Handwriting and Fresh Horses

It almost feels like a dare. Like I’ve been dared to show my underpants.

Show us your handwriting.

Mine is hard to nail down, and always comes with memories of grade school. Years of teachers scolding me because it was messy, illegible. Years of painfully doing homework and trying so hard to control the pencil. Failing.

Sometimes it’s loopy and rather girly. Sometimes it’s slanty and has extra bits and tails hanging off. Usually it’s a weird mix of cursive and print. I prefer the look of my printing, but my laziness connects the letters and the cursive sneaks in.

Every time I pick up a pen I feel out of practice. Like I have to remember how to do it, which is why it feels important when I write something down.

It’s worth more than my digital notes typed in to my phone. Text messages, email, calendar entries. They’re all digital.

Hand written notes? Much more deliberate and personal. A tangible bit of my thoughts down on a piece of paper you can hold and carry with you.

I found this card on top of our fridge here in Brazil. I gave it to B three years ago. I remember writing it, and mailing it from the States with my fingers crossed that it would actually get to him all the way in Brazil. That it wouldn’t go missing in the tangle and mess of international mail.

Three years ago, before we talked of marriage, but were so madly in love with each other. So far away from each other. Thousands of miles apart, but always on each other’s minds. A bond out of nowhere that caught us both by surprise and was too strong to give up on, even from five thousand miles away.

He kept it.

He is not a romantic. Not overly sentimental. He doesn’t keep anything.

He kept the card.



Edenland's Fresh Horses Brigade

The Yin and Yang of Traveling

Sunset over Brazil

There is so much to write about from our road trip, so I’m editing photos and mentally writing blog posts but don’t have anything ready just yet. Instead, I’m enjoying my daughter’s last day in Brazil with me and dreading the buzz at the gate when the driver arrives to take us to the airport. She flies out tonight. Sigh.

It’s good to know I’ll be back there in the States with my kids in just a few short weeks. It’s nearly that time again for me to make my twice annual trip back there to spend time with them. The time when I am most happy and most sad. I love being with my kids, and spending time watching them do their thing in their own lives but I do it alone. I miss B so badly when I leave here, it always feels like I’ve left my right arm behind.

He’ll come up and join us for Christmas. Thankfully.

I know it’s the travelers dilemma, and a first world problem I’m lucky to have. Still, it’s hard to say goodbye and I’m always missing someone.

Biding my Time

Here I wait. Here in my house alone most of the time. I feel a bit like a hermit.

It felt good to get out yesterday with my camera and a group of friends from my photo club, which makes it a little harder to come home alone.  I see and hear from my kids far too seldom, which is a whole other issue. I can’t make plans more than a few days in advance because I don’t know when I’m flying out again. Could be Thursday, could be mid-March. I have an invitation I can’t RSVP to for an event I’d really like to attend next Monday, but I’d much prefer be on a plane out of here before then.

I thought I felt like I lived with one foot in each country before. This past two weeks have made me feel even more split. My head and heart are in alternate universes, the one where I thought I’d be and the one where I am. The light at the end of my tunnel is still around the curve and I can’t see it.

So I’ll go out today, take my Girl to the mall and have a coffee while she spends her Christmas gift cards. I’ll have her for a couple of hours during which we’ll have another conversation about homework and school and responsibility, then I’ll go home alone and wait some more. Later on I’ll see on Facebook how much fun my Boy had at the track.

Tomorrow is our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple. How sad is that?

On Hold and Banging My Head Against the Wall

Remember how I was all “Soon, soon, soon”?

Ya, I spoke too soon.

The Brazilian consulate has decided that the visa we thought B had renewed last May is not valid, and therefore they can’t give me a spouse visa attached to it.  Right now there are about five people scrambling to get proof of a valid visa for him but god knows how long that will take since it took months for them to “renew” it the last time. They also think a US government certified copy of our marriage certificate is not good enough and want the original, except that the USVI courts will not release the original as it’s their property.

And, get this, the consulate wants B to write them a letter explaining why he wants me to come to Brazil.

Are they kidding? Seriously?

Hmm… I wonder why a man would want his WIFE to come live with him? It’s such a puzzle, what could we possibly be thinking?

Should we tell them exactly what we plan to do together after being recently married and then separated for months, in all the naked details? I’m sure somebody there would really enjoy reading that letter.

Where we are now

Here we are three and a half weeks after we got married. B is back in Brazil, I’m here in Houston. Sucks.

I can’t go back until my passport and new visa are processed. Ask any newly married woman who takes on her husband’s name how she feels about the process of changing your name on every piece of ID, every bank account, every bill, every membership and every piece of paper that comes her way and I’m sure she’ll try really hard not to bite your head off. While it makes me smile every time I see that new name, I am getting a bit tired of standing in line, filling out forms, submitting online updates, lather rinse repeat.

Yesterday I sent in my passport name change form. When it comes back I will submit it to the company lawyers who will complete the application process for my Brazilian permanent visa. I am now an official trailing spouse. Right now I have a tourist visa which allows me 90 days at a time in the country, twice a year. While that schedule works for the moment because I need to be back here with my kids half the time, it will be nice to have some flexibility with the new visa. Not to mention my kids are growing up fast and it won’t be long before they don’t need me here as much. How much I need them is another story.

Right now we’re sort of guessing that I’ll be here for another three weeks or so. You better believe I’ve got all fingers and toes crossed that there will be no delays, but this is the Brazilian visa process and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about it.

So for now I wait. The kids will be here for the week starting tomorrow, and we’ll celebrate my girl’s 17th birthday while she’s here. I’m sure driving practice will be involved, just as I’m sure it’s a bigger deal to me than it is to her. My cool, mellow, easygoing girl takes it all in stride, but we moms get to freak out a bit when our kids grow up.

Getting Ready

Getting ready for Christmas.  The lights are up on the house.  The tree is decorated.   Most of the gifts are purchased or ordered, but I still have a few to go pick up.  The kids and I are going out next week to finish off the list.  The “Official family holiday schedule” is set, and fingers are crossed that the drama will be kept to a minimum.   The gifts I have picked up already are wrapped and under the tree, tucked in the back so a certain Tall Boy will not be peeking at them.

Getting ready for the kids to drive.  Next week we have intensive driving practice for my Girl during which she’ll need to get very comfortable with driving a stick shift.  She’s made a good start with it, and she drives her dad’s automatic with no problems, but she’ll have her driver’s license next month and she’ll have my Jeep to drive while I’m in Brazil.  My Boy and I are going to be studying his Driver’s Ed handbook while she’s practicing.  I’m taking him to get his permit on Thursday so wish him luck.  My insurance agent is listening to the festive bells of the cash register as we speak.

Getting ready for a 5k run on New Year’s Eve.  Because we’re weird.  Signing up for 5k runs keeps me motivated to run and go to the gym, and the only one we could find going on while B is here happens to start at midnight that night.  Why not start a new tradition?

Getting ready for a Caribbean vacation the day after Christmas.  Yes, our Christmas gift to each other is a tropical beach vacation and we’re flying out at 6am the morning after Christmas and headed to a tiny island in the Caribbean for six days.  Sun, sand, water, c hiking trails, boats, a treetop bed & breakfast and romantic sunsets.  Just the two of us.  <big, smiley sigh>

Getting ready to teach my first photography class.  It’s a beginner’s class for people who get new DSLR cameras for Christmas.  Very, very basic starting with “how to turn this beast on” and working up from there.  I’m co-teaching with a friend and I’m a little nervous because the RSVP’s are pouring in.  Wish me luck.

Getting ready to go back to Brazil for three more months.  Not. Soon. Enough.  I love being here with my kids, and it’s a life saver that B will be here for the holidays, but I’m really looking forward to going back home to Brazil.  I miss B every day in all ways, large and small.  Those little things that make a life are missing here.  I’m home alone half the time, and while I am so grateful for Skype so I can see his face when we talk every day, it’s just not the same as being together.  Duh.  I’m also looking forward to picking up life in Brazil itself.  Speaking Portuguese, walking to the grocery store, taking photos of all the great places around town (and maybe showing them in the local gallery if I can swing it), seeing our friends and hearing about their holidays, churrasco, heat, beijos and abracos, our friend’s baby girl who will have grown a ton.  I’m ready to go back to all of those things.

Getting ready for my heart to arrive one week from today.  That’s the one I’m most excited about.  I miss him, all day every day.  He’s my heart, my love, my companion, my best friend, my sounding board, my cheering squad, my comfy couch buddy, my debate partner, my hard headed man, my adventure partner, my biggest fan, and everything else I ever wanted.  We are so sappy and we know it, but I wouldn’t trade this for anything.  We are so lucky to have this, and we know what it’s worth so I’ll keep counting days until he arrives.

I’m ready.

Photography Zen

Dahlonega Snowflake

As we dragged poor Michael around the cute little shops in the Dahlonega town square, we kept calling out to each other, “Hey, look at this!”.  There was so much to see, and so many cute little crafts and gifts everywhere.  All my photowalks are training me well to be ready with the camera, and to keep my eyes open for the good stuff the I might not normally pay attention to.

Dahlonega Preserves

Photography has always been something I wanted to do, and now that I’m really focusing on it I’m learning to look around me in ways I never used to do before.  As a way of life I’m always trying to live “in the moment”, but don’t always succeed.  Duh.  Actually I kind of suck at that part.  I’m way too impatient for future things to even realize where I am half the time.

Dahlonega Honey

So I practice, and I try, and I have little reminders around me to slow down and smell the flowers.  My camera has helped me do that.  When I have my camera and I’m actively using my eye balls to look for “the shot” it is nearly impossible to keep the calendar and the clock in the front of my mind.  It’s a welcome relief to the difficulty of waiting for all those things I’m always waiting for.  I can forget.  I can capture a moment.  I can stop time.

Dahlonega Marbles

It feels like getting lost in a game, just playing like we all used to do as kids.

Dahlonega Ornament

Finding the angle, finding the light, holding my breath for the shutter to click.  Smiling and laughing when I know I nailed one.

When the day is done and I put the camera down, that’s when I look at the clock and realize I’ve had a great time and I’m also that much closer to the things I wait for.  The watched pot never boils, and the watched clock never moves, but when I’ve taken my eyes away from the clock and lost myself, the clock jumps forward much faster and I’ve also done something I love doing during the jump.