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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Another Turkey Day gone by

Another Thanksgiving came and went, completely and totally below radar. It was my third Thanksgiving spent living abroad and by no means does it get easier. Back when I had been in Chile a mere four months, I wrote a pretty positive post about all the things I was thankful for – sort of an ode to Thanksgiving despite being in a land far, far away. I reread that particular blog post and realize that I’m still thankful for all the things I listed three years ago and of course there are at least three things I’d add to said list: little human, Obi and my job. I’m not done being thankful and more so, being consciously thankful.

However … yes, there is a however. It’s Thanksgiving and I’m alone. A-L-O-N-E, alone. Yes, little human is with me (and she’s a presence to be reckoned with) but she’s also six months old and at 9PM said little human sleeps. Yes, my tub of burning love, Obi, is also with me, but he’s partial to sleeping anytime, anyplace and that means he’s sleeping right now. And probably will be in the next hour and so forth until tomorrow. So where does that leave me? Alone. On Thanksgiving. A-L-O-N-E. Yes, I will proceed to cry you all a river right now.

I’m thankful, dammit!!!

Thanksgiving arts and crafts!

But, I’m sad, too. I’m sad because of the aforementioned reason, but I’m also sad because it’s the first Thanksgiving with little human and she has NO idea what’s going on. Of course I went on to tell her about the pilgrims and the native Americans and about the turkeys she needs to learn to make by tracing her hand on construction paper, but she wasn’t even listening and she certainly wasn’t cooperating with the hand turkeys.

Adding insult to injury, Thanksgiving always marked the beginning of the holiday season for me. It’s grotesque, I know, Black Friday being symbolic of everything that’s wrong with society, but that’s how I knew the holidays were coming! Christmas lights, decorations, cookies, smells, colors, food – aaaaaaaaaaaaaand just like that, right after Turkey Day, I was walking in my very own imaginary winter wonderland (imaginary because it doesn’t actually snow in the SF Bay Area). I ask you – what marks the beginning of the holiday season now??? The Christmas decorations that pop up a week after the September Independence Day celebrations at the local Jumbo? That and the wilting flowers all around because of the 80+ degree heat?? Or the allergy attacks that have me pining for the “nighttime-sniffling-sneezing-coughing-aching-stuffy-head-fever-so-I-can-rest medicine? (If any Chilean gets this reference, please let me know so that I can be your BFF.) Let me tell you, these things mentioned DO NOT a Christmas season, make.

Thanksgiving also happens to be the one important holiday that we just don’t share with other countries. Christmas – that’s shared the world over. Independence day – not shared the world over (look at me, I’m England and I never had to claim Independence from anyone! Whoop-dee-do!) but shared nonetheless in the Americas, given that England and Spain were greedy bitches back in the day. There’s Labor Day (legal holidays in both the U.S. and Chile) and there are even holidays where we commemorate wars and/or fallen soldiers who have given their lives for our freedom and rights. Easter – shared. New Year’s – shared the world over. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day – shared, shared and shared. Granted, few of these dates coincide with one another but we share similar concepts and holidays.

What I’m trying to say here, folks, is that Thanksgiving is sorely missed – for many reasons. Not so much because of the food (not particularly a turkey fan myself – too dry) but because it was a time of togetherness that marked the beginning of the best time of the year! I just don’t have that anymore on Thanksgiving. Maybe 20 years from now, when I’ve lived here far too long, I won’t even flinch when the fourth Thursday of November rolls around. But I’m flinching now, people, so let me be heard!

That said, I’m super thankful for the three glasses of wine that have gotten me through this very, very lonely Thanksgiving and this very, very crybaby blog post.

Cheers, kids.
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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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Time warp

Ever since I moved to Chile in July 2009, I’ve entered a time warp. I kind of feel a little like Han Solo when he was frozen in carbon. Or for the younger generation of readers, like Austin Powers when he was cryogenically frozen for 30 years.

Our dearest Han, hung on a wall after being frozen. Via Star Wars Wiki

The point being that once I left San Francisco, it seems I just placed a bookmark where I left off so as to return at some point in the future and catch up on what’s been going on since I left. For instance, since I left the U.S., several things have occurred that I simply have no idea about, almost as if they came out of nowhere. Examples:

– Nicki Minaj – who is this and what does she do? Why do we care? Can someone give me a 90s or early 2000s equivalent, please? Also, please shed some light on why she looks that way.

– Tim Tebow – Ok, I get that he’s a football player and that this concept of “tebowing” was apparently brought to light because of him but…. no, wait, I beg to differ. Haven’t football players been getting down on one knee to thank God for that touchdown for like, EVER?? Again, what the hell? Why is he a big deal?

– Wikileaks – is it just me or is it eerily similar to Deep Throat and those involved in ultimately bringing down the Nixon administration? Whistle blowers or am I wrong?

– Leslie Nielsen DIED??!!!!!! Surely you can’t be serious. I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.

– Glee – what is it and why was it so popular? Is it still popular? Is it like High School Musical, which is like Kids Incorporated which is like FAME?

Via childrenofthenineties.blogspot.com

And don’t even get me started on social media!! Facebook Timeline, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest – seriously I feel like my mom. All she wants in life is for someone to bring back her classic Motorola flip phone. What’s even more bothersome is that via osmosis I used to at least get some of the things that now completely blow my mind. How did this happen?? Did I spend too much time trying to figure out what’s going on in Chile that I lost sight of other details? Or is it that I simply stopped being around and associating with people who used to shed some light on all these mysterious things?

You know how we sit back and wonder at times when our dear old grandparents just stopped getting it? Well, apparently it happens at 35-ish!!!!

This brings me to the main topic at hand – this handy little site I stumbled upon just recently called Timehop. Now perhaps this is something all of you knew about since June of 2010 or something, but given all I’ve just laid out for you, it’s a big deal that I even know about this site AND FURTHER, found out about it on my own, so cut me some slack!

For the 2-odd people out there who may not know what it is, let me explain (bursting with pride and smugness, mind you, at the fact that I am explaining to YOU something I knew first! A-ha!!) – Timehop is a service that you subscribe to which taps into any social media account you may have and goes back one year in time to see what your status updates were on that particular site. Depending on how many social media outlets you register, Timehop taps them, compiles the info and sends you a daily email with the information. Hence, your own personal time capsule. I’m thinking it’s something that Facebook is trying to do with said Timeline but via Timehop, the info just appears in your inbox so you don’t have to do ANY searching or investigating. Viola! A time capsule for the lazy and unmotivated.

Let’s take a looksie, shall we?

The first Timehop email I got after subscribing was on April 11th of this year, which means that the email contained tweets and FB status updates from April 11, 2011. I didn’t recall at the time, but apparently a year ago I was flying out to NYC for work. Below, some snippets:

Via my Gmail Inbox

Apparently on April 11th I was catching the flight out to NYC and was, not to mention, a little bitter about the fact that I wasn’t traveling in Business.

The following day, April 12th, I received my info from a year earlier:

Via my Gmail Inbox

Obvi that a year ago on April 12th I was sublimely happy because 1) I was in NYC in 2) my fave – rainy weather, about to 3) hang out with good friends, in the meantime 4) going to the best place on Earth – TARGET then 5) eating and drinking to my little heart’s content, finally followed by sweet dreams in a 6) posh NYC hotel . I mean, if I didn’t just describe YOUR perfect day too then something’s wrong with you.

Of course, not all emails bring me back to a clear and precise moment in time. For example, the email from this morning with information from exactly a year ago:

Via my Gmail Inbox

Someone had their panties in a bunch…

Anyway, since coming across this site I should really get on updating my Twitter and Facebook feeds more often. Being that I’m DAYS from giving birth, you’d think I’d want to chronicle this experience a bit more (aside from SOME blog posts you may have taken a gander at, I’ve done NO chronicling.) My point being is that I really, really like this little site I stumbled across earlier this month. Like, a lot. On the one hand I’m patting myself on the back for finding SOMETHING on my own that seems cool (even if this has come and gone and I’m way behind the trend. So be it!) On the other hand, I find it very cool that there is now a service that will facilitate reminders of a moment in time from my past. And the best thing of all is that I don’t have to do anything that I don’t ALREADY do (i.e. update Twitter and FB whenever I deem necessary).

And for those of you out there that are tech wizards, ahead-of-the-curve hipsters, trend-setters and just basically IN THE KNOW, please consider providing a public service (to me) and filling me in on things that will steer me more towards “cool mom” as opposed to antiquated grandma (which is the direction I’m apparently heading towards at the age of 35! Ack!) After all, think about how sad it is that I just discovered Adele in November of 2011 … not only that, specifically “Rolling in the Deep.”

I mean… c’mon!!! Toss me a frickin’ bone here. I’m at the mercy of your wealth of knowledge and only this will differentiate me from lifelong “cool mom” or lifelong “lame mom.” What’s it gonna be?

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What are you going to do about your dog?

This is a question I get asked a lot. My response (in my head) is “What are you going to do about your face?” But of course that’s my inside voice.

In the 2.5 years that I’ve had Obi, my spoiled and loveable bulldog, I’ve grown used to the different reactions that people have regarding my dog. In the beginning it really, really bothered me but as time passed, I began to take the advice of well-wishers and began to brush off the mean and ignorant comments people had about him. I also learned to accept that everyone else didn’t have to like my dog as much as I like him and that it was ok if people were scared of him. Yes, I reserved the right to judge those people but in the end, I stopped letting it bother me and I stopped reacting so aggressively.

Who's afraid of the big, bad bulldog?

The irony is that in the past two years since I’ve had Obi, bulldogs have become one of the top ten “pure” breed dogs preferred by Chileans and with each passing year, the breed is becoming more and more popular (if commercials featuring bulldogs are any indication or the increasing number of bullies I see being walked around our neighborhood.) As per usual, the thing with Chile is this: if you wait long enough, thanks to the Internet and globalization in general, eventually people come around and seem to “get” where you’re coming from. That’s the silver lining of being an expat, and, let’s face it, the main consolation when I feel like griping about something pertaining to life in Chile.

However, one thing I have yet to wait out is the prevailing belief held by many that now that a baby is on the way, I should have some kind of answer to the question “what are you going to do with your dog?” Obviously to me, this question makes no sense. It would be like asking a second-time mom what she’s going to do with her 3-year old son now that she has another bun in the oven. Let me clarify: I’m not stating that some prep work isn’t required. I’m just saying that the question posed seems to imply an equal answer from my side (i.e. we’re having him slaughtered and stuffed, then we’re mounting his head on our wall. What?) Yes, this imaginary answer is ridiculous (I would NEVER!) but it reflects just how ridiculous I find the question that is asked over and over again by all KINDS of people, dog lovers and haters alike!

That aside, of course, the loaded question does bring to light the fact that some groundwork needs to happen. The fact of the matter is that Obi is just as part of the family as any other human equivalent under this roof and the poor little guy has the total disadvantage, that, unlike the rest of us, he hasn’t had months of prep time to get used to the idea of a baby. In fact, I don’t think he’s wired to like small, creepy, crawly things. First of all, he lunges at moths and swallows them whole. Second, if he sees a bug, he hides under the bed (apparently moths aren’t bugs in his head). Third, he barks really loudly at the vacuum when one is lugging it from room to room while cleaning (this being an example of something crawly, naturally). Finally, when I recently took him to the vet, we encountered a bulldog puppy that drove him insane. Apparently too small, too energetic and too bouncy for his liking. Check out the video below.

In all seriousness, I do believe that Obi will continue to be our loveable bulldog once the baby arrives. The main thing that we need to constantly remember (and some free unsolicited advice from yours truly) is to CHANGE AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE OF THE DOG’S NORMAL LIFE. In our case, what does it mean?

1.) Will Obi’s sleeping area be changed because of the baby?
No. He’ll continue to sleep where he’s always slept, right here in our room at the foot of our bed.

2.) Will Obi’s eating area be changed once the baby arrives?
No, it will continue to be in the kitchen, twice a day, once in the morning and once at night.

3.) Will any new rooms in the apartment be suddenly off limits to him because of the baby?
At present, no, but sooner or later this will change a bit since I don’t want him picking up small toys from the baby’s room and choking on them. However, he’s used to suddenly having rooms off-limits to him. For instance, right now, the dining room and living room are off limits because of a recent “accident” in both rooms (Grrrrr….)

In addition, what else are we doing?
1.) We play videos of baby’s crying, cooing, laughing, etc so he can get used to the sound.
2.) We walk around with the Cabbage Patch Kid my mother gave me when I was 8-years old (yes, you read that correctly), which we lull to sleep, carry around, pretend to feed, etc, etc … like some 30-something year old nutjobs. We even dressed this doll in the baby’s future duds. I kid you not.

Currently the would-be baby sleeps in the future baby's bassinet. She's wiiiild!

3.) We’re brushing up on the commands he learned during his 6-month long obedience training (just in case!)

4.) Once I’m at the hospital, we’ll be sending home the clothes that the baby first wore so he can get a good ol’ whiff of the baby’s scent prior to her arrival at home.

Are they bonding or what?

Am I delusional in thinking that our dog will adapt? No, I truly believe that we’re going to be ok. The fact of the matter is that the baby is going to be an adjustment for EVERYONE, including G’s kids. The thing to keep in mind is that we need to address any kind of “rejection” or “odd” behavior with patience and strategy. Obi’s not going to be the first or last dog to have to adjust to a new baby in the house just as G’s kids aren’t going to be the first kids to adjust to the same thing. And I honestly believe Obi will do well. After all, he adores G’s kids and has never caused them any harm. In addition, so far, he seems to get a kick out of the would-be baby.

The point being is that, yes, I agree that some prep work needs to be done with any dog who’s about to realize that his “only child” status is about to be sabotaged in some way. This is part of responsible dog ownership, no?

Though the fact still remains that Obi will forever be my first baby, no matter what the haters think and no matter what other women tell me about “not knowing love until you meet your baby…” blah, blah, blah, BARF. I know love and I’ll know new love with the baby, let’s not confuse things. I love my husband, I love my dog and accordingly, I’ll love the baby. I see no competition. After all, no matter how much I love the baby or how cute ANY baby is, how can one NOT adore this loveable, wrinkly tub of love??

Obi's official Glamour shot.
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Note to Self

There’s a truly awesome blog I’ve been silently following for a couple of months now and through it, I stumbled across a writing project called Trust 30. Of course, my stumbling is never graceful and I came across it far too late to actually participate (because that would have been ideal, considering I really NEED something like this right about now in my life) so I basically had to settle for sitting on the outside, looking in. Again.

What it is (for those of you too lazy to click on the handy link I provided)  is a 30-day writing challenge that looks to help participants channel their inner beasts (and beauties, I’m sure), through writing.  Sounds pretty heavy, no? Well, it is. The idea is that each day, the participants are prompted via email with thought-provoking questions or scenarios and the idea behind this is to allow and encourage the person to write from within, with integrity and whole-heartedly, addressing or answering the phrase or question in the email prompt (as in, prompted to write). Now, in my opinion, the prompts, at first glance, initially serve the purpose of making me feel like monosyllabic moron… prompts that surely prove I’m nothing more than a master brain farter. However, in my case, this is due to the fact that I’ve lost my ability to look within and ponder questions that are hairy and scary.  Don’t get me started on the lost ability to write about said things (oy.) See? I told you I am the A-numero-1 target for this amazing project… and I missed it.

B-o-o-h-o-o.

I’ve decided to cheat and go about this my own way however, because there is one prompt that is just too good to pass up. I’m going to write in parallel to those who are officially participating and answer a prompt that has really provoked me. That is: What would you say to the person you were five years ago?

Holy son of a motherless goat!

Is this question NOT too much for color tv? And I’m totally cheating, by the way, because the question actually has two parts and the second one is one I’m not yet able to tackle. And so, baby’s going to start out slow. I figure, at least I know the me five years ago and so it won’t be like I’m addressing a total stranger.

Huh. The irony just occurred to me. Obviously the me now is the complete stranger in this scenario because I’m starting from a point where I have the advantage. I know the me then. Do I know me now? I’m going through that crisis as we speak, truth be told. I don’t really recognize myself anywhere in this new world, as every role, including that of wife, is new to me. One thing I do know for sure is that I’m not handling any of the roles well.  But that’s six of one and half a dozen of another.

So anyway, without further ado, here’s a letter to me (five years ago) from the me (today), which, by the way, would be sent to me via email at my now defunct Yahoo address whose only purpose at present is to collect millions to trillions of junk mail.

In my case it would be 2006, but 1955 works too.

Hey…. so… I know this is going to sound all sci-fi and weird and a little too close to resembling a first draft of the “Back to the Future” script BUT, hear me out yo.

On August 18, 2006 you exchanged the usual emails with three of your best SF girlfriends (don’t deny you spent most of your time emailing with them, rather than working) and you wrote:

I am sooooo tired of hearing “can’t get enough of you.” It’s like, everyone says that to me and I’m like “what? I know… stop already.”  (to be said in a bored, Paris Hilton style voice.)

I have a few life goals and they are these (in no particular order): learn to sail, own a boat, write a book (even if it never gets published), own a townhouse in Manhattan, marry, have one, if not two, kids, and get an MBA. Sometimes I think I’ll have to surrender to the fact that I may not accomplish all these things but it seems to me that  of all these things listed here, the MBA is most within my CONTROL and most within my reach. I wonder if that’s true and perhaps it’s up for debate but I believe this.

I want to tell you something my sweet, little chocolate covered 29-year-old: right now, this very second you’re at the pinnacle of life as a single person. You really need to sit back and actually take it in and that complaining you do about not having enough money or enough to do at work or enough passion for something, you really need to put a sock in it. And here’s what needs to happen:

First of all, that boyfriend you have, though he’s the nicest guy ever (probably one of the only two nice guys you’ll ever meet in your life), he’s not the one. You know this already but you’re too scared to just own up to it. I’m not at all keen on revealing the future to you, but let me say this – that fear you have that he’ll meet someone totally fabulous and a million times better than you – it’s true and founded. He will meet someone better than you. But the thing is, she’ll be a million times more fabulous FOR HIM. Which, as you well know, is what he deserves. You’re wasting your time, jelly bean. His and yours. That second fear you have that you’ll never meet someone as nice, as generous as devoted as him and that you’ll never meet someone who will love you like he does, well, that’s a lie. You’re both wrong. He doesn’t love you as much as he’s capable of loving because that will come with his next girlfriend (and that’s a good thing) and you… my dear… you, will find someone who indeed is ONE MILLION times better than your current bf and that’s simply because he’ll be better for YOU. So shit or get off the pot (I KNOW you aren’t going to shit so get off already) and by that I mean, break up with the guy and get on your single, merry way. Trust me, it WILL be merry.

Three of the most amazing women you'll ever meet. Circa 2006 at the Lion's Pub.

Once you do that, after the sting subsides a bit, you’ll be set to truly and adequately enjoy your life as you want to live it in your present. Your priorities right now are your friends and your job – so stop dicking around and focus on those two! You adore your friends, not a second goes by that you aren’t planning something with them, texting them, calling them and most certainly, emailing with them. Planning trips to Tahoe, happy hours at Voda (hello! you know you’re all about their $3 happy hour specials between 5-7 pm) or happy hours at Americano. Next year your best friend, Jen, will be moving to New York – NEW YORK! Stop wasting time with things that don’t matter and spend all your time with them – later on, you won’t have that luxury, peanut. Sadly, you really won’t. These next few years should be about you and them and in parallel to that, you focus on your career. Trust me on this. Never again will you have a more fabulous job, in the most fabulous of U.S. cities, surrounded by the most fabulous women you will.ever.meet. Go to their birthday parties, go to their launches of anything, just be with them. Don’t flake, don’t let your wind die down at the end of the work day and make the effort to be there. Your friends are your life right now, and it’s as it should be at this moment.

The one thing I can tell you that you did a-ok with is your job. All I can say is – wow. At 29 you will have seen some of the best cities in the world, tasted some of the best cuisine in the world and will have worked with cultures from Turkish to Israeli to French to Brazilian. There is no better time than now for you, career-wise and all I can say is, you go guuurrrrrl. I hope you know that. Remembering correctly, I think you did kind of know that… but only kind of. Right now I’m telling you, that said “kind of” knowing needs to shift into “embedded-in-your-brain-and-injected-into-your-bloodstream” kind of knowing.

Finally, I just want to tell you – those goals you listed above – much too “by the book.” I realize that you felt pressure to succeed “by the book” and come to think of it, you’ve always been wired that way. You’ll even be inclined to think that way five years from your current now. But “by the book” becomes boring and trust me, one day, you’ll be looking at your Facebook wall and you’ll realize that those people who did it “by the book” look like clones of one another. The ones who deviated? Those are the ones that later on, you’ll wish you emulated. You’ll eventually quench that thirst for a higher degree, but it won’t be an MBA. And you know what? You’ll be fine with that. You’ll still want to sail and without giving away too much, all I can tell you is DO IT NOW. Someday in the future you may not live next to a body of water big enough to motor that dream … Oh, and about that townhouse in Manhattan … you’ll forever have that dream, pookie pie, along with about half of the world’s population. Dream big, sister.

Help the turtle, Andrea.

I could go on, of course. I could go into details like “don’t fall for the Mexican guy who will tear out your heart and stomp on it until it breaks into a million pieces,” – or – “don’t move in with your friend Dara because it will be the main reason you guys will stop being friends and that broken friendship will be felt enormously,” – or – “keep doing that bootcamp and never stop working out, make it a part of your life always” – “spend more time with Kylie, Devon and Piper because someday you’ll look up and realize they’re teenagers! – or – “just go with Jen on her turtle rescuing mission in the seedy underbelly of New York! It means a lot to her!” But really, the way you’re living life isn’t half bad and in general you’re doing a good job. The main flaw in you is that you’re too scared to be alone but trust me when I tell you, the period you do finally spend alone, will be the best time of your non-married life. You’re a good person, albeit a little insecure. There will always be people better than you but no one but YOU can be the best you.

Whatever you do, keep dancing.

I’ll tell you, with all my heart, I miss you and the life you’re living. Pop another bottle for me and keep your life moving just as it is (only with the changes I’m mentioned or else I’ll slap you silly)…

Oh, and invest in Google stock the MINUTE IT IPOs!!

Love you, snoochie boochie.

P.S. – though I know right now it seems like talking in that bored-out-of-my-mind Paris Hilton voice will never cease to be funny, it will. So stop right now because you sound like a jerk.

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Hello world!

“Hello world” is the automatic heading WordPress gives you as an example title of your first post. I’ve decided to keep it, knowing, of course, that we can’t call this my first blog post.

Self-imposed description of the blog I once offered.

In some ways we can and in some ways we can’t. As some of you know, I once had a blog devoted mostly to 1) leaving my life in California,  2) adapting to my new life in Chile and 3) living with my then-fiance (now husband). I liked that blog and it was a necessary part of my life as I learned to navigate this bad ass world called Chile. It also helped me meet many a new people, namely bloggers and online social folk like me. Then I had an existential crisis and decided there was NO WAY I could continue to have that blog when all of a sudden, a million months had gone by and I was no longer a newbie here.

So … I decided to start a new blog which, in my head, allowed me to write about ANYTHING. One that would allow me to deviate from writing about life in Chile, culture in Chile, people in Chile, food in Chile, XYZ and 1,2,3 in Chile. I didn’t WANT to write about Chile and everything “wrong” with this country. I was over writing a blog JUST about that. As a result of this crisis, I started a new blog. I wanted it to give me the freedom to be as “sassy” or as bland as I wanted to be. I switched over to another blog host, decked out a blog page and got to writing about whatever the hell I wanted.

And I did do that for a bit … really, a b.i.t.

Then all of a sudden I felt pressured to write something CLEVE

R each and every time. I went from pressure to write about new experiences and observations pertaining to Chile, to pressure about writing  mind-blowing, life altering anecdoes and any knock-down, drag out experiences that only I could serve. Um yeah, except my life is not that exciting. My top-3 things to write about continued to focus on hating Chile, hating my neighbors or loving my dog and his smooshy face.

I need an hour or so with this one.

Hardly sassy and hardly enough material to carry on an entire blog.

The fact of the matter remained, however, that not a day went by that I didn’t want to write. Just sit and write. I used to have diaries and those are fine and dandy, of course, but in this technology obsessed world I live in, typing takes less out of me than the whole pen-to-paper bit. I’m here again because that overwhelming desire to write, even if for myself, won.

A below-the-radar blog that suits me just fine. Kind of like Goldilocks and the three bears. Whereas I’m G-funk-meister herself and the blogs are the bears. This one is juuuuust right.

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25 Random Things

In March 2009, I was tagged in one of those Facebook Notes entitled “25 Random Things.” I thought it was pretty cool and so I did one myself and tagged 25 friends with whom I wanted to share my own version of the list. Over a year later (tonight), since I happen to be the biggest of winners (take a gander at my previous blog entry to understand my history of uncool), I decided to clean up my Facebook page a little and once again came across my list. I’m both pleased and surprised at how true all points continue to ring, despite the time, distance and life that has marched on in the past 17 months since I first wrote them.

And so I thought I’d put them on my blog, share them with you and personally marinate in 25 random thoughts that continue to describe me and/or how I see the world around me. [Note that in this blog version, I did add a few clarifications below as noted in brackets … ]

25 random things by Andrea Gonzalez on Friday, March 13, 2009 at 1:55am

1. 95% of people either bore me to tears or annoy me. If you’re tagged, you fall within the 5% that I actually dig and feel bring some measure to this world. Nicely done.

2. I have an obsession with purses.

3. Of all my travels, by far the best food I’ve ever eaten has been in Tokyo.

4. I loathe the Dirty 30…my SF peeps, you KNOW WHAT I MEAN. [Bus line that runs through Downtown and Chinatown in San Francisco.]

5. I really enjoy making cupcakes. I even have a secret method. Truly, they are amazing. I might open a shop called Dre’s Cupcakes (per Lauren’s suggestion).

6. I hate The Gap. I kind of want to throw eggs at it. It baffles me when foreigners obsess over that dumb ass store.

7. I like 80s glam rock bands… Poison, Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi…you get the picture. I’m pretty sure these bands make up half my iTunes playlist.

8. US Weekly is THE BEST MAGAZINE EVER. And Time. I like that one too.

9. I never leave the house without makeup. That’s just all kinds of not ok.

10. I believe my boyfriend has the best facial profile ever. If you see him, ask him to turn his head – you’ll totally agree me. [Still 100% true except that this said boyfriend is now my husband.]

11. I find that watching Back to the Future over and over again is quite therapeutic.

12. I think porn is really funny.

13. In college I was known as the “grandma” among my friends. Actually this might still be the case, I’m not sure. They’ve gotten a lot nicer about pointing out my “Golden Girls” ways…

14. I sleep with socks on every night (per point #13)

15. I’m obsessed with Shiloh Jolie Pitt.

16. Anything romantic makes me want to laugh out loud…like setting the mood with rose petals and David Gray. Nothing is funnier than people trying too hard.

17. When I’m ready to retire, instead of knitting or playing with grandkids, I want a Harley so I can go ride with my husband. Seriously.

18. I’m getting married in a short wedding dress and red heels. [I didn’t end up doing this but looking back, I should have totally stuck to this idea.]

19. I hate mainstream anything. If everyone is doing it, I want nothing to do with it. Peace out. [This holds true EXCEPT when we’re talking social media.]

20. I’m obsessed with Mexican food, drinks, people… and beaches. Mexico might be close to the most perfect place on Earth.

21. I’ve kept a diary since I was 7 years old. I had some MAJOR problems back then. Grade school is a dog-eat-dog world…especially that one time my best friend stole my Hello Kitty pencil case. Biiiiitch.

22. I’m supposed to wear glasses everyday but I never do (have you seen me with them on? No. I rest my case.)

23. I can watch movies over and over again and never get bored. When I watch Back to the Future, I’m always stressed out that Marty won’t make it back in time!! [Continues to get me every time.]

24. A glass of white wine with my boyfriend is my ideal way to end a day. [Again, my then-boyfriend is now my husband.]

25. My youngest nephew’s name is Guillermo (we call him Memo sometimes) but I decided it would be funny to just call him Juanito. And will you believe that the six year old actually calls me Juanita back?? We’re totally related.

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