Sunday, November 30, 2008


today is a myth's birthday.
soon i will write about this person.

Monday, November 24, 2008


relationships are like second lives. i’ll explain: when you first meet someone, no matter how early or late in your life, it is almost as if that person was born at exactly that moment for you. and, in some way, when that happens, you are born again. you see that person in a light that probably no one has seen before, and the same thing happens to you, if the relationship is mutual in any way.
i don’t remember the exact time when the creator or uncle ita were born to me; i do know that, in both cases, i was born to them earlier than they were born to me. tio ita since the beginning of my life, and Jesus even before that. with michi, we were born to each other at the exact same time, as i recently confirmed. and, in this sense, i was never born to lyle mays (who knows maybe one day), but he was born to me at the end of 1996.
i know, this stuff with born and being born is kind of strange, but i was thinking of it today, while remembering someone special’s birthday. and this is the person i want to write about today. there are people like lyle mays whom i’ve never known and quite possibly never will; then there are people like tio ita, whom i’ve known quite well over the years. then there are people like michi, who i got to know better only years and years after “birth”. and, yes, there are people who i know somewhat, but nonetheless i admire and really like a lot in spite of never really being a vital part of their life.
this is such a person. she was born to me in october of 1994, and it was quite an impressing birth! yes, i still remember the first impression i had of ronísia marinho. it was right after a concert that the group i participated in at the time gave at her church (tom de vida at velho iae, now unasp são paulo). her younger sister rosiley and her were in the back of the church, even a long time after the concert was over. their father (robson) was the pastor of that church at the time, so i guess they were used to being the last ones to leave. but i couldn’t stop looking at her! there are three things that i have tradicionally liked about girls: smile, eyes and hair. and, yeah! what big dark eyes! what an incredible smile (if you know her, you know what i’m talking about)! and that short, dark, straight hair that i like a lot. that was quite a first impression.
now, i’ve haven’t had too many impacting first impressions like this one, and when that happened, i normally never saw the person again. this was different with rô, though. i saw her once later that year, and these two sightings somehow were enough to get my interest in her to a high level. in 1995, beginning of the year, she was the title girl of a denominational magazine, and strangely enough, i became convinced that i was in love with this stranger. although this didn’t last for long, it was still kind of a strange and nice feeling.
it was even nicer, though, to actually get to know ronísia, more than a year later. we lived in the same little community for a short while, and i loved going over to her place to pay a visit to that family i really love (including mother rozenia and once again, sister rosiley, who will deserve a blog entry of her own). we have seen each other a few times a year since then, although now it has been quite a while. she now lives in the states and seems to be on her way to a happy life.
i know her as a person filled with emotions, really alive. she really enjoys helping others and making her friends happy, has time and a great ear - she knows how to listen. through her strong emotions, it seems that she celebrates life; and, thus, people tend to really like her and enjoy her presence.
on this day, her birthday (which i remember since 1995), i get reminded of how you can love different people in different ways, and how they all are so unique. i can’t say that i know too much about ronísia’s life now, neither that we are particularly close. but i do know that she is special to me, one of those people you just root for at anytime. so, happy birthday, rô!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

it's great!

“if you hit my car i’m gonna punch you!” i heard this sentence probably in 1985, and i still remember it so well… . we were in a car, parking in one of those ferries that take you from great britain to europe. we, that was my two brothers, aunt tania and uncle ita. and now, outside of the car, this man was yelling at my uncle.
now, you have to know that my uncle is a very patient person. you’ll never meet anyone as helpful and selfless as “tio ita”, uncle to us and to basically everyone else he knows. he is the kind of person whom you ask for a lift, and he will take you to your home, even if he wasn’t going in that direction.
so there we are, on the ferry. tio ita calmly asks the aggressor: “did i touch your car?”. the man seemed surprised at the calm and smoothe reaction, and couldn’t do anything but answer: “no.” then, tio ita took us all by surprise, by screaming with all his might and power: “then shaaaaaaaadaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaappppppppp!!!”
my parents split up when i was 4, and before my mother remarried, there were a few years where we were by ourselves – my mother and her three little kiddos. she decided to continue her studies at newbold, about an hour out of london, england. her sister tania was living there, and tania’s husband itamar soon became the chief entertainer for his nephews (a role he hasn’t given up yet, J). i will dedicate a future post to tia tania, but today i want to write about the great ita.
his great gift has always been service. he loves to help, no questions asked. if he can be useful, he will be. it is natural to him that people in need should be helped, and without considering his own conditions, he will help as far as possible – or even further.
he’s also a very authentic human being, not ashamed of what he thinks and who he is. this is a very powerful communication tool, evidenced by the fact that he used to be a hell of a salesman in his day. imagine this: in summer vacation, he would sell books in iceland, and come back with enough money to pay tuition for the whole next school year, plus even by some new stuff, occasionally even a car. and it is this authenticity, willingness to serve and typical tio ita sense of humor that describe him best until today, over 20 years later. and yes, he is still very patient – but don’t bother him when he’s on a wheel of a car; that hasn’t changed either.
this is my special thanks to graaaande tio ita for all he has done for us, specifically for me, and for being an uncle everyone would want to have in their family. he have known me all his life (tia tania too, of course), more than the rest of my family, and i know that he will continue to be very important throughout it. uncle ita, uncle of all, is first and foremost my uncle!!


up to now i have only written about people i have never seen. although i do hope to meet them someday, i am very thankful for the people i have the privilege to know.
friendship comes in different shapes, forms and colors. even more so, if it is a friendship between a boy and a girl, a man and a woman. thinking back, i’ve had some friends that were pretty important to me at the time; and i will write about these special people in the following weeks and months. but there is one person outside of any family bonds that i have known the longest.
summer of 1986. i had been in germany for a full year. 3rd grade was over, i was 8 years old. i had been in love before, believe it or not. in england, over a year earlier; but that is another story, another special person. my family, my father’s brother’s family, his sister-in-law’s sister’s family and a family friends to my father’s sister-in-law (ufa!) went to ile d’oleron, a small island in the atlantic ocean around two hours from bordeaux, france. the kids in those four families numbered ten: the three tscheuschners (mareike, tobias and benjamin), the two witzigs (marcus and sebastian), the three gonçalves (andré, me and leo) and the two pieschkas (michaela and susie). in fact, this was a special summer for me and a memorable one for all these kids, i would guess. but the most memorable thing about those three weeks was… a girl, of course. michaela was one year younger than me. and it seemed that every time we met, there was a definite sense of electricity in the air. we would do stuff together, like playing badminton or looking for stones on the beach, but we wouldn’t talk much. i’ve always been shy, and so was she. but i do remember us looking for each other’s presence, and appreciating it with a quiet feeling of bliss.
this was a strange situation for me. normally, before and after that summer, i would fall for complete strangers, girls i never even talked to. it took four full years (a lot for a young boy) for me to like a girl that i actually spoke to again. but here we were, spending some time together. quietly. with lots of smiles and timid looks.
the summer was over, and my family and me went back to northern germany. we lived in a big village (not big enough to be considered a little town) about an hour from hamburg. michi lived near ludwigsburg, in south germany, where my father’s family comes from. the 650 km distance was enough to damp the summer “affair”, but in some way, the memory was always brought back to life every time we went to visit the family in south germany. normally, the pieschkas would come over, and the kids would be reunited. and, as always in the very quiet, unofficial electricity-in-the-air manner, michi and me would feel connected. at least i felt connected to her, and i’m almost certain it went both ways.
by the time i left germany in the summer of 1993, we still weren’t friends. many things happened during my first full year in brazil, and i admit i had almost forgot about my “old non-friend” when i came back for vacation in the summer of 1994. towards the end of july, though, i was headed to ludwigsburg to visit my family, and in the car on the way to the south, i caught myself thinking of good ol’ michi. there is a big difference from being 8 years old to being 16. i was excited about seeing her again. how would it feel? how would it be?
i was a little surprised to see that it felt… good! really good. the air was still electric, i might even say more than ever. it was only a weekend, with “freibad” (public swimming pool), church and grand prix of hockenheim, but it took me by surprise. michaela had done it again, i found myself very interested in her, thinking about her.
but soon enough, the summer was over, and the distance this time was around 10,000 km. an attempt was made to create a friendship over letters (yep, no emails yet), but somehow things didn’t survive the distance at all. actually, it had changed things. next time we saw each other, in the summer of 1995, there was no electricity in the air for the first time since 1986. only a certain uneasiness. it was kind of sad.
it took another three years for me to visit germany again. my parents had now moved to brazil, and at age 20, i was now responsible for my own plane ticket… . once again, i headed back to south germany, and as it had been since i was eight, i knew that i was going to see michi. now 19 (her birthday is one day after mine), she had been dating a guy for a couple of years. of course this didn’t bother me, because i had no romantic interest in her any more. those interests had been special in the past, but short and far between. i just hoped to be able to have any kind of contact with her; she already was a truly special person to me. and, one day, the opportunity came. i was still shy at that time, but much less than in past years. nevertheless, i had to overcome some fear to approach her. first of all, you never know how things are, what the other person is thinking, if the is even thinking anything. if the history i had with her resembled in any way the history that she had with me. after all, we had never gotten to be friends, even if we had known each other for 12 years by then.
i don’t remember too much of our little talk, as i rarely do. but it is still one of the talks that are most memorable to me, i still can see her, the situation, the emotions. not romantic ones, this time, but really deep friendly ones – almost better than those old romantic ones. electricity in the air, definitely yes. talking to her that evening was very special, and i hoped that we could find a way to somehow remain friends. because, after so many years, that’s what it was seeming we were becoming – really good old friends, in a new friendship. once again, great feeling!
after that, economics (brazil’s and my own) made it impossible to visit germany for quite a while. but it was exactly at this time when michi and me became what we are today – really good and true friends, bound by a strong mutual feeling of wishing the other person well. i can now be glad to say that there is a total trust atmosphere between us, and i am just thankful that our long history has come to the place it is now. it took another three years after our talk in germany for us to really open up as friends do, it was before the summer of 2001, i was 23.
michi is a person that i was in love with when i was eight, that moved me romantically whenever i saw her until i was 16, and now has become one of my most loyal friends. she is very strong, determined, disciplined, caring, unselfish, christian. born in the former czechoslovakia, she is married for quite a few years now and still lives near ludwigsburg. i’ve had the pleasure to see her in my last visit to germany, in 2006. and i hope that i’ll see her every time i go back there. but even if i were never to see her again, i know that i have found an eternal friend in her. and she knows that i will always be there for her, too.
i’ve changed quite a lot over the years, and so has my perception of michaela pieschka. but the positive feelings i’ve always had towards her since the first time we met, they are bound to become stronger and stronger over the years; this is a friendship where time has not taken its toll. that’s why it’s obvious that michi is a very special person to me, and she will always have played a special role in my life.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

close to home

have you ever experienced one of those moments were you feel fully understood? when someone just captured the essence of what you think or feel about something? if you have, you will know that these moments make us feel alive, really there, just simply satisfied, sometimes accompanied by a somewhat funny looking smile on your face, impossible to swipe away. now, let’s push this idea a little further: do you know how it feels when someone says something about life, or love, or you, that you would have never been able to express but that you couldn’t agree more with, almost as if it were your idea in the first place? this feeling is even more special to me than the first one, because at that moment, someone is not only “getting” you, but creating a new dimension of something that you are, think or feel. now, last question: do you believe that this is possible without that person even knowing you?
my answer is yes. and this is the mystery of music. a language that helps define who i am in a way that words couldn’t. when it is used as truthful expression, when it sounds so true to you that you might even catch yourself thinking that you would have put it exactly the same way; this is truth without words, it goes very deep into your heart, and it tells you a lot about who you are – you just can’t put it into words. i am not saying that you can or even should judge people by the music they love; for two reasons: first of all, it’s far too personal for those who actually take music seriously and don’t see it as mere entertainment. and, secondly, what would you be able to say? the language is musical and, in my opinion, any attempt to translate it diminishes it.
around 12 years ago, i was introduced to a guitarist by the name of pat metheny by my older brother andre, who had borrowed a video tape (good ol’ days) from a good friend called saulo. pat will be mentioned later on in this blog for sure, but it was through him that i “met” the one i consider to be my very personal musical soul mate. after the metheny discovery (album “secret story”), i started buying his work, as i usually do when i “find” a musician who speaks to me. one of those first albums goes by the name of “watercolors”, a 1977 pat metheny album, with three musicians collaborating: eberhard weber (bass), from nearby stuttgart (germany, nearby because the album was recorded in ludwigsburg, where my family lives), dan gottlieb (drums) and piano player lyle mays. now, you have to know that piano has always been my favorite instrument. i play the saxophone, which is an instrument i consider quite boring if not used in a meaningful context. but i really admire anyone who has a special gift for piano, which is the richest musical instrument i can think of. and this lyle mays was special. not only because of his incredible technique, but mostly because of his musical sensibility. and once again, not because it was superior, but because it just rang true to me – as if it were my ideas, my opinions, my feelings played by someone else, someone who didn’t even know who i was – but someone definitely special to me. lyle mays solos, and in that album more specifically his interpretation in the last track, “sea song”, reached me at a very personal level. soon, i sought to by his first solo album “lyle mays”, from 1984. i found it in a small music store in rio de janeiro at the end of 1997. for some reason, i’ve always loved the “sus” harmony, it just sounds… i mean, good is not even the word, it’s just kind of me. and that album begins with four “sus” chords. do you remember that smile i was talking about earlier? it was there when i first heard the beginning of that album, and it is there every time i even think of it, even right know writing this.
only many years later would i learn some details of his life. he is, no doubt, a musical genius, never studying the piano and having developed an own, personal technique and touch. he is also somewhat of a math genius, has a family he seems very devoted to, and collaborates with his co-genial musical buddy pat metheny in a way that it makes music critics compare them to the greatest collaborators in music history. lyle mays, his music with the pat metheny group or in other projects, and specially that 1984 solo album have been with me for these last almost 12 years, in very important moments of my life, even in the darkest hours. when i listen to him, it strangely feels like i am understood; it feels like home to me. or at least “close to home”, the last track of that solo album.

number one

ok. i am a math teacher after all, and probability has always been fascinating to me. what is the chance of this or that happening? what is the chance of me getting to know and meeting the exact people that i have met in my life. what are even the odds of being born into my family? well, you might say, you would have known a certain amount of people anyway, and you had to be born into some family, that’s for sure. you had to grow up somewhere, live somewhere, and there you would have to meet people, talk to them, interact with them. not that impossible, is it?
and still i wonder. 6 billion + people on the planet, I might have seen millions of them in my lifetime, noticed maybe almost a hundred thousand, talked to quite a few of them, maybe a few ten thousand. but i can’t say that too many of them have touched me in some way, impacted me, made any kind of difference. some of them are famous, even celebrities. people i’ve never seen or met, but still impacted me somehow. and some of them i’ve known all my life. when talking about them, i will be basically talking about myself, because all of these people had some say in what i have become as a person, and what i will become in future. does that sound as if i am influenced by what other people think? those who know me well will find that strange, since i do tend to be independent in my actions, not caring too much about conventional opinion. but i say that it is impossible to be without influencing others and without being influenced. you just can’t allow yourself to see others as a possible threat or even judge, but as a vital part of your life, an addition; a major addition. people want to be able to be sincere, which is actually just the freedom to be accepted, no matter what you say or do. this need to communicate and to be accepted is proof that we are all connected to each other, and that we need each other. which also means that every day, we have to choose to either help or harm others. because we will be doing one or the other, even if it seems that our actions don’t affect others. and as soon as you choose to be positive about your interactions to others, you will feel how that affects your own happiness – once again, it’s all connected.
that’s why the first person i want to mention in this blog is actually someone i have never seen, but i have often met. he is the greatest celebrity to ever walk the planet, but he still takes a personal interest in me. he has been there for me all my life, and even though i have disappointed him often enough, he has never even considered abandoning me. i owe him big time, and i will never be able to repay him. but that’s okay with him, he’s just waiting for me to love him back. he’s all about interaction and connection, about happiness comes through service, about love to be loved. and because all of this, all there is, all these unwritten rules of life are his idea in the first place, he is most definitely the number one person around. does that sound to good to be true? a personal friend, more loyal and loving than anyone you’ll ever know, being the governor and creator of the universe and everything in it? is that too far away from reality? to mathematically improbable? well, i defy you to try it out – i mean, what is there to lose? i can speak for myself: he is many things, has many nicknames, does the greatest deeds. but for me, my favorite part about my faithful friend is that he is the great connector, the one responsible for me knowing the people i know, loving and being loved by many of those, being defied and challenged by others – he knows this all too well, and he really hopes that i appreciate the opportunity he has given me – to live and to be impacted by others, and to impact them.
that’s why this little blog is an homage to him and the people he has given me; to live my life has been an extremely fascinating experience, thanks to the people i am going to mention in days to come. but let it be said that it is all thanks to the prince of peace. because i am certain that the family i was born into, the people i have met in the places i have been – it is not a mathematical coincidence, it is a gift. and i can’t do anything, i can just say: from the bottom of my heart, thank you. for every day and every moment made special by… special people.

Monday, November 17, 2008


this blog has one main idea: to talk about people that have been important in my life: known or unknown, close to me or people i've never spoken to, family, friends and non-friends.
i trully believe that people are the main source of joy, growth and reason to live, and this is my little homage some of them.

i have chosen to write in english because of my background (having grown up in germnay, lived in brazil for the past 13 years and teaching at an american school). i don't know if anyone will read any of this, but if they do, it should be in the most international language possible.

okay, so here we go...