Thicker than water

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discuss.

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Work and travel, travel and work

My husband’s a busy guy. On top of that, he actually loves to work. So when it came time to plan yet another business trip to China to attend the Canton Fair, he went full throttle and built his agenda to include back-to-back meetings with suppliers, as well as back-to-back viewings of showrooms, booths and, in some cases, even factories. Meaning that even though he’ll be in China (including fabulously sophisticated Hong Kong) for two weekends, he’s left himself absolutely no time to sightsee, let alone rest.

Such a 180 from my days of international business travel. There were many times when I found myself working over the weekend and I’ve most certainly had my share of working on major holidays. Running from one meeting to another, schmoozing and negotiating from one client to the next, waking up at 6 am and going to bed at 1 am, and in between sitting in absurd Latin American traffic for hours on end. But despite this, I always found time to dabble in the sights, sounds, food and culture of the different countries where I had the privilege to do business. In fact, even my superiors were ok with mixing business with cultural expansion. Maybe it had to do with the fact that in knowing the culture, we were learning how to sell and market to said culture. Whatever the real reason (maybe we were all just slackers?) I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to travel for work for a good part of my career. Moreover, I’m in eternal debt to those who sidelined slave work for a moment and who shared the experience of being tourists with me, if only for a few hours.

Coworker and me on the beach in Cannes, France.

At Monserrate, a Church overlooking Bogota, Colombia.

Banderitas Mexicanas … yes, that’s Tequila and yes it was lunch time.

Well hello, Louvre!

Intersection outside the Shibuya station in Tokyo, quite possibly the most
congested pedestrian crossing in the world.

I see you Cristo Redentor!

And a dabble here and there in Leblon.

Hey, I know you!

Viva LV! I started with US$15 at the roulette table and proceeded to win US$420.

Traveling for work might seem 100% fabulous to those whose job doesn’t require them to travel. I agree. To a certain extent it IS fabulous. But it’s more like 20% fabulous, 50% stressful, 30% exhausting. The kind of exhaustion you just don’t recognize in your day-to-day life because when you’re at home you usually aren’t trying to adapt to different cultures, languages, business etiquette and so on. When traveling for work, you have to be on your toes, 100% of the time. Even sleeping isn’t necessarily all that great since half the time the hotel bed is a lumpy ol’ mess, no matter how fancy the hotel.

I hope that G finds a balance during his million-hour stay in China and that he comes back telling me about something amazing he saw, ate or did while he was there. So far, I’ve heard some stories but unfortunately they’re all still related to work. I guess it’s a good thing I’m not there with him right now … I’m not sure he’d really get the work done that he’s expecting of himself.

Actually, I’m pretty sure that if I ever traveled with him for work, I’d be the rotten apple, bad influence, Chileans-Gone-Wild instigator of the trip. As depicted below:

Downtime during a layover in Sydney before heading off to China (about three years ago.)

My version of downtime (business trip in Buenos Aires, night before heading home) About 2 years ago.
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Our dining experiences in Santiago (Part 1)

G and I were a long-distance couple for about eight months before I made the big move to Chile (You can read about the beginning of our relationship, how we met, our courtship and the proposal here.) Granted, we were lucky that our time apart didn’t span years, as it does for so many other LDR couples, we still missed out on the usual day-to-day activities that come with the start of any new relationship.

Which might explain why we find ourselves going out on dinner dates quite frequently now that we live together. Of course outings are (and should be) part of every married couple’s life, but it does seem like we are trying to make up for lost time considering the fact that we try to head out at least twice a week. In defense of this lavish tendency, I’d like to note that G and I figure our time for such gastronomical activities can be measured in an hourglass and what’s left is less than half the sand. In addition, I tend to cook more times than we actually go out and it’s refreshing to know that if we don’t cook, it doesn’t mean we’ll starve.

Santiago has its wealth of restaurants, relative to those you’d find in Sao Paulo and Mexico City (both cities where I’ve eaten mind blowing, delicious food) and I also find that there seems to be a wide variety of options – diversity in their origins and applicable to any desired price range. For a country that seems to be far from hopping on the diversity bandwagon, I personally think that there are many, many options out there and the list of restaurants G and I are looking to try, grows with each new edition of “El Mercurio’s” Club de Lectores list of participating restaurants (Chile’s largest newspaper, “El Mercurio,” has an agreement with American Express to offer card-holding subscribers, discounts at many restaurants. In our case, the cost of having the card, including the monthly subscription fee of the paper, is more than justified considering how much money we save whenever we dine at one of the participating restaurants.)

Some of the restaurants we’ve been to in the past few months, include:

Aquí Está Coco – recently reopened after falling victim to a fire a few years ago, a local online media outlet had it right when they stated that it reopened in “2.0” style. I’d been to the restaurant, which mainly serves fish and seafood, back in 2000/2001. The food was great and the restaurant itself had an old-world charm, literally having been gutted out and remolded from a former home that stood on Avda Concepcion in Providencia. Now, the restaurant is set to challenge the likes of La Mar in Santiago with it’s modern decoration, Peruvian-fused seafood dishes and wine cellar dining option, all which offer the differentiation necessary to call out its dishes from the various seafood alternatives available in this city. Note that their pisco sour “aperitivos” are literally the size of shots but their “Ceviche Altiro” more than makes up for that lapse in judgment by the staff. I feel like their menu needs more options, but can hail an “Amen” for their MEDITERANEAN TURBOT dish, which was, in a word, A-mazing. I’m sure G and I will go back at some point, but despite having had a great experience there, I’m not sure it can be repeated. Their menu didn’t scream “I’m delish” through and through. BTW, can I point out that when we went, G’s Mazda 3 was the “poorest” (his word, not mine) looking car in the lot. What, with the BMWs, Benzes, Porsches, Land Rovers and what not, we felt a little like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” when she went to the boutique to buy a cocktail dress.

A Pinch of Pancho – I recall that this restaurant was one of the first I’d heard about when I moved here because it was highlighted as an option for “good ol’ comfort food.” Located at General del Canto 45, near the Manuel Montt metro, the first thing we noted about this restaurant was how the outside SO DID NOT do the inside justice. The decor is eclectic, to say the least, bright and perhaps a bit overwhelming but nonetheless very, very cool. The food is definitely “comfort” and I went ahead and ordered the ribs, something I’ve never done in any restaurant. I can only attribute it to a deep feeling of nostalgia for all things American. They were good, but I’m not particularly a rib fan. G ordered some kind of meat, which was also pretty tasty, but rather basic with its potato side. I think G and I decided that we wouldn’t go back any time soon, not because the food wasn’t good – it was – but because it wasn’t really our style of food. After we left I’m sure we weighed a good 30 pounds more, combined, given the heaviness that is any and all comfort food. Still, it’s nice to know that solid American-style options are available in my same comuna.

Nolita – Nolita is actually owned by the same people who own A Pinch of Pancho and as such, they seem to have consulted the same interior decorator. This time, whoever did the decorating, did so with a less exaggerated hand (lowered the uppers and upped the downers). It’s located in the El Golf area of Las Condes at Isidora Goyenechea 3456 (in a neighborhood otherwise known as Sanhattan). Their specialty is their pasta, so I went ahead and ordered their lasagna, which of course, was amazing. The owners of both A Pinch of Pancho and Nolita are all about making sure their customers leave feeling like a grossly overstuffed pig sitting on King Henry the VIII’s table because I don’t recall actually having walked out of the restaurant. I’m pretty sure G rolled me to the car that time. As the New York Times adequately describes “the pasta dishes are rich and decadent.” No sh*t. Would we go back? In a heartbeat. Would I make sure to not eat for 3 days straight prior to going? Definitely. BTW those on TripAdvisor who described this restaurant as “disappointing but edible” must have been sniffing White Out – it doesn’t come close to being like that at all.

NoSo at the W Hotel – Ok, so I’m cheating a bit because I didn’t technically go there with G, but rather, with my mom. This restaurant describes itself as being the meeting point of French and Mediterranean cuisine but I personally found it to be more like it was sitting on the corner of “Falling a Whole Leap Year Short of being Good” and “Ridiculously Overpriced for such Small Portions.” Rather than being “succulent,” it’s pretentious and don’t get me started on the ridiculously small portions. I don’t tend to agree with my mom when she claims she should have brought her “lupa” (magnifying glass) in any given case, but this time around I agreed that we should have added my own personal lupa to the outing. That way we would have been able to see a fraction of what we were actually eating. I ordered one of the fish options and honestly, I can’t recall too much about it other than it tasted overly fishy. I’m all about fish but when the fish has too much of a fish taste, I find it’s rather fishy of it and the restaurant. But, it’s in the W (also in Sanhattan) so of course, I’m sure it will do well no matter what I write so more power to them, I guess. Also, and this could be me being persnickety of course, but I find that the table and the way the chairs are shaped and placed, make it really awkward to hold a conversation without yelling across to the other person.

Mestizo – I was actually a super fan of this restaurant (located in Vitacura, at one end of Parque Bicentenario) until I went for about the 5th time and realized that what I’m actually a fan of is their Mero (Grouper fish), their appetizers and their pisco sour. I like when I get to the point of actually knowing what it is I particularly like about a restaurant. It saves so much time and is much more cost-effective. I’m not gonna lie. Their grilled octopus appetizer is TO DIE FOR and I could eat it until the cows come home. It’s the kind of good where you want to take a piece of bread and soak up anything left on the plate – but of course, in this particular restaurant, I’m sure the Annie’s would frown upon that (if they only knew what they were missing. That, and garlic). You can tell there’s a lot of money invested here and besides the menu as evidence, there’s the geometric shape of the actual restaurant itself. It’s so random that it’s as isolated as it is, literally without any other restaurants or even hotels in sight, and located instead in a very residential neighborhood, at the foot of a park. One of my favorite times there was when I went with KM during lunch, drank a little vino, people watched and ate … salads perhaps? I can’t recall but in memory of that, I’d like to highly recommend this place as a very SATC option for outdoor/trendy lunching. Also, keep to the bar if you’re going for dinner – much cooler and the service is faster!

Epicúreo – Here’s a restaurant I really, really like. I like it because it sticks to offering good food, low on the holier-than-thou factor other restaurants we visit tend to have. It’s located outside of Patio Bellavista, right next to the Dublin Pub, on Constitucion. Though the location screams nightlife, the reality is that this restaurant is very below-the-radar in its appearance. In typical Chilean fashion, the site itself is a refurbished and remodeled former home, with wood floors and a comfortable, welcoming ambiance that seems to be both spacious and intimate, if that makes any sense. At the core, the restaurant states that its driver is the French cuisine. I can kind of see it, but not really. What I definitely CAN see is that the chef takes note of details when preparing and presenting the food and the result is pretty impressive. I had the Centolla (King Crab) black raviolis and of course, they were delish. The steamed mussel appetizers were amazing as well, as are their salads, notably their Asian option. The pisco sour is ok, nothing to write home about, BUT what lacks there is made up with a shiny gold star for outstanding service. Plus it’s rather inexpensive. My mom, sister and I ate there the other night and for three main dishes and three non-alcoholic drinks we paid less than US$50, with tip included. Not too shabby.

Pasta e Vino Santiago – The original Paste e Vino is located in the hills of Valparaiso, Chile and I went with G last year when we took a quick weekend trip to Con-Con so that this California girl could get a dose of ocean. Known for their pasta and wine (obvi) this place did not disappoint. Thus, you can imagine our enthusiastic surprise when we took a wrong turn one night (coming back from Epicúreo actually) and stumbled upon The Aubrey Hotel (btw my newest hotel obsession) with its sign for Pasta e Vino. It’s located at the foot of Cerro San Cristobal, at the end of Constitución in the Bellavista area of Santiago. The good thing is that it’s, in three words, ridiculously good pasta. The bad thing is that half of their pasta options are gnocchi and for those of us who don’t like gnocchi (G & me), this automatically reduces your pasta options by half. Furthermore, I’m not a big ol’ fan of raviolis either so for me, the menu was reduced to the three remaining fettuccine options. No bother though as each one looked so tasty, I had a problem deciding. The one I settled on was a cream sauce with a taste of honey intertwined, which resulted in a medley of nectar of the gods in my mouth. It was that good. But then I found myself with the same problem I had at Nolita, in that I’m pretty sure that G rolled me out to the car. There was no way I could walk – I couldn’t even finish the entire dish! Although if you go, bring a flashlight because at night, it’s impossible to see what’s in front of you. The servers, all of apparent different nationalities, are also a little on the slow side, though they do aim to please.

That’s a little overview of our dining experiences here in Santiago – very subjective and not at all to be taken as the bible of culinary experiences. In fact, it’s not even representative of what Chile, as a country and culture, is truly about. Yes, it’s a part of what makes Chile Chile, specifically Santiago Santiago. I encourage you to check out Cachando Chile for a true-to-reality take on culinary experiences here (the link is tagged for food entries) that will help round out an entry such as this one, which is focused on the subjective view of particular restaurants in Santiago.

Stay tuned for the other Parts (II or even III), budget permitting and as I get around to eating more (and working out so that I don’t balloon into a hippopotamus. That’s Obi’s role.)

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Children’s Day (Día del Niño) – friend or foe?

In my attempt to understand the concept of Children’s Day (Día del Niño) which seems to be a big deal in many Latin American countries, I took to the Internet. I found out that Children’s Day is an idea adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954. The main message of this day is to recognize children, pay homage to their importance in society, and endorses their well being. Politically speaking, the idea of Children’s Day was enforced to promote the rights of all children around the world.

The Declaration of Rights of a Child, simply put:

1. All children have the right to what follows, no matter what their race, color sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, or where they were born or who they were born to.

2. You have the special right to grow up and to develop physically and spiritually in a healthy and normal way, free and with dignity.

3. You have a right to a name and to be a member of a country.

4. You have a right to special care and protection and to good food, housing and medical services.

5. You have the right to special care if handicapped in any way.

6. You have the right to love and understanding, preferably from parents and family, but from the government where these cannot help.

7.You have the right to go to school for free, to play, and to have an equal chance to develop yourself and to learn to be responsible and useful. Your parents have special responsibilities for your education and guidance.

8. You have the right always to be among the first to get help.

9. You have the right to be protected against cruel acts or exploitation, e.g. you shall not be obliged to do work which hinders your development both physically and mentally. You should not work before a minimum age and never when that would hinder your health, and your moral and physical development.

10. You should be taught peace, understanding, tolerance and friendship among all people.

I completely and totally agree with these rights granted to all children around the world and further, would personally work vehemently to always ensure that children are protected from any and all types of harm. In addition, I agree with the general mission of the UN’s General Assembly’s purpose behind promoting a Children’s Day: “a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children.

Truly it’s a great principle, great mission, aims to teach great values and promotes the fraternity among children and the safekeeping of all children. What cold be wrong with Children’s Day??

I’ll tell you: the retailers and their aim to make you feel like a guilty mofo if you don’t go out and get your kids presents they’ve come to expect. These retailers, and their marketing strategy, aim to make you out as the best parent/uncle/grandparent/cousin/friend/what-have-you if you buy the child the latest and greatest gadget “available only at XYZ store” and for a “limited time.” The underlying message here is that if you don’t go out and buy said toy or gadget, you’re weird and plain wicked for not appreciating kids and how important they are to society.

Oh but the retailers aren’t at fault, really. Society believes the hype as we believe the hype about Christmas and birthdays and Valentine’s Day. If you were to encounter someone who say, never celebrated birthdays or gave gifts on someone’s birthday, I’m sure we’d all conclude the guy/woman is a nut and carry on our merry way. In this case, I’m the nut because in the States, I don’t recall ever celebrating – or even hearing about – Children’s Day. As I got older and began to work in the children’s entertainment industry, from a revenue generating level, I welcomed Children’s Day in other territories as a prime time to make some “holiday” cash by selling our goods and helping my bottom line. See? Even I succumbed to the hype surrounding Children’s Day, only it was from the worst angle possible! Using their desires to generate income for a business purpose. Ugly, to say the least.

From a more objective perspective one thing is decidedly clear: based on the advertisements I see on tv and in print, it appears that the Chilean retailers don’t embrace the true nature of Children’s Day. Perhaps they don’t because the consumer goes out and buys what’s necessary because it’s what has always occurred and what’s expected. I certainly get the retailer side of things and the fact that it’s all based on the general public’s actions and needs. I wonder if I’ll even see some kind of organized activity that truly embraces the nature of Children’s Day as the UN General Assembly had hoped: promoting fraternity and understanding between children.

Obviously I’m the big weirdo fighting the power here, and I’m ok with that. I stated on Facebook that I was anti-Children’s Day and I’m sure more people than not thought I was a b*tch for writing that. The thing is, I’m fine with being a weirdo because after some researching, I’m even more adamant about NOT going out and buying kids gifts this coming Sunday! Yes it’s partly due to having never celebrated Children’s Day growing up (though believe it or not, there IS an actual date dedicated to this back home) and yes, it’s partly due to not having kids of my own. But having worked in the children’s entertainment field, I can completely and totally attest that this day is nothing more than a marketing scheme embraced by retailers and all companies that make and sell children’s products. They all want to make a buck off you. Sorry dear parents, but it’s true. Much like Christmas and what it’s become to those who aren’t really celebrating family and/or the birth of Jesus Christ.

Someday in the future this will become a point of contention between G and me. We’re taking his kids snowboarding this weekend, which in my humble, non-parent opinion should suffice as celebration for their contribution to society and their mere existence. But of course, we were at the mall yesterday and he got them each a gift for Sunday as well. So be it. They aren’t my kids and I’m not about to force my wild opinions on him and influence how he is as a father to them.

But trust me. Someday with my own kids I hope to make Children’s Day more about getting along with other kids and less about what the hell I can buy them at Falabella or Jumbo.

Call me crazy.

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Confessions of an ex-girlfriend

Earlier this week I had some time on my hands (as I was trying to avoid studying) and so I began Facebook check-in’s with my friends and acquaintances. I do this every so often just to see who’s had a kid, who’s getting married, who’s bought a house, who’s sick and who’s annoyed with work (and to what degree.) It’s good reading and I highly suggest it, though highly recommend you stick to people you know otherwise you cross the line into weirdo territory. I digress.

Anyhoosers, as I was doing this, I came across someone who is FB friends with an ex’s family member and I was immediately hauled back to memory lane recalling how God-awful that ex was and seriously took a second to THANK GOD I was no longer in that atrocious relationship.

From there (again, all in an effort to avoid studying for this upcoming exam on Saturday morning), I decided to take a moment in my happily married life and contemplate the road I walked (or crawled depending on the relationship) to get right where I am at this very second. It’s good to reflect on where you’ve been, if only to cherish even more where you are. Another thing I highly suggest and not just with ex’s but in all aspects of life.

I was always a long-term relationship kind of girl, beginning with my first boyfriend ever which I “dated” for about a year and half. I say “dated” because when you’re 15-17 years old, how much of this is really, truly dating … isn’t it more like, obsessing about one another, feeling sick with insecurity and locking lips? Or is that just me? He broke up with me to date a girl from another high school and as a result, I remember being traumatized and stripped of any desire to get out of bed. That lasted about two months, as I listed to Pearl Jam’s “Black” on repeat (CDs were widespread then so it was easy to just press one button and instantly hear the anthem of my broken heart.) It was that or Guns n’ Roses “Don’t Cry.” What can I say? My 17 year old heart was shattered – and worse! It had been replaced by a girl at another high school!! I remember doing some questionable investigating to find out how they had met in the first place and I came to find out they had met at the gym. The gym! I didn’t even own running shoes…

Boyfriend #2, looking back, I can now identify as a creep-o with an inferiority complex so severe, he actually chose to date me, someone 7 years his junior! I was still in high school, he was a college drop out. Need I say more? In short, looking back, the me-now can definitely identify the him-then as a Grade-A LOSER … but the me-then didn’t know that. I blame him, really. Shouldn’t he have pointed out that an 18 year-old should be hanging out with other 18 year-olds? He was a nice enough guy, helped me with term papers and the like, but his antisocial antics got old AND the fact that he lived at home and didn’t have a job became beyond embarrassing. We broke up after about 3 years when I finally met someone closer to my age with the same values as me (hi, work ethic anyone?) and who would actually hang out with my friends. I felt like I had struck gold!

Boyfriend #3 was fun, smart, came from a good family, and was a lovely boyfriend for the year we dated. In fact, I’m FB friends with him! He’s married now and has a very cute daughter and in short, looks very happy and I’m happy FOR him. Seriously, the only bad thing I can say about that is that I liked him a lot more than I think he liked me at the time… as a result, I of course drove him away. Don’t get me wrong, I think he really did like me. I just seemed to think it wasn’t enough … Which led to yet another broken heart and feelings of “What’s wrong with meeeeeeeeeeee?” It wasn’t him, it was me. I see that now. And because of that, I can look back and think “he was fun. I liked him. Good guy to date, glad we hit it off,” walking away with no ill feelings and instead, feelings of complete neutrality. I find this to be a good thing.

After Boyfriend #3 I entered a period when I bounced around a lot, not really finding myself in anything that stable or promising. I dabbled in dating the first boyfriend ever (high school guy) again but that ended sourly and I have nothing good to say about that second time around. I did learn that it’s no good to re-date someone. What’s that book called? Something about being called a break-up because it’s broken? Point being, don’t re-date someone. Does it ever end well? I guess it can, but in my case it (thankfully) didn’t. After that, I dabbled in a long distance relationship with a Chilean I met in San Francisco… he was in the Chilean navy, still is actually. He’s another guy I’m friends with on FB and he too is now in a long-term relationship. Again, feelings of happiness (for him) and neutrality can best describe what I feel when I remember him.

That’s the thing though. I never even remember these guys except when one thing leads me to another, as was the case the other day, and I remember something. But even that thought is so fleeting, it’s like all of this happened to another person. But that’s how it goes, right? The me I was back then was a less developed, less evolved version of me now.

If I have a daughter, I’ll take her through all of these lessons on dating. I’ll tell her that sometimes, guys look awesome on the surface (“on paper”) as was the case with the first guy I made mention of at the beginning of this post (remember? I said I came across an acquaintance’s FB page who is friends with a family member of his). What seemed to be, wasn’t really and I got caught up with all that glittered about him. Turned out he was a lazy, unmotivated, racist (yes, racist), uber conservative little punk with delusions of grandeur (and yes, I really DO need to learn to form an opinion.) Our break up seemed detrimental at the time but looking back, all I can think is “There is a God and he’s definitely looking out for me.” The funny thing is that he (and his entire family) probably thinks I’m a crazy, Latina Jezebel who ended up looking for a relationships on Cragislist “Women Seeking Men” section. I’m not gonna lie. I came this close and decided against it. :o)

But I’d also tell my daughter that sometimes, really nice guys come along and you date them for an eternity of four years. I’m not sure what number this said boyfriend would be but let’s just say he was Mr. All-American Nice Guy. No complaints, bad juju or ill-feelings come about in relation to him and actually, we had a great time together. He’s now dating someone who is far better suited for him and honestly, I’m happy for them both. It didn’t use to be like that. Sometimes one’s ego gets in the way of being happy for those who deserve it but time takes care of that discrepancy in personal judgment.

The final thing that happens before finding THE ONE is this: you meet someone and you instantly click. You think, “OMG what have I been doing my whole life when this person was floating around, existing without me and I was doing the same thing! Blasphemy!” You can’t conjure up anyone who is cooler, has a better story, a better career, a cuter face, better taste in music or personal style and you immediately become convinced that this is what life has been saving for you. This, right here, this guy, is your prize for all your failed relationships past.

HA!! Except that’s not how it works. See, right before you meet the one, you meet the one who could-have-been or almost-was (which is VASTLY different from the one-who-got-away). This guy is the one who gives you the final reminder that a guy who is in it for the long run, in it because he’s convinced you’re the best thing since sliced bread, will do insurmountable things to be with you. Will climb every mountain and swim every ocean just to be near you (so to speak). Simply put, the guy who’s in it to win it will follow through with some integrity. The guy who almost-was but didn’t quite measure up was the guy before G and it was a fresh SLAP IN THE FACE reminder of all the sh*t women need NOT go through with the opposite sex.

That’s how it goes you know. You have to be crawling on the ground, licking the floor miserable, having endured the most pathetic of showings by a guy, to realize that it’s far better to be alone than with the guy who could never measure up.

So maybe some people never had to be alone in order to find themselves before THE ONE came along. We all have our own roads and this just happened to be mine. Still, I don’t think I would have changed it all that much. Yeah break ups suck and there were some that were horrid for me … where my face would be a disfigured mess in the mornings because of endless crying the night before. But it helped me learn that each time I became someone’s ex-girlfriend, I was closer to becoming someone’s THE ONE (or wife). I always like to say that dating was like trying jeans on for size. You have to try a million on, and endure pure frustration (some too long, some too tight, why do those look better on her than me, I have no butt, etc) before you find a good pair.

What a long strange trip it’s been …. and where I am because of it, is worth its weight in gold.

G and me during our first dance as husband and wife.
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Skiing in the Andes with the Annie’s

G and I have taken to completely regarding ourselves as avid skiers in the making. After some convincing from me on how awesome the ski/snowboard/general snow experience was and my repeated “OMG’s” on the fact that he’s never been skiing in his life, (considering the Andes are so close), he relented. He purchased new snow gear (at 50% off and still ridiculously expensive for Chilean standards) and this past Friday we were off on our snow bunny trek.

Obviously you know where this post is headed: the comparison between going to the snow here vs. going to the snow back home.

Let me preface by stating a couple of things. First, I’m using the term “going to the snow” in lieu of skiing or snowboarding because I want to encompass the entire experience AND leave room for a switch between skiing and snowboarding down the line. This time, G and I skied but next time we go (in about three weeks hopefully) we’re going to be snowboarding. Second, I recognize that skiing and snowboarding (mostly skiing) are not a cheap activity no matter where you’re located in the world. Considering gas involved getting there and back, gear involved, lift tickets, accomodations (if need be) and food, it’s pretty pricey to list skiing/snowboarding as a frequent activity during winter.

However, I learned that in Chile skiing/snowboarding is most definitely an ABC1 outing and I realized this mostly because of those around me that day.

Back in California, we used to head out to Lake Tahoe for our yearly doses of snow and this usually involved getting a group of friends together and 1) staying with friends who had houses there or 2) finding a vacation rental for 2-3 nights and splitting it across all those going.

Me and my friend Jen in 2005 or 2006, in front of the house 8-10 of us rented in South Lake.

Lake Tahoe was about a four hour drive from San Francisco, depending on traffic and velocity, so in our case, we always stayed at least two nights. Besides, being on the border with Nevada, there is definitely a nightlife and subsequent debauchery that one can partake in on the evenings when one isn’t philandering in the snow (skiing).

Also, there are SO MANY options for skiing, depending on which “shore” of the Lake you are staying, and because of this, there are also various options when taking into account the budget. This site gives you a very topline idea of the various prices of lift tickets in the Lake Tahoe area and seriously, the range is anywhere from about US$21 to US$90. And equipment rental prices? Anywhere between US$30 – $60 for gear and boots for the day. So on the expensive end, skiing for a day in Lake Tahoe could cost about US$160 at most … while here in Chile it will cost you about US$65 for a lift ticket and about US$45 for equipment rental. Taking into account the salary discrepancies in this country when compared to those in the U.S. AND taking into account how I mentioned in a previous post that only 10% of the population of Santiago has money to spend on these types of “luxuries”, you can imagine the type of people that one encounters on a skiing adventure here vs. a skiing adventure back home.

Back home, I remember the outings in the snow to be all about friends and fun. It was never about luxury, even if the place where we stayed was super nice. Yes, skiing is an expensive sport no matter where you are, but back home, it was more about being with friends than consideration of the fact that we were doing something very upscale. To most of us back home, “upscale” might entail First Class tickets to Paris and staying at the Four Seasons Hotel George V. And even when you were on the mountain you rarely noticed if people had more or less money … just like in the movie “Clueless” with all the groups united on one same high school campus, you had all kinds of people who enjoyed gallivanting in the snow, one right next to the other. In short, the differences are less obvious back home when compared to Chile.

And the culmination of our high society (“cuico”) experience in the snow last Friday, was overheard on our way back to the car after our time skiing. A blonde-ish woman, wearing a poofy North Face jacket, was walking around talking on her phone… in her very notable “cuica” voice she was telling the person on the other end of the line that she was headed “back to the apartment” (mind you, we were 2 hours outside of Santiago so obviously she had a place right there on the resort) and that “Annie” was on her way “to the spa.” The minute we had suffieciently walked past this woman, G and I proceeded to crack up. It was just so.typical.rich.Chilean.person. Obviously this now means that all the “cuicos” in this country are to be known as “Annie’s” from now on … and we’ve proceeded to exploit the term continuously since then. Feel free to adopt it if you’d like. I find it has less of a negative connotation too.

Some might argue that in partaking in said activities, relatively speaking (i.e. for Chilean standards vs American standards as mentioned above), G and I are Annie’s too. I can respect that opinion but I would argue that the difference with us is that we don’t take our advantages and accomplishments for granted, nor do we act like it’s our God-given right to take trips to the mountains to go skiing. Realistically, it’s not like we could afford a week in the mountains skiing/snowboarding either. In fact, between one trip and the next, we’ll have another payday so that makes a difference with regards to how often we head to the mountains. Trust me, the Annie’s don’t think like that and I really can’t imagine them figuring out when it makes most sense to go, money-wise.

I like to think of us as ‘come-and-go’ Annie’s. When we feel like putting that particular hat on (and our bank account tells us it’s ok to do so), we do…but all the while making fun of ourselves because we know we aren’t “born and bred” into it.

G and I being Annie’s. Ya dig?

But that’s what makes it so much fun!!! Our ability to “blend” in with the Annie’s doing things like eating out at certain restaurants or frolicking in the snow … it’s like we’re Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in “Titanic”) when he’s eating with the First Class passengers …

“Nothing to it is there? Remember, they love money so pretend like you own a gold mine and you’re in the club.”

We don’t necessarily look like naturals but at least we’re standing!

Of course most of this blog post has been written in a tongue-in-cheek fashion and though some elements are somewhat exaggerated for your reading pleasure, the truth of the matter is that we had a lovely time at Valle Nevado and we are definitely looking forward to falling in the snow again very soon!

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The question always asked

I thought I’d shed a little 411 – or at least some subjective perspective – on the question of G’s kids. It’s the question that always comes up and even if it doesn’t, it’s the question that people quietly ponder. How is it with the kids … or, how do you feel about the kids?

G has kids from his previous marriage. Like many couples in Chile, post-college marriage is the next step for a couple who has been dating for years. This was the case with G and lucky for me (perhaps not so lucky for the former wife), things didn’t work out as the case may be for many. Sh*t happens. Mainly it’s that Chile has these crazy societal pressures about getting married if you’ve been with someone longer than 2 years. Or maybe it’s the lack of opportunities present at the time being, that marriage seems like a viable option. Not to belittle that LOVE might actually be a player in this decision, the fact of the matter is that MANY times, it’s not love as we like to think of it (romantic, butterflies-in-stomach, can’t-breathe-without-eachother kind of love.) Though I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that the love I just put in parenthesis up there is the kind of love we feel right now … I’m so blessed to have gotten married with THAT kind of love. I’m not going to pretend to know the kind of love that existed when G married the first time, at the tender age of 25, but I CAN attest that it was NOT the kind of love we have for each other.

Then again we’re older – I’m 33, he’s 34. We’ve seen the world – literally been to countries on the other side of the globe. We’ve worked our a**es off in our careers to advance as much as possible. We’ve looked for higher education – these are all things that weren’t present in his first relationship as a husband that are present now. Experience, age, wisdom, desire to succeed, worldliness. Call it what you will, my point here is to build a picture for you, the reader, of the differences in time, people and circumstances surrounding his first marriage and his second (and final) marriage to me.

What occurred in the first marriage that is for now absent in our marriage is the subject of this blog: his children. He has one little girl and one little boy, born respectively.

My objective thoughts on them are these: they are very well-behaved, highly educated, highly charismatic children. If I were to hold any feelings of contempt for his ex-wife, I’m not an idiot and can recognize that she has done an exceptional job with their children. They are, in short, pleasant. Of course Gonzalo deserves credit as well, but be it as it may, laws in Chile don’t usually allow for joint custody, split 50-50 and as such, the kids spend the majority of their time with their mother. I’m right in saying “Hats off” to her for how she has influenced her children for the most part.

Hand-in-hand goes how G has been as a father. Being the product of divorced parents myself, I can attest that G is by far – literally by far – THE BEST father children from a divorced family could ask for. To say that he’s present as much as allowed by his ex is saying the truth. He calls EVERY DAY – literally every day no matter where in the world he is … that’s when he’s not actually WITH THEM. Otherwise, he has a set schedule of when he’s with them and he adheres to this schedule as much as his life allows him to (considering he travels for work and sometimes travels with me as in honeymoon). But even then, he always plans any trip considering the weekends he has the two kids. And when he’s with them it’s not simply “ok here’s the DVD player, what movie do you guys want to see?” It’s full on INTERACTION. Whether it’s planning an educational trip (like the zoo), or a family lunch with his mom and brother or just playing Wii – he’s RIGHT THERE with them, always. I simply can’t reiterate it enough – he’s an amazing father to his kids. AMAZING. And even THAT word falls short.

So what’s it like for this gringa to be a third wheel in all this? I’m not gonna lie – it ain’t easy, kid. Selfishly, I want G all to myself. Even at my own wedding, I feel I danced with him and was PHYSICALLY with him less than 50% of the time. That’s hard for any new bride at her wedding; I can’t imagine I’m the only one. Further, as with most little girls and their fathers, his daughter adores him and wants him all to HERSELF. After all, she doesn’t get to live with him 24/7 like I do. This means that when I’m with him and they’re here, there are no me-and-him seconds … the kids have radars that go off if I come within two feet of him! I’m exaggerating here but it’s as if this were indeed the case. I make it a point to be more distant when they’re around (so as allow father-child time and not interfere) but the second I forget that distance and move in for the hubby/wifey time with a mere kiss – INCOMING!! Children are at our feet … with no particular point or question in mind … just that they want to be present more so than I am in his eyes.

If you think about it for a second from my perspective I hope you understand how awkward this can be. I will understand your gut reaction to defend their actions and reactions so I hope you take JUST ONE second to empathize with the awkwardness that ensues all around me when the kids are around. I’m this random third wheel. Yes, their dad didn’t live with their mom for many years before I came around so (THANKFULLY) I’m not the woman who “replaced mommy.” But instead, I’m the woman who stole their dad’s time and 100% devotion. So there’s this CRAZY competition for his attention.

Competition is the wrong word because it implies that I participate. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I SO don’t participate, that I go in the extreme opposite direction and basically build my own life and agenda on the days the kids are here. My thought being “Go, be with your dad! Run wild and free. I’m peacing out.” Which of course, to G, is a nightmare. Basically our main reasons for arguing is this that I’ve just described. I go one way, he goes another with his kids … but he’d rather that I go WITH him in the direction he goes with his kids when they’re here.

I know it’s the logical thing to do, the family thing to do (after all, he and I are now family), the RIGHT and loving thing to do … but I’m not there yet.

For us, I hope to get there sooner rather than later. I know he suffers when I distance myself because he misses me just like I miss him. The weekends the kids are with us literally feel like days I haven’t seen him. Yes, we’re in the same apartment, sleep in the same bed and basically move around the same areas, but it’s NOT the same.

I hope time bridges this gap and eases all awkwardness.

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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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The postgrado

Um … school in Chile is weird.

Ok, I should rephrase that since I’m not technically in “school” or “colegio” but at a university getting a post-graduate degree (postgrado). In short, I’m dabbling in Graduate studies. And for someone who was raised and who received her entire education (for better or for worse) in California, studying in a foreign country is weird, overwhelming and scary all at the same time.

Adolfo Ibañez University is considered one of the top private business schools in the region (so you can imagine my surprise when I was accepted) and their professors stem from various educational and professional backgrounds, including MIT, Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Universidad de Chile, La Catolica, etc. These are (unfortunately only) men who serve on Boards of Directors, own their own companies, are Gerente Generales or of similar titles and who, for some reason or another, also teach courses in Integrated Marketing (what I’m studying).

Yesterday was my first day of class and there are about 45-50 students – people who also come from different walks of life and careers. Yesterday’s professor was the head of the department and the same man who interviewed me when I applied to the program. He’s charismatic, energetic and seems to really know his (version of) business. The program is going to be demanding and what I’m realizing is that it’s going to be hard to adapt my thinking to that of Chileans. Half of my motivation for doing this is to understand how Chileans think, how one can market to them and what kinds of consumers they are. So yesterday when the professor was speaking, I found myself thinking “No I don’t agree” or “No, it’s not like that” and then had to stop myself and REMIND myself that “oh yes, this is what the typical Chilean thinks, this is how he acts and reacts.”

For instance, he was talking about why JC Penny or Sears didn’t make it in Chile when they attempted to expand their business in Lat Am. Or why Wal-Mart hasn’t decided to change its name to just that and continues to hide behind the local name “Lider” (Wal-Mart bought out the local hypermarket chain, Lider last year). The tend to look down on the big corporations but at the same time embrace the status said corporations bring (think Starbucks, which incidentally has take this country by storm.) Chileans are rock stairs in the retailer arena (it’s the only country with less than 20 million people that has over three department stores who compete in a healthy environment.) And the likes of Sears and JC Penny didn’t thrive because Chileans are much too loyal to their brands. So as I’m sitting there thinking “But no – there’s bigger and better out there.” I have to remember that in Chile there’s no room for bigger and better if it’s not Falabella. Enough said. I can’t beat them, I need to join them. Integrate and then work in crazy, unconventional ideas! It’s my master plan (insert wicked laugh.)

Seriously though, I find myself arguing with the professor in my head though who am I to argue when the reality we’re talking about is Chilean and I’m here to learn about that? It’s not the time to fight the power, Andrea!

Then there’s just the idiosyncrasy of many Chileans, which will slowly become apparent in each class. For instance, in yesterday’s class the professor was making a point about perception and he projected a slide with one image of Tiger Woods in mid-golf swing and the other picture of Eminem and 50 Cent together. He asked the class “How many of you find it strange that the world’s number one golfer is black? Or that one of the best selling rappers of all time is white?” AND OF COURSE there were a handful of people who agreed that it was “weird” that the best golfer in the world is black. The most outspoken woman in this group stated that it just seemed “raro” (or strange) because it made more sense for a white, blonde man to be the best golfer.

WHAT WHAT WHAT??!!!

As one friend correctly pointed out last night after I told this story, back home even if someone was thinking the same thing, NO ONE would say it! And here it’s like “Oh yes, he’s black and rich and that’s weird.”

Of course I’m smart enough to know that MOST LIKELY these sentiments don’t stem from any malicious part of the Chilean psyche or character. In fact, it’s so homogeneous here, blonds are MORE idolized than normal AND it just so happens that many of the blonds are also from affluent families. The Chilean reality is just different … and I’m here to learn about it and to try to influence it.

First and foremost, I need to sit down and shut up and learn about how they tick. How do I market to them so that they can eventually expose themselves to “weird” things … realizing of course that “weird’ to them is having “too many” milk options. I kid you not there was a discussion yesterday on why there is any such thing as Lactose Free milk and even Soy milk – THE HORROR!!! :o)

Ok, theories and idiosyncrasies aside, I’m also going to HATE MY LIFE with all the reading material I have – IN SPANISH. I can’t even begin to imagine how I’m going to write an actual term paper IN SPANISH or contribute to a group effort when half the things they say go over my head! I fear being the dumb one in the group … seriously. Ack!

The upside is that I have my own Gerente to bounce ideas off of … when I arrived home from class yesterday, a beautiful ENORMOUS bouquet was waiting for me at home, accompanied by a note telling me how proud he was of me and how he intended to fully support me through this tough year ahead. :o) (Sigh… bliss!) It’s not going to be easy but then again it’s been a while since I’ve done something that was this hard. Life can get pretty boring if one doesn’t challenge the status quo. And life can get pretty tense if one is always fighting the foreign mentalities and actions. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

I’m seeking knowledge and understanding of the people who surround me. If anything, so I can learn to sell them on a different way of thinking! :oP

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The (pre)kid post

No, I’m not PG.

So while we’re on the subject of kids (from my mention on the previous blog post), I thought it would be a really good idea to officially document how I feel about the little earthlings now that I don’t actually have any.

This is kind of like a list I made back in the day on a regular piece of paper that I can no longer find … grrr … it basically listed bullet points of the different things I hoped to accomplished 1 month, 3 months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years and 15 years from when I started the list. I was 25… so you can understand why I’m so annoyed I can’t find it! I’m almost at the 10-year point! I hope I’ve accomplished something!

Anyhoosers, my point is that I’d like to document how I feel about the idea of kids and my thoughts on having them or not having them. Someday in reading this entry, my daughter/son might hate me. If that’s the case, err… sorry kid. I can’t help that I have very extreme and sometimes conflicting views on procreating today in March 2010.

Here’s my first thought on the matter: once the kid is here, it’s here for good (barring any atrocious event that I don’t wish on anyone.) In general, the kid is here to stay. That means that FOREVER MORE you have to worry about this other living, breathing thing. I mean, if I have to work around my day in a way that has me home each time Obi needs to eat then I can’t imagine what it takes with a kid! I already feel constricted with Obi and it drives me insane!! Further, you never stop worrying about this being… so it’s like a lifetime of this WORRY you carry around with you. I remind you of my entries regarding G’s kids after the earthquake here in Chile … I mean G was worried sick even though he tried to play it off. For days on end and I wondered how he even functioned!! If that were me, I’d be freaking the F out!! I know myself and I do NOT handle freaking out well. I’m worst-case scenario woman in my head and if I had a kid to add to that equation, I could very well live a lifetime of hyperventilation due to stress. Yeah, that sounds fun.

Putting aside the “WORRY FOREVER” sign up sheet, here’s my second thought on the matter: pretty much you’re responsible for how adjusted or f-ed up the kid is going to be and if he/she grows up to be a contributing, happy person in society. I mean, how many people do you know that are so screwed up because of their parents? I definitely know a few and may count myself in that group every so often. What if you put your kid in too many activities after school in hopes of keeping him/her away from drugs, only to produce an overachiever perfectionist who is anorexic and much too hard on him/herself and deals by cutting his/her arm? Is that worse than drugs? Ack! And for that matter, what’s the right balance of activities? Teach them two languages, put them in a sport and in an art, teach them to meditate and do yoga, all the while taking them to a hill with lots of grass to run wild in, every other day of the week? Will my kid turn out ok then? Should I throw in some Tae-Kwon-Do too? Yeah, yeah, kids don’t come with manuals, blah blah. So then of course, more pressure on the parents!

My third thought on the matter is this: I really love Obi. I wouldn’t give him away at this point, sell him or try to pawn him off in any way, shape or form now that he’s part of our small family. However, I recognize that life before him was much easier and much more comfortable. I realize as well that if I knew then, what I know now, I don’t think I would have acquired him in the first place. Having a dog is a BIG DEAL, more than people think … so I can’t BEGIN TO IMAGINE the big deal that is a kid. Yet I take extremely good care of him, train him, love him, feed him and do all the basic necessities necessary, spoil him and cuddle him … but that doesn’t change the fact that I see him and think “Life was much easier and maybe better (still undecided) before.” Can you imagine if I feel this way with a human being who relies on me for survival and guidance? Hello, insta-bad parent – just add water!

My fourth thought on the matter relates to G and the fact that he has two children from his previous marriage. The person I love already has kids and has experienced first hand all the joy, excitement and fear that goes along with having kids. In fact, he’s even more experienced in basic things like changing diapers and burping (not to mention all the other crap that I can’t even think of because I’m not a parent and have NO idea) than I might ever be! He’s been there, done that. When I go through the “Holy sh*t I’m a parent” freak out/realization, I’ll be alone. I’ll basically be going through all those sentiments solo and that kind of sucks. It’s not his fault of course. He adores his kids, rightfully so, and I adore him for being a good father to his kids.It makes him a better man and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But it does affect how I view becoming a parent, I’m not gonna lie. Any maybe it’s my own version of being screwed up by a parent, but I never had a father in my life and the man who IS my father, played favorites with my sister and me. Meaning, he ignored me my entire life and was present for my sister. So in my head I can’t imagine that G could love any other kid more than he loves his own right now. Call me crazy – I might be. But it’s how I feel at times and it’s stuff I think about.

Not all is tainted in such a negative light when it comes to kids, though. I’ve experienced first hand how much joy they bring to a parent’s life and to life in general. I’ve seen it with my mom and how happy I make HER. I’ve seen it with G and his kids and how absolutely happy they make him. I’ve seen it with my sister and my nephews and I’ve experienced it personally with family friends and their three daughters. Point being, I’m not stupid. I GET how having a kid is SO WORTH IT to some in many, many ways. The stress, the worry, the pressure – all of it is worth it and they’d do it all over again, time and time again. I get that and I totally respect that. After all, without parents who feel just that, where would we all be? And personally, I’ve never met anyone in my entire life that I’d want to have kids with more than G. He’s it – the King Bee – the creme de la creme – Mr. Right and I will look no more. That’s how I feel about him and so obviously having a family with him, IF I DISREGARD ALL FOUR POINTS ABOVE, seems like a no-brainer. It’s an immediate “duh! Of course!”

Ah, but that’s the catch, isn’t it? Putting aside all the insecurities, all the pre-conceived notions, all the ideas that your kid won’t be good enough. Shelving them and deciding to go on with your bad self. I’ll most likely have a kid or two, I’m not gonna lie. Yeah I’ll admit already that my life is easier without them … but with G by my side, can it really be that bad? I think not.

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