we're preeeettty cool
we’re preeeettty cool

I am in the last 24 hours of my current vacation. It has been 53 days since I have worked. Isn’t that obnoxious?! It’s also lovely. Really, truly lovely. In that time, I’ve flown home to the States, had a fantastic Christmas with family, New Years with best friends, celebrated a bachelorette of a dear friend in our college town for a wine-soaked weekend of glory days relived. I hosted one of my favorite people and her husband here in Rio for a weeklong festival of Brazilian-style birthdays, traveled to the most beautiful island on earth for a week of relaxation, read nine books, gained ten pounds, celebrated Carnaval, watched a dozen perfect sunsets, slept at least eight hours a night, and made very few decisions that were any kind of important.

I’ve decided to be immune to Zika virus, decided to stay in Brasil at least one more year, became obsessed with a new book and tv series, cried at each episode of the Xfiles revival, internally screamed through the new Star Wars, experienced temperatures from 35 to 115 degrees, saw old friends and made new ones, fully sold out to Bieber-fever, bowled a 94 point game, and faced some very real fears.

watching the Superbowl in the school library because air conditioning.
watching the Superbowl in the school library because air conditioning.

It’s been, in a word, crazy. I wish all my American brethren could experience the joy that is mandated 30-day vacations once a year. You actually want to go back to work at the end of it, if only to see your friends and remember what a schedule was and try to button your jeans again.

This last week, back from Fernando de Noronja, has been a funny kind of adjustment. We were supposed to go back to work Monday-Wednesday of last week, but the electric company wanted to do something with our wires, and so work was canceled. My roomie and I rescued a neighbor from a stuck elevator (my worst fear). I went to the beach nearly everyday. I started reading Poldark and feel near to cross-eyed as I haven’t stopped reading it for about a week straight. There are 12 books and I’ve burned through four already, dragging my roomies into obsessing watching the PBS series with me.

We’ve caught up on “The Bachelor,” and I have to say that Ben is by far the most down-to-earth, genuine, funny guy we’ve seen on this show ever. Huge fan. I hope to start regularly blogging about the Bach again next week.

has anyone invented a popcorn bar yet? i think i invented it. only way to watch movies.
has anyone invented a popcorn bar yet? i think i invented it. only way to watch movies.

I’ve watched a couple movies (if you haven’t seen “Sisters,” omg. Drop everything and laugh with me.), tried to walk at least 5 miles a day, made my way through 11% of the Bible, attempted to make tabouli, pirated the Downton Abbey series finale, and made zero progress towards dismantling the Christmas tree.

I went to a home church the other day and remembered how much I can love church, can love a good message and heartfelt worship, sitting around with friends talking about things besides work. It was hosted by my South African friends who are trying to plant a church here in Rio. And like, people with accents could probably read the phonebook to me and I would love it and nod along and smile. I wish I had an accent. If an Irish guy ever asked me to rob a bank, I might just do so because of the seductive power of the accent.

I’m rested after these fifty some odd days. Perhaps too rested. I’m not kidding about gaining ten pounds, and my mind feels a little soft around the edges from too much sun exposure and Netflix. I’m ready to see students again. Ready for a return to the routine, to Diana’s lunches and a thousand hugs a day and dry erase markers all over my hands.

new class pet! i love him so much.
new class pet! i love him so much.

I want to know what my kids think of our new class pet, and see what we name him. I’m preparing for the mental battle of wits with my high schoolers (and the emotional battle of wills that is simply working with teenagers). I’m ready to feel tired but accomplished at the end of the day.

In all of this, there has been a lot of time for thinking. For wondering if I’m making the right decision to stay, if there are any other better decisions I could be making. I will turn 32 here in Brasil in a few short months. The exchange rate drops miserably every day and I have college loans to pay and vision and dental insurance to pray for and more life to live and it won’t happen on this salary. And like at some point I should get married and make babies and start raising baby goats among french bulldogs, and have a popular instagram about it, as is my dream.

Speaking of dentistry, I had an appointment while I was in the States, and my dentist said I needed a crown, possibly a root canal. This made me start quietly sobbing in the chair (I have a huge fear of needles) as I would have to get this done in Brazil.

the girls go walking doot doot doot da dee dee ipanema
the girls go walking doot doot doot da dee dee ipanema

Dentist visits are probably not high on anyone’s list of a good time, but to have multiple appointments in a foreign country…..I’ma give that a hard pass. But I used the internet, found one that spoke English and gave me her Whatsapp. I went in for the appointment, with my roommates in tow for moral support. The dentist chair had an ocean view, and as I silently cried, she gave me three shots and then started drilling. After a few moments, she told me that actually I just needed a rather large filling, and she’d be done in 15 minutes! It was a Carnaval miracle. I cried some more and then we got a good laugh at me trying to order beer and fries in portugues with only half of my face working.

American Valentine’s Day is this Sunday, and I’m giving staff devotions the Wednesday after and might use it as a springboard for a theme about love. I’ve been thinking about how many different kinds of love we experience in our lives – with parents, siblings, friends, coworkers, pets, students, nature, hobbies. I’ve been thinking about all the decisions I have made in my life, big and small and bigger still, that were based on boys and what I thought was love and what felt important at the time. Sometimes it can all get overwhelming – how much life there is, how much potential there is, how many things there are to see, how many people I want to be proud of me, how much happiness I still want to feel, how much responsibility there is and still could be.

I don’t really know yet what I have to say about all this love and grown up stuff, except I know I have a lot of love to give and a lot to learn. I will hopefully figure out something eloquent to say on the subject before I start speaking in front of the staff. All else fails, I have some candy to throw at them.

So now we go back to work and real life. Now I give up the stay-up-until-4am nights skyping Hong Kong and San Francisco, I give up sleeping in until noon, I start washing my face and remembering makeup, no more margaritas at 10am because Carnaval. I put away the tutu, I start setting an alarm again. Wow, I wanted to go back to work until I typed all that out. At least it’s only two days and then the weekend!

vday heartsAnyway, for me the best part about Valentine’s Day is the part where we all go out to all you can eat sushi, and the Walking Dead comes back on, and I binge on my fav candy – conversation hearts. Like, I really love them.

And if you haven’t heard it today and you need to, I would never give you up for Lent.

I did give up chocolate, french fries, and wine. So . . . prayer circle for me. I’m gonna need it.