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?

……
……
……

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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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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It’s time to stop playing dumb

In June, when G and I decided to get Obi neutered, I wrote a blog about the constant reactions I received from MANY (and I mean almost ALL) Chileans with whom we shared our decision to neuter. I surrendered to the fact that my role as a responsible pet owner was once again more proof to Chileans that I was a “bicho raro” (odd duck) and that my poor proper Chilean husband must be the “pobrecito” (poor guy) who had no choice but to let his gringa wife have her way with their little pooch. (Incidentally, this is just one of many examples of gringa wife = bicho raro, Chilean husband = probrecito.) I must have given the speech about the benefits of sterilization dozens and dozens of times and of course, this was met with resistant, then skeptical eyes. In the end I always found myself frustrated and concluding “It’s what we do where I’m from.” It seems that was the only acceptable response that Chileans would accept. “Oooooh, right. It’s a Gringo thing. You crazy, Gringos.” The fact of the matter is that Obi was neutered, yeah it hurt and he was uncomfortable, but almost three months post-op he’s fine! Here’s proof, my dear skeptical Chileans:

Obi lounging in the sun 3 weeks post-surgery.

Obi next to his BFF, Toyotomi, 4 weeks post surgery.

Obi playing in Parque Bicentenario 5 weeks post-surgery.

Obi two weeks ago displaying his deep appreciation for his new toy from Brazil.

I told you guys he’d be fine. And despite one of the RIDICULOUS reasons that many Chileans still hold on to as reasons for not sterilizing their pets, I don’t think he understands the notion that he’ll “never be a father” because, oh, he’s A DOG!

Anyway, the point of of this blog is this: after some researching and reading, I’ve come to learn that there are many entities and people in Chile who actually favor the notion of responsible pet ownership. And because of this, I’ve decided that anyone who gives me ridiculous reasons for not doing so (an example of said ridiculousness noted above), will automatically be labeled as ignorant in my book. Call me extreme, call me rude, call me intolerant. I disagree with all three because the fact of the matter is that Chile, whether behind the times or not, is actually well aware of the need to be responsible … it just seems that said knowledge needs to spread to the masses via communication and education.

Here are links to various interesting articles and websites regarding the topic of the stray animal population and the programs available to help dog owners be the best owners possible to their little furry family members:

  • Sterilization programs in various comunas of Santiago (link)
  • Article on the root of the stray animal over-population in Chile and why sterilization is better than elimination (link)
  • Article on the Canine Sterilization Center in Osorno, Chile (link)
  • Article on initiative to fine those who feed street animals in Valparaiso, Chile. Note that this initiative has since been suspended. (link)
  • Financial Statement and information on campaign to save animals post February’s earthquake “No los dejes atrás, ellos también son víctimas.” (link)
  • The rights granted to animals in Chile (link)

The fact of the matter is that right now the everyday reality I encounter in Chile shows that many people have got to get their act together on the topic of pets and the animal over-population in Chile’s streets. But I have hope for the younger generations because Chileans are a smart bunch, savvy in many ways, forward-thinkers and progressive. Yet in so many ways, also quite antiquated (believe me, G and I run into people OUR AGE who still view the concept of “me man, work – woman, home good) and responsible pet ownership is one of those concepts that continues to just float about without any real place in the culture.

Case in point: G and I took Obi and his kids to Parque Bicentenario last Sunday, where we found ourselves in the midst of the “tiki-tiki-ti” (Independence Day) celebrations and park bustling with stands, activities, rides for the kids and people everywhere. Inside the area designated for pets to run around without leashes, there was a woman who was there with her own bulldog for the first time. We got to talking and in the next five minutes, I about keeled over in astonishment realizing that:

  1. her bulldog was running around like crazy, something she thought was “great” since he spent so much time during the week indoors.
  2. she didn’t have water and because her bully was so thirsty, he was foaming at the mouth
  3. she didn’t have baggies to clean up after him, which was a problem when he suddenly stopped running to proceed to throw up due to over exertion.

Yeah this woman had a bulldog that had been gifted to her and yeah, she seemed to think he was great but the problem was apparent: she was pretty irresponsible as a bulldog owner. 1) bulldogs literally, physically cannot run around for long periods of times, even if they want to. There are many health reasons that back this up which I won’t get into here but any proper bulldog owner would know this even by simple means of something called the INTERNET. 2) Bulldogs are drastically (almost annoyingly) sensitive to the heat and sun, even if it’s not that hot. As a result, when outside, in the sun, an owner must ALWAYS have with him/her some water for the little piggy to drink. They get thirsty and they get thirsty fast. Obi can chug 2 liters of water like it’s nobody’s business on a typical park outing. 3) an owner of a dog (or cat) should be pretty aware of the cues that indicate that their pet is not doing well, in a similar fashion that a mother or father would be attuned to their kid all of a sudden feeling sick. At the very least, notice that you dog is not over exerted so that the poor little guy doesn’t throw up?

Needless to say I almost b*tch slapped the woman for being so dumb and for being so oblivious. I immediately took the opportunity to point all of this out to G’s daughter and told her the following “Having a pet is a responsibility and if you’re going to have a special breed like a bulldog, you need to make sure you know the dog’s limitations so that he can live a happy life.” Even G’s daughter, who is 8, understood that bulldogs can’t run around for extended periods of time.

I don’t know if it’s the culture or if it’s Chile’s obsessive focus on the children’s welfare that makes for the myopic view of topics regarding animals (and the environment, while we’re at it!) Maybe it’s neither and it’s just a geographic obstacle, in that Chile is literally so far away from so many other “developed” countries and that it’s surrounded by geographic barriers (Andes and Pacific Ocean) that the information and tendencies are delayed? Or perhaps it’s none of the above. In any case, if there are people as dumb as those who reprimand me for neutering Obi and people like the woman mentioned above who didn’t have the slightest idea of what it meant to be a bulldog owner, I believe that times are changing and Chile is evolving when it comes to animal rights and education to the masses on the responsibility of pet ownership. It’s time for the masses to stop playing dumb regarding the topic of responsible pet-ownership and the topic of the over-population of dogs and cats in the country. If parents-to-be educate themselves on all things involving children and newborns, if someone who’s about to buy a car will read every article and book about how to care for the car so as to assure it’s longevity, if people study the last financial statement of a company they are interviewing with in order to gain a competitive advantage in the interview process, what would it take for these same people to learn a bit more about the benefits of protecting and enriching the lives of animals?

I wonder.

Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. ~George Orwell, Animal Farm

Ever occur to you why some of us can be this much concerned with animals suffering? Because government is not. Why not? Animals don’t vote. ~Paul Harvey

Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar. ~Bradley Millar

Here’s an epilogue to ponder:
I never used to be so aware of animals and especially dogs. But ever since I moved to Chile and realized how animals are regarded, both the good and the bad, and became a pet owner myself, I have found that I am quite adamant on the topic of proper pet responsibility and education. In fact, I’m more adamant about pets than I am about children, as controversial as that may sound. I don’t have kids, I have a dog. And in Chile, as well as everywhere else, there about 100 times more people fighting for the rights of children than there are those remotely concerned about dogs and animals. Things will shift when I have kids, I’m sure. But that just means that my focus will then be balanced between kids and dogs and by no means, will that ever mean that my focus on dogs will falter.

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No balls

During a time when the country – no, the world – is obsessed with balls and where they can go (i.e. World Cup fever), I’ve had a ball-centered weekend myself. Except my weekend has more to do with the REMOVAL of balls. That is, my dog’s balls (to my more conservative readers, sorry for such a crude way of putting it!)

Last Friday, G and I had Obi fixed (neutered). While we’re completely and totally ok with this decision, it’s been a mini ordeal in Chile, a country where neutering a male pet is simply unheard of. Even G wasn’t too keen on the idea when we first got Obi so my mission was clear: at least in our home, in our own way, we’d do what we could to be responsible pet owners and do our share to help control the pet population in Chile. It’s easy to shrug off the responsibility of helping the pet population (in both dogs and cats) but the reality is that said responsibility starts with each and every pet owner.

So when I set out to “convince” my dear husband that neutering our male pet was the best option, I did my research. According to various reliable, online sources (such as The Humane Society, ASPCA and the likes), these are the most convincing reasons (in my opinion) to fix your pet:

1) Neutering your pet can help it lead a healthier life and in males, eliminates testicular cancer.

2) The female dog won’t go into “heat” and the male dog won’t feel inclined to wander away from home (in search of said female dog in heat.) The overwhelming sexual urges just don’t kick in and your dog is free to be your dear, sweet, family pet. Isn’t this the reason you got the dog in the first place?

3) A neutered male dog will be much better behaved because they focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs may mark their territory all over the house.

4) Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering (Obi was neutered at six months, the earliest recommended age to neuter pets.)

5) Finally, the most important reason: everyday, animals die because there is no one to care for them or are killed by euthanasia because no one wants them. There is simply no excuse for allowing pets to breed unless one is a responsible breeder who knows what he/she is doing!

With all this, G was of course convinced. He let go of the learned reaction he had for so long as a Chilean who grew up in Chile: it has nothing to do with being more manly or less manly. It’s a dog, for Pete’s sake! We are not removing the MAN’S testicles, we’re asking a professional to remove our pet’s testicles for the reasons stated above. Further it’s not “cruel” of us to “deny” him the experience of a sexual encounter or the experience of being a father. Again, he’s a DOG!! He still has his penis and as far as we can tell, it works despite the neutering! Furthermore, having done our research, we know that this particular breed (bulldogs) don’t innately pursue procreation. Most female bulldogs needs to be artificially inseminated because it’s not part of their DNA to go around shacking up with every dog they see!

My dear husband is a smart guy and with proper research and argument, if someone’s right, someone’s right. In this case, I was right and once we had this important discussion, not only was he convinced it was the right thing to do with Obi, but he defended (and continues to defend) this decision to every person who has something negative to say about it.

But frankly, I’m SO SICK of the weird looks, shocked questions and concerned expressions some Chileans continue to give me. Today in the elevator my neighbor made a comment about how “particular” Obi was being because he was barking at her. I told her he had just had surgery. When she and her son asked why, I debated on what to say … finally I just said “I had him castrated.” Their looks were priceless. I’m sure that they had a field day forming a very vivid picture of what my family life with G was like … I was very proud of myself for causing such shock to my fellow (narrow-minded) neighbors but quickly found myself EXPLAINING why I had done it (basically “blamed” it on cultural differences and that where I was from, fixing a dog was considered normal.) In any case, they continue to think I’m a weirdo and I’m sure I didn’t help in easing their opinion that my dog is “weird” too.

Just for the record, my fellow Chileans who think this is such a horrible thing to do to a dog, Obi’s a-ok. In fact, the only thing that has him feeling less than stellar is the pain medication. We quickly discontinued it, of course and now he’s on his favorite rice and chicken diet.

Of course, immediately AFTER the surgery he looked like this:

In his e-cone and doped on his recent dose of anesthesia, he looks like a pot head, druggie dog! He was super uncomfortable and couldn’t find any way to sit … but he’s since then conquered the situation and he’s looking more like this:

He’s laying low, not really going outside and chilling with me and G in-house. AND he’s not even noticing the operated area … some websites indicated that he might lick or scratch the site, but he hasn’t and he doesn’t seem to be feeling any kind of pain. He’s running and jumping and eating (now that he’s off the pain meds).

G and I are happy with our decision and we know that in the long run, our little guy will lead a healthier, happier life as our dear family pet. Yeah, I’m still super annoyed with the majority reaction here but it doesn’t make what we did less appropriate. We’re being responsible and we’re assuring our dog’s happy life from now on.

The question is: are you doing the same for your pet?

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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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The dog post (introducing Obi-wan)

G and I have found ourselves welcoming a little bundle of joy and thankfully it’s not a result of me being pregnant and carrying a human life for nine months. No, no. Contrary to that nightmare, we’re excited that in about a month we’ll be welcoming a little English Bulldog puppy into our urban dwelling here in Santiago.

Everyone, say hello to Obi-Wan Kenobi.


I mean, he’s pint-sized and I’m not exaggerating when I say that in several pictures I have with him, he makes my hands look like ginormous man-hands. It happens when you’re all of 28 days old, as he was in this pic above.

Chile is quite the dog lovers country. In fact, in that sense I truly equate Santiago with New York City, where everyone has a dog and most housing is dog-friendly because, truly, there is no other option than to accept the furry friends. (I say this because San Francisco was certainly not a dog lover’s city…not unless you owned your place.) The difference I see between Santiago and New York in this sense is that in NYC I see dogs as more personalized, where most dogs truly do ‘match’ their owners and where dogs are pretty much divas in their own right in some way, shape or form. In Santiago, well, that’s not so much the case.

Isabelle Allende wrote an exaggerated version of dogs in Chile in her memoir “My Invented Country.” She writes:

“In our house, as in every Chilean home, there were animals. Dogs are acquired in different ways: inherited, received as a gift, picked up after they’ve been run over but not killed, or because they followed a child home from school, after which there’s not a chance of throwing them out. This has always been the case and I hope it never changes. I don’t know a single normal Chilean who ever bought a dog; the only people who do that are the fanatics of the Kennel Club, but no one takes them seriously. Almost all the dogs in Chile are called Blackie, whatever their color, and cats bear the generic names of Puss or Kitty.”

Note that G and I are automatically not considered “normal Chileans” in Allende’s mind since we’re actually purchasing Obi-wan…Obviously it’s her memoir, her nostalgic view of what she remembers Chile to be like and of course that gives way to the almost ridiculous exaggeration describing dog acquisition as noted above. I do agree that most Chileans don’t buy their dogs and that yes, they are somehow “adopted” or become part of the family in a very seamless, more organic way than how Obi-wan Kenobi will come to us. And usually when this happens, the dogs aren’t 100% of a certain breed but rather, a mix of one breed with another. Though I do know that the opposite has become more and more true: one family who has a certain breed (more likely than not, a poodle) finds another family friend with the same breed (and opposite sex), mates them and wa-la!! – a litter is born! These are then either ‘sold’ or simply given away to friends and neighbors. Those are the two ways that Chileans typically welcome dogs into their home and as such, there has certainly been a deviation from what Isabel Allende remembers. I personally think that the first method is noble, generous and humane and that the second method is ever-so-slightly irresponsible. The whole notion of giving a dog as a gift to people who aren’t prepared to have a dog just blows my mind … but that’s six of one and half a dozen of another, as a friend’s grandmom would say.

G and I have met with the same question over and over again when we tell friends about Obi-wan. They (mostly the Chileans) ask “Why a Bulldog? They’re so ugly and weird looking.” Of course my initial thought – IN MY HEAD, mind you – is “and a poodle isn’t?” Oh and Chileans just HEART their poodles! I’ve always loved dogs but now that we’re actually getting one, I’ve taken to noticing other people’s dogs more and more. And what I’ve noticed, at least on the surface and quite superficially, is that Chileans love Poodles, Dachshunds and Maltese. In other words, Chileans are partial to little dogs. This makes sense given that there are so many apartment buildings in this city and how cruel would it be to have, say, a German Shepard or even a Labrador in an apartment? But I find the question “why a Bulldog” kind of ridiculous.

Unlike perhaps half of the dog-owning population in Chile (or more!), G and I have researched this breed extensively and we’ve determined that a bulldog makes complete and total sense for our lifestyle – both now and in the future. (Do you expect less from someone who puts most things in Power Point?) Bullies are perfect for apartments because they don’t require too much exercise (once a day for about 20 minutes), docile, friendly, good with kids and other pets, ridiculously loyal and hello – of all breeds, is one of the few with MINIMAL BARKING (G’s nightmare dog is a small one who “yaps”). Of course their snoring makes up for the fact that they rarely bark but, hey – we think that’s super cute! Obi-wan has been thought out and we truly believe he reflects us, our lifestyle and that he will be an integral part of our lives and who we are as a couple. We’re looking for a pet, a companion, a friend and a dog who’s “one of us.” Obi-wan fits the bill. We like that we can’t find a bulldog around every corner and we like the fact that Obi-wan is considered “different.” It already makes us love him more.

Bulldog puppies are cute – few people can argue that. But so are adult bulldogs! I mean look at this muffin excited about pool time (p.s. Bulldogs can’t really swim so all the pools have to have very shallow water.) He’s so excited, he’s snorting!! Hahaha!

If all goes according to plan, G and I can welcome Obi-wan by the third week of February … and yes, I already foresee boring you with silly posts about him – our apologies in advance but you’ve been warned. Until then, I’ll leave you with some Obi-wan cuteness to take with you …

(Obi’s on the right, with a brother or sister on the left)

Rawwwrrrrr!!

And finally …having a hear-to-heart

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