Love, naturally

There is a Brazilian popular song called “Deixa Acontecer [let it happen]”, by Revelação, that tells the story of a couple who is in different syncronies: the girl is madly in love with the guy, but he doesn’t feel the same way, so he asks her to let love happen naturally, to have patience and he promises he will overcome his fears of falling in love again with her help.

 

It may seem odd to write about a song who is not known by its poetic lyrics or by the music quality or innovation. It’s just a popular entertaining song, a huge success amongst Brazilians. Even if a Brazilian is not a fan of pagode or Revelação, there is a fair chance he or she can sing along the chorus without issues. It is catchy, oh so catchy!

Why write about it, then?

First of all, it has been on my mind since yesterday. It is stuck deep in there, so maybe it will help me forget it for a little bit. Again, catchy.

Another thing is: pedantic intellectuals would never, ever confess that sort of thing. Some people judge things exclusively according to their taste and to me this is just a waste of time, a narrow view that only reinforces what they know and like. I am not a fan of the band, or the genre for that matter, but why not give credit when its due? This song has a  very clear and contemporary message: let love happen naturally. And this is what draws me to it.

Scrolling down my facebook timeline the other day, I found a post from a very popular page called Humans of New York where a woman states that “If I feel like there’s a chance of losing someone, I’ll always try to be the one that backs out first”. If you are familiar with the page, you know they always post a picture of the person interviewed and a quote of their conversation.

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That quote stuck with me for a few days, then the song, and I felt like they had the same underlying topic: fear of relationships. It is something universal. Not to be cliche, but I am sure yesterday night at a bar somewhere two friends sat down between beers (or cosmopolitans, or caipirinhas, or martinis, or pisco sour, or merlot) and had a conversation about relationships. Maybe the guy was complaining the girl expected more than he could give, because he didn’t feel the same way. Maybe the girl was interpreting his distance as a sign that he would dump her, and she decided to break things up before getting so deep emotionally involved that she would surely get hurt. Maybe it was the other way around.

When did we become so afraid of love that we feel the need not to feel it? Or, at least, to believe that we don’t feel it. How many times after breaking up because she was too demanding or he was too sticky we come to realize that maybe we loved them all along?

When did we start putting up barriers to avoid being hurt and setting ourselves boundaries to contain our emotions?  When did we start thinking about relations strategically? Oh, if I send a text at 3 a.m saying I miss her she will misinterpret as a booty call and she will lose interest. Oh, its saturday afternoon and if I call him now to make plans for tonight I might seem too desperate. How much of life and love are we missing by taking the safer route?

Sometimes, I think we are getting it all wrong. We are letting our brain take control of things that are not measurable, touchable or reasonable. And, in the process, we lose our minds with all the variables, possibilities and interpretations we are drawn to consider before making any relationship decision. Why not let things flow more naturally? Why not follow our hearts? They are pure muscle, you know? Work it and they will only become stronger.In this sense, the song sets a good example. Yes, the guy says he is scared of falling in love, but he also asks her for help to love again and he implies that because of her help their love may grow and be eternal. Their love, not their relationship I must say. But he is willing to try, and that is all it takes. Lets it happen naturally.

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Why “I AM NOT THE MEDIA”?

 

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About a month ago I started working as a Public/ Community Relations Intern for a non-profit based in Charlotte, NC called I AM NOT THE MEDIA, something that has been an amazing experience. IANTM’s mission is “To empower teens and young adults to become conscious viewer’s of the media, critical decision makers, and to embrace their individuality and uniqueness through media literacy and media creation“, something that spoke to me in so many ways, I wouldn’t know where to begin.  Since then, me and my co-workers at the Public Relations Department have come up with an internal campaign featuring all staff in self made videos sharing their views on our cause and answering the question: Why I am not the media?

I’ve outlined a text on my mind more than a thousand times, but here goes the final version:

I am not the media because I am a journalist who experienced first hand how news outlets manipulate their texts, images and videos in order to have more advertisers, readers or viewers and, obviously, more profit. I grew tired of how content was biased, many times just reinforcing common sense and forgetting the ethical standards that all journalists should be defending in order to stimulate democracy and a healthy exchange of ideas. But, mostly, I am not the media because I am a woman who refuses to recognize stereotypes as guidelines to what I should look like, dress, do, feel and value in life.”

I know every time someone talks about how mass media is sort of controlling our minds and manipulating news it sounds a little bit like we live in a world described beautifully by George Orwell in 1984. But, after studying the Frankfurt School in college, you can barely talk about the media without bringing up it’s capitalist socialist settling and it’s relation to power and profit in the western civilization.

Going back to IANTM, what caught my attention is the efforts they were making to educate teens and young adults on media literacy, giving them tools to look at the news, movies and other cultural products with criticism, challenging them and even, maybe, revolutionizing it by turning these teens into journalists, writers, bloggers, people who would give a voice for what they feel lacked or should change in the way news, movies, tv and social media behave nowadays. Empower, to me, would mean give them the tools to criticize and take action to make their communities better. Something that, from my point of view, will always be a win-win situation for all of us.

Back to Business

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Coming back from vacation in Brazil has been a little crazy. As soon as I landed, I was getting ready to job interviews, rewriting my resume, searching all kinds of jobs I think I would enjoy doing. This is the last step of moving in to the US: finding a job. It has been a good and emotional experience. I have been to interviews where the interviewer would suddenly ask “I am picking up an accent, where are you from?”, to which I would uncomfortably reply “I am Brazilian”, realizing he didn’t even take the time to look at my resume before inviting me in. There has been times I was a little unsure of myself, a little off my game and I completely embarrassed myself mumbling around and acting all nervous and shy. That has happened to me before, and it is something I really pay attention not to do, but sometimes this doubtful voice takes over and it is a mess. What can I say? I am human after all. I have been to places I had absolute no desire to work at, simply for the experience of having job interviews in English and for the luxury of being able to choose my future. I also have been to places just because, well, I want and need the money.

A friend of mine suggested that, because I had language skills and education knowledege and I had worked with translations before, I should just advertise myself on Craigslist as a Portuguese Teacher and English/Portuguese Translator, which I did. I liked the idea of language teaching, it suits me. Rookie mistake. In a week, I only got two weird emails replying for the add. One offering me a part time job, with no description at all, saying I should contact someone named Bruce asap. Scary thoughts rushed through my mind, and I didn’t talk to Bruce. If he was for real, I would imagine he would be more informative in the first place.

The second email was even worst. Here is what I received:

Hello,

I am {not disclosing name}, I came across your ad on Craigslist that you need a suitable job, well am in need of a cleaner for my newly rented apartment asap, so if you are interested in the job just mail me for the job details.I believe and understand you are an intelligent person and can do with cleaning job?

Now, I mentioned on the add my name, the fact that I am Brazilian, my expertise and that I was looking specifically for a Teaching/Translation job. I don’t know what would prompt someone to say something as rude and pretentious as “I believe and understand you are an intelligent person and can do with X job?”, implying that a) She/He was doing me a favor by offering me a job; b) I might be intelligent enough to do a cleaning job (and if I didn’t take the job, well, perhaps I wasn’t that intelligent after all). I couldn’t help but wonder if the fact that I am latin would have anything to do with her/him offering me a cleaning job, or if I was just reading too much into it. Sometimes, I have to say, having so much experience working with discourse analysis can make people a little too critic, reading things that people might not have meant to say. I told myself I wasn’t going to say anything, but swallowing that quietly was harder than I thought. That phrasing on that email bothered me for days. Just to be clear, what bothered me was the person’s attitude towards me, not the job she offered me.

So, one day, I sat down and decided to write her/him back. I decided I wanted to get some closure on this matter, plus I deserved to give a voice for that part of me that was having trouble keeping quiet. I needed to stand up for myself, so here is what I wrote:

Hello, X.

I think you are intelligent enough to understand that I am actually looking for a job as a portuguese teacher or translator. It is incredibly rude and pretentious of you to assume that because I am seeking for a job, you would be doing me some sort of favor by offering a different position, and in addition add that I might be intelligent enough for that.

Hope to never hear back from you.

Juliana

I really tried to keep it civil and polite. I really didn’t want to start an email discussion, only reason why I said “Hope to never hear back from you”, I just wanted to let her/him know how I felt.

I wonder if other people, after receiving the same email, would feel and behave the same. Readers, what do you think? Did I overreact? How would you feel if something like this happened to you?

PS: After that, I had another job interview and I was hired. So, that was resolved. I found something that challenges me, a job way out of my comfort zone. We’ll see what happens now. Feeling goosebumps, I’ll start monday. Cross your fingers, please!

PS 2: I apologize for abandoning the blog for a while, but I hope you guys will understand that I had a busy schedule the last few weeks because of the trip to Brazil and job searching. Now, we are back to business! Hurray!

The latest on Brazilian protests

São Paulo

São Paulo (Photo credit: Jeff Belmonte)

1) Public transportation fare in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre are not going to raise. Fernando Haddad, mayor of São Paulo, and Geraldo Alckmin, governor of São Paulo State, addressed the public together to break the news on wednesday, June 19th. But they did mention that they couldn’t count on federal funding, so they would have to relocate some investments, which could potentially affect the population in other public services, such as education or healthcare. The Passe Livre movement celebrated the decision, it was a big victory for them. The one’s that are concerned with the readjustments on the investments claim that both city and state should open their accounts and show the public where are they taking the money from to pay for the debt the decision will generate, some say they should negotiate with bus companies so they would be responsible by the onus. The main argument is that bus companies are a big mafia, they manipulate their books to get more money from the government and, at the same time, make huge campaign contributions for politicians. To sum it up, the good victory generates bigger potential problems and social participation is now, maybe more than ever, key to maintain the transparency on governmental investments. Let’s hope the media does a better job informing the people about what goes on behind the curtains.

sao paulo skyline

sao paulo skyline (Photo credit: Fernando Stankuns)

2) Since there were all kinds of people taking the streets, including those who were protesting against corruption, social movements are trying to organize themselves and figure out the next step. What should be the next claim? Are they going to march against the evangelist pastor, Marco Feliciano, who took over the Human Rights Commission of the House of Representatives (or Chamber of Deputies) and decided to start a witch hunt against gays? Or are they going to protest the proposal of PEC 37, an  addition to the Brazilian Constitution that would take away from Public Ministery the prerogative to investigate criminal activities, leaving this task for Federal and Civil Police? Some people argue that this would make corruption investigations even harder, but I have to say I have no opinion on the matter since I haven’t read much about it yet.

3) Protests yesterday were nothing like the ones we saw before. Supposedly a celebration of the back down on bus fare raise, it became a violent ideological fight. It is true that PT, the workers party (party of former president Lula and president Dilma Roussef) scheduled their own protest on Avenida Paulista in São Paulo to happen yesterday, same day that Passe Livre movement was celebrating their political victory, with the naive perception they would show people they were by their side. That was taken as a provocation by some of the conservatives, especially because in the last protests they were emphasizing the non-partidarism and, since corruption was one of the issues on the table, it would be odd sharing the streets with the party responsible for the latest big scandal in Brazilian politics, what we call the mensalão. Basically, a scheme for the government to buy deputies and senators votes so they would support the president (Lula, at the time) and his party, the PT. Conservatives attacked the liberals, the participants of social movements and other left wing representatives, arguing they had no place in the streets. Many were hurt, flags were burned. Journalists on main stream media were still celebrating the change on Brazilian politics, portraying the movement as an important step on our democracy, while the left started to complain the conservatives attack was actually an assault on democracy and a stir in the course of events they would not support.

Let’s wait for what comes up next, because the way it is going nothing is clear yet. While conservatives still fight corruption and keep asking for Dilma’s impeachment, latest polls show she would be reelected next year, when president elections take place, with 53% of votes. Now that the bus fare fight is won in some of Brazil’s biggest cities, the joy of seeing people on the streets might be shadowed by the worries of the consequences of government decisions. It will be interesting to see what other causes will be discussed and protested for. The dissatisfaction that consumed the protesters is still there, and their big causes (like, corruption) are still there, but if the people don’t start organizing an agenda, making real propositions, talking about real actions (and not just yell “end corruption now”), it will be hard to see the benefits of it all.

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James Joyce caught on vinyl

Sothebys is auctioning on June 11th, tomorrow, the only known audio of James Joyce reading from Ulysses, recorded in 1924 by his publisher Sylvia Beach . At the time, they made twenty 12” vinyl’s to be distributed by Joyce to family and friends, but only 3 are said to remain.

The record features a section of the Aeolus episode which takes place in the offices of the Freeman’s Journal, one of the main irish nationalists newspapers of the period.

The guide price on the recording, signed and dated by Joyce, is from $15,000 to $ 20,000.

For bookworms, scholars and Joyce’s fans, here is a peak on the recording:

(via The Irish Times and The Vinyl Factory )

The very first Weekly Muse

Weekly Muse is a section of our blog that is destined to bring to our readers some of our inspiration resources – our dirty little secrets for when I have to deal with writers block. It might be an image, a poem, a song, a cd, a video or just another blog. For our very first post, Alt-J’s striking videoclip for Breezeblocks.

Friends called it twisted, which is understandable, but personally I think the combination of the video with the music is just a perfect work of art, in the sense that it takes your imagination and expands the song meaning, bringing it to a whole new level. What was once an almost dull song about the possibility of a relationship ending, that honestly requires all my attention to minimally understand the words I am hearing, became an intricate plot of love and death. Images, sometimes, do shock more than words. I guess the backwards shooting of the couple fight introduces the viewer primarily to the desperate feeling of killing someone, in a impressive realistic way, to then explain how it all came to that, hooking your attention from the beginning. By giving you the result, your main focus becomes the whys, which in this case is revealed at the very end, when the husband finds his wife tied inside a cloak room, moments before being attacked by another woman. The lyrics help you understand what is going on, but they also raise questions about who is the attacker: a random girl, a mistress or an alter ego of the wife. From my point of view, the song is about a man’s struggle to keep his wife – or loved one –  close, even if it takes killing the very part of her that wants to leave. Love, differently than what fairy tales want to make you believe, can be very cruel, something we try to forget everyday in order to maintain our own relationships. Sometimes, being reminded that love is also letting go is the reality’s bitchy way to slap you in the face and make you move on. After all, you don’t really wanna kill what you love, do you? You supposedly want the whole big fat package, and nothing less. Don’t settle for a fraction of a person.