been beaten up.
All my acquaintances have been champions in everything.
And I, so often crude, so often filthy, so often vile,
I, so often inarguably parasite,
Unforgivably dirty.
I, who so often haven´t taken the time to take a bath,
I, who have so often been ridiculous, absurd,
Who have publicly stumbled my feet in the rugs of etiquette,
Who have been grotesque, despicable, submissive and arrogant,
Who have been humiliated and remained quiet,
And was ridiculed when did not remain quiet;
I, who have been the laughing stock of the chambermaids,
I, who have noticed the eye winks of the delivery boys,
I, who have caused financial embarrassments, borrowing without paying,
I, who, instead of taking a punch, have crouched
Away from the possibility of the punch;
I, who have been anxious over ridiculous, small things,
I see I have no peer in this world.
Everybody I know and talks to me
Has never had a ridiculous moment, has never been scolded,
Has never been but a prince - princes all of them - in life...
I wish I could hear human voices
That would not confess sins, but flaws;
That would not report their violent actions, but their coward reactions!
No, they are all the Ideal, as they tell me.
Is there anyone in this immense world that would confess having been vile once?
Oh princes, my brothers and sisters
Damn it, I am fed up with these demigods!
Where are the real people in this world?
Is it only me that is vile and wrong in this land?
Their husbands and wives may have not loved them,
They may have been betrayed - but never ridiculous!
And I, who have been ridiculous without having been betrayed,
How can I address my superiors without hesitating?
I, who have been vile, literally vile,
Vile in the despicable and infamous sense of vileness.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Manos de Pincel

video
This is a beautiful animation video I found on You Tube. It´s from Alternativas Acadêmicas, in Chile. It reminded me of myself, many years ago.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Buildings Speak to Us


No, no, I´m not talking about haunted houses. I´m referring to what author Alain de Botton says in his book The architecture of happiness. According to him, there is a language buildings and objects speak when we look at them, and our fondness or distaste of them comes from the relationship we establish between those buildings and human beings whom we like or do not like. In other words, they remind us of people we´ve encountered in our life.

That happened to me when I visited Brasília, the capital of Brazil, for the first time. I was very excited I was going to see the buildings I knew housed the big decisions in this country.The Congress, the Senate, the Alvorada palace. I was going to actually be there and experience the work of architect Oscar Niemeyer, the man who designed that city, built in the 1960´s, during the government of President Juscelino Kubitschek.I was finally going to have a glimpse of what these two men thought Brazil should look and be like.

I was very disappointed when I got there. As I tried to connect with the buildings, they didn´t even try to connect with me. They were mute. Concrete giants enclosed within themselves.

That´s when I began realizing what de Botton says. Those buildings, and Brasília as a whole, for the landscape is uniform, reminded me of what I find most obnoxious in certain people, especially when they are powerful: selfishness, lack of empathy and that attitute of owning the world. In a paradox, I felt suffocated in a place where empty spaces are abundant. There are no sidewalks, there are almost no trees ( in a country full of trees), the air is dry to the point of gasping. The only positive aspect of Brasília, for me, is the people: kind, friendly, warm. And that takes me to another realization about my country.

For many decades now, Brazil has been trying to be modern, developed, respected. And in some ways we´re reaching that. But the concept of modern in the minds of our past leaders (and some present ones, too) was linked to the idea of rupturing with the past at any cost. For the country of the future, anything that resembled our colonial past had to go.Wood, brick, clay, intricate shapes, bright colors either resembled Europe, or the jungle, or the slave quarters. In the anxiety of finding a face in the mirror that could match the idea of new, they chose concrete. Cold, mute concrete. Had they looked more closely, they´d have seen that´s not the Brazilian face. The Brazilian face is every face. And that´s where novelty is: in diversity. Instead of wasting time and money trying to build huge concrete structures to show up to the world, they should have tried to build a fair society first.

Democracy



Twenty-five years ago, in April, I was able to be part of one of the most beautiful and memorable moments in History for my country: the campaign for the end of the military dictatorship and the call for direct elections for the presidency. The rallies in the cities had started in January, after the previous year had had an annual inflation rate of 240%. Can you imagine what that is like? Working hard and finding out that your money simply "disappeared"; that it´s not worth anything? That you won´t be able to save a cent: right the opposite, your debts only get higher?

The military dictatorship, as with any dictatorship anywhere, nearly destroyed this country. They couldn´t destroy its people, though. Despite years and years of torture, persecution, concealing of information, archaic trade regulations, hypocritical nationalism, and stupidity, all maintained through the use of violence and repression,one day people thought they had had enough. The press could not take it any longer, either, and the opposition party (the only one) was much better organized, as it had never been before. It was the time to get our country back.

I was fourteen years old, and had to wear a uniform to go to school. The only item I could customize to my taste was my backpack, and boy, was it full of pins and buttons: "Direct elections, now!"/"Stop repression"/"I want my country back!" During Social Studies, in between the reciting of historical dates and names of national heroes, I asked our teacher: what is the meaning of democracy? Could we discuss that? I liked her a lot, she had honest eyes. I remember she said something like: that one day I´ll be able to answer your question and not be afraid of doing so.

For us, Brazilians, at that time, that was what it was all about: militaries out=presidential elections=democracy=the possibility of breathing. We wanted to breathe. We wanted to pick up the pieces and build a country again, where we could be citizens, and not hostages.

The seed was planted but there were some set backs. It was not until 1989 that we could elect a president. And when he proved to be corrupt and reckless, we impeached him. We wanted better.

It takes a long way to rebuild a country. But it´s happening. Day by day.

This image will never, ever be erased from my memory. During a march in Brasilia, there was heavy rain, and people ran to protect themselves under the giant Brazilian flag they were carrying.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Square Dance - Carlos Drummond de Andrade

João loved Teresa, who loved Raimundo, who loved Maria,
who loved Joaquim, who loved Lili,
who loved no one.

João went to the United States,
Teresa, to a convent
Raimundo died in a disaster
Maria became a spinster
Joaquim commited suicide,
And Lili got married to J.Pinto Fernandes,
who wasn´t a part of this story.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Freedom, by Alberto Caieiro (Fernando Pessoa)

Oh, what a pleasure
not to follow a duty!
To have a book
and not read it!
Reading is boring.
Studying is nothing.
The sun shines without literature.
Rivers run without original editions.
And the breeze, so natural to the morning, has plenty of time, and no rush...

Books are papers painted with ink.
Studying is something that can´t distinguish nihil from nothing.

The best is the mist.
It doesn´t matter if Dom Sebastião will ever come back.

Great is the poetry, goodness, and the dances.
But the best in this world are the children,
Flowers, Music, Moonlight, and the Sun, whose only flaw
is sometimes burning instead of making life bloom.

And more than anything else, Jesus Christ,
who didn´t know anything about finances,
and never owned a library.