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 lizar 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

“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.

You are not a tree

You are not a tree.

Who you are right now is not who you will always be. You are the decisions you made all the years before and the ones still to come. You are the condensed confusion of all your past mistakes and endeavors. Every thing you did brought you to this moment. And tomorrow you will be a completely different person. Maybe you’ll be better, maybe worse, maybe close to who you are now. But, you will be different.

When someone feels stuck, they tend to say that they’re going in circles. But, life does not move in a circular motion. It can move in all types of motions and directions, except circular. Circular motion means that when you’re done travelling the entire way, you will be back at the exact point where you started.

That is impossible.

Life is a spiral.

spiral-04

When you finish your round trip, you will never be back at the same point. You will always be a little off, a little different, a little changed, a little ahead. It may be that you are happier or maybe sadder. You may become more confident or more insecure. Maybe you will come back with a plan and a goal. Maybe you’ll find out that you have nowhere to go or no idea how to climb from the hole in which you fell.

It doesn’t matter how you turn out when you complete the turn around your life spiral. Whatever happens, you will always be at least a few millimeters ahead from the line where you started. You will always be ahead. You will always move forward.

And that little white space between the line where you are now and the line from which you left? That’s called experience.

So, no matter how or where you are now, you are more prepared to change your situation than you were before, because now you have experience. The more turns you take, the more white spaces you accumulate, and the more opportunities you create for yourself.

Embrace that.

Move forward and outward.

Remember, you are not a tree.

 


Notes:

  1. I read the expression “you are not a tree” in a book called Unlimited Memory by Kevin Horsley. I believe it was first coined by Jim Rohn. The full excerpt is: “If you don’t like how things are, change them! You’re not a tree.”
  2. My apologies to trees. This is really unfair to them since the changes that trees undergo throughout their existence – whether through surviving cold winters, dry summers, hard winds and lack of nutrition from the grounds – only adds to their magnificence.