in training

I’m out for pizza with Josie, Viola, and another gal. We would like to order another round of caipirinhas. Our waitress, however, would prefer to stare at the wall and count the number of toothpicks in the toothpick jar. Arms are flailing and Josie cries, “oi, moça!” and still she continues to count toothpicks. A funny quip occurs to me, and in my excitement to share my witty observation, my words roll out in seventeen simultaneous syllables, none of which, based on the expressions I receive in return, are coherent Portuguese.


Word of the day: nor—knot. Minha lengua está dando nor. My tongue is giving knots.

I keep forgetting that, even though I can conjugate verbs and write mini-essays about what I did last weekend or what I would do if I had a million dollars, even though I can understand songs and swear words and entire movies in Portuguese, I still, for the most part, speak like a toddler. And toddlers do not, for the most part, make sarcastic comments about indifferent waitresses.

On the other hand, I read the newspaper every day this week, which feels like an accomplishment. Though, actually, by ‘every day,’ I mean that I read a newspaper every day, though not necessarily that particular day’s newspaper, as it takes me three days to read one day’s worth of news. I read Friday’s newspaper all through the weekend, and then Monday’s until Wednesday, and I’m working my way through Thursday now. I consider it like any other endeavor: you have to train to get better. I’m hoping that by the end of my stay, I will be able to read the newspaper, cover-to-cover, within a single day’s news cycle.

Speaking of training, I have successfully completed my registration for the II Maratona Internacional Maurício de Nassau—the Marathon of Recife. On July 31, three days before I return to the U. S. of A., I will run 21 sweltering kilometers through downtown Recife, over rivers and between skyscrapers and along the beach. It is a hefty proposition, training for this thing, given that I’m not a member of a gym and that outside it’s generally either 90 degrees or raining, but I’m up for the challenge. 21 kilometers has a finish line, and I don’t have to say a word to cross it.


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