Obrigada, vizinha

Stress, emotions, don’t think.

The last weeks have been once more a whirlwind of activities around here. We have sorted through all our belongings, decided what furniture to sell, what few piece to include in our move, what to donate, what to toss in the garbage, what to give to the in-laws, what to keep for the next 2 months, etc. What exactly will fit in the luggage at the end of the 2 months is still a mystery, but one step a time is my motto these days.

Stress, emotions, keep going.

I have donated boxes of children’s books to the schools libraries. They were surprised to receive donations, and didn’t seem to know what to do with it, but I told myself that giving books to the public schools will give more chances for the said books to be read.

Stress, emotions, I feel lighter.

A box of young adult fiction novels in pristine, near new condition, in English, have been sold for a ridiculous low price to the language schools where I teach. Better than nothing, I guess. We would have paid too much to have them moved back to Canada anyway.

Stress, emotions, that’s OK.

I gave bags of clothes to charity. Clothes that I used to wear in Canada before moving to Brazil 5 years ago. I could probably have used them again in a couple of months, but I needed to get rid of extra weight, of extra volume, and my old layers of skin.

Stress, emotions, I don’t care anymore.

 

When it came to sell furniture, I didn’t know how to approach the problem. In Canada, it would have been as simple as posting pictures on Kijiji (or Craiglist, if you are in the States) and that’s about it. I did the same here, but to no result. Then I posted a public post on FB. A lot of shares and interest, but only one or two sales from it. Finally, talking to a very friendly neighbor (she knows the whole street on a first name basis) and her sister (who has lived in Australia and Italy, and now works as an ESL teacher here) (I gave her two dictionaries– she was very happy), they have spread the word to their large family, friends, students and neighbors and are responsible for selling most of my furniture… I am very thankful!

Stress, emotions, I am grateful!

On the week prior to the move, our oldest cat (Malok-the-cat) got very sick. We still don’t know what happened, but he simply stopped eating and drinking to the point that he was unresponsive when D called his name (he is usually like a dog and comes running when you call his name, especially hubby, ‘his’ special human). So D had to bring him to the vet and he stayed overnight with intravenous. After some tests, there is apparently nothing much wrong with him, except that he is old and stopped eating. So we need to force-feed him every day… (If you have ever done that, you know how increasingly difficult that is).

Stress, emotions, please move back with us.

The movers have come on a Friday.

D and I were both extremely sick with an ugly flu/ conjunctivitis combo, so we were all the more grateful for the packing team (half a dozen employees) that came with the truck, container and all the packing necessities. We were basically there only to supervise. In a couple of hours, they had already packed all our stuff! I was so out of it that I didn’t even bother to stay until the end, I left after lunch time for a nap, and D was there only to sign the inventory.

Stress, emotions, I thought I was dying.

The following days were a haze of accelerated back and forth between the “green house” (that’s how the kids call it now) and my in-laws house (where we are now sleeping), emptying our kitchen of all food, bringing over all the small stuff that we will still use  during our stay, then leave behind. The green house is empty of our belonging, and all cleaned, but we still have some furniture which is slowly being sold. I will most probably call the second-hand store to come pick up the left overs by the end of the week.

We have booked our plane tickets. D is now gone to Canada. Over here I try to maintain a bit of normalcy with the kids, going to school every morning, until we leave ourselves in two months.

The following piano piece has nothing to do with anything, except that is what I’ve been listening to.

Stress, emotions, relax.

Anúncios

Chega de saudade

Ce matin j’écoutais la radio en allemand (sur Radio Garden, je conseille vivement) et je grelotais de froid. Il ne faisait que 20°C chez moi. Que voulez-vous j’ai perdu l’habitude, c’est le vrai hivers brésilien ici, quoi! Et puis, cinq minutes plus tard, j’entend les allemands se plaindre de leur été frisquet cette année… Il ne faisait que 17°C chez eux. Ha ha.

Quand j’ai raconté cette petite anecdote à D, il a bien rigolé. Lui qui a le sang chaud n’a jamais souffert de l’hivers canadien, par contre ici son malaise est extrême pendant les mois chauds. C’était carrément l’enfer pour lui en Rondônia. Par contre pour les enfants et moi qui sommes plus frileux, nous allons avoir un sacré choc quand on retourne au Canada.

J’ai bien dit “quand” et non pas “si”, parce qu’en effet, oui… Nous retournons au Canada!

Ce n’est pas un secret, même si je n’écris plus souvent par ici, les cinq derniéres années au Brésil ont été très difficiles pour nous. Spirituellement, émotionellement, financièrement, culturellement. Et en fait, depuis que nous sommes ici nous avons eu le constant incomfort de ceux qui ne font que passer. D’abord c’était tout simplement la fin du monde. On voulait tout simplement que le supplice passe aussi vite que possible. Puis ça c’est un peu améliorer l’année passée à Goias, mais c’était quand même pas super. La ville trop petite et loin de tout pour s’imaginer “grandir” là trop longtemps.

Alors nous sommes allés mettre à jour nos passeports canadiens au service consulaire de l’Ambassade du Canada à Brasilia. Juste “au cas où”. Je pense que ce que l’on aimait le plus de nos brefs passages à la capitale est que tout y était tellement propre, la ville bien planifiée, et le climat tellement agréable que l’on se sentait presque de retour au Canada!

Maintenant que la décision est prise, on se souvient de plusieurs moments avec une sorte de double vision. Par exemple, quand D a fait les démarches pour nos contributions pour la retraite, il a eu la forte sensation que c’était de l’argent jeté par la fenêtre. Et chaque mois, quand je retournais au guichet de la Loterica pour faire le paiement, je me disais la même chose… Était-ce une vision, une intuition, ou wishful thinking?

Autre exemple plus récent, quand L (ma belle-mère adorée) a offert des manteaux d’hivers aux garçons au mois de mai (début des fraîcheurs hivernales ici), je me suis dit: “Ça c’est bon pour l’hivers canadien”, mais j’ai repoussé cette pensée en me disant simplement que ces manteaux étaient un peu exagérés pour le Brésil!

Pour l’instant, nous sommes encore à l’étape préliminaire. D va annoncer sa décision dimanche. Il n’y a pas grand chose que l’on puisse faire pour l’instant à part en parler avec nos meilleurs amis canadiens et américains qui prient pour nous, et penser à tout ce qu’il faudra vendre, donner, jeter, emboîter (une fois de plus).

D ira loger chez nos amis qui habitent à W (Ontario), d’où il cherchera un emploi dans la ville même ou plus loin si nécessaire London, Guelph, etc. Tout est incertain de ce côté là. Aprés avoir empaqueté nos choses, prètes à envoyer, et libéré la maison, j’irais vivre chez mes beaux-parents avec les enfants en attendant de savoir quelle sera notre nouvelle adresse. Je n’ai encore rien dit ni à mes parents, ni aux écoles où je travaille… Notre période d’attente risque d’être plus ou moins longue dépendement du marché du travail en Ontario, et je ne veux pas avoir du stress supplémentaire.

Nous sommes quand même tristes que ce soit la situation de l’église qui nous pousse à retourner au Canada. Nous sommes aussi tristes (gros PINCEMENT au coeur!!!) d’aller vivre encore une fois loin de la famille. La lueur d’espoir, quand même, est que maintenant qu’ils sont tout les deux retraités, ils envisagent de vendre leur (grande et belle) maison pour venir nous rejoindre plus tard, quand nous seront installés! Et E (mon beau frère) et M (sa copine) envisagent eux aussi de nous suivre… Qui sait, peut-être que d’ici quelques années, nous vivrons à nouveau tous proches de l’autre côté de l’Amérique!

Tempestade de gelo

Yes, it’s winter here, but no, there are no ice storms in Brazil, and definitely not here in the North of Goiás! We have been having cooler nights, around 15°C, and while I feel cold and need TWO thick blankets to cover myself to sleep comfortably, my husband still turns on the fan and covers himself with only one single thin sheet. He has always been warm blooded. 😉

I have been cleaning up my old traveling trunk lately. It is full of memorabilia, namely old letters (do you remember the time we used to communicate long-distance through hand-written letters?), old fashion diaries, and many dolls I was keeping in case I had a daughter one day. After two tries that resulted in three boys, I think it’s safe to bet it won’t happen, so I have been giving away the toys gradually to the very few girls around us. As for the letters and diaries, I have been down memory lane… A strange place to travel. I remember my late teens and early twenties as if it were yesterday, yet it was almost twenty years ago! GASP. My mind was a very strange place by then. I was myself in essence, I guess, but my beliefs, my priorities and dreams have changed dramatically. Thank God for the person I have become, I was so confused by then, yet seemingly so sure of myself!

For the purpose of this post, I thought it might be interesting to copy, and edit a bit, an assignment I was given for an English class in college. From 1997 to 1999, I was enrolled in a 2-years pre-university program in Music in an English-speaking Cégep (Collège d’Éducation Général Et Professionel) in Montreal.

Here it goes.

Last year, on Tuesday, January 6, 1998, an ice storm hit Montreal island. Many neighborhoods had no electricity. The situation became dramatic especially for the population whose heating depended solely on the power of Hydro-Quebec. I interviewed three people of three different age groups who, twelve months later, still remember.

The first one who kindly accepted to answer my questions is Mounia. She is the youngest girl I know around me, a neighbor and my very first piano student. An intelligent twelve-year-old girl. I had to ask her the questions by phone in the evening of Saturday, February 13, because she was sick and the illness was contagious. The TV in the background.
– Where were you when the storm hit Montreal last year?
– I spent the Christmas holidays with my family in Florida, and when we came back the ice storm arrived the day just after.
– Did you miss power right away?
– Yes, almost, one or two days afte the beginning of the storm.
– Did you stay home?
– No, we went with my family at my uncle’s apartment on Queen Mary. We had electricity because the building had a generator.
– What did you do to spend time there?
– Nothing special; we played cards, computer games… Wait a sec’ Noelia, there is somebody at the door. (I hear her opening the door and tell ‘somebody’, “Yes, I’m still sick and it’s contagious.”)
– What do you remember the most about the ice storm?
– The tree branches with a lot of ice over them.
– Do you remember ever having been afraid?
– Oh no, except for the weather outside everything was normal.
– Do you remember a nice moment?
– (she coughs a little before answering) Yes! The funniest was the night before going at my uncle’s, we spent one night around the fireplace in the living room and we cooked marshmallows.
– How would you feel if we had another ice storm?
– I would not like to live through another one but it was fun because we didn’t have school. After they canceled some breaks and pedagogical days (to catch up on teaching days), that was less fun.
“Ha! Ha!” we laugh at her answer, then I thank her and hang up the phone.

My second interviewee is one of my best friends. Emilia is from Colombia, she is twenty years old. I met her Saturday evening just after calling Mounia at a Second Cup (a coffee shop) on Sainte-Catherine Street with a lot of noise and young people around us. We like that place because it is downtown and close to the ‘two-fifty-place’ (the cheapest movie-theater in English).
– Where were you when the ice storm hit Montreal?
– It was a Tuesday (on winter break) and I was home, coming back from work. But in Dollard-Des-Ormeaux we missed power after two days and we went to the house of friends of the family I was living with.
– How was it in that house?
– Well, it was warm there, and that was the most important. It was also a big house, but after a while we could feel tension because we were nine people in a house where they used to be four.
– What did you do to pass the time?
– We played board games and spent a lot of time talking in front of the fireplace.
– Do you think the situation helped you to get along better with relatives?
– Not really with the family I was living with at the time. (She is distracted one moment by people passing behind her, “Oops! Sorry.” “It’s OK.”)… But I met those people I didn’t know before, and I know that the family I was with stayed in touch with them as well.
– Did the storm affect your job?
– Yes. I was working at a computer shop in Snowdon and because of the power cut, we had to close it for two days.
– What is your most vivid memory?
– Oh… It was when I went to your house after work and you were practicing the ‘Valse Romantique’ by Debussy. Every time you play it now, I remember the view I had of your garden with the enormous branches broken by ice.
– Do you remember bad moments?
– Once we went to pick up some clothes back home and I remember that I took off my shoes as usual… (she shivers). Even the carpet was frozen inside the house.
– Did that affect you in everyday life?
– No, in the sense that I don’t think of it every morning when I wake up, but I think of it sometimes. I realized how people can be worried about losing things and how men can adapt themselves to many different situations. I realized that you might lose everything tomorrow, so I try not to depend on material needs.
– Would you be ready for another ice storm?
– I think that I would be ready psychologically because it wouldn’t be a new experience anymore.
– Would you behave in another way in the case of a new ice storm?
– Yes, for sure; I would try to do some volunteer work, to help other people.

(This is what I used to practice back then, I can’t remember if I ever finished it)

The third and last person I interviewed is my mother. She is presently in her mid-forties. I didn’t know exactly how she felt regarding us during the ice storm before I asked her these questions. She had the luck to leave Montreal on January first 98 to visit her family in Argentina. The interview took place in the kitchen at home after our Sunday brunch, February 14, 1999. The sun was shining outside, a cold and bright winter day. It was warm inside. The dishwasher had just started its usual work.
– What are you thinking about when I ask you about the ice storm?
– I can tell you that I missed an historical event in Quebec (irony). I was in Argentina under the sun of the austral summer, but there too, people were worried because the influence of ‘el corriente del Niño’ (the current Niño) was affecting all America. There were inundations in some regions of Argentina which are not usually affected, especially not at that time of year.
– But how was it going in Buenos Aires?
– Oh well, the weather was great, but the news I had there through the cable on television had me really worried. Do you remember how many times I called you guys? There were apocalyptic images: high voltage towers falling down like card castles, lodging centers seemed to be filled with hundreds of people sleeping on the floor. It was unbelievable! These images were for me as if my family was in country at war. (She nervously lights up a cigarette and starts smoking).
– When did you first feel relieved?
– One week after the beginning of the storm, when your father told me that my two kids were finally going to sleep warmly until the end of this situation.
– Which is your most vivid memory about the Ice Storm?
– When I came back home, around the 20th or after, I can’t remember… I could see enormous trees cut in pieces and long branches of 3 or 4 meters covered with a big thickness of ice in the backyard.
– Did you learn something because of the ice storm?
– I realized that the Quebec population is generous and jointly responsible. On the other hand, I didn’t like the reaction of some other people who were mad to have had their daily routine disrupted!

(The following may be some of the images my mom saw when she was in Argentina)

I do not remember exactly where I was when the Ice Storm hit Montreal last year, but I was indeed here. I live in NDG (Notre-Dame-De-Grâce), the Montreal neighborhood where the power was out the longest. Our streets had old trees and branches that had fallen on top of exposed power lines. It was a long and difficult work to clean up the streets and put the power back up. We missed electricity from the beginning of the storm; during the first night, it was out only a little while, then nothing during the remaining nine days.

I spent the first three days practicing piano as if nothing was happening around me. I was just wearing another pair of socks over the first pair and an extra pull-over. I did the same thing to sleep at night. Our house was holding out the heat a little while longer than most other houses in our street and neighborhood because, unlike the vast majority of Canadian houses, ours is not built with wood but rather with blocks of concrete. It takes longer to heat up, but also longer to cool down. My father had also lighted up the fireplace in the living room, though it did little to warm up the other rooms of the house.
The fourth day, my brother and I decided that we wanted to take a hot shower. We took the bus as usual to the metro; the metro however was not working anymore when we arrived there. So from there we thought that the closest pool would be in Westmount; unfortunately, we faced closed doors and no hot water there either. The buses were slow, and we didn’t know where to go, but many bus rides later, we finally found hot water in the sports center of the University of Montreal. It literally took us all afternoon to get washed and warmed!
At home, I was not able to practice anymore, for my fingers were freezing in contact with the piano. We had invitations from friends everywhere to go stay with them, but my father who was keeping the fireplace alight night and day, even if it was keeping us barely warm, insisting that this experience was “unbelievable, more exciting than camping.” He had always been special, in his own twisted version of optimism, but that to me was simply crazy. He was making me nervous; I was mad at him and cold to the bones.
After six days without power, my father finally let my brother and I go to the apartment of a friend of his cousin in Côte-Des-Neiges. It was a little apartment, but it was warm, and the people were nice. They were usually three living there; we became seven when, in addition to another couple, my dad brought us in. We spent time watching the news on television, drawing or talking. I spent a lot of time talking to my friends on the phone, more than usual because I felt extremely alone even if surrounded by so many people. I was also disappointed because I was unable to practice my music.

When everything became gradually normal, it was for me as if spring were already here!