Pão, Circo e um tiquim de conteúdo

Eu sempre soube que os EUA era o país do entretenimento.

Afinal a Xuxa e a vovó Mafalda (que, por sinal, era homem, pra quem acha que cross-dressing é coisa de millenial) moldaram a minha personalidade e os meus valores tanto quanto os filmes de polícia do Steve Martin ou aquele da orca assassina vingadora, que me faz ter medo de entrar no mar até hoje.

Mas morando aqui e vivendo o dia a dia desse lugarzinho maravilhoso que é a Americaaa, eu descobri que eu não entendia nada do poder do entretenimento desse povo. A premissa aqui é que tudo é passível de se tornar uma grande fonte de diversão, muito além do que você poderia imaginar. Basicamente, a indústria do entretenimento não se limita a Hollywood e Netflix. Ela é a base, o pano de fundo pras outras indústrias, o arroz com feijão que se combina com qualquer outro ingrediente pra deixar tudo mais divertido, interessante e, na maioria das vezes, comercializável.

Vem cumigo.

 

Evidência número 1: Jogo de hockey do Boston Bruins, TD Garden Arena, Outubro de 2015.

Na teoria segundo a qual eu vivo em atualmente, de que “quem tá na chuva é pra se molhar”, decido ir num jogo de hockey do time aqui de Boston. Não tinha muito ideia do que esperar, nunca tinha visto um jogo de hockey na vida, só tinha chegado até o curling. Minha imagem mental de como seria a partida se resumia ao resultado da equação: jogo do Galo quarta à noite no Mineirão + Gelo. O PF viraria frango frito, mas fora isso, nada fora da normalidade.

Pois então.

Entramos num estádio que deve ter uns 17 andares. Ou 4. Enfim, tudo de mármore, escada rolante e ar condicionado. A cada andar, uma variedade de restaurantes e de lojas dos times não está no gibi – coisa do nível do terminal novo de Guarulhos, pra se botar um benchmark, veja bem. Era como entrar num parque temático da Disney, o Magic Kingdom do hockey.

A partir daí você se dá conta de que o hockey em si é meio secundário. Das duas horas que você passa no estádio, rolam uns 30 minutos de jogo. O resto é show de abertura, show do intervalo, música no talo cada vez que marca gol, só falta Bel entrar num trio elétrico pra virar Axé Brasil. Tem o momento da plateia aparecer no telão, rola uma partida curta entre talentos mirins do hockey, you name it. Tudo, claro, devidamente patrocinado. Pra falar a verdade é uma experiência legal. Tipo, não tem como não ser. O negócio tá programado pra te entreter, pra te manter ligado, pra te seduzir. É a metáfora perfeita do fast food: um exagero tamanho de sal, açúcar e ketchup que não tem como não ser gostoso.

 

Evidência número 2: Final do campeonato de futebol americano universitário. Alabama vs Clemson, 11 de janeiro de 2016. Audiência: 26 milhões de pessoas.

Sim, minha gente, time de esporte de universidade aqui tem mais audiência que a novela da Record. Parece que uns 80 milhões de americanos seguem a liga de futebol americano de universidade regularmente. What!? Tipo além do trabalho, do tempo com a família, do Netflix, da academia e de atualizar o Instagram, 80 milhões de pessoas ainda têm tempo pra seguir o desempenho do Nebraska University futebol clube? Tá de brincadeira comigo. Não sei se foi só minha experiência e tô aqui achando isso tudo muitcho louco, mas pra mim o time da faculdade existe pra gente ir nos Jogos Universitários uma vez por ano, zoar no alojamento e tomar Skol no beer bong.

Eu me dei conta de que esse jogo táva rolando porque passei por acaso na frente de um bar e parecia final de copa do mundo: bar lotado e geral delirando em dois times que, observe, nada têm a ver com Boston. Explica isso? Pois sim, veja só, aqui a liga universitária é mega patrocinada, os estádios mega lotados, rola uma mega audiência e tem sujeito pagando até $300 doletas (nem queira multiplicar pra real…) pra ver um jogo desses. Mais uma vez, Estados Unidos fanfarrão pegando uma coisa que seria bobinha em qualquer outro lugar do mundo e transformando num mega evento em sua fantástica fábrica do entretenimento.

 

Evidência número 3: Debate entre os candidatos à presidência pelo partido republicano, 6 de agosto de 2015.

Ai minha nossa senhora. Eu precisava era fazer um blog paralelo pra cobrir as eleições e dar vazão pra tanto balacobaco junto.

Esse foi o primeiro debate da campanha e rolou um longo burburinho pré-debate, especulação de final de novela mesmo. Eu criei tanta expectativa com isso tudo que assisti o debate no telão, tomando cerveja, comendo pipoca e me jogando na enxurrada de comentários/gifs/memes da cara laranja do Donald Trump no Twitter.

Expectativas a parte, te conto que eleições aqui são mais glamourizadas que final de BBB. Um puta de um show de câmeras, luz, música – estatísticas durante o intervalo com dados reais de buscas no Google sobre os temas sobre os quais os políticos estão comentando. Participação de vloggers famosos fazendo perguntas sobre como os políticos vão engajar com a população jovem; uma plateia que parece animada pelo Roque e um país inteiro dando pitaco pela Internet. E, se perdeu um debate, sem problemas: chega ali depois no Youtube e você vai encontrar vídeos com títulos como “O momento mais vergonhoso de Hillary” ou “O discurso que fez Obama ganhar as eleições”. Tudo bem empacotadinho, do jeito que o consumidor gosta.

 

Eu tenho pensado muito em tudo que isso tudo representa e tem uma parte grande de mim que acha esse troço todo muito estranho, que acha bizarro como tudo acaba ficando industrializado, comoditizado, como tudo tem que ser awesome, fantastic, amazing ou the most shameful – a vida só é bacana no superlativo. E isso é, pra mim, indiscutivelmente uma coisa ruim.

Mas daí também eu comecei a fragar o meu próprio comportamento diante disso tudo. Você acaba sendo atraído sim a ver um jogo de futebol da liga universitária, que seja pra ver se é grande coisa mesmo. Você acaba clicando no “coolest debate ever”, porque com um título desse… né? E querendo ou não eu acabei sim me inteirando assim de coisas sobre a política daqui e me interessando sobre os temas pra querer ir mais a fundo. Querendo ou não, “ser super legal ser jogador de futebol na faculdade” faz o pessoal se interessar por esporte desde cedo.

Enfim, tô querendo jogar um pouco de advogada do diabo aqui, porque que criticar esse sistema da necessidade constante de awesomeness é fácil e eu acordei a fim de ver copo meio cheio. E eu sei que tem milhões de coisas negativas que podem vir disso, mas fiquei pensando, não tem um tiquim só que seja de lado positivo nisso? Não é também uma maneira de dar o açúcar pra criança tomar o remédio? Não?

É muito otimista da minha parte pensar que por trás disso pode existir algo bacana além de “Toma pão e circo por enquanto minha gente, que controle de armas, igualdade social e saúde pública vai demorar um bocadinho mais pra sair”?

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Bread, Circus and a little bit of content

I’ve always known entertainment in America was a thing.

After all, a considerable part of my upbringing was crafted by Steve Martin’s cop movies, that film on a nasty whale seeking for revenge (which keeps me from snorkeling till this day) and Gilmore Girls.

But only now that I’m living in this wonderful place called America have I understood the real power of entertainment of these folks. The premise around here is that everything has potential to be fun – the entertainment industry is not limited to Hollywood and Netflix. Entertainment is the basis, the backdrop, the bread and butter that can be combined with any other ingredient to make everything more interesting, more appealing and, most of the times, more marketable.

Follow me, will ya.

Evidence number 1: Hockey game, Boston Bruins. TD Garden Arena. October 2015.

As I’ve been currently living by the “since we’re at it, might as well” lifestyle I had decided to go to a Boston Bruins hockey game, why not? I didn’t really know what to expect, I had never seen a hockey game in my life, I had only made it to curling. My mental image of the match was a combination of “Wednesday night regional league soccer game in Brazil + Ice”. Maybe add a bit of fried chicken to it and that’s it.

Yeah, right.

We entered a stadium that could easily have about 17 floors. Or 4. Anyhow, all marble, glass, escalators and air conditioning. At each floor, a never before seen variety of restaurants, stores and bars, the finest selection of fried chicken and burger joints you’ll ever see – we’re talking Cher’s Malibu mansion fancy, here. It was like entering a Disney themed park, The Magic Kingdom of Hockey.

From then on, you realize that hockey itself is kinda secondary. From the two hours you’ll spend in the stadium, you’ll get about 30 minutes of game. The rest is the opening show, the mid-time show, super high music playing every time they score a goal – you’re really one Chris Martin away from the Superbowl. There’s the moment when the audience shows up on the screen; there’s a short game of junior hockey talents, you name it. Everything, obviously, properly sponsored. To tell you the truth, it’s a cool experience. I mean, it has to be. The whole thing is programmed to entertain you, to keep you turned on, to seduce you. It’s the perfect metaphor for fast food: such an overwhelming amount of salt, sugar and ketchup that it simply has be tasty.

 

Evidence number 2: Final match of the American college football league. Alabama vs. Clemson, January 2016. Audience: 26 million people.

Yes, you got it; college sports in the US have more audience than the birth of a new baby panda in China. Apparently, about 80 million Americans follow the college football league regularly. What!? Are you telling me that besides work, time with the family, Netflix, gym and updates on Instagram, 80 million people still have time to follow on the performance of the Nebraska University football club? You got to be kidding me. I mean, I don’t know if it was just my experience and I’m the only one that finds it all muy crazy, but for me college sports teams only exist so we can go to the “Inter-College games” once a year, sleep in crappy motels and drink cheap alcohol on beer bongs. Right?

I actually realized this game was happening because I accidentally passed by a bar and it looked like the final match of the world cup: the place was completely packed and everyone was going bananas on these two teams that – please observe – had nothing to do with Boston. Yep, turns out that the American college league is mega sponsored, stadiums are usually mega packed and it has a mega TV audience. And folks would pay up to $300 to go to one of these games (jezz, it hurts to multiply it by 4 and get the price in Brazilian currency). Once again, the US taking something that’s considered lame in any other part of the world and turning into a mega cool event in its fantastic entertainment factory.

 

Evidence number 3: Republican Party debate. August, 2015.

Oh-em-ge. I really needed to create blog specifically dedicated to cover the elections and all the shenanigans related to it. Maybe I’ll do it.

So this was the first debate of the campaign and there was this huge fuss before it. It stirred up so much expectation on me that it made me watch it on a big screen, drinking beer, eating popcorn and flipping out on the amount of comments/gifs/memes around Donald Trump’s orange face coming up on real time on social media.

Let me tell you, the elections here have more glamour than an Oscar after-party. A huge show of cameras, lights, music – on every break you get live Google statistics on how people are searching about the topics the candidates are talking about. Popular vloggers interacting with questions. A crowd that goes wild at every controversial statement made by Trump (meaning: every statement made by Trump) and a whole country barging in with all sorts of comments on Twitter. And, if you missed a debate: worry not. You can later check out on Youtube and you’ll find videos with titles like “Hillary’s most embarrassing moments” or “The speech that made Obama win the elections”. Everything finely packaged, just how consumers like it.

 

Now, I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and about what it represents and a huge part of me thinks this is all a bit weird, it’s a bit freakish how everything ends up being industrialized, commoditized, how everything has to be awesome/ fantastic/ amazing or the-most-shameful – as if life was only cool when lived in the superlative. This is for me, something necessarily bad.

But then again I also started observing my own behavior towards it: I did end up being attracted to watch a college football game, even if it was just to see what all the fuss was about. I did end up clicking through the “coolest debate ever”, because with a title like that… right? And in the end, I did become informed about politics and it got me interested to a point that I wanted to know more about it, and discuss it. In the end, the fact that college leagues are super cool does make people be interested in sports from an early age.

Anyway, I’m trying to play a bit of devils’ advocate here, because criticizing a system of “need of ongoing awesomeness” is easy and I woke up wanting to look at the glass half full today. And I know that there are a million negative things that can come from all this, but it got me thinking: isn’t there also just a tiny bit of a positive side to it? Isn’t it a way to give sugar to a child in order for her to take in the medicine? Maybe?

Is it too optimistic of me to think that behind all this there’s something good, some cooler purpose, some actual benefit to society? Something beyond “Take a bit of bread and circus for now, because gun control, social equality and public health might take a bit longer to come out”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A serious, urgent and relevant issue

I find it curious how we’re capable of using so much of our creativity and our time to do stuff that don’t have a real purpose behind them. They can be kinda funny, briefly entertaining, they make you go “hen” and faintly smile while you’re browsing through the deep dark road of your timeline, but they don’t actually change your life.

Like Lady Gaga Superbowl memes or Confused-Steve-Harvey gifs. Now, does that have any impact in our lives? Nope. And still, someone spent a decent amount of time in a basement making it, a time that could have been spent in reading a good book, learning how to play ukulele or creating a tutorial on how to clean bathrooms with no drain. How many trees could have been planted in that time, I wonder?! But then I also think that we do need these funny senseless stuff, we do need some gifs stored in our whatsapp chats to help us go through boring sales meetings or -daily – subway delays. Maybe they are not made created for a noble aspiration, but there’s still purpose to their existence.

But then there are a few things that we can try and look at with the best of intentions, but we just can’t find a meaning for why someone ever spent time making them. Some things to which we just have to say: enough, humanity. Stop spending time being re-creating or things that have absolutely no use. Stop redesigning things that are already pretty well designed. Just stop it

Well, ever since I’ve arrived in the US, I’ve been noticing the overwhelming wave of creativity and technology surrounding all things public toilets. From the sign of Men/Women at the door, to state of the art methods of flushing, unthinkable ways of opening up a tap and a wide variety of hand drying solutions. And I can’t help but wonder why have toilets been attracting so much creative capital? And what’s with the design people expressing their deepest inspirations and creative essence in the realm of public toilets? What the hell?
Ok, so let’s look into it and start establishing some ground rules here, because things are beginning to get out of control and someone has to do something about it.

First. The male/female sign at the door. Once and for all people: just write “men” or “women”. Or boys/girls. At the most ladies/gentlemen, because from here we already start going down a rabbit hole, I mean, when was the last time you said “That gentleman over there just stole my spot in the line”, who are we kidding? So please don’t give me sistahs/brothas, pointers/setters, drawing of a broccoli/artichoke. There’s no point in that. We’ve established the rules and they do not need improvement. Everyone gets it and frankly no one wants to be faced with a drawing of a flamingo in the sunset and try and make out if they’re going through the right door. Period. Art directors, please: just type MEN in Times New Roman 36 and let go.

But that’s actually nothing. Because virtually every time you go into a public bathroom, you’ll most likely find a new technology, something that was supposed to be cool, practical and hygienic but that’s actually just stopping you from peeing in peace.

For instance, I believe my American friends will agree with me that we are definitely going through the age of automatic flushing. Sensor flushes popping out like mushrooms. Yep, I got it, great idea. I can actually picture the meeting that took place somewhere in the Silicon Valley, with all those engineers presenting that breakthrough idea to the marketing director. Standing ovation. Tears of joy. I’m pretty sure the sensor flush made someone become a CEO. But in reality, when facing an automatic flush one of the two scenarios will happen: either the flush will be activated 8 times during your 45sec pee, splashing water all over or you’ll gonna have to moonwalk repeatedly in front of the toilet until you finally manage to activate the sensor.

Okey. Let’s just wash our hands and get outta here.

Not so fast.

Because let me tell you, dear friends, that the major focus of innovation, the culmination of engineering creativity of the 21st century does not lye on the self-driving-car. It’s not Google glass. It’s public toilets’ tap systems.

Jeez.

I’ve started counting (doing some serious research to bring you the most accurate data, dear readers) and since last week I’ve seen 17 different tap systems in public toilets around Cambridge.

There’s the sensor, yep, also in the tap, the toilet-designer’s’ sweetheart technology at the moment. There’s the one that you press and then either it starts spilling out water like crazy and there’s no way to stop it and you’re promptly embarrassed on the ridiculous amount of water you’re wasting; or just a very thin stream of water comes out only to activate the sticky properties of the soap and make your hand feel dry and gluey for the rest of the day. There’s the one that you have to pull a pin. There’s the old school that you turn to open. The one activated by foot – most certainly a hit at the 2009 toilet-designer convention.

But the problem isn’t so much that these “technologies” don’t work. It’s more the fact that you never now at first the type of technology you’re facing, so you’re always swaying your hands all over, kinda pressing around the tap, trying some voice control until you end up giving up and leaving. See how serious this is? A matter of hygiene and public health.

So, my dear designers. Lovable engineers. Please stop. Be the voice of change in your community and say: enough! Let’s stop innovating on purposeless things; so much talent is being wasted! Let’s apply it to popularize solar energy to add a search function to the whatsapp chat.

Please, let’s stop wasting our time and let’s use our lives to contribute with something serious, important and urgent in our society.

Take this blog post, for instance.

 

Assunto sério, urgente e importante

A gente as vezes utiliza nossa capacidade criativa prumas coisas que não têm muito sentido, não é mesmo? Elas podem até ser engraçadinhas, simpáticas, te fazem dar aquele “hen” acompanhado de um sorriso amarelo, enquanto você está perdido em algum lugar obscuro da sua timeline mas elas não mudam muito a nossa vida.

Tipo os memes da Renata Sorrah roubando a taça da copa do mundo depois do jogo contra a Alemanha ou o vídeo no Youtube da Dilma falando sobre “estocar vento” versão remix. Diz se aquilo tem algum impacto na vida?! Tem não. E ainda assim alguém passou uma quantidade boa de tempo fazendo aquilo, um tempo que poderia ter sido empregado pra tipo fazer coleta seletiva, pruma discussão realmente profunda sobre política, pra fazer tutorial de como se lava banheiro sem ralo. Quantas árvores poderiam ter sido plantadas naquele tempo, eu me pergunto!? Mas daí eu penso que a gente também precisa desse bom humor, a gente precisa ter um vídeo desses guardado no celular pra ficar vendo no mute durante a convenção de vendas da empresa. Pode não ser o propósito mais nobre, mas ele tem lá seu sentido.

Mas tem umas coisas que a gente pode tentar olhar com a melhor boa vontade do mundo, mas que simplesmente não tem como encontrar um sentido praquilo. Algumas coisas pras quais a gente deve falar: chega, humanidade. Pa-rô, pessoal. Vamos deixar agora de tentar ser criativo com isso e ficar inventando moda porque isso não tá levando a absolutamente lugar nenhum.

Pois bem, desde que cheguei nos EUA, eu tenho percebido a diversidade descabida de criatividade e tecnologia aplicadas a banheiros públicos que rola por aqui. Desde o sinal de Homem/Mulher da porta, até métodos dos mais variados de descarga, maneiras impensáveis de se abrir uma torneira e sistemas mil pra se secar as mãos. E eu fiquei pensando aqui por que o pobre coitado do banheiro atrai tanto capital criativo? Que ânsia é essa das galera do design de expressar o espírito inovador o “thinking out of the box” justo no lavabo? Por que isso?

Então vamos lá, vamos dar uma analisada e estabelecer umas regras aqui porque o negócio ta descambando e tá passando da hora de alguém fazer alguma coisa a respeito.

Primeiro: Indicador de banheiro feminino e masculino. Como fazer? Vamos estabelecer aqui de uma vez por todas: homem/mulher. Ou feminino/masculino. No máximo damas/cavalheiros, porque já começa aí a ficar uma rocambolescada desnecessária, até porque qual foi a última vez que você comentou que “Aquele cavalheiro ali roubou meu lugar na fila” não é mesmo? Então não vale eles/elas, azul/rosa, desenho de flor de pupunha/cravo da Índia. Não tem porque. A regra tá estabelecida já, ela não precisa ser melhorada. Todo mundo entende, ninguém quer ser surpreendido com um desenhozinho gracioso porém confuso de um flamingo no pôr-do-sol e ter que tentar adivinhar se tá entrando no lugar certo. O-key?! Diretor de criação, cancela o job: mete ali um homem/mulher em letra Arial 36 e morreu assunto.

Mas isso não é nada. Porque a cada banheiro que você entrar, você vai se deparar com certeza com uma tecnologia nova, que era pra ser super bacana, prática e higiênica mas que no fundo só te impede de fazer um xixizinho ali em paz.

Aqui nos EUA por exemplo tá rolando bem uma fase de descargas automáticas. Pipocando descarga com sensor pra tudo quanto é canto. Aham, ótima ideia. Imagino a reunião de diretoria no silicon valley com a galera do departamento de engenharia apresentando essa grande inovação pro diretor de marketing. Aplausos, lágrimas de emoção. Teve alguém que virou CEO por causa da descarga com sensor com certeza absoluta. Na prática, te conto que uma das duas opções vão acontecer: ou a descarga vai ser acionada 8 vezes durante os 45 segundos do seu xixi, espirrando água adoidado, ou você vai ter ficar sambando na frente da privada por uns bons minutos até ter a sorte de ativar o famigerado do sensor.

“Ok, vambora, vamo lavar a mão e sair desse lugar pelo amor de deus”.

Quem disse?

A inovação maior, o foco máximo da criatividade e esforço da engenharia do século 21, não é self-driving-car, meu amigo, nem nada de Google glass, nada disso. É configuração de pia de banheiro público.

MEU DEUS.

Eu comecei a contar desde a semana passada e já vi 17 maneiras diferentes de se abrir uma torneira em banheiros públicos por aqui: tem o sensorzinho também, tecnologia queridinha dos designers de banheiro, ao parecer. Tem o que você aperta e daí: ou fica rolando água, sem parar, e não tem como fazer parar e você fica mal com o desperdício absurdo de água que você ta causando; ou sai aquele fiozinho minguado de água que só ajuda a fazer mais espuma no sabonete e melecar a mão. Tem um que você puxa um pino pra cima. O old school, que você abre mesmo. O que ativa com o pé – com certeza o hit da convenção de designers de banheiro de 2009. Mas o problema não é tanto que eles normalmente não funcionam bem. O problema é que você não consegue identificar de cara diante de qual tecnologia você está e fica meio que rebolando a mão, meio apertando tudo, meio tentando um comando de voz até que acaba desistindo e ficou por mesmo. Tá pegando a seriedade do assunto?! Questão de higiene e saúde pública.

Enfim, queridos amigos do design. Engenheiros do meu coração. Faz isso não. Seja a voz da mudança na sua comunidade e diga: basta! Vamo parar de inventar coisa inútil, tanto talento, gente! Vamos aplicar tipo na popularização da energia solar, numa caneta bic que não estoura na bolsa, numa função search pro chat do whatsapp.

Vamos parar de perder tempo e vamos usar nossa vida pra resolver alguma questão realmente urgente, séria e importante pra sociedade.

Tipo esse post, por exemplo.

Revising some concepts – or “and you thought you knew what a resume was”

So, let’s revise some concepts today folks, because there are some stuff we believe to have a universal meaning but in reality they don’t. At all. So it’s good to clarify that some things might exist in different countries around the world, but their purpose might actually differ quite a lot from one country to the other.

Let’s take the example of a resume.

Back to basics: what IS a resume? One could think that it is a document in which one sums up one’s professional experience and academic background in a way to try and convince those nice people from HR that you’re the best person for a job open they’ve posted. Are we confortable with that? Great. So that means that a resume is a fundamental tool for someone who’s looking for a job. Hell, I’d say THE most important tool.

But that’s not really what a resume is in the US.

Oh my dear American friends, once again you surprise us all by picking something that was perfectly functional and practical in the rest of the world and ta-da! Play a bit with the purpose of it. Kinda in the way you do it with the metric systems. Really funny, you guys!

Ok, so here’s the deal: it’s not like people don’t ‘know’ resumes in the US. They do and they know it’s something you use when you’re looking for a job. But its purpose here is not to help you find a job. Rumor has it that actually no one, in the entire history of America has ever landed a job just through sending a Word document to the HR department. Ever. The purpose of the resume around here is to make it so the person who’s looking for a job feels productive and materializes his/her job search.

It’s an instrument to pacify unemployed folks. That’s all.

And it’s not just that, because you don’t have to only send the resume, which would take you 15secs between writing an email and attaching a doc to it. Na-an.

“They” want to guarantee that the unemployed occupies a large slice of his/her time in this task. Maybe they think that the more time you spend on the process of sending out a resume, the soother you’ll be, happy to be actively doing your job search.

So not only do you have to prepare and send your resume, but you also have to write a personalized cover letter, explaining why you specifically have an interest and would be “a great fit” for that company.

And you add to that a questionnaire that was carefully crafted by smart, but sadist psychologists, aimed at leaving the applicant in a complete state of agony and despair. An average questionnaire of this type will not only frequently ask you completely irrelevant questions (sign? Summer or winter? Allergic to nuts? Favorite Harry Potter book?) but it will also make you fill out, by ‘hand’ all the information that is already stated on your resume.

WHAT?

“Yep, you got it right, dear applicant: please type in your entire CV again in this lovely 12 step registration program we’ve created. And don’t worry. We’ve made sure that it’s done in a format that will make it really annoying for you to copy-paste. Thank you so much for the interest in our company and good luck!”

And in the end, the question that is just impossible to be answered correctly by 90% of Brazilians: “Do you consider yourself Latin American, African descendent or European descendent”? Uhmmm… Is there an “All the above” option?

So you’ve learned through any LinkedIn group chat or blog entitled “7 ways to land a job in the US – guaranteed” that the chances you’ll get a job through that process is about the same as bumping into Beyoncé in the subway, but that’s one of the few things you have in hands, so you still do it.

At this point you might ask me: so HOW does one get a job in the US then?! Ahh, my dear friends, the word is networking. You have to go to every kind of event remotely related to your field of work, stick a name tag on your chest that sadly brands you as “Camila – unemployed” (which you will always forget to take it off and will only hours later understand the sad looks people were throwing at you at Starbucks) and chat around as if you were the LeBron James of social skills.

My goodness, is there anything less pleasant than this situation? It’s like a job fair meets speed date, in which you have to keep thinking on what to say next, how to impress everyone with your memorized elevator pitch and still sound amazing and cool.

Why would they make people go through that? I say let’s go back to the old good resume, great professional background sum up, objective way to see if someone will fit a job or not. Sounds pretty effective to me!

Anyway, gotta go know, just bumped into Beyoncé at the subway and she’s come over to help me send some resumes. Wish me luck.

 

 

O dia em que eu descobri que Belo Horizonte é Nova Iorque


Belo Horizonte é uma cidade bacana pra se morar quando se é criança. Ela tem ali seus pontos fracos, como qualquer lugar, mas é um lugar legal. Rola um clima de cidade grande mas ao mesmo tempo tá tudo logo ali meio perto; tem sempre padaria com Todinho e pastel de queijo no caminho entre sua casa e a escola de balé; tem capivara na lagoa da Pampulha; tem voo direto pra Cabo Frio. Enfim, vantagens das mais variadas.

E daí você vai crescendo, viaja um pouco aqui, vai numa exposição bacana em SP acolá e BH começa a ficar pequena. Você percebe que acaba indo sempre nos mesmos lugares, com as mesmas pessoas, fazendo a mesma coisa: tomando cerveja, petiscando amendoim e trocando ideia sobre a questão 2 da prova de geografia. E você começa a fantasiar sobre um mundão maravilhoso lá fora, onde pessoas realizam feitos grandiosos, fazem programas incrivelmente legais e variados e tem papos geniais sobre o futuro da humanidade.

Tem uma parte sua que tem uma invejinha de quem tem a sorte de curtir uma vida espetacular neste outro mundo. Mas tem outra parte que já se satisfaz só de pensar que ele existe.

Daí você sai de BH.

No meu caso, eu fui pra São Paulo, e, adivinha só: tapa de luvas, por supuesto.

Spoiler alert para quem nunca morou em SP. Lá também as pessoas estão sempre com os mesmos amigos, nos mesmos lugares, tomando cerveja breja, petiscando amendoim e discutindo a questão 3 da prova de sociologia. Só muda um tiquim o sotaque mesmo.

Então aquela sensação gostosa de “o mundo é um bufê de comida japonesa, e eu só tenho que sair de BH pra curtir a vida adoidado” já foi por agua abaixo. SP pode ter mais opções de coisas pra fazer sim, mas na essência não deixa de ser uma versão maiorzona de BH.

Daí você sai de SP.

Ok, ok, não moro em NY, mas moro em Boston, que tá a uma distancia relativamente pequena de lá (mais perto que BH – Cabo Frio, pra se ter uma referência), fui algumas vezes de visita na cidade no último ano e fico mais por dentro do que rola na cidade desde que moro aqui.

Acho que quando morava em BH, pensar em NY era como ter 15 anos e olhar pro seu primo bacanão de 27 achando que ele era a pessoa mais legal do mundo. Você sonhava em um dia chegar lá e, quando chegasse, tudo seria fluido, lindo, perfumado e bem sucedido. Até que você chega aos 27 e vê que não tem nada disso.

Ainda em BH, lembro de abrir o Jornal da Pampulha – um semanário grátis com as últimas noticias e frissons da vida belo-horizontina – no domingo de manhã, chegar à seção de “Casamentos” e ter, naquele momento, a certeza de que BH era a cidade mais provinciana do planeta.

Porquê? Bom, a descrição dos casamentos no jornal ia mais ou menos assim: “A bela fulanita, filha do juiz fulanito e da jornalista fulanita brilhou em um espetacular desenho da maison Aguida Chaves em suntuosa celebração no Buffet Catarina neste sábado. O descontraído noivo…”. Enfim, segue uma elaborada descrição de como os noivos “abrilhantaram a pista” na “recepção digna de um filme de Hollywood”. Pegou um tom meio cafona e um bairrismo excessivo?

Aquilo pra mim era a prova máxima, o “I rest my case” de que, tristeza do destino: BH era, de fato, incrivelmente provinciana e, por tanto, um fim de mundo. A seção de Casamentos do Jornal da Pampulha me garantia de que nada de fantástico, incrível e maravilhoso poderia acontecer em BH.

Pois eis que, já em Boston, pra mostrar toda minha erudição e interesse pelas notícias do mundo aos meus vizinhos do prédio, eu começo a assinar o jornal New York Times do domingo.

E eis que no domingo passado, às exatas 10:37AM, sentada placidamente na poltrona da sala, café com leite em mãos, abro a seção Sunday Styles do jornal. Minutos depois, chego à pagina 11.

Neste momento, olhe bem, me deparo com o seguinte texto, em tradução livre: “A jovem fulanita, filha de fulanito, sócio na firma de advogados x e da fulanita, diretora de eventos da Universidade x, se casou neste sábado em uma belíssima cerimônia com Ciclanito. Um seleto grupo de elegantes convidados compareceu à idílica recepção ao cair da tarde na propriedade do avô da noiva, um importante magnata da indústria local…”

Oh. No.

Neste momento me dei conta de que era questão de traduzir o New York Times pro português, trocar a tal “firma de advogados x” por “MRV Engenharia” e de repente Nova Iorque se mostrou tão bairrista quanto… BH.

Por um lado, uma tristeza: nada disso de mundão lá fora pra ser descoberto. Esse sentimento provinciano é tão meu quanto do sujeito que mora num loft bacana no Brooklin e que deve ler ressabiado a página 11 do Sunday Styles todo domingo.

Por outro, um alívio: não tem essa de se preocupar em ir morar em NY, Paris ou Singapura pra poder viver uma vida fantástica como deus manda. Esse tal “mundão maravilhoso” é a gente mesmo quem faz, dentro do nosso próprio mundinho provinciano mesmo, onde quer que seja.

Em BH, SP, NY ou Cabo Frio.

So what are we doing today?

Having people visit you is the best when you’re living abroad. It’s a way to have a tiny peace of your hometown, of your memories, your history, back into your life, even if just briefly.

And if you talk to anyone who lives abroad and who’ll tell you that they’re super missing their hometown, they’re dying to go back to their country, their culture, that they’re constantly torn apart about living so far away, I’m pretty sure this person would have no problem living wherever if he had his family and best friends with him. So if you’re Brazilian you may say that you miss spending New Years on a warm weather, having the best food on the planet and watching morning shows where a foam parrot is one of the co-hosts (true story) but these are just details, what we really miss are the people.

So when someone comes to visit you it’s heaven, because finally you go the “I’m living in a cool place that I love + I’m surrounded by the cool people that I love”. It’s all-good.

Almost.

Some visitors can be a bit of a pain. And not my visitors in partcular, or your visitors, just visitors. Conceptually. I mean you and I can potentially be the painful visitors at someone’s house at any given time. You never know.

The first indicator of the painful visitor is when he asks you how the weather is going to be like in the city when he’ll be around. In 3 months. Well, unless you’re an astronomer, weather expert or maybe some sort of Scientology master, you have no idea, obviously. So what you’ll do is what the person should have done herself, which is “Google > weather Boston April”.

You shouldn’t have done that. It’s gonna be just downhill from here.

From this moment on what follows is an unstoppable flow of questions: you’ve suddenly became a guru for all things Boston (or whatever city). Be prepared to have random, pointless questions being thrown at you during the entire visit.

A typical example: you’re going go to a restaurant that you haven’t been before and the visitor might ask you “Where’s the restroom again, dear?” or “Are the servings here too big?” Hum.

He’s also going to ask you information on buildings, monuments and construction sites in general, just any average piece of engineering, like “What’s that kinda tall beige building over there?” And you have no idea. Yes, you have been living in this city for 2 months and NO you don’t know the history and purpose of existence behind every little thing ever to be built in the city. I mean, I’m pretty sure that person wouldn’t know that kind of information about the city where he’s been living his whole life either, but still, expect a raised eyebrow and a concerned nodding reflecting your “lack of knowledge, therefore lack of minimal interest about the city you’ve decided to move to”. And yeah, they do manage make you feel a bit guilty.

A rare, but real phenomenon one can expect when receiving foreign visitors is the fact that when some people are staying at a friend’s house, instead of a hotel, they suddenly become incredibly lazy. They do not prepare themselves for the trip at all, no research (again, they didn’t even Googled the weather) – they expect you to be their private tour guide, 24/7. These visitors are the ones who just follow you around, suddenly unable to understand street signs or subway maps. Their first question when they wake up is usually “So, what are we doing today?” expecting you to present an elaborate itinerary for the day. You almost feel compelled to leave the house with one of those shiny umbrellas Chinese tour guides parade around with so you don’t lose a friend or 2 on the way.

A recurrent behavior – maybe that’s more Brazilian, though – is that the person can be staying with your for 6 months, he will inevitably remember this thing he had to bring back for his cousin say, 5 hours before he flies back. And yes, you’re going to have to rush outside, cross the entire city to find that thing, drive like crazy to the airport and bribe the airline intern at the check-in so your friend doesn’t miss his flight (cuz all you want to do at this point is to go back home and be ALONE!).

There’s also refusing to accept that some habits are different in the country they’re visiting. In case of Brazilians visiting the US is the tipping system. In Brazil we don’t usually tip – at least not so often as here – so Brazilians feel that if they round the bill up, they’re more than ok with the tipping, while they’re actually “tipping” by… 2%.

When I was living in Spain, my Brazilian visitors would usually consider Spanish the same language as Portuguese. They’re similar, but trust me, they’re not the same. So they’d just speak Portuguese, adding up a bit of an accent and throwing a “Gracias” now and then. So it would happen that they’d order wine and got a mojito, a roast chicken and got a chocolate brownie and stuff of the sort – which, however, would never convince the motivated visitor to switch to English, not even when the waiter did.

But anyhow, it’s all small stuff. Anecdotes. Good memories actually. Having someone visiting you IS actually always a good thing… always.

I’m just a grumpy foreigner missing spending New Years in a warm weather…

 

We’ll always have Ikea

So, a while ago I was introduced to this concept of a non-place. The non-place is, well, ok, any place that kind of gives you a feeling that you could be, in that moment, in any given city of the world, from Boston, to Poughkeepsie to Paris. A typical non-place could be a McDonald’s or a Starbucks – or a Brazilian barbecue restaurant chain, by the way. Anyway, any place that has been specifically designed to make you feel like “hum, have I been here before?”. It’s a place where you strangely feel at home no matter where you are in the world and you know exactly what to expect – or which flavor of over-priced coffee you’re gonna order.

Ikea is a lot like that and once you get into the dynamics of moving countries every few years, it becomes a place you get used to visit.

For those of you who don’t know Ikea (first: jeez, in which planet do you live?! and second: I envy your life a little bit), it is this huge Swedish company that makes design furniture at a very affordable price and it’s a life-saver for a whole generation of European youngsters who are in the long process of discovering what they want to do with their lives and are working as minimum-wage baristas meanwhile.

Basically, if you a) live in Europe or in some parts of the US; b) do no not intend to live in the same city for more than 5 years; and c) have a ridiculously low salary/are unemployed – in my case, check… check! – Ikea is heaven.

But – ha, there’s always a ‘but’, my friend – the whole process of going to Ikea is extremely painful, every time. My guess is that the owner of Ikea thought it was just too easy to allow you to buy Pinterest-looking furniture for a thousand times less the price you’d pay in a regular Pinterest-looking furniture shop and decided to mess up the process a little bit, just because.

So here’s the joy and pain of a typical trip to Ikea:

Uuuup and running, cowboys!! An Ikea day starts earlier than you wish. Oh, and here’s the thing: you’ll initially plan the trip to last 4, 5 hours, tops. Ha. Ha. Ha. Not really. It can be that you’re looking to redecorate your bedroom or your entire 3-story-house, a trip to Ikea will, necessarily, take you at least 9 hours. Trust me.

You’ll probably need to hire a van or ask your dodgy friend for his huge pimped SUV you’ve always made fun of. Specially if you’re buying bulky stuff and want to keep a minimum of back vision when you’re driving back home.

The habitual Ikea visitor knows that it is absolutely crucial to take some cereal bars/protein shakes for the “ride”, so you won’t end up eating a foam-flavored 1$ hot dog (though a proper lunch at Ikea is quite decent and still frightfully cheap).

Now, to follow one’s route through Ikea’s different sections is to do a truly anthropological exercise, as it can bring to surface the deepest reactions ever to be experienced by the human race.

It starts as something exciting: you’re decorating your house, super happy, sharing every picture frame with your Snapshat audience (aka your best friend, your younger sister and your own dog’s profile). You grab one of those cute Ikea mini-pencils and write down every reference in a super organized way, cuz you’re willing to make this a GREAT Ikea trip. Everything is running smoothly.

After a while, frustration emerges. There are too many options, too many people, too much noise, you lost track of which sofa color you chose 4 sections ago and you don’t know which dinning chairs would go with it; the wardrobe you like is super expensive but the cheap one is super ugly; and do we even have space for that sofa?… So you just paralyze, breath into the Ikea yellow bag for a while and realize that if you’re completely incapable of making basic furniture decisions, “how the hell are you leaving home to live with your part-time barista friend”?

Then tiredness hits. It’s that moment when you realize you’ve been at Ikea for 4 hours and there’s nothing at your trolley but a bunch of mini pencils, a picture frame -highly praised on Snapshat- and a couple of vanilla scented candles. You move on to the mattress section, lie down and relax. Take a deep breath. You’re just beginning.

Feeling re-energized, you run quickly through the “planned kitchen” section, which is the boring one, and by the way if you have enough money to have a planned kitchen what the hell are you doing at Ikea anyway, and you recover the “let’s get this over with” feeling. Great! You’ve reached the cool deco section, where you’ll find everything cute and slightly unnecessary you’ll ever own, like printed paper napkins and submarine-shaped ice cube trays.

Congratulations. You’ve successfully reached the last, but definitely not least section. The warehouse.

Here’s where the real challenge lays and where I usually lose my positive-zen attitude despite all the counseling I can get from my ‘5min a day’ meditation app. It’s the moment when you combine 7 hours of walking around discussing the importance of coasters with your future room-mate with the physical distress of having to carry a wooden bed structure out of a 6 foot shelf.

It’s not easy.

It’s like that feeling of being in a plane going through rough weather and thinking “Why the hell am I here? Why? I never really even wanted to go to Puerto Rico, I was tricked by my cousin’s-ex cool Instagram photos. I am never getting in a plane again, EVER”. And then the moment goes by and before you know it, you’re back on a plane again.

As you’ll be back to Ikea.

Anyhow, there’s no turning back now. You use your last slurry of energy, pick up all the furniture, pay for it and grab a pack of cheap frozen smoked salmon at the food shop since you’re at it.

That’s it. It’s done.

No. Now THIS was actually just the beginning. See what Ikea just did?

What’s to follow is a marathon of loading your friend’s pimped SUV, bringing everything up to your apartment and making enemies on your first day ever in your new building for blocking the elevator for 40min, unpacking everything and discovering that you could actually have built a new house from the amount of carton remaining on your living room floor, assembling furniture that looks way easier to assemble than they actually are, grabbing a beer and making yourself a smoked salmon sandwich to chill, wearing your finger off to the bone from insisting on trying to screw stuff without proper tools, ignoring that you found some screws still inside the box AFTER you’ve finished assembling your dinner table and remembering 4 absolutely essential items that you somehow forgot to buy and for which you’ll have to go back to Ikea. Again.

It’s hard. It’s tiring, it’s a pain and from now on you’ll notice how 87% of every friend’s house you’ll visit will have the same Poang chair you found oh-so-creative to decorate your living room.

But then you move again.

And you need furniture and vanilla scented candles again. And you’ll go back to Ikea. Again.

Ah, this great mystery that binds us…

Imagine this: you’re walking down the street, in any given country that’s not the US (or your home country, for that matter) and there’s a group of Americans/’place-your- nationality-here’ coming towards you. Or a couple or just a guy, and old lady, any American, under any circumstance.

Here’s what’s gonna happen: you’re gonna feel this inexplicable, but deep certainty that that person is American.

Automatically, you’ll kind of lean towards that person when he or she passes by, trying to eavesdrop on what he’s saying to his friend, because you want to prove your theory. Even if it has absolutely no impact in your live. I mean, you’re not even going to talk to him, but still there’s something that moves to get weirdly close to him and say… “Yep, I knew it! He IS American”.

I know, this sort of phenomenon seems completely pointless, but you got to admit it, it’s a bit fascinating. It’s a mystery that binds us all foreigners when we’re abroad. We’ve got to look into it.

So let’s cut to the chase: first of all, you’re not the only person able to identify comrades from your home country when you’re abroad. I can do it, all your friends can do it, you’re oddball cousin can do it. Everyone does it. We’re all kind of born with it. Apparently our brain has some tiny little area, some small corner dedicated specifically to “identify-people-from-our-home-country-when-travelling-abroad”. Crazy stuff. But still, fascinating.

Second, this is not a “skill” exclusive to Americans. I understand you might have theorized about the fact that there must be something tangible that every American has common but I’d say there actually isn’t. I’ve tried to find that something about Brazilians and my conclusion is that if there is anything we share is maybe the skill of knowing how to get the most personal benefit out of a situation. And that’s not something you can see when someone’s just walking down the street.

And let me tell ya, from my own personal research just as an American can spot another from a distance, so can a Spaniard, Koreans, the British. And I’m quite sure Russians, Argentinians, and Papua-new-guineans can probably do it too.

Ok, so let’s try and understand this: why the hell has our brain decided to dedicate a couple of neurons for such a crook idea? I mean, we could be reading minds with those neurons, learning to play chess, brilliantly investing in the stock market and making tons of money, but hey, no, we’re out there identifying Americans or Brazilians tourists abroad and for what? We got to find a purpose for this.

My guess is that our brain is just trying to look after us, and that this “skill” is actually useful, we just need to learn how to use it properly. So I thought about it (yep, that’s the level of free time I have) and I figured we have two ways in which we could put this less then conspicuous “skill” to use:

The first thing is in case you’re a tourist abroad and you actually want to find someone who speaks your language, gets your culture and knows where to find a burger joint within a mile (or a Brazilian barbecue place, or a Biergarten, or a pub or whatever food spot is typical for Papua-new-guineans).

In this case, you don’t need to be randomly asking for information on the streets and feel stupid because locals don’t get your – so beautifully crafted – French accent.

Use your guts! Go to a busy street and just start to observe the crowd. In a couple of minutes you’re brain will tell you “wow wow wow – here comes one” and you know can directly approach this person with a “What up, bro?” and feel at home, and get all the info you need and go together to the burger joint and bitch together about how French people have a problem understanding your beautiful accents and become BFF. Cool.

The second thing is in case you don’t want to be recognized and walk around with people from your own nationality, because you’re spending your holidays in Paris and you think that your blasé-born-and-raised-in-Montparnasse look will make you mingle with locals and that’s glamorous and awesome. (By the way, this feeling of “OMG people from my home country are soooo embarassing when travelling abroad” is also quite universal). In this case, just stare at the ground and when the sign of “yaiks – fellow countryman spotted” comes in, just say some words in a random language and walk faster. There you have it, collision avoided.

So that’s it folks, mystery solved. There’s nothing about collective sub-conscient, nothing about an American (or Brazilian, or…) feeling of belonging that surpasses any borders, it’s not a magic connection between people, Sense8 style.

It’s jus tour brain, doing what has it has to do. Reacting in a basic instinct to prevent us from embarrassing ourselves when we travel. That’s all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

American compatibility check-list

The US are a great country. Beautiful landscapes, super diverse people, awesome on turning any subject into a reality TV program and all that. But it can also be kind of, let’s say, polarizing. It’s obvious that each and every country have their own their culture, people have specific habits and behaviors, but there are some stuff about the American life that can shape your daily life in such a way, that you just have to have them in mind if you’re thinking about ever living in the US.

Because once you’re here, it’s gonna be hard to try and dodge from these stuff. And it’s not bad stuff. It’s just kind of small details.

So here it is: after 10 months of US life, my own “American life compatibility check-list”! You’ve been advised. Now act at your own risk.

  1. TV: Definitely, number 1 in my list. A tricky little object that will cross your path about 17 times a day. And how, you might ask, can that be if you wouldn’t even go to 17 different places in one day? A-ha. That’s it. You don’t have to. In an average bar/restaurant/bank/supermarket/line for any purpose you will encounter about 3 TVs turned on at the same time. The content? Random. Can be the news, can be a college basketball game, highly likely a Kardashian will pop up at some point. In US bars, TV is the new wallpaper.
  1. Baseball cap. Ok, just to be clear, you don’t have to like to wear a baseball cap. I mean, if you do, great, it will help you make friends and pass as a local, specially around the Boston area. But you actually just have to be ok with others using baseball caps. All the time. At restaurants, bars, movie theaters, class, concerts, you name it. It might sound strange that this is even listed here, I mean, who cares what people wear in their heads. But when there’s such a high density of baseball caps surrounding you and in places (and times of day) that you wouldn’t expect them to be, you’ll have to embrace that some how. So if baseball caps annoy you, maybe try Canada.
  1. Extremely social people: This is actually one of the things I love the most about the US life, but if you feel harassed when strange people try to make a conversation with you or make a comment on what you’re saying to a friend at the bar, you better not move here. If you do, you have to come prepared to listen to random comments from random people on the streets – always very nice, by the way. They’ll usually be something like “nice shoes, bro”. And warning: you will soon be making them too.
  1. Owning Car: Boston/Cambridge are one of the few urban areas that I think one can actually get around quite well without having a car. But once you’ve left the city, my dear friend, you’ll necessarily need a car. When able to chose, pick the biggest SUV available, it’s what you’ll encounter on the highways and, trust me, it’s quite intimidating when you’re in a Smart.
  1. Take 16 pay for 12 (aka: Bulk buying): Unless you have a very strong stand against stocking toilet paper for one year/ buying milk in gallons/getting tuna cans by the dozen, you’ll fall in love with this concept. From my experience here, you can either pay a lot for a tiny can of organic-bio dynamic-gluten free Nordic see tuna or next to nothing for a case of 24 family size cans of “this is probably tuna”. I usually go for the latter. You’re gonna become a master of inventory management AND learn at least 15 new ways of eating canned tuna.
  1. There’s now mild indoor temperature: I read a story here the other day about how places like shops, hotels and restaurants manage their air conditioning in the summer: apparently, the fancier the place, the chillier the air should be. Same thing with winter: the nicer the place, the more likely you’ll feel you’ve just landed in Turks and Caicos. Not actually truth though, Wholefoods is usually as chilling the dodgy Korean supermarket around the corner. Expect extreme indoor temperatures everywhere.
  1. The Kardashians. Any of them: You think you see a lot of them in your home country? Ha! That’s just the tip of the iceberg! Be prepared to see one of them in every magazine cover while you wait in line at CVS and on the – many! – TVs around the city, whenever it’s not college basketball season. They’re harmless, though.
  1. Politics: It’s basically a constant theme, since whenever a president is elected it’s virtually the time to start the campaign (and media coverage) for the next term. I do advise watching the debates, though – way more entertaining then Netflix.
  1. Liter sized cup of coffee. Please note that I don’t mean you have to like to drink liters of coffe a day. The relevance is not so much on the drink itself, but in the fact that one should have, invariably, a large disposable cup in one’s hands. Doesn’t have to be filled with coffee – or you don’t have to drink all of it. It’s more of a personal item, something you’ll wear, like a purse. To fit in from the beginning I recommend you boarding the plane already holding one of those, it will help you mingle from minute one. And once you’re at it, I not put on a baseball cap and start a conversation with the stranger sitting next to you? About… politics, maybe? Welcome to America, my friend.