My American Family – The Dishwasher

american-familythumbnail.jpg “What are you doing?” “What is she doing?” That’s what I heard from Denise and Keith when I was washing the dishes by hand one day, and I replied, in a confusing-sound way, “I’m cleaning the dishes!”. “You’re silly, you don’t have to do it like that, just put it in the dishwasher”, said Denise. Hadn’t they known that I’ve been in the US for 7 years and that dishwashers exist in Brazil (and have existed for many years), I’d have thought that they thought I just came out of the cave.

The things is I never used the dishwasher to wash my dishes! Even though I’ve had it. I have always washed my dishes by hand, and so has our nanny/cleaning lady in Brazil. Which means I was never exposed to the dishwasher and its use and consequently, I don’t even care, or even think, about it.

I’ve been thinking about this for quite sometime now, and I think that one easy way to understand the fact that the dishwasher is not as present in my life as it is at other people’s lives is this: top of mind. The dishwasher is just not top of mind for me when I think about washing dishes, as any other brand would be for any other of my needs/wants. I didn’t grew up with it (we got a dishwasher when I was a full grown teenager), I never used it and I’m so locked into my old habit of doing the dishes by hand (so much to say about habits!) that I won’t use the dishwasher even when it’s readily available to me.

WOW, and then, we marketers, have to think of creative ways to make people behave differently and buy our products! I can testify to it, it’s not easy… no dishwasher manufactured has convinced me, to this date, to use the dishwasher as opposed to my hands. The only thing that came close to me thinking about giving it a try was Grandma Lee’s comment about savings, that I should use the dishwasher “because you save more water”. That got to me… if there’s one thing I don’t like to do, is to waste. I have washed less dishes by hand now; I rinse my dishes and put them either in the sink (my friend said it’s ok, since she also hates when I do it by hand) or straight in the dishwasher.

It’s taken me a while, but I’m breaking an old habit that I thought I could never break.


Soak Up Life… Are They Serious?

images.jpg I saw this commercial for I don’t know what (how sticky was that?) a few weeks back in which a kid is shaking a bottle of soda that abruptly explodes in the whole kitchen flooor, and the mother, who supposedly reprimands the kid, actually joins him in making a bigger mess. Oh… I remember the tag line was “Soak Up Life”. Paper towel perhaps?

I’ve seen many commercials like this one before and I have always thought the same thing: how can the mothers allow their kids to mess up the house like that, and on top of that, join them? Don’t they know how to parent and teach the kids not to dirty the house? (They’re certainly not teaching them anything if they join them.) Are they really such submissive maids? Well, I ponder a lot, especially on such cultural differences like that.

Two things that I don’t see often in Latin America are kids messing up the house like that as if it’s ok (because it really isn’t), and mothers who act like maids.

Call me extremist, I won’t tolerate kids messing up the house like that for me to clean up later! And I do feel sorry for the mothers who let themselves be like that…

Burping… Excuse me??!!!

pdstsmp0006.jpg Oh my gosh, if there’s one thing in this world that I dislike with all my strength is the belching that some American people do in public, in front of others, and almost in your face really!

I don’t know where these people got the idea that it is OK to do that in public, but to me, there’s nothing more disgusting and impolite than that. And, it doesn’t really matter if the “Excuse me” is followed by that gross sound, because that sound wasn’t supposed to come out in the first place. The “excuse me” is really useless and hypocritical because after someone has burped and done what he/she really wanted to do with total disregard for other people around, that only means “I’m going to pretend I care about your presence, even though I don’t because I really want to be a pig and burp in public when I want and where I want”.

I remember numerous times when, shortly after I arrived, I had young, 20-something, American acquaintances over for a get-together and they would burp often, may times, as if they were in their house!!! And mind you that they were only acquaintances, not friends!!!! Needless to say I definitely didn’t pursue a friendship with them.

I’ve heard that burping is OK for many American families… I just don’t understand how that’s OK. Will farting be next? How lovely! I have a wild guess as to why some American families think that that’s OK: some parents don’t want to tell their kids that certain things are not to be done in public as it’s just a matter of common sense and manners, because after all, their kids are individuals (for crying out loud) and they can do whatever they want. Unfortunately, I just think that that’s stupid, that there are ways of developing and encouraging kids’ individuality while teaching them good manners. And… there are also those parents who have no manners either and that’s all they have to teach their kids… very sad, but real.

Burping is so degrading to me that I won’t even get close to a person who does that! I don’t want to be part of your bodily functions! Get away from me! I already have my own do deal with!

Burping being OK for many people here is a major cultural shock that I haven’t been able to deal with, for the life of God! I absolutely refuse to set my mind to a OK mood for that… I just can’t do it, it’s beyond me.

Why? Pourquoi? Perché? ¿Porque? Warum?

blogging.jpg My friend Lolly from Blog Til You Drop!Marketing, Advertising, Branding… Blogging tagged me in the latest meme going around – 5 Reasons Why You Blog.

Reason 1: I feel I have interesting things to say and I would like share those thoughts with other people to start interesting conversations, teach people sometime and learn from them as well.

Reason 2: To socialize/connect and meet other people. I’ve made some very good blogfriends that I hope to meet in person one day.

Reason 3:  To expand my horizons, to make myself create, to make myself write… to push myself just a little bit more.

Reason 4: To stay on top of trends. Blog is a trend on its own and there are also an infinite number of great blogs on any subject one can imagine. It’s an excellent source of top trends.

Reason 5: To market myself, make myself a more appealing and interesting professional.

Now, I’d like to tag these good friends:

Keith from The Temas Blog

Ricardo from Ricardo’s Blog

Franci from Franciov Weblog 

Paul from 8 Wishes

Michael from Own Your Brand

How did your favorite movies do on Oscar’s night?

images.jpg Okay, finally… I’ve been away for too long now and I’ve been tagged twice by two friends, so it’s time to get back to writing. Ricardo tagged me on the fun meme about the Oscar’s night where we list our favorite movies of the big night. Until this weekend, I had only watched one movie, which was Little Miss Sunshine, but now I’ve seen a couple more so I can finally pick my three best.

My three favorite movies were: Babel, The Departed and Little Miss Sunshine.

Babel was just a phenomenal movie in so many levels. It was a different movie in story line and directing, and I tend to love unconventional movies. But the essence of the movie is was I think struck most people: no matter how different we all are, our problems are the same… we just manifest them differently. Not only do we manifest problems differently, we also do love, friendship, violence, sadness, frustration; but in the end, humans are very much alike in basic needs and feelings, we just happen to look different from one another.

The Departed, oh my god, what a movie! I agree 100% that it deserved the Oscar’s for best movie. What a situation, what an excitement, what a cast. This movie was so well made and directed I almost felt I was in it. The plot was extremely intriguing and I couldn’t get enough of it. All in all, superb movie!

Little Miss Sunshine was such a good dark comedy! One easy and entertaining movie to watch and appreciate. I love watching movies about the American culture because I learned so much about this country; and besides, it’s really funny to see such a dysfunctional family in display like that. And I also wind up learning a few good lessons of character and hope and faith from such movies.

I was really happy with how the Oscar’s turn out this year and the ceremony was very cool, and not boring (thank god). Check out the complete list of nominees here.

My American Family – Soccer League

american-family.jpg I haven’t said this before, but I’m in New York now… I moved a few weeks ago to find my dream job in the city and am staying with a friend on Long Island in the meantime. The cool thing is that my friend lives with an American host family. She’s been here forever, so she’s part of the family. This is the first time I’ve lived with an American family and I’m enjoying it to the nth degree! There’s no better marketing than to live what I’m living now. I’ll have so much to write about.

Today I went to watch Brandon play soccer as part of a tournament the schools are having this winter. This was a great American experience for me, since I haven’t done much typical American things since I’ve been here. Not that soccer is an American thing, but the gathering was.

When we got at the high school where the games were being played, we entered this huge high school hall (something I’ve only seen in movies) where all the parents were with their kids taking a break in between games. Next to the corner, there were tables with people behind them selling food: hot dogs, pretzels, “snoco”, popcorn, water, soda and a few more things. I was surprised to see all that food there. My first thought was: “why the food? This is a sports event, you don’t eat when playing.”

When I played volleyball as a kid and competed in tournaments against other clubs, the last thing on my mind, my teammates’ minds and parents’ minds, was food. We got there earlier so we could gather around the coach to concentrate, discuss the strategy and warm up, NOT to eat or even think about it. And eating before playing is also not a good thing to do, so…. I really didn’t understand all the food around.

Well, I do understand it. Events like that are more of a social and entertainment nature (which automatically involves food) than a serious sports competition for both the kids and the parents…  that, in fact, is exactly what I don’t understand! I don’t understand why sports event like that is entertainment here. Sports to me are a serious thing, it takes discipline (which eating before playing is clearly not), it takes concentration and it takes determination, drive to win. I didn’t see any of the three in those kids who played today, which is extremely sad. At one point, the kids were more interested in eating hot dog and pretzels than playing. It scared me. As for the parents, they were also more interested in feeding the kids (and keeping them happy) than they were in giving them moral support, preparing them for the game.

In my days, there was no food. There’s no need for food. We were not there to be entertained; we were there to play and win. We played the best we could; we fought together, we laughed and celebrated together… we cried together. It was about how important the sport and our effort and training were to us. Nothing else mattered.

I miss that, I miss being involved in something that requires discipline, commitment and determination… and not something that’s turned into silly entertainment. I quite don’t get why people here are so driven by just “having fun” as opposed to playing seriously, with your heart and soul. When you put your heart and soul into the game, it’s way more fun and rewarding!

The Curse of the Lottery

lottery.jpg The other day, I was watching the E! channel (yeah, I watch this wonderful channel sometimes when I’m sick) and the THS (True Holywood Story) program was on and the topic was The Curse of the Lottery, which was about regular folks who won the lottery and their lives (rather contorted) after that.

The title of the program just gives it away… those people who won the lottery went crazy spending all the money and quickly went back to having nothing. Aaaannnddd, it’s a curse that some-invisible-body put on those people and caused them to spend all their money! How non-sensical is that?

I perfectly understand that people can make bad financial decisions and go wild with so much money, BUT it’s their own doing, nobody forced them to do so, nobody was cursed to so such thing. Most of the time people don’t know any better, financially speaking, and think that the money will last forever… I feel sorry for them, but it’s their responsibility to manage their money wisely (or not, if they so wish) and not blame the curse for their wrongdoing. I’m pretty sure that the winners themselves don’t blame any curse for their lost money, but the media did and I just think that’s irresponsible and annoying.

The whole country is pointing the blaming finger at somebody else, whether is the war, the deficit, the obesity crisis, the educational system and so on, that we don’t need another display of irresponsible behavior being glamourized by the media. But, I know, that’s business as usual… This program really got me thinking about this growing inconsequential attitude and irresponsible (and quite arrogant) behavior I see often on TV and on the streets. Just think about Cops and Judgy Judy!

What happened to those nice and responsible Americans? Vanished? It just worries me that we have gone from picture perferct to a twisted one in a short period of time… and things are likely to continue getting stranger and stranger…