Suitcase

Oct. 22nd, 2011 09:25 am
commonpeople1: (Default)
The piece of black fluff hanging in the air which I grabbed with my left hand turned out to be a tiny spider.  Luckily, it didn't get squashed; I gently placed it on the dresser table beside my bed.

I'm packing my suitcase and catching a bus to the airport in 4 hours.  21 hours of traveling to London, door to door; not so bad.  I have books, I have laptop, I have an iPhone.  I don't have a job back in London so maybe I should join #OccupyLSX.

A gay couple arrived at the guesthouse last night: one is American and the other is Colombian.  The surprising thing was that they had heard of the guesthouse from a listing I placed in AirB&B two days before.  I think this is a sign.  Thank you [livejournal.com profile] yearning for the tip!  A very sweet way to bring closure to this trip and hope for what can be done here (marketing does work, you know.)

In 2014, Brasil is hosting the World Cup and some of the games will take place in a city near my guesthouse.  I want to organise a group trip from England to the guesthouse, see some of the games and then spend a week by the sea.  Who's interested?

Lite Spam

Jul. 22nd, 2010 10:47 am
commonpeople1: (Log Lady)

spam cake
Originally uploaded by debbiedoescakes
My mom asked me to send an e-mail to people who previously stayed at her guesthouse in Brasil (just over 200 e-mails) - an invitation to the local town's annual celebration of Jesus starting next week.

Yahoo wasn't too happy with me - they prevented the email from going out. So I tried with a Google account and got shut down.

Can any of you recommend an e-mail system which will allow me to send out this massive, friendly, Bcc invitation? I was hoping to get some kind of periodical marketing newsletter going for her...

Note: I don't have my own hosted site.

Merci in advance!
commonpeople1: (Steven Lubin)

Jardim da Pousada
Originally uploaded by olliefern
I'm back at my mom's guesthouse after a 12-hour bus trip from Londrina. The first 8 hours were done overnight and involved a woman who vomited into all available sick bags near her before panicking when she couldn't find the toilet (the bus had two floors). Her screaming and knocking on the driver's door woke me up but I thankfully never smelled anything or heard her with the sick bags.

I crossed São Paulo in the Metro during rush hour, which wasn't as scary as I imagined, then took a 3-hour bus ride to the guesthouse and arrived around 11am. Lunched and napped for 3 hours. Now my right foot hurts like a Saw prop.

Have some great photos which I'll post tomorrow. Good night!
commonpeople1: (Patrick)
Leave a comment and I'll give you five topics to talk about in your journal. [livejournal.com profile] sushidog gave me these:

Boys
BOYS! Summa-summa-time love, summa-summa-time love. Boys, boys, boys. What can I say, I started liking boys as soon as puberty hit. Unfortunately, I was part of a large group of boys that only liked girls. Then I fell in love with a singer who seemed to like boys but chose instead to be celibate for the rest of his life - it seemed at the time like a good idea. Then someone took me to a gay club in Montreal and my mouth hit the floor at the quantity of gorgeous men filling up the rooms. I never looked back. And now I have a boy of my own. We wander the streets of London and when a cute boy goes by we sigh: *boys*.

Incidentally, if you ever need to move your office, look no further than Ward Thomas Removals. Not only are they brilliantly efficient, their team is made up of all those hot Ozzies and Kiwis that come over to England for work experience and find their rugby muscles and friendly smiles appreciated and needed. Diamonds are a girl's best friend; boys are a boy's.

Being a long way from home
Is tough. When I returned from Brasil in January, I tried to convince Kevin that we should live at the farm with my mom and brothers. Kevin didn't like the idea but, with each passing day, he's warming up to it. The latest plan is for us to leave Britain for one year - a sort of sabbatical - and stay with my family. He could dedicate himself to his illustration and I could help with the running of the guesthouse and sort out my legal situation in Brasil, which is a mess right now. London is a sort of home, but so is Brasil. And my uncles and aunts are like parents, my cousins like siblings. Years are speeding away and I'm losing all that time I could be spending with them. They ask after Kevin - they know about us. With Kevin there with me, I'd be less afraid of growing bored from their sedate pace of life. I could write a million books from the comfort of our hammock.

Gossip
Every writer is a gossip. Every longterm LJ user is a gossip - we are here because we enjoy sharing stories about ourselves and others. The ones that don't like that sort of thing gave up their journals a long time ago. Asking after someone's well being is gossip. Hanging out with a friend will eventually lead to gossip. We learn from the world through gossip. We can't resist a good story, an enthralling cliffhanger - we seek that from those closest to us, and we take pleasure when we find it unexpectedly. Thousands of years ago, when we were still picking fleas from each others hair after a long day of hunting, we developed language through gossip (I'm sure of it). Something dramatic had to be informed (so-and-so wasn't hunting tigers as they should; they were swimming in the river) and thus gossip was born.

Cooking
I should do more of this. I eat too many ready-made soups and sandwiches. I've developed a bad habit of bringing kebab home on Thursdays (Kevin loves it.) But I'm a great cook - I've got the patience and attention to detail down to a tee. I make the best burek in the world. Doubtful? Come over and try for yourself (especially if you are a *boy*).

The environment
Depresses me. I look at my brother and friends who have children and I worry for all the problems they'll have to deal with - the diminishing natural resources (bound to cause wars), the exploding population, the way people don't give a shit about anything. My tower block's elevator is a testament to our species' impending destruction - all that garbage thrown on the floor each day says a lot about what the people here think of their "environment". When I'm feeling more positive, I remember science and all its recent giant leaps. I place my poker chips on them and hope that the nerd shall overcome.
commonpeople1: (Yumi)
If I didn't have Kevin waiting for me in London, I wouldn't fly back tonight. I have some wonderful friends in Britain, and a job I enjoy, but I have my family here - uncles and aunts that are loving substitutes for parents, and cousins that are like favourite siblings. I'd miss my friends in London, and all the wonderful things the city has to offer, but being in Brasil makes me realize how much I'm missing out by not being with my family.

Then there's my mom's guesthouse, growing each day, needing my help, with an orchard to work in, trees heavy with fruit, birds singing their little throats raw, the mountains in the distance, vigilant dachshunds at our feet and the paragliders over our heads. We are building cottages on our mountain, a swimming pool, a SPA (sauna, massage room and weights room), and a house for my brother and his family. There's a lot of work to be done and I feel like I'm needed. But there's also a much slower pace of life, good organic food that we grow ourselves, our library, brasilian soap operas on TV at night, and that promise of a U.F.O. landing any minute now.

Then I think of bringing Kevin to Brasil; everyone in my family asks how he's doing. I've never said anything, but they all know about us. They like him (he was here in 2000 for three months). We could build a studio for him to work in and dedicate himself to his illustration work, and find someone in town to teach him Portuguese. But would it be hard for him to get anything more than a tourist visa? I don't know. I should look into it.

I spoke on the phone to [livejournal.com profile] live_life_like last night, who lives in a beautiful coastal town in one of Brasil's southern states. She's the one who introduced me to LJ and it makes me sad that we weren't able to meet this time around. I need enough time in Brasil to travel south and visit her. I need enough time by the sea.

It better be sunny and warm in London when I land tomorrow.
commonpeople1: (Jasmin)
After celebrating the new year, I set up my mattress in the living room and fell asleep around 2 A.M. I woke up with the maids moving around the house, cleaning the mess from the night before, but also the sound of flapping wings inside the fireplace (which is kept covered this time of the year.) There's a nest at the top of the chimney and one of the baby swallows had fallen inside the house. I opened the windows and tried to grab it with a piece of cloth, but it dodged me and flew away. An hour later, while I was turning on the computer, my brother called me to say there was another swallow in the living room, this time holding on to the edge of one of the glass doors. Again, we opened the windows and it flew up the mountain. Is there some symbolic meaning surrounding the appearance of swallows inside one's home on new year's day?
commonpeople1: (Livia)
One day before I arrived in Brasil, my mother saw a UFO. She'd stepped outside at night to watch my brother and his bride drive off when she noticed something in the sky, just above her head. It was an object that emitted red light in all directions, reflecting on the clouds gathered at the top of the mountain our house is built on. My brother says it could have been an airplane, but my mom is convinced this it's just the latest of many sightings in this region.

Every time I visit Brasil, there is talk of UFOs and sightings, in particular around here. Discussing flying saucers here is like talking about the weather in England - something people do everyday, without a hint of embarrassment anymore. There's a town nearby, Varginha, where the entire population witnessed a UFO display in the sky in 1996. Later, some people in the town saw one of the aliens in a park. The creature was apparently captured by the government. Years later, a massive blackout hit the south of Brasil and plunged hundreds of cities into darkness. It coincided with the passage of a tube-like UFO witnessed by people in these cities, but the government claimed it was one of their airplanes protecting brasilian airspace.

Yesterday, while everyone napped after lunch (common occurence in my family) I lay in the living room watching hours of UFO documentaries on the History Channel. I'm starting to sympathise with Robbie Williams (who is a self-confessed UFO enthusiast). There's always fresh coffee on the go, cakes placed in strategic points across the house, biscuits in many jars, fruits at arm's reach from one of the many trees in our garden - and it rains rains rains, so I stay inside and scratch the heads of sausage dogs with my feet while I read books.

If you love The Goonies, Labyrinth or the Neverending Story, you must watch Bridge to Terabithia. I'm not a big fan of children in films, but these ones are excellent actors, in a very well-told story that actually manages to mix fantasy, a love story and a criticism of Christianity in a much more powerful and subtle way than Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. The trailer for the film (linked above) is actually the most misleading trailer in the history of cinematography - everything you see in it is actually a small percentage of the actual story! Highly recommend it as a thoughtful and moving film to watch during this holiday season.

Cheguei!

Dec. 25th, 2008 10:29 am
commonpeople1: (Rita)
Brasilian Santa


I'm in Brasil. Santa brought me only books this year. Sausage dogs are love. I must remain Zen for the days ahead.

Feliz Natal!
commonpeople1: (Default)
Banks are collapsing left, right and centre and I don't know how this affects me; I have no money in them, after all. My rent went up because my landlady had to re-mortgage the apartment, but the apartment was a deal beforehand and now it's just its own real price. Whatever is more expensive now, I can live without it. I don't need gas or electricity; I can burn stuff on my balcony to keep me warm - it's not like the housing association that runs this derelict slab of concrete will give a toss.

The United Kingdom is facing an impending great recession, they say. If push came to shove, could I face a McDees counter, a garbage truck, a tower block reception desk? Yes I could, and the line ups for them too. I'd treat them like audition lines for Big Brother. But push won't come to shove for me because I leave my medieval tower under bleak weather these days and by the time I reach London Fields' soggy autumn leaves the sun is cloudbusting. And I have my mom's farm in Brasil, which I could easily turn into a commune if all hell broke loose. (Hopefully it won't be too hard catching an escape flight out of this country.) I'd help most of you travel across the oceans and seven seas to reach me; I'd teach you Portuguese; I'd tell you ghost stories in the Winter when the temperature drops so low in the mountains that we have to keep the fireplace going all night long. (Sausage dogs that nestle against your leg underneath the blanket come in handy on these frightening nights.)

There's a two-storey warehouse east of London Fields that houses a Christian organisation and a modest clothes manufacturer. A truck was parked outside it today, its back doors open. A wire ran from its interior to an open window on the top floor. A head popped out of the warehouse window and soon there was a plastic-wrapped blue dress wizzing down the wire, into the truck. Franz Schubert's "Octet D 803 F major Op. 166 for two Violins, Viola, Cello, Double-Bass, Clarinet, Horn and Bassoon: Andante con variazioni" was the perfect soundtrack to this tiny tableau. (Go see if you can download it from iTunes.) Another blue dress wizzed down; a man inside the truck, collecting the dresses and stacking them, gave me evils cause I stopped to watch the flying dresses. Someone will wear those garments one day and never know the journey they took to reach their body. They'll be too busy worrying about... stuff.
commonpeople1: (Default)
Kevin gave me a Holga 120GCFN camera. It's black and made of plastic, and it takes this kind of photo. I'll take it to Victoria Park and let the autumn leaves be my first muses.

[livejournal.com profile] desayuno_ingles made a video of my sausage dogs playfighting when she visited me in Brasil this summer. It will probably mean nothing to you, but means the world to me:

commonpeople1: (Ollie)
[livejournal.com profile] desayuno_ingles arrived safe and well. Her flight was four hours late, so my brother, the driver and I killed time enjoying Sao Paulo's chaotic traffic. She went a little yellow on the drive to the farm, from the road's twists and turns (but that didn't stop her from taking pictures of the passing scenario).

She's been introduced to the family, the guesthouse, the dogs, Brasilian soap operas, homemade cheese, homemade Jabuticaba liquor, Southern Hemisphere skies, cows, stray horses, homemade pasteis and Brasilian coffee.

There were seven parrots hanging out on the tree just outside our bedroom this afternoon.

We are going shoe shopping in a minute.

Thank you [livejournal.com profile] la_mascherina for the heart-shaped, chocolate-scented candle! We'll put it to good use. :-)
commonpeople1: (Log Lady)
The Black Dahlia's Best Bum


10 p.m., yesterday. I sit down in the living room, underneath blankets, beside a crackling fire and a sausage dog, a box of cherry chocolates at arm reach, a cup of tea nearby, ready to watch a movie on TV. I flick around and find The Black Dahlia about to begin. Crime film; pretty boy Josh Harnett; 1940s LA. How can it go wrong?

First problem rears its head with Scarlett Johansson's appearance. Is it just me or she's getting worse as an actress as time goes by? Like Angelina Jolie, she seems destined to work the tiny little box she's been placed in, as the femme fatale/cute girlfriend/tragic bombshell. There's nothing beyond the cute, ripe pout. Every scene with her is flat, devoid of its drama, caught up in her self-consciousness.

Because this is Hollywood, gruesome murder is allowed to be graphic, while the characters sexuality is hinted at and quickly removed from the screen as soon as someone's shirt is off. This prudery goes against the era and the place the story is set, literally destroying the best the story has to offer. This is all the more obvious to me because Brasilian soap operas are full of characters getting naked and indulging in semi-pornographic sex scenes; they play out what the population is comfortable with watching on TV. America is not comfortable, for example, with Scarlett Johansson fully naked (or perhaps the producers couldn't afford it?) so we only get hints - which is directly opposite from the rules of the world the character lived in.

Funnily enough, when one of the characters asks the police officer if he wants to fuck her, the Brasilian subtitles are "sleep with". The defence of a people's morals goes both ways? But in a film about amorality, it's a terrible shame that we only get hints out of fear that the rating system will hurt its Box Office performance. Another disappointment is Fiona Shaw, as the disturbed mother, completely wasted in a pantomime role essential to the film, but badly explained (one of the many problems with the screenplay). This film could have been great - the period is captured perfectly - but the only amazing thing about it is Josh Harnett's smooth bum and toned lightweight boxer muscles (but only for those stuck in a farm with no eye candy for miles).
commonpeople1: (Log Lady)
What are you afraid of?

I'm afraid of waking up at 3 a.m., like I did last night, hearing the dogs bark in the kennel, a faint bluish tinge seeping into the room past the curtains, then notice that someone is outside, someone with a shotgun who has decided to rob our farm. I'm afraid this nightmarish scenario may have been brought about by our security guard telling my brother that during this time of the year, with so many visitors arriving in town to celebrate Jesus' procession, many of them get the idea of breaking into places where they think there's a lot of money (a misundertanding/mistake when it comes to our guesthouse). I'm afraid of this paranoia taking hold of me at 3 a.m., keeping me from sleeping until the roosters start singing.

I'm afraid of the violence concentrated in Brasil's megacities arriving at the countryside, in towns like this one. I'm afraid of us getting caught up in it. I'm afraid of taking at face value the peace that reigns here.
commonpeople1: (Log Lady)
One of the most popular TV shows in Brasil is Pânico na TV. It's the type of weekend show that finds its humour by cornering celebrities in order to embarrass them, as well as making fun of the general public. The presenters are made up characters, ala Borat, who walk a fine line between insulting and funny. They'll show up to red carpets, for example, and make fun of a celebrity's outfit, or go to the beach in search of the girl with the best ass. Yes, it's very dumb.

The town near my mom's farm is having a Funk Party [example] at the end of August, and Pânico na TV is sending some of their reporters, Mendigo e Mano Quietinho, to judge the women who will attend [example]. Guess where the producers and reporters will sleep? Thankfully(?), I'll be back in London by then. But I've asked my mom to take photos of them because this could be our 15 minutes of fame. We got to milk it for all it's worth.
commonpeople1: (Default)
My plane left London at 9pm, Thursday night. It flew over the city, following the river; I kept an eye out for landmarks and was slightly freaked out to spot the National Theatre. I looked in the general direction of my old office, the places I used to hang out, miles below me. I imagined the building busy, productions into their second halves, people milling about the backstage area. It felt weird to know so much from so far away.

A Dutch Pippi Longstockings sat beside me. Her blonde hair was tied up in a matted mass, crowned with a pair of sunglasses. She ate far too much sugar for her own good, then flicked through a heart-throb magazine. After much jumping and shuffling on her seat, I gave in and paid her attention. She gave me the best and friendliest smile in the world.

The hotel in Amsterdam wasn't too far from the airport. The bedroom was white and cold, and the whole place reeked of marijuana. A plastic bag was wrapped around the fire detector. Flicked through the channels and was not surprised to find porn, in full throttle. Slept for six hours and caught a bus back to the airport at 7am.

This must be the third or fourth time I fly with KLM. They are never a disappointment. Very friendly service; unlimited amount of drinks (including alcohol) and snacks; plenty of films, TV shows and games to choose from your own personal screen; and a wide variety of newspapers to read from. I watched Zodiac (excellent) and Little Children (disappointing); I read from one of the three novels I bought at Heathrow. Did you know airports don't sell poetry?

My grandma had gnocchi and country chicken ready for dinner when I finally arrived at the farm. We sat shivering in the dining room until someone had the bright idea to sit by the fireplace, under blankets. My mom brewed some tea and, by 10.30pm, I was in bed. Woke up today at 5am to the valley's roosters and cows.
commonpeople1: (Jehovah Witness)
My mom called me last night after voting for Brasil's presidency. We talked about her business (a guest house) and how things are going. Here's a tentative plan:

- When my contract runs out in May/June, I'll return to Brasil for two months. I'll re-learn how to drive so I can help my mom with errands, etc., and I'll take any courses on tourism that are offered in the region. One day, that place will belong to my brother and I, and I think it's about time I started learning more about it.
- When the two months are up, I'll fly to Canada and begin my new life there with Kevin. Get married?
commonpeople1: (Morrissey)
* Once in a while, the usual rumour ran the school's cafeteria: a new ship was in town. Sometimes you outstripped the rumour by seeing the sailors wander down the city's packed streets before anyone else, their "plain" clothes making them look so alike: tight jeans, buzz cuts, fitted shirts or T-shirts tucked in, pristine sneakers. At night, they descended upon Wan Chai, looking for Cantonese hookers and alcohol. To their surprise they would find themselves sharing clubs and bars with us, teenage gweilos who also liked a bit of cheap booze and a good time wherever ecstasy tabs were easily found.

* She called my phone to tell me she wasn't waiting by the bookshop but by the longbar. When I saw her, she was sitting beside a mother and her child, waving at the baby. In the crowded supermarket, I confessed that I was reading a trashy novel called "Labyrinth". Kevin and I made her watch Twin Peaks' pilot episode that night because she'd never seen it. I wanted to take her to Elbow's Cafe, just on the other side of Victoria Park, but the weekend was far too fast for us.

* We spent the turn of the millenium pushing a car up Saint Domingo's mountain, our feet caked with cow shit, cold rain running down our backs, the night so dark that the only thing we could see were the pine trees caught by the headlights. Then, once we had reached the top, we crammed inside the car and opened the bottle of champagne. we smoked some pot and laughed at our miserable new year's as the rain showed no sign of abating.

* Friday night and everyone from school has plans. Even my brother has gone out with his skateboard friends. I sit in my bedroom, surrounded by cheap paperbacks, computer games and a good-for-nothing TV. I have a million hours to kill and the worst company of all: myself. I haven't discovered The Smiths yet. My parents sit in the living room with my brother Nicholas and his nurse, watching television. I don't wish to join them, but I give breaks to my solitude by walking past them on my way to the kitchen.

* It's my birthday and all my friends have been asked to dress as superheroes. I am Superman and my brother is Spiderman. Another Superman arrives, taller and stronger than me, then a couple of Spideys too -- costumes from the same supermarket I'm sure. When Bianca arrives, wearing a red polka dot dress, I rush to explain away her embarrassment at having forgotten the theme, how she didn't fuck up, how there is a heroine out there, printed on a comic page, wearing the same dress and saving the world.

* The first apartment I lived on my own. A semi-basement beneath Mechtilde, the landlady with a large collection of books on Hitler. When the ice storm hit Montreal, the stairs leading to my door became a slide. I broke one of my suitcase's wheels sliding to my door after arriving from the airport. The city had been in darkness for weeks, with people sharing apartments in order to generate heat (the year of Montreal's baby boom). Mechtilde gave me boxes of chocolate in exchange for shoveling the snow off her entrance. And I, in turn, got Holly once to help me do the job. I told her it would be fun and she believed it. Then it was too late to back out when the shovel was already in her hands.

- inspired by [livejournal.com profile] rag_and_bone.
commonpeople1: (Log Lady)
My mom is convinced there are UFOs visiting Corrego do Bom Jesus. It all started a few years ago, when my mother moved back to our farm house so she could restore it and turn it into a hotel. We had a large front yard, covered by grass; one day, in the morning, she woke up and noticed that some of the grass had grown more than the rest, and its colour had changed to a dark green. Looking from the house's verandah, it was possible to see that these were circular in shape, symmetrical to one another -- four circles forming a square, with two linked rings in the centre. My uncle was staying with her at the time and he took some pictures.

Since then, the phenomena repeated itself fairly often (this went on until my mom paved most of the grass so guests can now drive their cars up to the front of the house.)

Recently, my mother and a friend went for a car ride to a place in the mountains. On the way, her friend was taking pictures of the mountains and the scenery. It was only afterwards that my mom noticed the following:

UFOs in Corrego do Bom Jesus? )
commonpeople1: (Swim)
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Thank you to everyone who wished me a happy flight in my previous post. You have no idea how much power you hold:


  • KLM air stewardess: "As you can see, you are sitting right beside an emergency exit. There are a few things you need to know: if the plane crashes, you must pull this tag and the door will open. If the door doesn´t open, you must push it. However, you must only open the door once the alarm bell stops ringing. If you open the door before that, you will be sucked into the engine, and that wouldn´t be very pleasant."
  • Out of all the passengers boarding the KLM flight to Brasil, I was one of the few to be frisked by the security guard. I love it when people think I´m dangerous/dodgy-looking.
  • As soon as the plane took off, one of the air stewards skipped down the aisle. Not run. Not walk fast. Skipped.
  • There were over 50 movies, 50 CDs, videogames and even Sudoku games to play. I could watch new fair like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, as well as the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. I fulfilled one of my lifetime dreams: I watched an airplane thriller inside an airplane (including bombs, shootings and the kidnapping of a little girl - Flightpan). I thought there was an international law against undue passenger distress? Perhaps passengers are now allowed to sensibly stress themselves out?


I´m now at the farm. My aunts, grandmother and brother are here. It´s sunny and I´ve been taking photos of the dogs drinking water from the pond. When I went to hang my towel to dry in the morning, a great kiskadee flew over me. Apparently, toucans have been flying down the mountain during certain times of the day. We are going to leave some seeds and fruits out for them.

At the moment, because of my family being around, I don´t have time to catch up with LJ. I´ll try doing so in a couple of days. I hope you are all well!
commonpeople1: (Schiele)
The name of that tree in my previous post is ABUTILON STRIATUM, also known as the Red Vein Indian Mallow (according to Google). More info over at Wikipedia.

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