Like many artists I was a miserable child. I was born
in Rio de Janeiro. Between 2 and 3 years old, my
mother got sick with what they thought was lung
cancer. She could not take care of me, and she had
just had my younger sister.
I was sent to my Aunt's house in Mississippi. I did
not speak English, and most nights I woke up
screaming, 'BEESHU (phonetic spelling) which
meant bogeyman in Portugese.
My mother's lung mass turned out to be tuberculosis.
She was given a new lease on life, and 3 months
after I'd been sent away to a foreign country (the U.S.)
where they spoke a foreign language (English)
I was reunited with my parents in the States.
They had moved back. In 3 months I had forgotten
all my Portugese and spoke only English. I was clearly
depressed, and after that I was a mess. I was teased a
lot, and my misery was what made me feel special.
I often cried myself asleep. My mother would come
sit on the edge of my bed, trying to figure out what
to do. I took a perverse pride in the other kids not
liking me and thinking I was weird.
Then one day I was walking up the hill to a neighbor's
house. I often picture myself pushing a bike on this
occasion, but I don't think I actually was. Out of the
blue I thought, "Do you really want to be like this -
miserable - the rest of your life?" I was a little
surprised to realize that the answer was no.
Things didn't suddenly get easier for me overnight.
I continued to struggle, but it was the turning point
of my life - alone on a hill when I asked myself a
question and was surprised to find over the next few
months and years that the answer meant something.