PT zombies (revised by Alan)


In Paris, winter 2012, at the entrance of our apartment building on Rue Galande.

As you all know, my husband Alan wouldn’t let me go to English without a fight. Below is his interpretation of “PT zombies,” my first translated essay. He started  kvetching about the concept of “running a bi-national home,” that was in the first draft, saying it would sound like “running a bi-national mental hospital,” which is not far from the truth. Check it out.


I’m not sure you’ve heard of “OPM.” But, here’s the thing: as you all know, I live in a two-nation household, and I have to be cognizant if not fluent in American parlance, jargon and current idiomatic English or I wouldn’t be able to talk to the sons, not to mention their father, who occasionally rages at my “Portuguese-English.”

In Brazil, everyone knows what OPM is, it is the suitcases full of money of politicians seized at customs while on their way to Miami. More or less never to be seen again.

Anyway, enough beating around the bush. “OPM” is the acronym for “Other People’s Money.” Basically, it goes up someone else’s derrière, or empties someone else’s wallet, the pain is the same. As in, “up yours”, if you know what I mean. And so with the stadiums of the World Cup, infrastructure, airports, roads, Brazil is in a state of FUBAR, the reasonable intent and planning has been lost somewhere between the samba of Carnival and the bottom of a glass of cacshsa.*


This week, for instance, I had the following conversation with Ivete, my “left hand” (she does everything I don’t, mainly housekeeping):

“Ivete, have you noticed how upset everyone seems? Not even when President Collor swindled us out of all our cash people were unhappy like that.”

Of course, she does not remember Collor, who, by historical irony, paved the way for Lula and his “party of laborers”, PT. She was still a child back then and her family, deep down in the backwoods of Minas Gerais, a kind of Appalachia, wouldn’t have had $R50 in their savings account. Putz, it wasn’t reais back then, was it? It was fifty… what? Moment. . . I’ll look it up. Be right back.

Unlike now, perhaps because we were under a different magnitude of media onslaught, we optimistically believed that “they knew what they were doing,” . . . an illusion that protected us from the harsh truth and only came to light much later, with the caras-pintadas and the president’s beautiful impeachment, a unanimous moment of national pride. In fact, if I recall correctly, it was, by all means, a veritable soap opera, with its own gardens of Babylon, cocaine, brain cancer, crimes of passion and all, damn, it’s like between Harlem and Manhattan, being a Brazilian.

“Even after all the millions rioted in the streets last year to protest the 10 cent increase in the bus fare, they are raising public transport fares anyway.”

“Yeah. Well. People forget too easily, Ivete. The other day, I went to the drugstore and they didn’t have the brand name Xanax I needed, only the generic. The guy at the counter told me it was because prices are about to go up. Unbelievable. So on the weekend we stopped at our deli only to find in the pharmacy next door cases of the name brand Xanax at the price we always have paid.

“It’s all the ex-revolutionary terrorist hero Dilma’s fault. There’s no way I’ll ever vote for her again.”

“Hey, that’s good. […]The Olympics are coming. FUBAR (fucked up beyond all recognition. From “Saving Private Ryan”). Another four miserable years. Maybe not, the world is in flux, look at Russia and the Crimea. The Real is stronger against the dollar — a sign of the times —, they are spending billions in new roads and condos in the mountains outside of Rio.”

“That’s true. I hope Lula comes back so we can vote for him.”


This story, in fact, would be better named “I Cry for Brazil,” as so many have been shouting lately. […] It’s something like when I hate Alan, when I hate him so much it hurts, but it goes away when he touches my chest as we wake, to check if I’m alive and show me he’s alive as well.


Something to think about. Tchau.


*He means “cachaça,” Brazilian national liquor made of sugar cane.


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