Category Archives: Brain farts & ramblings

54.5% of this year is downloaded

Damn it, shitballs! Now (some of) the expletives I’m going to use are out…

This is turning out to be such a roller coaster year; I should just accept and own that I’m going to be a total, desperate wreck for the rest of the year. Put on my pj onesie, comb the mascara lekker dik (so they can bleed appropriately down my cheeks) and just not wash my hair again until I can smell 2018. Well… maybe that’s not such a good idea – by the time the first hint of 2018 rolls around the only thing I’ll be able to smell is my onesie and my hair… ew. I still have that little bit of self-respect, I’ll just stick to the onesie then. I’ve cried and laughed so many times this month – and usually these happen in the same day. Not in a truly happy or upset kind of way – my laughter is hysterical-manic and my crying is shoulder wrenching sobs from the depths of the abyss. Sure, I have reasons to cry – my boyfriend is on another continent, all of my friends are in other cities / countries and I’ve just realized my life is a purposeless cog in the wheel of mainstream cultural consumption. (Well, that last bit might just be a symptom of many other things…) Despair not, I have reasons to laugh too – I’m finally spending some quality time with my family after having been abroad for years, I am making friends here (slowly, but surely) and at least I’m employed.

I turned 30 earlier this year (angel: age is just a number; demon: you’re so close to death, you might as well pick out your cremation facility) and I honestly didn’t think it was a big deal until now – 4 months later. I still don’t think it’s a big deal, but my subconscious is definitely responding to the wrong conviction, because I was doodling a mini essay today, as I do; I began writing the sentence “I turned…” and promptly burst out crying. Granted, I had been sobbing earlier in the day too; this could’ve just been reflected misery, but that phrase definitely triggered something. Oh fuck. I am not going to be that person who reinvents their life, just because they blew out a whole cake-full of candles on their birthday (well, if I’d had a birthday cake, I would have – you can taste the self-pity can’t you). I can’t be that person; I just spent the last 6 years traveling, visiting the most amazing places, meeting the most interesting people and eating every weird thing I can buy with pesos, Taiwan dollars, or reais. Why would I despair of not having lived the life I “should’ve lived when I was younger”? I did!

I also refuse to believe that coming home made me depressed – I am loving seeing my family and though making new friends might be tough when you’re not in university anymore or in a big company, it’s not impossible. I mean… I believe that I’m a pleasant, well-adjusted (ahem) person who can have a decent amount of unawkward small talk over a glass of wine. Believe me, I checked this theory – for a week I was writing about how to have successful human interactions, because I wasn’t sure I was having any. (I think I’ll still write those…) I haven’t killed anybody, so that should at least count for something. My baseline is a really happy place and I though I’m always convinced I can be doing more, I am generally a satisfied, content person.

Then, of course, you get the one day where everything just falls apart – my phone won’t connect to wifi, a romantic interest is ghosting me (my bf and I are polyamorous) and even the blood bank won’t take my blood! For low blood pressure, of all things. My body clearly isn’t feeling my anxious vibes.

Not to go on and on about the negative; that’s not what this post is about – it’s actually an expression of how incredibly high and low this year is getting with such consistency and extremity, that I’m kind of looking around for that bar-seatbelt they pull down to hold you in your seat at an amusement park. I’m really enjoying my work and the people I work with. It’s a small office and after being here for a couple of months it sincerely seems like everyone gets along, it’s amazing. Before The Ghosting, Mr. Awesome was… well, awesome. Sensitive, incredible conversationalist and passionate about what he does. He had (has… I’m assuming he’s not dead; is he dead?) a contagious, warm smile and (I cringe before I write this, but I stand by it) the kindest eyes. He encouraged me to sign up for the martial arts classes I’ve been wanting to do for ages and this week I’m going to my first kickboxing class. This, too, is a high point in my year, together with the running club I’ve joined and the training I’m doing. For the first time in years I’m consistently waking up early, putting in a decent workout and feeling not just good about my health and myself, I’m feeling fantastic. I even got my hair cut, just to cement that feel-good jazz.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the year, because I honestly have no fucking idea where it’s going to go or how it’s going to end. Frankly, I just want to get it over with, as well, so I can get off this “Tunnel of Terror” and get onto the “Lazy Boats”; just for a little while.

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Carnaval 2015, em Ouro Preto!

Recentemente foi celebrado o Carnaval de 2015 – meu primeiro carnaval no Brasil! Claro, a maior festa de carnaval que vêm à mente é no Rio… As escolas de samba, as baterias e as garotas que usam as fantasias únicas de carnaval… E logo, uma outra imagem vem à mente: as ruas cheias e a possibilidade grande de não encontrar vaga em um hotel ou hostel. 
Eu e Kiernan começamos planejando um pouco tarde: depois do ano novo é a época que todas aqueles que não planejaram “acordam” para o carnaval. Então, a segunda opção que decidimos foi ir a Ouro Preto.

Morros e morros! Subi, desci, subi e desci de novo.

Morros e morros! Subi, desci, subi e desci de novo.

A cidade de Ouro Preto é pequena e compacta. Há muitos morros e de qualquer morro pode ver pelo menos três igrejas antigas! A gente não pode entrar em todas, mas os interiores delas são muito parecidos. A natureza em volta da cidade é maravilhosa! Árvores e espaços verdes… Ainda tem as cachoeiras entre Ouro Preto e Mariana, a cidade vizinha.
Nós ficamos em Mariana: de ônibus é trinta minutos de Ouro Preto. Todas as tardes/noites nós fomos a Ouro Preto, para as festas e celebrações de carnaval (os ônibus funcionaram em todas os horários) 

Houve as maiores festas aqui.

Houve as maiores festas aqui.

A prefeitura de Ouro Preto organizou muitas bandas para tocar as músicas deles e de carnaval na cidade – em qualquer lugar pude escutar alguma banda. Não só teve bandas de samba, também teve rock, eletrônica, música popular e outras que eu não conhecia. Tinha vendedores das bebidas álcoholicas em cada rua, latas de cervejas jogadas em toda parte e também tinha barraqinhas de junk food. Apesar de lixo nas ruas, cada manhã as ruas estavam limpas! Deve ter tido limpadores das quatro horas da manhã até as nove horas para parecer limpo assim – muito impressionante!

Vi desfiles únicos e interessantes! Alguns têm uma bateria, alguns têm os cantores, alguns têm os manequins como acima.

Vi desfiles únicos e interessantes! Alguns têm uma bateria, alguns têm os cantores, alguns têm os manequins como acima.

Nas manhãs nós exploramos uma parte de Mariana ou Ouro Preto – caminhamos e subimos muito. Mariana tem uma linha de trem antiga, entre ela e a cidade irmã, que passa ao lado de uma montanha. Acho que tem uma vista deslumbrante dos vales. As igrejas são bonitas e eu fiquei surpresa que ainda usadas. Umas igrejas estão recebendo reformas, mas outras funcionam. 
As casas e os prédios das duas cidades são charmosos e singulares – a construção verdadeiramente me faz pensar em colonialismo e no mar também… Não sei porque o mar; talvez é porque eu, frequentemente, as casas similares nas cidades litorâneas na África do Sul.
Eu acho que as coisas mais bonitinhas são as fontes – elas ficam em lugares muito aleatórios, todas elas não têm nada de água (exceto uma), e têm aparências terriveis (terriveis no significado antiga da palavra) com as cobras espiraladas e os dragões. 

Eu estou muito feliz, porque neste tempo matar dois coelhos com uma cajadada só – visitar as cidades históricas e participar de um carnaval muito divertido! 

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Here’s to butchering the beautiful language of Portuguese… ;)

At the recommendation of my Portuguese teacher I am attempting to communicate on my blog, in Portuguese. If anyone reads this and understands, good luck to you 🙂 I promise to revise and correct after my patient teacher or Portuguese-speaking friends have given me some notes.
(Corrections have been made 🙂

Feijoada accompaniments

O primeiro sabor do Brasil

Brasil é um país muito grande (na verdade é enorme), então é lógico que aqui também tem muitos tipos de comidas…

O Nordeste é conhecido pelas comidas apimentadas e quentes. Além disso tem um alimento muito famoso chamado “moqueca“: é um tipo de ensopado/guisado com caldo denso, com sabor rico. Moqueca me lembro de “bouillabaisse” da França, porque os dois usam frutos do mar (gostoso!). Mas bouillabaisse tem mais água.

Tem as pessoas que falam que os alimentos de Minas Gerais são melhor que todas as outras locações. Eu ainda não visitei este estado, então ainda não posso julgar. Por agora a única comida de Minas que eu provei foi “pão de queijo“, mas eu espero que pão de queijo autêntico seja melhor que alguns que eu provei. Logo eu vou à Minas Gerais, e depois vou te dizer o que eu penso.

Uma outra culinária que eu gosto muito é a do sul do Brasil. As pessoas do Rio Grande do Sul (especialmente duas de Porto Alegre😉 ) têm orgulho do churrasco deles. Churrasco é bastante similar ao “braai” na África do Sul – os dois usam carne de alta qualidade (como picanha ou contra filé), misturam com temperos particulares e preparam na grelha. A grande diferença entre churrasco e braai é: no churrasco a carne já preparada está cortada, e logo todas as pessoas comem juntas descontraído os pedacinhos; no braai os peços de carne inteiro são preparados e logo todas as pessoas pegam as porções de carne, vegetais e pratos extras, para juntas desfrutarem o alimento.

Fim.

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Where do people fit in the picture?

Why do people exist?
Why were people created?
Why did they evolve?

From the point of view of progressive evolution, what made meta-consciousness a survival advantage? Why did that develop, why only in people? Are we broken? We have meta-consciousness but no tools on how to manage it. We know how to destroy, sometimes how to preserve, but never anything more. Before us nothing needed fixing; are we then our own reason for living if we are designed/fated for an endless cycle of destroy-fix-destroy-fix? And in fact we can never be any good at this because anything we fix is deficient/different/faulty from the way it was before us. So this purpose is meaningless.

We can barely preserve/maintain anything without destroying some of it or consuming some of it. And besides, the world around us maintains itself much better, much more efficiently and beautifully without us. Here, too, we are at best a hindrance, at worst a disaster.
Were we meant to create? Why have we come this far without creating anything superior to ourselves? Or at least something that has meaning outside of the meaning people give it? I concede that perhaps this is our purpose – we are simply here to usher in the next, superior form of existence; perhaps a form of consciousness or meta consciousness that is an improvement on our own design. In other words, we are not necessarily creating anything, but we might be the catalysts / vehicles for the next evolution… We are not ‘finished’, our design is not as we are now, but something contained in the next step of evolution/design. Perhaps something that goes beyond our meta-consciousness into the fourth (fifth?) dimension.
If this is the case, my own individual birth means nothing. I am one part of an evolving organism, but the sum of the progress of my species is not influenced by my individual actions, enjoyments or disappointments; again, I am the only entity giving those things meaning.

If this is the case why are we individuals? Surely our purpose is furthered by a collective consciousness? By a hive mentality?
How inefficient that millions of breathing, shitting people are born, in order for a handful to further humanity’s purpose. How trivial and base are our worlds of love, affection, fornication and death.

What an anticlimax one life is…

But, if we were/are created by a god, I believe that now we are truly alone.

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Book Review: Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz

Even though the title simply says “Wild Fermentation”, this book tries to be much more than a simple fermentation guide / recipe book. The recipes and techniques described in the books are very interesting! Some of them are definitely easier than I thought, and I’m quite excited to try sourdough, plus some of the trickier wine ferments.

Like I said, this book does not solely consist of recipes though. The author starts out with a history of fermentation and a description of what makes wild fermentation different than aided or chemical ferments. This is an interesting melding into the narrative of his recipes and attitudes towards fermentation. Furthermore Katz gives a little bit of his own personal history and situation, which helps to make the book feel authentic and sincere.
However, there are some digressions and almost ranting chapters that get a bit out of hand. For example, after reading the first pages, then scanning some more, on his subjective opinion on GMO’s, I decided to skip forwards to something more meaningful.

The introduction to microorganisms and its influence on fermentation is awesome and engaging, but then he gets a bit lots in the maze of homogenization of food crops and the evolutionary melding of culture in general; he loses the plot by quite a wide margin, with socio-economic consequences of agriculture through the centuries… and then he brings slavery into his fermentation book… All of these topics are worthy of being explored, discussed and written about, but perhaps a fermentation book is not the best platform. I understand that Katz believes in what he is saying (he really takes issue with global culture being oppressive in his opinion), but I didn’t expect to be getting a rally talk when I picked up a book on how to make miso, you know?

Anyway, four chapters later we’re back on track with clearly described, flexible approaches to wild fermentation. I like how Katz gives household alternatives to potentially expensive equipment as well as explaining their roles in the whole process.

I think I will experiment with easier ferments that have a faster yield (bread, cider, kombucha) and later on I’m looking forward to the more complex processes (wine, miso, etc).

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There is just not enough time

I have an unquenchable thirst… I want to do everything, I want to go everywhere, see every corner of the world / a city / a neighborhood. I want to know about everything, silly things and useful things equally, I want to build on my knowledge consistently; I want to speak as many languages as possible… How do I do these things in conjunction with ‘making a living’? How would I ever have enough time to research even half of what interests me? How could I even put all of it into practice?

I guess if I’m really passionate about this I would set out to climb this mountain of mine regardless of obstacles, and having a focused outlet helps to organise my thoughts (yay for blogs!). But I despair at all the things I will never have time for, because of the limit of a human lifetime and the restrictions of necessary economic self-sufficiency. In no way does this despair convince me to give up, but I’m worried that it may spur me to a panicked frenzy, to start with as many projects as I think I can handle, then having too much on my plate and not giving individual missions appropriate attention.


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