Chileans have this saying: “Pasamos Agosto.” We lived through, or passed, August. The saying goes that if you live through August, it means you’ll live a whole other year. That’s something to get excited about, right?
When I first moved here I was still stuck on what each month meant in terms of the Northern Hemisphere. August was back-to-school month. It marked the end of summer. It was when, in San Francisco at least, the weather improved and summer really started. What was the big deal about August and why were Chileans so “relieved” and happy that it was over?
Five years later (and a terrible 2014 thus far) I get it.
In Chile, the months ranging from March to August are rather dreadful, really. January and February are officially summer months. That means many things, including less smog in our lungs (the heat rises and carries all dirt and grit above our noses so that we aren’t directly breathing it in) and lighter traffic as families plan their typical two week’s vacation between these two months, it means the roads are far less stressful and the commuting times are lessened. Children aren’t straddled and choked in school uniforms and are, instead, running free, enjoying themselves and laughing. The sun shines every day and with the sun, happiness and optimism tends to run rampant.
Naturally, then, March through August are the complete opposite. Days are dreary, either with overcast or rain, but mostly just overcast. This means that the pollution that penetrates every fiber of this city is actually sitting down low at nose-level. This leads to not only shivering bodies because of the brisk weather but also respiratory illnesses that come and go all winter long (product of the smog we’re constantly inhaling.) The streets are jam-packed with cars, honking like jerk offs and driving like the monkeys in “Jumanji.” The days are short, with sunset anywhere between 6:00-6:30 pm… that leaves a huge window of opportunity for petty (and major) crime because with the sun gone, the anti-socials find the guts and the means to scare us silly. Kids are in school, bored, tormented, wishing for summer vacation.
August is the very last month of this dastardly torture. If you lived through all the previous months, still breathing and still going, you have it made because next month is September and September marks the beginning of happiness of all Chileans.
September brings us Chilean Independence Day and this means three-to-four days off just to party. “Yay, we aren’t linked to those crazy Spaniards!” September is met with relief, optimism, excitement and the thrill that comes with planning any mini-vacay, no matter the destination (down the street or the Caribbean.) After that, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to December, which brings us Christmas and New Year’s (more festivities) and then yipppeeeeeeee, January and February – vacay months! In between we have longer days (sunset around 8:00 – 8:30 pm) and warmer weather, all which makes us as happy as little girls!
For personal reasons, I just can’t WAIT to get through August. I truly believe that once August is over, my own personal version of 2014 will drastically improve. Call me crazy, but I honestly have a gut feeling about this. After breaking my nose almost three weeks ago due to a crazy, split-second decision that involved me lunging after Obi to take something away from him, which resulted in my crashing directly into a cement pot with my nose, I decided that was the bottom of the barrel this year.
Between surviving the most agonizing, bully-infested, confidence-busting, professional experience of my life, to finding out and coping with the fact that my beloved pet is epileptic, to failing over and over again at landing interviews between endless job applications (and when I did manage an interview, failing miserably at landing the actual job!), I proceeded to break my nose …. after that, I decided, quote boldly, really, that THAT was it. August was the end of it. In fact, August was going to be the transition month – the month when things were manageable, even if they weren’t amazing or even great.
But come September…. the world is mine.
Or at least, the tides will have turned in my favor. Just you wait.
I’m only kind of kidding, of course. I’m sure Bret Michaels has a ton to teach us about beating the odds given he has the worst kind of diabetes known to man and he still finds energy, health and time to dedicate to what he knows best: music, supporting our troops and veterans and canoodling with 80s-haired wanna-be vixens. Seriously, more power to him. [Side note: I own all three seasons of Bret Michael’s Rock of Love. Chew on THAT.]
It’s been THREE WHOLE MONTHS since I quit that painful excuse for a career move and I’m still right where I was on March 1st. I mean, I guess I’ve grown somewhat: I’ve meditated over the experience, did the due diligence of finding the moral lesson in the HUGE fail I had to endure, have beaten myself up and consoled myself a dozen and one times and have gone to and fro with lamenting and redeeming myself. The moral of the story is this: I totally and completely fucked up, reacted hastily to an expired situation and, because of the frustration this invoked, was blinded into thinking that the first company to come along and court me WAS INDEED MY SAVING GRACE. By accepting all the glorious things they offered, I’d show ex-company what I’m worth and man, won’t they be sorry to see me go.
Well we all know how THAT worked out.
If my ex-company ever lamented that I left, I never knew about it. Though I suspect that my wise ex-boss surely saw me making this mistake as it was happening and, in her age and the infinite wisdom associated with her life experiences, she probably hoped for the best for me but surely thought I was being impulsive. And then she probably concluded that she didn’t want such an impulsive wreck to continue to run her business in Chile. So a pat on the back and “good luck to you” it was. As a person she was probably sad to see me go, but as a business woman she concluded that I had made my decision and life would go on.
Lesson learned: I was defiant. I acted impulsively. I was immature. I was all ego.
I crossed into what I thought was my field of dreams. All I had ever hoped for in structure, in organization, in position, in teamwork. Only to realize that NOTHING was as it had been promised and what had been painted to me on the outside was merely an illusion … or a wish list of where they wanted to be but had failed repeatedly to achieve. No ONE person was going to achieve that for them when the organization was screwed up, from the leader downward. Good people, talented even. But so much more to accomplish and, truth be told, a little fishy that as a group they still failed repeatedly to accomplish their wish list. I bowed out in the nick of time.
Lesson learned: I left more humbled than I’ve ever been in my life. I remain as humbled. I lost faith in teamwork; I lost faith in myself. I doubted myself. I beat myself up for making such a terrible mistake. I felt sorry for myself. All of this (and more) has made me pick myself up. Has made me push aside all the negativity, all the doubts, all the fears. A calloused me has emerged.
I’m less likely to be as impulsive now. I’m more apt to listen than to speak. I’m asking more questions and pushing for answers if something seems fishy. Unfortunately I’m also probably way more skeptical than ever before. I believe the word I’m looking for is tainted.
So why Bret Michaels, really?
All of the above has happened internally (obviously), while on the outside I’ve been on multiple job interviews. Some that have really, really interested me, others which I was quite skeptical about. Thus far, none have panned out. This in and of itself is hard on the self esteem. Some days turn into weeks and I realize that I’ve had no solid leads in well over double digit days. I fear becoming a has-been. I fear becoming irrelevant. I have images of turning 45 and realizing that I never worked again… I never dominated my area/project/division/what-have-you, again. Never killing it again. Add the stress of having one demanding toddler who at times flies off the handle to such an extent, I’m left wondering if I’m even losing at this whole parenting thing. Add a newly diagnosed epileptic dog. Add a traveling husband who is here only sometimes (and Murphy’s Law has it that he’s gone when shit truly hits the fan.)
Nothing is the end of the world, but every little thing adds up. And the thoughts that swirl in one’s own mind can be such ball busters.
Bret Michaels wasn’t necessarily impulsive in his decisions on Rock of Love. In fact, in the first season, everyone was sure he’d pick Heather. She seemed like the obvious choice as she was so much more his style and vibe (fake boobs and all!) Instead he picked Jes. Jes was cute, spunky, smart – the kind of girl other girls want to be friends with. Good decision. Smart, reliable. BUT SO NOT BRET MICHAELS! He made a safe decision, but not a decision that Bret himself could truly commit to … and he didn’t! Because then came Season 2 of Rock of Love. In what we now know to be typical Bret style – he likes the party girls and the centerfold types for a little while. But when it comes down to it, Bret is a man of substance. Again he floored us by not choosing Daisy and going with Ambre! The smart, flat-chested, career oriented girl that again, all girls would love to befriend! Then, out of nowhere, in Season Three he went COMPLETELY AGAINST everything we knew about him and he chose Taya instead of Mindy! Mindy – the all American girl!! Taya – literally the Penthouse something or other. I was totally distraught with that decision because Taya played it up that she was a lady and that all her Penthouse “spreads” were done “in taste.” She portrayed herself to be one way but really, she was as trashy as the rest! I’m disgusted just remembering ….
All of the above has nothing to do with my life lessons learned in the past six months. What I mean when I say I’m going to channel Bret Michaels, I really mean that I find solace in Poison’s song “Something to Believe In.” It reminds me that there are bigger problems out there, but I also know that we all have our own battles and we all need a little something to believe in everyday. Sometimes a good song is all you need to soothe a dark moment just enough. Once it’s over, you find you’re on the other side of the dark moment and able to keep on moving.
Yesterday I found myself moving around quite a bit. As I’m unemployed, surely this may come as a surprise (or not, if you work inside the home). Between the gym, checking in on the repair of an appliance, grocery shopping and even an impromptu lunch with some ex-coworkers, I didn’t get home until well into the late afternoon.
I walked in loaded with grocery bags and barely able to open the door. It was weird that my dear little Obi didn’t bark when I opened the door and even weirder that he didn’t come to greet me immediately. I didn’t think much of it because it’s been known to happen when he’s taking a nap or out on a walk with our trusted nana.
Not a minute had passed – I had just plopped all the bags on the kitchen table – when I heard a repetitive thump, thump, thump coming from our bedroom. When I walked in I found myself facing one of the most gut-wrenching, frightening and most devastating things I’ve ever seen: my sweet little Obi in the midst of a seizure. His head was trapped between our large, wooden television stand and the wall and since he was convulsing, he was repeatedly banging his head between the two. He was salivating PROFUSELY (more than what’s normal for bulldogs), stiff-legged and unresponsive. I ran to get my nana, yelling and freaking out “What’s wrong with Obi?” and together we went back to the bedroom and watched in horror as Obi just kept convulsing. We were both in tears, repeating his name “Obi, Obi, baby, what’s wrong?”
Weird things happen to me when faced with something so intense. For instance, my mind races but my body doesn’t react. I don’t get an adrenaline rush or physically FREAK out. I picked up the phone and dialed our vet (who’s incidentally seen Obi since he was 4 months old). He immediately told me that, from what I was explaining, Obi was having a seizure. As I was talking to him, trying to make sense of what was going on, Obi suddenly stopped moving and just went limp. This is when I freaked out because I honestly thought Obi had died.
Thank God he didn’t die. As if someone had jump-started his battery, suddenly he sat up and started barking at us – aggressively. He then started pacing frantically all over the apartment, drooling extensively and even urinating in the kitchen (something he never, ever does now that he’s an adult). His erratic behavior was confusing and it was daunting. He didn’t seem like his regular self and he seemed on edge. Then, within a minute of all this chaos and uncharacteristic behavior, he began wagging his tail and started to recognize us, returning to the lovable Obi we all know.
All this time, I was on the phone with our vet. Poor guy, I’m sure it was awful to receive that phone call now that I think about it. But I’m thankful that he was there for us and that he proceeded to tell me exactly what I needed to do – basically scoop him up and immediately take him to the vet to have him hospitalized. Tests needed to be run and Obi needed to be in observation. Seizures were known to repeat themselves.
So where do we stand now? What’s going on with Obi as I write this blog post?
He’s at the vet and we’re waiting to hear back on various tests that were administered yesterday. In addition, we’re waiting for a neurologist to see him (hopefully today) so that we can have a more precise indication if this is something related to ingested toxins (i.e. chocolate for example!!), something dietary or, worse, something related to his nervous system or brain. And so we wait.
Meanwhile, I’m overrun by a heaviness that I can’t shake. Why is Obi having such a hard time? Yes, I know he’s a bulldog and bulldogs are known to have a million problems, but there are also bulldogs who have minimal problems and go on to live 9-10 years (unfortunately the life expectancy of this breed is quite short in comparison to other breeds.) Obi’s just four years old and already he’s had hip surgery and now this. A deep hollow and unrelenting sadness is the only way I can describe how I feel today.
And since I realize I can’t stop living or moving because of this (even though what I really want to do is just curl into a ball and sleep), I wanted to at least remind myself of a few, very important things to remember today:
Right now, at this very moment, Obi is alive and had what the vets are saying, a “very good,” seizure-free night
Put make up on. You may feel like you don’t care about anything but don’t go about your day with that kind of face
Go ahead and drink that second cup of coffee but don’t substitute it for breakfast. You may not be hungry but at some point you will be.
Keep looking for and applying to jobs. You still need to work even if right now you just want to snuggle with your dog.
Remember the life you’ve given Obi, full of comforts, full of love. How many dogs would be happy with just a fraction of what Obi receives everyday?
Remember Obi is in good hands. These are the same people that operated his hip and he’s fully recovered from that!
Get up, get your keys, grab your purse, leave the house and do the favor your husband asked of you. He’s your unwavering support during this heavy, uncertain time and he needs help planning his mom’s birthday celebration this coming weekend.
Stop convincing yourself that outside sources are “cursing” you and now the people (and dogs) you love. Stop that right now. Don’t give anyone that control! Who are you anyway, believing such folklore?? Just stttttoppppppp.
Yes you’re unemployed, yes your dog is sick. Yes 2014 has been shitty so far (between starting the year with our baby in the emergency room, my birthday sans husband because he was on a two-week business trip, horrid new job experience, subsequent push to quit, taking forever to find a new job, hearing how at my ex job the person who now has my position is being given allowances I was repeatedly denied … and now sweet little Obi having such a hard time…). Yes 2014 has been trying and not-so-stellar on the ego and self confidence. Remember that all of the ego related grievances DON’T MATTER when the people – and dog – you love aren’t well and happy. That’s the priority.
Remember to trust. Trust God, trust life, trust that things happen for a reason. Trust that Obi will be ok. Know that he won’t be around forever, but right now, trust he’ll get through this.
Remember to pick yourself up. If you don’t you’ll find yourself (figuratively) draped over the floor and people need you. Your daughter needs you.
**UPDATE** (June 4, 2014)
Several weeks have passed and it’s been overwhelming and stressful (to say the least.)
Without going into too much detail, Obi had two more seizures after the one I wrote about here and after another stint at the vet, more tests and another visit with the neurologist, he was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy on May 14, 2014 (two days after his last seizure.)
It’s actually kind of funny that the diagnosis of having idiopathic epilepsy means he has seizures but the cause is unknown. It could be from something he ate, something he experienced or something he underwent (surgery for example) and it could be as recent as last month or as far back as three years ago. Who knows?
I started a journal of his day-to-day so as not to invade this blog with the craziness that is occurring with Obi right now. For those interested you can read his story here – PASSWORD bulldog. I appreciate all the concern and the messages everyone sent! Means a lot! Thanks so much!
It wasn’t so long ago that I was obsessed with replaying in my mind what went wrong at my last job. After just three months there, I felt forced to quit because the environment was, to say the very least, becoming quite hostile. For a while, all the events that led up to this once unfathomable action pretty much haunted me. How did this happen? How did I get here? Or just … why? I’ve literally never quit ANYTHING in my life. Not one thing, least of all a job, and trust me, I’ve had some pretty hideous and tortuous jobs in my lifetime. I’m just not the quitting kind (not that anyone in their right mind would describe themselves as such.) I’ve endured pathetic relationships with past boyfriends that were (and are) complete losers just because I’m the kind of person that seriously sticks it out until the end. I’m pretty much that way with everything and this is the reason why my sudden unemployment because I quit my job just slapped me in the face over and over again until recently.
In any case, after prolonged consideration (or, obsessive thinking as my husband would say) I realized that the main reason I didn’t succeed at that company came down to one fact: not a single woman at that company had my back in any way, shape or form. Furthermore, the one woman who was tasked with guiding me and downloading all pertinent information to assure my assimilation and subsequent success, seemed to have “forgotten” to do so, leaving me to connect the dots on my own, grasping for answers in an environment I wasn’t familiar with and on several occasions, throwing me to the wolves as she sat on the sidelines and watched me pretty much falter miserably. Most of the time and generally speaking, she wasn’t a bitch and she wasn’t mean, but that’s how they come, you know. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. The fact of the matter is that she had the roadmap to my initial success in that position but she never handed it to me or even REMOTELY shared it with me and I now believe she did this on purpose. Why would someone act this way? Why – considering the long process of recruiting me, where she herself also participated in the interview process – would she simply decide not to share valuable information with me and just watch me cave, day after day?
Maybe the reasons are obvious:
1) I’m a decade younger than her
2) I have two university degrees, she didn’t have even one
3) I speak two languages fluently, she doesn’t
4) I’ve traveled the world, she’s traveled the country
5) She wanted the position I was hired for
6) In general I’m just a happier person
The first four points above are facts and the last two are subjective – some half ass reasons that make me out to be no better than her, really. But even if these reasons and many more were ALL TRUE, all I can think is: WTF?
Why don’t we, as women, help each other out?
I’m not free of fault either.
A few months ago I met one of G’s female colleagues at one of his company events. She and G basically have equal positions but at different companies and my first impression of her was that I just didn’t like her. Now that I think about it – WHY didn’t I like her? She seemed ballsy. She didn’t really talk to me, she just talked to G the entire time. She didn’t seem friendly. She seemed crass. And so on and so on and so on. A few months later G and I were invited to a work-related wedding (if that makes sense) and his colleague was also there. As fate would have it, she and her sig other sat with us at the same table. In fact that table included a few board of directors from both companies and the conversation was just as monotonous as you are probably imagining it… but you know what I realized in the hour I sat with her at that table, watching and hearing them all talk about the day-to-day business: holy sh*t it must be so hard for her to have this leadership position in a male dominated company, where she’s a relative newbie and all these men have been there for 10+ years (including G.) I suddenly not only had mad respect for her but I also felt kind of bad for her. Here I was, judging her and immediately not liking her, when it really came down to it, I’ve always encountered her surrounded by aggressive male peers and I’m thinking – that’s sure to mess with your friendly bedside manner when it comes to meeting new people, I’m sure.
It’s happened to me on both sides and I know it’s happened to other women I know. An expat friend, with toddler in tow, trying to enjoy a dinner date with another girlfriend and having to endure menacing glances from an older lady next to her just because her toddler was surely acting like a toddler usually behaves (I know because I have one of my own.) The older lady’s stance was simply “People shouldn’t bring their kids to dinner.” Forget any kind of human compassion for the stress she seemed to have caused my friend with her evil stares and tsks tsks. Maybe in that lady’s mind, women with children just shouldn’t go out if they don’t have anyone to leave their kid with. “You’re a mom therefore your life should just revolve around your kid and don’t even think about having a good time, least of all with that little one in tow. Oh, you want to try to have it both ways, baby and a nice dinner, well I’m going to stare you down all night and let you know I’m totally against you, your baby and your decision to eat out, how ’bout that? Make you think twice about doing that again.” Thanks lady… thanks for having our backs. Being a mom isn’t hard and unrelenting as it is. Now we can count on glares from women who seem to have forgotten that we’re people too. Fuuuuuuuuuun!
All of my best girlfriends have dealt with “evil women” out to get them at work. Some of my friends can take it with a grain a salt, a la “sorry you’re so insecure that you have to hate on me but I’m going to keep being the mad baller that I know I am! Have fun hating me for no good reason!” While others, like myself, have a hard time not getting worked up by these “evil” women. An article I once read talked about three reasons women were hard on women at work: competitive threat, collective threat and favoritism threat. You can take the time to read the short article but basically it’s about feeling threatened that in some way, someone is going to be better than you. If it’s a guy, fine – that’s expected, but if it’s a woman –> Oh hellllllll nooooooooooo. And thus, the evil woman at work is born.
The fact of the matter is that there will always be someone better than you out there, be it a man or a woman. The sooner we come to terms with that fact, the better off we’ll be.
So should we go around supporting women and their sometimes dumb and inexplicable antics just because we’re women and we need to stick together? Um, no. Respect, as we’ve all learned in our lives, needs to be earned. But geez, give a woman a chance to prove herself! Let’s be open to helping out, free of judgement and with an open mind. People are different and that difference sometimes compliments us. Let’s be open to learning new things and how about being patient when people don’t necessarily know the same things we know. Let’s share knowledge, how ’bout that? Geez Louise, let’s be human. It’s about putting yourself in another person’s shoes.
Let me tell you, if that woman at that company where I quit had been remotely willing to share knowledge, remotely willing to hear and implement my knowledge and just a tad bit less threatened by whatever it was that threatened her with my presence, I truly believe I wouldn’t be where I am right now. If she would have just realized I was on her team… But in the end, I learned a valuable lesson – I learned that I never, ever, want to be like that. Ain’t nobody got time for that nonsense.
I have mad respect for those moms that choose to stay home with their kids. I’m about six weeks into my unemployment and being at home with little human is a job that requires some tough skin. After about two hours with her inside I need to set her free or she turns into a Tasmanian devil that just rips through our apartment, leaving remnants of what used to be a cozy place to live. Where does all this energy come from, I ask you?
In any case, it’s not so bad. She’s mine and when I think back to the reasons why I actively chose to be in this unemployment scenario, even on the worst days I sit back and think “would I take it all back just to be working there again?” Then I immediately find myself in my “ooooom” place and realize that the best decisions have already been made.
BUT (of course there’s a but … hello – don’t you know me at all by now?)
There are women who choose to be stay-at-home moms (or as I like to say, moms who work inside the home) and there are moms who choose to be moms and work jobs outside the home. I’m one of those moms. See, my career has always been part of who I am and how I project myself. I worked to put myself through college, then did a post-grad degree in a totally different country (NO EASY FEAT) and in between all that, worked my ass off to do the best I could in each and every company I’ve ever had the privilege to belong to. My identity is very linked to who I work for, what I do and what I’ve accomplished in that part of my life. No, it’s no my entire identity, but it’s a good part of who I am and I like that. After all, how can I justify working so hard for something only to regard it as a necessary evil?
So you can understand why I’m about to go apeshit on the fact that I’ve been unemployed this long!
In my head (obviously) I consider the appropriate amount of time to be unemployed to be three weeks. After that you begin to get antsy and it really does a number on your self worth. Finding a job in Chile isn’t easy. This is something I mentioned a few years ago but wanted to write a blog entry about this because things have changed SO MUCH in the past few years! Don’t get too excited because the psychological tests are still a headhunter’s (or HR Manager’s) favorite tool, though I’ve noticed that in the past few years the weight these carry on determining if you’ll be a fit for a certain position has lessened. Kind of like when colleges stopped focusing so much on your grades and SAT scores for admission and started wondering what else you were about. See, they matter, but not as much as they once did.
There are a couple of standard go-to options for job searches here in Chile. The two main sites are Trabajando.cl and Laborum.cl. LinkedIn has also turned out to be a good resource for job postings though they tend to be jobs that require at least 2-3 years of work experience. Also, something I realize now that I didn’t know then is how prevalent headhunters have become for mid-to-senior positions. Most of my experience with these headhunters has come from their searches on LinkedIn and my profile popping up as an answer to all their human resources needs. Of course there is the traditional option of submitting resumes directly via each company’s website but to be honest, I’ve yet to hear about anyone landing a job – even an interview – via that apparently antiquated method so if you’re going to choose that route, do us a favor, don’t hold your breath.
Finally, the most effective way to land an interview here in Chile, or anywhere else for that matter, is the famous “pituto.” How can I describe a pituto, you ask? Listen, you want a job in social media? My good friend’s cousin is CEO at this company and all you need to do is email me your resume and I’ll pass it on to my friend. She’ll then send it on to her cousin, the CEO, who’ll send it on to the HR Manager and – viola!!! – an email summoning you for an interview will magically appear in your inbox before 9 am tomorrow morning. No problem!
Notice that I said that’s the most effective way to land an interview. Actually getting to the offer letter part is something you still have to do all by yourself. Interviewing is an art, really, and one you need to be prepared to do over and over and over, then over, again here in Chile. If you’re using a headhunter (and most well-known, and even lesser known, companies do use them) you need to charm him/her. They’re all business and, in my experience, range from the kind who know the client (your future company) and the position like the back of their hand to the waaaaaaaay other extreme –> kind of making it up along the way as the interview progresses. Whatever the case may be, the important thing to remember is that this mastermind who single-handedly picked you as a possible candidate is the very first person you need to charm. If you’re able to do that then you’re more likely to be pimped out to the client as “the one” they just “have to meet.” This is good. You want this to happen. The fact of the matter is that to the headhunter, you’re their meal ticket if all goes well. Unless you’re a total bonehead, chances are you can convince the headhunter that you can get the job done. After all, that´s their calling – selecting talent from a pool of equally talented people.
One thing I’ll never get use to however is how slow the process can be. Even if you’ve interviewed and they’ve decided that you’re simply NOT the chosen one, it seems to be standard operating procedure to just not fill you in on that useful piece of information. You’re left thinking you totally nailed it and are pretty confident the next interview will occur within the week. But that week passes, then another one and another one. At this point you’ve pretty much given up all hope that you’ve been selected but decide to give it one more shot and email the headhunter just to see “how the process is going.” And still – NOTHING. Not even an awkwardly worded email apologizing for the delay in response due to a sick distant cousin that took a turn for the worst and prompted an unscheduled flight to the south of Chile. Just nothing. SO UNPROFESSIONAL and in fact, totally insulting! What the hell do they think I’m going to do?? Freak out about their lack of response on my own personal blog??? I mean … c’mon… I’m not that kind of working woman…. what?
Ah… but in all seriousness, looking for a job in Chile is not for the faint of heart. The Chilean market is fierce and it’s demanding. It’s better now, especially for expats. It used to be that if you weren’t an “ingeniero” this or that, your resume would be tossed aside. It also used to be that you absolutely 100% had to have work experience in the exact same way, shape and form as the position the potential company is looking to fill – no deviations, no excuses, stop asking! I think that with the globalization that Chile has experienced, the economic boom that’s been assisted by external investors and the sought-after companies that are looking to expand into LatAm and seeing Santiago as a fresh and viable option, Chile has had no choice but to open up to outsiders. I’m sorry Chilean workforce, but I refuse to believe you’re another Core Club.
What’s the secret to landing a job in Chile? I don’t know. I’m gliding along the usual ropes in this wild jungle. I’m looking at the websites mentioned above, checking out what’s on tap on LinkedIn, networking and literally making myself available. I think I have a lot to offer (and so do my ex bosses, as all of them serve as professional references – how ya like them apples?) and I’m trying not to limit myself. I think the main thing to keep in mind is that you’ll win some and you’ll lose some. There are some things you’re definitely not qualified to do (hi, spleen doctor, anyone?) but in general, you just have to let go of the inhibitions and send resumes for positions you really believe you can do and do well. If the other side doesn’t think so, meh … let them keep looking for their miracle cure. Meanwhile you’ll be growing hair on your chest and becoming a total pro at this job market search in Chile. I totally feel it!
I just found myself googling, “At the end of the day, what was it all for?” Very Carrie Bradshaw of me.
What was I expecting? A pop-up that said “Andrea, the reason you left your job at ACME Co. only to fall into the worst possible scenario at the new job, that left you no other choice but to quit three months later because you couldn’t deal with the lack of professionalism and you now find yourself unemployed, which wasn’t part of the plan is because ___________ .” OH SNAP! No such pop-up appeared.
That’s what happened, you know. For the sake of privacy and of course, for the sake of my future career, I can’t spare details (that is, until my blogging becomes a career in and of itself, then hell yeah, I’m telling everybody, everything!) Right now, all you really need to know, I guess, is that I’m currently unemployed. Or “in-between jobs” as we like to say in the U.S. Or actively participating in the interview process of various companies. Not working. Against my will not working.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! – I repeat this in my head several times a day, like some kind of frantic teenager who thinks she has no control over her life and what happens to her.
When I left “ACME” (because obviously I’m not going to tell you the actual name of the company I used to work for – duh!), I remember feeling that I didn’t really want to leave, not truly in my heart. I liked it there. I may have even loved it. To this day I feel that the company’s values, traditions, processes and way of thinking are completely aligned with mine. I remember thinking “please, give me a sign, say SOMETHING, ANYTHING resembling a suggestion that I stick around.” The only thing I got from them was “You could have stayed through Christmas. Leaving before then just seems wrong. Can’t you quit in January?” Obviously I couldn’t stay.
Companies are run by people. People are proud and people are stubborn. I’m not saying that my ex company’s people were either of those but I AM saying that I certainly was both of those. I was stubborn in that I wouldn’t accept, in any way, the limitations they were putting on me and my team. I was proud in that I wanted to show them that someone else wanted me and the offer was so great, I was willing to leave prior to Christmas (just a hint, I worked in retail and Christmas for retail is JACKPOT CITY.)
Now that I’m unemployed, looking for work, sometimes with the success of an interview, sometimes not, I wonder, what was it all for? Why did I leave in pursuit of greener pastures when at the end of the day, the greener pastures didn’t exist? Was I proud or was I right in wanting to leave because the way things were being run (and are currently run) didn’t add up? Was my boss proud for never once asking me “what can we do to keep you?” Am I too proud for even thinking/writing that?
Just so you know (and because this is my blog), I miss my job at ACME. I miss the people, I miss the operations and I even miss my boss. I also remember that I hated a lot of things, mainly the cluelessness from abroad and the way I felt my team was exploited. Maybe I was right to leave for the promise of greener pastures. Maybe now that I have nothing I’m like that girl who left her nice, sweet, boring boyfriend for that badass, handsome rebel on a motorcycle who ended up leaving her for the lead singer of a punk band and then sits at home crying, wondering why she ever left the nice, sweet, boring boyfriend.
Whatever the case may be, I’m here now, unemployed and looking for jobs. References available upon request (unless we’re in Chile, then references are listed on the actual resume.)
Poor Chile. What a bad rap it gets sometimes.
As a seismically active country, Chile has its fair share of tremors (“temblores” as they’re called here) and they occur almost every day in any given area. Granted, they’re not all major quakes, but regardless of how “big” they may be, the fact remains that there are tiny earthquakes each and every day here. It’s part of our everyday life and if you are thinking of visiting or living here, you need to KNOW this is an everyday occurrence.
The latest earthquake was actually a “replica” or an aftershock and it occurred on April 2nd in Iquique, coming in at 7.6 on the Richter scale. The reason this aftershock was considered as such and not a full blown earthquake is because on April 1st the northern part of Chile was rocked by a magnitude 8.2 earthquake … i.e. anything less than that is obvi an aftershock (so it would seem).
Anywhere else in the world the 7.6 aftershock would have been labeled a full blown earthquake and a state of catastrophe would have been issued. Anywhere else in the world, half the city (or more) would be a crumbled mess and chaos would ensue for weeks, if not, months. Back in February 2010, I wrote about my experience living through an 8.8 earthquake here in Chile. The aftershocks of that earthquake were NUMEROUS and the strongest one, if I remember correctly, was somewhere between 6.5 and 7 on the Richter scale.
Like some people back home wonder, you’re probably also wondering: “How can you live there? It’s like you’re constantly stressed out wondering when the next big one is coming! No thanks!”
I’ll use five words to try and explain how this is possible …
It’s part of life here.
Allow me to further explain because those five words obvi don’t provide much solace to anyone wishing to visit – or worse – anyone who finds themselves having to move down here for whatever reason.
Recently an article was published about this same issue and the title is pretty clever considering Chilean’s reactions to so many earthquakes: “Why don’t Chileans run when there are earthquakes?” The article goes on to state many reasons and (if you read Spanish) I think it’s worth a read because it gives you a glimpse of what the culture is like in general in response to a natural disaster such as an earthquake.
In the almost five years I’ve lived in Chile, I’ve experienced more earthquakes than I ever did in the 29 years living in the San Francisco Bay Area (the largest and ONLY earthquake was in 1989) and they’ve ranged anywhere from 4-pointers to almost 9!! That’s a whole lotta shakin’ and through it all I’ve learned that my own reactions have begun to mirror the reactions of true Chileans who have lived here their entire lives.
When the earth starts shaking here, the first reaction is, simply, wait it out. True story. You sit and wait to see if it’s going to stay tolerable or if it’s going to get bigger. Most of the time it stays within a reasonable range and by adopting this “wait it out” policy, you spare yourself the embarrassment of doing the weird things people do when they freak out. I think this, combined with the fact that Chileans grow up with earthquakes and earthquake drills in school, makes it seem like Chileans are unfazed by earthquakes. That’s not the case. I know that earthquakes are scary and most Chileans will tell you that they don’t like them, but they’ve learned to live with them mainly because they’re part of everyday life here.
Also, if you have to live with earthquakes, there really is no better place than Chile, architecturally speaking. Chile has some of the strictest building guidelines EVER! Need proof? The 2010 earthquake that struck Léogâne, Haiti caused over 100,000 deaths and annihilated a great part of the affected area’s infrastructure. That earthquake measured 7.0 on the Richter scale. In comparison, the structural damage caused by the most recent earthquake in Chile (remember, it measured 8.2) a few days ago is minimal in comparison.
That doesn’t mean that Chile hasn’t learned lessons along the way. As mentioned, in 2010 over 500 people died mainly because the President of Chile, Michele Bachelet, and her advisors, didn’t give evacuation orders in a timely manner (most people died in the tsunami that hit post earthquake.) I guess you can say that this time around the dear President (the same one!) and her peeps were overly cautious and as a result, gave evacuation orders almost immediately! Hence, despite Chile’s most recent natural disaster and the destruction it caused, the death toll remains at six.
So come on down to Chile. Frolic, run and be free. Have a grand time because when the ground shakes (and it wiiiiilllllll) just know that you’ll most likely be ok. Just do as the locals do and you’ll be fine. You know – blend.
It’s been almost a year and a half since my last blog entry. Where has the time gone? What have I been doing? What have YOU been doing (whatever – you probably aren’t even around anymore! Sheesh!) I can’t really tell you what’s been happening in the last 12+ months over here at the bottom of the Earth, but let’s recap what we already know: I’m an expat living in Chile since July 2009 (holy crap, that’s FIVE WHOLE YEARS this year!), I got married, I went to grad school, I finished then finally started working here, got a bulldog, moved and then had a baby (which we all know wasn’t all peaches and cream for me but now it’s fine.)
A whole lot has happened in between all this, most of which I’ve already written about in previous blog entries but there is a WORLD of ideas, thoughts, opinions, what have you, to share post-baby in a strange land. Although, granted, Chile isn´t so strange anymore but that doesn´t mean that being a parent and having a kid isn’t strange. But that’s a huge can of worms and if I try to interpret every little possible idea I have in my mind about what’s been going on this whole time, I’m going to go batty and most likely lose you somewhere along the lines.
And so, the idea is to fuh-kis (focus) and I’m going to start this new chapter off by telling you that apparently, somewhere along the lines from back then to now, I turned into an adult and got, how do you say?…old. Don’t flatter me with your “But Andrea, you look so young!” nonsense. I’m not talking wrinkles, sun damage and genetics here, kiddo, I’m talking about my inability to navigate the new technology and having NO IDEA who Lorde was until about a week ago (btw – OBsessed)!!! How.did.this.happen? When did I become this person who only has retro songs in her iTunes collection and who owns all classic 80s movies and hasn’t seen a single Oscar nominated movie since circa 2008???
The first time I realized I was getting old was about eight months ago when we purchased really basic tablets for use at work. I couldn’t turn the darn thing ON! There was no middle button like on the iPhone and swiping my finger across the screen proved useless. At the time we had a junior in high school helping us with some adminy work and after several frustrated attempts on our part (my ex-coworkers don’t escape the “I’m-old-and-technology-frightens-me” label), we handed the tablets over to this 17-year old who had them up and running in a nanosecond. I mean…clearly she’s in MENSA, amiright?
Then, one night as I was talking to my 18-year old nephew and his friend, we started talking about Spotify (YES I know about Spotify!) and they were telling me about how cool it was and how the playlists were all saved and you can access them anywhere, etc, etc, what have you and I thought “holy sh*t, they really think Spotify is awesome… why haven’t I tried it?” The thing is, it had never OCCURRED to me to try it… they asked if I still purchased and downloaded music, as if that was “so 2010.” Um, apparently it is. Sweet. Now even HOW I listen to music is old school. They didn’t understand why I would spend money on each song I wanted when I could just add it to my playlist on Spotify. The whole idea of collecting the music seemed odd to them and since, in my opinion, that generation is based on “what’s next, what’s new” I wasn’t about to give them a crash course on how collecting and sitting in your piles of “collected stuff”, albeit virtual, gave one a sense of satisfaction.
So there’s all that and you already know about my whole Lorde debacle because I mentioned it above and, I mean, it’s literally one thing after another with this whole age vs. new technology/new releases thing. I guess I could have blamed the Lorde thing on living in Chile but she just performed at Lollapalooza this past weekend sooooooo …. I’m thinking it’s me, not Chile. Also, I’ve been meaning to blog for about two weeks now but it took me this long to configure my new blog layout and as you can see, it’s quite basic. I did that on purpose because the bells and whistles were getting me nowhere. See that Twitter feed to your left? Literally took me two days to figure out. For reals.
Finally, the last thing that serves as proof that I’m suddenly old just happened. How the hell does one insert an animated GIF into a blog post? Do people still use those for effect? No?
Whatever. I’m over you and your techy ways.
Another Thanksgiving came and went, completely and totally below radar. It was my third Thanksgiving spent living abroad and by no means does it get easier. Back when I had been in Chile a mere four months, I wrote a pretty positive post about all the things I was thankful for – sort of an ode to Thanksgiving despite being in a land far, far away. I reread that particular blog post and realize that I’m still thankful for all the things I listed three years ago and of course there are at least three things I’d add to said list: little human, Obi and my job. I’m not done being thankful and more so, being consciously thankful.
However … yes, there is a however. It’s Thanksgiving and I’m alone. A-L-O-N-E, alone. Yes, little human is with me (and she’s a presence to be reckoned with) but she’s also six months old and at 9PM said little human sleeps. Yes, my tub of burning love, Obi, is also with me, but he’s partial to sleeping anytime, anyplace and that means he’s sleeping right now. And probably will be in the next hour and so forth until tomorrow. So where does that leave me? Alone. On Thanksgiving. A-L-O-N-E. Yes, I will proceed to cry you all a river right now.
I’m thankful, dammit!!!
But, I’m sad, too. I’m sad because of the aforementioned reason, but I’m also sad because it’s the first Thanksgiving with little human and she has NO idea what’s going on. Of course I went on to tell her about the pilgrims and the native Americans and about the turkeys she needs to learn to make by tracing her hand on construction paper, but she wasn’t even listening and she certainly wasn’t cooperating with the hand turkeys.
Adding insult to injury, Thanksgiving always marked the beginning of the holiday season for me. It’s grotesque, I know, Black Friday being symbolic of everything that’s wrong with society, but that’s how I knew the holidays were coming! Christmas lights, decorations, cookies, smells, colors, food – aaaaaaaaaaaaaand just like that, right after Turkey Day, I was walking in my very own imaginary winter wonderland (imaginary because it doesn’t actually snow in the SF Bay Area). I ask you – what marks the beginning of the holiday season now??? The Christmas decorations that pop up a week after the September Independence Day celebrations at the local Jumbo? That and the wilting flowers all around because of the 80+ degree heat?? Or the allergy attacks that have me pining for the “nighttime-sniffling-sneezing-coughing-aching-stuffy-head-fever-so-I-can-rest medicine? (If any Chilean gets this reference, please let me know so that I can be your BFF.) Let me tell you, these things mentioned DO NOT a Christmas season, make.
Thanksgiving also happens to be the one important holiday that we just don’t share with other countries. Christmas – that’s shared the world over. Independence day – not shared the world over (look at me, I’m England and I never had to claim Independence from anyone! Whoop-dee-do!) but shared nonetheless in the Americas, given that England and Spain were greedy bitches back in the day. There’s Labor Day (legal holidays in both the U.S. and Chile) and there are even holidays where we commemorate wars and/or fallen soldiers who have given their lives for our freedom and rights. Easter – shared. New Year’s – shared the world over. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day – shared, shared and shared. Granted, few of these dates coincide with one another but we share similar concepts and holidays.
What I’m trying to say here, folks, is that Thanksgiving is sorely missed – for many reasons. Not so much because of the food (not particularly a turkey fan myself – too dry) but because it was a time of togetherness that marked the beginning of the best time of the year! I just don’t have that anymore on Thanksgiving. Maybe 20 years from now, when I’ve lived here far too long, I won’t even flinch when the fourth Thursday of November rolls around. But I’m flinching now, people, so let me be heard!
That said, I’m super thankful for the three glasses of wine that have gotten me through this very, very lonely Thanksgiving and this very, very crybaby blog post.
Right after I had the little human, I took to watching a WHOLE lot of the series “LOST.” There is an episode late in Season Three of this twisted series entitled “Greatest Hits” and no, this blog post is not a review of this particular episode (which, if you’re wondering, yes, is a good one.) Not that you should care, but in this episode a character dies and he knows beforehand when and how he’s going to die. In preparation for this, he reflects on his life and proceeds to jot down his life’s greatest hits – i.e. best or most memorable moments – on a piece of paper so that this little scrap can later be given to his lady love upon his death.
The idea has motivated me to think back on my greatest hits thus far. Leaving aside the morbid reasons behind the tv character’s motivation, I find it interesting to sit back and reflect on moments when I’ve felt particularly happy or fulfilled. Peaks that irrevocably warrant bookmarks between my chapters of life. In doing so, it helps me to step back and take a look from afar at the type of life I’ve lived so far. Has it been a life jam-packed with friends? With travel? With partying? With family? With walks-of-shame I’d rather forget? (Thankfully, no on that last one.)
Greatest hits imply the best of the best, but by no means am I implying that the moments in my life that are anointed as “great” are far and away the most mind blowing experiences out there. They don’t include daredevil feats like skydiving or once-in-a-lifetime moments like, say, chanting with the Dalai Lama (does he chant?). In fact, you might not think they’re all that impressive but that’s not the point of this. We all have greatest hits in our lives – moments we recall such nostalgia and even happiness, that you just happily place a mental bookmark so as to make your way back to that memory whenever the going gets tough. I can’t tell you where my greatest hits start and I certainly can’t tell you where they end … they vary in time and space but have the common denominator of being emblematic of a moment in time that I wouldn’t mind landing in via the DeLorean from “Back to the Future.”
For instance, for some reason one of the best moments in my life that stands out time and time again is, ridiculously enough, when I first moved in with G and we ventured out to buy our bed. When you think about it, it’s got to be one of the most basic of things – shopping for a necessity such as a mattress. Who cares, right? Except it was so symbolic in my life. I had never before lived with a guy, let alone gone through the process of furnishing our home together. I had just arrived in Chile and was sublimely happy to be reunited with my fiancee after months and months of trying to hold together a relationship long distance. And there we were, giddy, in love, and starting our life together from scratch.
Then I take a moment and think back to grade school … Catholic school, to be exact … and for some reason sitting in church singing “Immaculate Mary” always registers in my mind as a happy moment in time. As an adult I wonder why, but if I remember what it was like as a kid, all I can remember is … FUN. I know, it makes no sense, but for me, school was a good time and singing in church meant we weren’t in class and back then, any time we weren’t in class was fun. Things were just that simple back then.
Road trips with friends obviously make it onto my greatest hits – there were many in my young adulthood: road trips to San Diego, Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe … even Lake Havasu in Arizona (THAT was long ass car ride, let me tell you). The road in front of you, the wind in your hair (or face), some groovy tunes and some good conversation sprinkled with cackles of laughter, typical of girls when they get together. What did we talk about anyway? What did we listen to? How did we find enough topics of conversation or enough music to cover 6-10 whole hours of riding in a car with three other people? Maybe we were bitching out Kate Winslet’s character, Rose, in Titanic, for not hauling her huge butt over so as to create enough room on the floating door for Jack (in all seriousness, he could have survived if she’d only moved over!) However it was that we passed our time riding along in our automobile, my memories of road trips morph into one memory for me and it reminds me of a time when I literally left “all cares behind.”
The exact, precise moment when G proposed – on a catamaran, in the middle of the ocean between Cancun and Isla Mujeres…sun, ceviche, a bottle of wine and some bling.
I also remember our first apartment ever when I first moved to Chile and I recall the balcony with great nostalgia. (Hear me out.) The view was great but moreover, the countless times we bbq’d some chicken and shared a bottle of wine on that balcony, during the hot summer nights. Those moments were by far even greater. Our apartment now is bigger but I’d argue that it’s hardly better. Something about that small balcony, with eternal sunlight that just always takes me back to moments when G and I just took a breather in the presence of the view.
The first time I ever held Obi. Even then I knew that this dog, for better or for worse, would be like my first-born child. And even after actually having a child (a human one, that is) I still feel that Obi is my eldest – my baby boy and little tub of love. The day I ever have to look at our little family without him in it, will be the day a small piece of me dies. He’s almost three years old and weighs close to 52 pounds, but the first time I held him, I knew this little bundle of fur was going to teach me a thing or two about patience and unconditional love for a beloved pet.
current job and company but if ever I was given a chance to return to licensing, a quick “hell yeah” would resonate loud and resonate proud. Licensing Show was where I was first exposed to international business – sales and negotiations across geographic boundaries. By the time my very last Licensing Show rolled around (2008), I had the game down pat. I knew the who, what and where and I finally felt as though I was actually GOOD at something… was I good at negotiating? Sure, though certainly not the strongest. Was I good at schmoozing? Maybe. But certainly not the most charming. I have fond memories of each Licensing Show I was fortunate enough to work, but why is LS 2008 marked as “the best” in my book? Two reasons: 1) it was the last time it was held in NYC and there are few places better than NYC and 2) it was where I ran into the man who would be my future husband.
I’d also go back in time in a heartbeat to my best friend Jen’s apartment, circa 2004-5 and relive the moments in her living room where we’d pretend to be Las Vegas sleazy lounge singers, doing our best rendition of John Elton’s “Daniel” for our audience of one.
I now know that one of my all-time most empowering moments in life occurred when I was in preschool. I stepped in dog poop and my ever-so-gracious preschool teacher told me I had to take care of the situation myself (I was 4 and it was the 80s. No way would that fly nowadays). I realize now that even then I had amazing powers of persuasion because SOMEHOW I was able to convince a little friend I had been playing with when this dastardly thing occurred to take responsibility for my dog pooped shoe and actually clean it out for me! I convinced her that I’d do the same for her – only her shoe was poop-free – and the little dumb ass BOUGHT IT. To this day I fondly recall the image of that poor little girl washing my shoe in the sink while I happily picked at her spotless shoe. I know it’s mean, but as an adult, I look back at my young self and proudly conclude that I was a born smooth-talker. I’ve had far more empowering moments, but this one, this one was my first and every time I think of it, I smile (ok, I smirk, but still).
And finally … I know that one of my greatest hits moments in life is right now. Right now that my little human is six-months old and I work part time so that I’m home with her every afternoon by 2:30 pm. Right now that she recognizes me, smiles when I walk into the room, cackles when I kiss her tummy and talks back to me in her own little language. Right now that I feel happy, having passed the PPD – the darkest moment lived (thus far) – and am working out, feel stronger, and look better than I have since giving birth (according to me, myself and I). In short, I feel good and I’m enjoying the little bundle of belly fat that I call little human. The dark times have passed and I’ve moved on to this: looking at her and mumbling “thank you, thank you, thank God for you” a-la the Bette Midler movie “Beaches.” I’ve reached gargantuan level cheesy-mom proportions. And hey – that’s ok! (If you tell anyone, I’ll be on you like white on rice.)
So there you have it, my good people. A smorgasbord of greatest hits in the life of me. Oh, but there is so much more! The time I worked out overlooking Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. The time my friend Jen and I ventured out in NYC, looking for its “seedy underbelly.” The time I was snowed in in NYC after Toy Fair (at the time it felt detrimental but at the end of the day there’s no such thing as too much time spent in the Big Apple.) Exploring the Louvre alone … Taking the train into San Francisco for work everyday … happy hours at wine bars with friends after work … Giants games, whether they won or lost … bouncing in the water like a buoy in Surin Beach, Phuket … the time I visited Chile in the summer of 2001 and spent two fabulous weeks in Totoralillo with my cousins … singing in the church choir when I was in fifth grade … the end of the day, in bed, next to hubby, watching “That 70s Show,” “Arrested Development,” or “Sex in the City” before drifting into delicious sleep.
At any moment in time these memories, and countless others, serve as reminders that, thank God, I’ve had a good life thus far. Greatest hits I’m happy to play over and over again.