The chapter of my life that will describe below was quite painful. It took me a while to sit down to write it for that reason, and I did so in a way that is very shallow on purpose, basically just vomiting facts and omitting emotional experiences. I’m just filling a gap in the narrative I’m trying to convey as I don’t want to go too deep in that part of my life. Feel free to skip this part if you are bored.
I was in senior year of high school when I wrote Vazão and my dad passed away. The following year I moved to Brasilia, Brazil’s capital, as a social sciences freshman at the University of Brasilia (UnB). Despite the fact that Brasilia had amazing libraries, including UnB’s, my interest for fiction drifted away for a while. That happened, in part because studying social sciences, especially sociology, make you and your sensibilities very grounded to reality – and our tools of escapism tended to be less intellectual (our ongoing joke in college was that you could tell the difference between an anthropology and sociology student because the former was a pothead and the latter was hooked to Prozac). Another factor was the fact that I developed a relatively big entourage of friends for the first time in my life, as I was very involved with my academic life including student representation within the University’s administration. Reading the translation of Douglas Adams’ novels (as mentioned in my last post) was the main exception to that moment as I would keep myself busy with my social life.
6 months after finishing college I applied to work in the now defunct Ministry of Cities, the federal government branch in charge of housing and urban infrastructure. That happened at the same time I had also been selected for UnB’s master program in anthropology. However, I couldn’t juggle working 40 hours/week while reading an average of 2 difficult ethnology books a week, attending classes, preparing my research project (which was going to be about reports of UFO sightings and contact with aliens, understood through the same frame that analyzed how Portuguese navigators in the 15th Century thought that blue whales were dragons). I remember that I was enrolled in a special class in the master’s program on colonialist perspectives. One of our assignments was to review one work of a list that featured a list of ethnographic studies and…. Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. We all know which book I picked.
I loved the financial autonomy having a salary gave me and hated my work with all my heart, especially the inherent stupidity and corruption of Brazilian bureaucracy, what was particularly hard as I was at the bottom of the food chain and honest. I was sick of Brasilia and decided that it was time to take risks. I applied for the equivalent of a Green Card for Canada as a skilled worker and got selected. I moved to Montreal after 3 years working in the Ministry of Cities, leaving behind a stable work and leaping into the unknown. It was a little challenging at first as I couldn’t find work quickly and had to work with weird stuff for a while like distributing flyers in the street to make do. After a few months I finally got a job in social services in a shelter for homeless people living with the HIV. I was replacing a worker who was in paternity leave (in Canada couples can decide who gets to take a one-year leave), covering for his 10 30pm-8am graveyard shifts.
My goal, when I moved to Canada, was to write again and although I had a series of tasks that kept me busy during my shifts in the shelter, it was quite lonely with lots of time to think about my stuff. In my day (actually night) offs I didn’t have much to do. I first tried to write a dystopian novel in French. Then I remembered that lots of people praised my novella Vazão “because it read like a movie”. I never took it as a compliment, but made me realize that I should give TV and film writing a shot. I tried my hand at screenwriting and I liked it a lot My favorite part of writing is dialogue and screenwriting gives you lots of room to play with that aspect of fiction. I decided to use my savings to move from Montreal to Vancouver to improve my English and attend film school there and it turned out to be a massive waste of time and money.
I had to move back to Brazil but kept writing screenplays that nobody cared about while working mostly with translations. Most of the screenplays and teleplays were comedies, although I tried to write in every genre.
One day I was arguing with an American guy on an LGBT internet forum about a certain issue related to current affairs. Our stances on the discussed matter couldn’t be more different. But we decided to keep discussing the issue on skype. Our skype conversations drifted to other subjects and started to last hours every day. We decided that we had to meet each other. I applied for the 3rd time in my life for a tourist visa to the US to visit him and for the 3rd time in my life the tourist visa was denied to me, without explanation (THANKS OBAMA!). Then my friend had to come all the way to Brazil to meet me. He proposed on the first day. I accepted. One year later I moved to the Southern suburbs of Pittsburgh, where my creative life went through a massive shift…