Coffee & Rant

Always the Foreigner

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If you know me, then you know my story, or at least bits and pieces of it that I have allowed you to see. The other day something popped up on one of my many social media news feeds that inspired this post. I thought to myself, no matter where I go these days, I am a foreigner. It’s not really troublesome to me, but it’s unique and a bit interesting to say the least. Let me take you back.

486530_10150971845899142_1684528778_nI was born in Portugal in 1986. I lived there for the first four years of my life. The picture was taken in Portugal with my older brother, who looks like he’s sporting a semi-mullet in this. (Business in the FRONT, Party in the BACK!) When people ask me, I have to be honest and say that at this point in my life I don’t have that many recollections of my early childhood spent in that beautiful country. When I am actually physically there, I can sometimes sense something that I could never explain properly in words. All I know is that, this place where I have only spent a handful of days in, feels like home. The thing is that I also feel like a foreigner when I am there. I will come back to that soon.

So we moved to the USA, to New Jersey to be exact when I was four. We lived on a street that had tons of other Portuguese families and I very quickly made friends with the neighborhood kids. When I entered school, that was a different story. Halloween came around in Kindergarten, and my mom wasn’t all that sure what the hell Halloween was. I am sure someone gave her a half assed explanation, “It’s like carnival, but not.” Our neighbor kindly let me and my mom pick one of her kid’s old costumes, and what did we pick? A GOAT. goatWe thought it was funny, to be honest, I STILL think it’s funny. It just made me stand out like the little weirdo. Another little foreign kid whose family misunderstood what an American tradition was about. Didn’t we know that I was supposed to be a little princess, or a fairy, or a combination of the two? Or a Ghost Fairy Princess!!  Nah, I was a goat. weirdThis is just an example of how I always felt a little out of place in New Jersey. In NJ, I was the Portuguese girl. The one who’s family had a BBQ and there were sardines on the grill not burgers and hot dogs.  When I went to Portugal I was the American girl because well I had an accent, now that I am living in Germany…I just confuse the shit out of people.

“Can I see your Passport?”  Hands Portuguese Passport to them.

“I thought you were American.” I stare at them blinking slowly.

“Do you have an American Passport?” Sigh.

“NO. I am Portuguese. I Have a Portuguese Passport. I only had a green card in the USA but I handed that back. ” I explain.

“OH. It’s just that you sound American.” INSERT EYE ROLL

“Yes I spent most of my life there, but for all intents and purposes, I am Portuguese.”

I’ve had this conversation a few times, or some similar type of conversation about this here. Also there are those people who love to ask me this: “So how long are you here for?” ………… “I’ve been living here for five years.” ….”Are you staying?”…. I don’t know, CAN WE TALK ABOUT SOMETHING OTHER THAN WHERE I AM FROM AND WHERE THE FUCK I AM GOING?!

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For most of my life I have been a foreigner. I was a foreigner in the USA, in Portugal I was the American,but now I am the German, in Germany I am the American…no the Portuguese…no wait where Am I from again?

It’s not that I am having some kind of Identity crisis, all my experiences are making me who I am. A Passport doesn’t define much of anything in my eyes other than who’s most likely to get frisked at immigration when traveling to the USA. Still sometimes I do have to sit and wonder who I am, or where am I from? I never really know how to answer that question anymore, and really wish people could ask me something else.

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Always the foreigner.

and that’s okay.

 

Book Reviews

American Street – Book Review

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I was given an eARC of this book from the publisher; this in no way influenced my opinion.

This is a Spoiler free review!

American Street by Ibi Zoboi is one of the most powerful stories I have read this year. It follows Fabiola Toussaint as she moves to Detroit from her home in Haiti with her mother. They’re headed to live with her aunt and cousins, but Fabiola’s mother is held by immigration in New Jersey, but Fabiola continues her journey on to Detroit.

This is where the story kicks off, and it certainly does just that. Fabiola tries to understand her new world. American Street is filled with amazing characters, and what’s more important it is filled with complex and interesting relationships. It is a really gripping book.

I think a reason I really loved this book beyond the great story telling and characterization, is that I connected with Fabiola on certain things she went through trying to fit into a new country. I had to do the same when I was a kid who emigrated from Portugal to the USA, and then once again when I moved to Germany. Fitting into a new country, is a massive undertaking and always one hell of an adventure.

 

Fabiola handles a number of different obstacles in this book, all the while dealing with the matter of her mother still being detained in New Jersey. The story is going to twist and turn, and your heart will do the same.

 

This book is great, and I HIGHLY recommend this novel. It’s a rough read with a sprinkle of magical realism. The book will be released February 14,2017. PREORDER IT, BUY IT!!!

 

I give this book 5 out of 5 Metalhorns!

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