Common Denominators among Gringas (the Love post)

The other day I went with a friend to meet a girl who will be moving to Chile later in the year. This girl is currently finishing her studies and is visiting her fiancee in Chile at the moment on a trip that is just about to end. She had been invited to my Chilean bday celebration on Tuesday but given that it’s her last week here, she politely declined. The next day when I touched base with her about meeting up for coffee before she left Chile, she apologized for not being able to go, stating that since it was her last week here, she wanted to fully enjoy her time with her fiancee.

All I could think was: “Sister, you’re preaching to the choir.”

Since that exchange, I’ve been thinking about what gringas with Chilean significant others have in common. Sure, we have many, many ties that bind given our similar life situations (in most cases) but what really hits home with me is the passionate, all-consuming, one extreme-to-the-next kind of relationship that exists between a gringa and her Chilean sig other during the time we live apart. It’s a far less extreme version of what I merely imagine military wives go through. Of course our version is comparable to a walk in a rose garden considering military wives say goodbye for months on end and live IN FEAR that their husbands/boyfriends won’t return! … yes of course, our version of long-distance-relationships is much rosier.

However while we’re living it, it truly feels like nothing in the world is more painful, more unfair or more never-ending than the constant goodbye’s we have to endure. You basically live your life not from day-to-day but rather, from one visit to the next. It’s like deciding to sleep through two, three, four months between and you finally wake up for about a week’s worth of time, just to go back to your zombie like state following the torturous, heart-wrenching goodbye (done at the airport).

Oh, the goodbye at the airport. If I EVER have to go through one of those again, shoot me first. I can’t tell you how many times the crew at SFO and SCL saw me bawling, waiting until the very last second to cross immigration (in Santiago) or leave through the sliding glass doors (in San Francisco). Memories of sitting on the plane, crying and crying and crying and just thinking “Get up, get up right now and screw it all, just go be with him.”

The sad reality of life apart was this: I’d get back home after having been in Chile (or was left alone after he’d come to San Francisco), a happy, busy and idealistic time with G, quickly followed by about three days of depression. Crawling into bed, either eating too much or eating too little, watching sad movies worthy of wrist-slitting (think P.S. I Love You.) We’d talk constantly, excessively, as if I couldn’t get from one minute to the next without having him on the line. Yes, from here it sounds a little Lifetime movie dramatic but it was just like that. Empty, painful and all consuming. Then, as if in auto mode, I would just … deal. I would wake up, get ready for work, commute, work, eat, happy hour, go home, sleep, repeat (happy hour was replaced by gym or going straight home on other nights. Of course a session of Skype with G was a must, no matter what I did after work.) We just learned to deal with the emptiness, the missing and longing, the loneliness and the monotony of living your life as if single. And that’s one of the worst parts too. You have this person who is THE person, THE love of your life, THE ONE … and yet, you’re apart. So you go everywhere alone and worse, people just keep seeing you as you, alone.

And then… the day you’ve been waiting for FOR MONTHS ON END, finally arrives and you are once again reunited … but then … it’s weird. It’s almost like you need a day or two to readjust to having this person LIVE, right there next to you. I remember being so shy and nervous when I was finally with G again and would jokingly say “Um I need you behind a screen so I can be myself.” Well, it was half jokingly really, which now that I think of it, is so sad! But it makes sense since we spent more time apart than we did together and though this made it so easy to really get to know each other, it made for actual together time awkward in the beginning!

Well, we know how my personal story with G ends in the anecdote unfolded above (happily), but the point is that in discussing our gringa stories with one another we all have the following common denominators:

– having our hearts ripped out (at the airport) when one trip came to an end
– moving along our daily life (apart) in auto mode
– relying on all forms of technology to keep our relationships alive
– having the in-between dates from one trip to another go by in a blur and only focusing on the next time we’d be together
– living momentary awkwardness when we were finally reunited
– having the most amazing time of our lives with the person we love fit into just a mere few days (or if we were lucky, a few weeks!)


And I’d like to take this opportunity to say: when the time comes to end that sad cycle of living apart and coming together, it takes one bold and bad-ass gringa to pick up and move to another country in search of life, laughs and adventure next to the man she loves.

But that, folks, is a story for another time.

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Happy Birthday to me

The 3rd anniversary of my 30th birthday was the best birthday celebration I can remember having since back in the day when my mom used to rent out the second floor of the local Round Table Pizza where I’d have endless options of pizza slices to choose from and I could run around playing video games with family friends (those were the days!) I remember I’d sport a foofy dress, socks with ruffles and white patent leather shoes. (Actually I think I may still have that outfit!)

Yesterday was my birthday: the first one I spent here living in Chile AND the first one I celebrated with Gonzalo (last year at this time we lived apart.) And if there’s ever any doubt as to why I would pick up my life in San Francisco and move to South America for the love of my life, let me tell you, yesterday – from beginning to end – reminded me [and anyone else who questions it] why.

The minute the clock read 12:00 midnight on January 5th, G jumped up to hug me and wish me the best birthday ever, to tell me how happy he was that we could be together and to tell me how much he loved me. Then he ran away … outside and down to his car to get me my presents. Awwww … and when I saw him coming I was most stoked about a card I saw in his hand, mainly because in Chile, cards are not the norm. Random, I know, but as G’s company is the official importer of Hallmark products into Chile, he told me of some crazy statistic that indicates that Americans buy about 8 cards a year (pp), the British buy about 15 cards a year (pp) and Chileans average about 1.5 cards a year per person! I expect no less from him though since 1) he imports Hallmark product into Chile and 2) he’s detail-oriented like that and he’d never show up sans card.

In the first gift were the cutest beach towels I’ve ever rec’d. Two of them and they’re mine – all mine!! Pink and purple and girly and fabulous!! Just like me (minus the pink and purple). For a split second I was confused as to why he’d chosen beach towels but then I remembered that we go to Pil’s apartment to use her pool in this ridiculously hot summer and I’m always complaining about not having large towels. Obviously then I was even more stoked! (It’s the little things that do it for me.)

Then I proceeded to open the second gift in front of me, and I’m not gonna lie… it truly made me wonder if he knew me AT ALL. For a second I imagined he thought we was about to marry Florence Henderson. I didn’t proceed to pull out necessarily the ugliest purse known to man, per se, but I will say that it’s got to be the blandest purse to grace the Earth. Poor muffin … I thought to myself “Oh well, he tried” … but then he told me that while he was purchasing it, he was telling the sales lady that I’d return it anyway. She apparently insisted that no, this purse was just “great” and that I was “sure to love it.” And he just smiled and shook his head and said “No la conoce.” (You don’t know her.) Yes, I too wonder why in the heck he’d buy it in the first place, but I think it’s because he wants me to have a new purse, so with this one, I can go back and get the one I like. A+ for effort, my sweet little muffin pants! BRAV-O!

Then I reached for the card … and aside from OF COURSE being the best birthday card a woman could ever receive (in the same manner that most moms think their kid is the most genius of all genius little kids out there) inside was a print-out of an apartment he rented on the beach … a five day getaway to one of the best beach areas in Chile. Knowing how much I love the ocean (even though I lived near one for almost my entire life, I took that for granted, I now realize) and how much I love seafood and all things related to the sea … by far, the best gift ever, from the best person ever.

Later, after we woke up, and he made me breakfast before he left for work… after I rec’d a call from the front desk of our apartment building alerting me to the delivery of a dozen roses … after eating half the chocolates in the box I rec’d while he was at the office (moo!)… after all that, it was time for my “romantic birthday dinner” – or so I thought.

Let me just preface this little paragraph by stating that G could never – NEVER – work as a double agent. I was on to him as early as Sunday – two whole days before my birthday. I knew something was up. Mainly it was because almost everyone I know here in Chile, except for about 3 people, wished me a very ‘by the way’ type of ‘happy birthday.’ Those who usually called me insistently on my bdays in years past, called all of once…and there were still others who called yesterday who previously had NEVER called before (would send happy bday emails instead.) And when I asked G what the name of the restaurant was called so that I could Google it, I found that there were various sites stating that the restaurant was closed (something he brushed off as pure fabrication when I pointed this out to him.)

Oh I knew something was up … but I was surprised – and nervous! – to see that he had pulled together as many people as he could from my new Chilean life to celebrate my 3 to the 3 over drinks and apps (and a waffle dessert…) Nervous because I tend to feel that way with groups of people who are together to celebrate me. Mainly this happens because I freak out over not being able to talk to them all as much as I’d like! And I was surprised because it was the first time I truly realized that I really did have a life here in Chile. I really do know people – great people – and they all wanted to come out and celebrate my birthday with me. My Chilean friends, my gringa friends, my family, alongside my fiancee – all of them were there to wish me a very happy birthday. :o) My friend who had just arrived from a very long trip just the day before, my friend who helped G plan a good chunk of it, to my friends who are preggers and can’t even drink cocktails, to my favorite cousins who trekked to a part of the city they never hang out in, and to the friend who lives at the other end of Santiago – all were there! And I was grateful for all of it.

Cut to me five months ago and I never thought I’d see the Chilean day when I would walk into a bar in Santiago and find a table full of people waiting to celebrate me! In the end, I know it was the sweetest thing G could have ever done for me to celebrate my bday because I know he did it to show me that I was ok here and that I really did have a life (outside of him) here. And that gift, my fellow bloggers and blog readers, is worth its weight in gold.

My “Gringuita” Friends (adore them!)

Including G’s partner-in-crime

My cousins (who traveled from afar!) and their boyfriends

…and a group shot following the waffle incident

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First trip to the clinica in 2010

What new year would be complete without a trip to the urgent care clinic?

This post will be short and brief and is only intended to give mad props to Clinica Santa Maria since I had quite a pleasant experience there from 11 p.m. to approximately 1 a.m. as I was waiting for test results and medication to snap me out of my state of misery.

Going to the urgent care clinic is never supposed to be comfortable and pleasant by the mere nature of the word “urgent.” But somehow this clinic pulled it off and trust me, it was daunting enough to deal with my issue in a “foreign” country. I spent all day debating about what to do … for whatever reason, everything in Santiago either seems harder than it needs to be or is made harder because I create all kinds of ‘what-if’ worst-case scenarios in my head. G and I actually got into a quasi-fight over this exact thing because it was making me hesitate to go to the clinic in the first place. Ultimately he won that argument, I went, I saw, I was impressed and I was made whole again (thanks to $40 USD worth of 500 mg antibiotics.)

Well, now 2010 can officially begin, folks!

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Oh year… don’t ever start out so romantico

Perhaps romantic isn’t the right word but if 2010 was going to be *the* year in which I focused on me and G, I’ve started out on the right foot. We’ve spent the first evenings of 2010 at home, cooking, laughing, drinking wine and finally playing with our new Wii. (We’ve played before but NEVER alone. Always with guests.) Incidentally I’m convinced the Wii is sexist because I can’t FOR THE LIFE OF ME beat G in wakeboarding (Wii Resort). On the other hand, my golf game is amazing in the Wii world and G just ends up kicking things because he can’t score below +23. Silly rabbit.

Anyway, last night we were on our balcony, eating outside, enjoying his amazing just-off-the-grill bbq chicken, drinking wine from the winery where we’re getting married (Casas del Bosque) and I was loving the simple fact that there we were, cooking, eating and gazing out our balcony to the stardust of lights from the vast city of Santiago. At night it truly looks peaceful, and dare I say, beautiful … we even have a clear view of Cerro San Cristobal and the statue of the Virgin Mary which is perpetually illuminated.

And though I still can’t, for the life of me, find the list of goals I made for myself back in the day which listed what I wanted to accomplish at specific points in my life (i.e. “A month from now,” “Six months from now,” “five years from now.”) I was recalling a point in my life, about nine years ago when there was nothing I wanted more than to move to Chile. I would come three, four times a year and stay for two, three, four weeks at a time and all I wanted to make my life PERFECT, was to move here. I applied for job after job after job and even had an interview with the winery Concha y Toro, which I ultimately didn’t get (hrmph. See if I ever drink your less-than-mediocre wine again, C&T!) I was so depressed! I had this crazy, idealistic view of Chile as a place where the food was better, the people were more carefree and loving, and that life was in essence, more wholesome here. People had the right values and it wasn’t a work-obsessed country like, say, the U.S. Very idealistic but then again, I always came here on vacation and of course it was ideal! I ate food I never had a chance to eat back home (ceviche, meat, empanadas, manjar, pan amasado, mote con huesillo, and the list goes on and on), I spent days upon days at the beach when I wasn’t running around Santiago dancing or eating out!

The reality of Chile is slightly less whimsical, as you all know by now if you’ve kept up with your blog reading, but that’s the case with ANY place that ceases to be your vacation spot and all of a sudden becomes your home. (I loved St. Thomas but if I had to live there, I think I’d choke half the people for moving as slow as molasses. I’m just sayin’,)

But one thing remains ideal: nights on a balcony, looking over the city of Santiago, while drinking amazing wine and eating amazing food. At least where I’m from in the U.S. most apt buildings don’t have balconies, or I just didn’t know of many. And even though we lived in one of those ever-elusive apartments with a balcony, NEVER did we just decided to take the evening outside to sit and talk. And one thing I can say GENERALLY about Chileans and their ways of doing things is that they truly like to take it outside and just chill, whenever the opportunity presents itself. It’s so simple but seriously, one of the most ideal things about living here.

Maybe it’s because I was from a pretty hectic place back home (Silicon Valley) … or maybe it’s because the taking-it-outside bit was done by those who owned homes and not by young 30-something couples who lived in balcony-less apartments … but it’s the simplest of things I treasure about Chile and one of my favorite summertime activities with G.

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Focus on 2010

There are five major tasks I have present in my mind for 2010 and I hope to embark, enjoy and excel at all five of them. (No pressure.) I’m not going to call them resolutions because I feel that I’ll just be setting myself up for failure (and nothing depresses me more than failure) but I’d like to consider them as chapters of 2010. What I write in each chapter will literally be relayed in my blog but will also write a chapter in my life that I hope I can call “satisfactory” in 12 more months. Mentioning it in my blog now will only help me in determining how I approached and conquered each area.

1) Wedding and marriage.

For the love of all that’s sacred and holy, I just hope I have time to enjoy and appreciate all the planning and all the money Gonzalo and I are currently putting into our wedding day. Sometimes I don’t fully get the scope of the fact that I’m planning all this for me – for us. In fact, I see that I still handle it in the most corporate of ways, as if planning something for a boss. Case in point, I capture all images/ideas/suggestions in power point presentations and review them with G slide by slide. Discuss. Or don’t since it’s kind of pathetic/weird but whatever, it’s efficient. I can’t imagine what it will look like or how I’ll feel that very day but I do hope that I have time to sit back, if even for a mere minute, and take it all in.
Wedding day aside, I do hope I’m good at the marriage part. I’m dabbling in it right now (some would call it living in sin, muahahaha) and here’s what I’ve noticed about my part in married life: 1) I like to cook 2) I really do run the house 3) I need to work on my listening skills 4) I need to let others form – and express – their opinions before I go blabbing mine about 5) More hugs needed! Warm fuzzies if you will. They just make all things better. 6) Need to make sure that we keep up the spontaneous date nights/days. So far, so good with that just need to make sure it keeps up.

2) Friendships
“Some of you I know; some of you I’m meeting for the first time.” (movie line, guess the movie and character). With that, I want to keep cementing the friendships that are forming now with people I’ve met in Chile BUT I’d also like to branch out and meet new people. Namely, I’d like to see about clicking with some Chileans. Weird concept, I know, given that it hasn’t been easy thus far. I blame my lack of outside activity (I work from home) but I’ll get to new opportunities for that in a bit. Or…wait. At least I’d like to blame my lack of outside activity and NOT think that I’m not clicking with Chileans because it’s me, not them.
With that, I can’t forget my peeps back home. Before I left CA I had an idea of who I would remain good friends with always … but those things change and some people are really “out of sight, out of mind.” That’s their M.O. and God love them for it. There are others who remain the same people and the same kind of friend as before. And there are yet others who charge ahead in the friendship arena and come out shining as a friend you never thought you’d have. I’ll reserve public op/eds on the three types of friends that evolve when one moves to another country but I will say that no matter what, I hope to be a good and present friend to all my peeps back home.

3) Back to School
I submitted my application to return to school for a Masters in Marketing. If all goes according to plan, I should be starting classes in April of next year (yeah, as in the same month I get married.) By then, it will have been a full ten years since I graduated undergrad and that’s pushing it since I truly believe I checked out in 1999 and sort of skimmed through my last two quarters of college (a teacher once wrote “Senoritis?? Too bad” on a term paper that year. That’s how awesome I was!) My point here is that I hope I don’t freak out, I hope I learn to navigate the system well…and I hope the Spanish part of the studying doesn’t throw me off. I would like to avoid any kind of indication of “Senioritis” from a professor during my Masters study, if at all possible.
Who am I kidding? This is going to be one intimidating mess for me but I hope I persevere and come out with a good education. AND, it would be quite nice to come out with at least one, if not two, friends. I’ll be OUT THERE, in the Chilean system, learning from them about their ways (in marketing). Kind of “when in Rome” … so my hope is to grab on to some would-be friends in that process. Now that I think about it, I should be hoping I have something interesting to contribute in the study groups I’ll be in. No one wants to be the dumb one in study group.

4) Writing
A few days ago I was a lady who lunched (with some other fellow gringas) and one of them asked me what I had gone to undergrad for, meaning what did I study. I realized that back in the day all I wanted to be was a journalist. I even wrote for my high school newspaper and was editor of the “social” section. I went to Davis for a degree in Communications with the purpose of pursuing this journalistic goal … that of course didn’t pan out bc I took a different route during the dot com bubble. That office job led to another office job and before I knew it, journalism fizzled. Perhaps I would have been a kick ass journalist. Perhaps it’s my parallel life a la the indie movie Sliding Doors. Maybe I’d be living in New York, working as an international correspondent for CNN. Oh my…me likey that…Ok snap back to reality and obviously that’s not the route I took BUT what has stayed with me nonstop is the thing that motivated me from day one – writing. Skits for school, short stories, poems, diaries and now a blog – I simply can’t live my life without some part of it dedicated to writing. I do hope that in 2010 this writing becomes more focused. I have always dreamed of writing a story somewhat based on my family story, a mind-boggling one that is made for Lifetime television for women. When I read Isabel Allende’s “The House of the Spirits” I thought to myself “I know this family. Oh wait! This is like MY family and their story.” Except mine is less whimsical and more dramatic. Trust me it would make for some great poolside reading. Will I ever get to it? I don’t know. But I hope to always be on the writing path that may allow me to stumble upon this story that’s just waiting to be told.

5) Co-Baller

I actually coined this term the other day while I was lunching (the same lunch referenced above. Don’t think I spend my days lunching like a proper Southern woman. I don’t, though of course I wish I did!) The point I was making was that I too wanted to be a baller… meaning I hope to be very successful in my career so as to afford comforts that I didn’t have the majority of my life. I have dreams I’d like to see become reality and goals I’d like to achieve. Perhaps some of these dreams and goals would seem superficial and materialistic to some while to others, they will seem like basic goals anyone should be striving towards. When I was in the U.S. I felt like I was on a path to making that happen. I went to school, got good grades, went to college, did the internships, extra-curricular activities, got a job, focused, got promoted, focused more, got promoted again, etc. A masters degree was in the back of my mind but since I was already a director at my company, it wasn’t pressing. I knew the path, I knew the in’s and out’s of working in the U.S. and knew basically what I had to do in order to get ahead in the corporate world. Now I’m in a completely different country and though the basic how-to’s are probably the same, I’m in a completely different playing field, with completely different players. I see it as starting all over again (though perhaps not from the VERY bottom as I was back in the day, straight out of college). And so, in 2010, I hope to regain my footing on my way to being a co-baller (by “co” I mean alongside G because to me, he’s already a baller.) I hope I begin to understand what’s needed to get there in Chile and that I learn what it even LOOKS like in Chile. That way I can put my eye on the prize and just work towards it. I feel confident that I’ll achieve this, as I think going back to further my education will help immensely. Nothing like preparing yourself for battle, so to speak, on the same turf where one will be battling. I should come out much more aware and I hope to focus on that in 2010.

My focus list can’t be too long though or I might just call it a day and not get anything done. I’ll for sure dabble in trying to be healthy and being in prime physical condition but I won’t kid myself into thinking I’ll become one of those crazy, workout obsessed brides-to-be. That just ain’t me, baby. So let’s just say I have 5.5 things to focus on in 2010 and I’ll be back in about 364 days to review this post and see how far I’ve come. I’ll trust that I’ll have conquered the world by then as my plans for world domination are coming along nicely.

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My last rant about Chile for 2009 (that I’ll blog, I mean)

A short one because I’m basically going to C&P what I just tweeted (it’s all for you, my dear blog readers. I know you wish to know the in’s and out’s of living in Chile, and well, I couldn’t finish my year without one more frustrating bit of info.)

With much love from me to you. :o)

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2009 Year in Review

All right folks – the hoopla of Christmas is now safely behind us and thankfully we can now lend our attention to more important matters at hand: the upcoming close of yet another year.

You know, I remember when I was a kid and August rolled around… the thought of Christmas and the first time I’d get REAL time off from school, seemed SO – FAR – AWAY. Now that I’m older it seems that I blink and all of a sudden it’s fall (well, spring here now) and then hello, it’s Thanksgiving. And from there, it’s a sleigh ride into Navidad and all its commercial glory. After New Year’s it’s Valentine’s before you even have a chance to double check your resolution list and well, from there it’s just a matter of seconds before you’re planning your Memorial Day bbq’s. I mean, the space time continuum has significantly shifted to high gear since I was a kid. I don’t know. Maybe the 80s were just a slower decade… perhaps each decade before that was even slower! For all we know, maybe the 1930’s took an entire 20 years to complete! I’m just sayin…

For this reason related to the speeding up of time, I’m especially glad that prior to my adventures in blogging, I kept a diary, a detailed account of my days really, ever since I was 7 years old. Just as I started to slack off on my diary entries, I started to blog. Somehow, somewhere, there is a full account of my life, should the case be that I ever become famous and a highly controversial public figure (as this will prove to be QUITE the arsenal in my life – either for or against me.)

In short, I can sum up this year of my life, from Jan 1, 2009 to these last few days remaining in December 2009, as having been full of love, growth … and technology.

Leaving aside the egocentricity of my blog, right now I’d like to remember (as well as capture in writing) the love that bloomed for my dearest friends this year. Beginning with Amanda and Adam, who were married at the New York Botanical Garden on May 24th, 2009.

Followed by the marriage of my friends Corey and Chris on August 8, 2009…Happy, happy, happy couple!

And on December 25th (or 24th, not sure since I don’t have the full scoop yet) my dear friend Lauren received the much anticipated proposal from her boyfriend (now fiancee), Mark. To say that I’m beyond thrilled is a fierce understatement and I won’t even THINK such an inappropriate sentiment… I’m over the moon happy for them both and no words available to me in either Spanish or English can adequately sum up how happy I am for them.

Somewhere in between all the love my friends were getting (and giving) I myself got the proposal I thought I’d never, ever receive. I swear, there were times in my past life when I’d sit in my room, hearing story after story of college classmates who were dropping like flies into the realms of marriage. WHAT ABOUT ME??!!!, I used to think. What was wrong with me? Was I not lovable? Was I forever destined to be with men who didn’t appreciate me, respect me or regard me? Or was I forever meant to be with boys who were about a mile short of becoming men? For the above-mentioned two type of guys were the only ones I seemed to land! So I spent time and again feeling sorry for myself regarding men and wondered if I’d ever have a husband and a family of my own … until finally I came to terms with being alone and I was actually relishing the new found contentment about being single when LO AND BEHOLD, when I least expected it (as cliche as that sounds) in walks destiny.

June 7, 2009 – the day I wondered about for about two decades, the day I feared would NEVER, EVER come… finally came… :o)

Note that the first thing I said to my mom when we called her (about 15 minutes after this picture was taken) was “OMG mom someone wants to MARRY ME!!! Can you believe it?” That caused a good chuckle from her and him alike, but trust me, there was a part of me that was kind of in awe with this concept. Grateful, but in awe nonetheless.

But none of this love shmlove stuff could have POSSIBLY happened without the other two things that are prominent about my 2009: technology and the move.

Technology could only take Gonzalo and me so far. While he lived in Santiago, Chile and I lived near San Francisco, CA I’m not sure how long our relationship would have ultimately lasted with such a distance. However I do know that it lasted as long as it did despite being apart thanks to mobile communication devices (i.e. cell phones), Skype, email, Facebook and the Internet in general. I can’t imagine it now, but my life pretty much evolved around my Skype time with him … did I make plans after work with girlfriends? Yes I did. But trust me, they were far fewer than my life prior to Skype time. And well – what woman doesn’t appreciate lugging herself up the steps to her apartment after work only to find a box from 1-800-Flowers containing tulips, or roses, or what have you, sent from her boyfriend living thousands of miles away?

Ultimately though, the only way our relationship would survive was for one of us to transplant themselves to where the other one was … that person ended up being me since 1) I don’t have kids and he does and 2) I speak both languages fluently, thus the likelihood of my adjustment being faster was greater. That move was well documented as it gave rise to this blog … for more details on that part of my life, check back to past entries. Notably, those from July. Hence, one of the major marks of my 2009 was the move from the U.S. to Chile to be with my one and only. Obviously something so maje rightfully takes center stage this year.

The final element of 2009 that I mark with great significance is that of my job/career. I sadly watched as many of my coworkers were laid off earlier this year due to the flailing economy and our company’s reaction to such a decline was that of self-preservation. This makes sense and when my coworkers left, I was (thankfully) left to step into roles that were left empty … and these roles helped me learn a great deal about 1) being thankful to have a job, 2) adjusting to (corporate) emergency situations 3) appreciating that one’s company has such confidence in the abilities of the (remaining) employees and 4)turning on auto-pilot and just getting things DONE. When I realized that it was time for me to leave California and move to Chile, once again my job showed me that life could go on with them in tow too, as they allowed me to keep my job even after I moved. Maybe it was because they need me as much as I need them but either way, it was a great moment in 2009 when I realized that my company really did like me. I like them too. Oh, I have my grrr moments (and definitely had them earlier this year after all the lay offs) but in general, it’s been a good 2009 job-wise and I’ll be forever thankful that I was one of the people that could say that about 2009. I realize that many people can’t.

So now that the Christmas bit is over and I’m about three days away from welcoming 2010, I’m sad to see a pretty good year come to an end. Each year on December 31st, I’m anxious about the upcoming new year especially since past years haven’t been as great as this one has. I hope 2010 is even better (hi, the year I’m getting married and the year I start my Masters program!) but even if it’s just as good as this one, I’ll be more than happy and equally as grateful.

So until 2010, fellow bloggers and blog readers, I’ll leave you with all my best wishes for a happy, healthy and successful 2010, in all ways! And don’t drink and drive. :o)

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Merry Christmas Eve day

It’s Christmas Eve and for all intensive purposes, today is Christmas in Chile. Since celebrations occur this evening, with dinner at about 10 pm and the opening of gifts at about midnight, that puts Santa’s arrival at about 11:45 pm versus the 4 am timing that occurs in the States, allowing kids to catch some zzzzz’s prior to the frenzy on the 25th in the morning.

Several things are on my mind today and I’m trying to sort them all out and/or make them happen.

The most pressing thought this past holiday season can best be described by channeling the Talking Heads and their song “Once in a Lifetime.” Not necessarily the entire song, but definitely the first part of it and especially the end of that first part which asks “Well, how did I get here?” Here a snippet (compliments of Kermit the Frog since I couldn’t find the actual video on YouTube. I rather think the Kermit one is more up my alley but that’s six of one and half a dozen of another …)

Yes, Kermit’s voice gets slightly annoying towards the end of the clip but I do want to consider each point in the beginning of the song:

You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
– well no, not living in a shotgun shack exactly. Apartment’s nice and cozy.
You may find yourself in another part of the world – Yes, this part here is true.
You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile – No, no. The car is a mini little egg-type bit.
You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife – Why yes, in a beautiful apartment with a beautiful, nice smelling soon-to-be husband …

How did I get here:

– I’m the woman of the house and in a way I’ve never known before. I may not clean, as we have help for that, but I direct the cleanliness and well-being of this house.
– I decorated for Christmas and have initiated traditions that I foresee being with us and our future family for a while.
– I’ll be the hostess of our family’s gathering for Christmas Eve tonight.
– We bought Filet Mignon and are about to embark in a full fledged hard-core prepping of a family dinner
– And we’re going to try to create magic for G’s kids tonight given that they believe in Santa and we have to keep this little lie alive (well, “we” is a term I use loosely actually. G will be doing most of the magic making.)

I bring this up because my mom has been keen to repeatedly telling me that she’s so proud of the woman I’ve become and the house I’m “running” and the traditions I’m continuing for my “own” family. Sometimes I feel like she’s talking about someone else since half the time I consider myself to be oh, about 16 and obviously a 16 year old can’t manage all that – what, with boys and the entire cast of Twilight to consider. Who has the time? Sometimes I feel like I’m this teenage girl trapped in a big, woman world. Other times I feel like the same woman who was alone in her apartment last year during the Christmas season and inviting her girlfriends over for merry enjoyment of alcoholic beverages. I didn’t even have a tree back then.

We’re hosting family and friends at our grown-up apartment tonight and it’s a big deal to me. It’s a moment in time that captures everything I once longed for and thought was so out of reach: a man I love who loves me back equally; my mom seeing me in my own home as a grown up; the invite-ER as opposed to the invite-EE during Christmas; the hostess who makes sure that each one of her guests finds a gift under the tree. Sometimes I have split-second moments of freaking out (hence, how did I get here type thoughts) but the freak out is really the 16-year old/single woman me backing off to the woman-of-the-house/master-of-her-own-domain diva who is on her way to having it all. I’m not there yet – far from it – but I am certainly ahead of the curve I think. And that curve isn’t one set by peers, but one that was set by me – versions of me that existed long ago and versions of me that I knew far longer than the me I am getting to know now.

This me is a grown up. This me is a woman. (Even writing that seems weird. What? Me? A woman? Surely, you must be mistake …) This me has a fabulous apartment and is serving filet mignon for Christmas dinner!

Madge said it best… who’s that girl?

Hee hee! Me I think. Except you know, a “woman” now.

To who we were and to who we are now… and to the path from A to B – Merry Christmas!

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Google Earth: handy tool or useful stalking mechanism?

Last night G introduced me to what might be THE BEST invention ever … Google Earth. If you haven’t already, I highly suggest you check it out, download it and start sightseeing/stalking different parts of the world.

I’m OFFICIALLY obsessed!!

I give you my Google Earth’s version of my apartment building (second bldg from the bottom right) Side note, I had NO IDEA that our neighbors had a pool on their roof!

So then we decided to check out all the destinations in Asia where we are planning to go on our Honeymoon – and THIS, was by far, the coolest thing ever:

See all those little blue squares? That’s where people have uploaded pictures in that area! The more squares, the more likely it’s a tourist attraction…


And one of the BEST TOOLS about this thingy is the street view option…not all destinations have this option but more likely than not, U.S. cities will for sure have it… here we have Tokyo (another Hmoon destination) and we also have a close up of a street in the Shinjuku district…watch as it zooms, zooms and ZOOMS!!:

Of course, I guess we can also see this as a scary Big Brother-type tool that allows people to stalk one another and allows big corporations (i.e. Google) to keep tabs on what we’re doing and where we’re going. Yeah, I guess we can go that route…but I’m pretty sure this has been going on for decades without us knowing and now it’s open and free for us to use! For the moment, we better just sit back and take advantage of this little tool to help us find our destinations (long gone are the MapQuest days of simple “turn right here” and “turn left here”)… I imagine that pretty soon they’ll have live cameras set up somewhere actually MONITORING live. Next thing you’ll know is that you’ll look out the window and see some droid filming what you’re presently doing, all because someone entered your building’s address in Google Earth!

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Fake Chilena Part II: What makes me Chilean

What gives me a huge sense of joy regarding this blog is that I can throw things out there and I have the privilege of reading people’s thoughts/opinions about such things. I also feel an immense amount of appreciation for the blog community in general, mainly because it’s perspectives galore! And who doesn’t like third party opinions, I ask you?

Anyhoo, so my list of why I’m not Chilean (in my mind) can go on and on, but it’s only fair to point out reasons why I AM indeed Chilean because there are quite a few. After all, with Pil as a mother, (who ever-so-nicely told me when I was 4 that I’d speak to her in Spanish only or she would never talk to me) – it’s hard to forget where one came from.

1) Believe it or not, I really like Nescafe and I drink it once or twice, daily. Others may argue that it tastes gross, but coming from the U.S., where the majority of coffee tastes like Starbucks (yuck), I’m not really sure what the difference is between that and Nescafe? In fact, I think Nescafe is tastier! … and I blame Starbucks and their gross coffee for this.

2) I grew up reading Condorito. Given that back in the day we didn’t have much money, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t getting the lastest Condoritos to read, therefore, I most likely learned to read in Spanish with the same three comic books – over and over and over. I really liked his nephew Cone and felt like he was my buddy. I liked Yayita too but her boobs and body weirded me out in a “please-don’t-let-that-happen-to-me” kind of way (it did). Finally, I really liked that his dog’s name was Washington. How Shey-lay-no!

3) I’m inclined to dress my salad with either lemon and oil or balsamic and oil. Granted, I’m not sure if this is totally Chilean, but I do know that Chileans more often than not, don’t even have salad dressing in their fridge, let alone dump it on salads.

4) Me gusta chismear. Or, I like to gossip. But “gossip” actually has SUCH a bad connotation, I almost feel bad about lying in such a manner. I like to be “in the know” and like to know what people are doing and how they feel. Of course it’s one of the MAIN reasons I love that my gringa friends have blogs – it’s like being a fly on the wall. Mostly I like to hear about my family and what each cousin (out of 1049) is doing and how he got this or that person pregnant (heard that story about three times) or how he/she flunked out of their year in school (heard that one once, thankfully.)

5) Pisco sours and pan amasado. Yum, yum and YUM! If I could send a care package to all my wonderful friends back home, I’d FOR SURE include these two little concoctions because MY WORD, do they make me a happy Chilean! (Though currently limiting intake of both due to upcoming wedding. My own, I mean.)

6) The smog is slowly becoming second nature to me. I guess this is more of a Santiago thing. When I first got here I remember seeing the layer of smog SO THICK that I thought FOR SURE the knights of the Apocalypse were on their way to my house. Now I wake up, get my day going, see the smog, and carry on. I don’t even think about it! Further, I went to a friend’s house the other night to do our Secret Santa, and I realized that near her house I could actually SEE the Andes Mountain range! From my apt, I simply can’t! With it, the dust and dirt that the smog brings into my apt is actually ALMOST taken for granted. Almost.

7) Family is important. To the point that I talk to Pil not just on a daily basis but about two to three times a day. I talk to my Uncle Pato who still lives back in the States, about twice a week! I have acquaintances back home who talk to their parents once every two weeks. ONCE EVERY TWO WEEKS??!!! Not to be morbid, but either person could be dead in their home, being eaten away by rabid dogs with so much time between communication! I’m just sayin…

8) Wine. It’s not just for special occasions or sexy moments anymore. Oh no. This divine nectar of the gods has become a staple at most meals. When Pisco Sour isn’t center stage, that is.

9) Tarjeta BIP. Live it, love it, own it. It’s the electronic card that gets you on the metro and buses. I have two. One has BIP written on it and one is from the days when they were TESTING the cards… seriously, it’s about 4-5 years old. I alternate, depending on which one has more money on it. (you recharge it periodically with more $$$). G has lived in Santiago almost his entire life and he doesn’t even have one! Come to think of it, I just realized that I have NO idea what “Bip” even stands for! I wonder if it’s to mimic the sound the card makes when you swipe it?? Hmmm…

10) I’ve gotten used to the fact that when I want envelopes, I don’t go to a place similar to Long’s and browse their office supply aisle for a box of letter sized, standard envelopes. I go to a tiny, itty bitty, office supply store which sells me the envelope of my choice INDIVIDUALLY. They buy the box and then sell each envelope IN the box, to the consumer. At first I thought this was weird. Now I just appreciate it bc honestly, who needs an entire box of envelopes? This is a GENERAL example of how I’ve gotten used to finding the exact store that will sell me exactly and precisely what I need. No matter how small the object or how cheap.

11) I REALLY, really, really (no, really) like 80s glam rock and I never complain when they play them over and over again at clubs (discos as they say here.) What can I say? I grew up in the 80s so the fact that Chile seems to be stuck there at times is A-OK with me!

Such silliness….As one gringa friend would say, “Oh She-lay.”

And I’m this weird combo of gringa and She-lay-na … so when people ask me where I’m from (and they do about 90% of the time because of this said “accent” I presumably have) I just don’t know what to say anymore. I’m both and I’m neither.

Honestly my life would be MUCH easier if I could just direct all such questions to my blog. The answers are all here, folks. Hence, chileangringa dot blogspot, etc etc…

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