Saturday, July 28, 2012

A New Leaf

Finally, I'm back!

I've just spent two weeks in England and two in Ireland, and I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people I spoke to over there who were saying how disappointed they were that I'd stopped writing the blog. Apparently, even our somewhat repetitive daily routine is interesting to more people than I'd imagined and so I've decided to come back and have another go at keeping the blog going for a while.

One reason for this decision is that the book, which was taking up all my creative time and energy, is pretty much finished now. Another few weeks should see it in its final version and then I can begin the long, long process of trying to find a publisher for it (oh what fun that will be) and it will probably be a few weeks more before I really settle down to starting work on the sequel. So that gives me much more writing time for the moment, and I do like to write. For one thing, it keeps me from spending all my time playing computer games!

But another reason for re-blogging is that I feel the need to revisit São Paulo. During those lost months, since returning from Buenos Aires, I was quite negative towards this city. I was fed up with life out here and was fed up with the constant bureaucracy and the constant flood of money out of the bank account and the constant demands on my time from the school and the noise and the pollution and the smell. When it was too cold I complained and when it was too hot I complained, and when there was nothing else to complain about I complained because there was nothing else to do. On top of this, Helen was overworked and stressed and constantly tired and also fed up with all the same things that I was - except that in her case there was more to be fed up with because there was more she had to deal with.

Clearly, this is not a good way to live your life.

But now, hopefully, everything is different. We've all had a nice long rest, caught up with our sleep and spent time with friends and family and we now feel ready to face the coming year with a much more positive attitude. It helps that we're now over halfway through our stay out here. I know we've said it before, and we'll almost certainly be saying it again, but hopefully this year will involve much less in the way of bureaucratic grief and if so, it will make life so much more pleasant. Right now we're sorting out getting our visas and ID cards renewed, and once that's all sorted we should be able to stay out here for the next two years with no more paperwork until it comes to the time to sort out getting out of here (ideally along with all our possessions).

This is our combined visa application, in all its unnecessarily complicated glory!
There are one or two other bits and pieces Helen is currently trying to sort out that are taking way longer than they should - moving phone companies being the most ludicrously difficult and unnecessarily complicated  - but after that she really may end up with enough time to be able to do her proper job for a change! This in itself will make her very happy.

Happy family - with James already too cool to be hugged by his mum in public. Look closely and you can just see David zooming along in the background.
As for me, I want to go back to seeing São Paulo through fresh eyes again. I want it to be interesting and funny and exciting like it was back in the early days, not dull and repetitive and best avoided like the past few months were. If I succeed, not only will life be a lot more bearable, but also my blog posts should be as well.

Still, that can be for next time. For now I'll just try and remember all the good things that happened out here since February and try and bring you all up-to-date.

Helen worked. Mostly she got to work in her cosy little office here in São Paulo, but occasionally she did get the opportunity to travel; Rio and Brasília again, but this time she also made it up to the north-east, where she spent several days shut up in a hotel room in front of her computer without getting to see anything of the virgin rainforest, stunning beaches and beautiful city of Salvador, all of which were within easy reach of her hotel. Pity.

I also spent most of my time sitting in front of my computer, but having moved my desk across the room, I don't even get to sit and look out of the window any more. Instead I have a patch of white wall which is featureless apart from some distracting grey splashes just above the top of my screen. Still, I'm no longer bothered by the sun streaming in and bothering my eyes while I'm trying to write. And yes, I finally have something to show for all my sitting around. I have a book. Well, a potential book, at least. It needs a little bit more work on some of the descriptive passages, I feel, and then it can sit around waiting for a publisher for the next year or two while I write the sequel. Still, James read it and liked it. He even laughed in places and as he is, after all, my target audience, I think I'll take that as a good sign.

And talking of James, he had a pretty good term at school. His lunchtime computer programming course was a huge success, with some fifteen people (and by people I mean boys) regularly turning up and pestering him for advice on how to make games where you could kill stuff. He's now gone way beyond my limited programming skills and will almost certainly be developing iPhone apps before the end of the year.

He starts Senior school in two weeks' time and although he was only in the Prep school for two years, he certainly left his mark on it - quite literally, in fact, as he he ended the year by winning the Sir Alfred Norris Silver Medal for Academic Distinction (Boy). Not only did he get to keep this nice shiny medal, but he also gets to have his name painted onto the prizewinners' board which sits just inside the school's main entrance. Rather modestly, the award didn't really come as much of a surprise to James, but was a very pleasant end of year treat for two very proud parents.


And just as James is leaving the Prep school, David is joining it. He seemed to love every minute of Pre-Prep so I'm quite sure he'll have no problems moving up to a new level, except that now he's going to be having proper Portuguese lessons and won't be able to happily ignore anything that's not in English as he has for the past two years. I can't criticise him too much, however, as my own Portuguese is only about two steps above his and I have no intention of taking lessons to make it any better. My excuse is that you can't teach an old dog new tricks (especially a particularly lazy old dog).

David didn't win any medals, but he did present us with this stunning portrait of Helen instead.
Anyway, that's enough for the moment. It's a beautiful sunny day and I think I'd rather go off for a walk than spend the rest of the day sitting here. More soon.... I promise.

And finally, here's me - still smiling even though someone has just driven a scooter into my knee.