Thursday, November 01, 2007

This week has been slow; Friday is All Souls' Day and a national holiday. So of course, very little has gone on the whole week. It's kind of nice to have a couple of lazy days to look forward to. Perhaps I'll actually use this time to get away and write...or find a cozy tree in a park somewhere and hide from the sun.

Yesterday was glorious. I woke at seven with gnarled hands and no desire to go anywhere but I still made myself get up and have a bowl of cereal. Trix, if I remember correctly. Reminds me of my childhood. But after eating breakfast, I still didn't want to go to the gym, and I kind of had the day off from work. It still being reasonably cool outside, I crawled back in bed. And slept. And slept. And woke up at 11 am. Ahhhhhhhh...

In spite of the late start, it was a great day. Or perhaps, because of the late start. I went to the gym like a good girl and then came home for a cold shower (which is the closest thing to air conditioning in my house!). My friend was going to pick me up around 3:00 to go shopping, and in the meantime, I managed to write some letters and do some office work and felt productive. It's my day off, but I still can't relax. Go figure. Our shopping trip was a lot of fun; we snuck in to the "clients only" sale down in Barra. My friend, who we'll call Lu, a straight-haired, straight-talking petite firecracker, explained the sale in terms that I could only vaguely wrap my mind around. Maybe it's like the day after Thanksgiving? There are lines to get in the stores, and people just grab everything that looks interesting and start trying it on in the middle of the store...

We, however, being in-the-know, did not have to confront crowds of people for our finds. I am a big fan of buying things cheaply: today, I hesitated in buying toilet paper because there was a brand that was 20 centavos cheaper. So when I find shirts that normally run R$ 75 to R $150 for a mere R$ 20, you can be sure I want to be in on the action! Spending the evening with Lu was also great. She's slightly older than I am, and that in itself is refreshing. Most of my friends are younger, and while that's fine, I do sometimes feel like the old one of the bunch. There are some things that we just can't comisserate on, and with Lu, I can.


There was a woman in the street today, either severely endemoniada or severely drunk, or both. She went staggering into the middle of the street, dancing funk and then directing traffic, waiting at the red light with the cars, then rushing off with her arms waving like she was an Olympic sprinter. I watched her until my bus carried me away, and I wanted to cry. Monday we ran into another woman who exhibited that same disconnect with reality. She was extremely thin, with a crooked smile that looped around a nearly-horizontal front tooth. I'd guess she was about 29 or 30, though she had that aged look that comes with hard living. She had difficulty realizing that we could talk to her, and even as we would carry on conversations around her in Portuguese, she would interrupt with hand signs and broken Portuguese, as if we were incapable of understanding her. Her son was a wisp of a six-year old, if that's what he really was, with his hair neatly buzzed off and bleached blond. He was wearing underwear two sizes too big and nothing else and kept running away to grab a fishing line that was tied to a rusty post and verify that his fish was still there. One of the fishermen who frequent the area must have given him a present.

My conversations with the woman went something like this:

Her: Me have six children. He age six. Go school. Buy backpack for go school. Give money.

Me: Oh, that's nice that he goes to school. We can't give you any money, but if you'd like, I can look and see if we have a backpack in our supplies at home.

Her: Me have children. He son. School. Backpack. Give money.

Me: No, we can't.

Her: huffing away...returning two minutes later to have THE SAME CONVERSATION.

It was as if she had no short term memory. I'm guessing a lot of drug use, which is why we don't give money. The saddest part was right at the end, when one of our Servant Team members was picking the boy up and tossing him into the air. His eyes glittered with delight and his smile nearly set the place on fire.

"Mom, mom, MOM! Look! Look!" He was so expectant, so insistent.

But she kept ignoring him, intent on getting money. And after the fourth or fifth plea, when she finally threw a casual glance his way, I saw the faintest hint of a real smile on her face. But it faded as quickly as it came and she dragged her son away, as if to say, "You can't have fun with them unless they give me money."

I wonder how long that child's innocence will last.


I've been kind of bad about posting about work on here recently. I'll try to remedy that. I guess part of the slacking stems from a desire not to revisit some of my memories. It's easy to get burnt out doing this work, and I think I was unconsciously avoiding processing because I didn't want to get any closer to the pain than I already was. Now that I'm conscious of that fact, I can't really hide anymore. But be patient with me please, because I'm still trying to find a balance. These last few months have been tough for me regarding work on the streets and at the children's home, and it's only been in the last two weeks or so that I've begun to start dealing with my feelings and my frustrations and learn how to set new, more appropriate boundaries. This blog has been a good place for me to process in the past. If I can just get over my irrational desire to please everyone with my writing, I think it can continue to be good for me. And hopefully, for my readers as well.

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