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» Hatrack River Forum » Archives » Landmark Threads » A Coward's Tale: My 1000th post Landmark Thread

Author Topic: A Coward's Tale: My 1000th post Landmark Thread
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Well, that’s it. Landmark time. To tell you all the truth, I was a little scaried of this day but, at the same time, was determined to not let it pass. I find “Landmark Threads” one of the most interesting Hatrack traditions. So, here I am.

I’d rather thanks in advance for your attention, and offer my most sincere apologies for the ones who suffer trough this longish post written by a non-native english speaker. I know my language can be very clumsy in english.

Anyway...I could do many things to celebrate my 1000th post. I could tap-dance for you, I could cook a “feijoada”, I could invite you all to my house so we could watch the LoTR trilogy back-to-back... but since there seems to be a logistics problem, I’m content in just telling you a little about me.

As some of you know, I’m Brazilian, born and raised in the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro wordly famous for its beaches (such as Copacabana and Ipanema) and hills, such as the “ Pão de Açúcar ” (Sugarloaf) hill and the Corcovado (where there is a huge Jesus Christ Statue, surveying the city with open arms. We call it the “ Cristo Redentor ” - Chryst Redeemer).

Anyway...I guess I’ll leave the description of Rio for another landmark. I guess you got the picture. I’m not an American, and I live in a place far away from you, in a different culture. Not that I am an alien, of course. ;-)

I’m male, 28 and single (although this one is about to change). I’m a Literature teacher, a geek (surprise! You must be shocked by the revelation!) and, for some time, I fancied myself a writer. Although my prose and verse in Portuguese is sure better than in English, I think I just hadn’t talent not tenacity enough to establish myself beyond two or three regional poetry and short-stories prizes. So, writting is mostly a hobbie for me, right now.

I haven’t been much discreet about what I’ve been doing lately, so I’ll tell you a little about my younger days, when the Eduardo you know (does we really get to ‘know’ other people?) was shaped (I was about to write ‘forged’, but found it so...quaint ;-) ).

My father is an accountant called José. He was the 8th of 12 sons of a wealthy cocoa farmer in Bahia (a rural brazilian State). Unfortunatelly, his father, my grandfather, died from appendicitis when he was only 4 years old. My grandmother being illiterate, my grandfather (and even her own) relatives stole all land money and property from her, and she had to come to the great Golden Dream City called Rio de Janeiro, with all her kids. They were very poor. Many of my father siblings died. Only 6 of them survived childhood. One of them, my uncle, is a convicted con-man and a thief. My father sold homemade candies and cakes (made by my grandmother) on the streets, but never stopped studying. Eventually, things got better, as he grew, found a good job, met and married my mom.

My mother, Célia (yup. My mother’s name is really Célia. Don’t laugh nor shudder. I’m not making a joke, nor I am the devil spawn) is also a teacher. Like me, she always wanted to go where the most needing students were. That meant she often found herself in “funny” situations. Because of that, some of my most daring adventures took place when I was in my mother’s womb, when

1) (2 months pregnant) – Mom was teaching in a “favela” (yay, I seem to really follow in mom’s footsteps) when the army entered the place (those were the most ‘glorious’ times of military dictatorship. The army went to many places) in seach for ‘political enemies of the country’ (people who actually thought we should have the right to vote, and stuff). Mother (who wasn’t a political activist, just a teacher) and a bunch of people were arrested. Fortunatelly, my grandfather knew some army officers, and they released mom after a few hours (no, they didn’t let her call home. One of her colleagues, who mananged to run away, did that).

2) (5 months pregnant) – Mom had to take the train from the far away place where she teached to the University where she studied (although she was just a college student, she had a special licence to teach, because there were so few teachers, at the time). The train crashed and catch fire. Mom had to jump from the still moving and fiery train and rolled some meters (sorry. We use metrical system, over here). Shaky trip for me, inside, he?

3) (7 months pregnant) – Mom was teaching in a correctional facility for minors who commited crimes. Those were not lofty times for the correctional facilities in Brazil, and the building also dubbed as a prision for adults, both political prisioners and common criminals awaiting trial. There was a prision mutiny ( a rebellion) when she was there, teaching. She was took as a hostage (although they didn’t hurt her. Her students just locked her in the classroom “for her own protection”). She stayed there for almost two days, while all hell broke loose outside. You see...since it was a dictatorship, the military had no qualms about invading the place shooting and killing. When the glorious troops liberated her, she could see the carnage outside. It haunts her to this day.

Mom actively teached and studied ‘till the day I was born (she was at the University, when her water broke). One would think I’d be a corageous boy, after tasting so much adrenalin in my first 8 months and 2 weeks of existence. I grew, how can I put it...a shy, booky and cowardly kid. Not that I was little. I were always a big, fatty boy, and I was strong, to boot.

My early years were very happy, though. I had few reasons to be afraid. Since my grandparents (from mother’s side) were our next door neighbors, I could always be with them. So, I never had to be with strangers or nannies, and always felt safe. Actually, for some time I’d rather stay at my granny’s place than at home, for my parents fought a lot, because of money and my father’s working schedule , which didn’t allow him to spend much time with my mother or me. Thus, fear and anguish crept into my life for the very first time I can remember.

I was 3 or 4 years old when I feel in love with my life’s passion: books. Mom taught me to read at home, very early. Soon I was going to school with her, since I studied where mother was teaching. It was pleasing, because I got to be with her all day long, and everybody treated me weel because I was the teacher’s son (my mother never doted on me because of that. She was always very strict with her students, and I was not an exception). It all changed when I finished second grade, though...

There is a school in Rio called “Colégio Pedro II” (Peter II School), founded by Brazil’s second and last emperor, Peter the Second. It’s ancient, being more than 170 years old. It’s the only school quoted by name in the Brazilian Constitution (so, it shall forever be funded by the Federal Government) and one of the best ones in the whole country. It’s huge, having more than 15.000 students ranging from pre-school to high-school. The teaching there is very traditional and demanding...and I went to study there.

It’s very difficult to get a spot at CPII. There are demanding tests every year to select students. That year, though, was the inauguration of a new ward (for the first time they would be teaching kids from pre-school to elementary level), so they took all those new spots and...made a lottery for it. That’s how I entered those hallowed learning grounds where I would be for about 10 years.

Picture this: I always studied in small neighborhood schools, near home, with mom by my side. Suddenly I was thrown in what seemed to me the most scary places in the whole world! Hundreds, thousands of students! Most of them way bigger than me. Classrooms that could engulf my whole previous school. No mom, no mom’s friendly teachers...I was alone. And, of course, bullies have the uncanny ability of smelling scared blood from a long distance. It didn’t take long before they find me and start a paiful routine of psychological and physical abuse. First I’d scream for help, but they knew how to scape before an adult came. After a while, I just didn’t care anymore. They would spit on me, beat me up, steal my money, sometimes, and that’s it.

My parents went there and complained, of course. A lot. Some kids were, indeed, put “on probation” for a few days. Of course, again, they would be twice pissed-off when they found me again. Thus, I spent as much time as I could in the huge school library. It was a quiet place, with lots of great books and nobody could touch me there. The librarian was a nice lady, and me and her soon become friends. She would always show me the new books, and keep them available for me. Unfortunatelly, I couldn’t be there the whole morning (most classes were from 7:00 A.M. to 01:00 P.M.), and the old corridors were long, full of dark alleys where I could be easily ambushed.

School was always easy for me, and my grades reflected that. Some teachers liked me a lot and you know...nobody likes teacher’s pets. Funny, though, the kids that used to beat me up were usually older kids, not from my class.
After a bad beating that left my school uniform in tatters, my parents decided I should learn how to defend myself. I was enrolled in judo classes.

Judo classes were fun. There were many kids. The academy owner and the one who taught adults was sensei Takeshi Ueda. Black belt 9th dan, an old and small japanese man who lived in Brazil since WW II and was an international judo arbiter and the most graduated master in the country. Lucky me, his school was near my house.
To tell you the truth, although I did have fun, I had my butt kicked a lot in class. People said I wasn’t aggressive enough. That was true, indeed. Never liked to hit (or throw, as it’s the case with judo) people around, and my...incidents at school made me a little (more) scared. I winced from everybody who would touch me, even if it was my mother, trying to caress me or grab my hand. She considered, for a time, to take me from CPII, or get me psychological help.

Luckyly, sensei Ueda spent two months teaching the kids, because our customary teacher went to the train with the brazilian judo team. He noticed that I was strong but was afraid of using phisical force. He proceeded to show the difference between martial arts from brawling, and that it has (at least) as much to do with brains as with brawns.

Soon I started to get better. Won a lot of tourneys. People said I was a cold kid, because I didn’t show much emotion while fighting. They also said I was scary, having “crazy, murderous eyes” (that came from another dojo’s teacher). Never understood how some one could be cold and, at the same time have “murderous eyes”, but that’s irrelevant.

I still got beat at school. Never fought back. One of the kids who used to beat me, once faced me in a judo tournment. As kids, we were not allowed to use some techniques such as armlocks, chokes and such. Well...let’s say I was disqualifyed, because two judges had to pry my arms from around the boy’s neck, as he was turning purple and squeacking for help. He...mom and sensei (as we called the master) sure thought I was nuts. Maybe I was, a little. But this one never tried to beat me again. To tell you the truth, the whole beating thing went a lot better. Now, people would just diss me verbally, steal my backpack, dump garbage in it and such things. I noticed it.

I already had some friends, and after some years at school I knew the whole place and even liked it, being proud of being part of such an institution. We had Latin classes, philosophy classes, french, spanish, english...it was a top-notch school. The librarian was still the same, and by then, I helped her a lot to organize the libray. People called me “Librarian Jr.”, hehehe.
When I got to 8th grade, I don’t know why, some people got into their minds that they should start beating me up again. They did, and they got away with it, although I was already two times State champion of Judo. Let’ s say that something inside me did not allow me to fight back at school. Fighting was for the dojo and the tournments.

Once, though, a big guy, two years ahead of me, who openly said he admired Hitler and the Nazis, started tormenting me because I said that my father’s mom was black, poor and came from Bahia with nothing but her kids. He said peple like me were tarnishing the school’s reputation and image (he didn’t tell it like that. It was between curses and very dirty words). Then, in the bathroom, he said he would mess with my “bloody face” so bad that my “nigger” granny wouldn’t recognize me.

I snapped. I grabbed his arm so fast I didn’t know what I was doing. I pulled him to me and twisted the arm. When I stopped seeing only red in front of me, It was limp, broken. The guy was screaming, in the floor, and I was on top of him, still twisting his broken arm.

Consequences: I was suspended for a week, received a stern lecture at home (although mom put me into judo so I could learn how to defend myself. She thought I was too...how can I say...violent) and at the dojo (“You’re a tournment athlete! What did you think you were doing!:”). Well, the point is: that was my first and last fight in the school. And nobody picked on me ever since (people also thought I was crazy, so even some of my friends turned away from me, for a while). The big, Nazi guy is still big, but he isn’t a Nazi anymore. He’s a dentist and a very good friend. Interesting how things turn to be...

Don’t fool yourselves, though. I was still shy, squeamish, booky and a coward who was afraid of mice and cockroaches. Given time, my friends noticed that I was still the same guy who used to play chess alone while waiting for my turn to fight in tournments. So, I entered high scholl (always at CPII) without bullies trying to kill me, with a tight-knit group of friends and, for the first time in my life, I was popular at school. Not because of judo, but because I’ve won some poetry prize, sponsored by the government. Unfortunatelly, at the age of 15, although I had a loving family, was a moderatelly successful athlete, and had (at last) a good school environment, I still thought my life sucked, because I didn’t have a girlfriend. Ah, teenagers...

Well...It’s too long already! Sorry, folks. But that’s it! Let me save something for the next landmar, ok? Now... Let me bask in the glory of posting my 1000th post. Hmmm ..well...don’t feel a bit different, hehehe.

I’d like to thanks everybody in Hatrack, for you’re the ‘culprits’ for making this the best (IMHO) internet community there is out there. “Vida longa à Hatrack!” (Long live Hatrack).

Some people may call us crazies or geeks, but, as my favorite poet says...

“Sem a loucura, o que é o homem
mais do que a besta sadia,
Cadaver adiado que procria?”
(Fernando Pessoa)

“Without madness, what is a man
but a healthy beast,
a standing, procreating corpse?”
(Fernando Pessoa)

[ September 17, 2004, 04:26 PM: Message edited by: Eduardo_Sauron ]

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Telperion the Silver
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Eduardo, you rock my world!

[Group Hug]

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hooray Eduardo!

Nice landmark, thanks for sharing.

::bows to DM::


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Member # 5567

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Wow -- this is like, landmark week!

Lots of great reading!

Thanks for sharing Eduardo -- I really enjoyed reading that!
(and I always wondered where the Copacabana was....)


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When I take my next great world adventure and end up in Brazil, I'd love to be able to meet you and your lovely fiancée. I'm glad we've got you around to add your insightful opinions and experiences to our community. [Smile] Hooray for 1,000, and let's have 1,000 more!
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Eduardo, much of your story echoes events in my life. I, too was enrolled in judo because I was in need of a way to defend myself. I was on the smallish side and judo was a great part of my life for 5 years. I qualified for Nationals twice but never placed there. I also was reluctant to use my skills in school although I had no such compunction outside of the classroom. When my landmark comes around I'll share more. Thanks for letting us get to know you better.
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Wow, a prison riot. I don't know if you believe in God, but maybe looking at your mom's life he decided to send her a boy who would not fight with her.

I always enjoy your comments and insights, and recalling the incident with your student and her father, I would never call you a coward.

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Yay, Eduardo! Congrats on the landmark, and thank you for the wonderful story!

PS: Send us all good chocolate in celebration of ths lovely event. This American stuff is SO sub-par. [Wink]


[ September 17, 2004, 05:18 PM: Message edited by: MaydayDesiax ]

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Es o melhor e o mais simpatico Brazileiro que eu conheco [Wink]

Obrigada. Eu gosto das tuas respostas [Smile]

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This is one of the few moments I feel inclined to say:


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Storm Saxon
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Eduardo, you are a good man.

Hope to meet you some day.


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Hey, guys, thanks you all for your messages. [Wave]

Kama, nice portuguese! [Hat]

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Sara Sasse
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Good grief, Eduardo. I can see why you found OSC's books to be compelling. You've come through to adulthood with a remarkable balance of tenderness and strength.

The big, Nazi guy is still big, but he isn’t a Nazi anymore. He’s a dentist ..
Uhhhh ... [Big Grin] . (No, really, I love my dentist!)

[ September 17, 2004, 08:37 PM: Message edited by: Sara Sasse ]

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My word! I stand in awe of your mother!

You're pretty cool yourself! [Big Grin]

And as an aside - I know several of us who stopped the tormenting only by being willing to dish it back out in a definite manner. Bullies only bully until they know they can't -

I still maintain that you are courageous!

And I second Annie - it'd be great to meet you and your fiance!

Thanks for sharing - and next round of D&D, I will hopefully feel competent to play- it looks like you all are having a great time!

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Eduardo, you are one of my hatrack heroes! That was an awesome awesome landmark! You should come to the states for your honeymoon. We so need to have Eduardocon! [Smile]
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Jess N
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What a great landmark! It's been great getting to know you and it's a wonderful thing to know that there are literature teachers in other parts of the world that care as much as I do about getting the word out to our students. You are a hero.

Much love and admiration from Powder Springs, GA USA!

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I don't think you're a coward, Eduardo. If you were, you wouldn't be teaching in the favelas. I'm glad you're a part of Hatrack. [Hat]
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Eduardo, I think you're one of the nicest and most kind-hearted people on the board... not to mention witty and gorgeous! [Wink]

I've always really enjoyed your posts here, I'm glad you came here, and please stay a very long time! *clinks glass* Happy landmark! [Smile]


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Ok, nice people. This is just to thank everyone for reading my landmark post. It's been a blast for me, being here in Hatrack with you. I enjoy it very much.

[Hail] for all jatraqueros!

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