Greatest Hits

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 Making a list, checking it twice ... via Chud.comHits” 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.”

Even as it was happening, I knew buying our bed was an important step. I took this picture during the actual purchase!

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.

Girls gone road trippin’!

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.”

Other greats…:

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.

Said balcony before we moved in.

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.

Licensing Show 2008. You know how I feel about my past life in licensing. I adore my

Actual pic from “after hours” during LS 2008. My future husband was dating another woman back then.

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).

Mini me and me, just this week.

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.

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Reality bites?

Our culture, our society, the media, our peers and basically everything that surrounds us in the day to day of our little lives teaches us that babies are a happy thing. Babies are a miraculous event we should all be grateful for and everything associated with this is meant to be positive. I’m not here to disagree with all of this. After all, there’s something unprecedented about having a baby and realizing that there’s a little human being now alive because of you.

But I’m writing this post because I need to point out that not everything is peaches and cream when a baby is born. I want to say this because, in light of what appears to be a baby boom where many people I know are having children right around the same time I did, I was forced to come to terms with the fact that my instant reaction to having a baby didn’t quite mirror theirs. Theirs being the reaction we “expect,” the reaction we’ve seen and the reaction we’ve been taught: sincere happiness, marvel and wonder, immediate bonding and acceptance of all that surrounds the new bundle.

Sweet mother-newborn moment. Photo via Lifepregnancy.com

Woe is me. Photo via Television Trope
As mentioned in previous posts, I did a whole lot of reading during my pregnancy in order to “prepare” for what was “expected.” Every good pregnancy book will have a chapter on “Baby Blues” and postpartum depression. Bored, I skipped over those chapters. In fact, I incorrectly thought that postpartum depression was triggered because the mother “missed” being pregnant and I was certain that wouldn’t be the case with me since the last few weeks of my pygmy hippo-ness was chalk full of aches and pains. I figured, I’ve never been a truly depressive person (minus the abyss of eternal despair I’d throw myself into post break ups in the past) and the idea of being depressed, in every sense of the word, just didn’t register with me. Those weren’t the experiences I had heard about and it wasn’t something that ANYONE I knew even remotely hinted about. That type of thing happened to lonely, depressive, crazy cat women, who fell into loveless marriages at a young age.

Um, except it DID happen to me and let me just say, it was UUUUUUUGLY. Now, before your imagination starts running wild, I wasn’t psycho depressed, a la wanting to hurt my baby type of thing. No way, no how. I guess that now that I know how desperate things can seem, I am grateful that that extreme kind of postpartum depression (PPD) didn’t affect me. But it was bad enough that I began to question my own sanity and I wondered if I’d ever smile or laugh again and feel truly happy about anything. Perhaps this sounds dramatic and unnecessary and to that I say, F off!!! You have no idea what it’s like to have a baby and not feel motherly about it. Quite the contrary, in fact: feel as if it’s the end of the world as you know it.

I know that this doesn’t totally make sense. After all, you might say “hey, you were preggo for nine months and had nine whole months to get used to the fact that you were going to be a mom and have to worry 24/7 about this baby.” Except I’m here to REPEAT that no amount of time, studying, reflecting, reading or investigating actually prepares you for life with a baby. The before and after are so close together, it’s almost a mind f*ck to remember that just the OTHER DAY, you could come and go as you pleased and didn’t have to worry about a crying baby next to you.

I would cry every single day and wonder what was wrong with me. I couldn’t feel happy about the baby because I felt as if it was a little stranger and, even worse, that I was a stranger to my own self! Who was this person who now had to worry about breastfeeding and diaper changes and crying babies and color of poop (hers, not mine)? In a sense, it was as if I was in mourning and “what” I was mourning was my former life and my former self. That person, in a sense, had “died” when my new role as mom was appointed to me. Add to the fact that no one tells you that how lonely the first few weeks can truly be. Yeah, people come by and visit you and that’s always appreciated, but in my case I just felt like they were visiting me in prison and I envied their freedom. It depressed me that I couldn’t go out, not even with the baby because of the cold weather. If you’re not used to being home 24/7 with the sole responsibility of taking care of a newborn, then all of a sudden doing so becomes your own personal hell realized. I felt lonely – as if I was truly the only person I knew walking through the strange land of being a new mom (at that point, I was.)

What society would do to me (in my head) for not embracing momdom. Photo via pinealeye.com
Adding insult to injury is the guilt you feel for not embracing motherhood the way it seems that everyone else embraces motherhood. Facebook might tell a million lies via happy pictures that everyone (incl myself) upload to their pages but it was exactly those pictures I recalled of smiling moms with their newborns in my Facebook feed that made me feel like I was the worst woman – worst MOM – in the world. I was certain that if we lived several hundred years back, I’d be burned at the stake like the witch I was for not reacting “properly” to the birth of my daughter or not wholeheartedly embracing my new role as a parent.

Yeah, those were some tough times that I don’t wish upon anyone. I know it sounds weird… after all, society makes us question “how can a new mom not instantly love her baby?” As I said, I’m thankful my PPD wasn’t as extreme as it could have been and I was by NO MEANS near reaching the horror of Andrea Yates. But I was sad and I was scared. I felt lonely and overwhelmed and I felt that if anyone besides my family and G knew, that I’d be horribly judged.

So then … can I tickle you pink with a story of a happy ending? Part of the reason as to why I waited this long to write about my experience post my daughter’s birth is so that I could genuinely give you hope for yourself as a future mom who may go through something similar … everyone said this to me and I didn’t believe it at the time, but now I can jump on the bandwagon and tell you – remind myself – that IT GETS BETTER!! In my case, the first step was putting aside the fear of judgement (my own and by others) and merely recognizing that I wasn’t feeling what I wanted to feel or reacting how I wanted to react. I had to trust others, namely my doctor and my husband, and accept help in all of the required forms (there are many options that a medical professional can explain). I also had to help myself and though it was hard, I’m now writing from a position where I can look at my daughter and want to hug her and kiss her, just as I always imagined I’d do. Of course the passing of time helps immensely – now I can go out with her! We run errands, go out to lunch, get our Starbucks fix, etc, etc all with baby in tow. It’s how it should be. I’ve also returned to my pre-baby routines at home, something we all take for granted but something vital I had put aside unknowingly when I was in the midst of the PPD.

With the passage of time and with the help of my doctor and husband, things got better. Things are GETTING better (to the tune of baby sleeping longer stretches and for me, learning the ropes – yay!) and I’m happy to say that I’m closer to my former self than I’ve felt since my little 9-pound human was born. Pretty soon, I’ll be going back to work and though I’m sure it will be another hard transition, I’m very much looking forward to it: A return to a role I recognize from my “former” life.

At the end of they day I feel that I went through hell and back when I became a mom, but I reached the light at the end of the tunnel. While it’s hard work and still somewhat overwhelming, I embrace the fact that since going through this, I’ve been empowered to get through ANYTHING – and just in time as I head back to the corporate world (don’t mess with the bull, you’ll get the horns!)

So to answer my own question, does reality bite? THANK F*CKING GOODNESS, NO, REALITY DOESN’T BITE. Not anymore.

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My Labor Story (complete with Q & A)

I talked about it, I wrote about it, I griped about it. I feared for the day and lamented the day. I had anxiety everyday for the past two months over it and imagined the worst-case scenario with every article I read about it.

Then finally, on April 30th, I lived through it. “It” being actually giving birth – me, the person who has had the recurring anxiety dream since I was a teenager that I all of a sudden go into labor without previously knowing I was pregnant. No joke, I spent years haunted by this dream so you can imagine what the thought of giving birth did to me in real life.

This is not the labor you've heard about....

At first I didn’t want to believe I was going into labor, but the pain, which felt like taking a brutal hit with a baseball bat right to my lower back was different from all the other pains I had experienced in the last two months of pregnancy. Still, my attitude was “sit and keep watch.” The reality was that I didn’t want to be going into labor. First of all, it was nighttime and if there was ANYTHING I had repeatedly hoped for was to go into labor during the day. You know, so I could count on a full night’s sleep and proceed with energy the following day for the labor portion of the agenda. The mere thought of being up all night in pain just made me want to crawl into bed and sleep. And that’s exactly what I did. After a long, hot shower – where yet again I was met with a debilitating pain I can now recognize as contractions – I crawled into bed and decided that this wasn’t labor, but instead, false labor known as Braxton Hicks contractions.

Yes my good people, I tried to Jedi-mind trick myself into thinking that I was NOT going into labor. This mind over matter exercise I was putting into practice was destined to fail, of course. I was obviously in labor and as much as I tried to carry on with my evening as if there was nothing to see here, this baby was RSVP-ing her appearance to the outside world in a matter of hours.

And speaking of … one always hears these cray cray stories about women being in labor for a million and a half hours. To the unknowing mind, this sounds like one is doing the stuff seen on tv the entire time – i.e. pushing and sweating and hurting for 30+ hours. The reality is that labor involves the ENTIRE process of giving birth, and the pushing, sweating part, is a small fraction of the process. Also, it’s not bloody and it’s not painful (that is, if you have a lifesaver called an epidural.) Don’t get me wrong, before the epidural I was in the most painful state of my life. I didn’t realize that something could hurt that much. I always used to wonder: “What do contractions feel like?” and I’ve read answers that state “like really bad menstrual cramps.” UM – WRONG!!! It’s like really bad menstrual cramps times 5,000. No, times a million. Then imagine a baseball bat being involved, hitting you right where it hurts most – and hard! And it’s not just your lower stomach but also your entire torso! It’s a sharp pain that starts either in your abs and immediately grabs your back, or vice versa. In any case, your back is involved which makes it ridiculously difficult to “walk it off” as many sites tend to suggest. You can barely stand up straight, let alone walk it off. I also tried to breathe through it but that was a joke as well. Whoever suggested either of those as possible solutions to the pain was clearly a Birkenstock-wearing, hippy.

In any case, my labor story started off like this and continued on until 5:56 am when the little pygmy hippo made her debut out here. Between the time elapsed with the details above and the actual time of birth, a total of 10 hours passed. Of these 10 hours, 5 were spent in complete and total, utter and relentless, pain. For all those who are interested, I’d really like to address some true-to-life questions about how it all went down between the Jedi-mind trick, the contractions and the actual birth. To do so, I think the best way would be via a Q&A of the top questions I’ve been asked about the whole ordeal. If there’s one thing I won’t do is sugarcoat it so here it is, in all its gutsy glory.

My Labor Story Q & A:

Q. Does your water really “break?” Because that sounds gross.
A. I don’t know if your water will break but mine didn’t “break” … it kind of just sprung a leak. Since tampons are forbidden during this time, I had to bust out the woman diapers – I mean, the maxi pads – which was all kinds of gross. But in short, no, I didn’t all of a sudden gush the new Niagra Falls from in between my legs. It just felt like I had my period – and I was 12 again, with a big ol’ pad to weather the storm.

Holy OUCH!! via nysora.com

Q. What does the epidural feel like? Does it really NOT hurt because I call bullshit!
A. Let’s get one thing straight – the actual insertion of the epidural hurt like a MOTHERFUCKER. Like seriously, I burst into tears. I wasn’t sure if the contractions hurt more or if that ginormous whatever-you-call-it being inserted between two discs in my spine hurt more. It wasn’t just a prick, wham, bam – pain is gone in two seconds type of thing either. It hurt, then it hurt some more, then it REALLY hurt, then I thought I’d pass out from the hurt and just for shits and giggles, it hurt one last time. And then all of a sudden ….nothing. Bliss. Heaven on Earth. Zen. In.the.zone. Call it what you will, all of a sudden after 5 hours of intense pain and then 10 minutes of spinal cord pain – no pain. Ahhhhh, the almighty epidural. Trust me when I tell you that despite the pain of it going in, the relief you feel afterward is SO worth it. And no, seriously, you don’t feel the pain of the contractions.

Q. You pushed a 6 pound baby out of your va-jay-jay… tell the truth – are you a disfigured mess down there or what?
A. Oh the vaginal birth … good for quick healing, bad for your post-baby sex life? On the contrary, my dear friend! That is, if you have a doctor like the one I had who made sure that after all was said and done, I was neatly put “back in my place” so to speak. I didn’t know it before, but birth is a sure way to leave your inhibitions at the door. What I mean is that there is NO ONE – NO ONE – within a 10-foot radius of you, who doesn’t take a gander at your hoo-ha at some point or another throughout the ordeal. Most of these people will take a gander repeatedly throughout the three days you’re in the hospital (clinica). It gets to the point where you just spread eagle for anyone who walks through the door, just to save time. All this is normal, of course. What I found to be off-your-rocker strange is the fact that EVERYONE wanted to see the stitches of the episiotomy … and what’s more, they wanted to see them because it was my doctor who had performed the procedure – they all agreed, he does “fantastic” work. Never before, and probably never again, have I had so many people oooh and ahhh in splendor at my nether region. Amidst the bloated middle, disheveled hair, makeup-less face and swollen feet, I could rest assured that my hoo-ha was left in top-notch condition. Thank you, Dr. Alcalde! I salute you.

Q. Holy shit!! You had an episiotomy???!!! What the hell?
A. Yeah, I know, crazy. And no, I wasn’t expecting it and no, the doctor didn’t tell me about it until right AS HE WAS PERFORMING it. However, I didn’t feel anything (all hail the mighty epidural) as it occurred and so, it would be a lie to tell you that it hurt. What DID hurt was the healing!! OMG it hurt. I couldn’t sit straight for about 5 days and the first few days were awful! But at that point, the baby was out, I was in recovery and apparently my hoo-ha was looking spectacular – what was the point in complaining?

Q. Is the post birth bleeding “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” style?
A. Good Lord, where did you hear that? Actually, yes and no. The first few days it is … then it’s not. Then it’s like a normal heavy period that eventually gets lighter. You’ll survive. I did.

Larger than life. via Wikipedia.org

Q. So that means you have to wear those “Stay Puft Marshmallow Man” pads that the hospital gives you?
A. Yeah and they suck. It’s like you’re walking around with a throw pillow between your legs. I wasn’t a fan and I don’t think you will be either. You’ll feel better knowing that by the time I left the hospital, I didn’t need the throw pillow pads anymore so you just have to suck it up for a few days.

Q. So you gave birth to an actual human being – do you now have feelings of self-entitlement? Are you all “I am woman, hear me roar” now?
A. Listen buddy, I’m not sure I like your attitude! But since you asked, no, I don’t feel entitled just because I’m able to make a person and pop her out. Yes, when I think about how crazy it is that a woman’s body knows exactly what to do, how to do it and when to do it, I find it downright miraculous. But after the fact, when the baby is out and you’re faced with actually having to care for it, your ass is kicked from here to Albuquerque in such a way, that any feelings of smugness quickly fade. In fact, it’s the worst “standing-naked-in-front-of-the-classroom” equivalent because you are vulnerable, have no idea what you’re doing and all of a sudden realize you’re faced with the greatest challenge (and opportunity) in your life. There is no smugness to be had when all you feel is, quite simply, humbled. Scared and humbled.

And that, my friend, is where you find yourself immediately after giving birth. But that’s a story for another day.

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End of the road

I’ve been consumed with doctor’s appointments this week and visits to the clinica (hospital) for one thing or another. Why? I guess there comes a moment in some pregnancies where the woman’s body just says “peace out” or “get this ball of baby out of here because it’s literally cramping my style.” This is what seems to be happening with me and as a result, my doctor has turned the hourglass over on this journey called pregnancy.

Like sands in the hourglass .... via 411onsoaps.com

And when I say hourglass, I mean that the days are numbered. By that I mean either tomorrow, Thursday, or next Monday, at the latest. Are you getting what I’m telling you? It means that by THIS TIME NEXT WEEK I’LL BE A MOM. Let’s ponder that for a second….

When one first embarks on this journey (again, if you’re like me), you spend a bit of time trying to wrap your mind around the fact that you’re now one of those women who breeds. You spend an equal amount of time trying to come to terms with the fact that you can no longer enjoy the glass of wine that made all lousy days bearable. Just when you need that glass of vino most, all of a sudden it’s one of the biggest no-no’s around. That and caffeine. Just like that, your morning and evening drinks are no longer applicable to your body’s new role of “baby making.”

After that initial shock and disbelief, what happened with me is that I just kind of “forgot” that I was pregnant. I use the term “forgot” quite loosely because the reality is that I took care of myself, signed up for all kinds of preggo lady newsletters, downloaded apps on my phone, went to all the necessary appointments, took all the necessary tests (pin cushion, anyone?) and took all the required vitamins (and we’re not talking the Flintstones anymore) expected of a mom-to-be. I took on the role of pregnant lady like I would take on any other responsibility and I did it as completely as possible. So what do I mean by “forgot?” I mean that I didn’t go all agro crazy about the baby. In fact it was during this time that G and I took our fabu vacation to Southeast Asia. This was followed by the craziest three months at work where I literally ate, breathed and slept all things work. In short, I didn’t buy baby things, or think about baby names or decorate the bedroom or even imagine in the slightest what the baby would be like. I wasn’t consumed at all and kind of took an “out of sight, out of mind” stance to it all.

This was a fine and dandy strategy until riiiiiiight around January of this year when we moved from our first apartment together to the one we’re in now, a move motivated exclusively by the arrival of this bundle. But even during this time, the reality of the pregnancy and the baby didn’t really, truly, sit in. I mean, sure, we all of a sudden had a physical space for the baby by way of an actual room, but up until a month ago, said room was really a storage area where G kept his tools. Even Obi wasn’t too sure what to make of that room and decided that it was the perfect place to poop on the newly rolled out carpet – hey, when in doubt use it as a bathroom.

I guess that the real “culprit” as to why I haven’t really registered this pregnancy as perhaps a “normal” woman would is that I’ve thankfully felt fine throughout the entire ordeal. It really wasn’t until about 3 weeks ago that I started to feel horrible (thank goodness for government backed maternity leave) and since I worked until the very last day the Chilean government and my employer would allow me to work, my mind was on other things: things I know, things I’m familiar with, things I’m good at. In between of course I read everything under the sun (“What to Expect When You’re not Sure What to Expect,” “What to Expect of Yourself When You’re Expecting to Blow It,” “What to Expect of a Baby with Expectations,” “When Expecting is not What you Expected Unabridged version” “Low Expectations, High Expectations and Baby in Between” etc, etc, what have you) and in reading found out way too much information about va-jay-jays, secretions, stretching and tearing and pooping when you least expect it. So what I’m saying here is this: I prepared as best I could but in reality, I prepared as if I were going into a final exam at the end of the nine months where I’d be tested on all things studied.

Here's what I imagined via Babble Blogs: Strollerderby

Except, now I know that this isn’t really going to go down like I thought (and by that I mean “read”) it would.
I hope I’m not alone in revealing that BEFORE this whole preggo ordeal I imagined birth to be like in the movies: blood, screaming, gooey, disgusting mess and total unexpected craziness. In the movies, the water breaks, the lady starts with her blood curdling screams, we fast forward to a sterile, cold birthing room, blood splattered walls, more screaming and then a slimy baby popping out from the hoo-ha. In fact it would seem that the first part of my experience isn’t going to catch me off guard at all. I had these visions that I’d be walking around the grocery store and then SPLASH!! – said water breaking and everyone around me slipping and sliding to avoid a gross encounter. I imagined having to call G detailing how “far apart” the contractions were coming and subsequently speeding down the highway so as not to pop a baby out in a car down by the river.

I know that this preggo journey is going to be over either tomorrow or, at the latest, Monday. I feel like I’ve had a total of one month to mentally prepare for this and, OF COURSE, I don’t feel prepared. I should feel like I’ve had months and months to prepare but because of my own idiosyncrasy, I didn’t afford myself this luxury of time. But then again, who’s to say that I didn’t actually do myself a favor? I mean, birth and having a baby isn’t something that one can “study” or “train” for. In fact, nine times out of ten, each time I read something, I end up freaking out or imagining a worst case scenario version of whatever I happened to have just read. What I mean by all this is, had I afforded myself the time to marinate on the pending momdom that’s fast approaching me, I would have ended up more neurotic than I already am. Despite this, I know that sitting on this side of pregnancy, a day will come when I’m on the OTHER side (i.e. with baby outside) and I’ll think back to this period and kick myself for not having known better. Even now I know that I should have embraced it more, but in the moment I just couldn’t.

And so, where do I stand given that possibly tomorrow (or Monday at the latest) a baby (A BABY!!!) that’s been a-cookin’ for the past 9+ months will make its debut? Yes, I’m scared – there’s just no way around that. However, I can’t say I’m not armed with information. If there’s something that I’ve been doing it’s reading every single day about every single possible topic related to pregnancy, newborns, bringing home baby, pooping and all that’s in between. If I were to be tested on this matter, I’d pass with flying colors, win a spanking brand new baby and a year’s supply of Turtle Wax 5-in-1 Fresh Shine Protectant. Pass me the Scantron, my #2 pencil is sharpened!

I seriously can’t believe that this period of my life is almost over. I’m not gung-ho-happy-to-be-preggo lady but it’s a time in my life that will never happen again – kind of how I view my wedding. I’m glad I have pictures of that so I can look back and remember “Oh yeah” about all the details. And speaking of pictures, throughout this pregnancy I never really shared any pictures of my pygmy hippo-ness … well, for the sake of posterity, here are a few:

6.5 months

7.5 months

9 months (with my numba one stunna)

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Time warp

Ever since I moved to Chile in July 2009, I’ve entered a time warp. I kind of feel a little like Han Solo when he was frozen in carbon. Or for the younger generation of readers, like Austin Powers when he was cryogenically frozen for 30 years.

Our dearest Han, hung on a wall after being frozen. Via Star Wars Wiki

The point being that once I left San Francisco, it seems I just placed a bookmark where I left off so as to return at some point in the future and catch up on what’s been going on since I left. For instance, since I left the U.S., several things have occurred that I simply have no idea about, almost as if they came out of nowhere. Examples:

– Nicki Minaj – who is this and what does she do? Why do we care? Can someone give me a 90s or early 2000s equivalent, please? Also, please shed some light on why she looks that way.

– Tim Tebow – Ok, I get that he’s a football player and that this concept of “tebowing” was apparently brought to light because of him but…. no, wait, I beg to differ. Haven’t football players been getting down on one knee to thank God for that touchdown for like, EVER?? Again, what the hell? Why is he a big deal?

– Wikileaks – is it just me or is it eerily similar to Deep Throat and those involved in ultimately bringing down the Nixon administration? Whistle blowers or am I wrong?

– Leslie Nielsen DIED??!!!!!! Surely you can’t be serious. I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.

– Glee – what is it and why was it so popular? Is it still popular? Is it like High School Musical, which is like Kids Incorporated which is like FAME?

Via childrenofthenineties.blogspot.com

And don’t even get me started on social media!! Facebook Timeline, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest – seriously I feel like my mom. All she wants in life is for someone to bring back her classic Motorola flip phone. What’s even more bothersome is that via osmosis I used to at least get some of the things that now completely blow my mind. How did this happen?? Did I spend too much time trying to figure out what’s going on in Chile that I lost sight of other details? Or is it that I simply stopped being around and associating with people who used to shed some light on all these mysterious things?

You know how we sit back and wonder at times when our dear old grandparents just stopped getting it? Well, apparently it happens at 35-ish!!!!

This brings me to the main topic at hand – this handy little site I stumbled upon just recently called Timehop. Now perhaps this is something all of you knew about since June of 2010 or something, but given all I’ve just laid out for you, it’s a big deal that I even know about this site AND FURTHER, found out about it on my own, so cut me some slack!

For the 2-odd people out there who may not know what it is, let me explain (bursting with pride and smugness, mind you, at the fact that I am explaining to YOU something I knew first! A-ha!!) – Timehop is a service that you subscribe to which taps into any social media account you may have and goes back one year in time to see what your status updates were on that particular site. Depending on how many social media outlets you register, Timehop taps them, compiles the info and sends you a daily email with the information. Hence, your own personal time capsule. I’m thinking it’s something that Facebook is trying to do with said Timeline but via Timehop, the info just appears in your inbox so you don’t have to do ANY searching or investigating. Viola! A time capsule for the lazy and unmotivated.

Let’s take a looksie, shall we?

The first Timehop email I got after subscribing was on April 11th of this year, which means that the email contained tweets and FB status updates from April 11, 2011. I didn’t recall at the time, but apparently a year ago I was flying out to NYC for work. Below, some snippets:

Via my Gmail Inbox

Apparently on April 11th I was catching the flight out to NYC and was, not to mention, a little bitter about the fact that I wasn’t traveling in Business.

The following day, April 12th, I received my info from a year earlier:

Via my Gmail Inbox

Obvi that a year ago on April 12th I was sublimely happy because 1) I was in NYC in 2) my fave – rainy weather, about to 3) hang out with good friends, in the meantime 4) going to the best place on Earth – TARGET then 5) eating and drinking to my little heart’s content, finally followed by sweet dreams in a 6) posh NYC hotel . I mean, if I didn’t just describe YOUR perfect day too then something’s wrong with you.

Of course, not all emails bring me back to a clear and precise moment in time. For example, the email from this morning with information from exactly a year ago:

Via my Gmail Inbox

Someone had their panties in a bunch…

Anyway, since coming across this site I should really get on updating my Twitter and Facebook feeds more often. Being that I’m DAYS from giving birth, you’d think I’d want to chronicle this experience a bit more (aside from SOME blog posts you may have taken a gander at, I’ve done NO chronicling.) My point being is that I really, really like this little site I stumbled across earlier this month. Like, a lot. On the one hand I’m patting myself on the back for finding SOMETHING on my own that seems cool (even if this has come and gone and I’m way behind the trend. So be it!) On the other hand, I find it very cool that there is now a service that will facilitate reminders of a moment in time from my past. And the best thing of all is that I don’t have to do anything that I don’t ALREADY do (i.e. update Twitter and FB whenever I deem necessary).

And for those of you out there that are tech wizards, ahead-of-the-curve hipsters, trend-setters and just basically IN THE KNOW, please consider providing a public service (to me) and filling me in on things that will steer me more towards “cool mom” as opposed to antiquated grandma (which is the direction I’m apparently heading towards at the age of 35! Ack!) After all, think about how sad it is that I just discovered Adele in November of 2011 … not only that, specifically “Rolling in the Deep.”

I mean… c’mon!!! Toss me a frickin’ bone here. I’m at the mercy of your wealth of knowledge and only this will differentiate me from lifelong “cool mom” or lifelong “lame mom.” What’s it gonna be?

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What are you going to do about your dog?

This is a question I get asked a lot. My response (in my head) is “What are you going to do about your face?” But of course that’s my inside voice.

In the 2.5 years that I’ve had Obi, my spoiled and loveable bulldog, I’ve grown used to the different reactions that people have regarding my dog. In the beginning it really, really bothered me but as time passed, I began to take the advice of well-wishers and began to brush off the mean and ignorant comments people had about him. I also learned to accept that everyone else didn’t have to like my dog as much as I like him and that it was ok if people were scared of him. Yes, I reserved the right to judge those people but in the end, I stopped letting it bother me and I stopped reacting so aggressively.

Who's afraid of the big, bad bulldog?

The irony is that in the past two years since I’ve had Obi, bulldogs have become one of the top ten “pure” breed dogs preferred by Chileans and with each passing year, the breed is becoming more and more popular (if commercials featuring bulldogs are any indication or the increasing number of bullies I see being walked around our neighborhood.) As per usual, the thing with Chile is this: if you wait long enough, thanks to the Internet and globalization in general, eventually people come around and seem to “get” where you’re coming from. That’s the silver lining of being an expat, and, let’s face it, the main consolation when I feel like griping about something pertaining to life in Chile.

However, one thing I have yet to wait out is the prevailing belief held by many that now that a baby is on the way, I should have some kind of answer to the question “what are you going to do with your dog?” Obviously to me, this question makes no sense. It would be like asking a second-time mom what she’s going to do with her 3-year old son now that she has another bun in the oven. Let me clarify: I’m not stating that some prep work isn’t required. I’m just saying that the question posed seems to imply an equal answer from my side (i.e. we’re having him slaughtered and stuffed, then we’re mounting his head on our wall. What?) Yes, this imaginary answer is ridiculous (I would NEVER!) but it reflects just how ridiculous I find the question that is asked over and over again by all KINDS of people, dog lovers and haters alike!

That aside, of course, the loaded question does bring to light the fact that some groundwork needs to happen. The fact of the matter is that Obi is just as part of the family as any other human equivalent under this roof and the poor little guy has the total disadvantage, that, unlike the rest of us, he hasn’t had months of prep time to get used to the idea of a baby. In fact, I don’t think he’s wired to like small, creepy, crawly things. First of all, he lunges at moths and swallows them whole. Second, if he sees a bug, he hides under the bed (apparently moths aren’t bugs in his head). Third, he barks really loudly at the vacuum when one is lugging it from room to room while cleaning (this being an example of something crawly, naturally). Finally, when I recently took him to the vet, we encountered a bulldog puppy that drove him insane. Apparently too small, too energetic and too bouncy for his liking. Check out the video below.

In all seriousness, I do believe that Obi will continue to be our loveable bulldog once the baby arrives. The main thing that we need to constantly remember (and some free unsolicited advice from yours truly) is to CHANGE AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE OF THE DOG’S NORMAL LIFE. In our case, what does it mean?

1.) Will Obi’s sleeping area be changed because of the baby?
No. He’ll continue to sleep where he’s always slept, right here in our room at the foot of our bed.

2.) Will Obi’s eating area be changed once the baby arrives?
No, it will continue to be in the kitchen, twice a day, once in the morning and once at night.

3.) Will any new rooms in the apartment be suddenly off limits to him because of the baby?
At present, no, but sooner or later this will change a bit since I don’t want him picking up small toys from the baby’s room and choking on them. However, he’s used to suddenly having rooms off-limits to him. For instance, right now, the dining room and living room are off limits because of a recent “accident” in both rooms (Grrrrr….)

In addition, what else are we doing?
1.) We play videos of baby’s crying, cooing, laughing, etc so he can get used to the sound.
2.) We walk around with the Cabbage Patch Kid my mother gave me when I was 8-years old (yes, you read that correctly), which we lull to sleep, carry around, pretend to feed, etc, etc … like some 30-something year old nutjobs. We even dressed this doll in the baby’s future duds. I kid you not.

Currently the would-be baby sleeps in the future baby's bassinet. She's wiiiild!

3.) We’re brushing up on the commands he learned during his 6-month long obedience training (just in case!)

4.) Once I’m at the hospital, we’ll be sending home the clothes that the baby first wore so he can get a good ol’ whiff of the baby’s scent prior to her arrival at home.

Are they bonding or what?

Am I delusional in thinking that our dog will adapt? No, I truly believe that we’re going to be ok. The fact of the matter is that the baby is going to be an adjustment for EVERYONE, including G’s kids. The thing to keep in mind is that we need to address any kind of “rejection” or “odd” behavior with patience and strategy. Obi’s not going to be the first or last dog to have to adjust to a new baby in the house just as G’s kids aren’t going to be the first kids to adjust to the same thing. And I honestly believe Obi will do well. After all, he adores G’s kids and has never caused them any harm. In addition, so far, he seems to get a kick out of the would-be baby.

The point being is that, yes, I agree that some prep work needs to be done with any dog who’s about to realize that his “only child” status is about to be sabotaged in some way. This is part of responsible dog ownership, no?

Though the fact still remains that Obi will forever be my first baby, no matter what the haters think and no matter what other women tell me about “not knowing love until you meet your baby…” blah, blah, blah, BARF. I know love and I’ll know new love with the baby, let’s not confuse things. I love my husband, I love my dog and accordingly, I’ll love the baby. I see no competition. After all, no matter how much I love the baby or how cute ANY baby is, how can one NOT adore this loveable, wrinkly tub of love??

Obi's official Glamour shot.
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Just keep swimming

What is matronatacion and why should you care?

Actually you needn’t care, not unless you’re a little beached whale like I am these days. However, it’s something that I just recently tried and I thought I’d share my experience with those out there who are looking for information on what it’s like to be preggo in Chile (as an expat). There’s lots of ground to cover on that topic but for now, I’m going to share just a wee bit on matronatacion specifically – or water workouts for (human) preggo pygmy hippos.

Who dat? A pygmy hippo! Cute as a botton. Photo courtesty of Vision O2

[Disclaimer: Now, unless you’re a complete moron, or otherwise desensitized to all things empirically adorable, it’s hard not to notice that pygmy hippos are, in fact, quite cute. This is the reason I use the pygmy hippo as a metaphor for myself and in general, cute preggo ladies. If you’re offended by this, I’ll assume what I asserted in the first sentence of this disclaimer – 1) you’re a moron or 2) you’ve been genetically altered to NOT recognize what is clearly all kinds of adorable. As such, I pity the fool.]

Last week I attended my first matronatacion (water workout) class at MEDS Mall Sport in Las Condes. Actually, this first class has been pending since January, when sweet, sweet, chocolate-covered G gave me eight sessions of these water workouts as a birthday present. Unfortunately it wasn’t until now, that I’m on maternity leave, that I actually had time to trek all the way to BFE Mall Sport in Las Condes for this class.

The class is led by a midwife (midwife assistance and expertise is common practice during most labors here in Chile) and though at first glance it would seem that the purpose of the class is to provide a workout for us pygmys, the reality of the benefits of these classes goes far beyond just providing a cardiovascular, low impact workout for the mom-to-be. The main goals of these workouts are to strengthen the following three areas: ab muscles (for pushing the baby out and, let’s face it, to snap back to pre-preggo shape post popping it out), pelvis (you know, so you don’t break in two when the baby comes rearing its ugly head from in between your legs) and the…ew … perineal area (which is the area that lies somewhere between your hoo-ha and that place they say the sun doesn’t shine. You know, the “money-shot” favored by porno directors the world over.) Apparently mastering these three areas, along with the right kind of breathing and relaxation techniques (in my case, i.e. epidural) make for an “uneventful” and “easy” labor. As such, the midwife that leads these classes believes that working out in the weightlessness that water provides, allows pregnant women to work these three areas successfully in preparation for labor. Other benefits include a healthy, lightweight cardiovascular workout for the mom, enhanced flexibility and increased blood flow to all pertinent areas (wherever those may be.)

Bobbing in the water like little bueys. Photo courtesty of NYT Blogs

Upon further inquiry about water aerobics classes for preggo ladies, I learned that in the U.S. it’s been studied that women who partake in these kinds of exercises are less likely to request pain relievers during labor (i.e. epidurals, for example.) Now, I don’t know if there’s a correlation or not because I don’t know if bobbing about in the water is really going to make me forgo all kinds of medication and entice me to go all natural. I know me and me doesn’t fit in well with the whole 100% natural, granola-esque way of living. I mean, seriously, MORE POWER to those women who do it all natural and for reasons that make sense, even choose to do so submerged in water, but that ain’t me, baby. Here’s where I do see some kind of correlation to the claims: the fact of the matter is that these water aerobic classes are trying. As in any workout, you do repetitive motions so as to “train” muscles and build endurance for longer hauls. I was literally spent and almost breathless on several occasions (not to mention that I of course swallowed water and started sputtering about like an idiot, gasping for air on two occasions…in 4.5 feet of water, mind you.)

The next day was ugly for me. I felt like a burlap bag that had been hit by Bam-Bam’s club one too many times.

Ouch.

It hurt to walk, to lay down, to get up and just basically, to be. As luck would have it, my mom was with me the entire day and though that’s great, she was convinced I was going into labor (which I clearly wasn’t) due to all the pain I was in. The reality is that I’m 8+ months preggo and I spent an hour in a lovely, warm pool, doing exercises I’ve actually NEVER done in my life. Yeah, I was in pain! But it was my first time and regardless of the fact that I hurt the next day, I think it’s worth the pain, if anything because I want to believe it will help build SOME kind of endurance for D-Day. After all, how further off is labor? Aside from the obvious things, I’ll be doing something I’ve never done and be put into positions I’ve never been in. I’ll be out of breath and who knows, maybe even choking and sputtering like I was in the pool. But if my abs, pelvis and that other nether region are stronger and will help me bounce back “sooner,” then I say ok.

**UPDATE**
After writing the bulk of this post, I continued to be in pain after the water aerobics class. Because of this, I made the wise decision of forgoing any further sessions. I’d like to reiterate that it’s not because this isn’t a fabu alternative for preggo pygmys like me to partake in some healthy, active workouts. But the reality is that I should have started these classes at 20-odd weeks and not at 35 weeks. By this time, there is just way too much going on with your larger-than-life body (more than meets the eye, Transformers style!) and a mere lap across the pool – assisted by floaties, mind you – is enough to get your heart racing and make casual conversation virtually impossible.

Just keep swimming, naked little baby. Photo courtesy of Sleevage.com

So the verdict is in. Matronatacion, or water aerobic workout for pregnant ladies, is a fine alternative for a healthy workout… but don’t even THINK about trying to attempt this for the first time when you’re 35+ weeks preggo. You’re heavier than you think, your range of motion isn’t what you remember it to be and your silly little heart will beat way past what you’ll find comfortable. I honestly really liked it and wish I could go back, but to say it was uncomfortable at the stage I’m at would be an understatement.

Besides, the classes I haven’t yet used can be used for swim lessons with the baby pygmy soon-to-come. Visions of Nevermind dance in my head.

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Crime, punishment … and justice?

If I write the name Daniel Zamudio, does it mean anything to you?

What if I wrote Daniel Zamudio is equal to or as similar as Matthew Shepard? Do you even remember him?

I have to admit that when I heard Matthew Shepard in comparison to the recent events surrounding Daniel Zamudio here in Chile, I had to do quick Google search. I didn’t immediately remember Matthew Shepard because his death occurred in 1998, just as I was spending a good four months living in Chile prior to starting my Junior year in college at UC Davis. In other words, I was too wrapped up in my own little world to have remembered the event or the subsequent rally for changes that occurred after it.

Daniel Zamudio passed away on March 27th, after almost a month-long grasp at life. He was beaten and tortured in early March by four men, claiming to be Neonazis. Once hospitalized, Daniel was put in an induced coma and was declared brain-dead just this past weekend. And now he’s passed on.

This doesn’t sound all that different from what occurred to Matthew Shepard on the night of October 6, 1998. A young, homosexual man, at the wrong place at the wrong time, surrounded by monsters who didn’t see him as human. Who saw him as less than human, enough so, that torture seemed irrelevant, the term almost not-applicable.

I wonder about the kind of school, whether formal or environmental, one needs to be exposed to so as to regard violence – no, TORTUREas irrelevant to a human or living being. In an attempt to wrap my mind around such acts, motivated strictly and only by hate and fear, I recalled quite vividly a course I took in college on Criminology. Before my Chilean counterparts ask themselves why on Earth I took a Criminology course in college when in fact I studied something completely different, briefly speaking, in the U.S. you are encouraged (forced) to study a wealth of subject matters during your first two years of studies. I had a sociology requirement and the criminology course fulfilled that requirement.

"Crime and Punishment" - classic novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky that takes us into a criminal mind and the motivation for murder.

Mostly what I remember about this course, where the first three months were spent explaining the different theories as to why criminals exist or why criminal acts occur, are two things: 1) it freaked me out and 2) there are theories upon theories upon theories behind the criminal mind. Last night I took to our storage room and after rummaging through some boxes, found my sophomore year notebook where my sorry version of notes from this class were buried deep. I guess I could have Googled the theories but I found it easier to refer to these notes because they were written in they “lay-est” of layperson’s terms (don’t worry, I won’t run through ALL of them – there are lots!)

The most basic of basic theories (and the oldest) is this: crime is a choice. People choose crime because there is absence of true punishment. This, coupled with self-interest, motivates the choice to commit crime.

Yet another theory states that criminals have different biological and/or psychological traits from those who are not criminals.

Another theory states that crime is learned, for example, via peers who are criminals or perhaps even in environments where crime per se isn’t condoned but isn’t necessarily frowned upon either (a controversial example I offer you: when purchasing pirated items is considered justified and not a crime.) Yes, I realize that especially here in Chile this is a controversial example.

Yet another theory tells us that when someone can’t achieve “normal” success (money, status, power, etc) via non-criminal routes, the pressure of this will result in crime under certain conditions.

Believe it or not, there is even a theory that states that our daily activities affect the likelihood that we’ll become a target of crime, especially if there is no type of authority or guardianship present during the process of said routine activities. I don’t so much like this theory because it reflects the outcome of crime on me. As if just going to the grocery store is a reason for someone to act out (towards me) in a criminal manner.

Fifteen years after taking this course and after scanning pages and pages of notes from this time period, if I had to deduce why people commit crimes (again, based purely on my notes) it would be either because of 1) control, 2) opportunity, 3) social learning and 4) strain and/or pressure.

Why all this?

Simply my feeble attempt to make sense of acts that, to me, make no sense at all. I simply cannot imagine hating someone SO MUCH based solely on that person’s preference of who they like and who they decide to be intimate with. Why is that my problem? Why was that their problem when they attacked Daniel? Why then, is the same rationale not continuously rehearsed, say, with prostitutes? Or people who marry, then divorce, marry, then divorce? This isn’t a statement to condone but a statement questioning why this rationale is limited to a homosexual? But that’s my rational mind trying to make sense of irrational impulses and reasoning.

Personally I blame the society where these criminals have spent the majority of their time. Delusions of grandeur (based on the fact that they are proclaimed neonazis), lack of proper and immediate punishment from authorities, ignorance, poor stimuli, learned and justified criminal activities, family support or lack thereof. Finally, in some form, I believe that in the case of Matthew Shepard as with Daniel Zamudio, their attackers also had fear in common. Though I’m sure they wouldn’t agree with that …

I wonder if my own personal reaction to these acts are in some way “criminal-minded” as well? In cases like this, I would support eye-for-an-eye. No questions asked. No rehabilitation, no mercy. Why is this? Because I’m angry. I’m angry that such barbaric acts continue to occur in this day and age and I’m angry that the powers-that-be have not introduced sufficient deterrents of such crimes. And it angers – and scares – me that the perpetrators, as well as would-be perpetrators, just don’t care. This is a cycle that I see: There is lax authority and so, the would-be perpetrators aren’t deterred. How can the authorities really instill iron-fist consequences to such acts when surely there are still a great number out there who don’t “agree” with homosexuality? Though I’d like to think that even if they don’t “agree” with it, surely they wouldn’t condone such violence?

RIP, Daniel Zamudio

In the end I guess this process of trying to comprehend the incomprehensible is all pretty much in vain. It’s not going to bring Matthew Shepard back any more than it will bring Daniel Zamudio back. It can’t erase the hatred that exists in this world towards people who simply choose other options. It doesn’t revert ignorance and it doesn’t feed kindness and understanding. Criminal minds don’t care and the authorities and powers-that-be will continue to lament without really offering urgently needed solutions (deterrents, as I like to say). The examples we have are in the Matthew Shepard case itself. Though this crime occurred in 1998, it wasn’t until 2009 that President Obama was finally able to sign the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded existing United States federal hate crime law to apply to crimes motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation (among other things). In the case of Matthew Shepard, legislation caught on almost a decade later. It makes me wonder how long it will be until Chilean legislation and subsequent law enforcement react accordingly to the acts of violence committed against Daniel Zamudio.

Though really, is justice ever truly served?

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Thicker than water

For the past few weeks I’ve had family on my mind. I’ve been delving into all kinds of definitions and portrayals of family and here are a few of my faves and not-so-faves:

According to a simple Google search:
fam·i·ly/ˈfam(ə)lē/
A group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.

From Wikipedia:
In human context, a family (from Latin: familia) is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence. In most societies it is the principal institution for the socialization of children.

From Merriam-Webster:
a: a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head : household
b : a people or group of peoples regarded as deriving from a common stock
c : a group of persons of common ancestry : clan

From the U.S. Census Bureau:
“A family is a group of two people or more (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together.”

After a while googling and contemplating two-dimensional meanings of the term family, I considered more entertaining portrayals of family, such as:

The Bluths. (and my personal faves) Photo courtesy of Womansday.com
The (new) Addams Family. Photo courtesy of Fanpop.com
The Arnolds! Photo courtesy of abcnews.go.com
The Hoovers from Little Miss Sunshine. Photo courtesy of IMDb.com

I much rather the depictions of family that Hollywood provides because the mom, dad, sister, brother, dog, cat realities that are out there are, frankly, a dwindling version of the kind of family that currently exists in the majority of households around the world.

When I was growing up in San Francisco, I didn’t really pay much attention to the family units of my classmates. When I moved to the suburbs, said family units were all up in my face and I quickly realized that my type of family unit was just…”weird” (for lack of a better word AND to use a word that an insecure, 14-year old might use.) I had my mom, of course, the solid rock in my life growing up. I also had a stepfather I actually really, really hated though I think I blindly tried to convince myself that I liked him AND, even funnier, that he liked me. I had a sister but said sister was always in Chile so I never really grew up with her and for the record, never, ever – to this day – bonded with her. I had aunts, uncles, cousins – all who lived in Chile, all with whom I never shared more than a week out of each year with. In short, I kind of grew up a loner (in the family sense.)

Given this, who, in turn, did I look to – and still look to – as my family? Well my well-intentioned, solid-as-a-rock, often-times-pain-in-the-ass mother, for one. And I could NEVER even utter the word “family” without immediately conjuring up images of my Tio Pato. Along that note, no image of my family could ever be complete without also picturing my cousin Tony, Uncle Pato’s son. With this, I also throw into the mix a handful of amazingly good friends and at that, we call it a day. For reals.

When I was younger, my “weird” version of family really bothered me because I compared myself to other people and what their families looked like – from the outside. But that’s just it – I saw their families from the outside and most likely projected my ideals onto them, even if that wasn’t necessarily their reality either. Who knows? Maybe their families were even weirder than mine! And of course, as one grows up and meets people from different walks of life, one begins to realize that all KINDS of families exist out there and that, just because I grew up in Edward Scissorhands-town where all family units seemed to be derived from the 1950s mold, not everyone had the standard, formerly stereotypical family. It felt good to realize this and it felt good to let it go.

That’s not to say that certain things about “family” don’t really toy with my emotions and/or generally piss me off. To begin, yes, it does make me a bit sad that my soon-to-appear kid won’t have little cousins and lots of aunts and uncles with whom to share memories with. I have one sister, divorced, (that I never see) who happens to have kids that are either 15 or 9 years older than my soon-to-appear kid; G has one brother who isn’t tied down and who doesn’t have kids. Between the two of us we have one aunt and one uncle to offer our kid and two cousins, both boys. It’s slim pickins’ for the little one, slim pickins’.

That makes me sad. What pisses me off is the fact that my father’s side of the family, father included (and yes, biologically I do have a father) kind of threaded through life pretending I didn’t exist – type of “out of sight, out of mind” just because I lived in another country. And the irony here is that THAT family is typical in so many ways and there are lots and lots of cousins and second cousins, etc that would MORE than make up for the lack of siblings G and I have to offer … but alas, that entire group is pretty much a non-issue due to the way things worked out in my life. As a result, they’ll be a non-issue for the soon-to-emerge kid.

My immediate family now consists of my husband, my beloved Obi and of course, my mom. Soon we’ll add a daughter. I think about G’s kid’s version of family and I actually think it’s awesome. They have an active mom and dad, they also have a stepmom (me) and will soon have a stepdad. Then they’ll have a half-sister (the current pea-in-the-pod) and I’m sure that their mom will likely have more kids and so then they’ll have yet another half-sibling. In addition to this, they have three or four uncles, all of whom have small kids ages 2 months – 6 years old. Despite not living in a “traditional” mom and dad household, they truly have a lovely version of what is family. For them, family get-togethers are truly family get-togethers.

I think the best those of us with the non-traditional sense of the word family can do is embrace the people that matter. I know this sounds simple and elementary but at the end of the day, I realize that as time passes the “traditional” family has morphed. It no longer includes JUST your dad or JUST your mom. It no longer includes only a sister and a brother, uncles, aunts and cousins. And it might just be a mom, dad and dog or mom and daughter. Or uncle and son. There are a million variations and everything seems pretty legit.

From my personal experience, blood does not a family member make. The proof for me is apparent in my reality. I have five uncles and aunts on my mom’s side of the family and in turn, through them, have 12 cousins. The reality is that of all those “family members” I truly only consider half of them family and only 2 of them true, immediate family. On my father’s side I have four aunts and uncles and through them about 12 cousins as well. Aside from my nephews, I consider NONE of them to be family (they should be so lucky.) And we’re supposed to believe that blood makes the relative and that relative makes the family? This truly is a subject matter that is up for interpretation and a subject matter that begs the redefinition of the concept of family.

Would you agree that the word and meaning of family is fantastically loaded? Do you think it’s open for real interpretation?

Discuss.

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What the hell am I going to do with a baby?

After writing my last post, it dawned on me that I threw a curve ball at you with that whole baby news hidden beneath the oooh’s and aaaah’s of our fabulous Asian vacation.

Then it dawned on me, maybe people want to hear my perspective on this preggo bit. Maybe they wonder how someone like me, someone who wrote several posts portraying conflicting views on the subject of having kids, is actually handling the fact that she’s preggo. Maybe others want to hear all about this new stage in my life and want to embark with me on this crazy adventure…. yeah… maybe people really, really care!!

Juuuuuust kidding.

Do you think I’m really that egocentric? Because I’m not.

In all seriousness, there are two reasons why I feel compelled to write about this baking bun in the oven: 1) I’d like to have a chronicle of this moment in time only because I’m interested in keeping a personal account of my history – it’s cool to look back on! 2) I think it’s only fair to put other sentiments out there, not just the typical “We’re-pregnant-and-we’re-overjoyed-with-our-soon-to-be-bundle-of-joy!” sentiments.

I found out I was preggo in September. Thinking about that now, it seems like forever ago. I mean, I found out before el dieciocho – think about it THAT way. Is it just me or wasn’t that like a million and a half hours ago? My “how-I-found-out” story is super typical – monthly visitor doesn’t arrive and you head over to the local pharmacy for one your average pee-on-a-stick tests.

Your friendly neighborhood pee-on-a-stick test. Note: this one isn't mine.

Except in usual Chilean fashion, there was a 2-for-1 deal on pee sticks so in the end I bought 2 tests for the price of one. Yes, before you have to ask, I did use both – just in case! And may I just take this opportunity to state that these tests are NOT like you see on tv. That second line that’s supposed to appear in the event that your eggo is preggo actually makes its appearance ever so slowly. Also, it plays Jedi Mind tricks on you. Like those images where you have to “relax your eyes” in order to see the hidden 3D image. You think you’re seeing the other line appear but then you don’t And then you do, but wait, you don’t. Do you? I realized rather quickly that this 2-for-1 deal was actually a life saver. I could have sat for daaaaaaaaaaaays wondering about the validity of the appearing disappearing line…

So what happened once I knew for sheez?

Nothing major, sorry to break it to you. I didn’t squeal, jumping up and down for joy. I didn’t freak out wondering “Dear God WHY ME?” (contrary to what I may have led myself to believe a few years ago.) I wasn’t overwhelmingly happy and I wasn’t disastrously disappointed either. I was very matter-of-fact, as a matter of fact. I took the information, processed it and proceeded to calculate the necessary next steps in such an event. Kind of like a fire drill! One thing I didn’t feel was like it was MINE. I didn’t look at my stomach or touch it in awe. I was, in fact, rather removed. I cognitively got it but the emotion was very practical. Sorry to disappoint those who don’t get what I’m writing but my main goal in life has NEVER been to be a mom, neither back then nor now.

Anyway, where was I?

Right – the practical steps to follow upon finding out you’re preggo. Call husband or sig other!

G was at a local event center at some kind of stationery fair where his company had an exhibit. Our conversation started out just shooting the sh*t, hearing about his day, what he was doing, when he’d be home and oh by the way, are you busy? PS I’m preggo. No joke that’s kind of how it went. To this day G can’t believe that’s how I told him. I mean the guy knows me better than anyone else – what the hell did he expect? Fireworks?!! His reaction was more of what I’m sure you imagine and hope for in a father-to-be. It was cute; he was so excited. I was glad mainly because I felt guilty. I mean, the poor kid was on its mega journey of life and my reaction was as if a sales lady had told me she couldn’t find my bra size in the department store, but not to worry, she’d call another store to see if they had my size and if so, to hold it.

Pregnancy is like going through puberty all over again (and I imagine menopause must be similar.) Strange things are afoot with one’s body and to quote Wayne Campbell from Wayne’s World 2 “… I’m starting to get hair in really weird places, man. I feel like I’m turning into Sasquatch.” No, not really. You do go through some cray cray changes that you forgot one single body could handle, though. Thankfully, I can attest to the fact that one does NOT spend the first three months hurling five times a day, every day. One doesn’t randomly faint, either. I’m sure that this has happened to many ladies out there but I’m here to attest that it doesn’t happen to everyone and what’s typical for some just doesn’t even come close to others. There is such thing as a pretty uneventful pregnancy and this is, happily, my case. It’s as if the baby and I have mutually agreed upon: “Listen up sister, I’ve got shit to do and people to see so if you don’t bother me, I won’t bother you and I’ll just go on with my business of making things happen.”

Geez I like her already for that attitude. Eyes on the prize, little one, eyes on the prize.

And that’s another point. Where is it written that the instant a woman becomes preggo she has to all of a sudden fall instantly in love with and drool over the pod growing inside? This of course is G’s instant reaction ” I LOVE THE BABY!” and all I can think is HOW can you love the baby? It hasn’t even introduced itself to us. For all we know, she might be a total drag. I’m just sayin’. I know most people will find this atrociously weird but the reality, for me, is this: yes I’m growing a life and yes I’m thankful things have gone well, but the truth is that I feel no real emotional bond with the baby – not yet. I’ve heard that his can be normal but again, I’m not about what’s “normal” or not, especially living here in Chile (all mom’s seem to be obsessed with their babies, to the point of annoyance.) If I hear one more mom tell me how her life has become all about the baby and that I will soon find out what it truly means to love, I’m going to f-ing snap. Shut the hell up, already.

Why such brash views, you ask? As I mentioned, my life has never revolved around having a baby. It’s never been my life goal or even a TOP FIVE life goal. I always thought of having a baby in a sort of abstract kind of way. Almost as if I’d someday become a mom by accident, kind of like how Diane Keaton became a mom in the 80s movie “Baby Boom” (she inherited the baby from a hick cousin.) In fact, all my life I’ve had two different “anxiety” dreams (you know, the kind where you find you’re naked in the middle of a crowded room.) My dream always involved me, going about my merry way in life, and randomly looking down and realizing that not only was I ready-to-pop pregnant but that I was being rushed to the hospital because I was literally about to pop. This whole notion that I was pregnant and didn’t even know it. I’ve seriously had this anxiety dream for my entire adult life. See? In my most subconscious of minds having a baby was always at the back of my mind.

I’m realizing that there is a lot of ground to cover with baby blogging. I’m sure I’ll be inclined to write more posts about the baby journey but initially I just wanted to throw it out there, for those who might care or even relate, that for the most part, I feel that this whole baby thing is weeeiiiiiirrrrrrd. Who would have imagined ME as a mom? I don’t even particularly like kids (so annoying) or their parents when they think that all someone else cares about is seeing their kid do something relatively stupid. Please God, don’t let me become that mom. NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE, likes that mom. I want to be a cool mom, a hip mom. Dress my kid in vintage corduroy rompers and such. Introduce her to the bass guitar and crocheting at the age of three.

Or I might just end up a deadbeat mom. Already I’m so over buying the baby anything that isn’t clothes. How much stuff does a baby need, anyway?? Can’t I just roll her into my sock drawer when she feels like sleeping and call it a day?

After all this, here’s the reality: I’m only half kidding with all these thoughts. There are certain things that are true of course, but some stuff is an exaggeration of what I truly feel, for comedic effects if you will. But what I truly feel, believe it or not, is hope. I hope this baby redefines the notion of “mom” and “baby” for me. I hope this baby brings together the true meaning of family for me (my notion of family is a whole other story that merits an independent blog post). I’m hopeful and excited to teach her about things that matter to me and hopefully she’ll teach me a thing or two of what matters to her. I’m a little selfish and deal with residual only-child syndrome so I imagine that, like the love-of-my-life dog, this baby is going to teach me a thing or two about total and unadulterated generosity.

I guess we’ll see about that, no? Whatever the matter, I’m on this road right now and there is no going back. I’m going to have a BABY. A BABY. What the hell am I going to do with a baby??

Come what may, shit’s about to get REAL.

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