The final word.

13 10 2008

It goes like this: I started this blog to write about my experiences in Brazil. To keep in touch with family. To have a permanent reminder of my everyday, to have a reason to reflect on each day. To remember my time there.

When I lived in New Haven, the reason I blogged was because I was asked by an editor to tell the city what it was like to teach in a public school and to wait tables for the New Haven elite. To inform, to uncover, to delight, to critcize. That blog ended, of course, when I moved to Brazil and discovered a whole new reason to write.

I’m bringing this blog to a close today. I do it not because I don’t have a reason to write; rather, I want to preserve this blog as a beginning-to-end record of my time in Brazil. It is a package of words and I want to keep it as such. I came, I saw, I danced, I went home. And because of all that, I now know where home is. And it’s with that idea that I joyfully wrap up all my words.

I am grounded in New York, and focused. I am connected to a family. I am thankful—-so thankful—-for the opportunities I have had and will continue to have because of my school, my wonderful family, and my ever-expanding group of friends and colleagues. Lately I’ve felt troubled writing here as if it’s inappropriate, as if my New York words somehow spoil all the ones the came before. I can’t bring myself to change the header on this blog. It was my home in Brazil. To change it seems criminal.

I end this blog today because I want to start a new one. In much the same way that I have started a new life here, I feel it is appropriate to start a new. Anew. With all that is happening in our country now, with all destruction from the past and with all the hope for the future, it seems appropriate to make a clean break, right here, right now. I’ll have a new blog someday, hopefully November 4th, hopefully when Obama is elected our new president. How appropriate it will be then to write from a place of change! (If you care to receive an update email, just subscribe to this blog using the button on the top right, and you’ll be able to find out what the new blog is all about.)

I’d like to say thank you to those of you who stumbled upon this blog somewhere over the past two years, who contributed good thoughts on sad days, and who celebrated along with me on the good days. Who gave me laughter and support. Food for thought. Friendship. Book recommendations. I’ve never known companionship like I have through this blog and I hope to see you again on another one.

So, until then, muito obrigada pelo seu amor, sua amizade, e pelas suas palavras. Ate mais…!





Unexpected!

8 10 2008

Today I decided to walk from school to Grand Central today because it was so beautiful. Crisp air, bright blue afternoon sky…no need to be crammed and sweating in a subway car. Each time I’ve walked to Grand Central I’ve taken a different avenue or have zigzagged my way uptown. I like to get a feel for each avenue, see how they’re different, see what’s around me. Today I took Lexington Avenue and I’m glad I did. Besides how narrow it was, compared to other avenues, it was beautiful. Old buildings, more residential on the stretch I walked than other avenues…

But the main reason I was so happy to be on Lexington was because, as I was stopped at a corner waiting for traffic to pass, I heard a little voice call out, “Ms. Coggio?” Had I heard the voice say, “Gina?” I probably wouldn’t have turned around because no one knows me by my first name in New York City outside of the school. But because my ears are so trained to small voices calling me by my last name, I turned around immediately and there in front of me was one of my students. She was getting out of a cab with her mother right where I was, and after a few surprised seconds, they invited me up to their building’s roof! 

It was the first rooftop I’ve been on in my life in New York, and I couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful vista or two more lovely people to be up there with. The building has a view of the East River, where I’m told the 4th of July fireworks explode before their eyes, and, better yet, the Empire State Building basically leans over them. We were so close I could almost see into the building’s offices. I exaggerate of course, but the view was really beautiful. Being up so high in the late afternoon, watching the shadows grow long and deep purple across the city while Queens remained golden in the distance brought such calm to my day that had been agitated by some work stress. It was so nice to be up there with my student and her mom; the conversation flowed so easily, and I learned more about their family. I left the roof feeling patient and forgiving.

Much needed qualities, it turned out, because as soon as I did get into the subway at Grand Central, I witnessed some embarrassing behavior (more embarrassing than the woman I saw squatting against the side of the building urinating in broad daylight on my walk over to Lexington Ave) from passengers in the subway: privileged, self-righteous, impatient behavior that made me cringe. A man had held the subway door waiting for his teenage daughter (or neice?) to run in behind him. Three different people spread through the subway immediately clammored at the man to stop holding the door—-a wait that was certainly no longer than five or six seconds. “Jesus Christ!” one man directly opposite the man holding the door. “What the f***?!” He went on swearing to his friend about how inconsiderate the man had been, dropping a few more vulgarities throughout the rest of his (rather loud) complaint session. Another woman seated across from me moaned with an older lady about how “this is exactly how the trains get held up!” And there were a few more whispers throughout the train. All I could think was, for those few seconds of waiting, we had probably made a big difference in that daughter or neice’s day. How nice is it when people hold doors for us? Any kind of door? I wanted to shake my head in shame at the reaction of the complainers on the subway, but I just shot them teacher stares. Had they caught my eye, they would have felt the ice, I’m sure. 

Now I’m back at home with a purring Otis and some string cheese. My neighbors are shouting again and I’m about to watch some television. Today from my perspective was pretty good.





An uncomfortable evening.

7 10 2008

This is a sloppy debate. It makes me uncomfortable listening to these two go back and forth in this format with such a tight debate structure. The conversation should flow. That they refer to each other as if the other isn’t there makes the whole situation tense. And rightfully so. This is a race for the President, of course.

Here’s basically what McCain is saying: “My friend, my friend, my friend, my friend, snarky comment, grin, interjection, my friend, my friend. My friend, my friend. My friend! Snark! As Americans, you are my friend, my friend. Snark. Handshake with the vet, part of the American people. Grin.”

 

Here’s what Obama is saying: McCain is wrong, let me speak for a long time, let me ignore Tom Brokaw, let me just keep talking because I have a point here and it connects to all the other wrong things McCain has said about me. 

This is not the greatest debate I have ever seen. This was actually kind of awful on both their parts. But what I did see, which was interesting, was the desire on both Obama and McCain’s parts to really debate something, to go back and forth about issues. I don’t know if they wanted to talk to each other, rather that they wanted to make bold statements and correct each other. 

Now it’s time to listen to the analysts. 

I still love Obama. There’s no doubt about it.





Punching.

6 10 2008

I’m so caught up with this Palininduced mess that I can think of hardly anything else these days. I’ve read every opinion article about her in the NY Times this weekend and have even read most of the comments on the blogs. Normally I don’t bother reading the comments, or leaving comments for that matter, but I am so curious about the kind of talk that’s happening around this election. Shamefully, most of the talk is about her, and hardly any kind of talk of any kind of substance is happening about either of the Presidential candidates. (Until today, that is, when the latest YouTube video came out today about the Keating 5, the savings and loan scandal in 1989.) 

I seem to remember in past elections the kind of weariness our nation felt at the name-calling and finger-pointing to which the candidates and their campaign managers were reduced. I remember us all wanting to hear “something”—-anything—- from them in elections past other than the same uppercuts to each other’s character traits (and those jabs do seem to trickle down to the voters, in our own rings running circles around each other and taking cheap shots at each other’s ears) that always seem to emerge in the final weeks. And now we’re here in the final weeks, and lo and behold, we’ve all punched each other to near blindness, our eyes swelling shut even as we continue raining blows.

I think this fighting metaphor comes from a UFC fight I saw this weekend. I’m sure it was the first battle I’d ever seen—two men in a cage pretty much bare-fisted wrestling each other to an inch from death—as I’d probably remember that kind of violence. I watched almost the whole thing: from the two opponents walking out of their rooms, each with their own entourage, then waiting in their respective corners, then hitting fists as if greeting each other, and then, at long last, fighting. The mat was covered with blood from earlier battles: a man with “razor sharp elbows” had nearly brought a man to his final breath just moments before.The men railed at each other, fists flying—-strong at first, each bringing his own unique skill to the mat, each clearly demonstrating his strength. And then, after moments of beating each other as hard as they could, they were reduced—-for whole seconds—-to holding each other down on the mat and flailing their fists at whichever body part they could reach. Not whichever body part would feel the most damage, but whichever body part they could hit: ears, shoulders, backs. It was an exercise in watching two men, both clearly exhausted, both clearly withered, still try to exert power over the other. And it was pathetic. In the minutes after the battle was over, when one had been pounded so thoroughly on the top of his head by the other’s knuckles as if he were trying to punch in a cantaloupe, their faces would swell to twice their normal size with bruises and broken bones and the months-long healing process would begin. 

We find ourselves in our own UFC ring these days, one angry old man slinging mud like boxing gloves against a guy who, despite his faults (which in my opinion are few, if any), and in that old man’s corner is the “hope” for the Republican party: a JV cheerleader who thinks she’s All That (wink, wink, daggonit.) And all of us? Well, here’s what we’re doing to each other:

A couple of weeks ago, in response to a forwarded email about Palin’s use of language (that I’m sure many of you read at some point), I received this in my inbox, a note directed at another person’s reaction to the forward:

I’m so sorry to doubt your messiah, Barack!  Here’s how you typical leftists think:  “Barack is sooooo magnificent and wonderful, and he’s the ONE we’ve been waiting for.  I get a chill up my leg every time I hear him speak!  If you oppose Him, it MUST be that you’re a racist.  There’s no other explanation!”
 
My vote is not based on race.  My vote is based on ideology.  I happen to like the American capitalist system.  I don’t want Barry and the federal government to take care of me and my family.  I’d rather have a stumbling, bumbling Christian elitist in charge than a radical, America-hating communist.  And just to keep the record straight, I am no fan of George W. Bush.
   

My response? I’d be lying if I said I shot back a quick reply with all the words I really wanted to say. Instead, I kept that note in my inbox and came back to it a couple of times while I mulled over my message. Here it is:

I just don’t understand how you could use such extreme language. “America-hating communist?” Really? Do you honestly believe that? Was it an idea that formulated in your own mind based on fair evidence from reliable sources?
Frankly, I can’t bear to have the world see us as a country willing to elect ANOTHER “bumbling, Christian elitist” in office, based on what’s happened recently. And for the past 8 years. 
And as far as “we typical leftists,” I don’t know where you got your evidence for our “thoughts,” but I think it’s very fair to say you Just Don’t Get It. Obama’s no messiah, and I’d be surprised to meet a person who thinks he actually is.
Stop making judgements about Obama supporters and take a look at what’s best for the country. We’re not out to fight each other. We’re out to select the best person for the job.

 

I haven’t heard anything in response, and I can’t say I expected one. But the underlying message is clear: outside the two-man Presidential ring, there is a ring of millions and we are doing whatever we can to punch in cantaloupes. John McCain’s speech (read some of it here, watch a clip from Salon.com) is evidence that he wants his supporters (The American People) to do the fighting for him. He gives his supporters the fuel in the form of “an angry barrage of insults,” and leaves it up to The American People to burn everything down. 

There is nothing of substance coming from the McCain campaign and Palin’s inability to articulate ideas in the English language is evidence that what comes from the McCain/Palin ticket is nothing but babble. Language aside, what we see from that ticket is exactly what we have had for the last eight years. And if the ticket disagrees, I have yet to hear or read anything to the contrary. Babble cannot elaborate on the issues. But one thing is clear: we have a man who’s health will most certainly falter and a woman who admitted she would take the country in her own direction should she ever have the opportunity. The woman has no direction of her own. And that means the same people who wrote her notes for the debate last Thursday will be the ones running this country. And who are they

The Obama/Biden ticket represents real change, control of what’s spiraled out, support for American workers, and the proud face of America in the world again. With Obama/Biden we can take our heads out of the sand and breathe again. From Madeleine Albright, who was misquoted by Sarah Palin in a recent speech:

“Though I am flattered that Governor Palin has chosen to cite me as a source of wisdom, what I said had nothing to do with politics. This is yet another example of McCain and Palin distorting the truth, and all the more reason to remember that this campaign is not about gender, it is about which candidate has an agenda that will improve the lives of all Americans, including women. The truth is, if you care about the status of women in our society and in our troubled economy, the best choice by far is Obama-Biden.

But with 28 days left until November 4th, I’m holding my breath. There will be a few more rounds to go and who knows what kind of moves the GOP can pull. 

With that in mind, I sent in my New York voter registration today. Barack Obama is the man for this job.

Get out and vote.





No More NUCULARS!!!!!!

2 10 2008

SHE SAYS “NUCULAR!” 

BUSH SAYS “NUCULAR!”

NO MORE “NUCULAR!!!!!!!!!!!!”





1 10 2008

I wrote here tonight.





The facts of (my) life (today.)

29 09 2008

Fact: I woke up before my alarm clock went off this morning, somewhere around 5:30.

Fact: I paid $1 for coffee. And it was amazing. Like candy.

Fact: There were no buses that ran from the subway to school, or if there were, I walked in front of them all.

Fact: I wore heels to work.

Fact: I have blisters now.

Fact: I brought my lunch to school: PB&J, crackers, and a seltzer water.

Fact: I finished it all before lunch.

Fact: I barely taught all day because I had a light schedule.

Fact: The kids were NUTS so I spent most of the time telling them to shhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Fact: At one point I felt like I was Dennis’ sister trying to get her infant to go back to sleep, with all the shhhhhhhhhhh-ing.

Fact: MY “infants” are twelve years old.

Fact: I told myself I was going to the gym after work.

Fact: I fell asleep on the subway just enough to realize I had started to lean.

Fact: I bought a quesadilla and watched The Office.

Fact: There was no gym.

Fact: When I walked in the door, there were two Otis poops on the floor. It appeared he’d kicked them out of his litter box. 

Fact: I did not tell Dennis.

Fact: I’m not sure I will.

Fact: Dennis does not read this blog so he won’t find out.

Fact: Unless you tell him.

Fact: Please don’t.

Fact: I washed all the dishes in the sink because I felt extra bad about the poop.

Fact: There were a lot of them.

Fact: Dishes, I mean.

Fact: I am bored now waiting for Dennis to come home.

Fact: I don’t know when he’ll be back.

Fact: The Dow dropped 777 points today.

Fact: I have no idea what that means.

Fact: I think we’re screwed?

Fact: It’s Monday. 

Fact: All this is par for the course.

 

EDIT:

Fact: There was the gym. 

Fact: There was twelve miles on a bike at 9pm.

Fact: I refuse to let this be an average Monday.