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.

 

Books, writing

Why I Write

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I don’t think I need to tell you that books mean the world to me. This is an obvious fact about me, and doesn’t need much of an explanation.

My love for reading very quickly bred a love of writing. I always enjoyed writing. I wrote ridiculous amounts of poetry as a teen and young adult that should never be published unless it’s going to be done in a comedic sense. Writing though, is not about perfection. Books on every level are a very subjective form of art. There are so many popular titles out in the world that I just did not enjoy. Just like there are many that I love, that others dislike as well. To be a writer you must first realize that not everyone is going to love your work, and the second thing to realize is that there will always be someone better than you. Seems daunting doesn’t it? It’s okay. We are all in this together. While these things may turn many people off from ever writing a single word of a story, it makes me want to tell my stories even more. So Why do I write?

To be a writer you must only do ONE thing, and that is to write. YOU HAVE TO WRITE. I consider myself a writer. I have spent countless hours writing thousands upon thousands of words. I am in the process of editing one book, while also throwing myself head first into research for another one. I have ideas written on notecards, notebooks, iPhone notes, and even a sandwich bag because my mind is constantly telling me stories. No this is not my way of admitting that I am crazy, although, I think to be a writer you need to have at least some dose of insanity somewhere within you.

What Inspires me?

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I get asked this sometimes by friends or family. I think what originally inspired me was stories like Harry Potter. That series specifically burst open my imagination. The detailing, and just unique story made me realize I had characters and stories of my own running around in my head. Characters with loud personalities matching those of the people who I have crossed paths with. Characters with personalities matching my own. Quiet, shy, and ready to kick ass if necessary.

I have always had notebooks scattered about the house. Piles of them telling different stories of my own reality. It was only in the past 5-6 years that I realized that I wanted to write about the other characters my imagination decided to introduce into my daily life.

Possibly the biggest inspiration behind my writing, really the biggest of them all is Portugal. I was born there you see. In a beautiful city called Viseu, where at the age of 30 I have only set foot on its streets a handful of times. rua-direitaI was raised so far away from it, far from it’s cobble stoned sidewalks, it’s gorgeous parks, and beautiful architecture, that for most of my adult life I’ve had a hunger–no, an unstoppable desire to become better acquainted with a land that I barely know, and yet love unconditionally.

A place where family has grown, aged, and lived without me within their immediate bubble. I am inspired to create worlds around that longing, and the history of Portugal. I can’t explain it any further here. One day, with a little bit of luck and a whole lot of hard work, I will be able to share the stories this feeling has inspired.

Till then, I leave you with these words:

Telling a story isn’t about perfection. It’s about expression, emotion, and that feeling that you’re making something bigger than yourself.
I write almost every day. None of it perfect. Never let that stop you because it will never stop me.
 
Books

Harry Potter and the Portuguese Influence

There’s a certain kind of feeling that comes from reading Harry Potter, especially if you have been a fan for a long time and are jumping back into the world of Magic and Hogwarts. When you read that first line, in the very first book, there’s this wonderful sense of peace and joy that comes over you. Almost like you drank a little elixir you brewed up in Potions class. When the final book in the series was released, Potterheads the world over, thought that was the end and we cried for all the characters we’d miss, and the world that we loved. But suddenly, there’s MORE to the story, and So many of us are just sitting here impatiently waiting. Personally I am a little upset that I live in Germany, and ALL SHOPS ARE CLOSED ON SUNDAYS, so I have to wait until Monday to grab my copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Yes I am well aware that this is meant to be seen more than read, but I cannot make it to London anytime soon, so reading the script is the best I can do. On this wonderful weekend of Magic, I thought I would write about the rumored influence that my beautiful country Portugal had on Ms.Rowling very early in her writing process about a magical boy, who was about to change the world.

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Lello Bookstore in Porto & Harry Potter

Back in June when I went to visit my family in Portugal, my brother asked me if I would like to visit Porto and more importantly visit Livraria Lello, which is the beautiful bookstore that first opened its doors in 1906. I automatically said, “FUCK YEA!!!” because I am a booknerd and child at heart first, but a sailor when speaking. When we arrived there, we were first making sure we were in the right location for this wonderful shop, and unfortunately the outside of it was covered in scaffolding and a tarp as they were doing some renovating and restoration to the front of the shop. Possibly in preparation for the fact that Levraria Lello is the Official site for the International Release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The shop ordered more than 5,000 copies of the book, and from the looks of their Facebook page, people are already lined up outside the shop ready for all the magical festivities they have in store for the midnight release. They say the shop itself heavily inspired Rowling. When I walked in for the first time, my breath literally caught in my throat and my heart rate sped up. It is just THAT beautiful. The red staircase, the shelves, and just the atmosphere of the entire shop. It would be hard to walk into that place as a writer and not feel some form of inspiration.

 

J.K. Rowling lived and taught English in Porto between 1991 and 1993. It is said that it was at one of the tables in a cafe in Porto that Rowling wrote a very early draft of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. In fact, I found a quote where she supposedly states: “In those first weeks in Portugal, I wrote what has become my favorite chapter in The Philosopher’s Stone, ‘The Mirror of Erised’ — and had hoped that, when I returned from Portugal, I would have a finished book under my arm. In fact, I had something even better: my daughter, Jessica.” I could no longer find the source of this quote, so I am not sure how accurate and true it is, though the timing of when she began plotting the stories and writing sort of fits. The bookstore had to have some kind of influence on her, but I would say the entire city of Porto would be a great influence to anyone who visits the city.

Other Possible Portuguese Influences on Harry Potter

One that comes to mind instantly is where the name for Salazar Slytherin comes from. Here I am just playing some guessing games, but it’s a possibility that there was some influence that stems from Portuguese history. Quick little history lesson here: Antonio de Oliveira Salazar was the Prime minister of Portugal from 1932 until 1968. He started what was called the Estado Novo (New State) which was essentially an authoritarian form of government. There was heavy censorship and even a secret police to quiet down the opposition to the government. This form of government was in power until 1974. It is likely though not proven that Salazar Slytherin’s name was influenced by this less than likable figure of Portuguese History.

Another thing that might be of interest are the cloaks and outfits that the students of Hogwarts wear, could have been influenced by the outfits that the University of Porto students wear. They have traditional outfits that are made of black cloaks and once again while there is no sure fire proof that this was the inspiration, it can be seen in the photo I found below that these could be Hogwarts students.

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There is a chance I am reaching for details and influences, but I write my own stories and living in Germany I have been heavily influenced by architecture and history here as well. I would go as far as saying that it would be impossible to live in a city as beautiful and as rich in history as Porto, Portugal and not have it influence your writing. This was just fun to research and look into on the eve of a the long awaited release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Cheers, Happy Birthday, and Congrats on the Magic you have let loose upon the world J.K. Rowling.

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life

The Art of Missing Out

I originally wrote this back in November while in Portugal. I decided it needed to be placed up here on my main blog. Check it out. 

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me in Portugal

I have spent most of my life outside of the land I was born in. At first not by choice and then it was a decision I made.

Sitting here at 2:00am back in Portugal. I felt the need to write something that maybe no one understands. I left when I was four, but I think I forgot my soul here. Children are forgetful, and I left a piece of myself here.

I lived in New Jersey most of my life. It was never home to me. People always laugh when I say that because when I speak English I sound American. When I Speak Portuguese I sound American. When I speak German, yes I sound American. But I am not. I never became a citizen. It was not home. Sure I made wonderful friends. I wouldn’t change a thing about that, but I’ve felt lost for a lot longer than I realized and I’ve missed out on a life I will never know because it was never meant for me to meet.

I’ve missed out on a lot of things. I have watched young cousins grow up in splashes of time. Older relatives faces tell stories that I was never a part of. Does this make me sad? Well I think there’s a bit of sadness there sure. I would trade some aspects of my past to be able to have more memories with a lot of people. Then I look at how my life has worked out and how I’m currently sitting here again, and while I call Germany home, because it is my home, my soul may always live here in Portugal.

It’s an art really, to come back and each time feel like I’m meeting some people for the first time every time. But they’re so deeply embedded into my heart either way. Now as I watch my nephew beginning to grow here into someone who I am so proud of, my little niece who smiles more than any baby I’ve ever seen, I think about all the things I will be missing out on and how that breaks my heart.

Then I think about how much closer they are now, how much closer I am to the place where my soul lives. And there’s a joy there. One I am looking forward to exploring. It’s an art. The Art of Missing out.