Getting through August

Chileans have this saying: “Pasamos Agosto.” We lived through, or passed, August. The saying goes that if you live through August, it means you’ll live a whole other year. That’s something to get excited about, right?

When I first moved here I was still stuck on what each month meant in terms of the Northern Hemisphere. August was back-to-school month. It marked the end of summer. It was when, in San Francisco at least, the weather improved and summer really started. What was the big deal about August and why were Chileans so “relieved” and happy that it was over?

Five years later (and a terrible 2014 thus far) I get it.

In Chile, the months ranging from March to August are rather dreadful, really. January and February are officially summer months. That means many things, including less smog in our lungs (the heat rises and carries all dirt and grit above our noses so that we aren’t directly breathing it in) and lighter traffic as families plan their typical two week’s vacation between these two months, it means the roads are far less stressful and the commuting times are lessened. Children aren’t straddled and choked in school uniforms and are, instead, running free, enjoying themselves and laughing. The sun shines every day and with the sun, happiness and optimism tends to run rampant.

Naturally, then, March through August are the complete opposite. Days are dreary, either with overcast or rain, but mostly just overcast. This means that the pollution that penetrates every fiber of this city is actually sitting down low at nose-level. This leads to not only shivering bodies because of the brisk weather but also respiratory illnesses that come and go all winter long (product of the smog we’re constantly inhaling.) The streets are jam-packed with cars, honking like jerk offs and driving like the monkeys in “Jumanji.” The days are short, with sunset anywhere between 6:00-6:30 pm… that leaves a huge window of opportunity for petty (and major) crime because with the sun gone, the anti-socials find the guts and the means to scare us silly. Kids are in school, bored, tormented, wishing for summer vacation.

August is the very last month of this dastardly torture. If you lived through all the previous months, still breathing and still going, you have it made because next month is September and September marks the beginning of happiness of all Chileans.

September brings us Chilean Independence Day and this means three-to-four days off just to party. “Yay, we aren’t linked to those crazy Spaniards!” September is met with relief, optimism, excitement and the thrill that comes with planning any mini-vacay, no matter the destination (down the street or the Caribbean.) After that, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to December, which brings us Christmas and New Year’s (more festivities) and then yipppeeeeeeee, January and February – vacay months! In between we have longer days (sunset around 8:00 – 8:30 pm) and warmer weather, all which makes us as happy as little girls!

For personal reasons, I just can’t WAIT to get through August. I truly believe that once August is over, my own personal version of 2014 will drastically improve. Call me crazy, but I honestly have a gut feeling about this. After breaking my nose almost three weeks ago due to a crazy, split-second decision that involved me lunging after Obi to take something away from him, which resulted in my crashing directly into a cement pot with my nose, I decided that was the bottom of the barrel this year.

Between surviving the most agonizing, bully-infested, confidence-busting, professional experience of my life, to finding out and coping with the fact that my beloved pet is epileptic, to failing over and over again at landing interviews between endless job applications (and when I did manage an interview, failing miserably at landing the actual job!), I proceeded to break my nose …. after that, I decided, quote boldly, really, that THAT was it. August was the end of it. In fact, August was going to be the transition month – the month when things were manageable, even if they weren’t amazing or even great.

But come September…. the world is mine.

Or at least, the tides will have turned in my favor. Just you wait.

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Channeling Bret Michaels

That sounds really weird.

Why would anyone want to channel this guy?

Perfecting the duck face.
Perfecting the duck face.

I’m only kind of kidding, of course. I’m sure Bret Michaels has a ton to teach us about beating the odds given he has the worst kind of diabetes known to man and he still finds energy, health and time to dedicate to what he knows best: music, supporting our troops and veterans and canoodling with 80s-haired wanna-be vixens. Seriously, more power to him. [Side note: I own all three seasons of Bret Michael’s Rock of Love. Chew on THAT.]

It’s been THREE WHOLE MONTHS since I quit that painful excuse for a career move and I’m still right where I was on March 1st. I mean, I guess I’ve grown somewhat: I’ve meditated over the experience, did the due diligence of finding the moral lesson in the HUGE fail I had to endure, have beaten myself up and consoled myself a dozen and one times and have gone to and fro with lamenting and redeeming myself. The moral of the story is this: I totally and completely fucked up, reacted hastily to an expired situation and, because of the frustration this invoked, was blinded into thinking that the first company to come along and court me WAS INDEED MY SAVING GRACE. By accepting all the glorious things they offered, I’d show ex-company what I’m worth and man, won’t they be sorry to see me go. 

Well we all know how THAT worked out.

If my ex-company ever lamented that I left, I never knew about it. Though I suspect that my wise ex-boss surely saw me making this mistake as it was happening and, in her age and the infinite wisdom associated with her life experiences, she probably hoped for the best for me but surely thought I was being impulsive. And then she probably concluded that she didn’t want such an impulsive wreck to continue to run her business in Chile. So a pat on the back and “good luck to you” it was. As a person she was probably sad to see me go, but as a business woman she concluded that I had made my decision and life would go on.

Lesson learned: I was defiant. I acted impulsively. I was immature. I was all ego.

I crossed into what I thought was my field of dreams. All I had ever hoped for in structure, in organization, in position, in teamwork. Only to realize that NOTHING was as it had been promised and what had been painted to me on the outside was merely an illusion … or a wish list of where they wanted to be but had failed repeatedly to achieve. No ONE person was going to achieve that for them when the organization was screwed up, from the leader downward. Good people, talented even. But so much more to accomplish and, truth be told, a little fishy that as a group they still failed repeatedly to accomplish their wish list. I bowed out in the nick of time.

Lesson learned: I left more humbled than I’ve ever been in my life. I remain as humbled. I lost faith in teamwork; I lost faith in myself. I doubted myself. I beat myself up for making such a terrible mistake. I felt sorry for myself. All of this (and more) has made me pick myself up. Has made me push aside all the negativity, all the doubts, all the fears. A calloused me has emerged.

I’m less likely to be as impulsive now. I’m more apt to listen than to speak. I’m asking more questions and pushing for answers if something seems fishy. Unfortunately I’m also probably way more skeptical than ever before. I believe the word I’m looking for is tainted.

So why Bret Michaels, really?

All of the above has happened internally (obviously), while on the outside I’ve been on multiple job interviews. Some that have really, really interested me, others which I was quite skeptical about. Thus far, none have panned out. This in and of itself is hard on the self esteem. Some days turn into weeks and I realize that I’ve had no solid leads in well over double digit days. I fear becoming a has-been. I fear becoming irrelevant. I have images of turning 45 and realizing that I never worked again… I never dominated my area/project/division/what-have-you, again. Never killing it again. Add the stress of having one demanding toddler who at times flies off the handle to such an extent, I’m left wondering if I’m even losing at this whole parenting thing. Add a newly diagnosed epileptic dog. Add a traveling husband who is here only sometimes (and Murphy’s Law has it that he’s gone when shit truly hits the fan.)

Nothing is the end of the world, but every little thing adds up. And the thoughts that swirl in one’s own mind can be such ball busters.

Bret Michaels wasn’t necessarily impulsive in his decisions on Rock of Love. In fact, in the first season, everyone was sure he’d pick Heather. She seemed like the obvious choice as she was so much more his style and vibe (fake boobs and all!) Instead he picked Jes. Jes was cute, spunky, smart – the kind of girl other girls want to be friends with. Good decision. Smart, reliable. BUT SO NOT BRET MICHAELS! He made a safe decision, but not a decision that Bret himself could truly commit to … and he didn’t! Because then came Season 2 of Rock of Love. In what we now know to be typical Bret style – he likes the party girls and the centerfold types for a little while. But when it comes down to it, Bret is a man of substance. Again he floored us by not choosing Daisy and going with Ambre! The smart, flat-chested, career oriented girl that again, all girls would love to befriend! Then, out of nowhere, in Season Three he went COMPLETELY AGAINST everything we knew about him and he chose Taya instead of Mindy! Mindy – the all American girl!! Taya – literally the Penthouse something or other. I was totally distraught with that decision because Taya played it up that she was a lady and that all her Penthouse “spreads” were done “in taste.” She portrayed herself to be one way but really, she was as trashy as the rest! I’m disgusted just remembering ….

All of the above has nothing to do with my life lessons learned in the past six months. What I mean when I say I’m going to channel Bret Michaels, I really mean that I find solace in Poison’s song “Something to Believe In.” It reminds me that there are bigger problems out there, but I also know that we all have our own battles and we all need a little something to believe in everyday. Sometimes a good song is all you need to soothe a dark moment just enough. Once it’s over, you find you’re on the other side of the dark  moment and able to keep on moving.

“Road to God, take me home.” Thanks, Bret.

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Greatest Hits

Right after I had the little human, I took to watching a WHOLE lot of the series “LOST.” There is an episode late in Season Three of this twisted series entitled “Greatest Making a list, checking it twice ... via Chud.comHits” and no, this blog post is not a review of this particular episode (which, if you’re wondering, yes, is a good one.) Not that you should care, but in this episode a character dies and he knows beforehand when and how he’s going to die. In preparation for this, he reflects on his life and proceeds to jot down his life’s greatest hits – i.e. best or most memorable moments – on a piece of paper so that this little scrap can later be given to his lady love upon his death.

The idea has motivated me to think back on my greatest hits thus far. Leaving aside the morbid reasons behind the tv character’s motivation, I find it interesting to sit back and reflect on moments when I’ve felt particularly happy or fulfilled. Peaks that irrevocably warrant bookmarks between my chapters of life. In doing so, it helps me to step back and take a look from afar at the type of life I’ve lived so far. Has it been a life jam-packed with friends? With travel? With partying? With family? With walks-of-shame I’d rather forget? (Thankfully, no on that last one.)

Greatest hits imply the best of the best, but by no means am I implying that the moments in my life that are anointed as “great” are far and away the most mind blowing experiences out there. They don’t include daredevil feats like skydiving or once-in-a-lifetime moments like, say, chanting with the Dalai Lama (does he chant?). In fact, you might not think they’re all that impressive but that’s not the point of this. We all have greatest hits in our lives – moments we recall such nostalgia and even happiness, that you just happily place a mental bookmark so as to make your way back to that memory whenever the going gets tough. I can’t tell you where my greatest hits start and I certainly can’t tell you where they end … they vary in time and space but have the common denominator of being emblematic of a moment in time that I wouldn’t mind landing in via the DeLorean from “Back to the Future.”

Even as it was happening, I knew buying our bed was an important step. I took this picture during the actual purchase!

For instance, for some reason one of the best moments in my life that stands out time and time again is, ridiculously enough, when I first moved in with G and we ventured out to buy our bed. When you think about it, it’s got to be one of the most basic of things – shopping for a necessity such as a mattress. Who cares, right? Except it was so symbolic in my life. I had never before lived with a guy, let alone gone through the process of furnishing our home together. I had just arrived in Chile and was sublimely happy to be reunited with my fiancee after months and months of trying to hold together a relationship long distance. And there we were, giddy, in love, and starting our life together from scratch.

Then I take a moment and think back to grade school … Catholic school, to be exact … and for some reason sitting in church singing “Immaculate Mary” always registers in my mind as a happy moment in time. As an adult I wonder why, but if I remember what it was like as a kid, all I can remember is … FUN. I know, it makes no sense, but for me, school was a good time and singing in church meant we weren’t in class and back then, any time we weren’t in class was fun. Things were just that simple back then.

Girls gone road trippin’!

Road trips with friends obviously make it onto my greatest hits – there were many in my young adulthood: road trips to San Diego, Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe … even Lake Havasu in Arizona (THAT was long ass car ride, let me tell you). The road in front of you, the wind in your hair (or face), some groovy tunes and some good conversation sprinkled with cackles of laughter, typical of girls when they get together. What did we talk about anyway? What did we listen to? How did we find enough topics of conversation or enough music to cover 6-10 whole hours of riding in a car with three other people? Maybe we were bitching out Kate Winslet’s character, Rose, in Titanic, for not hauling her huge butt over so as to create enough room on the floating door for Jack (in all seriousness, he could have survived if she’d only moved over!) However it was that we passed our time riding along in our automobile, my memories of road trips morph into one memory for me and it reminds me of a time when I literally left “all cares behind.”

Other greats…:

The exact, precise moment when G proposed – on a catamaran, in the middle of the ocean between Cancun and Isla Mujeres…sun, ceviche, a bottle of wine and some bling.

Said balcony before we moved in.

I also remember our first apartment ever when I first moved to Chile and I recall the balcony with great nostalgia. (Hear me out.) The view was great but moreover, the countless times we bbq’d some chicken and shared a bottle of wine on that balcony, during the hot summer nights. Those moments were by far even greater. Our apartment now is  bigger but I’d argue that it’s hardly better. Something about that small balcony, with eternal sunlight that just always takes me back to moments when G and I just took a breather in the presence of the view.

The first time I ever held Obi. Even then I knew that this dog, for better or for worse, would be like my first-born child. And even after actually having a child (a human one, that is) I still feel that Obi is my eldest – my baby boy and little tub of love.  The day I ever have to look at our little family without him in it, will be the day a small piece of me dies. He’s almost three years old and weighs close to 52 pounds, but the first time I held him, I knew this little bundle of fur was going to teach me a thing or two about patience and unconditional love for a beloved pet.

Licensing Show 2008. You know how I feel about my past life in licensing. I adore my

Actual pic from “after hours” during LS 2008. My future husband was dating another woman back then.

current job and company but if ever I was given a chance to return to licensing, a quick “hell yeah” would resonate loud and resonate proud. Licensing Show was where I was first exposed to international business – sales and negotiations across geographic boundaries. By the time my very last Licensing Show rolled around (2008), I had the game down pat. I knew the who, what and where and I finally felt as though I was actually GOOD at something… was I good at negotiating? Sure, though certainly not the strongest. Was I good at schmoozing? Maybe. But certainly not the most charming. I have fond memories of each Licensing Show I was fortunate enough to work, but why is LS 2008 marked as “the best” in my book? Two reasons: 1) it was the last time it was held in NYC and there are few places better than NYC and 2) it was where I ran into the man who would be my future husband.

I’d also go back in time in a heartbeat to my best friend Jen’s apartment, circa 2004-5 and relive the moments in her living room where we’d pretend to be Las Vegas sleazy lounge singers, doing our best rendition of John Elton’s “Daniel” for our audience of one.

I now know that one of my all-time most empowering moments in life occurred when I was in preschool. I stepped in dog poop and my ever-so-gracious preschool teacher told me I had to take care of the situation myself (I was 4 and it was the 80s. No way would that fly nowadays). I realize now that even then I had amazing powers of persuasion because SOMEHOW I was able to convince a little friend I had been playing with when this dastardly thing occurred to take responsibility for my dog pooped shoe and actually clean it out for me! I convinced her that I’d do the same for her – only her shoe was poop-free – and the little dumb ass BOUGHT IT.  To this day I fondly recall the image of that poor little girl washing my shoe in the sink while I happily picked at her spotless shoe. I know it’s mean, but as an adult, I look back at my young self and proudly conclude that I was a born smooth-talker. I’ve had far more empowering moments, but this one, this one was my first and every time I think of it, I smile (ok, I smirk, but still).

Mini me and me, just this week.

And finally … I know that one of my greatest hits moments in life is right now. Right now that my little human is six-months old and I work part time so that I’m home with her every afternoon by 2:30 pm. Right now that she recognizes me, smiles when I walk into the room, cackles when I kiss her tummy and talks back to me in her own little language. Right now that I feel happy, having passed the PPD – the darkest moment lived  (thus far) – and am working out, feel stronger, and look better than I have since giving birth (according to me, myself and I). In short, I feel good and I’m enjoying the little bundle of belly fat that I call little human. The dark times have passed and I’ve moved on to this: looking at her and mumbling “thank you, thank you, thank God for you” a-la the Bette Midler movie “Beaches.” I’ve reached gargantuan level cheesy-mom proportions. And hey – that’s ok! (If you tell anyone, I’ll be on you like white on rice.)

So there you have it, my good people. A smorgasbord of greatest hits in the life of me. Oh, but there is so much more! The time I worked out overlooking Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. The time my friend Jen and I ventured out in NYC, looking for its “seedy underbelly.” The time I was snowed in in NYC after Toy Fair (at the time it felt detrimental but at the end of the day there’s no such thing as too much time spent in the Big Apple.) Exploring the Louvre alone … Taking the train into San Francisco for work everyday … happy hours at wine bars with friends after work … Giants games, whether they won or lost … bouncing in the water like a buoy in Surin Beach, Phuket … the time I visited Chile in the summer of 2001 and spent two fabulous weeks in Totoralillo with my cousins … singing in the church choir when I was in fifth grade … the end of the day, in bed, next to hubby, watching “That 70s Show,” “Arrested Development,” or  “Sex in the City” before drifting into delicious sleep.

At any moment in time these memories, and countless others, serve as reminders that, thank God, I’ve had a good life thus far. Greatest hits I’m happy to play over and over again.

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Cheers

Here’s my problem recently … in fact it’s been a problem for a while now and I suspect it’s a deeper rooted problem than I care to consider: the move to Chile has propelled me into adulthood.

When I moved here, I embarked on a whirlwind of adult themes – living with a significant other, having a household with a significant other (complete with a shared checking account), getting a dog with a significant other, getting married, and finally, being a stepmother to significant other’s children. Prior to all of this, I was a single gal living in the San Francisco Bay Area, traveling a heap for work and going out with my friends whenever the hell I pleased. No one to take into account besides myself and living the single life in my fabulous little apartment in the sunny outskirts of San Francisco. I traded all this in for the sake of love and moved to the bottom of the Earth to… become an adult.

The thing is, adulthood is fucking lonely. I’m nostalgic more than I care to recall and I miss my former life more than I care to admit. Then I consider that perhaps adulthood, introduced firsthand while living in a foreign country, is made far worse by the fact that I have to “learn the ropes” in this new country and adjust to society and culture here. What does that mean? Personally, for me, it means being the odd-man out 24-7. Combine this with “adult” responsibilities like planning for retirement, saving, planning kids, paying bills, saving for a future home, and seriously I just want to curl up in a ball and fall asleep next to my dog. All of it seems dry, all of it seems boring and ALL OF IT makes me miss my friends back home more than I can possibly express in one post.

Here’s the thing: while most of life is happening around me and I try to navigate my own life in the best, most successful way possible, inside, I’m like Peter Pan. I literally am the kid that never wants to grow up. Outside I’m 34 years old; inside I’m 24. In fact, call me crazy, but I still recall – FONDLY, mind you – the ’80’s Toys R Us commercial:


Indeed, all I want in life is to continue being a Toys R Us kid.

But those days are long gone and I’m not a Toys R Us kid. I’m not even a Falabella kid.

I guess what really makes adulthood a fucking drag right about now is this: I’ve had a really hard time making significant connections with people I’ve met here in Chile. Yeah, I LIKE some people I’ve met and think they are, in essence, pretty cool people, but I’d say it’s a far cry from actually connecting with said people. Sure, there are all kinds of variables, the most obvious one being my demanding job that pretty much sucks my will to do anything else besides come home and crash most of the time. But there are all kinds of other variables to consider too: age, priorities, responsibilities, work, time and space, just to name a few.

I know that my best friends back home are also tackling adulthood head on. They’re watching as other friends have children, buy homes, buy second homes, have second children, move up in their careers, etc, etc. Entering adulthood in Chile, for me, has been like starting a new school. I’m alone, I don’t really have any friends, I’m going through changes that feel weird and awkward and it seems everyone else is either 1) not going through the same changes or 2) breezing through said changes. In fact, I attended Catholic school for a hefty amount of time and when I started 8th grade in a public school in a new city, for the first time ever, I recall feeling a similar sentiment.

At times like these all I want to do is go somewhere where everybody knows my name … yeah I’m recalling the theme song to “Cheers,” but OH MY GOD does it ring true and comforting right about now.

Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.

[Why yes it does take everything I have and more so living in a foreign country where more often than not, all things seem backwards to me.]
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

[WHY YES IT WOULD!! I could potentially prolong my sanity, I think.]

Wouldn’t you like to get away?

[Yes. Ideally to San Francisco or New York where my best friends are living. Given this, I’m thankful for an upcoming trip to NYC in September.]

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,

[I used to live a life where I frequented places where many people knew me. Now I live the most anonymous life I can fucking conjure up.]
and they’re always glad you came.

[This line is the one that gets me. So many places I know I can walk into right now and KNOW that people will be happy to see me. But, fuck, more importantly, that people will actually GET me. I won’t be the odd man out, I may just fucking blend in. That or people will actually know me. Such a far cry from my life in Chile right now.]
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same

Misery loves company? Happiness loves company too, though. I’ll take either one here in Chile, but I’m so missing those connections. ARE people the same here as they are there? Do they have similar troubles? Do they go through the same things?…. Fuck if I know.
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

[I do!]

You wanna go where people know,
people are all the same,

[As much so here as there? Probably but then again, what do I  know?]
You wanna go where everybody knows
your name.

[What does it mean to go where everyone knows your name? Common bonds, that’s one. Relatable history, that’s another.]

There’s something to be said about surrounding yourself with people who know your history, people who knew you “way back when.”

The most recent example of this:

Text message via Whats App with Amanda Aug 13, 2011

What the hell does all that mean and why should you care?
You shouldn’t care actually. If you do, I’ll call you a crazy stalker.

But what I’ll share with you are simple facts:

1) Amanda is a really, really good friend I met in college . In fact, we lived together our senior year.

2) I used to be the agro friend who had her hair done (highlights and cut) every nine weeks on the dot. I also used to have my eyebrows done on a monthly basis. (An impossible feat here in Chile since, after having lived here 2+ years, finding a decent hairdresser continues to be a Holy Grail-esque quest.)

3) With this personal standard, I took it upon myself to alert all of my friends of their unruly hairs (whether on their heads or faces) whenever said hairs reared their ugly natures. I was what Amanda used to refer to as a “crotchety old aunt.”

Yet despite that annoying trait, this good friend of mine, along with another dear friend, remembered me when they passed by the hair salon where I used to get my hair ‘did back home (said reference to Trio). So much so, that they sent me a text message alerting me to the fact, despite the thousands of miles and the times zones that divide us. To me the idea  of being “where everybody knows [my] name” and to know people are “always glad I came” is something that is embodied in this text message I’ve shared right here on my blog.

I envision the me right now, grappling with being an adult and taking on the adult responsibilities that are coming at me left and right, stepping into the car with my two good friends, hearing them say “Dre!!” (if you ever watched “Cheers” you’d get this reference. If not, then here.) Seriously, I think that’s all I’d need to dust myself off and face the craziness of this new adulthood (in a foreign land.)

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In Chile, the Concert-Going Me

Like most people (who aren’t Captain Von Trapp), I really like music. Now, by NO MEANS do I consider myself to be a music snob, like these guys:

"...I agreed that what really matters is what you like, not what you are like... Books, records, films - these things matter. Call me shallow but it's the fuckin' truth..."

(Actually the video is much funnier.)

Music, in all its shapes and forms, has served my life in so many ways. I guess that in short, music is my diary. It keeps me company and has been my best friend during the loneliest of times. I listen to music constantly and since the invention of the ipod, there has not been a place where music wasn’t right there with me. Not just any music, but MY music. Again, not the most fantastic of music, not the most genius, but it’s the most comforting (to me.)

But here’s a weird thing to ponder, considering my like/love of music – concerts weren’t really my thing when I lived in California. In fact, after having lived there for 29 years of my life, I’ve attended the following concerts: Billy Joel, New Kids on the Block, Dave Matthews Band, Tibetan Freedom Concert …. and I think that’s about it. For reals that sums up my entire concert going experience during my time in California. Why didn’t I go to more concerts? I don’t have the answer to that because I honestly don’t know. Considering I lived near San Francisco, my excuse can’t be the lack of good concerts – EVERYONE and their mom was in concert at some point or another in San Francisco. If I had to pinpoint one possible excuse, I’d probably blame economics. I mean, who has $200 to spend on Madonna concert tickets? Yes, I wish I’d seen Madge live but the fact is, those $200 were better spent on rent, groceries, bills or even clothes (which would last longer than just a night.)

All this changed when I moved to Chile.

I’ve lived in Santiago for just about two years and already I’ve been to as many concerts as I attended while living in California. I thank G for this because he loves going to concerts. The mountain of concert DVDs he owns (not pirated, mind you) are a testament to this and so of course, each time a band or singer he likes announces a tour stop in Santiago, within in a matter of days I hear the magical chime “Cosita, do you want to go to a concert with me?”

WHY OF COURSE I DO!

Sister *IS* fierce.

The first concert we attended together (and in fact, my first concert-going experience of my Chilean life) was a birthday gift from him. None other than larger-than-life, POP/R&B-holier-than-thou Beyoncé. It was her first tour through Lat Am and arguably right at the peak of her career (thus far) with the success of “I Am …. Sasha Fierce” humming across the world to the tune of “Single Ladies.”
In the simplest terms, she was amazing. It was the first introduction to Beyoncé that G experienced (if we don’t count his daughter’s countless practices in front of the tv as she attempted to master the Single Ladies dance moves). Owning up to her alter-ego titled album, Ms. Sasha Fierce herself most certainly did not disappoint and literally had the fans, Chilean and not, enchanted with her singing, moves, personality and engagement with the audience. Of course for me it was the ultimate experience considering I have been a fan of Beyoncé since her days in Destiny’s Child (and by that I mean when DC had four members and not the three people normally recall.) Yes, there was once a time when there were four of them… during “Writing’s on the Wall,” their 2nd album released in 1999. G came away from that concert completely and totally in love, 100% assured to the fact that Beyoncé was, if not the single, most attractive woman in the world, then surely the second one (after yours truly, why of course.) I walked away in awe as well and simply appreciative of the artists who perform an entire concert without lip syncing and dancing until the very end. Truly a performance we’d repeatedly attend.

Our second concert-going experience was one that initiated with what I now come to know as the “pretty-please-go-with-me-because-I-love-this-singer/band-and-no-one-else-will-go-with-me-if-you-don’t” look.

Um, Tom Jones? Sex Bomb?

Oh, the Tom Jones concert. It was like we fast-forwarded into our mid-40s and met up with similar middle-aged people, ready to “rock it” with good ol’ Tom. And I’m talking G was right there  with the best of them, swiveling his hips to the croons of Tom Jones, singing and clapping along, completely and totally mesmerized. It was a good concert actually, despite the fact that I wouldn’t dream of attending another one, and the crowd was pleased with his stage charm. They went wiiiiiild when he finally performed “Sex Bomb,” an experience completely in line with the cliché of being in a foreign country still trapped in the 80s. I can always count on G to take me out of my routine and for introducing me to old-yet-wildly popular artists (in Chile) I’d otherwise never know. So much so, Tom Jones might very well have been super popular in the U.S. and I simply had no idea.

Moving along to the worst concert G and I have attended thus far – Luis Miguel. Here are my two cents regarding his concert:

1) He performed a perfectly calculated concert, simply inserting the word  “Chile” about five times throughout the performance to the point that I wondered if he was merely saying “Chile” so as to remind himself of where he was in the world. Because, I mean, obviously we knew we were in Chile. Did he?

2) He couldn’t be bothered to engage the audience. There was no conversation, no anecdotes. Not even a whole sentence!

3) He went from one song, to the next, to the next, without so much as a pause. It was as if he was checking songs off of some list he had tacked up on a wall somewhere backstage… “No Sé Tú” – check!

4) He didn’t encore!!!! Call me crazy, but if fans are screaming for me, I’d go out and give ’em more!! (Everyone else does it, even Beyoncé! I do believe Bey-Bey and Luis Miguel are equal parts diva … one is just rude and a totally flat performer).

Mish! … moving on … to one of my favorite artists of all time (G says I say that about everyone, but in this case, it’s true) – Dave Matthews Band.

Image courtesy of lachilenguita.blogspot.com - DMB live in Santiago, Oct 2010.

Now, let me preface by saying that I’ve seen DMB perform twice before in California. When I attended his first concert, I knew all of one song “Crash Into Me” and I could barely consider myself a fan at that point. Last October when DMB came to Chile (for the first time ever, mind you), it was the third time I had seen them live, but this time around I could call myself a full-fledged DMB fan. As hard is it was for me to believe, when a girlfriend here in Chile sent an email to a group of us asking who would be interested in attending, she and I both learned that we were the cheeses that stood alone on with any love for DMB – no one else was interested in going!! In the end, she and I went together and we loved.every.minute.of.it. Clearly my other fellow expats friends and acquaintances have no idea what they’re missing. Dave Matthews himself sounds just as good live as he does on his recordings and his band is AH-mazing – from the drummer, to the sax player to the guitarist and um, hi, the ever famous violinist! Those boys sure know how to carry a good diddy and certainly know a thing or two about showing a girl a good time at a concert.

On tap so far in 2011 …

A couple of weeks ago G asked me if I wanted to go see an Argentine tribute band to Queen called “Dios Salve a la Reina” or “God Save the Queen.” This experience was about as close as I’ll ever come to seeing Freddy Mercury live and the lead singer seriously FLOORED us. His appearance, his moves, his voice – eerily similar to the videos and images I’ve seen of Freddy Mercury performing with Queen and it’s a testament to the dedication this guy has surely injected into his art. If you ever have the chance, this singer is worth seeing … however … his band falls ridiculously short. Seriously, their talents PALE in comparison, both as back up singers and as musicians. Again, I’m no music guru and my knowledge of music is pretty limited, I get that and I’m not pretending otherwise here. But the talent the lead singer of this band has is so overwhelmingly good that even if the musicians are any good or have decent voices, we simply couldn’t tell. Freddy Mercury v.2 was just THAT good. He carried the show. Below, a very short video I took during the concert. See what I mean about his voice?? Freddy Part Deux.

Mmm-mmm-mmmm, man do I enjoy some good vocals on a skinny dude.

And finally, we come to the biggest surprise of them all when it comes to concerts.

About a month ago G once again came to me with that “pretty-please-go-with-me-because-I-love-this-singer/band-and-no-one-else-will-go-with-me-if-you-don’t” look. I said, sure, what band? He tells me Mr. Big.

Mr. Big, huh? That 80s glam one-hit wonder band whose one song is known by every single person who grew up watching MTV videos in the 80s and 90s? I didn’t even know that they had other songs (I don’t include their remake of Cat Stevens’ “Wild World,” mind you because I’m not particularly fond of that version, but that’s just me), let alone enough songs to warrant an entire concert. But hey, I totally dig their one song so I thought, “Cool, let’s go see them live.”

Right now, right here, I’m fully disclosing my rock ignorance. I know this, I embrace this and I’m willing to remedy this. You see, what I was expecting was a long-haired band, rocking out on a soft and breezy acoustic guitar, almost singing a Capella versions of “To Be With You” and “Wild World.” What I got, was this:

(This video is obviously not from the concert we attended last week but trust me, it’s a fairly accurate account of what the concert was like.)

Now, I can’t say that I’m all of a sudden a huge Mr. Big fan, but I can certainly appreciate a good guitar rip and I can most certainly become entranced when one goes on and on and, finally, I can certainly bow down to an IMPROV guitar jam by two great artists such are the guitarist and bassist of this band. This is what the Mr. Big concert was like and let me tell you folks, if you were like me and thought that Mr. Big was a ballad-loving 80s glam rock band, you are sorely mistaken. Let me be the first to tell you that this band is quite a bit more than that. Eric Martin, the band’s lead singer, has an amazingly solid rock voice, wailing like a champion without so much as a crack or a quiver. Even though I was completely lost, as far as concerts are concerned, with absolutely NO idea what was going on between one song and the next,  with no knowledge of the song lyrics or the music I was listening to, I had a really good time. The singer and the band in general were – yes, that word again – engaging. And you know what, somehow, thanks to this, the language barrier just ceased to exist.

There are actually some pretty good artists that are making their way down to Chile these days. In fact, just a couple of months ago Chile hosted the one and only Lollapalooza (first time in Lat Am) and due its success, a 2012 concert has already been confirmed. Though we didn’t attend the festival which was held in April of this year, G and I continue on with our concert-going plans, pumped like flannel-wearing teenagers to go see Guns N’ Roses as well as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, both of whom will be in Santiago between Sept and Oct of this year. Not to be eclipsed by our shared love of 80s and 90s rock, our taste in pop is also well represented as we most definitely plan to check out Lady Gaga in 2012, awaiting her official dates to be confirmed so that we can add that notch to our concert-going bedpost. Other groups that have also been announced thus far this year include Judas Priest, Whitesnake, Erasure, Aerosmith, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Limp Bizkit and dumb ass Avril Lavigne (whose bright idea was that? I’ll only care if she comes with Brody Jenner. G will only care if Brody happens to bring his stepsister Kim Kardashian. Otherwise we aren’t interested NOR can we imagine how she plans to fill Movistar Arena with said fans.)
Though G and I aren’t planning to attend any of the above-mentioned concerts (Guns and Chili Peppers aside), it’s great to see such variety exists here in Chile. One less thing to miss from back home and that’s always a welcomed, guitar-ripped, cherry on top of life as an Expat.

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When Surprise Visits Make Your Weekend

One of the things that really, truly bummed me out when I got married last year was the fact that none – literally none – of my friends back home attended. I understand why, of course, and can even explain to you the reason behind their absences. Mainly it had to do with the fact that initially G and I were planning to get married in November 2010 and instead, moved the date up to April 2010. I communicated this change about five months in advance but of course, I understand that Chile is far, it’s expensive to travel and that they (my friends) had every right to prioritize their spending. After all, I was the one who randomly switched the date on them, regardless of the advance notice.

Truth be told, it hurt a lot. I couldn’t believe that I was finally – FINALLY – getting married and not one single friend was there. The sting was lessened because I was completely and 100% happy to have had the friends I had made in Chile present, almost symbolizing the here and now. I was also really happy that my most favorite person in the whole wide world came: my Tio Pato.

Only the most amazing uncle of all time.

I grew up in San Francisco, far away from where the majority of my blood relatives lived – Chile. On both sides of the family I happen to have many aunts and uncles and a ridiculous, only-in-Latin-families amount of cousins. The thing is that they all lived down here while I was happily growing up in Northern California. The only family I had while growing up were my mom (obviously), two-great aunts, my Tio Pato (my mom’s brother) and my Tio Pato’s son (and my cousin), Tony.

Tony and I shared a similar story actually. He was born in the U.S. but his mom had moved there from Chile in the late 70s/early 80s and like me, Tony had family down here but rarely saw them. He once traveled with my aunt and uncle to Chile but apparently he was too young to remember and it wasn’t until he was well in his teens that he finally began to fully embrace his Chilean roots. Again, a little like me.

Tony and I also grew up a lot like brother and sister. He’s an only child and though I have a sister, she didn’t live in the U.S. with us and as such, I also grew up pretty much as an only child. Since my mother counted her brother as one of the very few family members with whom she could share things with, we spent a lot of time with my aunt, uncle and cousin: camping trips, 4th of July bbqs, Chilean asados, birthday parties, Christmases, New Years, etc. There was even a time when my mom and I went to live with them, result of a nasty separation she was going through. The point being that Tony and I share a lot of fond memories of growing up in the late 80s and early 90s.

My First Communion. I was 7, Tony must have been all of 3.

When he was a toddler, he was an annoying little sh*t who cried for no reason and when my mom used to babysit him, she’d quiet him down by literally sitting his naked little butt in a sink of ice, cold water. (This was the 80s and the ‘time-out’ business parents use now wasn’t the norm.) When he got his first Nintendo, we played Super Marios Bros until we couldn’t see straight, well past our bedtime, defiant until the end (we needed to raid the castle to rescue the princess!) Rumor even has it that Tony got stoned for the very first time with one of my high school boyfriends! I told him everything he needed to know about high school: dances, lockers, class schedules, popularity, cheerleaders, newspapers, what-have-you and assured him that since I was going through high school first, I would make sure to be super popular so that when he got there, it would be a breeze for him (he ultimately ended up going to a different high school. Good thing because I don’t recall ever being the said Miss Popularity I promised him I’d be!)

We even fought like brother and sister. One time, I was (per usual) making fun of his name – not Tony, but his full name, Domingo Antonio. I ran around his apartment laughing and taunting him “Ha ha, your name is Sunday, your name is Sunday!” I must have been 14, he was probably around 9 and in response to this taunting (which I smugly found to be brilliantly humorous), he did what any 9 year old would do – he punched me in the face. I remember cupping my cheek and looking at him, totally in shock and with my mouth gaping open. “Oh.my.God.” I said to him. “You… are.. going…. to… be… in… so… much… trouble… I’m totally going to tell on you!!” And I ran off and locked myself in the bathroom for a good half hour. It didn’t really hurt, you see. I just wanted to make him suffer and for that entire half hour, I was pleased at myself as I heard him banging on the door freaking out “Don’t tell my mom, don’t tell my dad, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.” (In the end, I don’t even remember if I ended up telling on him, but I’ll never forget how much he freaked out after punching me.)

I’m guessing I’m 19 or 20 and he’s 15 or 16. This was years after punching me in the face but actually it occurred in that apt!
Tony and I as tourists in Valparaiso in December 2006.
Tony and I at my uncle’s 60th bday in Jan 2006 – buzzed hair not a good look for you, primo.
Does anyone else feel like I’m equally chronicling Tony’s hair through the years?

Tony didn’t make it to my wedding either, but this was mostly due to bad timing on our part. You see, Tony moved to Australia to work for a magazine right around the time that G and I got married. I was

sad that he wasn’t there because even though there were many cousins in attendance, he was the one cousin that really, truly mattered. The last time I saw him was in 2009, during a trip to CA, before he moved to Australia. All that changed, one random day, about a month ago.

Now, let me preface this with telling you how Tony’s evolved as he’s stepped into, yes, manhood. For one thing, post-high school he chose to use his birth name both professionally and socially. He is not known as “Tony” to anyone that has met him post 20-years of age; he’s known as Domingo (yes, Sunday!) It’s funny because the difference is clearly marked. His high school friends and his entire family call him Tony … everyone after, calls him Domingo. Also, he’s turned into an amazingly cool guy. Meaning, that same kid that was kicking and screaming outside the door, freaking out that I’d tell on him for punching me, would now be like “whatever, dude” and somehow manage to turn the situation into nothing, simply by being charming or saying something bogus and out there (perhaps he’s mastered the Jedi-mind trick, who knows?) He’s a little bohemian, a little hippy-ish, a lot artsy and definitely an outside-the-box thinker. He isn’t a planner and more so follows the moment, the high (life high, that is), the movement, the flow, what have you.

This is the guy who randomly called me on an insignificant Friday in May – OUT OF NOWHERE – and said “Hey cuz, it’s me, Tony. I’m in Chile.”

WHAT THE MOTHER-F*CKING WHAT??!!

Yes, he was in Chile and yes, he’d been here for about a week, doing his thing and, as usual, going with the flow. Venturing out and randomly landing in Chile. Such is life with him. He didn’t have time to see other family members and so it meant that much more to me that he called to make sure we saw each other before he returned to Australia.

The bearded cousin, circa now.
Our signature go-to awkward smile-for-the-camera. Years of perfecting this, people!

I’m not sure any other visit would have made me quite so happy, truth be told. We only hung out a few hours, three tops. We all went out to dinner to a typical Chilean restaurant and basically hung out, shot the sh*t and had a nostalgia-filled time. We reminisced, just like old people. We called my uncle (who, by the way, nearly cried at the thought of both my cousin and I hanging out after so much time living outside CA.) We laughed, we drank wine, we called each other “dude” one time too many. All we needed to make the night complete was a round of Super Mario Bros. And as silly as it may sound, I was happy because I was able to share my life now, time with my husband, my apartment, my dog – everything – with someone who has always meant very much to me, through the good and through the bad. The only thing that would have made the night complete, would have been to have my uncle right there with us.

That’s ok, though. Mantuvimos al Tio muy presente. Even force-feeding Gonzalo in the same manner Tio Pato is known to do (with family and complete strangers, mind you.)

Open wiiiiide! Who doesn’t like sea urchin, anyway?

Dear cuz: Thanks for the random call, thanks for the extra time. See you in your neck of the woods in October.

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Our trip to Pucón

I’d been to Pucón a few years ago when my mother and I lived in the States and flew down to visit family. My cousin lived there at the time with her husband and though it was great to visit her and see a new part of Chile, I went when it was wet, cold, miserable and windy. Needless to say, I wasn’t sure I saw the hype in Pucón.

Fast forward four years later and G surprises me with a trip to Pucón to celebrate my 1-year anniversary in Chile. We arrived in Temuco on Friday and the weather was insanely beautiful – a complete 180 from my former experience there. The idea was to take a “transfer” or a cab to Pucón, which is about an hour/hour and a half from the airport in Temuco. I remembered having heard from various people that the best bet when traveling outside of Santiago was to rent a car and just follow your nose (it always knows) and so I suggested it to G, who immediately agreed.

One Hertz agreement later, we were off to the hotel Enjoy of Pucon. Since the Enjoy chains have a reputation for being new and hip, stocked with lively entertainment (all hotels boast casinos) we were pretty excited to have the best of all worlds: nightly entertainment, daily ski or spa trips and beautiful scenery everywhere. The 9th Region of Chile didn’t disappoint with its natural beauty and provincial ambience. Rows and rows of fields, topped with trees galore and speckled with livestock reminiscent of “The Famer in the Dell” : cows, lambs, pigs, horses … ahhhhh country. I never imagined I’d be stoked on it but after living in smog central for a year, I’m ALWAYS happy to leave the busy, dirty city behind for a few days.

Views on our drive from Temuco to Pucón. Cows are where it’s at down there.

Lovely change from the Santiago traffic. Green everywhere and zero congestion.

High on fresh air and in the company of each other, G and I could not have been happier. We were excited to go skiing the next day, excited to venture out to unknown territories and excited to find hot springs to soak in until we pruned. Yeah … all that happiness came to screeching halt when we arrived at the Enjoy Pucón. It turns out, the Enjoy Pucón has only one thing that’s truly in line with the marketing and positioning of the Enjoy chain – the casino. It’s a brand new, asymmetrical building that definitely conveys the notion of a fun time to be had inside. HOWEVER … the hotel associated with this casino is actually the Gran Hotel Pucón and I’m not gonna lie: this hotel is older than my grandmother (if I had one). In fact, we later learned that its claim-to-fame is that Queen Elizabeth had stayed there. When? Circa 1962 when I could actually begin to imagine that the old, dilapidated hotel that stood before me was actually a grand hotel worthy of the word “grand” in the title? G and I don’t come from wealthy families and our upbringing could be described as middle-class AT BEST. Yet when we arrived, we realized that no matter what our background, silver spoons or no, the hotel was a joke. He was being charged a pretty hefty amount of money for a hotel whose lobby looked like a retirement home’s and whose rooms had a king size bed NEXT TO a twin size bed, covered in bedspreads that had me conjuring up images of Fräulein Maria making play clothes for the Von Trapp children in “The Sound of Music.” Not to mention, the bathroom had mold everywhere … Whether we’re annies or not, the fact of the matter was that G had paid for something promised in marketing, advertising and positioning messages of the Enjoy hotels. What we saw was completely the opposite. We checked in and immediately checked back out. (Thankfully the staff was very accommodating even if the rooms were hideous). There we were, G pissed and feeling like he had let me down (he hadn’t), no hotel room, hungry and with nowhere to go in the middle of Pucón. Standing outside in front of the car I said two things to G: “Thank goodness we rented a car” and “Later tonight, over a glass of wine, we’ll be laughing about this.” (At that moment he only agreed with the first statement.)

All’s well that ends well though. The truth of the matter is that we DID have a chuckle over the way our mini-vacation had started out. But things happen for a reason and it’s good to remember that no matter what one encounters, significant or not, things happen just as they should. G and I ended up staying at the Villarrica Park Lake Hotel, which was AMAZING … the joke being that the nightly rate at the 2nd hotel was less than at the Pucón Gran Hotel yet the amenities and the comfort can’t possibly be compared! The spa, the beds, the environment, the location and the views:

View from our hotel room’s balcony at the Villarrica Park Hotel.

Which of course led to complete and total relaxation on said balcony.

The rest of our vacation included a trip up the Volcan Villarrica for some skiing … we actually snowboarded and though we had a really good time, it’s safe to say that we both suck at snowboarding. Yeah we looked cool with all the gear but it’s apparent we need at least 2 more runs up to the mountain before we can walk the walk we intend to talk on the subject of snowboarding. I’ll be fair and say that G actually did really well and I’m particularly excited that after trying both skiing and snowboarding, he’s agreed with me that snowboarding is a million times better. The ski resort itself is small but I actually really enjoyed it – much more than Valle Nevado, simply because there was less people. The lift is a pretty long one since the actual slopes are further up the mountain than where the equipment is rented but it provides an amazing view of the lakes surrounding the volcano.

The lifts and the view of Lake Villarrica in the background (pic taken from the mountain).

Someone looking like he knows a thing or two about snowboarding, despite being a first-timer.

Which is a hell of a lot more than I can say for myself (and I’ve snowboarded before!)

Our last day in Pucón was dedicated to submerging ourselves in water and floating until we wrinkled like little prunes. Mission accomplished with Termas Geometricas and Termas Menetue. We first went to Termas Geometricas and all I can say is WOW. Words can’t really do it justice so I’ll provide pictures. At one point, it actually started SNOWING while we were in the water and it was as if we were in the middle of someone’s movie shoot. Walking through the termas, I felt like I was in The Shire of “Lord of the Rings.” Just serenely, beautifully, naturally amazing and wonderful. I highly suggest.

Just one of many pools in the termas, containing water ranging from 4 – 40 degrees Celsius.

Adding to the already-cool environment: snow.

You might be wondering if we were freezing before and after getting in the water (and more so, after.) The reality is that it’s not that cold at all. Your body temperature rises enough so that when you step out and go to another pool, you aren’t freezing. By the time you submerge again, you barely remembered if it was cold or not.

After that, we headed to Termas Menetue, which I had actually been to when I first visited Pucón. I wouldn’t say that these “termas” were bad because that would be a complete lie. In fact, they’re a great option for families and those who wish to actually stay overnight (or a few nights) because they have a hotel/resort right on site. The thing is that after Termas Geometricas, it was really hard to adjust to a very family-friendly environment. In short, it was simply a completely different experience to be had: one was definitely more in line with nature and a rustic outdoor experience, while the other (Menetue) had enclosed “piscinas termales” (or pools with thermal water) and with a completely different target audience in mind (hence so many families). There is an “adults only” area which was recently opened (two years ago, I believe) and it was definitely nice but to arrive you had to venture through the kid friendly pool area and that was pure chaos! Their spa, where G and I each received massages (his with a Reiki session) was nice, albeit small, though again, it’s based on the comparison with the spa in our hotel. It seems unfortunate that our experience at Menetue was overshadowed by comparisons of the experiences we had just hours before, but despite our personal experience, I do believe that on its own, Menetue is a great place. Even more so if you have kids.

By the time our mini-getaway ended we had pampered ourselves into a relaxation coma. Thermal waters, massages, spas, nature = one happy couple and one relaxed G (he’s the most stressed of the two of us.) I was (and am) so grateful for the gesture on his part and that his gift included one more gift incognito: the fact that he took two days off work to travel with me. That itself is amazing because my dear husband is the epitome of a workaholic. In fact, he had barely signed his name on the credit card slip during the check out when I caught him in the middle of what he does most: work.

Pic taken in the hotel lobby before hopping in the car to head to the Temuco airport.

It served to remind me that the true gift in all of the above was the time he took to be away from his job to actually enjoy the trip with me and to completely disconnect himself from work.

On a final note, um, can I just say THANK GOD I don’t live outside Santiago … and I mean absolutely no offense to those who do because trust me, I’m the first to value your way of life in compared to mine. But when it comes to the little things, towns outside the big city just function at their own pace and on their own time. Example – we arrived at the airport relatively early because we thought we could grab a bite to eat before taking off. Oh no, no, no. Temuco Airport is having none of that. The flight to Santiago departed from Temuco at 4:50 pm and the airport shops, airline counters and lone restaurant opened at 3:30 pm. Before that, this is what it looked like:

Believe it or not, this picture is actually almost of the ENTIRE airport. It’s that small.

Oh Provincia (as the towns outside Santiago are known). I know that for the small towns this mode of operation makes total sense. After all, what’s the point of having an airport running at 100% when only 5 flights arrive per day? It was still a minor inconvenience to the two big-city dwellers who were hoping to eat at the airport and who didn’t eat breakfast in hopes of just that. I learned that next time we need to stop in Temuco to get a bite to eat and arrive at the airport at exactly 20 minutes before boarding. I highly suggest you do the same.

I’ll conclude by saying that this part of Chile is amazing – something I’m sure that most people who are planning a trip down here already know. I was very much impressed by the nature, the people and the environment in general. It was a fabulous break from the all-too-often grimy and stressful Santiago living and it made me hungry for more adventures of the sort. I love it when I realize that Chile can be (and on many occasions, IS) a pretty cool place to live.

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Constant highs

There are a few things in life that give me that all time, happy, elated feeling. The “I’m-so-hiiiiigh” happy feeling that can only be equated to that moment when a long, hard, belly laugh suddenly becomes just a small chuckle that escapes once every 30 seconds.

This weekend I’ve been reacquainted with a few of those things, moments, tastes. Things like playing “Clue” (the boardgame) and slipping the cards that determine “whodunnit” into the little yellow manila envelope marked “Confidential.” There’s a technique to doing that, you know. It involves putting your entire hand over the card being inserted and dragging it face-down along the table so no one else even THINKS about peeking, then, inserting it into the envelope and hiding the envelope beneath something else. I love that sense of anxiety as you start eliminating the elements of the whodunnit as each person started to share their hand (of cards). Clue is an oldie but goodie and though it wouldn’t dawn on most of us to whip a board game out to play, I did so this weekend, and suddenly remembered how awesome it was to just sit around and play a game with people. This is what the original board game looked like when I used to play. The image alone brings back great memories. I was always, and continue to be, Mrs. White.

Another thing that I recalled this weekend is how much I enjoyed going to the mountains and being in the snow. Now, mind you, by NO MEANS am I a snow bunny in any way, shape or form and I can hardly ski and am a joke on a snowboard. Regardless, having lived in California, I made the trek to Lake Tahoe on MANY occasions and I always had a fantastic time. There’s an electric energy in the snow that only multiplies when you’re surrounded by like-minded people who enjoy getting “out there” and doing their thing. While I still have high hopes to make it past the bunny slopes on a snowboard, I’m certainly not there yet, and I’m COMPLETELY and TOTALLY motivated to continue to make the best of my life here in Chile and that means, in my mind, taking advantage of the Andes mountains and the snow life it can provide! With that, I’ve succeeded in motivating G’s kids to go and try either skiing or snowboarding (their leaning towards snowboarding – good kids!) and even G himself is loving the idea of a family-style vacay to the snow. I used to just sit at the lodge (or at home) and drink warm drinks, bake sweet things and watch 80s movies – all of which just the memories alone make me happy… and I’m not about to let that one go. In fact, I’m going to take it up a notch and I’m going to learn to snowboard well enough to graduate to the next level. The all-around goodness that brims inside me being on the snow, with the sun shining overhead, is priceless and hardly comparable to anything else.

Then there’s just your basic, all-around, brilliant comedian. When was the last time you just sat and watched a comedian do his/her thing? In fact, who’s “in” when it comes to comedians now a days? (I’ve always thought this was a hard gig!) Whoever it is, old or new, this weekend I once again became reacquainted with a routine by Eddie Izzard and his take on the “Death Star” (i.e. Star Wars) and what the everyday in’s and out’s where like on there. The routine is brilliant enough, especially for someone like me who quite enjoys all things Star Wars (hello, my bulldog’s name is Obi-wan Kenobi). But when someone (who knows now who!) sent me this routine with a homemade Star Wars Lego video animated to it, I just about died and went to heaven. If you haven’t seen it, prepare to have your life changed. If you have, prepare to remember that moment in time when your life changed. Let’s all take a minute for that.



“This is not a game of who the f*ck are you.”

Eddie Izzard and your “Death Star Canteen” … all I can say is, I’m eternally indebted to you. No matter what, you bring that high roaring back time and time again.

Finally, sweet, chocolate-covered, awkward David Sedaris. Have you read his books? If not, I’ll slap you silly until you run out and buy any one of his many published works. In fact, if you live close enough to me, I’ll even lend it to you. That’s how much I feel this person needs to affect your life in some way. Forget Elizabeth Gilbert and her IMMENSELY unrelatable memoir “Eat, Pray, Love” (seriously who has the time or money to get up and leave their life in order to travel to Italy, India and Bali?? Puh-lease.) David Sedaris is priceless and he writes to you in a manner that’s equatable to a friend sitting across from you at the kitchen table. I’ll humor you with some excerpts that might tweak your curiosity. If they don’t, and you don’t find yourself typing in the words of ‘amazon’ on a computer keyboard, something’s wrong with your brain.

Taken from “Me Talk Pretty One Day”:
“Over the coming years I would find a crack in each of the therapists sent to train what Miss Samson now defined as my lazy tongue. “That’s its problem,” she said. “It’s just plain lazy.”

My sisters Amy and Gretchen were, at the time, undergoing therapy for their lazy eyes, while my older sister, Lisa, had been born with a lazy leg that had refused to grow at the same rate as its twin. She’d worn a corrective brace for the first two years of her life, and wherever she roamed she left a trail of scratch marks in the soft pine floor. I liked the idea that a part of one’s body might be thought of as lazy — not thoughtless or hostile, just unwilling to extend itself for the betterment of the team. My father often accused my mother of having a lazy mind, while she in turn accused him of having a lazy index finger, unable to dial the phone when he knew damn well he was going to be late.”

From “Dress Your Family in Courdory and Denim”:
“Out in the hallway I could hear my mother straining for something to talk about. “A boat!” she said. “That sounds marvelous. Can you just drive it right into the water?”

“Actually, we have a trailer,” Mr. Tomkey said. “So what we do is back it into the lake.”

“Oh, a trailer. What kind is it?”

“Well, it’s a boat trailer,” Mr. Tomkey said.

“Right, but is it wooden or, you know . . . I guess what I’m asking is what style trailer do you have?”

Behind my mother’s words were two messages. The first and most obvious was “Yes, I am talking about boat trailers, but also I am dying.” The second, meant only for my sisters and me, was “If you do not immediately step forward with that candy, you will never again experience freedom, happiness, or the possibility of my warm embrace.”

By the way, not that it had anything to do with this past weekend, but speaking of David Sedaris, if you happen to be a fan, I highly suggest his wicked, twisted sister Amy Sedaris. She’s probably known by the mainstream as one of Carrie Bradshaw’s book publishers in SATC (alongside Molly Shannon), but really, I believe her claim to fame is the all-too-genius “Strangers With Candy,” which ran on Comedy Central for three seasons in the late 90s. Basically, each show is a parody on an after school special told from the perspective of a middle aged high school student who used to be a crack whore. I mean, how do all those elements NOT spell success??

I don’t know. I feel like I’ve given you some really valuable gems here, dear blog readers. I can’t tell you how happy all of these things in life make me and more so when I can share each and every one with others.

So go ahead, take a gander at all of the above. Go skiing, make snow angels, watch “Strangers With Candy” then read a book by David Sedaris and make your own conclusions as to why that family so JUST.SO.WEIRD. After that, take a look back at your favorite comedy routines and watch them while playing a good board game brought to you by the former Parker Brothers.

Down a little vino, do a little dance, make a little love and get down tonight.

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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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