Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Take Your Chances

I started this blog quite some time ago, and originally intended to use it as a sort of e-diary for the things I expected to experience in moving to a new country. Obviously, things didn't go quite as planned. Since I started this blog, I have relocated three times. I moved with my family in July of 2012 to Brazil. At the end of August, I returned to the US and spent 4 months living with my grandmother. This January, I returned to Brazil, and I'll stay here until May, when I return once again to the US for school. None of these moves have ended up as I expected them too, and the things I thought I was prepared for were really things that you can't ever be prepared for. I think the reasons behind my blogging failure can attest to what moving to a new country is really like. In short, only one thing is certain. Things never go exactly as you expect, and, even if they do, there are some things you can never prepare yourself for.

As I sit here in my room thinking about the last eight months, I am shocked at how much my family has handled and how much I have changed. Eight months ago, I was a little Michigan girl who knew very little about the world outside her town bubble. Though I have always thought myself independent, I was really a child who relied heavily upon her parents for security.  I think most young adults can point to a single experience or period of growth in their life that brought them out of dependency into independence. I don't claim to be all the way there yet, but I believe that, ten years from now, I will see now as that period of growth. I have moved to a different country, moved home again on my own, applied for college, graduated from high school,  quit my first job, began volunteering at a school here in Brazil, and started learning a new language, all by myself. Of all the things I have done in my life, these months have changed me most.

When I first stepped off the plane in Sao Paulo, I had no clue what I was in for. Living in this country, even living the privileged expatriate life I live here, is nothing like living in the US. When we arrived here, our stuff was three months behind us, in some ocean port somewhere. We lived with the bare necessities in a huge echo-y apartment.  We knew nobody, were unfamiliar with the city, had no clue how to shop when all of the food labels were in Portuguese, and didn't even have a stove. People we had never met reached out to us for no other reason than the fact that, they had been in our shoes before and someone had reached out to them. When your stuff is in the middle of the ocean, you miss the weirdest things. I didn't miss my bed or our TV half as much as I expected. What I missed was our toaster, and a 8x2 baking pan, and my acne medication (which had somehow gotten itself packed in the shipment). People here understood because, when they moved here, they missed their toaster too.

We collected an odd assortment of borrowed items, among them the a fore mentioned  toaster, electrical converters, a baking pan, and a pepper shaker. With each nick-knack, we made a friend. It's amazing how much easier things become when you have people. I think one of the most important lessons I learned through this move is the importance of having people.

When I arrived home again, it was an odd experience. I thought I was going to be jubilant. I was sort of expecting some glorious homecoming. Instead, it was bittersweet. I didn't go back to my old house, I didn't even go back to the same city I'd lived in before. Though it was the US, and 'home,' it was also not the same and another totally new experience. Almost immediately, I missed my family desperately - so desperately it was sometimes painful. The good thing about moving home alone is that I definitely found out who my friends are. It might have been painful, but I learned how to be on my own.

Now that I am back in Brazil, it feels like a vacation. Even though I'm' pretty busy, I am finding a lot of time to just sit by the pool and relax. My mom makes dinner, and I don't have to. She does laundry, too! I am so happy to back with my family, especially my dad, who is my best friend in all the world. I miss my friends a ton, but I'll see them when I go back in May. Now, I'm focusing on spending time with my family while I can.

I am so grateful that we did this - made such a big change. It has truly changed my life and the way I see the world. People tend to shy away from change, but if you the chance to do something that might change the way you look at the world, by all means, do it.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Anesthetic Adventure

A few days ago, I got my wisdom teeth out. It was quite an adventure for me seeing as I had never had any kind of surgery before. I was terrified of the IV and the anesthetic. I was afraid that either they wouldn't be able to find the vain in my hand to put me to sleep or that I wouldn't be able to wake up afterword. I know...neither of these are very realistic fears, but I can't be blamed.

I think I was talking to the doctor. All I remember is this wonderful cold feeling in my hand and lip was fat, and I thought it was tomorrow. I woke up an hour later never even knowing that I'd been asleep. My lip was really funny, I got several solid minutes of enjoyment out of poking at my feelingless lip. Who needs toys  - numb lips are the new cardboard boxes. As I was a little loopy, I was wheel-chaired out to my car. I must say, this was a rather disappointing experience. After the 16 years I've spent thinking how much fun it would be if somebody would push me around in a stroller all day, the chair-ride was rather anticlimactic.

I got home, and promptly slapped my poor dear sister across the face for trying to hug me...I guess post-surgery is the only time I can get away with things like that, at least I made the most of it! I slept the whole day, then, and ate yogurt. The next day, I went to drama rehearsal, and the day after that I went to church. Until Sunday afternoon, everything was fine. Then, however, I was socked in the face by a very frustrated and obnoxious small brother. A huge bubble-thing promptly formed in my mouth and I had to make an emergency trip to the dentist. The lovely bubble has produced much pain, and I can feel it even after all the pain drugs they gave me.

Whining about my sibling's stupidity, however, is not the purpose of this post. The purpose of this post is to say that, as long as you avoid extenuating circumstances (like getting bopped in the face), this whole Wisdom teeth ordeal is not half as bad as they make it out to be. Milk it while you can and eat a bunch of junk food :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saint Patrick's Day

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Do to the fact that Saint Patrick is both my dad and brother's patron saint and the fact that we are an extremely Irish family, this day is a pretty big deal here. I know that, for those over 21, St. Pat's day is a fun time to drink green beer with family and friends, and that, for those under 21, it's a fun day to hang out with said green-beer-drinking family and drink green Sprite. However, I feel like the true story of Saint Patrick gets lost in the hub-bub of the secular holiday. Saint Patrick's day is about more than drunk Leprechauns, in fact, in my opinion, it isn't about Leprechauns at all. Saint Patrick's day is a day to remember and celebrate the strength, courage, and heroism of an extraordinary soul who, with the help of God, turned a lost country toward Heaven.

Something many people find surprising is that Saint Patrick actually wasn't even Irish. He was a wealthy Roman, born in Scotland, and captured by a raiding party at the fourteen. He was enslaved in Ireland, and forced to tend and herd sheep in a land of Druidism and Paganism. While enslaved, he learned the language and ways of the Irish people. He spent much time in prayer, turning to God throughout the many hardships he faced while in captivity. When he was about twenty years old, God spoke to him in a dream and told him to journey to the coast of Ireland where he would find sailors waiting to take him home.

Although Patrick returned home and reunited with his family, he still wasn't peaceful. One night, he had a dream in which the Irish people were reaching out to him and calling "We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more." Patrick heard God's call not only to the priesthood, but also understood that God meant for him to return to the land of his captivity and care for the souls of his captors.

We have many legends about what Patrick did once he returned to Ireland. We know that he used a shamrock to teach about the blessed trinity. He is the reason that shamrocks are such a Irish symbol today. There is also a story in which, in an attempt to discredit Patrick, druid priests released snakes in Ireland and then claimed that the creatures were in answer to their prayers. Patrick allegedly banished the serpents from Ireland where they were never seen again. We don't have many solid facts about exactly what Patrick did in Ireland, but we know that he converted almost the entire island to Christianity.

Because of Saint Patrick, my Irish ancestors knew and loved God. The Irish people have always been a people of strength and have endured so much as a nation. Saint Patrick gave them the tools they needed to endure these things. But more than just this, I feel that Saint Patrick is a model of what all Christians should be like in this lost and pagan world. Our culture now is a dark and pagan one, much like that of the Irish before Patrick's coming. We need to respond to the call of those lost and "Walk among [them] once more," bringing Christ's light to the world.

So, as you drink your green beer (or in most of our cases, Sprite), try not to forget altogether the true spirit of Saint Patrick and what an honor it truly is to be Irish. Happy Saint Pat's day everybody. May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.(An Old Irish Blessing)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Continuation & A Few Book Opinions

Presently, I am sitting in my kitchen eating lunch meat chicken on crackers. Although my present occupation is relatively normal and definitely unassuming, the last two days have been extraordinarily eventful. The horrors which began two days ago (those referred to in my previous post) have only grown more horrible. Since the discovery of the hidden homework, it's been a downhill journey. It rained cats and dogs yesterday, and today, my math teacher informed us that he would not be lecturing on the exam material. Great. Absolutely splendid. Ah well, it seems unfair to subject you to two whinny posts in a row, so I will, instead, subject you to the boring summary and comparison of several books I have recently read/am currently reading, in a effort to get my mind of matrices.

Several months ago, I decided to read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I thoroughly enjoy creepy books, and this one had just the right balance of the creeps, tragedy, and romance. I absolutely adore this book, and would recommend it to both ladies and gentlemen alike. The thing is, while it is focused on a girl, it is an uncharacteristically good story and has a happy ending. This particular point is important because the next book I read does NOT.

Because I so enjoyed Jane Eyre, I decided to read Wuthering Heights. This is written by Emily Bronte, Charlotte's sister. I was curious as to whether or not their writing styles were similar. They are definitely both tragic, in parts (although this one doesn't ever stop being tragic), and the novels share some themes. For example, both stories strive to highlight the undue amount of importance society then (and now) places on looks and class. I, however, found the storylines not at all similar and both refreshingly original. Neither one is the typical mono-myth, and there were no damsels in distress or nights in shinning armor to be found. I am undecided as to which book I like more, but they definitely are two of my favorite books. 

Because I had read books by both of the other sisters, I decided to read Agnes Gray, by Anne Bronte. Again, there are subtle themes about the importance of rank in this novel (or at least what I have read of it). I am currently a little over halfway through, and am enjoying it immensely (although I can't say why I am enjoying it so much, not all that much has actually happened). This story has none of the eerie nature of the other two. It is much more straightforward and much less intriguing. However, the reader cannot help but feel concerned for the characters as they go through their usual day to day activities. 

All in all, all three books are worth your time (although I reserve the right to change my mind still about Agnes Gray ). What other classic books should I read? 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

For Want of a Better Title.....The Beginning

This a blog about being green in a world of a many colors. It's about a normal person who lives a normal life. These are just the stories I have to tell - nothing more, nothing less. Some days I'll be happy, some days I'll be serious, and (I'll admit it now) some days I'll probably be a little whinny.....

Today, I'll probably be whinny...You see, it was a rarely gorgeous today. The middle of March is a sketchy time of year around here. One day it'll be 65 and sunny and the next day will bring a foot of snow. Today was one of those precious sunny days. I had a rather delightful morning including church, donuts, and swings, however, an unsavory surprise awaited me when I went up stairs to "get ahead" in homework...

Shockingly (or, perhaps, not so shockingly), I discovered 26 secret online Spanish worksheets, due at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow and a practice exam for my "elementary" linear algebra class (which so far has proved anything but elementary). This delightful "practice exam" had better be a guide of what not to study because I've dutifully attended and taken notes at every signal lecture (except one, for which I promptly obtained notes) and I've never heard of 80% of that stuff. Let your imagination tell you how I've spent my last 6 hours, and it wasn't out frolicking in the sun.

This brings me to a question that I have been pondering for a while now. Do professors actually want you to pass their classes? I suspect not. But seriously, what is it with all this secret homework? I like getting good grades, and I'll do all my homework cheerfully (or at least resignedly) if I just know that I actually have it. I study as if my life depends on it, but how am I supposed to do well if my profs continue to just not mention the majority of the class material and then deem it appropriate to test me on that phantom info?   Oh the woes of a college student...oh, and for the record, I prefer it when my teachers speak English.