The thorn in my side regarding the wedding

In yesterday’s post I mentioned the two weddings I attended the last couple of weekends. As I raved before, both were fabulous and each unique in its own way. One of the major differences between the weddings was the ceremony itself: one was a “civil” ceremony and one was a religious, more spiritual ceremony.

To give a frame of reference, the civil ceremonies can somewhat be equated to the majority of ceremonies we attend in the States (or at least in California). Many times, a couple’s close friend receives special permission from the State/County/Gov’t Entity to marry the couple on that particular day. That’s how my friend Amanda did it with her husband, as well as my friend Corey. If not this exactly, definitely something similar. There’s also the option to have a government officiant marry the couple “with the power granted to [them] by the State of XYZ.” These ceremonies may seem cold and rigid but that’s because you most likely have no idea what a civil ceremony in Chile is like. At least in the States, the couple is encouraged to state their own vows, tell one another the reason they are so in love and so sure that he/she is the one for him/her. Mucho romantico! All the legal jargon is taken care of in the States alongside the romantic jargon that the couple deserves to share. Love it!

In Chile, the civil ceremony is, in two words, a nightmare. But the thing is, the couple has NO CHOICE. If you’re lucky – yes, LUCKY – you will get an officiant who will allow you to state short vows. But the majority of the time, the officiants are annoyed that they have to be there in the first place, could care less that the wedding day is UBER important for both people getting married, and basically acts like a prima donna who’s doing you a favor with his/her mere presence!

Our experience so far with the officiant has been less than stellar. In fact, when G first made the trek down to the city hall of the town where we’re getting married, the officiant straight up told him that no, she no longer did evening weddings because it interfered with her life and why didn’t we consider moving the wedding time to before 1 pm? I swear the b*tch said this. As if my wedding would EVER revolve around a grumpy old woman from the middle of BFE Chile! My reaction would have gotten us nowhere and thankfully I wasn’t there when she said this. My wonderful husband-to-be is a TOP NOTCH schmoozer and not only did he get this b*tch face to ok the 6 pm ceremony but also agreed to do it on site. Mad props to G!!

On the other hand, when someone has a religious ceremony, it’s exactly as you see in the movies. The priest/pastor/rabbi/what-have-you marries you in a church/temple/again what-have-you, says spiritual things about the sanctity of marriage and marries the couple under God. Yes, the couple also has to do the civil part as mentioned above, but this is usually done the day before, either alone or with close family friends. The wedding itself, with party, reception and all is done via the Church because this is when Catholics consider themselves to be TRULY married.

Since I’m Catholic and so is G (along with about 98% of Chile) I’m going to refer to a Catholic ceremony from here on out. The couple who marries in the Church, marries after going through a series of “classes” to prepare for the sacrament of Marriage. For those who don’t know, the Catholic Church has Seven Holy Sacraments which are: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion (also known as the Eucharist), Confession (also known as Penance or Reconciliation), Marriage, Holy Orders (becoming a person of God such as a Priest), and Anointing of the Sick (a rite done by an ordained priest or above). As a Catholic “ordinary” person, from the list above, I’ve gone through almost all the Sacraments I can achieve without being a “holy vessel” of God. Marriage is the final one since I’ve completed all of the above, as required, by the Catholic Church.

But I can’t receive/go through the Sacrament of Marriage.

The reason is simple and though I fully accept it, I can still state and write that it’s a thorn in my side. G was married before and was so via the Catholic Church. This means that he can NEVER again marry in the Catholic Church because he is already considered “married” in the eyes of God and also because, of course, the Catholic Church doesn’t believe in divorce. In fact, because Chile is a Catholic country, in 2004 Chile became one of the last countries in the world to grant married couples the right to divorce. 2004!!! I mean, that was like yesterday!!

Three things make me sad about not having a Catholic wedding: 1) the Priest actually blesses the couple and blesses the rings. God is thoroughly mentioned as being present in the union and further, APPROVING the union. 2) the fact that the Priest says something to the like of “What God has joined together, let no man separate,” tugs at the heart strings. Does that mean that God sees the previous marriage as real and ours as fake? 3) Though to some, maybe to many, this may seem ridiculous but I was raised Catholic. Though I am not as devout as perhaps I should be (I haven’t been to Mass in eons), I pray almost every night and thoroughly believe in God and the fundamental teachings of the Catholic faith (not all, but most).

And G knows that this is important to me and God love him, one of the times he was in the dinky little town where we’re getting married to take care of the civil business, he stopped by the Church to talk to the Priest to see if he would at the VERY LEAST bless our rings … and sadly, the Priest said no.

So what can I take away from all of the above?
First and foremost, I am in love and completely adore a wonderful man who also loves and adores me right back. I also believe that just because the bureaucracy of the Catholic Church won’t allow me to even have a Priest PRESENT at my wedding to say “God is with you,” doesn’t mean that God himself doesn’t look upon us with blessings and approval. I realize this just as much as I realize that I won’t be walking down the aisle with a long veil, approaching the altar to receive the Sacrament of Marriage. I can be bitter and wonder why the ex gets to have married him in a Church and I can’t but I’ve felt that before and it’s a useless feeling. Besides it never lasts long…one look, one moment with G and it doesn’t matter anymore. He’s with me now, he chose me and I chose him back.

The Priests don’t want to bless us but that’s ok — we’re already blessed. We feel it together, in our hearts, in our home and in every second of our story together.

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Ack! Earthquake in Chile!…and I live here.

Sweet BeJeezus, that was scary!!

I’m not talking the “normal” kind of earthquake scary either … the kind I knew before today. After living in the SF Bay Area for over 29 years, I thought I was pretty accustomed to feeling the ground move every so often.

But no matter how accustomed you think you are … nothing prepares you for 2+ minutes of NON-STOP 8.8 ground movement and subsequent shaking, thundering, crashing and breaking that occurs with it.

Obviously we were in bed, G and I… and actually I had just gotten into bed after a bathroom break (TMI). I was commending myself and my dog for breaking the 3am barrier – i.e. the dog has stopped waking us up in the mornings whining from boredom. It was 3:15 am, baby was tired and we had a full day of wedding planning ahead of us…I closed my eyes, ready to enter my sweet lull.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand cue in the earth rolling … like riding a wave, I imagine. Except being from an earthquake zone (SF Bay Area) one always first determines if the quake is going to stay put or suddenly get all agro on you.
In the most abrasive of manners I jolt G up with “It’s an earthquake.” He sits up with me to proceed with the analysis: is this going to roll along like this or is this going get ugly?

OH. And then it truly got UUUUUUUUUUUUGLY. Now, mind you, at this point we’ve been rolling along with the wave for a good 30 seconds and as each 15-second interval ticked by, the once-rolling motion proceeded to turn into sharp movements, jolting us back and forth. We live on the 11th floor, the topmost floor of our building, and since buildings in Chile are “earthquake ready,” on the top floor you tend to feel each and every roll and jab TIMES TWENTY. And the thing is, the quake didn’t stop… it didn’t ease up or roll into a slow sweep… it not only kept going but it kept getting STRONGER AND STRONGER as each second, then MINUTE, ticked by. One by one I could hear things from other rooms crash to the floor; glass breaking, water splashing; thud, thud, crash, thud, shatter…and alongside those noises you hear the immense, RAW POWER of this monstrous earthquake that’s taking you on this SOOOOOO-unsolicited ride.

I was at the door frame, holding on until my fingers hurt … G was across from me in the bedroom holding our TV in place so that it wouldn’t fall on our puppy below (who by they way, was FREAKING OUT.) I remember thinking “it’s going to stop… it’s going to stop, it HAS TO STOP, it’s been so long” and realizing that the quake just kept going and going and getting stronger and stronger. At which point I seriously, cross-my-heart-stick-a-needle-in-my-eye thought to myself “Oh my God, I’m going to die in this earthquake. This building is going to fall and we’re going to die.” And NEVER, EVER have I had a thought like that, where for a second it was this peaceful-type realization that “this is it.”

And then, of course, thank God, it did stop. And that’s when the panic set in.

Our mom’s live in the next “comuna” over, each in her own apartment but in the same building. Once I realized we were ok, all I could think about was my mom and her insane fear of earthquakes … and the fact that she was alone. Quickly, G and I got dressed, grabbed the dog, ran down eleven flights of stairs IN THE DARK, dove into the car and raced through disabled stop lights to get to our moms’ homes. Our moms where upset, of course, but once we got there and everyone was gathered outside, there was a sense of security. Unfortunately that security didn’t lend itself to the other issue at hand: mobile phone connections and land lines were collapsed and G’s kids were outside Santiago with their mom. For more than two hours G tried to get through just to make sure his kids were ok–> and NOTHING. No calls were getting through. He finally decided to drive the hour and a half drive to where they were – not that he had clear directions on how to get there (he was working off memory). 40 minutes later he calls me to tell me that he can’t get through… the roads were closed due to collapsed overpass pedestrian walkways and crumbled pavement that ran for stretches at a time. I can’t imagine the torture he was going through not knowing if his kids were ok …and it was torture for me to know there was nothing I could do to help… [Update: his kids ARE ok and yes, he was able to talk to them. They’re shaken and freaked out, but ok.] In the end he came back to my mom’s apartment … by then, none of us had eaten for over 12 hours and we certainly hadn’t slept. But the sun was up. It was morning. Electricity was back at my mom’s house. Those three things combined brought some feeling of security back. So we packed up our dog, his things, my mom (who came over to help clean up) and we headed back home, ready to face the mess that we briefly saw on our way out at 4 am.

Considering how fierce the earthquake was and how intense it felt, I’m surprised we didn’t have more damage. At most we lost some cool picture frames. At best we have a crack going down the wall of our apartment’s foyer to forever remind us of this atrocious event. We have friends here in Chile who live waaaaaaaaaay higher up than we do and the damage to their apartments was far worse … not so much in terms of structure (like I said, Chilean buildings are “earthquake ready” thank God) but in terms of stuff thrown everywhere! We were spared, I think. In more ways than one.

The table in the front foyer, as you walk into the apartment. Plant and picture frames on the ground; area rug soaked. The crashing of this vase to the floor was not a welcome sound during the ‘rolling-with-the-homies’ episode.



The scene as we walked in to the dining room/living room area. Picture frames, meet the floor. Charmed, I’m sure.

This was a fun sight … our yet-to-be-thoroughly-paid tv toppled over. That’s the center table leaning in to kiss it hello. [Btw, we now know the tv is fine. And she’s ok!]



And my office… which actually, now that I think about it, kind of always looks like this. Maybe slightly less messy.

In the end, my review for “Earthquake Chile 2010” is a big, fat, thumbs down. Please don’t ever let me/us have to go through another 2.5 minute event that has us literally holding on for dear life. I’d like to take a “pass” on the aftershocks that continue to shake the city (and the country for that matter), most of which feel as if they’re 5-6 points, given how high up we are. But on the other hand, I was amazed at how the Chilean people came to one another’s aid in this crisis – even if it’s to merely ask “hey, how are you?” (Which, by the way, is precisely what our neighbors did after the shaking stopped.) There’s security in talking about what you went through and a feeling of safety in knowing that others went through the same thing. And I do have to say that the outpouring of concern and well wishers on my Facebook page was humbling. While I would rather never again have to go through what we went through at approximately 3:30 am Chilean time today, it serves to remind me how forever grateful I am… and in this case, I’m grateful that we survived.

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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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Happy Birthday to me

The 3rd anniversary of my 30th birthday was the best birthday celebration I can remember having since back in the day when my mom used to rent out the second floor of the local Round Table Pizza where I’d have endless options of pizza slices to choose from and I could run around playing video games with family friends (those were the days!) I remember I’d sport a foofy dress, socks with ruffles and white patent leather shoes. (Actually I think I may still have that outfit!)

Yesterday was my birthday: the first one I spent here living in Chile AND the first one I celebrated with Gonzalo (last year at this time we lived apart.) And if there’s ever any doubt as to why I would pick up my life in San Francisco and move to South America for the love of my life, let me tell you, yesterday – from beginning to end – reminded me [and anyone else who questions it] why.


The minute the clock read 12:00 midnight on January 5th, G jumped up to hug me and wish me the best birthday ever, to tell me how happy he was that we could be together and to tell me how much he loved me. Then he ran away … outside and down to his car to get me my presents. Awwww … and when I saw him coming I was most stoked about a card I saw in his hand, mainly because in Chile, cards are not the norm. Random, I know, but as G’s company is the official importer of Hallmark products into Chile, he told me of some crazy statistic that indicates that Americans buy about 8 cards a year (pp), the British buy about 15 cards a year (pp) and Chileans average about 1.5 cards a year per person! I expect no less from him though since 1) he imports Hallmark product into Chile and 2) he’s detail-oriented like that and he’d never show up sans card.

In the first gift were the cutest beach towels I’ve ever rec’d. Two of them and they’re mine – all mine!! Pink and purple and girly and fabulous!! Just like me (minus the pink and purple). For a split second I was confused as to why he’d chosen beach towels but then I remembered that we go to Pil’s apartment to use her pool in this ridiculously hot summer and I’m always complaining about not having large towels. Obviously then I was even more stoked! (It’s the little things that do it for me.)

Then I proceeded to open the second gift in front of me, and I’m not gonna lie… it truly made me wonder if he knew me AT ALL. For a second I imagined he thought we was about to marry Florence Henderson. I didn’t proceed to pull out necessarily the ugliest purse known to man, per se, but I will say that it’s got to be the blandest purse to grace the Earth. Poor muffin … I thought to myself “Oh well, he tried” … but then he told me that while he was purchasing it, he was telling the sales lady that I’d return it anyway. She apparently insisted that no, this purse was just “great” and that I was “sure to love it.” And he just smiled and shook his head and said “No la conoce.” (You don’t know her.) Yes, I too wonder why in the heck he’d buy it in the first place, but I think it’s because he wants me to have a new purse, so with this one, I can go back and get the one I like. A+ for effort, my sweet little muffin pants! BRAV-O!

Then I reached for the card … and aside from OF COURSE being the best birthday card a woman could ever receive (in the same manner that most moms think their kid is the most genius of all genius little kids out there) inside was a print-out of an apartment he rented on the beach … a five day getaway to one of the best beach areas in Chile. Knowing how much I love the ocean (even though I lived near one for almost my entire life, I took that for granted, I now realize) and how much I love seafood and all things related to the sea … by far, the best gift ever, from the best person ever.

Later, after we woke up, and he made me breakfast before he left for work… after I rec’d a call from the front desk of our apartment building alerting me to the delivery of a dozen roses … after eating half the chocolates in the box I rec’d while he was at the office (moo!)… after all that, it was time for my “romantic birthday dinner” – or so I thought.

Let me just preface this little paragraph by stating that G could never – NEVER – work as a double agent. I was on to him as early as Sunday – two whole days before my birthday. I knew something was up. Mainly it was because almost everyone I know here in Chile, except for about 3 people, wished me a very ‘by the way’ type of ‘happy birthday.’ Those who usually called me insistently on my bdays in years past, called all of once…and there were still others who called yesterday who previously had NEVER called before (would send happy bday emails instead.) And when I asked G what the name of the restaurant was called so that I could Google it, I found that there were various sites stating that the restaurant was closed (something he brushed off as pure fabrication when I pointed this out to him.)

Oh I knew something was up … but I was surprised – and nervous! – to see that he had pulled together as many people as he could from my new Chilean life to celebrate my 3 to the 3 over drinks and apps (and a waffle dessert…) Nervous because I tend to feel that way with groups of people who are together to celebrate me. Mainly this happens because I freak out over not being able to talk to them all as much as I’d like! And I was surprised because it was the first time I truly realized that I really did have a life here in Chile. I really do know people – great people – and they all wanted to come out and celebrate my birthday with me. My Chilean friends, my gringa friends, my family, alongside my fiancee – all of them were there to wish me a very happy birthday. :o) My friend who had just arrived from a very long trip just the day before, my friend who helped G plan a good chunk of it, to my friends who are preggers and can’t even drink cocktails, to my favorite cousins who trekked to a part of the city they never hang out in, and to the friend who lives at the other end of Santiago – all were there! And I was grateful for all of it.

Cut to me five months ago and I never thought I’d see the Chilean day when I would walk into a bar in Santiago and find a table full of people waiting to celebrate me! In the end, I know it was the sweetest thing G could have ever done for me to celebrate my bday because I know he did it to show me that I was ok here and that I really did have a life (outside of him) here. And that gift, my fellow bloggers and blog readers, is worth its weight in gold.

My “Gringuita” Friends (adore them!)



Including G’s partner-in-crime



My cousins (who traveled from afar!) and their boyfriends



…and a group shot following the waffle incident

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Oh year… don’t ever start out so romantico

Perhaps romantic isn’t the right word but if 2010 was going to be *the* year in which I focused on me and G, I’ve started out on the right foot. We’ve spent the first evenings of 2010 at home, cooking, laughing, drinking wine and finally playing with our new Wii. (We’ve played before but NEVER alone. Always with guests.) Incidentally I’m convinced the Wii is sexist because I can’t FOR THE LIFE OF ME beat G in wakeboarding (Wii Resort). On the other hand, my golf game is amazing in the Wii world and G just ends up kicking things because he can’t score below +23. Silly rabbit.

Anyway, last night we were on our balcony, eating outside, enjoying his amazing just-off-the-grill bbq chicken, drinking wine from the winery where we’re getting married (Casas del Bosque) and I was loving the simple fact that there we were, cooking, eating and gazing out our balcony to the stardust of lights from the vast city of Santiago. At night it truly looks peaceful, and dare I say, beautiful … we even have a clear view of Cerro San Cristobal and the statue of the Virgin Mary which is perpetually illuminated.

And though I still can’t, for the life of me, find the list of goals I made for myself back in the day which listed what I wanted to accomplish at specific points in my life (i.e. “A month from now,” “Six months from now,” “five years from now.”) I was recalling a point in my life, about nine years ago when there was nothing I wanted more than to move to Chile. I would come three, four times a year and stay for two, three, four weeks at a time and all I wanted to make my life PERFECT, was to move here. I applied for job after job after job and even had an interview with the winery Concha y Toro, which I ultimately didn’t get (hrmph. See if I ever drink your less-than-mediocre wine again, C&T!) I was so depressed! I had this crazy, idealistic view of Chile as a place where the food was better, the people were more carefree and loving, and that life was in essence, more wholesome here. People had the right values and it wasn’t a work-obsessed country like, say, the U.S. Very idealistic but then again, I always came here on vacation and of course it was ideal! I ate food I never had a chance to eat back home (ceviche, meat, empanadas, manjar, pan amasado, mote con huesillo, and the list goes on and on), I spent days upon days at the beach when I wasn’t running around Santiago dancing or eating out!

The reality of Chile is slightly less whimsical, as you all know by now if you’ve kept up with your blog reading, but that’s the case with ANY place that ceases to be your vacation spot and all of a sudden becomes your home. (I loved St. Thomas but if I had to live there, I think I’d choke half the people for moving as slow as molasses. I’m just sayin’,)

But one thing remains ideal: nights on a balcony, looking over the city of Santiago, while drinking amazing wine and eating amazing food. At least where I’m from in the U.S. most apt buildings don’t have balconies, or I just didn’t know of many. And even though we lived in one of those ever-elusive apartments with a balcony, NEVER did we just decided to take the evening outside to sit and talk. And one thing I can say GENERALLY about Chileans and their ways of doing things is that they truly like to take it outside and just chill, whenever the opportunity presents itself. It’s so simple but seriously, one of the most ideal things about living here.

Maybe it’s because I was from a pretty hectic place back home (Silicon Valley) … or maybe it’s because the taking-it-outside bit was done by those who owned homes and not by young 30-something couples who lived in balcony-less apartments … but it’s the simplest of things I treasure about Chile and one of my favorite summertime activities with G.

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What we’re gonna do right here is go back.

I was just thinking the other day how random it might seem that I’m here in Chile at all right now. A California girl in most senses of the term and I’m HERE?? Of all places, here???!! Well, there IS a story to be told of course, that involves two people, living their random lives, and randomly, coming together to realize “oh yeah, I love you!”

Obviously I’m talking about how Gonzalo and I “met” and fell in love. I say that we “met” because really, we “remet” since we were first introduced back in June 2005 during a convention in New York City (see logo below for your viewing pleasure).


He was married back then (in the typical Chilean fashion, where getting married at 25 is no big deal, and having kids at 27 is even lesser of a deal) so when we met it was all about work. In fact, I can’t even recall our meeting together though I’m sure I talked about Naruto or some other brand and he talked about his company and the cool notebooks they make.
My schedule at that convention was jam packed. The reason I know is because every year at that convention my schedule is packed, so I can assume that 2005 was no different. And also I’m pretty sure I was dating someone — let me think — oh yeah, I was, though of course now he’s an inconsequential person who was merely there to divert my attention while I waited for the man of my dreams (AKA Gonzalo) to come along.

Cut to June 2008, same convention, different year.

His reality: dating someone.
My reality: had recently been annihilated by a spineless little fraction of a man and my entire belief in the concept of love had plummeted to the depths of the Titanic in the cold Atlantic.

So perhaps I sound a little melodramatic … but let me tell you, I was devastated and the concept of throwing about airs that I was fine and dandy, while attending to business at this said convention, left me exhausted. Though obviously that didn’t stop me from partaking in the festivities of 230 Fifth one of those evenings, where I happened to run across my future fiancee.

See a pic of us having a good time at that said encounter.


But he had a gf and I was somewhere else…and though we shared a cab to our respective hotels that night (and I think we may have flirted for the first time ever) he was a pure gentleman and he dropped me off at my hotel before whisking away in NYC’s yellow cab finest.

That was the first time I had seen him out of his “nerd” element. Seriously, in the work capacity I don’t think anyone compared in the NERD ALERT category. And during meetings? DRY AS A BONE. I think he may have cracked had he tried to smile at any given point during a meeting. So you see? This encounter at 230 Fifth in Manhattan, though brief, was ultimately important because a saw a lighter side of him…and it was cute.

Fast forward to October 29, 2008. Bellavista. Santiago. Chile.

I was still living in CA but my mother had moved to Santiago after 28 years living in the SF Bay Area. In October she had been in Chile for a little over two months and on this particular day, it was her 60th birthday. I was in Chile on business and was going to tack on some much needed vacay time to spend with her. On October 29th a group of us went to a restaurant in the Bellavista area of Santiago to celebrate my mom’s bday. One of my friends (and work associate here in Chile) who happens to also be good friends with Gonzalo, invited him to join us at my mom’s dinner. Random? Perhaps. But the sentiment that evening was truly that of “the more, the merrier.” Up until that point my only encounters with Gonzalo were either all about work and then that one time at the rooftop bar in NYC. That’s it. And now he was on his way to have bday dinner with my mom and my sister??? Yes, slightly random but again, the mood was festive that night so it didn’t dawn on me to be anti.

And of course he showed up in a manner in which I had NEVER seen him before. Mr Nerd Alert NO MORE… now replaced by Mr Jokes and Life of the Party.

Note the pics of that eventful night:


And what about this one? Look at my face!


Ahhh good times. You can tell I was taken aback by this “new” Gonzalo before me. And what of our realities at that point in time? Him – single. Me – finally getting over the ultimate annihilation from months before and ready to MOVE ON! Of course back then I had NO inclination that moving on would be with someone who lived in the other extreme corner of the globe! But that comes later …

I was in Chile for two weeks, vacationing, as I had mentioned and seeing my mom’s new life in Santiago. In that time, Gonzalo and I went out – in groups – twice. Once we went dancing… see pics here:


Or Mr Dancing Queen here:


We had a blast, but being the lady that I am, I excused myself at about 3 am and headed home..leaving him to continue dancing with friends.

We went out one more night during that trip, seen here in a pic that at present is framed in our home office (we didn’t know that this would be the case when the picture was taken. Geez we hadn’t even smooched at the time it was snapped!)


And then I went home to California…and there was this emptiness that went with me. I later figured out that it was because I REALLY liked him. REALLY REALLY TRULY liked him. So we did what any normal long distance couple does: we Skype’d day and night, whenever we could, we were on Skype. Skype allowed our relationship to evolve and I will forever be grateful for that little piece of technology. Daily Skype calls, phone calls, Facebook messages (and I mean LOOOOONG EMAILS via Facebook mail), emails, text messages, carrier pigeon – what have you – led to his first visit ever to SF, as seen here in this self portrait at Twin Peaks:


That trip was a good time! We made French Onion Soup from SCRATCH together! Yum!


We also had some profesh pics taken by this AWESOME photographer in Napa named Sarah Lane… TRULY amazing work… and our favorite pic of that session:


Yes, that’s really us.

Ahhh memory lane. Such a sweet walk it is. :o)

That led to a quick rendezvous in Mexico where he had to go for work and heck, I figured that I might as well take advantage of the fact that he was a mere 4 hours away from me on a plane, rather than the usual 14+ it takes to get from SF to Chile. And so I flew to Mexico City for a stay that lasted only a little over 36 hours…


Well, to make a long story short… all of the above led to this:


Followed by this:

Which led to THE EVENT which you all know about due to the pics I’ve most likely made you view not once or twice but more like three or four times… but it’s nice to remember (ooooh warm fuzzies!):


And THAT, my friends, brings us up to speed to riiiight about now.

That there, is a love story that took less than six months to unfold but which began with two people, living their own lives, who happened to meet over four years ago at a random convention in the best city in the world – NYC. Two people who, for the next few years, would go their separate ways and live their own lives, unaware of the existence (to a degree) of the other person… but where on one fateful night over four years later, in Bellavista in Santiago Chile, everything changed.

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