Poetry with Professora Elizabeth: A Cozinha da Avo

Portuguese school is coming to an end for the year. After driving my children through the gauntlet of conjugating -ar, -er, and -ir verbs (along with the lonely pôr, the only -or verb) in the present tense, I wanted to take it easy for the remaining weeks.

Then I got a text message from the preschool teacher.

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Letting Go Is Hard to Do: Closet Purge 2k17

People come and go. Stuff is forever. I’m not materialistic in the sense that I care about how expensive or exclusive a thing is. Instead, I attach a lot of emotional meaning to stuff. It’s what makes something like decade-old clothing that’s out of style and will never fit again hard to throw out.

Now that I’m moving out of the Casa Barcelos, I’m going to have to share a little under 800 square feet of living space with my boyfriend. I probably have more than 800 square feet worth of stuff.

I’m not saying I’m a hoarder, but I do have a problem with letting go of things, especially physical things. Since I can’t keep it all, let me give some of the victims of Closet Purge 2k17 the fond farewell they deserve.

Orange slip dress (early 2000s):

Bought at some Forever 21-esque store at Eastridge Mall (it might have been Styles?), this dress led to what I’ve since dubbed Modesty Mole. I was pretty flat chested in my teens, so cleavage wasn’t a problem. Or so I thought. I bought this dress for a dance (I think?), and by “I bought this dress,” I mean, “My mom went shopping with me to approve of and pay for this dress.”

She did not approve. I didn’t like any other dresses at the store. She said it was too low cut. I thought there was nothing to reveal. She pointed out a mole on my chest that apparently had never seen the light of day before. We eventually compromised: I could have the dress, but she would alter it by shortening the straps to cover the scandalous blemish.

I’ve used the Modesty Mole as a metric for appropriate tops ever since. I guess I’ll always have the story, even if I don’t have the dress anymore.

Brown corduroy blazer (January 2005)

Winter 2004-5 was a rough time for me and my family. I was Problem Child #1 after dropping out of community college because I thought I knew everything. By the following spring I would be out of the house and beginning the year when I didn’t see or even speak to my parents.

Before that, though, was the winter I spent on Terceira Island. My Madrinha Julia, my mom’s mom, went from spending the afternoon working in her garden on Sao Jorge to being helicoptered out to Terceira because our island doesn’t have an ICU. My mother is an only child, so she wasted no time in booking a flight to the Azores to see her mother in case it was her last chance. Since I wasn’t doing anything productive with my life, I was voluntold that I’d be joining her.

That began the coldest and ultimately cruelest winter of my life. Madrinha spent Christmas and the New Year hooked up to so many wires and tubes that she couldn’t speak. I spent it trying to cheer Mae and Padrinho Fernandinho up when I was with them. When I had a few moments alone, I spent those feeling the desperately pathetic loneliness that comes of being nineteen, facing the idea of mortality for the first time, and being surrounded by people are decades older than you who just don’t understand.

I remember seeing this jacket in a shop window every day on the walk home to the hostel from the hospital. Eventually my mother saw through my rather transparent longing and bought it for me. It felt good to have something new and warm when I felt surrounded by old and cold things. It felt good to have a respite from the Mother-Daughter Cold War. Whatever resentment we felt toward one another was nothing next to how much we needed one another as we coped with seeing Madrinha connected to countless tubes and wires, how much we had to work together to keep Padrinho Fernandinho’s spirits up as Madrinha moved out of the ICU… and how much we clung to one another when Madrinha’s recovery crumbled and she died while we away from Terceira visiting Sao Jorge.

After that, I couldn’t wear anything but black until I got back to California. My family was briefly united in the face of our grief, but eventually the cold war picked up where it left off. I packed some things up and left. The brown blazer went with me and came back with me when I moved back in and went back to school. I can’t remember the last time I wore it, but getting rid of it feels like a betrayal of the kindness my mother did to my bratty, insufferable 19-year-old self.

49ers hoodie (2007):

I’m a huge Bay Area sports fan. I’ve support everything from minor league baseball (woo San Jose Giants!) and lacrosse (RIP San Jose Stealth) to the San Francisco Giants and the the San Jose Sharks. But long before the Giants had a habit of winning the World Series every other year, even before the 1991 expansion brought the Sharks to town, the San Francisco 49ers were my gateway drug to sports fandom. I vaguely remember the tail end of the glorious 80s, but the 49ers of early 90s taught me to love sports.

The fact that I bought this thing during the Mike Nolan era should tell you just how much patience I’ve had for the running gag that has been the last decade or so of 49ers football. I watched every week as our offensive line left Alex Smith to get massacred, despaired of the fact that Frank Gore would never win the Super Bowl he deserved, and otherwise weathered the era that Wikipedia filed under the subheading “Struggles.”

I rejoiced during the Harbaugh era and tolerated Kaepernick’s douchery (he only became a #wokebae later on) because I believed it would return us to the glory days of relevance once more. Instead, it all fell apart when Jed York couldn’t handle a bigger ego than his own in the building. After teaching me to love all those years ago, the Niners had now taught me to hate. When Harbaugh left, I swore never to spent a minute watching a game or a penny on any team merch ever again. 

I had (and still have) way too many hoodies, but purging myself of this one was a no-brainer.

Now the only Niners clothes I own are one of the obnoxious gold jackets from the 80s and a throwback Steve Young jersey, artifacts of a happier time before the Yorks ran my first favorite sports franchise into the ground.

Letting go is hard. Of people, of stuff, whatever. I’m not very good at it. But writing about it? That means never having to let go—without wasting (physical) space. That’s a compromise I can make.

Festivus 2016: Some Minor Grievances

(For those of you who haven’t heard of Festivus, read up more about this glorious holiday here before reading on.)

2016 was an absolute garbage fire of a year on a big picture level and the most mixed of bags at best on a personal level, so I naturally have plenty of ammo for my Airing of Grievances. However, part of the point of having a blog is that it’s a platform to air your major grievances, so I’m sticking to the minor ways in which my fellow humans majorly disappoint me.

Let’s do this.

Improper hashtag use

Hashtags are, at their core, a sorting system for tweets/‘grams/posts. They should be short, specific, clever (if possible), easy to remember, and they should link you to a larger body of similar content. For example, I made up #WestRContheRoad for my quidditch travels in 2016. It was cute, it kept all my travel tweets/instagram posts together, and it was unique enough that no other content crept into the hashtag.

While hashtags have evolved and can have a satirical bent to them now—no one says #blessed sincerely anymore—that doesn’t mean you can just #makeuphellalonghashtagsfornothing. First of all, it just looks like word vomit. Second, it doesn’t do any of the things hashtags are supposed to do. Unless you #reusethatmonstrosityofahashtag, it doesn’t collect more content. It’s not easy to remember, it’s certainly not short, and it’s not fucking cute. Cut that shit out, guys.

Bad bus behavior

As a regular rider of the VTA, I get a front row seat to some pretty bad breaches of etiquette. Sure, I usually have my headphones in so that I’ll be left alone. I try to have a row to myself as long as possible by sitting on the aisle side of the two seats—but the minute someone looks in the direction of the empty seat next to me, I scoot over.

So when I’m eyeing the seat next to you, you don’t get to pretend to be blind just because you’re blasting To Pimp a Butterfly. Your good taste in music might be deafening you, but it’s not blinding you. And to the guy two nights ago who was manspreading in the middle seat of three even after I took a seat on your left: you can fuck all the way off.

Nor are you safe from my shaming if you drive. Far from it. My ride of choice is the VTA 522. It’s beautiful, blue, and it’s also the biggest bus in town. You’d think that people would stay out of its way. You would be wrong.

Credit: Valley Transit Authority

How do you not hear Ludacris in your head when you see this coming?

If I had a dollar for every time someone cut off the 522, I’d be able to buy a monthly pass every other month. Think I’m exaggerating? Last week my bus got cut off three times. (shoutout to those Downtown San Jose drivers; stay classy!) The second time, we got thrown so hard after the driver had to break at the last minute that a woman hit the deck and hit her head.

Share the bus. Share the road. We’ll all get there eventually.

Spoilers and the people who complain about them

We can all agree on some things. Those people who shouted “Snape killed Dumbledore!” way back when we were lining up for late night Harry Potter launches? Assholes.

That was eleven years ago. The internet has exploded since then, and with it has furor over spoilers. But you know what? There is a statute of limitations on that shit. The internet exists for people to share information, after all, and I’m not gonna censor myself forever because you haven’t watched an episode of Game of Thrones that’s two weeks old.

 

star-wars-spoiler

Any excuse to post this Star Wars spoiler is a good excuse.

The following are my spoiler statute of limitations rules of thumb:

TV Shows: 1-2 days
Movies and Books: 1 week

Mind you, that’s just on Facebook. If you go on Twitter—a medium made for real time updates—I have no pity for you. You’re just asking to be spoiled.

Julia and Olivia

Goddamnit, sister. Why did you have to bring two of the brightest lights of my life into the world on the one day my constant complaining is acceptable? You were supposed to have them in January. How can I indulge in being a curmudgeon when I look at these twin cuties, who are identical only in birthdate and level of disarming adorableness? Happy birthday, sweet girls. Tia loves you and will wrangle you later as part of her Feats of Strength.

babies-in-a-basket

Every time humanity disappoints me, I just turn on my phone and BOOM, instant happiness.

Thanks for reading. I’m beyond thankful for every single one of you that reads my blog. Happy holidays, friends. May your grievances be few and all your feats full of strength.