EU QUERO UM BISCOITO
That means “I want a cookie” in Portuguese. I said these words throughout my grandparents’ home to anyone who would listen, but no one seemed to understand me. I was just a toddler and didn’t comprehend that coming to Wisconsin would be a bit of a language barrier for me. When I was a child, my first language was Portuguese.
My dad was a U.S. Foreign Service officer (now retired), and we lived in Rio de Janeiro at the time. As a small child with two young parents, I spent a lot of time with a babysitter named Merches while they spent time in classes learning Portuguese. She was a friendly young woman who thought she was a mermaid. Made sense to me at the time. I adored her, but she did not speak a word of English. So, the Mermaid and I spent many hours playing games and running around the tiny apartment in Rio speaking only in Portuguese. Eventually, I gave up on English altogether. My parents were fine with my choice as it forced them to practice the language at home. This decision, however, was not helpful to me when we went home to Wisconsin for vacation.
My father is the oldest of seven children. Whenever we returned from another country, the whole family was there to welcome us back to the States. The first real memory I have of one of these homecomings, the entire family surrounded us, laughing and speaking at the same time. I said “Eu quero um biscoito,” and everyone stopped speaking and stared at me. My parents explained what I wanted, and I received a cookie.
The story should have ended here, but my cousins were very amused by my strange language. It was the seventies, and there was not a lot of multiculturalism in Wisconsin. Some people thought we lived in a tree house in Brazil. My older cousins dragged me all around town forcing me to speak in a foreign tongue for the amusement of the town. I didn’t care because I received soda, candy and my true love, cookies for my troubles. But by the time we left Wisconsin to return to our home, I had stopped speaking any language at all. I just grunted and pointed at what I needed. Apparently being an oddity who spoke a foreign tongue made me irritable. Then again, I really have no idea why I stopped speaking.
When I finally began to speak again a few months later, I spoke English, but I often translated the words incorrectly. A family favorite is when I said: “My nose is walking!” I meant “running,” of course, but that didn’t stop my parents from howling with laughter.
Our next destination was Recife (Northern Brazil) in the mid-seventies. We also added a fellow traveler to our group: my sister, who was born in Rio. It was great having a sibling because not only did I have an instant best friend, but we faced each move to another country together.
I grew up in a variety of different nations—Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, and The Philippines. I visited my family in Italy and New Zealand. My life has been pretty spectacular. The experiences in other countries have been life-changing. One moment stands out in my memory of thousands of unique experiences. I went to the mountains of Sagada – a very remote part of The Philippines- where my choir performed for people who didn’t know to clap at the end of a song. That is how far they were from civilization. But the joy on their faces was better than any applause. I feel blessed to look back and see the breadth of culture I have experienced throughout my life.
And what makes it even better is that every single one of those countries makes really excellent cookies.
Have a lovely day!
A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness
Books of Blood – Clive Barker
Carrie – Stephen King
Criminal – Karin Slaughter
Dracula – Bram Stoker
Heart Shaped Box – Joe Hill
IT- Stephen King
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Love You More – Lisa Gardner
Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austin
Stiches in Time – Barbara Michaels
The Iron Druid Series – By Kevin Hearne
The Perfect Husband – Lisa Gardner
The Vampire Lestat – Anne Rice
The Witching Hour – Anne Rice
Weaveworld – Clive Barker
After the Night – Linda Howard
Dance Upon the Air – Nora Roberts
Devil’s Bride – Stephanie Laurens
Dream Man – Linda Howard
He Loves Lucy – Susan Donovan
Heaven, Texas – Susan Elizabeth Phillips
It Had to Be You – Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Jewels of the Sun – Nora Roberts
Mackenzie’s Mountain – Linda Howard
Master of the Mountain – Cherise Sinclair
Outlander Series – Diana Gabaldon
Sex, Lies and Online Dating – Rachel Gibson
Simply Irresistible – Rachel Gibson
Too Much Temptation – Lori Foster
When You Dare – Lori Foster
Questions for Katie: