This is my third Réveillon (Brazilian New Year’s Eve) in Brazil. My first year here, I dressed in a chic black outfit to go to a party. That’s when I discovered that Brazilians wear all white on New Year’s Eve, to symbolize peace and renewal, a certain kind of hope that the New Year will be better than the one that has just passed. Brazilians must be neater than me. The instant I put something white on, I spill food on myself.
Traditionally, Brazilians like to be anywhere by the sea, so right after the clock strikes midnight, and as soon as the fireworks show is over, they may run to where the sea meets the sand and skip seven waves so that Iemanjá, the goddess of the sea, will open up paths in their life. The trick here is to be careful and not to turn away from the ocean after the skipping, otherwise the goddess will be angry. With each skip, one wish must be made. This is all according to Google, and because I’ve never been by the sea on NYE, I can’t say whether this practice is still common. However, I could use a little good luck next year, so I’m going to jump in a puddle seven times on Tuesday night.
Our family traditionally has Hoppin’John on New Year’s. Black-eyed peas are supposed to bring good fortune in the new year. My husband’s family is from Louisiana, which is where the tradition originates. Also, it’s yum and all the ingredients can be found locally. I never make New Year’s Resolutions, because I hate to fail. I wrote a little about that last year. I was just re-reading that column, and believe it or not, I’ve accomplished a few of the things on my list! I AM THE QUEEN OF RESOLUTIONS, SUCKAHS!
Here’s the list, with the accomplishments I’ve made in the past year highlighted in red.
1. Only buy things out of my car window that I actually need. The novelty of buying things at stoplights has worn off, yet I continue to fill my car and home with electric tennis rackets, towels, maps, pineapples, coconuts, and brooms. Side note: persimmons don’t taste anything like tomatoes and they make yucky salsa. Accomplished! I still buy electric rackets and fruit out of the window, but I haven’t bought anything useless. Okay, those two jugs of honey were important. The guy told me they are good for my throat.
2. Stop being afraid of my gardener. Every week, he leaves earlier and earlier. Last week he arrived at 9:00 and left two hours later, lawn unmowed, hedges scraggly, and potted plants dry. I am totally going to say something to him one of these days about that. Fail! He’s even worse now. He didn’t come for a month and still brought me a bill. Which I paid, but I definitely huffed off afterwords. He’s terrified of me now.
3. Get a golden tan, just once in my life. I’m in Brazil, for crying out loud, and it would be interesting to see what I look like with a tan AND blonde eyebrows. Fail. I tried, but I burned in fifteen minutes and was covered in hives for two days after my big “laying out” experiment.
4. Learn how to make feijoada that doesn’t taste like cat food rolled in salt. Fail.
5. Learn how to make a delicious cafezinho, using actual Brazilian-roasted coffee beans. I know how to make a tasty espresso from my days of being a barista in Seattle in the early 90s, but I have yet to make my cafezinhos taste like anything other than tar dipped in acid. I know it can be done, because I’ve had lots of them in restaraurants. Fail.
6. Stop using the piles of capybara poop down by the lake as an excuse not to get any exercise. Accomplished! Mostly because my friend Katie drags me kicking and screaming to the gym every day.
7. Make my own appointments. Haha! Totally kidding on that one. I pay good money for a portugeuse tutor for my teenager for a reason. I have yet to make an appointment for myself. This backfired on me this year, when I had Katie make me an appointment for a leg wax and I came out with a wax of another kind.
8. No more speeding tickets. I just put this one on here because I needed something for number eight and it sounds like a nice, mature thing to resolve to do. Also, it will make my husband so happy to see this that he might buy me some new shoes. Epic Fail. Juliana in my office said if I was Brazilian, I would have lost my license by now. I’ve learned to use my cruise control and just live with the hand gestures I get from the friendly drivers on the road, though, so things are looking better in the ticket department.
9. Learn the right way to say, “caipirinha” and “Pão de Açúcar”. Half accomplished! I can say ‘caipirinha’, and I just don’t say ‘Pão de Açúcar’. Instead, I say ‘the grocery store at Gilberto’.
10. Learn how to make a proper caipirinha. I have a lime tree heavy with limes in my backyard, and I can’t keep just using the limes to throw at the bee’s nest that is growing in our carport (did I mention our gardener is slacking off?). I tried to make a few caipirinhas last week, but it seemed like a lot of work. Maybe there is a caipirinha machine I can buy out of my car window. Sort of accomplished! I had my seventh grader learn how to make them for me. This totally counts.
You guys, that is the most resolutions I have ever accomplished in my life. I feel like I need some kind of prize.
One thing I do like to do is come up with a motto for each year. Last year’s motto was “No Regrets”. Naturally, I regret making that motto, because I am filled with regret. I was particularly regretful on Christmas morning when my newsfeed said that US Embassy Kabul had been attacked and I couldn’t reach my better half for a while. I also regret promising my bestie that we would be getting tattoos together, but shhhh, don’t tell her that. I’m still going to go through with it.
This year I have two mottos, and I can’t quite decide which one will be easier to keep. The first one is “Let the Universe Decide”. Obviously, that means I don’t have to make any decisions. This motto isn’t the best when you have water running all over your kitchen from underneath your dishwasher. Letting the universe decide if the dishwasher was going to fix itself turned out to be a bad call. My other motto is “Throw a Towel on It”. Now, there’s a motto that came in handy in the dishwasher situation. Hmmmm. Both of these mottos seem to highlight my reluctance to be proactive. I’m sure you are all surprised. I guess I’ll let the universe decide if I’m going to get that tattoo or not. Besides, if it looks horrible, all I have to do is throw a towel on it.