Friday, November 11, 2016

perhaps the funniest (but still accurate) quote I've read about the election....

TBS' "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" opened with Bee asking how everyone was doing before trying to figure how everything went "spectacularly wrong."
"What we did was the democratic equivalent of installing an above-ground pool," Bee said. "Even if we're lucky and it doesn't seep into our foundations, the neighbors will never look at us the same way again."
(with my apologies to you if you have an above-ground pool...)

Thursday, November 10, 2016


The sun definitely still rises every single day, no matter what's happened the day (or two) before.

Today I am heartened by several things:

1) the blog comments and emails in response to my post yesterday that I've received from a number of you (thank you!);
2) the messages of solidarity that I've received from friends of other nationalities from all over the world (thank you!);
3) the fact that Secretary Clinton won the popular vote so I (and friends of the same mindset) are not in the minority after all;
4) the encouragement and motivation and "filling up" I feel from being a member of and reading the posts by the not-so-secret Pantsuit Nation.

We are not alone in our hopes and dreams and desires for our country.  We've got to stay focused on making it better for our children and our communities.  Drown out the background noise of the naysaying and move forward.

I don't know if you watched Secretary Clinton's concession speech yesterday, but if you missed it, you should hightail it right to the Internet and watch it again and again.  Even if you're a Trump supporter.  Especially if you're a Trump supporter.  It was the best, most heartfelt speech of her life, despite, I'm sure, being the most difficult to deliver.  She is such a class act and really showed her class, grit, and grace yesterday.  I was inspired.

I'll close with some of my favorite quotes from the speech:

"Please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It is, it is worth it."

"And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams."

"For now our responsibility as citizens is to keep doing our part to build that better, stronger, fairer America we seek, and I know you will."

"Finally I am so grateful for our country and for all it has given to me. I count my blessings every single day that I am an American. And I still believe as deeply as I ever have that if we stand together and work together with respect for our differences, strength in our convictions, and love for this nation, our best days are still ahead of us."

"Let us have faith in each other, let us not grow weary, let us not lose heart, for there are more seasons to come.  And there is more work to do."  

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

the election

I went to run at the beach this morning to try and clear my head after seeing the results of the Presidential election.  After the run, I sat for a while and listened to the waves rolling in.

Unfortunately, it was a very low tide and the waves weren’t crashing loudly enough to block out what sounded strangely like cries of hatred, bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and misogyny coming all the way down the Atlantic Ocean from the United States to Brazil.

I get that many Americans wanted change, that they wanted fresh blood in the White House, that they wanted a Washington outsider, that they wanted the quality of life back that they think has been stolen by Washington insiders and immigrants.

I got it.

I hope everybody’s clear about who “we” have chosen in the name of having an outsider (and possibly in the name of having a non-female) in the White House.  “We” have chosen someone to be the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA who has insulted every single sector of the American population other than old, white men.  Who has used language so foul, base and vulgar that were my child to speak like that, he would be punished for the remainder of the days he lived under my roof.  Who has shown no grasp of or concrete plans for foreign or domestic policy.  Who has considered himself smart for not paying taxes for years while the rest of us middle classers got stuck with the hefty tax bills year after year.  Who has threatened to build walls, deport people, end free trade agreements, and end the US’s participation in NATO.  Who has cozied up to foreign leaders who are completely at odds with US foreign policy.  Who has acted like a petulant child in debates with his constant interruptions and one-liner jabs.  Who has mocked disabled people, threatened the press, and is accused of sexually assaulting women.  Who has used a Twitter account in the middle of the night to bully people he doesn’t like.  Who has shown time and time again his immorality, arrogance, ignorance, and poor temperament.

That is our President-Elect. 

Well done, America.  Well done.  (Insert slow clap here.)

I am saddened and embarrassed and overwhelmed with grief for the United States of America.  I know we’re better than this, but boy, does this cut deep today.  I wish you’d heard me trying to explain to my distraught 13 year-old son this morning how this could happen.  How do "we" elect someone whose behavior is exactly how we teach our children not to act?  It's a tough sell, but we have to march on in the face of this incredible decision, if only out of respect for the office and title of President and Commander in Chief.

Now we all live with this decision for the next four years.  I hope and pray that our new President surrounds himself with really intelligent, capable, thoughtful, slow-trigger advisors and Cabinet members.  I will continue to pray for our already-great nation and its leaders.  I will pray that there is still a great United States of America for my son to recognize in four years.  I will pray that the checks and balances created by our Constitution will actually work to prevent insanity by a President whose party also controls the Senate, the House and will have great sway over the Supreme Court. 

In the meantime, we are going to double down on our family values and make sure there’s no room for hatred, bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and misogyny in our lives.  We will make sure we surround ourselves with compassionate, civil, inclusive people who share these same values.  I can demand nothing less for my precious child. 

To quote Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "America is great because America is good".  I intend to make sure that we purposefully and intentionally live our lives modeling that good to the rest of the world, no matter what comes out of DC. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

my closet

I have never considered myself a closet person.  Or really even understood why people on HGTV get so excited about closet space.  

Life in the Foreign Service has afforded me some pretty nice closets in the past.  (Here's looking at you, old house in Brasilia.)  And life in the Foreign Service has afforded me some pretty horrible closets in the past.  (Here's looking at you, Arlington, and that 2 square feet of closet space.)

This rental house takes the cake.  I have never seen in a real house, much less lived in a house, with such a grand master bedroom closet.  Honestly, there is room for EVERYTHING I own.  Including what we affectionately call "the Wal-Mart", which is our multi-year stockpile of stuff like Band-Aids and sunscreen, our luggage, sporting equipment, the dog's airplane carrier, etc. 

It is the best closet ever, and I am spoiled for anything that follows it.

Shoes...  and Leo... and two rows of baseball hats and visors.  

Wal-Mart, dirty clothes, sporting equipment, luggage and the dog carrier (in a blurry photo)

Closet, glorious closets.  And a make-up mirror with fancy lights.  Too bad I don't wear make-up.

Over there with that chair is Jimmy's closet.  His and hers closets.  The hers is bigger than the his.  (sorry for the blur.)

Leo in the reflection

Empty storage space all over this closet.  It really is a dream closet.  And those two pull-out drawers are black felt-lined jewelry drawers.  Except that I don't have any fancy jewelry to put in them so I have two fancy drawers full of Advil and Benadryl and Mucinex and stuff like that.  
a panoramic from the Wal-Mart corner

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Book Recommendation

I just finished reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. You can read all the reviews online for a synopsis so I'll save you from any spoilers.  All I can tell you is it's the most charming and poignant novel I've read in ages.  I laughed and cried and rooted for Ove through all his heartbreak and curmudgeon-y behavior and ultimately through the renewal of his life's purpose.

***** out of *****  

Now I'm off to download Mr. Backman's other novels...

P.S.  I was stuck in the tunnel yesterday for over 5 minutes yesterday afternoon.  Adele's "When We Were Young" had just started when I lost reception, but naturally it was long over by the time I got reception again.  This game is harder than you think!

Friday, October 21, 2016

my newest hobby

The late bus from school (for after-school sports and clubs) doesn't come to our new house, so now that we've moved, I have to drive to school three afternoons a week to pick up Mac after basketball. 

The shortest way from our new house to school is right through Rocinha, the largest (in population) favela in Rio de Janeiro.  (For context, the population of Rocinha is estimated to be between 100,000 and 300,000.  Our hometown of Moncks Corner has a population of less than 10,000.)

However, we're not allowed to drive through favelas, so I have to take a nearly mile-long tunnel under the favela and through the mountain and  then drive back up around the other side of the mountain.  If traffic is moving, time in the tunnel is relatively minimal.  But if traffic is slow or not moving (more often than not), it can take minutes to get through the tunnel.

In a mile-long tunnel that runs through a mountain, you lose all radio reception no matter how fast you drive through it.  My newest hobby is to try to keep singing whatever song is on the radio after I lose radio reception to see if I'm on the same part of the song as the radio when reception picks back up on the other side of the tunnel.

I lose the game every single time.  Every single time.  I'm very disappointed in myself and hope that practice makes perfect in the future.  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

why does buying jeans have to be so hard?

Next to bras, buying jeans is the single hardest wardrobe staple to buy.  When we're in the US, my jeans-buying involves going to some jeans-selling store and taking about 12 pairs of the same cut/size/style of jean into the dressing room and trying on what should be exactly the same thing, getting frustrated that nothing fits right and leaving with no new jeans.

I came to Brazil with two pairs of jeans.  One is a beloved pair from Old Navy that I think I bought when Mac was about 18 months old.  I didn't wear them out of the house (at least not often), but they were worn and comfortable and fit like a champ.  But jeans that are over 11 years old only will last for so long.  One sad day recently I put them on and realized there was a giant rip in the seat so they got thrown away.

The other pair of jeans I brought to Rio are a pair from the GAP that are maybe four or five years old.  Because I buy jean so infrequently, I can remember the young, enthusiastic sales guy at the GAP on King Street in Charleston who told me exactly what cut I needed. And he was right!  Those were the best-fitting jeans I've ever bought, but they, too, were starting to look tired.

I decided that I needed two new pairs of jeans, but I just could not be bothered with trying on jeans in Rio.  It's traumatic enough for me to do it in the US, but to do it in a place where, by the looks of people in jeans here, they sell two sizes only (small and extra-small), would cause irreparable damage to the psyche.

So I ordered jeans online.  I checked the sizing in my well-fitting GAP jeans and found a pair online that I liked in that same size.  I also ordered a pair from Old Navy.

They arrived this week and I am very pleased to tell you that they fit perfectly through the problem waist, hip and thigh areas.

The issue is the length.  Apparently people who wear my size in the waist must all be professional basketball players who are at least 6'2" tall.  Who are the model-tall women that GAP and Old Navy are selling jeans to?  I ordered Regular fit and not Tall, so I can imagine how long the Talls would have been.

Off to the tailor this week, which should be loads of fun.  In addition to shortening the jeans, I'm going to have to explain why I don't want them tightened up all the way around....