Friday, July 25, 2008

10 years ago...

10 years ago, I was 12 kilos thinner, my hair was lighter, and my head gazillion times emptier.

10 years ago, I was surrounded by many people: acquaintances, co-workers, and so-called friends, had more fun places to go, and fewer responsibilities.

10 years ago, I lived in an apartment. Now, I live in a school and have a pet cat to look after.

10 years ago, I subscribed to Rolling Stone magazine. Now, I subscribe to scientific magazines.

10 years ago, I dreamed of having babies. Now, I'd be happier if I could adopt 2 more cats.

10 years ago, I lived in a false happiness promoted by parties and drunkenness. Now, I live in a false happiness promoted by work load and drunkenness.

10 years ago, my skin was tanner for I lived in Florida by the water. Now, my skin is as pale as corn starch although I do not live too far from the ocean.

10 years ago, I was 100 thousand dollars shorter but I would spend more recklessly.

10 years ago, I knew to speak only English and Portuguese. Now, I barely know English.

10 years ago, I believed that evil figures would only exist in movies. Now, I know that that was a great deviation.

10 years ago, I spoke softer, cried more easily, and was betrayed way too often.

10 years ago, I would have loved to go dancing at crazy raves. I've never been to one, and don't carry a dust of wish to be in one one day.

10 years ago, I'd drive drunk listening to loud music heading to the closest liquor store. Now, my husband does it for me.

10 years ago, I watched TV in the afternoon and worked at night. Now televisions work fine as a mere piece of ornament in the house.

10 years ago, I read books about art. Now, I read books on the art of teaching.

10 years ago, I'd teach English for beer. Now I do it for airline tickets.

10 years ago, I carried phone numbers in an electronic organizer. Now, I only need E-mail addresses.

10 years ago, I'd vent at a bar table speaking ill of my boss. Now, my associates speak ill of me.

10 years ago, I'd suffer from terrible cramps when I was in my periods. Now, I still suffer from the same damn thing.

10 years ago, I had only one pair of All Stars. Now, I own twelve of those.

10 years ago, I would not exchange a night out for movies and sweets at home. I love movies at home with gummy bears and candies.

10 years ago, I drank coffee for the pleasure only. Now, I need coffee to think, stand up, and lift my arms while I write on the blackboard.

10 years ago, I was ten years younger (wow).

10 years ago, I had lived not long enough to understand that sex and love lie in total different realms.

10 years ago, I used to fold clothes but not ironing them. Now, I neither iron nor fold. I pay someone to do these things for me.

10 years ago, I was Milton's oldest daughter or simply Laila. But now, I am that crazy lady from Sao Paulo, the English teacher, Roberto's wife, Tibby's owner, that person who drives a Subaru, or even "puta" as it was graffited on my school wall the other day, or any other label you would like to give me.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I am one and several selves, all fragmented, fragments of the same mirror, but that speak in different tongues, all invented, all created by the pain inflicted upon me, the pain, the shame, the need to become other, to reinvent all that was real.

As I write my mind swims in ideas, they scream to my ears, they beg to come out. It’s as if I’m keeping the world locked inside me, the real world that at times I pretend not to see. I shut my eyes, my ears and my sensitivity in order to protect myself, I shut everything out, I don’t want to see the reality, the self-absorbed, intangible human beings that live their lives as if it was a soap opera, no brains, no real feelings. Where are the real people? Where are all the bohemians?

Meanwhile, while I seek, while I go out in the world searching, my mind screams, my mind makes me look at the world in several different ways, all the selves, all the multiple personalities that were created to keep me alive speak at once. My hands tremble and my mind spins, there’s this monster that wants to come out, this monster that pushes me forward, the monster of the real me, the real person that has so much to show, so much to communicate, even if to deaf ears, it’s just the need to come out in the light and scream at myself, show that I haven’t been that wrong. It’s the monster of my desire, of my necessities, making everything so visceral, everything so unforgivably necessary.

So I wake up, take my shower, put on my pretty face. It’s always the same face, everyday, the same face for the same office, the same people, the same lunch. The real one is locked in my bedroom, the bedroom that is not mine, since I haven’t found myself a house I could call mine up to now. The real face, the real me, the real clothes, the real tears are all locked in my closet, they are all inside the hat boxes that are piling one on top of the other, almost reaching the ceiling. One day I will have to carve a hole in it, to let the pile grow taller, if not, then I will have to wear the real face in public, show the real emotions, everything that really matter and then the world is going to collapse. Tsunamis and earthquakes, the world is not ready for me just yet.

by Mme. A., posted on August 11th 2004

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Someone touched my CHEESE!

Life does not look hard among those who do not struggle to make it happen... Gosh


The Shwah Alphabet for English

Did you know that there is another way of writing things in the English language? It's the Shwah alphabet. This alphabet is another way of writing English, an alternative to this Latin alphabet. Why would we want another alphabet, when we already have this one? There are two main reasons:

- because the Shwah alphabet is a better alphabet for English than the Latin alphabet is,

- and because Shwah is a universal alphabet that can be used to write many of the world's languages.

I don't have to explain to you that English spelling is crazy - you learned that in school. You had to learn that why, rye, sigh, buy, tie & hi all rhyme, but that rough, cough, though, through & bough don't. And you probably have a dictionary (with pronunciation guide) or a spell checker nearby.

Having crazy orthography not only makes it harder for us all to learn to read and write while growing up, but it also makes it harder for speakers of foreign languages to learn English and for us to learn their languages. How are we supposed to know that the Champs Elysées is pronounced shawn zayleezay?

But why don't we just fix English spelling, keeping our familiar alphabet? Well, many people have tried to do that, but it turns out that the results aren't as familiar as you'd think. Here are some examples:

Wuns upon a midnít dréry, wíl í ponderd wék and wéry
Over meny a kwaynt and kyuriyhs vahlyum ev forgahtn lor,
W'iyl 'I nadid, nirli, sa'dnli xer ke'm a'
as av sM wN jentlE raping, raping at mI kAmbR dor
"'Tiz sœm vizit'r", ai mœt'rd, "tæping æt mai cémb'r dor - ónlí dhis ænd nœthing mor."

By the time you've learned how to spell and read familiar words all over again, you might as well learn a new alphabet.

The Shwah alphabet isn't the first new alphabet for English, either. One of the best is the Shavian alphabet (named after George Bernard Shaw), which looks like this:

But the Shwah alphabet may be the first universal alphabet, designed to be shared by many languages. It has a total of 50 letters, but each language will only use the ones it needs. Each letter might be pronounced slightly differently for different languages - an English b sounds subtly different from a French b or a Chinese b - but we don't really care.

The Shwah alphabet is also featural: letters share features with their sounds. For example, rounded vowels are round, and closed vowels are closed. Sounds made in the front of the mouth point towards the front (left), and sharp sounds are sharp letters. As a result of this metonymy, letters that sound alike look alike.

Take a look at it now, and we'll discuss it more afterwards.

As you can see, the Shwah letters don't correspond exactly to English letters, but they correspond to the English sounds.

Here's a box showing the English consonants, along with examples of their use:

The last three consonants are called semivowels, because they're actually vowels acting as consonants.

You may never have realized it, but we English speakers pronounce l very differently at the end of words or syllables, as in the difference between oily and oil. In Shwah, we use a different letter for this "dark" final l. This letter is actually a ligature, a combination of two letters, as you'll learn later.

Here are the English short vowels:

The otter vowel doesn't occur in American English. Where Brits use it in words like cot, Americans use the almond vowel, and where Brits use it in words like caught, Americans use the awful vowel.

In English, the rhythm of a word - which syllables are stressed and which aren't - is very important. In Shwah, stressed vowels are written high - in the top half of the line - and unstressed vowels are normally written low - in the bottom half of the line.

Here are the English long vowels:

As you can see, the long vowels are written with two short vowels, just as in the Latin alphabet. The second vowel is always one of the three glides itchy, cookie or early, written low. In the vowels eagle and oozy, the second vowel is the same as the first, so it's replaced with the Long sign, a horizontal line.

Now look at the following three words:

Note that the Long sign is usually written underneath a high vowel.

The vowel in fuel is the same as the vowel in fool, except there's a y in front of it. The same vowel occurs in unit, beauty, pure and many other English words, but we don't need another letter for it: it's just written yoo.

Now that you've learned the letters, why don't you try reading some sentences?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A sunny winter Sunday

While people enjoy summer time in the northern hemisphere, down here hubby and I go for a drive to have lunch somewhere away from town on a cool Sunday afternoon:

My office is a "Horder's Shrine"

...and I am so proud of it! Ha.🎉🎉🎉