Mosquitos and bathrooms

So he gave me this notebook as Valentine’s day gift, thinking it will help me write. I’d have preferred to receive flowers. It doesn’t make me want to write. It just makes me feel guilty for not writing more. It would just lie there days on end, looking all colorful, along with his red-dotted friend and stare at me saying: “write inside of me, use me!”.

Writing isn’t something so easy for me. I’m most scared about sounding banal. I had had some friends throughout my life that would write shit and then expect me to comment on it but basically pet their ego. But it was shit. And they were my friends. So I would feel guilty to tell them it was shit. I would also feel guilty not telling them so. I have a complex relationship with telling the honest truth. The reality is that some people just need to hear it but other just can’t handle it. One never knows really in advance. Plus, one’s is someone else’s gold (as someone’s grandma would say) so who am I to judge?

Anyways, truth-telling is a complex decision tree that my not-so-developed emotional intelligence skills have not equipped me to solve.

One thing I know for sure is that being outside and seeing people is the best kind of inspiration. So I head over to the worst kind of place for expressing originality: Starbucks. In NYC, I’ve always hated it with passion (from the obvious reasons) but here in Brazil, it gives me a certain sense of comfort. It must be the “light and cozy” atmosphere. Maybe it is this thing called longing for home (America??!!).

Normally, I face 2 problems when I leave home: bathrooms (need to use those every 30 mins — I must have the tiniest bladder in the world) and Mosquitos. The former one is the worst. Mosquitos love me to oblivion. Every excursion turns into an ankle-itching nightmare. Repellent certainly helps but of course I always remember I should have put it one once it is too late and am already stuck in itching-hell. Fucking Mosquitos.These two factors making the writing inspiration window more limited.

There are many other reasons too: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, CNN, huffington post, buzzfeed, skype, whatsapp and every other appcrack I’ve gotten hooked to. I am staring to sound like a pre-teen version of Bukowski. I guess I should write now about quitting my job (or trying to get myself quitted) being that sleeping with crack whores is kind of out of the question and all.

I’ve also attempted becoming an artist. I think that one is a no go as well (evidence below – I personally think it came out as something between a whale and a vagina but everyone is entitled to an opinion) Plus, I also realized that writing on paper is highly impractical because I had to spend more time typing all this shit (no one’s gold) once I finished scribbling.

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MAC or PC?

After a year or so of having a writer’s block, I decided to buy a Macbook. It was clear as mud to me that the cause for my inability to produce anything half-decent to that date was the lack of appropriate equipment and the right setting to use it in. I knew that the thing to do was to show up with this magical machine at a Starbucks, buy a tall-skim-latte and strategically position myself at one of those corner tables overlooking incoming customers. I would then open the lid, display that lit apple icon to the world and immediately turn into a younger and slightly less fashionable version of Carrie Bradshaw. The prose would then just start pouring from my beautifully manicured fingers into the blank word processor page and while being narrated inside my head (not exactly sure if it would have had an accent or not, but it would have certainly possessed a “know-it-all”, articulate tone).

I planned it all out carefully. I dressed in my cutest “writer’s outfit”: it was a safari-inspired piece with tight leopard print trousers and a zebra-striped tank top that matched my 7” platform striped sandals. A golden buckled belt, gave the whole look the perfect final touch. Of course, I also wore my big sunglasses to ensure that I kept the mysterious look and were able to stare at people without the risk of being discovered. I put my red lipstick on and dropped my newly purchased Mac inside my huge purse amidst the jungle composed of keys, Victoria Secret’s body mist (a girl’s best friend), a hand cream, a makeup set, spare large earrings (one never knows when those may be needed), tampons, my overstuffed wallet, three pens and a highlighter, two fashion magazines and a pair of flip-flops. I marched out of my messy apartment and trotted on those high heels to the nearest Starbucks.

As I was getting my skinny latte, my eyes caught sight of a handsome guy next to me. He was wearing blue jeans and a brown 80s style jacket and had a mischievously flowing hair that somehow reminded me of Robert Redford. He looked a like a mix between a history professor and a venture capital investor. Or perhaps a shift manager at the printing sore. I was not entirely sure. Robert was holding a folder under one arm and trying to put his coffee cup inside the cardboard holder with his other.

Being the good soul that I am, I immediately reached to help him, but as I was stepping in, my heel twisted to the side and I started falling forward. My bag flew out of my hand and landed in a huge bang on the shiny linoleum floor. I followed my lipstick rolling to one corner of the room while my wallet sped to the other. But this was not all. Instinctively, I tried to reach out with my hands and fall into Robert’s strong arms but instead I dropped my coffee cup and landed on my knees right in the puddle of coffee that was already covering Robert’s brown shoes. That sure has gotten his attention.

When all apologies were uttered and the red in my face almost dissipated, I had time to collect my scattered belongings. I then remembered my Mac which was the original reason that got me to that darn Starbucks. I reached for my bag and found it. I was staring at a cracked panel and broken glass. Mac didn’t make it.

Needless to say, Robert and I did not end up living happily ever after. I was back to square one with no computer and with the same writer’s block.

Should I have bought a PC instead?

I want to write

Every day I want to write.
I want to write about an interesting data I got hold of.
I want to write about an upsetting incident at work.
I want to write about something new I learned about myself.
I want to write about something beautiful I’ve seen.
I want to write about a crazy person I’ve met.
I want to write about an idea of how to change the world.
I want to write about ways to make oneself a more confident and successful person.
I want to write so much.

But then, I get home, turn on my ipad, put on a new episode of Breaking Bad and enter into hibernation mode.

What a disaster.


Stranger in my Bed

I woke up in the middle of the night with a nagging itch on the side of my right arm that was only matched with a more nagging one on my left palm. I could also feel 2 bumps forming. It was one of those sensations that makes you want to jump out of your body into a bucket of ice.

I turned on the light to inspect the situation and there he was: sitting on my side table, the little scrawny devil, looking at me, analyzing the target of his next feeding basin. In the heat of the moment I quickly reached out for the poison and sprayed him all over!! I then calmly turned off the light and descended back into my dreamless sleep.

In the morning, the villain’s little carcass reminded me of last night’s execution and a smile spread over my face. “I got you!”

An ordinary guy

The most interesting thing about Felipe was not his personality, but rather his lack of thereof and his desperate need to find one. He was mediocre in many ways and special in none. He didn’t really excel in anything, nor had any specific hobbies or passions. Even his looks were average. He was not too tall, neither too short, not fat or thin. He had black wavy hair, brown eyes, hidden behind his thick, dark rimmed, glasses, normally-sized nose, sunken cheeks, stoopy shoulders, a small belly. This were all his characteristics that would never distinguish him in the crowd.

His grades in school were average and he eventually got into an average university, where he decided to study a solid and average profession, eventually becoming an accountant. Women were never too interested in Felipe but he managed to have a couple of girlfriends by the time he reached the wise age of 30. Both of them were called Marina and were slightly on the chubbier side, with long brown hair and flabby underarms. Both Marinas left Felipe, with the excuse of not being ready for a serious relationship. Both ended up getting married to someone else within a year after the breakup. Felipe never thought too much about this. It was just not his nature. He simply decided to stay away from women named Marina, and focus on his day-to-day matters.

Felipe had a small apartment in Botafogo, which was located above Mauricio’s boteco, a dirty little establishment, where the neighborhood’s bums would gather for a chopinho (tap beer), in between sleeping, eating and pretending to add some value to the world. Felipe hated the noise coming from the boteco at every hour of the day, but he had little choice but accepting this arrangement as this apartment was the best he could afford with his junior accountant wages. The best feature of the apartment was its bathroom, which despite its ugly blue tiled walls was quite pleasant due to its nice big window, whose view was not obstructed by neighboring buildings. The bathroom was also the quietest place in the house as it was not facing the loud Voluntarios da Patria street with Mauricio’s drunks.

After a day’s work, upon arriving home, Felipe liked to lock himself in the bathroom and open the big window to let the breeze in. He would stretch the shower curtain with its psychedelic design, sit on the edge of the bathtub with his guitar, put on his sunglasses, and start composing songs, pretending he was at least Bob Dylan, or perhaps someone more recent, like Jon Bon Jovi. His English was not too good, so he would write the lyrics in Portuguese, hoping some day to get them translated. The only problem was that his Portuguese was not so good either, so after scratching his head for half an hour or so, he would resort to writing the lyrics of old popular Brazilian songs and pretending that he was the original composer of those classics. A couple of hours would go by in this manner, which would bring him closer to the dinner time, when he would go downstairs to the closest snack bar and have his standard meal of cheese and beef pastels or a typical plate with rice and beans. If it were a game night, he would spend the evening at Mauricio’s cheering his favorite football team. On other nights, he would watch the novela (soap opera), before hitting the sack. His nights were always dreamless, and when he would wake up, he always wished that at least at night his imagination would work harder.

Felipe’s days would go on like this probably forever, if not for that one Wednesday. He was as usual, grabbing his guitar and heading into his bathroom. Failing to notice the socks he had left the night before, he slipped on of them, and fell forward, hitting his head on the bathtub edge. At first, he didn’t know what to do. Like most men, he couldn’t deal with the sight of blood, which was slowly trickling down from a cut on his forehead. He decided to call for a cab and go to the public hospital, where he knew he could get free care in case it were something serious. This is how he met Simone. Simone, was only 20 years old, but with the will power of mature lady. She was very petite at 1.50 m, and 40 kg, with long black hair she would pin with a pen behind her head and big brown eyes that held the wisdom of generations in them. She never wore any makeup or accessories but made a point of always wearing dangling earrings that perfectly matched the fierce, yet slightly bohemian attitude, extenuated by her high cheekbones and long eyelashes. Simone came from a family of doctors and was following her ancestors and studying medicine at the Rio de Janeiro public hospital. She took care of Felipe’s cut and scolded him for his carelessness, speaking to him in a manner of someone 10 years his elder, despite being ten years younger than him.

“This man is a disaster,” she thought to herself. He was slightly overweight, his clothes were not too clean and didn’t match one another. He kept mumbling and apologizing about the accident, as if she was someone who needed his explanations. He seemed lost to the world. It was fair to believe that if tomorrow he didn’t show up to work, or stop calling his acquaintances, most likely no one would notice his absence.

Despite all of the above, she could spot the kindness in the heart of Felipe and the warmth that emanated from his friendly face. She was very young but she has the knack for reading people. “Perhaps, there is some potential there,” she mused to herself. Simone has always liked projects and personal challenges and she definitely saw one of those in Felipe.

She had recently broke up with her latest (and not so greatest) boyfriend and was in dire need of distraction. She could tell that Felipe was interested but he couldn’t properly articulate his thoughts, as he was obviously intimidated by her presence. So of course, in her determined manner, she instructed him to wait until her shift was over so that she would take him home as she also lived nearby, sharing an apartment with 5 other medical students. The grateful, but very bashful, Felipe, silently complied. This was how their relationship took off.

Simone hated television, she also never drank or smoked or had any interests in sports. Under her guidance, Felipe discovered the cultural side of Rio, they visited the many museums, frequented outdoor concerts, went to poetry nights at the local improv societies, hiked the mountains in Tijuca forest and went jogging around the Rodrigo Freitas lake.

Simone hardly ever slept and she would spend her nights studying over her medical books or using Felipe as her guinea pig for calibrating her medical instruments, or studying the human body behaviors. He would stay up to keep her company, doing stuff around the house to keep himself entertained. Replacing the burned out hallway lightbulbs, hanging the painting he bought 3 years ago at the Ipanema hippie market, and even repainting the hideous blue bathroom tiles, were only some of the tasks he undertook during those days.

Aside from changing his habits, she went after his appearance as well. Starting at this closet, she made him throw away his flannel shirts and t-shirts from his university days (to which he was aimlessly clinging while the memories of those days were slowing dissipating through the holes in them). His old and dirty shoes (whose soles were practically talking) received the same treatment and were soon replaced by trendy sneakers with clean grey laces. She forced him to get a proper haircut and shave on regular basis. Under her instruction, he even started using cologne and replaced his bar soap with proper shampoo.

Simone, who had a bit of a napoleon complex (as many small-sized people tend to have), was enjoying the process and the free hand she was given in transforming Felipe’s life. Felipe, on his side, was nothing less but thrilled to comply with his new regime, as it was the first time in his grey life that someone cared enough about him to bother. It was a match made in heaven.

The results of the experiment soon became evident. Felipe looked better and even felt healthier after losing some weight with his new exercise regime. He was not sure, but he thought he noticed several times on his daily commute to work, women, both younger and older, sneaking picks at him, something that has never happened to him before. Even the snobbish department secretary, who normally made a point to ignore him (he was not important enough in the food chain), commented that he looked different lately.

Simone was feeling happier as well, watching Felipe’s transformation with a pride of master creating a great painting. Her grades were also improving as she could escape her noisy apartment and numerous roommates with their varied issues and focus on her studies with Felipe providing the background white noise. She also learned to appreciate the quiet bathroom and brought her purple poof, placing it in the corner of the room, where she would spend time over her books while Felipe strummed his guitar, sitting on the edge of the tub.

to be continued…