I’m Telling You This for the Last Time

I don't know what to say, except that it's close to the end here in Brazil, and it has been a whirlwind of emotions, and things to do, and anxiety, and parties with friends, and alcohol, and emotions, and wait…I already said that.

Update: until last week, I was excercising every day, just like I said I would try. But this last week I didn't make it…unless you include frantic sprints or angry gesticulations towards bus drivers. But I'm sure anxiety burns it's share of calories, so maybe I'm ok. Except no, I'm not.

Uma cesta de Natal: cheio de coisas que você não quer :)

Another update of sorts: after I blogged about that special graffiti in my old neighborhood (notice I said “old neighborhood”–that is because I did succeed in moving out of my apartment. Juuuuuuuust barely. Money and tears can do wonders. And money. Did I mention money?) there were some folks that reminded me that it's not true that “no one cares.” You are right. Sometimes my language tends towards the realm of extremes. Well, maybe all the time. But here is what I meant: there are some who care, yes, but there is such an overwhelming majority that are indifferent or ignorant or apathetic or lazy that it brings all the rest who care down. In fact, it wears us out so much that sometimes we even forget that we care, and we start making excuses for the majority that don't care, saying that the situation is complicated, and we try to offer excuses for them. But here is the reality: it is not complicated. Life is ugly. Cultures are not perfect. We all have improvements to make, and those improvements require LOTS of work. I am worried about Brazil, but I have not yet given up hope.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve…doesn't matter your tradition, your religion, your culture: now is a season of hope. And it's also a season of mistakes. Of reality. Of shitty decisions. Of grace. I wish you all the best, but you must understand, MY best includes things that you may not want: truth, tears, chocolate, suffering, good music, hoppy beer, loud voices, perfect cookies, children laughing and complaining, difficult questions, beach vacations, forever covenants. If you don't want my best, ok, don't take it. But this is all I have to offer. Beijos! Até a próxima!

 

Let’s Get Physical!

I'm always trying to yell less.

I understand, yes, that this blog is about how I yell, but I would like for that to happen less and less. Maybe I will eventually change the name of the blog: idontyelltoooften.com? or maybe imusingmyinsidevoiceallthetime.com? Possibly not as catchy a name, I realize, but healthier.

I will not be weight lifting

And that's where I came up with an idea to test a theory–I have read a few articles recently like this one, from the New York Times, about the affects of exercise. It really doesn't seem to be rocket science to me; in fact, it seems quite obvious that if you get out and move around, your brain and emotions and thoughts will be affected by the health of your body. So I'm testing it this month! Every day (and yes, I did start at the beginning of the month) I will attempt some kind of exercise: I might run, I might walk, I might do a short 7-minute interval training, I might play soccer with my son. I will move, I will burn calories, I will raise my heart-rate, I will breathe, I will make new muscles. And I am also hoping that I will be more easy-going, less quick-tempered, and have less anxiety.

Why now? Well, for those of you who know me, the month of December is a particularly busy one this year. I am preparing to move from Brasil to the United States, I am moving out of my apartment here, selling most of my possessions, trying to say “goodbye” to many many friends, and finishing my duties at work. That's a lot of opportunities for problems, yelling, anxiety, anger, and mistakes. It doesn't quite make mathematical sense to “add” more into my schedule, but not all good things make sense.

Don't worry though, I will still continue to rant here–it's quite theraputic. A new post is brewing, full of pianos, happy people, and musical mediocrity. Coming soon!

Cookies have also been known to raise my heart rate

 

Rite of Spring Break

Alright, so I've settled down since the last post. Yes, I did have some beers. And some fantastic wine too. I'm better now, really.

And now I'm thinking about the week ahead–I'd like to avoid any social disasters, high-energy phone calls, and retail establishments, just to be safe. These goals are not so realistic (especially the last), but I find things go better for me when I plan ahead, so I'm gonna try. I also don't have any rehearsals until the end of the week, which means I have to be disciplined with my time. So here's some ideas I have:

I need this shirt

Baking: It's Thanksgiving week, and I'm gonna bake up a storm. Well, maybe just a couple of pies. Pies are a new conquest for me–I have found a pie-crust recipe that just will not FAIL. At least, not the last three times I've used it, so I'm pretty confident. So my wife and I are joining forces for a pumpkin pie (I believe she has already made the pumpkin filling), and then I will try to whip up some kind of fruity delight. I'm also going to meet with some of my favorite bakers in an attempt to leave a little piece of myself, right here in Brasil. If everything goes right, my name may just be immortalized right here in Belo Horizonte. I'll keep you posted.

LIAR! Don't look her in the eye!

Banking: This is the part of the plan that gives me pause… Banking has a tendency to not be “fun” here. But my bank is a fancy version of the farm animal craziness that is the norm, so I have hope that a trip to the bank could actually be productive and relaxing, and fill me with some nice espresso. There is really no such thing as a “free” bank account here, so I have to figure out how to leave an account open here, but without very much money in it. Hmmm. Maybe I shouldn't talk about my banking woes on the internet.

Ballet: Okay, so I won't really be dancing, but I thought it would be cool if I had three B's. Plus, I will be working very hard on music from “The Rite of Spring,” Stravinsky's shocking ballet from the early 1900s. You see, even though I don't have to rehearse, I still have PLENTY of work to do at home in order to prepare. It literally takes hours of my day to maintain my level of playing (scales, etudes, solo pieces) and also prepare for the orchestral repertoire that I will be playing. I am really looking forward to playing this piece–I have studied it and listened to it many times (and I bet many of you would be surprised to know how familiar it is to YOU as well), but I have never had the chance to perform The Rite of Spring. This the ballet whose music and dance were so controversial they caused riots after the first performances. I'm just hoping the crazy carnal rhythmic insanity does not spill over into the rest of my life.

Rite of Spring (excerpt)

In a version of the Ballet by Pina Bausch

 

One sorry cookie slut

I spent a good deal of time this afternoon in the kitchen: baking, prepping, cleaning. I do enjoy that: I enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes when everything turns out just right. And I love making bread for many reasons: I know exactly what goes into it, I get to use my hands, it doesn’t take long (I have a rhythm when I make it), and it tastes DAMN good. Seriously, it is really hard to buy bread for sandwiches at the store–none of it tastes much better than cardboard.

Cute, but yucky to eat.


My bread is better


 

I also love to make cookies. I love to make cookies because I love to eat cookies. But I love to eat cookies so much, that pretty much any cookie will do. I am a cookie slut. I have thought long and hard about what makes the perfect cookie, and I have my methods and my secrets (most of them are not so secret). I always hope the cookies will turn out perfect, because I want to eat perfect cookies. I love to eat cookies.

Living in Brasil makes me sad about cookies sometimes. Their store cookies are different, but they are fine; that is not the problem. What makes me sad? I don’t have all of my cookie tools here, namely my kitchenaid mixer, and a suitable sifter. You would think the sifter would be easy enough to find or bring from the US, but somehow it has slipped through the cracks yet again, and I do not have one. I miss that. But even more, I miss my mixer. And it is ridiculously heavy, so bringing it here is kind of crazy. But I’m getting kind of crazy, so it just might happen next time. Why can’t I buy it here? Well, I could, I suppose, if I wanted to spend 1/3 of my monthy paycheck. “Oh, I’m sorry kids, we’re going kinda light on food these next few months, but hey, we do have that fancy mixer that Daddy’s been pining after!” Yeah, that quote is not going down in the annals of great parenting history.

Another thing that took forever today was getting home after my concert. Public transportation is pretty impossible on Sundays in Belo–life slows down, and the busses don’t come very often. Plus, there’s this HUGE fair every Sunday right in downtown (very close to where my concert was taking place), and it makes navigating that section of the city nearly impossible. And so here’s what my trek home looked like: about 15 minutes of hard walking with a cello on my back, waiting for about 15 minutes at the bus stop, a 20 minute bus ride (there was traffic, this ride should have taken only 7 minutes), and another 8 minute walk home. Interesting cultural observation at the bus stop: Brazilians (at least here in Minas) rarely speak up when someone is cutting in front of them. There were dozens of people waiting for taxis at the bus station, and when one would arrive, it didn’t matter how long you had waited; whoever got to the door first was the one who got in the taxi. But no one ever said “Hey! I was here before you!” Nope. That’s just the way things go. There has actually been a recent study about this phenomenon, and if you are interested you can look here.

That’s all I will say about that now, but I’m sure I will have more to say in the future. I’m never short on thoughts, or ideas. Just cookies. Always short on cookies. *sigh*