Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fishing, Bleeding and Forgetting

My brother called me tonight, ordering me to go out with him and his friends for a beer, invitation I happily accepted.
We were on the very corner of my street, at a famous bar there is around here, sitting on a low wall and drinking. Right next to us, there was this guy fishing. Which is really common, fishing is really popular in this neighborhood.
Every fish the guy happened to catch we'd celebrate - not noisily, though, cause that would've been annoying. Discreetly.
Suddenly, he caught this huge horrible blowfish.
For those who do not know, the blowfish is highly poisonous, and therefore not edible. In order to eat it, you gotta cut it in a veeeeery specific way, with a special technique, and all.
We wondered whether the guy would take the blowfish home - if he had, we'd have been afraid for him: he didn't look like he had the special techinique to cut particularly poisonous fish! 
But the guy showed right away he had no interest in taking it home, and so proceeded to try and take the hook off the fish's mouth. My friends got back to talking, but I just couldn't take my eyes off the fish - it just struggled so much!
There's this line in Nirvana's song Something in the Way that goes: "It's okay to eat fish, cause they don't have any feelings."
I beg your pardon? Kurt had obviously never seen what I witnessed tonight. The pain the blowfish was in was so freaking obvious I almost cried.
Eventually, the guy managed to take the hook off, and threw the fish back in the sea - and I breathed at last.
But not for long. The struggle had left its mark on the wall: a huge puddle of blood.
Well, when I say "huge", I use the term loosely; but the puddle was more than half the fish's size. Relatively speaking, it was huge - can you imagine a puddle of your own blood that's more than half of your size? That's a lot!
And for the rest of the night, I couldn't look at anything else.
It was violently red, and impossibly thick, and it just stayed there, reminding me vaguely of chocolate fudge.
My brother was giving his usual speech about politics, and I stared at the blood; one of his friends played the guitar - beautifully, I should say - and I stared at the blood. We talked about the World Cup, while I stared at the blood the entire time. I just couldn't take my eyes off of it.
I've always had problems with blood - not mine, though. I can break or scrape any part of my body, bleed through my nose, and be fine with it. I have no problems with looking at my own blood. (Well, I AM a woman after all! If I had problems with bleeding, I'd be in for some serious therapy).
Other people's blood, however, oh, that's a whole other story! And that includes fish's blood.
The fisher guy was fine; my brother and his friends were fine; why was I the only one who cared?
I finally got upset that I was the only one who gave a damn. But I still couldn't stop thinking about the fish.

The blood will be quickly washed away with the next rain. And no one will see that someone suffered there, no one will be able to tell.

I hate the fact that everything can be easily washed away. Even suffering. As if pain were that easy to erase from one's memory.
It's silly, really, but I guess I just... sympathized with the blowfish.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Teaching My Children

This is what I shall tell them:

At the christening of your long-wished-for daughter, do not overlook any fairy, otherwise your daughter will fall asleep - some say surrounded by briar roses, others say by fire, and there shall be no more spindles in your kingdom. What the German brothers might not be telling you is that the Prince's mother is an ogress, who might try to eat the princess at dinner. But then again, I might be mistaken, and the sleeping princess might simply be a valkyrie.
What the German brothers also hide from you is that both little girl and grandmother were devoured, and there came no hunter to save them.
Evil stepmothers are always around, apparently, envious of your beauty and kindness:
1. If you have brothers, take care of them: your stepmother might turn the six of them into swans - or the seven of them into ravens. She might also curse the waters of a spring, which will turn your only brother into a deer;
2. If she has two other daughters, then the three of them will make you sleep among the cinders. In that case, make sure you always have a pumpkin around. And the smaller your feet, the better for you! You'll also attend three balls - and not only one, as some would have you believe;
3. If your evil stepmother has only one other daughter, she'll send you to the well to fetch water - but worry not: diamonds and flowers will fall from your mouth henceforth, whereas your sister shall speak of nothing but viapers and toads;
4.If she's got no other daughters, then she might possess a mirror mirror on the wall, and quizz it on who the fairest of them all really is. In that case, she'll try to have you killed - but if your skin's as white as snow you might be spared. You might even get away with breaking and entering a dwarves' house! Just make sure you don't accept laces, combs and apples from old ugly peddlers, or you might choke to almost certain death. Luckily, the dwarves are skillful enough to make you a crystal coffin.
But dwarves are not always kind, mind: some will spin straw into gold, but only if you promise to give them your first-born. Guessing his name will be a handful, but also the only way out of it! Others are really ungrateful, and treat you badly each time you save them - you, with your hair as red as a rose, and your sister, with her skin as white as snow. But if a gentle bear comes along, all will be well.
And don't confuse the two fair-skinned princesses: one is hyphenated, and the other is not.
But even good mothers can harm you, albeit not on purpose, and make you forget your loved one, when they come at night to place a motherly kiss on your forehead.
Evil husbands too, you may encounter some on your way - beware of blue beards and English crowns! Some evil husbands might turn out to be your own father, resulting in you being wrapped up in all kinds of fur.
We have eyes to see, remember. So if you look in the mirror and see yourself not wearing anything at all, well, that's because you ARE wearing nothing at all. Trust your eyes, no matter what.
For all we know, the greedy king might still be ferrying people over to the other side of the river - who would tell him to give the oars to his passenger? Only tell him that after you're safe and sound on the other side.
Do not allow your maid-in-waiting to talk back to you, or she might take your place and marry the prince herself.
Trust John at all times, he's always at your service, even when he draws blood from your loved one - but do not trust wolves.
If you're experiencing a sleepless night, look under the matresses: there might be a pea underneath it all.
If you're living in the garden of eternal summer, know then that your true love lives now in a palace of winter and, with glass splinters in his eyes and heart, does not know how to spell "eternity".
Know that a swan is always a good thing: it might be one of your brothers or a fair maiden; it can also be a formerly ridiculed duckling, whose beauty now all admire.
Be careful when you sit on a wall, for you may have a great fall - and then, not even all the king's men and horses (reportedly, threescore of them) will be able to put you together again!
If you're forced to go to Baba Yaga's house, be sure to take your mother's doll and blessing with you.
On your way to the Underworld, seeking Pershephone's beauty, eat nothing but bread.
If you see a crow trying to free a dove, try to befriend him, and if you see a giant egg, do not break it, for the Roc will come and destroy all of you.

The Rule of Three never fails, for good or evil: the third pig's house will be the only one to withstand the wolf's blow, the third goat will throw the troll off the bridge, and the farmer's wife will cut the tails of three blind mice; there shall be three cursed springs, three balls to attend, and three chances to get the dwarf's name right; you shall attempt to climb the beanstalk three times, three times shall your stepmother try to poison you and three tasks shall Venus give you. Three animals will appear to you (a carp, a raven and an owl) and if you help them, they shall help you in return. The devil's grandmother will give you three golden hairs, and the answer to three ridlles. Beware of the third kiss of the Snow Queen, for it will kill you. And up to this day, no one knows who ate the three bears' porridge - was it a pretty little girl with golden locks or a foul-mouthed old woman?
The third and youngest son is despised by the others - but is also the cleverest, the kindest and the most persistent. The third and youngest daughter is the fairest by far, the only one who'll keep her word and the only one to marry or survive. 
But rules are meant to be broken, or so I've been told: the middle sister was the one to have two eyes (while the eldest had one, and the youngest had - guess how many? - three), and was the only one to marry a knightly prince. And while the youngest Elliot was, indeed, the first to be married, it was the middle Elliot, the easily persuaded one, to make the better match. And there was also an eldest daughter, in Ingary, who turned out to be the luckiest - assuming that marrying the wizard from Wales is, indeed, luck!
Whatever bargain you strike, stick to your word no matter what - or else the children of your town will forever disappear.
And don't make uneven bargains with enchanted beings - you'll end up giving your daughters to witches in exchange for radishes, or to hedious beasts for a single rose. Or your cow for beans.

But then again, all of that was a long time ago - and many of those people turned out quite well, so what do I know?

(Inspired by Neil Gaiman's Instructions.)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Being Stalked

Oh, the many plights of being a hot chick!

In 2007 I was teaching at the English course at the University; I'd been there for quite a while, and I liked the job - it had been my first, actually.

On the first day teaching a Tuesdays and Thursdays class, I introduced myself to the students, asked them their stories, pretended I was nice, etc, and then, something I used to do a lot back then, I gave them my e-mail address, telling them they could e-mail me at any time should any problems or difficulties arise.
Next morning I was checking my inbox, and found an e-mail from one of my students. "Already?" I thought to myself, slightly amused. Had I known what was to come, I wouldn't have been amused at all.
On said e-mail, the student (who was very ugly and weird, BTW) went on and on about how he'd loved my class and my personality. "Wow, isn't that an ego booster". Then he proceeded to ask me for my telephone number, suggesting that we go out someday after class. Very politely, I replied saying I didn't give my number to students, but that he was welcome to e-mail me with his doubts about any subject taught in class. Besides, I added, I didn't have time to go out after class, but thanks for asking, very flattering of him.
Naive me.
I received another e-mail after the second class. He insisted on our going out, still very nicely, I must say. Since he'd also e-mailed a question about something taught the previous day, I replied, answering the question and simply ignoring the invitation. Also: as there were many Portuguese mistakes (absurd mistakes) I showed my fellow teachers his e-mail, and we all made fun of him. We were, after all, majoring in Portuguese and English. And we were very very cruel.
The following week I saw the guy there, at the University, before class. WAY before class. Like 2pm, 3 hours before class. Just... walking around. Strolling, perhaps. Pacing could work as well.
But stalking is the word we're looking for.
And henceforth, this student will be referred to as "the stalker".
He kept pacing up and down the corridor in front of the teachers' room. Just pacing. Up and down.
I taught my class; that day I was wearing a tank top, and my black bra straps could be seen. Well, no biggie:  it WAS summer, and every other girl dressed in the exact same way.
Again, naive naive me.
Next day, of course, I received another e-mail, which went something like: "I loved the color of your underwear, it really had an effect on me. Black is just so pure."
I regret to have to tell you that one of the things that bothered me the most at first was the "Black is just so pure" line; I mean, seriously, in what land or planet is the color black used to symbolize purity? Weirdoland?
But of course, then it hit me that the stalker had brought my underwear into the conversation, and that it had "had an effect" on him. Eeewwww.
Hope you'll pardon my French, but: wanna put it in your spank bank, fine, but don't announce it, freak.
My reply: "For future reference, comments about my underwear are NOT welcome."
You'd think it was clear enough. But obviously, I was being too polite. The e-mails kept on coming for the rest of the semester, always inviting me out, telling me I was beautiful and funny, offering me rides home and whatnots.
It had stopped being flattering and moved on to creepy a loooong time before. He continued pacing up and down the corridor from 2 to 5 until the very end of the semester - whereas I'd pretend not to see him there. As if! The guy scared the bejesus out of me.
To my great joy, the classes were finally over; I flunked the stalker, and I wouldn't be seeing him anymore (did I mention he had horrible English? He made mistakes like "you is" - in an advanced class. He'd probably stalked and terrorized his previous teachers into passing him). As soon as vacations started, I flew to my grandma's house, in the south.
One fine day, there was another e-mail from the stalker in my inbox. I sighed. "Will I have to change my e-mail account? Goddamn it...". It said: "I really enjoyed your classes, too bad you're not gonna be my teacher anymore. I'm sending you a picture of me, to remember me by."
I scrolled down the e-mail annoyed, thinking:
"When you think you got rid of it... man... the Internet left us no safe havens... I mean, why send me a pict...

Yep. The fucker sent me a picture of his penis.
Well, a picture of a penis.

I was still staring at the screen, completely schocked , when my grandma passed by:
"My dear, what's wrong? Are you well?"
"Yes, grams, very! It was nothing, absolutely nothing!"
While grams went away, muttering about my strange ways, I deleted the creepy e-mail. Since then, I've received no others from the stalker, thank the gods.
I mean, what did he expect to achieve with that? Did he expect to achieve anything? Was that really his penis? Wouldn't it be too much trouble to pull down your pants and photograph your own crotch? You'd also have to connect your camera to the computer... Wouldn't it be much, much easier to google "penis"? Or some of its dirtier synonyms? Does he have a collection of pictures of penises?
I keep asking myself these questions, and then I keep slapping myself in the face BECAUSE I HAVE NO DESIRE TO KNOW THE ANSWERS.

As I said: oh, the many hardships of being pretty!...

P.S.:  I'm guessing that googling "penis" or any of its synonyms would not yield good results.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cheering For My Country

The World Cup is here, and I've got these! Am I patriotic or what?!

(Lol, these were so much more beautiful than the Brazil themed flip-flops! Just because it's the World Cup, doesn't mean I can't have fashion sense anymore... I'm still all for Brazil, though, and I certainly will NOT be wearing these during the games, I'm a superstitious kinda gal!)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Getting a Ride

You ever had one of those days when everything, absolutely everything, simply works out wonderfully?
I had one this week - it started up unexpectedly well, and it went on on that exact same note - I finished it up watching The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, on which I just have to write later.

I should tell you, from the get-go, that I am utterly incapable of getting anywhere on time. I'm always late for stuff. That's how the Universe works, and who am I to go against it?
I have a class to teach at 7 o'freaking clock in the morning, and I gotta leave home at 6:35, tops, in order to take the 6:40 bus. If I miss it, I'll be irrevocably late for work. And that day, I left home at 6:38. Oh, the drama!... I ran.
Little problem: I have very small feet, and some of the shoes I buy are sometimes a little too large for me. And as Murphy's Laws are sovereign in Life, both of my shoes decided to come off while I was running.
I stopped, closed my eyes, took a deep breath, went back and got my shoes. When I looked again, I could see the bus leaving in the distance. "Fuck." An understatement. As I resumed my walk, I was the very picture of despair. And then, to my great surprise, I hear a car honking right next to me: it's a taxi. The cabby, a very nice young man, signalizes for me to come closer and says "C'mon, I'll give you a ride! We'll catch that bus for ya!".
I'd like to say I declined the offer, or that I at least hesitated; that would've been, I guess, the smart thing to do, it's what our mothers tell us to do. Sorry to say, I did neither: I immediately took him up on his offer, and got in the car.
Why? Many reasons, I guess. One, I was desperate; two, his taxi actually belonged to a taxi company, so that made me feel safe - don't ask me why.
But I'm lying.
I didn't feel safe at all - for it never occurred to me to be afraid, which is the main reason why I got in the car.
People who have been reading my blog for a while might've noticed I'm an atheist. Not the kind that goes around bashing religion as a whole, mind. I simply... have no personal creeds, when it comes to religion. So instead, I just try to be good on my own.
And while I don't believe in any Sacred Book (though I don't disbelieve them, either), I do believe in people. All the way.
Because doubting is simply too easy - it's instinctive, it comes with the territory of being human. Believing, now that's a much harder task. So I always give people a chance. Yeah, I'm in for some let downs every now and then, so what? I think that people are completely capable of random acts of kindness.
Guess I'm a 21st century Blanche DuBois, huh? I've always relied on the kindness of strangers.
My BFF got lost once, when she was living in England. Not only did she lose the money for the bus fare, but she also had no idea what bus to take. So this random woman helped her, giving her information and money.
Okay, I'm guessing that the bus fare wasn't that expensive, but still.
Her mother says it was a guardian angel. I say it was a human being, showing us once again that there's a good side to us all - all we gotta do is give ourselves a chance.
Besides, the bus fare can't have been that expensive, c'mon!
Bottom line is: this cabby came out of nowhere and gave me a ride; he sped up and, taking a shortcut, was able to actually arrive at the other bus stop before the bus itself. And as I was trying to find my breath to thank him once again, he smiled and said: "Hey, no big deal, I'm going that way anyway! Besides, you looked so hopeless out there, I had to do something."
Knight-in-shining-armor-complex much? Guess the white horses of yore have converted themselves into yellow cabs! Doesn't matter, awfully nice of him anyway.
I mean, the guy lives off of charging people to get a ride in his car - but he went out of his way to give me a free one. Yeah, okay, he went out of his way only metaphorically, for he had to go that way - it's kind of a one-way out neighborhood. Still, he didn't have to give me that ride. Because of him, I managed to arrive on time.
One might argue that I'm a reasonably good-looking girl, and that I was wearing a skirt that day, and very nice stockings. One might wonder whether he would've given me a ride had I been ugly and with a poor fashion sense.
But I like to think he would've.
This is, I guess, as close to a creed as any. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pulling Off Some Julia Roberts

As you can see in my blogroll, Jamie's Daydream Believer is actually one of my favorite daily readings. Not only one of my favorites, but also one I highly recommend, if one's after intelligent well-written entertainment. And she posted a great story this week (read it here), very Pretty Woman like. Since I happen to have a  story of a similar sort, I asked her permission to go copycat on her and tell my own tale on my blog. Permission granted, so here we are! Thanks for the inspiration Jamie! This one is for you and all Vivian Wards everywhere!

I usually assume that everyone who lives on the planet and has access to cinema, television and dvd (and, well, in the past, vcr) has already seen Pretty Woman. Shame on those who haven't, really! Well, most of you must, therefore, be acquainted with the famous scene where Julia Roberts' character, Vivian Ward (age: unknown; profession: hooker) goes shopping on Rodeo Drive, and is snubbed by the saleswomen. A classic.

Well, I've never dressed like a hooker, thank you very much, but I sure as hell was treated like some cheap little thing at a store once.
I'd just come back from the gym, and decided to stop by the mall, since I needed some high heels for a gala party. I was wearing, you know, gym clothes, my hair in a ponytail, and an old backpack.
I entered this store that I knew to be good, and started looking around. As it turned out, the store had many shoes on sale that day. Everyone there was busy waiting on some customer, except for one saleswoman - who looked at me up and down and decided to ignore me. Fine by me, I hate their constant attention anyway.
I finally found a pair of shoes to my liking. I saw the price: they were far from cheap. I didn't care though, I had the money to pay for what I wanted. That's what I work for!
I grabbed the shoes and looked at the woman. She saw I was waiting for someone to wait on me, and she still wouldn't stir from her place. So I went up to her, smiling (for I usually make a point of being nice to salespeople and cashiers in general, even the rude ones), bid her good morning, and asked her whether they had those my size. 
She looked at me up and down once again, took the shoes out of my hands and evidently pitying me, said: "I'm sorry, sweetie, those are not on sale".

Excuse me?

Did I ask you the price? Did I ask you if they were on sale? No, I did not! I asked you if you had them my size! And that's what I told her, smiling and in a very low voice (I'm very well bred, thank you, and do not make scenes).
Me: "Are you implying I cannot afford these?"
Bitch stuttered, I continued.
Me: "I did not ask you if they were on sale, I asked you whether you had those my size. Don't bother answering now, though, I'd much rather go to Mr. Cat [one of the most expensive shoe stores in the city] and buy whatever shoes I want from them. Now, if you'll excuse me..." and I left.
Mr. Cat is, by the way, right across from that other store. I entered it, bought 2 pairs of shoes and flaunted the shopping bags around. Didn't know if the bitch could see it and I didn't care. I was still pissed that I hadn't gone as far as saying: "Look, sweetie, everything I'm wearing right now probably costs more than your entire paycheck! I live by the beach and my family owns a freaking factory - what about you? I've got a master's degree and I speak 3 foreign languages - what about you, huh? Please know that you're gonna be a shitty saleswoman for the rest of your shitty life. NOW if you'll excuse me...".
The kind of answer that only occurs to you much later - and the kind of thing I'd never really have the guts to say to anyone. That would be simply horrible, and I'm not that much of a bitch. Besides, to be quite frank, I hadn't gotten my master's degree yet (give me one more month though!), and I actually speak only 2 foreign languages and a... errr... well, a third of another - my German is very basic. Still, I could afford quite a few expensive shoes, and did not deserve to be treated like that.
By the time I got home, however, I was pretty satisfied with the answer I'd actually given. Much classier, if you ask me. And as I was also in need of a pair of brown boots, I would've probably bought more than one pair of shoes, had the bitch treated me nicely.
Big mistake. Big. Huge.