Mr. Trophy Mom

Posted by len on October 4th, 2007

For those that knew me in one of my past lives you may be surprised to learn I am now a Mr. Mom (minus the kids). I work from home, prepare most the meals, and, yes, look up recipes on the internet without my wife prodding me. What has happened?

Well I live in Lisbon, Portugal, and my wife works as an English teacher a few metro stops from our apartment. So after a quick coffee (made in a stovetop espresso machine, 1850’s technology) and some cereal or an egg with our dwindling supply of JD’s hot sauce on it, I’m alone at home. Two ratty windows overlooking the simultaneously beautiful and run-down city-scape of the southeast corner of Lisbon provide most of the light in our reasonably spacious 3 bedroom apartment.

Each day I try to make headway on a number of projects, the two most significant of which are a cartoon television series that I’m trying to launch (for American audiences, though I’ll take Portuguese if that’s what I get) and a paid project working for the U.S. Navy on water simulation graphics (sometimes they’re almost indistiguishable. No just kidding). This ‘freelancer’ lifestyle is a major change for me. I’m used to a 9 to 8 job, with supervisors and meetings and the like. I’ve come to think of it as a ‘semi-retired’ lifestyle since the number of hours of continuous work I seem to be able to coax out of my body without supervision is far short of a 9 to 8 work day.

One of the sort of sad things I’ve discovered about working in a foreign country is how little the fact that you’re in a foreign country matters most of the time. If my nose is buried in my computer for hours a day I could just as well be in a closet as in Portugal (or Morocco, or Cairo). Though there are those little moments where my mind simply demands that I take a walk and get out of the apartment. Then I see in the distance a castle on a hill surrounded by a swath of green and the telltale red-clay rooftops of Portuguese houses. If I feel the urge to really procrastinate I’ll sit in a local cafe in the afternoon and listen to the mostly-gibberish that Portuguese still sounds like to me. Just a day ago, a block from my house, I stopped for a quick “cafe pingado” (espresso with a small shot of milk) and two old Portuguese men were standing at the cafe counter (which is typical in Portugal), being served white wine from an unlabeled bottle hidden under the counter, chatting with the owner, also a withered Portuguese man.

33 Responses to “Mr. Trophy Mom”

  1. Heather Says:

    Work is work. In LA, Portugal, Hawaii. Being in a different, exotic place is a charge of energy and an easy distraction. Work is really a distraction from the place, not the other way around.

    Anyway,I’m betting they don’t have Hamburger Helper in Portugal, so whatcha been cooking?

  2. JD Says:

    Sounds like you need to be hooked up! What’s the best way to get some sauce to Portugal?

    You might want to look at selling the sauce on the streets of Lisbon! We can take over all of Europe, maybe even Hawaii!

  3. Sina Says:

    I leave some saludos on your side since that is just about the same way that I feel about Chile right now. It’s really tough to get to know locals (without understanding them even harder).
    Anyway, like my friend always tells me: things that can’t bring you down make you touhger and even wiser!
    Much love

  4. sue Says:

    Our landlord last week replaced our stove that didn’t have a functional oven, so tonight we had pizza and salad. Last week Len made a lovely soy sauce and ginger-marinated pork roast. Otherwise, we eat lots of pasta or rice and sauteed meat and vegetables. (So, mostly the same things we ate when we had a much fancier kitchen!)

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