O inexistente olhar crítico do outro

Certa vez, tive que ir ao shopping pela tarde, sozinha, resolver umas coisas. Em casa, toda animada, me arrumei bem à vontade: saia longa azul royal, com uma camiseta de banda de rock preta super-sized amarrada na cintura, um par de tênis nos pés, cabelo desgrenhado, como sempre. Me olhei no espelho antes de sair de casa e me achei mó gata jovenzinha (trintona, hein?!). Estava me sentindo A ADOLESCENTE mais descolada e cool da terceira idade. Cheguei no shopping me achando, super segura e desfilando na passarela, até que… dei de cara com ele. Aquele que acaba com a auto-estima, confiança, segurança e amor próprio de qualquer pessoa. Um dos maiores vilões que já passou pelos corredores de todos os shoppings no mundo inteiro: ele mesmo, o seu reflexo na vitrine da loja do shopping.

O seu reflexo na vitrine da loja do shopping, a primeira vista, pode parecer um amigão, que tá lá pra te mostrar o quão gata você está. Então, assim que você passa pela primeira vitrine, você ainda está se achando e só falta dar uma piscadela para seu reflexo, bem coisa de adolescente babaca mesmo. Mas, na medida em que você vai caminhando pelos corredores, você vai passando por lojas diferentes. Lojas com manequins que estão vestindo roupas mais bacanas que a sua, mais caras que a sua, mais desamassadas que a sua, mais modernas e novas (porque sua camiseta já tá desbotada e meio que fedendo um pouco, né?). Quando seu reflexo começa a aparecer nessas lojas, ele começa a te olhar feio. Parece menos colorido, menos jovial. De repente, você olha e não reconhece a figura que está no reflexo. Cadê aquela gostosa que tava ali há um minuto? Quem é essa velha mal arrumada com essa roupa cafonérrima? E logo pensa: “que eu tinha na cabeça pra sair vestida assim de casa?”.

Nesse dia, minha auto-estima só durou até a terceira vitrine. Na quarta, eu já estava arrependida da roupa e pensando que besteira que fiz. Mas, mal entrou essa ideia e apareceu o segundo maior vilão do shopping. Foi rapidinho. Em termos de maldade, ela está pau a pau com o primeiro lugar. Ela é o segundo maior motivo das pessoas voltarem pra casa pra trocar de roupa: ela, a outra pessoa. Exatamente isso: a outra pessoa. Qualquer uma. Aleatória mesmo (faz sentido né? #SQN). Ela não precisa falar nada, fazer nada. Não precisa nem olhar pra você, nem passar perto. Basta que você a veja que acontecerá o feitiço que estraga o dia/vida de qualquer pessoa: a comparação.

Já não bastava que estava me sentindo uma completa idiota de saia azul longa com uma camiseta de banda de rock amarrada na cintura (que coisa brega!) e tênis (ai, jesus!). Quando menos me dei conta, estava olhando para as outras mulheres que estavam passeando no shopping e me comparando a cada uma delas. Era mais ou menos assim: “ela é mais alta, mais elegante; eu toda corcunda aqui, horrível”, “essa aqui tá tão maqueada; tão bonita; e eu aqui com a cara lavada cheia de rugas e manchas”, “caramba, que mulher linda, toda bem vestida; eu aqui, tão malamanhada, tão feia, tão brega”. Ad aeternum.

Fazia 15 minutos que eu estava no shopping, ainda precisava comprar 2 presentes, e tinha conseguido o feitio de sair do mindset “estou uma gata” para “estou um traste” em menos de 100 metros de caminhada.

Até aí tudo bem. Meu reflexo me olhava feio a cada vitrine e eu ficava me comparando com as outras mulheres, me achando um show de horror, mas as coisas estavam caminhando e eu não ia morrer por causa disso. Só tinha que resolver os presentes e ir embora. Fácil, né?

Era. Mas, aconteceu que nesse mesmo dia eu dei de cara com o terceiro vilão dos shoppings. O pior de todos. O que nos tira a tranquilidade, a paz na mente, a nossa auto-confiança e nos destraça por inteiro, de dentro pra fora. O maior vilão de todos os tempos: “o inexistente olhar julgador da outra pessoa”.

É isso mesmo que você leu: o inexistente olhar julgador da outra pessoa. Vou explicar porque ele é o pior de todos. Vamos separar as sílabas para que você possa entender. “O olhar de outra pessoa” já começa dizendo que outra pessoa está olhando para você. Ou seja, ela passou a vista pelo espaço inteiro do shopping, por todas as pessoas, e justamente a sua pessoa captou a atenção dela. Porque você é tão especial assim, bebê. E você nunca pensa “ela está olhando pra mim porque eu estou super diva hoje!”. É sempre “meu deus, será que derramei mostarda na gola da camisa? Devo estar só a bosta de feia”.

Mas, isso é até normal. Até aí tudo bem. Todo mundo se acha a pessoa mais especial do mundo e todo mundo está sempre nos olhando. Eis que entra a segunda parte do nome: “julgador”. A pessoa não está só olhando pra você. Não! Ela está fazendo um julgamento, uma crítica. Não só a sua figura chamou a atenção dela, mas chamou a atenção de uma forma ruim e a pessoa está mentalmente fazendo uma crítica extremamente rígida à sua pessoa, sua roupa, sua maquiagem, seu corte de cabelo, sua bolsa, seu sapato, suas tatuagens, suas escolhas. Na sua cabeça, a pessoa está te olhando e pensando “como ousas sair da tua casa vestida deste jeito? Vais causar vergonha a tua família e levá-la à ruína! Volte para a toca donde viestes e jamais retornes”. Porque, né? É óbvio que todo mundo falar assim e é claro que ela está pensando exatamente isso. Afinal, você está horrível e merece toda essa atenção.

E aí vem a terceira e pior parte do nome desse vilão: “inexistente”. Que significa exatamente isso: não existe. Nadica. Zero. Zip.

Porque essa é a pior parte? Porque, no final das contas, nada disso está realmente acontecendo. A pessoa não está olhando pra você, nem muito menos te julgando. Ela nem sabe que você existe. Quem diabos é Larissa no jogo do bicho?

Todas essas figuras são faces diferentes do que é, na realidade, um único vilão: o seu ego fragilizado. Quando pensamos em ego, pensamos em coisas ruins. Lembramos de pessoas egocêntricas ou egoístas. Mas, a saúde do nosso ego é importante. A interpretação filosófica do ego é que ele é “o eu de cada um” ou “o que caracteriza a personalidade de cada indivíduo”. Ele é considerado o defensor da personalidade. (peço licença aos psicólogos se estiver cometendo erros grotescos aqui)

Em outras palavras, é a nossa própria insegurança que nos prega peças como essa minha no shopping. Meu reflexo na vitrine estava igual ao do meu espelho em casa, quando estava me sentindo a maior gostosa. As outras pessoas não estavam nem mais, nem menos bonitas ou arrumadas do que eu. Elas estavam elas e eu estava eu. E absolutamente ninguém estava olhando para mim e julgando minha beleza ou falta dela. Tudo foi da minha cabeça, tudo inventado, tudo fantasia.

E sabe por quê? Porque na época, dois anos atrás, eu achava que precisava de uma aprovação das outras pessoas para me sentir bem. Só me sentia bonita se estivesse dentro dos “padrões” (quaisquer que fossem eles). Só me sentia segura se todos dissessem que eu estava bonita. Minha própria voz não era o suficiente.

Olha que tragédia. Nós não somos o suficiente. Ou não achamos que somos.

Mas, tudo muda com o tempo. De lá para cá, aprendi a me amar. Aprendi a me cuidar, aprendi o que gosto e o que não gosto, aprendi a me valorizar mais. A me comparar apenas comigo mesma. E ainda assim, ainda não estou num nível super power de autoconfiança e autoestima. De vez em quando, ainda dou uma olhadela para o lado e me questiono. Mas, hoje em dia, quando vou ao shopping malamanhada e me olho no reflexo das vitrines das lojas, ou eu não ligo, realmente, ou me acho bonita, mesmo quando não estou. Porque nesse mundo só existe eu igual a mim, ninguém mais que seja igual. Nem de longe parecida.

Não é fácil e nem perfeito. Mas, quando ele aparece, chuto o inexistente olhar julgador das pessoas pra longe e chamo meu amor-próprio pra bater um papo cabeça. Ele é muito mais legal comigo. Afinal, quero perto quem me bota pra cima e não quem me olha de cima pra baixo. Concorda?

Quem sou eu pra tatuar?

É muito raro acontecer. Porém, vez ou outra em nossa vida, acontece algo muito raro. Algo aparece de surpresa à nossa porta. A maioria das pessoas tem tanto medo dessa coisa que nem abre para ver o que é. As poucas que têm coragem abrem uma brecha e descobrem, ali, disponível, disposta, aberta e pronta, ela: a oportunidade única.

Muitas pessoas confundem oportunidade com sorte. Elas cresceram acreditando que você receber uma oportunidade era você virar supervisor depois de 10 anos e passar a receber um salário melhor, ou um tio desconhecido que morre e deixa uma pequena herança, ou um QI que deu certo e o amigo do primo da sua mãe conseguiu aquele emprego bacana pra você. Ou um investimento numa poupança (negoção, hein?) que seu gerente do banco garantiu ser a melhor aplicação para o seu dinheiro. Ou um carro 2011 no preço! Olha só, que oportunidade! E quando você recebe aquele tão suado bônus no final do ano e consegue, finalmente, comprar sua primeira casa. Eita, que orgulho. Você teve uma vida cheia de oportunidades!

Ok. Vou explicar. Muitas pessoas acreditam que oportunidade é uma situação favorável que cai prontinha em nosso colo. Pronta para ser comprada, vendida, investida, realizada, etc. Mas, nem sempre é assim. Aliás, na maioria das vezes, não é nem um pouco assim. As melhores oportunidades vêm disfarçadas de problemas que são ignorados e despercebidos pela maioria. Elas aparecem como um questionamento que você se faz, sem querer, e que acaba gerando uma reflexão, como: e se eu pudesse alugar minha casa por diária, como num hotel? E se eu colocasse um motor na minha bicicleta? E se eu vendesse esse xarope de colamedicinal como se fosse uma bebida comum, acompanhando um hambúrguer? E se eu abrisse a rede social da minha universidade para o mundo? E seu eu pudesse dar caronas a pessoas com o meu carro? E seu eu pudesse carregar todas as minhas músicas no meu bolso?

Tá, tô fazendo aquilo de usar só empresas grandes como exemplo, né? Mas, cada empresa no planeta, grande ou pequena, surgiu para resolver um problema ou suprir uma necessidade de alguém em algum lugar e tem como único propósito de existência fazer isso. E essas necessidades e esses problemas em algum momento tiveram que ser identificados. Então, podemos dizer talvez que a maioria das oportunidades não caem em nossos colos. Elas são descobertas, trazidas à luz ou, melhor ainda, criadas. (O livro “O Mito do Empreendedor” explica como essa é a melhor forma de se iniciar um negócio.)

Em novembro de 2017, eu decidi que voltaria a desenhar e que, dessa vez, levaria a sério. Comprei um curso online de desenho e comecei no início de dezembro. Até o meio de janeiro de 2018 eu já tinha completado meu primeiro sketchbook. Alguém me disse que um certo desenho meu daria uma linda tatuagem. Eu ri e não levei a sério. Disse: “quem sabe daqui a uns dois anos quando já tiver aprendido a desenhar direito”. Continuei desenhando.

foto1

No final de janeiro, decidi fazer uma tatuagem nova. Já tinha o desenho, só precisava de um artista competente. Comecei a pesquisar. Descobri que desde a última vez que havia feito uma tatuagem, o número de profissionais na cidade tinha, no mínimo, triplicado. Quanta gente nova, quanta gente jovem! Me apaixonei pelo trabalho de uma moça e descobri que ela tinha 23 anos. Fiz “EPA! Peraí! Tem alguma coisa aqui!”. De repente, um número altíssimo de tatuadores jovens, novatos, já tatuando, já com agendas lotadas, grande audiência de fãs, com dificuldade até de passar orçamento. Quando foi que isso tudo aconteceu?

O alarme soou na cabeça. Fazia tempo que ele tava caladinho. Começou bem leve, mas com alguns dias, já tava quase acordando a vizinhança de tão alto que soava. Era o alarme da oportunidade. Despertei na hora. Comecei a pesquisar. Pesquisei tatuadores, seus sites, perfis nas redes sociais, seus trabalhos, seus estilos, como trabalham, quanto cobram, onde moram, onde tatuam. Mandei mensagens, troquei ideias, fiz perguntas, visitei estúdios, fui a uma exposição. Fiz uma pesquisa de mercado BOA. A publicitária em mim fornecendo ferramentas para a possível artista em mim descobrir um novo negócio. Pois, um sonho que sempre tive foi trabalhar com arte. Poder ganhar dinheiro fazendo arte. Fazer da arte o meu negócio. Mas, nunca encontrei um meio de fazer isso acontecer. Até o bendito mês de janeiro.

Em fevereiro fiz meu primeiro curso e já realizei minhas duas primeiras tatuagens. Foi tão rápida a decisão que foi um choque para muitas pessoas. Uma grande surpresa. Em março, fiz mais algumas e decidi que queria aprender mais. Em abril, comecei meu segundo curso de tatuagem, que ainda está em andamento. Até agora, fiz 7 tatuagens no total. E muitos, muitos desenhos, pois o estudo é o mais importante.

Eu, Larissa, tatuadora? Em 2014, quando fui contratada pela Solar Coca-Cola, meu pai me parabenizou e disse “a meta agora é CEO!”. E essa era mesmo a meta. Queria ser Chief Marketing Officer, CMO, de alguma empresa grande, um dia. Queria ser executiva, trabalhar de terno e salto, com planilhas e planejamentos estratégicos, indicadores e metas. Queria ser importante. Mas, nos últimos quatro meses, esse sonho foi se desintegrando, me parecendo cada vez mais sem cor, sem graça. Me deixei levar pela tão famosa métrica de vaidade. Meu sonho era ter um título bonito e um salário mais bonito ainda.

Me peguei pensando que criar é algo que me dá muito mais prazer. Criar e também ajudar pessoas. Aconselhar, apoiar, cultivar relacionamentos. Eternizar numa parte do corpo uma arte que tenha um significado importante, que a pessoa vai levar consigo para sempre. Ou ajudar alguém a descobrir o melhor caminho para chegar a algum lugar.

A oportunidade bateu na minha porta vestida de tribal e realismo colorido, tradicional americano e neo-tradicional, graphic art e sketch, dizendo: “Ei! Vem tatuar!”. E eu, tão entusiasmada e energizada que estava, nem liguei muito para o medo que aparecia de vez em quando do possível preconceito da família, dos amigos ou dos colegas de trabalho. Sabe fé cega? A tatuagem pra mim veio como fé cega. Fui correndo no escuro e nem enxerguei esses percalços, essas possibilidades.

Mas, mesmo através dos tombos, quedas, perdas, dificuldades, fracassos e vitórias até então, e aquele medo de como me despir da imagem Larissa executiva e deixar aparecer a Larissa tatuadora, tatuei uma irmã e vários amigos, ganhei uma maca para tatuagem de presente da avó, o pai tá de olho em espaço para estúdio, meu filho fica se fazendo de artista riscando meu braço com caneta e minha mãe avisando “já tá na hora de começar a cobrar!”.

Eu? Quem sou eu pra tatuar? Ah, vai… Tatua, La.

Qual o problema com a cor dos meus cabelos?

-Tia, por que seu cabelo tá branco? – me perguntou uma criatura de 7 anos, depois de 10 segundos olhando fixamente pro topo da minha testa.

-Ele não está branco, ele é branco, meu amor – respondi.

-Mas, você tá parecendo velha!

Já ouvi isso antes: velha ou desleixada. São os dois tipos de mulheres que deixam seus cabelos brancos. Segundo o que dizem, é claro.

E se fossem azuis ou rosa choque? Querendo ser rebelde, coisa de maluca. Você não é mais adolescente não, minha filha. Grow up!

Se fossem raspados? Ah, essa é doida de pedra. Coitada. O cabelo era tão lindo, aí fez essa loucura.

Se estivessem frizzados? Com certeza, acordou e esqueceu de pentear. Ou levou um choque, né?

Passou da cintura? Tá na hora de cortar, né? Longo demais. Deve dar um trabalhão pra lavar, só gastando água. Corte esse negócio, aff!

Encaracolou? Cacheou? Menina, faça uma escova ou um coque. Tá todo bagunçado seu cabelo. Alisa esse trem…

Alisou com química? Olha só, tá parecendo uma vassourinha. Algo deu errado aí. Melhor voltar ao natural.

E, é claro: deixou de pintar a raíz? Credo, que descuido. Ficou com mó cara de velha. Ei, tá com cabelo branco, né? Vamo pintar?

A lista continua. A lista de coisas que ouvimos todos os dias sobre como devemos ser, como devemos nos vestir, como devemos nos arrumar, como devemos parecer. Ouvimos tanto sobre como as pessoas esperam que sejamos, que fico me perguntando se sabemos como nós realmente queremos ser. O que é beleza, enfim? E quem define o que é bonito ou não? E por que damos tanto ouvidos “aos outros” e calamos tanto a nossa voz interior?

É o velho problema do “culto à beleza”. Não, o tema não está esgotado. Continua importante e pertinente e ainda há muito o que se falar e fazer. Quando deixei meus cabelos voltarem a ser cacheados, me senti linda e autêntica, mas há quem diga que só ando de cabelo bagunçado. Hoje em dia ele passa boa parte do tempo preso num coque alto, aí o pessoal diz “mas é tão bonito solto”. A pessoa não pode mais nem sentir calor! Parece que temos que andar sempre em nossa melhor versão, na nossa versão mais bonita de ser. Tudo bem até aí. O problema é que a definição dessa nossa versão mais bonita nem sempre vem do nosso interior. Isso acontece pois damos muito ouvidos ao que as pessoas dizem. E o que elas dizem?

Dizem que as mulheres têm que ser magras, com seios e bunda grandes e cintura fina. As pernas? Grossas, de preferência. Têm que ser gostosas e saradas, mas nem tanto, senão ficam muito masculinas. Têm que andar de salto e de bumbum empinado. Cuidado para não parecer arrogante e que “se acha”, senão pega mal. Os cabelos têm que ser tingidos nas cores da moda e sempre com a raiz pintada. Têm que andar maquiadas, senão é descuido e ninguém quer ficar vendo pele manchada, espinhas e olheiras profundas, né? Têm que ser sempre femininas e sempre bonitas, mas só se for de acordo com as normas e regulamentos criados pelas revistas da moda, novelas e filmes de Hollywood, senão não conta.

E o que ganhamos com isso? Mulheres inseguras e com problemas psicológicos e emocionais por causa da pressão da sociedade por um corpo perfeito; mulheres obcecadas com seu peso, tomando todo tipo de medicação, abdicando de momentos especiais da vida para não “jacar”; mulheres gastando o dinheiro do mundo todo alisando e pintando os cabelos para que fiquem iguais aos das famosas; mulheres botando silicone porque aprenderam que peito bonito é peito grande; mulheres com problemas de coluna por causa do uso contínuo e abusivo do salto, porque elas acham que só assim ficam elegantes; mulheres com problemas de pele depois dos trinta porque passaram a vida com a pele carregada de maquiagem pra ficar mais “bonita”. Enfim, mulheres sempre insatisfeitas com a forma e beleza natural dos seus corpos porque aprenderam que pra ser bonita de verdade, precisam seguir a receita da novela das 8.

A boa notícia é que isso tá mudando. Estamos vendo mulheres gordinhas em cima das passarelas e servindo de exemplo para as jovens. Mulheres de cabelos alisados finalmente assumindo os cachos, sem vergonha, sem peso na consciência. Mulheres usando tênis porque é mais importante se sentir confortável do que “elegante”. Mulheres aprendendo a cultivar seu próprio bem estar, sua auto-estima e tomando decisões baseadas no que elas realmente querem e não com o que os outros irão pensar.

Afinal de contas, não é errado colocar silicone, pintar cabelos, usar maquiagem e salto e querer ser magra, se tudo isso é o que realmente você quer. Eu já usei maquiagem todo dia porque achava que só ficava bonita assim. Já usei salto todo dia porque achava que só ficava bonita assim. Alisei meus cabelos por mais de 13 anos porque achei que só ficava bonita assim. Já fiz todo tipo de dieta, tomei remédio e sofri pra perder peso porque achei que ser gorda era feio.

Hoje em dia, eu uso maquiagem quando saio, penso em colocar silicone e fazer abdominoplastia, uso salto de vez em quando e faço dieta quando sinto necessidade. Mas, hoje sou eu que tomo as decisões e faço as escolhas, conscientemente, pensando no meu bem estar e no que eu considero como sendo bonito. Me olho no espelho sem maquiagem e me acho bonita. Me olho no espelho com os cabelos frizados e brancos e me acho bonita. Me olho no espelho, gordinha e com várias celulites e me acho bonita, mesmo assim.

Mas, não foi fácil. É um trabalho de aceitação, tolerância, auto-estima, desenvolvimento pessoal, que parte da gente e termina com a gente. E talvez eu pinte meu cabelo novamente, enfim. Talvez eu não consiga conviver com os olhares e as reclamações. Mas, a vida é evolução e aprendizado. Os outros vão sempre falar. Sempre vai ser melhor e mais bonito de outro jeito. Em vez de aprender a fazer biquinho de pato, aprenda a fazer cara de paisagem quando alguém reclamar que você poderia ficar mais bonita se apenas ____________.

Voltando aos cabelos brancos…

-Tia, você não tem medo de parecer velha?

-Eu pareço ter uns 30 anos?

-Parece!

Problema resolvido. E se não parecesse? Problema resolvido, também.

This is lizard shit

Before we begin, please do not be fooled by the natural glorified beauty of the lizard featured at the top of this post. The lizard I will be talking about is as horrific as its intentions. Beware.

One of the things I like to do the most every night when I come home from work is to pick up lizard shit from my kitchen floor. Sometimes there’s lizard shit in the morning as well and I always imagine that my reptilian friend might have had a little snack during the previous night, while the humans in the house were asleep. It’s a delight that I have been blessed with for the past five months.

I named the lizard Bob. I figured that if we ever met he would look like a Bob.

Bob is quite a character. He likes playing games and his favorite one is hide-and-seek. We play this game all the time. I’m always looking for Bob, but he is never anywhere to be found. Noah and I have searched for him for weeks, tearing the entire apartment apart in the process, looking for the little bastard, but he’s a sneaky dude.

In the beginning, we didn’t get along very well. When Bob first moved in, I was very happy living within a two-person only family, just Noah and I enjoying ourselves in our little nest, with no pets to worry about. But he didn’t ask to join us; he just moved in with his suitcases and settled in.

Every time Bob left his little turd in the middle of my kitchen, I would politely tell him – through some courtly yelling – to “get the fuck out of my house, you little shit!”, and proceeded to bang on every cupboard, table, sink and stove, moving the refrigerator and freezer out of the way, but… He always got away.

Being a single mother living alone in a big apartment, I learned early on how to deal with animals ravaging my place. I once had an epidemic of  small frogs that lasted for about 6 months. Every day I found little frogs around my house, usually near the bathrooms. One time I had the delightful surprise of running into one of them when I got out of the shower. When I pulled my towel from the hanger he came flying towards me. He had been appreciating the warm humidity of my dirty towel while I was taking my evening bath. This was Fred, by the way. Fred loved bathrooms. So did Rita and Jeremiah. They were a big bigger than Fred and had different colors, and they were always playing inside my bathroom, running their slimy paws on my toothbrush and hairbrush and makeup brushes. Great fun!

For months, every time I would find one of these little assholes, I would get a used plastic bag and throw it repeatedly on top of the sucker until it he was completely covered in it. Then, I would jiggle him around until he jumped inside the bag and while keeping the bag closed, I would take it downstairs and throw it on the other side of the building’s common area. I never killed a single one. I love animals, just not on my towels.

One day, I put poison for ants around the apartment and after a few days the frogs stopped coming by. It turns out they were here to hunt down the ants, so when I got rid of their food, they went away. Now I can pass this life lesson on to others: when infested with frogs, get rid of ants.

And then there’s the cockroach. Most people are afraid of cockroaches. A friend once told me that if she ever found a cockroach in her bedroom, she would get out, lock the door, leave the house, get in her car, drive to the airport and move out of the country, permanently. Alas, I’m not a regular woman. A cockroach will never stand a chance when faced with a single mother who will stop at nothing to ensure that she can sleep peacefully in her bedroom, without the slightest possibility of having a little sleazy motherfuckin’ cockroach walking around her bed at night. When it comes to roaches, I will hunt them down with brooms and flip flops and unless they realize the Stygian fate they are about to encounter and run for their lives, they will die by a power slap from a pink-colored flip-flop filled with hatred and also compassion – because, after all, I love animals.

And then there’s Bob. I realized the fucker was here to stay when he started leaving his excrement on my kitchen floor more than once a day on a daily basis. People to whom I reached out told me to leave the reptilian douchebag alone because he was probably eating other insects who could be even a bigger bother to me. Apparently, lizards are cool and having them in your house is a good thing.

I bet they have never gotten up from bed to get some water at three o’clock in the morning, after hours of insomnia, to find this on floor:

lizardshit

That is lizard shit.

It’s been 5 months. For the past weeks I have been trying to make myself open to the possibility of becoming friends with Bob; after all, he’s been eating insects from my house that could otherwise have been eating my food or getting into my cups and plates or making their way onto my arms and legs (roaches seem to like walking around my legs quite a bit).

The hide-and-seek wasn’t very fun for Noah and me – since we could never find Bob – so we started playing a new game. The game starts when we come home and open our kitchen door and try to get across the kitchen without stepping on any lizard dung. Whoever makes it first to the other side without ending up with fecal matter on their shoes wins. This has made Noah become eager to get home every day. He loves this game.

Having lizard stool on your kitchen floor is also very useful when you have to threaten your child with a lousy chore in case they don’t want to do what they’re told. “If you don’t finish your homework in half an hour, you will clean up Bob’s doo-doo.” When you’re faced with the possibility of having to clean up Bob’s crap, you get shit done.

This week, for the first time, we saw Bob. Noah and I went to the kitchen to get some food and there he was, stuck on the wall near the sink. We all remained very still, Noah, Bob and I. When Noah finally took a step forward, Bob leaped onto the floor and slithered rapidly towards our service area and got away through the open window. “Nice to meet you, Bob,” Noah said.

I like Bob. I think he’s a nice fella. He could leave his defecation anywhere he wants, making it easy for us to unintentionally step on it. But no, not Bob. He always discharges on the exact same tile every day. Although this makes the new game too predictable, it also makes my life easier.

Every day when I get home, I step over Bob’s creamy crud, get a napkin, pick the dung up and throw it in the trash can. Easy breezy.

Once, I put a huge box on the floor, covering the tile where Bob did his number two, and left it there for the day. When I got home, there was the deuce on top of the box. Bob cannot be fooled. He takes his feculence very seriously.

I don’t know how to get rid of Bob, so I will accept him as a guest for now. I often think about when I start dating again and have someone come over to my house for dinner. They will look at the floor and say, “What is that?”

“That, my friend, is lizard shit.”

Note: Below is a picture of a dead lizard. I hope to find Bob like that one day. I will be relieved, though sad. Remember, I love animals.

fd-matarlagartixa

On creativity, YouTube and giraffes – a talk with Noah

Metallica played in the background and I was nervous, legs crossed, trembling and shaking with anxiety. “Master of Puppets” is definitely not the best song to precede the first interview one ever conducts. I tapped my pen on my notebook compulsively to the rhythm of the song, while waiting for him to come. To me, he represented freedom and was the impersonation of creativity itself. The way he thought, talked and created was amazing and the ease with which ideas came to him, the way inspiration poured from his mind through his veins and was released from his body through movement, words and art was a mystery that I had to uncover.

The idea of talking to him for 20 24 minutes (he corrected me after reading my draft) and being able to ask anything I wanted about his life and creative process was a dream I have had for the past 7 years.

He was – at the same time – my greatest source of inspiration and my greatest creation.

He was my muse: my son, Noah.

He came into my office, sat down and rolled his chair around without even acknowledging my presence. He had that innate confidence of someone who has a secret and isn’t sure if he’s willing to share. He looked at me from the corner of his eyes every time the chair gave a full turn.

“May we begin?”, I said. He jumped from his chair, ran towards me, jumped into my arms and gave me a big hug. The interview had begun.

Such an important person always has a full schedule, with many activities and many different people involved, so I had always been curious to know with whom he liked to talk the most. “With you,” he said, “about what we’re going to do on the weekend.”

The simplicity and honesty of his words mirrored the sober-blooded nature of his soul. He was a natural philosopher and artist and the best place he found he could express his artistic endowment was at the park. “I have fun there. I sing and make up songs and always pretend that I’m giving a show,” he said.

His creations were always filled with nuances of style, rhythm and words of other artists that he admired. When I asked him which was his favorite style of music and artists, he told me he loved pop music and pop bands such as Queen, The Beatles, Metallica, Ariana Grande, Katy Perry and Beyoncé. The references were endless and as eclectic as his own work.

Spongebob Squarepants and The Amazing World of Gumball were the cinematographic works of art that most influenced his thinking and creative process. They helped to bring humor and ease into everything he did.

Recently, he had seen La La Land, loved it, and was very distraught with the whole Warren Beatty/Faye Dunaway thing that happened at the Oscars, when the movie lost the award for Best Picture to Moonlight. He had spent the past 5 months listening to La La Land’s soundtrack every day, learning the words, the sounds, the rhythm, the production, the voices, trying to suck as much inspiration as he could. And the dancing. Ah… the dancing. He created his own choreography for every song. In my opinion, his was better than the movie’s.

He loved to dance. “I like it because it’s cool. I can dance anywhere. If there isn’t any music, I sing one in my head,” he told me, “And I create all of my moves. They’re all mine.”

He is also a prominent visual artist, though for some reason unbeknownst to me he has not invested in it as much as in his other activities. “I like to create. I draw a lot of monsters,” he said, “But what I like to draw most is you and me and a tree.” I was humbled that he was inspired by me. We admired each other with the same intensity and eagerness.

To me, curiosity is what makes our creative neurons get to work. Wondering about things, asking questions, seeing problems in our daily life, it makes us come up with answers and solutions that might not have seemed possible or likely before. I wanted to know from him where he thought his creativity came from. He said, “It’s like, you know, when someone is talking about giraffes and I always wanted to know the length of the giraffe’s neck. So, I get curious and I draw giraffes because they’re my favorite animais. I draw huuuuuge necks.”

The end of our much-anticipated conversation was near, so I switched subjects to talk about his most recent work.

We had partnered up a few months ago to create a Youtube channel for him, where he could share his thoughts, talk about movies and TV series, and talk about his daily life. I wanted to know how he felt about being a youtuber and what it was like to make videos. “When I’m recording, it looks like I’m talking to myself, but I’m really looking at a camera and talking to all the people who are on YouTube,” he said. When I questioned him about the challenges of being a successful youtuber, he said, “You just look at the camera and before you know it, you’re famous.”20170506_091928

He was tired and I had a lot to think about and was eager to begin writing about the milestone insights we had uncovered in our talk, so we finished our interview with a hug and a kiss. I thanked him and he asked if he could have some tapioca ice cream. I said he could if he answered one more question. He agreed, reluctantly. I said, “What would you ask if you could have the answer to any of the world’s greatest mysteries?”

He said, “I would ask: how long is the neck of a giraffe?”

I left social media and nobody noticed

I’m an advertiser turned-marketer who wants to become a writer. So, obviously, the logical thing to do was to course a Big Data program and take a class on cloud-computing; which I did last year. I can almost see myself receiving a Pulitzer or a Jabuti prize for my memoir-styled novel about how to become a marine biologist after living 10 years as a buddhist monk taking care of baby koalas who are learning how to program. In C++. On the cloud. You know… PaaS. I know my CS shit.

During these amusing classes on how to create multiple entities on a single server in order to guarantee availability, I made friends with a guy who had just graduated with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering. When I asked him why he was taking a course on Big Data, he said, “I was laying around the house, doing nothing. So, this seemed like a good idea.”

We were both very enthusiastic about this course.

We always spent our class hours talking about all things non-related to cloud computing, including things such as what it’s like to live in Hungary (he was there for a year), what it was like to be 30 and unemployed (which I was all through 2016), what we did on our free time and how social networks were killing our intelligence and creativity.

We got to talking about when we started using social networks. I told him I started with mIRC. He didn’t know what mIRC was. I realized I was 9 years older than him.

Oh well…

I began with mIRC when I was 13. The year was 1998. I would wait until my parents were busy, lock myself in the basement, log into random chat rooms and talk to people, pretending I was a 23-year-old biology major at some fake university who liked poetry and listened to alternative rock. I wanted other fake adults to think I was a cool fake adult.

A few years later, MySpace was born and I created my account, obviously. I breezed through the ICQ era, until MSN started to get traction. When Orkut came along, one of the world’s first social networks (if not the first), I was already hooked on social networks.

I remember Hi5 and Friendster, but can’t recall if I used them. When blogging was the thing, I began blogging – and I’ve had over 10 different blogs since then. When YouTube came out, I started vlogging. In 2007, an American friend invited me to Facebook; my Brazilian friends started joining the following year. In 2009, I created a Twitter account and have been and on/off user for the past 8 years. And then came WhatsApp. Ka-boom!

Larissa. Social freak. Hardcore. Needy. Show-off. Addicted.

Recently, I realized that I was using Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp excessively; to the point where I was having mental fatigue. I had no more time for anything and I became obsessive with my phone, checking it every 5 minutes. I would spend hours scrolling through Facebook feeds of people I didn’t even like. It was a disease.

As days went by, I could see that my connections in social media were neither real nor meaningful. People who would like or comment on my pictures on Facebook or Instagram wouldn’t even say “Hi!” when passing by me in real life. You know that awkward moment when you see the person, they see you, and both of you turn away? Yeah…

One day, I counted how many Whatsapp groups I was in. Sixteen! These were the kind of groups where someone would say “Good morning!” at 6 a.m. and everybody would feel obligated to answer. I never answered. They were also the kind of groups where people would send pictures of angels and videos of cats doing idiot things every day. I never ever downloaded a single one.

Something was wrong. And I felt it the first time I logged onto mIRC, almost 20 years ago.

A friend prompted me to reflect on these things a few weeks ago when we were talking about friendship, connection, social media, and what was the purpose of participating in any of these networks. I thought a lot about that and a few days later, I left. I left Facebook and 12 of my 16 Whatsapp groups.

I realized that I hated all of it. Not only were these connections artificial and meaningless and annoying, but they were disturbing my life. I had to get away.

I went even a step farther and disabled all notifications for the remaining Whatsapp groups, all incoming SMSs, Instagram, YouTube, Gmail and Twitter. I made it so that my phone would only ring or vibrate when someone called me – which is almost never – or when someone talked directly to me on Whatsapp. Everything and everyone else is silenced.

And then, the most amazing things started happening: I stopped picking up my phone every 10 minutes, I was finally able to focus on the task at hand – whatever it was, I was more productive at work, and I found that I had time to do my writing and reading every day. I even had more time to play with my son.

A few days ago, all of my doubts about the artificiality and superficiality of social media were settled. April 25th was my son’s birthday and guess what happened? No one called to wish him happy birthday. Not my grandmothers, not my aunts or cousins, not his classmates – through their parents, not even anyone from his dad’s family. Not even his dad.

My mom told me that the family congratulated him on our familie’s groups (both of which I’m no longer a part of). But, Noah didn’t receive these messages. He’s 7. He’s not in any Whatsapp group. He’s not on Facebook. He doesn’t have a phone. If someone wanted to wish him happy hirthday, they had to call him on my number. And no one did.

And this is my fault. Our fault. All of us humans. We let it get to this point. It’s so much easier to write a shallow birthday message and post it on a group than to pick up the phone and actually talk to the human being on the other side. Talking with others is really, really hard. It has become a burden that most people don’t want to deal with. I was a part of this. I did the same thing for years. Now, people are more distant and I feel a little left out, alone. About 99% of the people in my life disappeared the day I left social media.

But, the important people in our lives participate, no matter what. They remember us even if we’re not posting pictures and comments every day. They remember our birthdays and call us or text us directly – either is acceptable to me. They ask us out for coffee or drinks. They send messages asking how we’re doing and what we’re up to. And even if that conversation only goes as far as “I’m fine, how are you?”, it shows that the person was thinking of us. To me, that counts.

I left social media and most people didn’t notice, but I’m OK. Every time someones asks me why I left, I’ll send them the link to this post with the caption: “This is why I left. Thank you for caring. Your number will never be silenced. You are important.”

The important people will notice, sooner or later.

Note: I realize that sometimes us writers can get emotional about a topic, especially if it’s related to something that happened recently and had a certain impact, whether negative or positive. When I wrote down the idea for this post, it was weeks before Noah’s birthday. So, as I’m writing this now, I’m more sensitive because of all that happened – which made me sad – and I know it shows up in the writing. I tried to be honest without being hurtful to anyone. After all, we are all victims of technology. 

Note 2: I don’t want to be a hypocrite.  I still have Instagram, though I don’t use it much. I have Twitter, which I use every once in a while when I have spare time. I use Pinterest on a need-only basis, which is so rare that I don’t even have it downloaded on my phone. And I have to be on Whatsapp, otherwise I would be a complete hermit. About Noah, he has an Instagram account, which is only followed by family members and a few of my friends, it’s invite only and I handle it for him. He also has a YouTube account, because his current dream is to be a famous YouTuber. Like I said before, if it’s up to me he can be whatever he wants to be.

A short story about love

“I love you,” he said.
“I love you, too,” she replied.
“Do you really?”
“Of course I do.”
“Good.”
“Why ‘good’?”
“Because if you didn’t, none of this would make sense.”
“Yeah. Our lives would probably be very different.”
“If we weren’t together, we’d definitely be far away from this God-forsaken city.”
“I would be in New York, studying writing and literature. You?”
“Germany. I always loved Germany. I could study business and IT.”
“I wouldn’t be a slave to my job.”
“I wouldn’t have to do the fucking dishes every day.”
“You think I would’ve been making money as a critic or writer already?”
“Sure! And maybe I’d have my own business by now.”
“Would we be happy?”
“I don’t know. I guess so.”
“More than we are today?”
“I don’t know. How happy are we?”
“I don’t know. Moderately happy, maybe?”
“Maybe. Are we even moderately happy?”
“Well… Happy enough to stay together?”
“Is it worth staying together just to be happy enough?”
“I don’t know. Damn love. Ruining people’s lives. People who could be extremely happy, instead of happy enough.”
“Yeah. Fuck love!”
“But, do you really love me?”
“I don’t know what to think anymore…”
“Neither do I.”
“We should probably decide.”
“I don’t think I love you.”
“I don’t love you either.”

They sat drinking their wine, staring at the skies, celebrating their one year marriage anniversary.
At their last sip, the wine bottle was empty. So were they.

“Job” is not a bad word

Sometimes I feel like “job” has become a bad word. We are afraid of saying it, as if by saying it we are going against the new common sense. As if we are parting away from the “tribe” that everybody now wants to be a part of. You know that tribe, right? The “I don’t want to have to work for them for the rest of my life” tribe. We are afraid of admitting that we do – in fact – have a job. To have a job has become a bad thing.

There is a movement going on that is based on the premisse that people should no longer have jobs. Everybody should work for themselves, be their own bosses and choose what they want to do and when they want to do it. This movement states that jobs constrain us and limit us of achieving all the glories that we were meant to achieve. Author James Altucher calls it the “Choose Yourself” era.

For some, entrepreneurship is the new job and the startup is the new workplace. Everybody wants to be an entrepreneur. Everybody now has an “idea” they are sure will make them millionaires. The fact is, most people never actually execute their ideas. A shitty idea with perfect execution may earn you ten thousand dollars. MAYBE. But the world’s best idea with NO execution will make you zero dollars. FACT.

There are also the excuses people give about why they haven’t acted on their idea: no money, no angel investor (I don’t even know what that is), no venture capital (don’t know what that is either), no time, no team, no technical knowledge. Or maybe the world hasn’t conspired to make their idea become a real product, service or company. Eventually, the idea will die, reality will check in and they will realize that maybe they shouldn’t have quit their job just yet.

So maybe entrepreneurship isn’t the answer. How about offering one-on-one services, like a freelancer or a liberal professional? Even the world’s best business consultant may find that it’s difficult to enter the market or even find new markets. Not everybody is an expert in spotting trends, finding their ideal customer or validating ideas. Ramit Sethi argues that he can teach anyone how to be rich. Through his products and services, he teaches how to become an awesome consultant or freelancer. He even helps people to find their dream jobs. I have no idea. It may work for some people, but it certainly doesn’t work for everybody. 

There are millions of possibilities for making money and satisfying career. They are all great, but all of them don’t work for all of us. Or maybe they even do, but at a different moment in a our lives. Sometimes we have to go through the “job” phase before we can move on to doing our own thing. But, we tend to want to quit our jobs the minute we feel dissatisfied, or feel that our potential is not being tapped into, or when we believe we earn too little or even when we believe that we’re better than our current rank.

Like everything else, sometimes work sucks. We feel pressured, we feel insecure, we feel unmotivated. It happens to everybody and it doesn’t mean we should quit our jobs on the spot (although I’m guilty of having done that, twice). Jobs are important.

I believe that some people are meant to have jobs for their entire lives. Some love it. Some don’t love it, but are fine with it. Some people look at their jobs as being secondary in their lives. That “thing” that they have to do 9 hours a day before they can go do the important things. They’re fine with that. Most people I know fall into that category and they’re happy, as far as I can tell.

All jobs are necessary and we need people for them. Look at the most basic of jobs. What if all the street-sweepers and garbage collectors in the world decided to quit and open their own businesses? These are fundamental jobs and they are important and the people who work at them are superheroes. What if there were no doctors, nurses or attendants at hospitals? What if there were no waiters at restaurants? What if hotels had no staff? What if there were no pilots or flight attendants on planes? If everybody was an entrepreneur of a freelancer, who would drive public buses or teach at schools and universities or help us at stores and supermarkets? Who would we call when – God help us – our internet crashed? Who would create, produce, market and sell every single product that we own – from cookies to the iPad?

Jobs are necessary. They serve a purpose. Many countries in the world are going through deep financial crises; including Brazil, with a 13% unemployment rate. So, to even have a job nowadays is a matter of pride and a reason for feeling grateful. It doesn’t matter whether you love it or not. We all have mouths that need to be feed, roofs to cover our heads and pillows to sleep on.

Job is not a bad word. Not for everyone. Not all the time. And for some of us, not forever.

Some people are meant to be employees, some are not. We have to figure out in which category we belong to. And take our time.

Until then, we should all just keep our jobs.

Note 1: We should all take a moment and think about government-related jobs. We should definitely cut all of those.

Note 2: I put the links up for angel investor and venture capital, but didn’t really go through the trouble of reading the wiki pages, so I still don’t know what they are.

Overwhelmed by human affection – or, free hugs!

I’m terrible at befriending people. In social events I’m always that one strange lady, awkwardly hiding in the corners and looking like she definitely does not belong there. That’s me.

At work, it takes me a long time to get used to people. Work is a hard environment to try to measure social connectivity; it will vary depending on the type of company or organization you work for. If it’s a competitive environment, or one with large focus on revenues and sales, it will always be harder. People will always be suspicious of your interest in building relationships. You will also be suspicious of them.

Then I arrived at the university, my current workplace, where the goal is to help others, to educate others, to advise them and lead them. Not caring about revenue or sales, just doing everything you can to make sure they achieve success and create beautiful, worthy things. Where people are more selfless and more giving. Where the conversations flow with more honesty and acceptance. Where people will hug you out of the blue. Yes! They will just come up and hug you. I’m not kidding.

I was overwhelmed.

When it comes to friendliness and intimacy, I’m more like Americans rather than Brazilians. I tend to cringe when touched by people I don’t know well. Hugging, hand holding, playing with hair, yikes! It’s not that I dislike physical bonding; it just takes me a while to get used to it. The spontaneity of others throw me back.

But, it’s been 4 months since I’ve been with this new crowd. The friendliness and touchy-feelyness has slithered slowly into my bones. I’ve started – very awkwardly – hugging people out of the blue as well and touching their arms when we talk and other things of the sort.

My comfort zone has been breached. My bubble has been burst. I’ve become…nice!

If I’m this wary about being physically intimate with people, I can’t even begin to tell you how difficult it is for me to express my feelings. I tend to think that most people don’t care about what I have to say, that my opinion is neither relevant nor important. That my advice is disposable.

I know that that’s not true. You don’t have to tell me.

People do want to hear what I have to say. They even expect me to do it. I just never know when I’m supposed to talk or when a friend needs my help or my shoulder to cry on. If people don’t reach out to me, I’ll never know they ever even needed me in the first place.

Today, I stepped out of my comfort zone, my safety bubble. I knew that I had to say something to a friend. It was a special day and I wanted to tell her something special. I had to tell her about the fragility and scarcity of time and beg her not to waste it. I needed to give her advice about what she should expect from the next 10 years of her life. I had to let her know that she will probably receive 100 “no’s” for every “yes” and that rejection is life’s way of letting you know that you’re not there yet. You have to study more, try again, keep going. I told her to read and learn every day. To write as much as possible. I told her to be patient. I told her that if she lived to be 90, then she still had 69 years ahead of her to fuck everything up and make it all better again, thousands of times. I told her to look forward to it. It will not always be great, but it will all be worth it.

I tried to tell her this a hundred times in person, but the words never came out of my mouth. I would just stare at her for a few moments during the day, trying to get the words out, until she would start to uncomfortably shift in her chair, and I would give up.

So, I wrote it all down. I made a list of 30 things that I wanted her to know. I entitled it “30 things I really need you to know”.

What a lame-ass title. I regret that title.

I put the letter in an envelope, gave it to her and told her to read it when she got home. Today is her birthday. She turned 21. How I wish I knew all the things I wrote to her when I was her age. I hope she will read it and reflect on it.

I don’t think she will ever know how much courage and willpower it took for me to write her those things.

I tried to be selfless. I thought more about being useful to her than to stay in my comfort zone, where no human interacts with other humans and we are all shy and sad and alone.

I’m always overwhelmed by human affection. I’m afraid of it. But I know that it is the way to fully connect with those who are important to me. And if it makes a difference in someone’s life, then the effort is needed.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll find me giving free hugs out on the streets some day.