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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Strange things are afoot at Dario Urzua*

Holy son of a motherless goat.

I just had the weirdest experience with the world outside of my apartment.

When I stepped into the elevator to take Obi outside for his evening stroll, I found this flier taped to the elevator wall:


It’s a call to prayer to the entire “community” (i.e. building) in honor of the “Month of Mary.” Said call to prayer is taking place ALL MONTH LONG in November, starting November 8th, Monday to Friday from 7:30 – 8:00 pm.

It was like a Twilight Zone version of the fliers one sees in college dorms. Specifically the dorm where the characters in the movie Saved! would eventually go to college. A call to prayer? All month long? I’m officially freaked out.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not freaked out by the notion of praying during the month of Mary (though I AM confused because as a former Catholic school student, I’m pretty sure the month of Mary is in May, not November.) What bothers me most about this is the invasion! In fact, I immediately got off the elevator and demanded to the front desk person “What if I’m Jewish?!” He answered that it wasn’t obligatory. Um, well then … this building has THAT going for it in that we aren’t all forced into month-long prayer with our fellow neighbors.

But seriously, if this were the U.S., this would be so unacceptable, it would border on illegal. In fact, I imagine that in the U.S. the buildings need to first reach consensus to allow such a thing to take place and furthermore, if we were going to be issuing a call to prayer during the month of Mary, we’d certainly have to organize the blowing of the shofar during Rosh Hashanah AND invite everyone to the Iftar meal when Ramadan ends.

I can’t put a finger on why I am so bothered by this but I can describe it as a feeling of invasion and it angers me that a few in the building would feel at liberty to air that in public, in the apartment building where my home is located, without so much as a single thought of concern for anyone else. Why are these few allowed to impose their will on the rest of us who live here? What if I put up fliers stating the Top 10 things that annoyed me about my neighbors each week? Am I free to do that just as they are free to put this flier in each elevator? What’s next? Will I find a rosary and a monthly Missal in my mailbox? “Oh you know, just because!”

What do you think? Am I being overly sensitive or does this reek of imposition?

Oh and the other gnarly thing I had to witness while I was outside was a taxi driver relieving himself on one of the tree trunks of our quaint tree-lined street. Sweet.

Stay classy, Santiaguinos.

[*Dario Urzua is the name of the street I live on.]
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The last name issue in Chile: another dilemma

I think my fellow expat friend was on to something when she wrote her post about her struggle to figure out what to do with her name following her marriage to a Chilean this year. You see, as she explained quite eloquently in her post, Chileans have a certain way of viewing the last name game and it’s basically this: first name, middle name, father’s last name, mother’s last name. This is the case for every single person born in Chile and this is the case for men, women and children, alike. There are a few exceptions, such as, for example, when the father has completely disappeared and the mother chooses to give her child both her last names (which technically speaking would make Chileans think that the child was actually her mother’s sibling and of course, eyebrows would be raised.) Women don’t take their husband’s name after marriage and are forever known by the name they were born with, regardless of marital status. This is the antithesis of what we know in the States because many women choose to either keep their last names or adopt their husband’s last name once married and if you live abroad, this options somehow becomes obsolete. At least, this is what we’re faced with here in Chile.

My issue with the name dilemma here in Chile is not quite the same as my friend’s and it has more to do with Chilean society and their obsession with last names. Although perhaps outwardly Chileans will argue that classism and discrimination based on one’s last name no longer plays a major role in opportunities for advancement here in Chile, incognito, it really does. How do I know this? Besides the reliable source that is my husband and his experience with the matter, I have many other reliable sources who have given me their input based on experiences in college, experiences in the work force, their personal experiences as decisions makers within their companies, experiences in their social life and so on. As much as I wanted to believe that such a reality was no longer the case in this age of globalism AND considering that there are many expats who live in Chile, the reality is that sadly, last names matter. They matter just as much as where you live in Santiago and where you went to school (and I’m not talking school as in which you university you attended. Rather, I’m speaking of where you went to KINDERGARTEN. Believe it or not, these factors also still matter in Chile).

I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify that not all of these variables are important 100% of the time. For instance, there may very well be many examples of how someone who lives in Puente Alto (a lower to lower-middle class neighborhood in Santiago), went to a mediocre school, achieved the best grades possible, attended a prestigious university, such as Universidad de Chile, based on their own personal merit and consequently landed a great job where he/she moved up the ranks and is now a decision maker at a very good company. I totally believe that happens and I’m HAPPY it’s possible. On the flip side, just because the aforementioned is possible, is BY NO MEANS an indication that the opposite doesn’t happen. Meaning, without seeing a face, without knowing a background, without even bothering to type the word GOOGLE in the browser to find out more, someone may very well look at G’s last name, coupled with my last name and completely disregard our future children for a number of things (including entrance into a good school.) I totally believe that happens based on REAL examples and it’s worrisome.

I’m not gonna lie. G’s paternal last name and my paternal last name are bad. I say this not because the actual, physical spelling of either name is phonetically equivalent to the word shmagina (God forbid), but because they are so blah, so common, so ORDINARY, and so typical, I truly believe it will be a disadvantage to our future children (hey, I didn’t make the societal rules here in Chile, but I’m here and I need to plan for them). Seriously. You might call me crazy or think I’m exaggerating but what I’m telling you is based on the social sphere we find ourselves circulating in more and more and this stuff REALLY matters (in this circle)! So what am I going to do? Fight the power my entire life? With the last name equivalents of Smith and Jones, G and I are seriously considering putting our second last names as our children’s last names, IF ONLY, the proposed new law that is circulating in the congress-equivalent would JUST PASS. After all, if I have two last names that identify me as, well, ME, shouldn’t I have the option to give my future kids one of those two last names? Why does the government get to decide what I get to name my future kids? Truth be told, G’s second last name might secure our future kids a senate seat and why should we have to give up that option just because the government tells us that we HAVE to give each kid the grandfather’s last name? Needless to say (in case you can’t tell) I’m irate over the matter. If being born in Chile means you get two last names, my thought is that of those two last names, one should be able to choose which of the last names you give your children. Plain and simple. It’s not like I’m suggesting Chile adopt the practice of allowing anyone to give their kids ANY last name imaginable! (Imagine if that were the case, what roll call would be like at school: “Manchester United? Here! San Francisco Forty Niners? Here! Lan Chile? She’s absent. Ok, thanks.”) If given the option to choose one of your two last names to pass on, I totally agree that all the kids should share that same pattern of last names so that you don’t have a family of five, all with different last names. I get that consistency and the ability to trace your roots back to the time of the Spanish Inquisition makes sense to some.

In short, I hope this law finds its way to passage. I’d really, really like to give my kids last names other than the paternal ones G and I unfortunately have. Again, nothing is wrong with the names themselves, but everything is wrong with what Chilean society will do or not do, how it will react or not react, based solely on these last names as they are. I have two last names and I should have the right to pass on whichever one I choose. Why the h*ll does the government of Chile get to decide this? And why the h*ll do I have to give credit to and pass on ONLY the paternal one?

What century are we living in, Chilean government? Get with the program and lighten the h*ll up.

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Epic fail

I’m not gonna sugar coat it for you. I suck at taking tests. I mean, who knows, maybe I’m just really, really dumb but I’d like to give myself a little more credit than that, considering I’ve made it this far in life and I’m still intact. Also, I’ve witnessed some mad problem-solving skills in real life come out of this brain of mine and trust me, there’s a thing or two going on up there. Thus, all I can conclude is that I’m just a terrible test taker. Or I’m having a stupid week.

I’m sure I’m not alone.

I had a record-breaking two bombs explode in less than five minutes this past Tuesday: 1) a quiz on four chapters we had to read and my subsequent reaction to it, and 2) our Module II final exam grades were announced.

Which of the two proved I had a momentarily lapse in intelligence?

In reference to #1, I knew the quiz was coming and my group decided to divide the reading assignments – four of us, four chapters. I had the chapter on competition among business/industries and competitive strategies and I think I did a pretty good job of summing up 30+ pages on how businesses compete. Talk about sugar coating! There was certainly little I could to to make that chapter any more fun to swallow. I received the summaries from my group and of course they were all good … I studied as much as I could considering life, work, my (sometimes dumb) dog and other school projects tend to get in the way. In fact, the Friday before this dumb quiz, we had a 9+ hour brand management simulation where our main objective was to achieve the highest net sales and highest stock price compared to the other groups. And of course, all this decision making, strategy and planning resulted in a final grade that accounts for XX% of our final grade in the course. Hello – other things to think about besides the stupid 4 chapters we had to read for Tuesday’s quiz!!

When Tuesday morning arrived and as I walked into class, I knew I wasn’t going to prove anything that morning when taking the quiz. I certainly wasn’t going to prove I was the new “matea” (star student) of the class. However, I wasn’t prepared to not be able to answer either of the two questions in the most minimal of senses. When the paper landed in front of me, I stared at it for the 30-minute time limit the professor gave us. Just stared and stared and stared. I couldn’t believe that even though one of the questions was based on competition between business/industries, the topic I had to cover for my team, I still couldn’t – for the life of me – remember one single possible answer. Not even to B.S. my way through it!! I resigned myself to the fact that I had reached an all-time new low in my test-taking experience.

When I was in grade school I remember going through the same thing. Preparing (or so I thought) for a test and realizing, upon receiving the actual document, that I may as well have studied the steps required to perform a lobotomy because none of the questions looked familiar to me. And I would squeeze the pencil in my hand and proceed to cry. Not because I was sad, but because I was frustrated and wanted to scream. Crying was the only proper solution to that considering I was in a class full of kids who all seemed to know the required steps in performing a lobotomy (so to speak.) And as dumb luck would have it, I seemed to always be seated next to the proper “mateo” in class and that only pissed me off even more! What the hell was he writing so much about??!!

Anyway, this past Tuesday, I went through a similar thing. Except I didn’t cry. I decided I couldn’t very well hand in a blank piece of a paper. It was one thing to not know the answer, it was quite another to not even try. I decided to land somewhere in between both and wrote the following, in English, on the very first page:

“There is no way I could memorize all of this and I’d much rather focus my time on my marketing project. :o) I did read though.”

It’s not funny, nor is it clever … and it wasn’t even written in SPANISH! I’m not sure what possessed me to write something so lame and pretty much inexcusable … I’m in grad school, not 8th grade! All I can conjure up is that I was feeling lame and stupid, coupled with defiant and rebellious because I didn’t want another Chilean institution making me feel like a complete incompetent. And this was my attempt at delivering the “I’ll show you” message, which of course, isn’t the right message at all. Geez, if anything, I may have gotten half a point for writing a marketing message that was a little more convincing – of anything!!

Ugh.

To make matters worse (because sometimes that’s the only way matters seem to work), I received my final exam grade for the 2nd Module of the course and my grade on the Finance section was so low, I need to take that part again! The silver lining is that pretty much the entire class has to retake it because everyone’s grades were ultra low. Those who managed to pass did so just barely … At least in that case I’m not the dumb a** who stands alone, like the cheese in Farmer in the Dell.

The moral of this blog entry is this: I’m having a stupid week. At least I hope it’s just a week. It’s one thing to study, take the test and ultimately not do well; it’s quite another to write 8th grade messages on my grad school quizzes like a whiny teenager. In any case, it seems my stupidity roll is coming to an end because I did learn my lesson about doing such lame things in an academic setting.

Geez, why can’t I do smarter rebellious things on campus? Next time, I’ll engage in proper defiance suitable for the likes of a prestigious academic setting and invite everyone to go streaking across campus like Frank the Tank.

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Patience in the land of the impatient

I know I’m going to age myself here yet again, but there’s a commercial I remember from 1987 (when I was 10, mind you) for Heinz Ketchup (note that in searching for this video I just now realized that that the actor in it is Matt LeBlanc. Who knew?)

Don’t ask me why, but from the first time I ever saw this commercial, I took note of the message and have constantly reminded myself of this tried and true cliche over and over again. Seems rather heavy that a 10-year old would take to heart such a sophisticated message and further, that said 10-year old was able to see past its use in a commercial advertising the thickness of ketchup. I can’t say that many things (experiences or people) have truly shaped my life, but believe it or not, as weird as it sounds, this commercial really did shape my ideology, at least in some aspects, and sort of gave me this comforting philosophy I could grab on to whenever I was feeling anxious or desperate for something to happen NOW.

So you can just imagine what it feels like for me to live in a country where it would seem that the general population lives their life going against the grain of this message.

For instance, the manner in which most Chileans drive. I’ve seen it all, really. Running red lights, swerving around pedestrians crossing the street – so close that the car actually rubs against them, needing to make a right hand turn at the next light but too impatient to wait their turn so they get into the left hand lane to zoom past the line of waiting cars, only to block traffic as they try to turn right FROM THE LEFT HAND LANE. All this sh*t annoys me and I fight with people constantly (from the safety of my car with windows rolled up, naturally). But one of the things that bothers me the most (aside from the 92% of Chileans thinking that turning on their hazard lights all of a sudden gives them the right to stop ANYWHERE on the road), is to see a car that is driving behind me at a comfortable pace, suddenly speed up to go around me only to fit him/herself SNUGLY in front of me and continue driving. WTF? I seriously wish I could ask the person what the motivation is behind doing something so.lame. He didn’t gain any distance on me, nor did he find himself with tons of road in front of him giving him a chance to gun it down the road. All I can conclude is that, to him, it’s all about doing things quickly, getting sh*t done, no matter how he goes about it. Therefore, shaving the four seconds he gained by going around me, makes him feel like king of the world. If he’s in such a hurry, how ’bout leaving the house earlier, buddy? Novel thought. So as you can imagine, I end up driving behind this dumb a** a pretty long while… until he decides he needs to make a right hand turn so he gets into the left hand lane in order to get there sooner.

Also, there’s the quick fixes applied to any and all things. If something breaks around the house, a heater, a lamp, the tv – what have you, the first part of the solution doesn’t involve taking it in for repair, or even considering buying a new item. The first option, because it’s the quickest, is to try to fix it yourself. Duct tape here, a nail and hammer there, a little rewiring here and pretty soon the thing is “as good as new.” Of course this comes with a price, such as only being able to plug it in to the wall from the outlet in the bathroom (“the electrical current in there is lighter” – probably from a fix-it job on the light fixture back in the day), or the having to watch tv at an angle or something because the pressure to left helps align the collapsed tube inside. The same item will probably go through about two to three rounds of home fixes before its decided that it was too old anyway and that a new one is in order. In my world, the moral of this story is that sacrificing a little time at home without the broken item and allowing someone more qualified to actually take a looskie and fix it, would probably have resulted in quicker turn-around AND money saved. But, that’s just me.

Yesterday after class, when I arrived at my parked car in the school’s parking lot, I realized that the person who parked next to me had parked at an angle, completely blocking my entrance into the car. You know, so that I had to open the passenger door and climb in that way. No, he/she hadn’t scraped my car or even remotely touched it, but in a technique I’ll never truly grasp, he/she managed to park the dumb car about an inch away from mine. I’m not even going to try and assemble the math involved with accomplishing such a feat, but it REALLY.PISSED.ME.OFF. But let me tell you why … this person, like me, had class on Tuesday mornings, maybe even had class all day long. Like me, this person had to get up super early, fight traffic, fight the crazies who make right hand turns from the left hand lane, dodge pedestrians, go around the hazard-light-using lame-O’s who stop in the middle of a busy intersection, and all the countless things that make driving in Chile hazardous to one’s health. So what gives? Running late I guess and in running late, arriving to find that the parking lot closest to campus is full, except for this one, teeny, tiny, cramped spot next to my car. ANY NORMAL person who wouldn’t mind parking just a little further away would rationalize that in parking their car in this teeny, tiny spot, the person next to them (me, in this case) wouldn’t be able to get out. Of course we now know that this f*cktard didn’t rationalize and parked there anyway. I can forgive that he/she might have overslept and because of this was running late. I can understand that he/she might have been faced with a nana who also arrived late at home and couldn’t leave the baby alone until she arrived. I can relate to a car that didn’t start until about the 5th attempt. WHAT I DON’T UNDERSTAND and what I CAN’T FORGIVE is the imprudence and stupidity that erupts from being impatient! Because this person was late and couldn’t be bothered with taking an additional 30 seconds to park just a little farther where there were more spots available, he/she decided to remain close, park in the glove-compartment of a spot which left me crawling through my car to reach the driver’s seat. God forbid he/she actually walked through the scenario.

Naturally, I left them a note on the windshield. It read:

“Hey Partner,
Did you bother to see how you parked? You left me with no room to get into my car and I have to now crawl in through the passenger side. What’s the matter with you? Where did you learn to drive? Iraq?
You’re about as ridiculous as they come.”

Here’s what went through my mind right before writing this note. “It’s almost 2 pm. I’m really hungry. The drive to my house will take about 40 minutes and I have to go to the ATM first. I should hurry up because I need to get to work AND I need to take my dog out. Plus I have a test on Tuesday and I’m so behind on reading. I should really get going.”
However, I decided to take the two minutes it took me to open my notebook, find a blank sheet, whip out the writing instrument, write this note in ALL ITS GLORY, rip the sheet out and place it on his/her windshield; put everything away, close my school bag, walk around the car, crawl into my seat and drive off.

Smug? Yes. Unnecessary? Maybe. Satisfying? Hell yeah.

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What kind of Chilean man marries a Gringa?

Back in February, my friend Kyle posted the most offensive blog I’ve read thus far this year! Actually, as you’ll see, it wasn’t really HER sentiments that offended but rather, the sentiments of random weirdos who contact her via her blog (unfortunately one of the pitfalls of blogging is that you’re “out there” in the cyber world and anyone, anywhere can contact you to say pretty much anything). In short, her blog post contains clips of emails she received from certain people stating how the only reason any Chilean man would consider dating an American girl would be for “purely sexual reasons.” And that mostly, Chileans want to “try Gringas” in the same way, he states, that one would want to test drive a new model car. Then there’s the mention that only women who have zero luck in the States run off to South America to try their hand at love, but that too will backfire since men here treat women pretty much the same way they did in the 1800s. Pretty much at ANY moment the “true colors” of Chilean men will come out and WHAM, SLAP, BAM! Abusive husbands!

Don’t believe me? Click on the link and read her blog for yourself then get back to me (or her) about how appalled you are. (If you aren’t appalled, step away from the computer and away from my blog.)

In 8 days I’m going to be married and as I’m writing my vows (or attempting to do so because I’m failing miserably) every so often I’ve remembered this particular blog entry and now I’m seriously thinking of each and every Chilean man I’ve met who has married a non-Chilean woman – my own Chilean man as well – and what motivates them to marry us or have a serious relationship with us. And as far as I can tell, neither the man nor the woman in each scenario is anything less than awesome in their own right.

I’ll speak of the women first since as a woman, I’ve got more material. To begin with, I don’t know a single non-Chilean woman who lives here that has come “running” from her home country in order to desperately find love here in Chile. Having made the move from the US to Chile less than a year ago, I can attest that there is no such thing as merely “running to” Chile. It’s not easy for us here, even if we have found love! Some American women I’ve met don’t even speak Spanish fluently yet they still manage to make their lives as best they can here. These type of women, in general, are not those who run away from something but in my opinion, run towards something!

In my own experience I believe that the women I’ve met here, myself included, are courageous women who have their head on straight and who know what they want and who go after it. We’re not the kind of women who sit around and cry “woe is me” about having a long distance love, but who pick up and go to see where destiny and fate take us. Further, many of these women initially came to Chile on study abroad programs when they were very, very young – even before love was ever an option in Chile! They left their comfy college surroundings, the light fare of everyday (or every other day) partying to trek to this land at the end of the world and to live with a random Chilean family (random at the time, mind you.) Hello – guts!!! Excuse me, but I know very few Chilean women – or women in general – who have done something like that.

In addition, these women all have jobs here and many are on the road to long-term careers. They’ve made friends, maneuvered their way through bureaucracy (and trust me, Chile has lots) and on top of that, we constantly prove ourselves to the fellow Chileans to counter any pre-conceived notion they may have about Gringas. Whatever that may be, we have to constantly fight to have them remove those stigmas from their minds and to look at US as individuals, not as part of a whole.

In short, the non-Chilean woman who finds herself in this narrow country next to a Chilean man is NOT weak-willed or running away or insecure or shy. We’re not full of issues that can “explain” why we’re here in the first place and we’re not the kind of women who will conform to what any society or culture says of us and how things “should” be. At least, this is my view of the women – myself included – I see. I see go-getters; I see strong-willed; I see adapting; I see adventurous; I see respectful; I see women who literally go to the ends of the Earth for love… And I’m sorry, but Chilean women do NOT hold the official, exclusive license on these attributes (don’t mind me and my unabashed use of work-speak!)

So then I ask you (particularly those dumb asses who posted on Kyle’s blog), what kind of Chilean man marries such a woman?

A ROCK STAR Chilean man, that’s who.

The man who prefers a strong, unique, adventurous, determined, committed and hard-working woman is not the kind of man who would even be interested in dominating such a woman! The man next to us is just as strong, just as determined and takes pride in having a partner he can be on par with.

What if I were so bold, so controversial so as to say that the man who chooses to be with a Gringa isn’t interested in Chilean women in the first place? I say this because I take G as an example who was once married to the quintessential Chilean woman back when he himself was SO NOT who he is today. And today, as a bad ass in his career, a guy who has his act together, confident and engaging he tells me that in general (GENERAL, people) Chilean women as partners bore him. Hello!!! BORE HIM. Then again, my Chilean guy is SO NOT typical, it only makes sense that he and I are together. In fact, we’re so made for each other, we first determine what is standard or “envasado” and we request the exact opposite – almost always.

In the end, there are all kinds of women out there, Chilean and not, as is the case with men.

But being 8 days away from getting married, I’m happy to conclude that the kind of man who marries this Gringa is – simply put – amazing. What makes him unique is that he loves me for the bizarre mix of customs I myself am. Being “American” but with “Chilean” ancestry and family, I’m a smorgasbord of characteristics and ideologies (some good, some annoying) and regardless of being Gringa or Chilean or what have you, he makes me always want to be a better version of me.

Here’s hoping I do the same for him!

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