In honor of some of my more recent jurisprudential shenanigans and tomfooleries in Brazil, I’ve created a “Top Ten” list, combined with a sort of “Deep Thoughts” ethos. Hope you enjoy:
10) How’s this for ironic: Yesterday, I had to run a deposit over to a building called the World Trade Center on United Nations Avenue. A week ago, I ate at one of Brazil’s finer eateries: McDonald’s. My law firm lies in a neighborhood called “Brooklin,” where each of the streets carries the name of one our fine states. On top of it all, I currently reside in the “Americanópolis” neighborhood. Even after all of this, I have yet to meet an American in Brazil.
9) If you ever have the chance to teach English to a Brazilian, or any other foreigner, please take the time to pronounce carefully the words “Sheet” and “Beach.” Beyond that, take care to explain that there exists two not-so-nice words that can easily be confused with these, which have nothing to do with laundry or vacations. If you fail to do this, many innocent trips to a California Laundromat may end very tragically.
8) If your supervisor or even a colleague ever offers you “interesting” work, it’s probably not interesting. Really. If it were so engrossing, don’t you think your co-worker would be doing it? Instead, you are left to copy and paste information into excel documents. Interesting...
7) I have found that the most random events in the Universe can converge on my life like Brazilians onto High School Musical (true story—the juggernaut Disney movie, filmed at good ol’ East High school, recently sold out its touring show at TWICE the price of last year’s U2 concert in São Paulo) within a few days. Super-Happy example: Being with my Mission President, surrounded by old companions, in a country I love, when the Manaus Temple is announced. Irony-Sad example: Not having enough change to cover bus fare yesterday, and being forced to ask some of my fellow passengers for the five cents that I needed. Worse—it took a while to find someone willing to donate.
6) For those looking for adventure and adrenaline, all you need to do is get yourself dropped off in the middle of Downtown São Paulo and try and find your way back to the office. Alone. Without a sense of where you are. Did I mention alone? It sounds like a game I used to play with my little brother, only it was at the park, across the street from the house, not in one of the biggest cities in the world. (PS—I made it back)
5) Toilet paper cannot, under any circumstances, EVER be flushed down the toilet in Latin America. Enough said.
4) Office Work is Office Work, no matter where you are. Only, in Portuguese, it’s called “Trabalho do Escritório.” But, for some reason, that doesn’t give it the kind of latinny zip you’d expect. It’s still grindingly eye-weary at times.
3) Rice and Beans are addicting. For breakfast: Frosted Flakes, some fruit juice, and a banana. Dreaming about the Feijoada (black bean stew) I’ll be having with Arroz Mixto (kind of like rice-a-roni, only better) and farofa (I have tried for many years to describe farofa to people who have never had it. I think my father said it best when he called it “Salted texture”) at Lunch. For Lunch: Feijoada com Arroz Mixto e Farofa. Dreaming about the rice and beans I’ll be having at dinner. For Dinner: Rice and beans with some chicken and a pear on the side, with pineapple juice. Thinking about tomorrow’s rice and beans. It’s a cycle. It’s vicious. I try and convince myself that I can stop whenever I want, but I know I’m only spiraling downward. At least it’s a tasty, fairly healthy addiction. Much better than my longtime love affair with Thin Mint Icecream…
2) When Brazilians call you “fat,” they mean it in a good way. Not like “phat” in the states, but more like when you’re Mom lovingly called you “husky” or “thin” instead of “chunky” or “skinny.” Even then, that doesn’t do justice to the meaning. For example, most people would be offended if I went up to them and said Está parecendo gordo! –or– “You’re looking fat!” The reaction that would engender is something akin to what the neighbor’s cats do at 2:34 am every morning until someone throws a sandal. Actually, está parecendo gordo is like telling someone “Hey, you’re looking healthy,” only without any of the mean-spirited Ameri-Anglo-Saxon sarcasm attached. I just realized that this entry does not make any sense whatsoever. I apologize. You’re fat.
1) Laws are laws, lawyers are lawyers, people are people, and life is life, no matter where, what, or who you are. Of course, some members of those groups are more retarded than others. And isn't that what Forrest Gump was all about?