2 years in Canada

Today is Augst 4th. That means that 2 years ago exactly we landed in our new country. It’s been 2 years since I last smelled those familiar scents that my brain associates to the word “home”.

For the longest time I repeated the same thing to my friends back there:

“We are living in Canada, but we still don’t have a life here”. ‘Cause we really didn’t.

I mean, there’s the people at work and the people on the street, but they are not “our people”. And, since the girls don’t go to school yet, our routine is kinda weird. It feels like a crazy long vacation. It just doesn’t feel real enough.

When we were in Toronto, I made 2 good friends. But we couldn’t stay there and we started it all over.

We moved to a place where no one would talk to us. It was a terrible neighborhood because we felt like we were being judged all the time. The neighbors wouldn’t even say good morning.

But a couple weeks ago, things changed. Thanks to the bed bug infestation in our neighbor’s house, we were forced (and  allowed) to move.

We moved to a condo with a few more brazilian families. Instantly,  we moved close to friends.

Sometimes we have dinner together on a Monday just for the heck of it. Our kids play together all the time. We laugh. We talk.

And yes, we all need support and we all need a friend right now. But these people have made me feel like we have a life here. They are our people. They make our phone rings and we make plans for the weekends. I am so, so happy they are here.

They almost make me wanna stay in this city…

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“That” stage

This is how I pictured motherhood would be like: Me, right here, writing on this blog as the kids played around. You know, me doing my thing… them, doing their thing. As I remembered doing it when I was a child.

It sure took a while and the sleep deprivation nearly got me to the edge of my mental health (that’s actually a lie, I went far beyond the edge) but I think we are here.

We are at that stage where the kids wanna play with each other, even though they still want our attention.

At this point, we can actually take them for a ride. They won’t be screaming, trying to get  off the car seat, vomiting, driving us crazy…. and I won’t be sitting in the back with them.

We can also do fun stuff together like play games.

They no longer make me nervous that they might need to be breast fed at the same time or throw up at the same time. Be burped at the same time. God.

No wonder I’m traumatized. Even remembering it makes kinda shaky.

But now, we are at that stage where I actually have so much time for myself (like, a whole hour)  I barely know how to handle it. I am so used to taking short showers and running somewhere that I forgot (I absolutely forgot) how to relax.

It sounds like something fun to learn again, though.

I am happy we are at this stage today.

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Do you believe in Smurfs?

I think of myself as sane. For real. No matter how much the psychiatrist is convinced there’s a schizophrenic elf messing up with the circuits of my brain, I find myself to be pretty reasonable.

Yes, sometimes I react strongly to life-threatening situations, whether the situation is a benign mole that could -in about 20 years- turn evil on me or the tiny black lines I found on my children’s poop, (that actually turned out to be banana fibers, in case you mothers are wondering)… but the only reason I do that, is because I wanna make SURE I know what’s going on and fix it. Quickly.

I mean, that’s reasonable, correct?

Fine, there WAS that day when I checked my temperature 40 times, including in the middle of the night and first thing in the morning…

I guess reassuring myself that my body temperature was normal just made me feel less nervous about the disease I never had.

Ok, fine, that’s one point to schizophrenia.

But I’ve got some good, reasonable, sane moments.

Like, the other day, when the psychiatrist asked me if I believed in the devil.

Well, like any sane person, I do not. Not 100%, anyway. But the idea is pretty scary, right? I mean… it’s the freaking devil. So, there is, I guess that 1% chance that the devil could be real and for that reason I try NOT to read much about it or join any satanic cults ’cause I figured that if there’s something there… I wouldn’t really wanna get involved.

Isn’t that what a sane person would answer? I think I was being very, very plausible.

Fine. At one point I also told her I believed in ghosts.

Well, not ghosts per-say, like… Do I believe people have a soul? Yes! That’s still allowed, right? And I also told her I believed that eventually these souls could try to communicate with us, specially the people who were close to us when they were alive, ’cause Stella (our nanny) had talked to me during a dream once. I also told her that I did not feel prepared to interact with those souls and that, again, I was not 100% sure it was real, because that kind or certainty could only come from a real contact.

I swear to God I thought I was being sane, but apparently I very much wasn’t, because based on those answers she popped up the following question:

What else do you believe in? Do you believe in Smurfs?

Yes, you read it correctly! Smurfs! Smurfs:

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At that point, I absolutely thought about answering YES ’cause my sarcastic vein was pulsing SO HARD I had a hard time controlling my mouth.

But instead, I just said: “No, I am not quite at the level yet, but check back in a few months.”

You would think that the person prescribing medication for your brain would know by now, based on your previous answers, that there it’s a long, long road between believing in souls and believing in smurfs.

I guess not.

I wish I believed in smurfs rather than obsessed about rare diseases, though. It sounds like a hell whole lot more fun!

Plus, they are super cute.

 

A story for Riley

Riley asked to hear a story about Brazil. I’m not sure this is a story, but it’s a start…

Countless nights, we would be up at 3a.m. and would all decide to get together so the boys would go kayaking on this lake, or just talk…. maybe fish. I rarely ever made it home before the sun was out. I had no reason, really.

Some other times we’d drive to this very spot just to make fun of the couples who apparently had no private place to go and be “intimate”. You could totally tell what was going on on those shaky and foggy cars.

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Now that I think about it, most of the nights, I was the only girl in the group. No wonder today, I’m the only woman in the office. I’ve been around the guys so much I sometimes forget I am, technically, not really one of them.

My best memories are at night. Me and my friends are all night owls, I’d say.

While all the surfers and the pretty girls would spend the day at the beach, we’d reach it in the middle of the night and watch the sunrise above the rocks. Just a bunch of nerds.

Except for Serginho, the life-guard. Kindest person you’ll meet in this lifetime.

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To this day I am not sure if I was part of the group or if I just tagged along with them randomly from time to time. I know Penna didn’t even like me at all at first, but he was just so unique and cool and admired by the whole group that I wanted to write a book about it. He is the reason why I have a hard time acknowledging that I was as much a part of their lives as they were of mine, since they are the coolest people I have ever met.

This kind of shit makes me miss the old days and it makes me sad that, no matter what I do, I don’t get to go home.

The reason why I can’t go home, even to visit, is because “home” is not there anymore.

The greatest people I’ve ever met, the best group of friends anyone could ask for, they are not down the street like they used to be.

We have all grown up and moved away. All of us. We have become a little buzz on each other’s phones… and boy, how happy that little buzz makes me.

Sometimes I get a little heart from Leandro… ’cause there’s nothing left to say. We have been talking for over 20 years and could talk for a billion more. I’ll tell you a secret, I miss him every day.

Sometimes Guilherme will send me a song, like he did today and make my day. He’ll make my day ’cause his voice feels like home wherever I am. We have been friends since I was 9 years old. He’s the soundtrack of my life. Whenever I feel alone or scared, I look for his voice again and I feel like he’s there, growing, changing, becoming a parent and facing the world with me. And again, I am ready for anything.

There is a chance I’ll see Serginho again. A good chance. A very good chance! He’s the kindest soul I’ve ever met. He’s made me a better person just by being who he is.

And then, there’s Diego. He’s the little piece of me that’s missing right now. I am having a hard time enjoying all these great things without him.

I wish they’d all live down the street again one day…

Ok… but there’s still a lot to go, and this story is quite short. So, I’m gonna show you some pictures now.

This is what the beach looks like during the day, Riley:

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Yes, you can actually drive your car there, which I notice most people find very weird. I was never your beach-girl, but yes, I could walk there for 4 or 5 hours. I’d normally stop because whoever was with me couldn’t keep up. I was a different person. I absolutely miss that person and I wish my girls could play on this sand some day, but the news we get from there are scarier and scarier every day.

And this, Riley, is a ship. It got stuck there (I’m sure there’s a term for this) in the 70’s I think.

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This is what the ship looks like today:

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This is a little bit of home. I have more stories to tell. Too bad it’s such a different place now…

Good night, Riley.

Oh, how I hated the “eat pray love” lady.

I have always hated the girl from “Eat Pray Love” because I thought she was so ungrateful. She was a healthy well established woman who could just chose to not work for a year and go to the end of the world to find out what the hell it was that was missing in her life. She was doing all these amazing things but she still had the saddest narrative … like it was all so empty and pointless just because she didn’t have the right men next to her or whatever , while the rest of the women in the world, possibly with real problems, had no choice but to suck it up and get to work.

Yes, she made me angry back in the day. But I kinda get her now. A little bit.

Despite the drama and the fact that I still do think she’s ungrateful, I realized, as I come closer and close to turning 35 that I too had the luxury to make some important choices in my life.

I wanted to live in a city I absolutely loved, like I mentioned before and that was important to me. That was settled.

I also wanted to not wanna kill myself every Sunday night because the next morning I’d have to get up and go to work.

You’d think, though, that after 34 years of living inside my head I’d know myself enough to have a proper answer to the question ” what do you wanna do when you grow up” , correct?

Yeah, well, me too.

But it turns out I don’t.

If I were ever to pick the thing that I love the most and never-ever get tired of doing, the answer would be “decorating”. It’s fun, colorful, dynamic, there’s always something different… In fact, it was such a great concept that I absolutely bought it. I picked it. I became an architect.

 

And then reality came.

It turns out I liked decorating for ME and doing things I thought were pretty. Decorating for other people kinda sucked. I can’t handle people.

Ok, let’s put a big “NO-NO”  in every existing job involving clients so I can go on finding out what I wanna be.

I figured I could engage on teaching. So, I tried it.

A teacher is like an actor. I had to put on a show every time I was in front of the class to make sure I was being interesting enough that they would learn from me (and not fall asleep). I was totally fine with that part.

The problem with teaching is that some days I was tired. Sometimes I wanted to go to the bathroom, sometimes I was very hungry and sometimes I wanted to check my phone (’cause I’m a paranoid person with 2 kids)!

So, by the time I quit teaching,  I knew  wanted something that :

  1. Would allow me to take a 5 minute break whenever I needed one!
  2. Had no clients.
  3. Was more mechanical than creative (’cause I am not creative under pressure).
  4. Had flexible hours in case I slept in or the phone didn’t ring.
  5. That paid decently. Kinda.

 

So, I got my current job… which surprisingly checked all the requirements on my list and also allowed us to move from Ajax – a place I couldn’t see myself growing old in.

Isn’t life just great? Am I happy enough now, or am I the bitch from “eat, pray, love” ?

Yeah, I’ll be the bitch from the book.

I wanna add things to my list and I hope that’s not a crime. I mean, I hope that’s not me being ungrateful for the things I have.

By the time this project is done and I’m off job-hunting I’ll look for something exciting, life-changing, world-changing, I’ll design video-games and have time to paint!

Yeah, bad example. I still don’t know what my awesome job will be. But if I showed you that list above just 2 years ago when I was living in Brazil and added “live in a first world country”  to it… you’d also say I’m a dreamer.

It turns out I don’t hate the ” eat  pray  love ” lady. It turns out I too am her. In my very own version… and I cannot wait to read my book!

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It’s never too late to start again, take another breath and say another prayer.

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Like some humans, I have a constant need to be heading somewhere. I am not cut out for the whole “sitting at the porch and waiting for death”  routine. In fact, I am not cut out for routine at all.

As I look at the people around me I cannot imagine how it’s possible that some of them have been coming to the same building, staring at the same desk, and doing the same choirs for over 10 years.

Go to work, go home; Go to work, go home. Repeat a few times. Die. Is that it?

If I were God, I’d interfere… specially since this killer routine refers to the lucky people on this Earth. The ones who have a job and a home to go to.

Shit, that’s messed up. – on my humble opinion.

I wish we could all just wake up every day and think “what kind of exciting new adventure are we having today?” you know… probably the way rich people live – until they realize it’s all so easy and  start doing drugs. But that’s not what I’m writing about today.

Well, I obviously am not rich, so let’s cross that off of my list…

Instead, I decided to make a plan for the future. Not the “one day I might…” kind of future, but this year’s future. I made that decision the other day when I got home and realized life was kind of all figured out and I wasn’t that excited about it.

I was very thankful we were all healthy and happy. Don’t get me wrong! I am oh-so-thankful. Yet, I was surprisingly  bored.

I had had my beautiful daughters, moved to another country, got a pretty decent job, we moved to our first real house (not a basement anymore!) and we finally got a car.

Now what?

 

I set on the couch and stared at the wall. For some reason I couldn’t enjoy the quiet. I was not quiet inside. I wanted to jump, explore, go somewhere, change the world, bake a cake… just figure out where I was going next! There was no way that couch was my final destination in life even though it was a pretty nice couch with everyone I loved around me. I could stare at my girls forever, but I also wanted to enjoy the ride a little bit more… since we had been blessed with a pretty smooth ride.

I decided I’d learn a new language and visit the oh-so-beautiful French speaking cities in Canada. Who knows… maybe it’ll be love at first sight and we’ll end up moving there.

Hey, Shell… are you projecting your problems into the city you live and thinking that by moving away oh-so-many times you won’t bring your problems with you?

Well, dear reader… I have thought about that and the answer is ” not really”.

I was very excited to leave Brazil and then very excited to leave Ajax. If I couldn’t move anymore I would definitely stay in Ottawa. It is by far the best place we have lived (taking in consideration stuff that is important to our family and  other families might think differently). We are learning about a new place and we have the “privilege” to be alone here, which allows us to move around without having to cut any strings.

For as beautiful as downtown Ottawa is, it does not compare – to me – to Montreal or Quebec. I do like it a LOT better than Toronto… but I’m not in love.

I wanna be in love! And it looks pretty easy… look:

 

The architect inside be needs to be around very, very old and warm looking buildings and the husband put his foot down on the whole moving to Europe idea (we are greatly afraid of the upcoming world war =/ )… so, that’s it. I need to see it. I need to fall in love with a place before I write our story there. Explore, until we find our new home. Start over. Delete the old entries on this blog.

Sounds like a plan to me!

What will you be doing next?

Letter to my dad

When I was 13, the school therapist said I couldn’t love my dad as much as I did, because he was going to die one day and I wouldn’t be able to go on without him. She also said I’d never get married or leave my parent’s house because I was oh-so-attached to my dad.

Truth is, my dad has been through a lot. And he’s annoying. He’s getting old and I scream at him all the time, but I’ll miss him.

I won’t so much miss him, as I’ll feel bad imagining him passing by my empty room and remembering me. Perhaps even memories from when I was a baby. I was a little girl in his arms, and I was always there. I was born in this house and I know how much he hates changes. I know about how he found his dad dead in their house. I know about the note his dad left him. I know this sh%# must have messed up with his head.

Most of the stuff he says make absolutely no sense. It’s so crazy I’ve actually thought about writing a book about how he says stuff like “the cancer virus likes to eat tomatoes because they’re softer than human muscles”. And MEANS it.

Sometimes I think he’s crazy, or maybe just plain stupid… but he’s really just naive. The most naive, honest person in the world. I’ve kind of adopted my dad. It has always been my mission to take care of him.

I’ve done everything I could. I’ve given him time. A lot of time to understand that I’d leave one day. And I’m leaving… In 2 weeks. I don’t feel bad about leaving anything here. I won’t miss the house I grew up in, I won’t miss the streets, I won’t miss the memories, I’m not even sure I’ll miss my dad most of the time ’cause I’ll be busy taking care of my girls and thinking about finding a job and worried about something else… but sometimes at night I’ll remember him, and think about him passing by my empty room… and I’ll cry.

I wish there was some other way, dad. But our babies need a better chance at life.

Thank you for saying you’ll be with us for Christmas, even though you’ve never been in an airplane before and I KNOW you’re terrified of the idea.

I hope this doesn’t kill you. I cannot go on without you, depending on my faith on a God I’m not sure I believe to be sure you still exist somewhere. I just can’t. And I hope you can come and join us for good when you retire. If I make enough money, the lawyer says I can come and get you.

I’ll do my best, dad, I promise.

But you have to promise me you won’t cry. I never meant to make you cry.

Love,
Your daughter.