2016 kicked me in the nards

I’m sorry.

I don’t even know where to begin. I mean, the time lapse is quite disheartening, isn’t it?

I feel like I’m playing the part of the guy who wanted a commitment, settled down ready to embark on that road of domestic bliss and then… BAM!!! Just kidding! I need to be free… can’t commit. Don’t make me. It’s not you, it’s me. Bla, bla, bla, etc.

I SAID I wanted a blog. I SAID I really, really liked writing. I pay for my own hosting … I mean, the commitment is there, right? Well, clearly not. Regardless, I’m back and instead of going on like a babbling idiot who will never, ever be able to accurately make up for lost time (not to mention all the loyal readers I lost with my absence – and trust me, there were many!) I think it’s best to just do some quick updates for everyone on all things relevant to being me, aforementioned Chilean Gringa. (Side note – I’m thinking I need to change the title. Do I feel it adequately represents me? Not anymore, but we’ll delve into that later on. I can only manage a few key at a time while dipping my toe in the blog pool again.)

Ok. So where was I last time we were together?

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AHHHHHHH yes… August. Chileans and their weird sayings about getting through winter and then the slip n’ slide into summer once September comes around each year. That.

A mug only a mother could love.

Well, one of the most relevant things that happened to me in the last 2+ years is that I lost my beloved Obi. For those who are unfamiliar, Obi was my cherished English Bulldog. I got him shortly after moving to Chile and he was my very first pet, first partner in crime … the one who was with me when I was feeling on the verge of jumping from a ledge living in Chile, with me when I finally landed my first job here, when I got married, when I had a baby. He basically accompanied me through my transition from functional alcoholic singleton to adulting in the adult world. He was my world in so many ways and he taught me so much about sappy things like unconditional love, sacrifice and unselfishness. But Obi was really sick … he was epileptic, had to take medication that ultimately damaged his liver, and while dealing with ongoing seizures, my poor baby developed glaucoma in both eyes. Not only did he lose his sight, but glaucoma is PAINFUL and he would wince and cry from the pain. My little nugget was a mere six years old. Enter months of heartbreak.

Anyway, ultimately we did the only thing we could do for Obi. We let him go. The situation with him was out of control by the end and even though I felt like my heart was being ripped from my chest, we did the only thing we knew would help him lead a happier, better life. Even if said life wasn’t with us. Needless to say, that was a dark period in my life. Almost two years after my very last blog entry, I lost my Obi and I can sincerely say that it was the first time I ever lost any living, breathing thing/person/being that actually meant something to me. It was my first experience with true loss of a loved one. Yeah… those were dark times for me.

Shortly after that, and I mean literallly 9 days after losing my pet, I was laid off from Avon Chile. My boss called me into his office and this is how the conversation went the minute I sat down:

Boss: “Hello Andrea, how are you doing?” (he’d been on vacation and generally out of town for the past weeks leading up to this day, so I hadn’t seen him in a while).

Me: “I’m ok… actually, it’s been a rough few days. I lost my pet last week.” (I should share that he too has a beloved family pet that he brought with him from Argentina upon being transferred to Avon Chile. Meaning, he’s a self-proclaimed dog lover and considers his Lab part of the family.)

Boss: “Oh, that’s too bad. Listen Andrea, I have some bad news for you. We’re going to have to let you go. But you know what I think? It’s best if you say that this was YOUR decision. Yes, that’s best for all. Are you ready to go into the board room and address the other managers with your decision?”

Cue in my reaction:

Yeah, those were dark times for me again in 2016.

And so, again, almost two years to the day since my last blog entry about Chilean and their August sentiments, I found myself unemployed, mourning my dog and the loss of (what seemed to me) OH.SO.MUCH within a span of 9 days. WITHIN A SPAN OF NINE DAYS, PEOPLE!!!!!!!

Can I repeat that those were dark times for me?

See, what we have here kind reader, is a little glimpse of what’s been on tap between July 29 and August 8, 2016. I realize that I’ve left out a whole lot of something between August 2014 and July 2016, but that will just have to wait. Maybe we can just leave it at this: if you have a specific question about the going ons during the two years I didn’t blog, feel free to raise your hand. I’ll be fielding questions Lionel Richie-style: All night long.

Only kind of kidding.

But hey, I’m going to pat myself on the back for getting this out there. It took me a while to dip my toe back in the pool and maaaaaaaan…. mama feels GOOD. I’ll be back because there is SO MUCH MORE to say.

We’ve only just begun. Again.

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At the end of the day

I just found myself googling, “At the end of the day, what was it all for?” Very Carrie Bradshaw of me.

What was I expecting? A pop-up that said “Andrea, the reason you left your job at ACME Co. only to fall into the worst possible scenario at the new job, that left you no other choice but to quit three months later because you couldn’t deal with the lack of professionalism and you now find yourself unemployed, which wasn’t part of the plan is because ___________ .” OH SNAP! No such pop-up appeared.

That’s what happened, you know. For the sake of privacy and of course, for the sake of my future career, I can’t spare details (that is, until my blogging becomes a career in and of itself, then hell yeah, I’m telling everybody, everything!) Right now, all you really need to know, I guess, is that I’m currently unemployed. Or “in-between jobs” as we like to say in the U.S. Or actively participating in the interview process of various companies. Not working. Against my will not working.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! – I repeat this in my head several times a day, like some kind of frantic teenager who thinks she has no control over her life and what happens to her.

When I left “ACME” (because obviously I’m not going to tell you the actual name of the company I used to work for – duh!), I remember feeling that I didn’t really want to leave, not truly in my heart. I liked it there. I may have even loved it. To this day I feel that the company’s values, traditions, processes and way of thinking are completely aligned with mine. I remember thinking “please, give me a sign, say SOMETHING, ANYTHING resembling a suggestion that I stick around.” The only thing I got from them was “You could have stayed through Christmas. Leaving before then just seems wrong. Can’t you quit in January?” Obviously I couldn’t stay.

Companies are run by people. People are proud and people are stubborn. I’m not saying that my ex company’s people were either of those but I AM saying that I certainly was both of those. I was stubborn in that I wouldn’t accept, in any way, the limitations they were putting on me and my team. I was proud in that I wanted to show them that someone else wanted me and the offer was so great, I was willing to leave prior to Christmas (just a hint, I worked in retail and Christmas for retail is JACKPOT CITY.)

Now that I’m unemployed, looking for work, sometimes with the success of an interview, sometimes not, I wonder, what was it all for? Why did I leave in pursuit of greener pastures when at the end of the day, the greener pastures didn’t exist? Was I proud or was I right in wanting to leave because the way things were being run (and are currently run) didn’t add up? Was my boss proud for never once asking me “what can we do to keep you?” Am I too proud for even thinking/writing that?

regret quotesJust so you know (and because this is my blog), I miss my job at ACME. I miss the people, I miss the operations and I even miss my boss. I also remember that I hated a lot of things, mainly the cluelessness from abroad and the way I felt my team was exploited. Maybe I was right to leave for the promise of greener pastures. Maybe now that I have nothing I’m like that girl who left her nice, sweet, boring boyfriend for that badass, handsome rebel on a motorcycle who ended up leaving her for the lead singer of a punk band and then sits at home crying, wondering why she ever left the nice, sweet, boring boyfriend.

WillWorkForMoney

Whatever the case may be, I’m here now, unemployed and looking for jobs. References available upon request (unless we’re in Chile, then references are listed on the actual resume.)

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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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Thanks Tom

When living in a foreign country, sometimes it seems that the planets are aligning against you and you begin to wonder what the hell you’re doing there. If you decide you have enough reasons for being there (like I do here) then you begin to wonder how you’ll not only keep your head above water but actually start treading it and then walking on said water.

That’s where I am right now, this very second, today. And because of that, I have to imagine that Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers are speaking directly to me …

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State of frump being a pseudo housewife

I can’t imagine I’ll ever be wired to be a stay-at-home mom. I used to be pretty sure this was the case but since I’ve moved to Chile I’m 100% convinced. It’s confirmed now that the housewife role – and even pseudo housewife role I currently live – is for the birds.

Right now I say that I’m a pseudo housewife because I’m the one who stays home, while G leaves the house to go work. Granted, I work too, but since I work from home, I basically set my own schedule. Meaning if I want to work 8 am to 5 pm or 1 pm to 10 pm, it’s my call. I think that as long as my work gets done AND I’m easily accessible to those who need me, then I can basically do that. It’s a cool gig but it comes at a price as well. I’m the one who’s home … which means I’m the primary caretaker of Obi, our bulldog puppy. I’m the one who works with the trainer and makes sure our dog is forming into an acceptable and agreeable member of society. I’m also the one who does laundry … why? Again, I’m here. It doesn’t take much to just put a load in, come back to my computer, then put the load in the dryer and come back to the computer again. It’s either that or the clothes just piles up and up and up until the weekend (or evenings at some point.) Who wants that? I’m also the one who primarily cooks. Why? It’s really a last resort because I’m not familiar with take out places in Chile, besides sushi and going out to dinner every day is $$$ and bad for the waistline. And again, I’m the one who’s home. I’m here when the nana comes every Tuesday to clean – that’s sweet! Less cleaning for me. But I’m also the one who has to direct what needs to be done in the house. Why? Because I’m the one who’s home. And in all fairness it’s probably best that way since I’m the pickier of the two of us in regards to how I want my home to be/look/feel. In between nana visits, I’m also the one who cleans … mainly after myself and my dog, but still.

So let’s see here: I have a kid (kind of. It’s a puppy but it feels like a kid), and do all that’s involved with having said “kid,” I cook, I clean, I work, and I’m at home almost all day, everyday. And I have the new state of frumpiness to prove it! Honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m about to start graduate school and I’m planning a wedding, I could very well be depressed.

Which has me wondering … will this be my constant state of being forever??

Obviously not…that’s just me freaking out with that last sentence. The mere fact that I’m going back to school will certainly snap me out of this state of semi-consciousness. I hope that it helps me be a contributing member of society as well. Nothing is worse than being stagnant and not moving forward.

It’s also hard to watch G go out and be the awesome baller that he is, while I am here at home. Maybe it’s a case of not giving myself enough credit for the job I do with the company I work for, or maybe it’s because he’s just in a different reality than me and I kind of envy that. Living here in Chile I’m feeling that it’s harder to grab the world by the balls like a man would. Maybe it’s because I don’t see many of these women around me on a day to day basis and the ones I can think of are gringas (yay! Represent!) I know this is just setting the stage for me to go out and become the youngest female VP for Chile’s #1 consumer products company (whatever that is) … but in the moment, I feel far from that.

If I were to add kids to this mix, I’d take a long walk off a short plank. I know I should feel a little more gung-ho about having kids but let me tell you, I’m not feeling the gung or the ho. But I’m 33 and time’s a tickin’ … and I think, well, I don’t NOT want kids … and I kinda do like the thought of kids …. so ….at some point in the next couple of years I”m going to have to walk down that road… but if it means staying at home with all of the above PLUS A KID … I can’t imagine I’ll be a happy camper.

Oh well… at least I’ll look the part. I’m already uber frumpy, with split ends, roots grown out about an inch, bad toenails, worse hand nails, bad, dry skin and a unibrow anyone would envy. My daily outfit is jeans, a t-shirt and flip flops. Oh, I do manage to put some make up on though, that’s a plus. Hmmmm, then I imagine that an offspring would result in me with no make up on my face and about 20 pounds overweight.

Sweet. Can’t wait.

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Me lately

I’ve never looked or felt frumpier. You know those new moms that you see walking down the street and you think to yourself “Geez sister, pull yourself together. A little eye make up would work wonders on you right about now. And while you’re at it, pull that scrunchie out of your hair.” I’m on the receiving end of that. For the first time in my entire adult life, the roots of my hair are over two inches out. In fact, my hair is about two months overdue for even a haircut! … ask any of my close friends if that’s normal for me and they would assure you that you’re talking about someone else. I was formally known as the persnickety old aunt-type who liked to point out when someone needed to hit the hair salon STAT. I felt like I was offering a public service, really. Well the irony is that now, I’m that person I used to call out. Oh life, how you mock me! (and while we’re on the topic, hi uni-brow!)
And don’t get me started on my nails, both hands and toes…or the fact that I haven’t dressed up and worn any type of heels in daaaaaaaaaaays (to be read, “months”).

In a way, I am a new mom with the arrival of Obi-wan Kenobi on the 12th of this month. And I’m not sure having a puppy is all it’s cracked up to be. First of all, he surely hates me. I’m not sure why he doesn’t like me but he’s taking to growling at me (the mean kind, not the playful kind I keep reading about) and, of course, he’s taking to biting me. Let’s add that to the fact that I spend about 8 hours a day cleaning his waste so that he’s not running around in filth, making sure he has clean water, trying to remember to feed him every six hours, attempting to keep him clean, trying to train him to be a proper dog in a few months AND all the while waking up at 3 am EVERY morning because of his cries/whines. Of course I get myself out of bed and play with him and cuddle him as much as I can so that he feels secure and loved…And the thanks I get for all that? Bites and growls. Forgive me if for the time being I’m not quite understanding the whole “man’s/woman’s best friend” bit. I’m not saying that getting him was a mistake because I do have faith that things will get better. When he’s a little older and outgrows this stage he’s in, coupled with being able to take him outside so he can run free and mingle with other dogs (he doesn’t have all his shots as of yet) I really do believe that life will be pleasant. That’s part of what motivates me to keep training him, to keep teaching him right from wrong, to keep trying to make him a happy, well adjusted dog. But right now it’s no picnic. In fact, it’s downright dreadful.

I’m allergic to him, did I mention that? Yeah, I break out into hives whenever I hold him. I was having breathing issues too for a bit but then started taking Allegra AND we bought an air purifier with HEPA filter so things on the respiratory end are much more pleasant. For the hives I’m using a cortisone cream but unfortunately I can only apply it for a week … that means until today since a week ago I went to the doctor for said prescriptions that enable me to be near our puppy. Here’s a pic I took yesterday … this is WITH the cortisone cream. Though in its defense, I did initially fail to apply it to this region …

In case you haven’t noticed the tone of this post, I’m feeling slightly depressed and glum. This is why I closed comments on this particular entry. There’s no need to tell me that you relate to me, that you understand or that you’re sorry. Also there’s no need to tell me I need to snap out of it and stop feeling sorry for myself. I know all of the above and really, do appreciate any sentiment or time taken to express that sentiment. I’m really writing this because I simply just.felt.like.writing. After all, it’s one of my 2010 proposals/resolutions so I thought it to be quite appropriate.

My wedding is in less than two months and I feel like things are wrapping up nicely. Summer is coming to an official end here in Chile so I hope that means that vendors are finally going to be responsive and available. Though here’s a typical story… in November G and I went to the place where we want to get our cake and they told us that we were seriously too early to begin planning for the cake and that we should come back in February or March. All righty. So I called yesterday to ask about going in for the tasting and after answering the “when is your wedding” question, I’m met with:
“Oh honey, you should have come in a while ago! We’re taking orders already for next year! What are you waiting for?”

FML and F-them.

Needless to say we’re going this weekend.

But I have to say, despite all the planning and all the hoopla surrounding me in regards to weddings (two friends here are getting married in a couple of weeks, within a week of one another), I continue to feel like my own personal wedding is this event I’m planning in general and that I’m just attending as a guest. Like my own party I guess, but nothing major. In part I’m thankful for this feeling because it means I’m not stressing over details. Another part of me feels as if I’m cheating myself though! For myself personally, I pretty much have nothing. I don’t have a bouquet, I don’t have shoes, I don’t have “something blue” and I don’t have accessories. Yeah I have a dress and yeah, I like that dress, but it’s certainly not the over-the-moon sentiment I thought I’d have about my dress. It’s nice, I like it, I guess I look ok in it and that’s about it. Something tells me that’s NOT NORMAL!!!

The only constant is G and how much I love him and how much I love our life together. There’s no one in this world I’d rather be with and no one who could make this depressive, blue state I’m in even remotely worth treading through. But all that other blue stuff makes me kind of numb… similar to the affect my skin has with the cortisone cream.

In general, sometimes my life in Chile feels like it’s smothered in cortisone cream. I walk around not really being a part of this society and culture. I guess that sounds weird to those who don’t know how the stuff works. It’s more of a personal observation, I guess. I have a lot of them because when you don’t really integrate well in a society, you mostly live in your head… which later results in diarrhea of the fingers on a keyboard within a blog entry.

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