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.
It wasn’t so long ago that I was obsessed with replaying in my mind what went wrong at my last job. After just three months there, I felt forced to quit because the environment was, to say the very least, becoming quite hostile. For a while, all the events that led up to this once unfathomable action pretty much haunted me. How did this happen? How did I get here? Or just … why? I’ve literally never quit ANYTHING in my life. Not one thing, least of all a job, and trust me, I’ve had some pretty hideous and tortuous jobs in my lifetime. I’m just not the quitting kind (not that anyone in their right mind would describe themselves as such.) I’ve endured pathetic relationships with past boyfriends that were (and are) complete losers just because I’m the kind of person that seriously sticks it out until the end. I’m pretty much that way with everything and this is the reason why my sudden unemployment because I quit my job just slapped me in the face over and over again until recently.
In any case, after prolonged consideration (or, obsessive thinking as my husband would say) I realized that the main reason I didn’t succeed at that company came down to one fact: not a single woman at that company had my back in any way, shape or form. Furthermore, the one woman who was tasked with guiding me and downloading all pertinent information to assure my assimilation and subsequent success, seemed to have “forgotten” to do so, leaving me to connect the dots on my own, grasping for answers in an environment I wasn’t familiar with and on several occasions, throwing me to the wolves as she sat on the sidelines and watched me pretty much falter miserably. Most of the time and generally speaking, she wasn’t a bitch and she wasn’t mean, but that’s how they come, you know. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. The fact of the matter is that she had the roadmap to my initial success in that position but she never handed it to me or even REMOTELY shared it with me and I now believe she did this on purpose. Why would someone act this way? Why – considering the long process of recruiting me, where she herself also participated in the interview process – would she simply decide not to share valuable information with me and just watch me cave, day after day?
Maybe the reasons are obvious:
1) I’m a decade younger than her
2) I have two university degrees, she didn’t have even one
3) I speak two languages fluently, she doesn’t
4) I’ve traveled the world, she’s traveled the country
5) She wanted the position I was hired for
6) In general I’m just a happier person
The first four points above are facts and the last two are subjective – some half ass reasons that make me out to be no better than her, really. But even if these reasons and many more were ALL TRUE, all I can think is: WTF?
Why don’t we, as women, help each other out?
I’m not free of fault either.
A few months ago I met one of G’s female colleagues at one of his company events. She and G basically have equal positions but at different companies and my first impression of her was that I just didn’t like her. Now that I think about it – WHY didn’t I like her? She seemed ballsy. She didn’t really talk to me, she just talked to G the entire time. She didn’t seem friendly. She seemed crass. And so on and so on and so on. A few months later G and I were invited to a work-related wedding (if that makes sense) and his colleague was also there. As fate would have it, she and her sig other sat with us at the same table. In fact that table included a few board of directors from both companies and the conversation was just as monotonous as you are probably imagining it… but you know what I realized in the hour I sat with her at that table, watching and hearing them all talk about the day-to-day business: holy sh*t it must be so hard for her to have this leadership position in a male dominated company, where she’s a relative newbie and all these men have been there for 10+ years (including G.) I suddenly not only had mad respect for her but I also felt kind of bad for her. Here I was, judging her and immediately not liking her, when it really came down to it, I’ve always encountered her surrounded by aggressive male peers and I’m thinking – that’s sure to mess with your friendly bedside manner when it comes to meeting new people, I’m sure.
It’s happened to me on both sides and I know it’s happened to other women I know. An expat friend, with toddler in tow, trying to enjoy a dinner date with another girlfriend and having to endure menacing glances from an older lady next to her just because her toddler was surely acting like a toddler usually behaves (I know because I have one of my own.) The older lady’s stance was simply “People shouldn’t bring their kids to dinner.” Forget any kind of human compassion for the stress she seemed to have caused my friend with her evil stares and tsks tsks. Maybe in that lady’s mind, women with children just shouldn’t go out if they don’t have anyone to leave their kid with. “You’re a mom therefore your life should just revolve around your kid and don’t even think about having a good time, least of all with that little one in tow. Oh, you want to try to have it both ways, baby and a nice dinner, well I’m going to stare you down all night and let you know I’m totally against you, your baby and your decision to eat out, how ’bout that? Make you think twice about doing that again.” Thanks lady… thanks for having our backs. Being a mom isn’t hard and unrelenting as it is. Now we can count on glares from women who seem to have forgotten that we’re people too. Fuuuuuuuuuun!
All of my best girlfriends have dealt with “evil women” out to get them at work. Some of my friends can take it with a grain a salt, a la “sorry you’re so insecure that you have to hate on me but I’m going to keep being the mad baller that I know I am! Have fun hating me for no good reason!” While others, like myself, have a hard time not getting worked up by these “evil” women. An article I once read talked about three reasons women were hard on women at work: competitive threat, collective threat and favoritism threat. You can take the time to read the short article but basically it’s about feeling threatened that in some way, someone is going to be better than you. If it’s a guy, fine – that’s expected, but if it’s a woman –> Oh hellllllll nooooooooooo. And thus, the evil woman at work is born.
The fact of the matter is that there will always be someone better than you out there, be it a man or a woman. The sooner we come to terms with that fact, the better off we’ll be.
So should we go around supporting women and their sometimes dumb and inexplicable antics just because we’re women and we need to stick together? Um, no. Respect, as we’ve all learned in our lives, needs to be earned. But geez, give a woman a chance to prove herself! Let’s be open to helping out, free of judgement and with an open mind. People are different and that difference sometimes compliments us. Let’s be open to learning new things and how about being patient when people don’t necessarily know the same things we know. Let’s share knowledge, how ’bout that? Geez Louise, let’s be human. It’s about putting yourself in another person’s shoes.
Let me tell you, if that woman at that company where I quit had been remotely willing to share knowledge, remotely willing to hear and implement my knowledge and just a tad bit less threatened by whatever it was that threatened her with my presence, I truly believe I wouldn’t be where I am right now. If she would have just realized I was on her team… But in the end, I learned a valuable lesson – I learned that I never, ever, want to be like that. Ain’t nobody got time for that nonsense.
I just found myself googling, “At the end of the day, what was it all for?” Very Carrie Bradshaw of me.
What was I expecting? A pop-up that said “Andrea, the reason you left your job at ACME Co. only to fall into the worst possible scenario at the new job, that left you no other choice but to quit three months later because you couldn’t deal with the lack of professionalism and you now find yourself unemployed, which wasn’t part of the plan is because ___________ .” OH SNAP! No such pop-up appeared.
That’s what happened, you know. For the sake of privacy and of course, for the sake of my future career, I can’t spare details (that is, until my blogging becomes a career in and of itself, then hell yeah, I’m telling everybody, everything!) Right now, all you really need to know, I guess, is that I’m currently unemployed. Or “in-between jobs” as we like to say in the U.S. Or actively participating in the interview process of various companies. Not working. Against my will not working.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! – I repeat this in my head several times a day, like some kind of frantic teenager who thinks she has no control over her life and what happens to her.
When I left “ACME” (because obviously I’m not going to tell you the actual name of the company I used to work for – duh!), I remember feeling that I didn’t really want to leave, not truly in my heart. I liked it there. I may have even loved it. To this day I feel that the company’s values, traditions, processes and way of thinking are completely aligned with mine. I remember thinking “please, give me a sign, say SOMETHING, ANYTHING resembling a suggestion that I stick around.” The only thing I got from them was “You could have stayed through Christmas. Leaving before then just seems wrong. Can’t you quit in January?” Obviously I couldn’t stay.
Companies are run by people. People are proud and people are stubborn. I’m not saying that my ex company’s people were either of those but I AM saying that I certainly was both of those. I was stubborn in that I wouldn’t accept, in any way, the limitations they were putting on me and my team. I was proud in that I wanted to show them that someone else wanted me and the offer was so great, I was willing to leave prior to Christmas (just a hint, I worked in retail and Christmas for retail is JACKPOT CITY.)
Now that I’m unemployed, looking for work, sometimes with the success of an interview, sometimes not, I wonder, what was it all for? Why did I leave in pursuit of greener pastures when at the end of the day, the greener pastures didn’t exist? Was I proud or was I right in wanting to leave because the way things were being run (and are currently run) didn’t add up? Was my boss proud for never once asking me “what can we do to keep you?” Am I too proud for even thinking/writing that?
Just so you know (and because this is my blog), I miss my job at ACME. I miss the people, I miss the operations and I even miss my boss. I also remember that I hated a lot of things, mainly the cluelessness from abroad and the way I felt my team was exploited. Maybe I was right to leave for the promise of greener pastures. Maybe now that I have nothing I’m like that girl who left her nice, sweet, boring boyfriend for that badass, handsome rebel on a motorcycle who ended up leaving her for the lead singer of a punk band and then sits at home crying, wondering why she ever left the nice, sweet, boring boyfriend.
Whatever the case may be, I’m here now, unemployed and looking for jobs. References available upon request (unless we’re in Chile, then references are listed on the actual resume.)
It’s been almost a year and a half since my last blog entry. Where has the time gone? What have I been doing? What have YOU been doing (whatever – you probably aren’t even around anymore! Sheesh!) I can’t really tell you what’s been happening in the last 12+ months over here at the bottom of the Earth, but let’s recap what we already know: I’m an expat living in Chile since July 2009 (holy crap, that’s FIVE WHOLE YEARS this year!), I got married, I went to grad school, I finished then finally started working here, got a bulldog, moved and then had a baby (which we all know wasn’t all peaches and cream for me but now it’s fine.)
A whole lot has happened in between all this, most of which I’ve already written about in previous blog entries but there is a WORLD of ideas, thoughts, opinions, what have you, to share post-baby in a strange land. Although, granted, Chile isn´t so strange anymore but that doesn´t mean that being a parent and having a kid isn’t strange. But that’s a huge can of worms and if I try to interpret every little possible idea I have in my mind about what’s been going on this whole time, I’m going to go batty and most likely lose you somewhere along the lines.
And so, the idea is to fuh-kis (focus) and I’m going to start this new chapter off by telling you that apparently, somewhere along the lines from back then to now, I turned into an adult and got, how do you say?…old. Don’t flatter me with your “But Andrea, you look so young!” nonsense. I’m not talking wrinkles, sun damage and genetics here, kiddo, I’m talking about my inability to navigate the new technology and having NO IDEA who Lorde was until about a week ago (btw – OBsessed)!!! How.did.this.happen? When did I become this person who only has retro songs in her iTunes collection and who owns all classic 80s movies and hasn’t seen a single Oscar nominated movie since circa 2008???
The first time I realized I was getting old was about eight months ago when we purchased really basic tablets for use at work. I couldn’t turn the darn thing ON! There was no middle button like on the iPhone and swiping my finger across the screen proved useless. At the time we had a junior in high school helping us with some adminy work and after several frustrated attempts on our part (my ex-coworkers don’t escape the “I’m-old-and-technology-frightens-me” label), we handed the tablets over to this 17-year old who had them up and running in a nanosecond. I mean…clearly she’s in MENSA, amiright?
Then, one night as I was talking to my 18-year old nephew and his friend, we started talking about Spotify (YES I know about Spotify!) and they were telling me about how cool it was and how the playlists were all saved and you can access them anywhere, etc, etc, what have you and I thought “holy sh*t, they really think Spotify is awesome… why haven’t I tried it?” The thing is, it had never OCCURRED to me to try it… they asked if I still purchased and downloaded music, as if that was “so 2010.” Um, apparently it is. Sweet. Now even HOW I listen to music is old school. They didn’t understand why I would spend money on each song I wanted when I could just add it to my playlist on Spotify. The whole idea of collecting the music seemed odd to them and since, in my opinion, that generation is based on “what’s next, what’s new” I wasn’t about to give them a crash course on how collecting and sitting in your piles of “collected stuff”, albeit virtual, gave one a sense of satisfaction.
So there’s all that and you already know about my whole Lorde debacle because I mentioned it above and, I mean, it’s literally one thing after another with this whole age vs. new technology/new releases thing. I guess I could have blamed the Lorde thing on living in Chile but she just performed at Lollapalooza this past weekend sooooooo …. I’m thinking it’s me, not Chile. Also, I’ve been meaning to blog for about two weeks now but it took me this long to configure my new blog layout and as you can see, it’s quite basic. I did that on purpose because the bells and whistles were getting me nowhere. See that Twitter feed to your left? Literally took me two days to figure out. For reals.
Finally, the last thing that serves as proof that I’m suddenly old just happened. How the hell does one insert an animated GIF into a blog post? Do people still use those for effect? No?
Whatever. I’m over you and your techy ways.
Our culture, our society, the media, our peers and basically everything that surrounds us in the day to day of our little lives teaches us that babies are a happy thing. Babies are a miraculous event we should all be grateful for and everything associated with this is meant to be positive. I’m not here to disagree with all of this. After all, there’s something unprecedented about having a baby and realizing that there’s a little human being now alive because of you.
But I’m writing this post because I need to point out that not everything is peaches and cream when a baby is born. I want to say this because, in light of what appears to be a baby boom where many people I know are having children right around the same time I did, I was forced to come to terms with the fact that my instant reaction to having a baby didn’t quite mirror theirs. Theirs being the reaction we “expect,” the reaction we’ve seen and the reaction we’ve been taught: sincere happiness, marvel and wonder, immediate bonding and acceptance of all that surrounds the new bundle.
As mentioned in previous posts, I did a whole lot of reading during my pregnancy in order to “prepare” for what was “expected.” Every good pregnancy book will have a chapter on “Baby Blues” and postpartum depression. Bored, I skipped over those chapters. In fact, I incorrectly thought that postpartum depression was triggered because the mother “missed” being pregnant and I was certain that wouldn’t be the case with me since the last few weeks of my pygmy hippo-ness was chalk full of aches and pains. I figured, I’ve never been a truly depressive person (minus the abyss of eternal despair I’d throw myself into post break ups in the past) and the idea of being depressed, in every sense of the word, just didn’t register with me. Those weren’t the experiences I had heard about and it wasn’t something that ANYONE I knew even remotely hinted about. That type of thing happened to lonely, depressive, crazy cat women, who fell into loveless marriages at a young age.
Um, except it DID happen to me and let me just say, it was UUUUUUUGLY. Now, before your imagination starts running wild, I wasn’t psycho depressed, a la wanting to hurt my baby type of thing. No way, no how. I guess that now that I know how desperate things can seem, I am grateful that that extreme kind of postpartum depression (PPD) didn’t affect me. But it was bad enough that I began to question my own sanity and I wondered if I’d ever smile or laugh again and feel truly happy about anything. Perhaps this sounds dramatic and unnecessary and to that I say, F off!!! You have no idea what it’s like to have a baby and not feel motherly about it. Quite the contrary, in fact: feel as if it’s the end of the world as you know it.
I know that this doesn’t totally make sense. After all, you might say “hey, you were preggo for nine months and had nine whole months to get used to the fact that you were going to be a mom and have to worry 24/7 about this baby.” Except I’m here to REPEAT that no amount of time, studying, reflecting, reading or investigating actually prepares you for life with a baby. The before and after are so close together, it’s almost a mind f*ck to remember that just the OTHER DAY, you could come and go as you pleased and didn’t have to worry about a crying baby next to you.
I would cry every single day and wonder what was wrong with me. I couldn’t feel happy about the baby because I felt as if it was a little stranger and, even worse, that I was a stranger to my own self! Who was this person who now had to worry about breastfeeding and diaper changes and crying babies and color of poop (hers, not mine)? In a sense, it was as if I was in mourning and “what” I was mourning was my former life and my former self. That person, in a sense, had “died” when my new role as mom was appointed to me. Add to the fact that no one tells you that how lonely the first few weeks can truly be. Yeah, people come by and visit you and that’s always appreciated, but in my case I just felt like they were visiting me in prison and I envied their freedom. It depressed me that I couldn’t go out, not even with the baby because of the cold weather. If you’re not used to being home 24/7 with the sole responsibility of taking care of a newborn, then all of a sudden doing so becomes your own personal hell realized. I felt lonely – as if I was truly the only person I knew walking through the strange land of being a new mom (at that point, I was.)
Adding insult to injury is the guilt you feel for not embracing motherhood the way it seems that everyone else embraces motherhood. Facebook might tell a million lies via happy pictures that everyone (incl myself) upload to their pages but it was exactly those pictures I recalled of smiling moms with their newborns in my Facebook feed that made me feel like I was the worst woman – worst MOM – in the world. I was certain that if we lived several hundred years back, I’d be burned at the stake like the witch I was for not reacting “properly” to the birth of my daughter or not wholeheartedly embracing my new role as a parent.
Yeah, those were some tough times that I don’t wish upon anyone. I know it sounds weird… after all, society makes us question “how can a new mom not instantly love her baby?” As I said, I’m thankful my PPD wasn’t as extreme as it could have been and I was by NO MEANS near reaching the horror of Andrea Yates. But I was sad and I was scared. I felt lonely and overwhelmed and I felt that if anyone besides my family and G knew, that I’d be horribly judged.
So then … can I tickle you pink with a story of a happy ending? Part of the reason as to why I waited this long to write about my experience post my daughter’s birth is so that I could genuinely give you hope for yourself as a future mom who may go through something similar … everyone said this to me and I didn’t believe it at the time, but now I can jump on the bandwagon and tell you – remind myself – that IT GETS BETTER!! In my case, the first step was putting aside the fear of judgement (my own and by others) and merely recognizing that I wasn’t feeling what I wanted to feel or reacting how I wanted to react. I had to trust others, namely my doctor and my husband, and accept help in all of the required forms (there are many options that a medical professional can explain). I also had to help myself and though it was hard, I’m now writing from a position where I can look at my daughter and want to hug her and kiss her, just as I always imagined I’d do. Of course the passing of time helps immensely – now I can go out with her! We run errands, go out to lunch, get our Starbucks fix, etc, etc all with baby in tow. It’s how it should be. I’ve also returned to my pre-baby routines at home, something we all take for granted but something vital I had put aside unknowingly when I was in the midst of the PPD.
With the passage of time and with the help of my doctor and husband, things got better. Things are GETTING better (to the tune of baby sleeping longer stretches and for me, learning the ropes – yay!) and I’m happy to say that I’m closer to my former self than I’ve felt since my little 9-pound human was born. Pretty soon, I’ll be going back to work and though I’m sure it will be another hard transition, I’m very much looking forward to it: A return to a role I recognize from my “former” life.
At the end of they day I feel that I went through hell and back when I became a mom, but I reached the light at the end of the tunnel. While it’s hard work and still somewhat overwhelming, I embrace the fact that since going through this, I’ve been empowered to get through ANYTHING – and just in time as I head back to the corporate world (don’t mess with the bull, you’ll get the horns!)
So to answer my own question, does reality bite? THANK F*CKING GOODNESS, NO, REALITY DOESN’T BITE. Not anymore.
I talked about it, I wrote about it, I griped about it. I feared for the day and lamented the day. I had anxiety everyday for the past two months over it and imagined the worst-case scenario with every article I read about it.
Then finally, on April 30th, I lived through it. “It” being actually giving birth – me, the person who has had the recurring anxiety dream since I was a teenager that I all of a sudden go into labor without previously knowing I was pregnant. No joke, I spent years haunted by this dream so you can imagine what the thought of giving birth did to me in real life.
At first I didn’t want to believe I was going into labor, but the pain, which felt like taking a brutal hit with a baseball bat right to my lower back was different from all the other pains I had experienced in the last two months of pregnancy. Still, my attitude was “sit and keep watch.” The reality was that I didn’t want to be going into labor. First of all, it was nighttime and if there was ANYTHING I had repeatedly hoped for was to go into labor during the day. You know, so I could count on a full night’s sleep and proceed with energy the following day for the labor portion of the agenda. The mere thought of being up all night in pain just made me want to crawl into bed and sleep. And that’s exactly what I did. After a long, hot shower – where yet again I was met with a debilitating pain I can now recognize as contractions – I crawled into bed and decided that this wasn’t labor, but instead, false labor known as Braxton Hicks contractions.
Yes my good people, I tried to Jedi-mind trick myself into thinking that I was NOT going into labor. This mind over matter exercise I was putting into practice was destined to fail, of course. I was obviously in labor and as much as I tried to carry on with my evening as if there was nothing to see here, this baby was RSVP-ing her appearance to the outside world in a matter of hours.
And speaking of … one always hears these cray cray stories about women being in labor for a million and a half hours. To the unknowing mind, this sounds like one is doing the stuff seen on tv the entire time – i.e. pushing and sweating and hurting for 30+ hours. The reality is that labor involves the ENTIRE process of giving birth, and the pushing, sweating part, is a small fraction of the process. Also, it’s not bloody and it’s not painful (that is, if you have a lifesaver called an epidural.) Don’t get me wrong, before the epidural I was in the most painful state of my life. I didn’t realize that something could hurt that much. I always used to wonder: “What do contractions feel like?” and I’ve read answers that state “like really bad menstrual cramps.” UM – WRONG!!! It’s like really bad menstrual cramps times 5,000. No, times a million. Then imagine a baseball bat being involved, hitting you right where it hurts most – and hard! And it’s not just your lower stomach but also your entire torso! It’s a sharp pain that starts either in your abs and immediately grabs your back, or vice versa. In any case, your back is involved which makes it ridiculously difficult to “walk it off” as many sites tend to suggest. You can barely stand up straight, let alone walk it off. I also tried to breathe through it but that was a joke as well. Whoever suggested either of those as possible solutions to the pain was clearly a Birkenstock-wearing, hippy.
In any case, my labor story started off like this and continued on until 5:56 am when the little pygmy hippo made her debut out here. Between the time elapsed with the details above and the actual time of birth, a total of 10 hours passed. Of these 10 hours, 5 were spent in complete and total, utter and relentless, pain. For all those who are interested, I’d really like to address some true-to-life questions about how it all went down between the Jedi-mind trick, the contractions and the actual birth. To do so, I think the best way would be via a Q&A of the top questions I’ve been asked about the whole ordeal. If there’s one thing I won’t do is sugarcoat it so here it is, in all its gutsy glory.
My Labor Story Q & A:
Q. Does your water really “break?” Because that sounds gross.
A. I don’t know if your water will break but mine didn’t “break” … it kind of just sprung a leak. Since tampons are forbidden during this time, I had to bust out the woman diapers – I mean, the maxi pads – which was all kinds of gross. But in short, no, I didn’t all of a sudden gush the new Niagra Falls from in between my legs. It just felt like I had my period – and I was 12 again, with a big ol’ pad to weather the storm.
Q. What does the epidural feel like? Does it really NOT hurt because I call bullshit!
A. Let’s get one thing straight – the actual insertion of the epidural hurt like a MOTHERFUCKER. Like seriously, I burst into tears. I wasn’t sure if the contractions hurt more or if that ginormous whatever-you-call-it being inserted between two discs in my spine hurt more. It wasn’t just a prick, wham, bam – pain is gone in two seconds type of thing either. It hurt, then it hurt some more, then it REALLY hurt, then I thought I’d pass out from the hurt and just for shits and giggles, it hurt one last time. And then all of a sudden ….nothing. Bliss. Heaven on Earth. Zen. In.the.zone. Call it what you will, all of a sudden after 5 hours of intense pain and then 10 minutes of spinal cord pain – no pain. Ahhhhh, the almighty epidural. Trust me when I tell you that despite the pain of it going in, the relief you feel afterward is SO worth it. And no, seriously, you don’t feel the pain of the contractions.
Q. You pushed a 6 pound baby out of your va-jay-jay… tell the truth – are you a disfigured mess down there or what?
A. Oh the vaginal birth … good for quick healing, bad for your post-baby sex life? On the contrary, my dear friend! That is, if you have a doctor like the one I had who made sure that after all was said and done, I was neatly put “back in my place” so to speak. I didn’t know it before, but birth is a sure way to leave your inhibitions at the door. What I mean is that there is NO ONE – NO ONE – within a 10-foot radius of you, who doesn’t take a gander at your hoo-ha at some point or another throughout the ordeal. Most of these people will take a gander repeatedly throughout the three days you’re in the hospital (clinica). It gets to the point where you just spread eagle for anyone who walks through the door, just to save time. All this is normal, of course. What I found to be off-your-rocker strange is the fact that EVERYONE wanted to see the stitches of the episiotomy … and what’s more, they wanted to see them because it was my doctor who had performed the procedure – they all agreed, he does “fantastic” work. Never before, and probably never again, have I had so many people oooh and ahhh in splendor at my nether region. Amidst the bloated middle, disheveled hair, makeup-less face and swollen feet, I could rest assured that my hoo-ha was left in top-notch condition. Thank you, Dr. Alcalde! I salute you.
Q. Holy shit!! You had an episiotomy???!!! What the hell?
A. Yeah, I know, crazy. And no, I wasn’t expecting it and no, the doctor didn’t tell me about it until right AS HE WAS PERFORMING it. However, I didn’t feel anything (all hail the mighty epidural) as it occurred and so, it would be a lie to tell you that it hurt. What DID hurt was the healing!! OMG it hurt. I couldn’t sit straight for about 5 days and the first few days were awful! But at that point, the baby was out, I was in recovery and apparently my hoo-ha was looking spectacular – what was the point in complaining?
Q. Is the post birth bleeding “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” style?
A. Good Lord, where did you hear that? Actually, yes and no. The first few days it is … then it’s not. Then it’s like a normal heavy period that eventually gets lighter. You’ll survive. I did.
Q. So that means you have to wear those “Stay Puft Marshmallow Man” pads that the hospital gives you?
A. Yeah and they suck. It’s like you’re walking around with a throw pillow between your legs. I wasn’t a fan and I don’t think you will be either. You’ll feel better knowing that by the time I left the hospital, I didn’t need the throw pillow pads anymore so you just have to suck it up for a few days.
Q. So you gave birth to an actual human being – do you now have feelings of self-entitlement? Are you all “I am woman, hear me roar” now?
A. Listen buddy, I’m not sure I like your attitude! But since you asked, no, I don’t feel entitled just because I’m able to make a person and pop her out. Yes, when I think about how crazy it is that a woman’s body knows exactly what to do, how to do it and when to do it, I find it downright miraculous. But after the fact, when the baby is out and you’re faced with actually having to care for it, your ass is kicked from here to Albuquerque in such a way, that any feelings of smugness quickly fade. In fact, it’s the worst “standing-naked-in-front-of-the-classroom” equivalent because you are vulnerable, have no idea what you’re doing and all of a sudden realize you’re faced with the greatest challenge (and opportunity) in your life. There is no smugness to be had when all you feel is, quite simply, humbled. Scared and humbled.
And that, my friend, is where you find yourself immediately after giving birth. But that’s a story for another day.
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
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
[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:
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have any of you seen the movie “She’s Having a Baby?” It’s a random John Hughes movie that in typical JH style, speaks eloquent words of wisdom on coming of age. Except this coming of age movie is more about the coming of age into full-fledged, real adulthood, with marriage, mortgages, careers and babies, as opposed to his typical teenage passage à l’âge adulte films like “Sixteen Candles” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” The reviews I took a gander at speak of this film as being an “essay” by John Hughes and his most “serious” film ever.”
Yeah it’s serious but very typical John Hughes and as usual, there were certain parts of the movie that again spoke to me and reminded me just how relatable the main character’s sentiments are to my own. It’s a crossfire between emotion and finding (or maintaining) your true self. Last night as I was watching it, G sleeping next to me, two particular ideas from the following quote resonated with me:
“Why couldn’t I accept who I was, what I was and where I was? Why couldn’t I be like everyone else who rode the train? Were they mindless, anonymous drones, following the scent of money to a senseless, forgotten end or were they the bearers of some great secret that allowed them to rejoice in this life that I was so unwilling to embrace?”
It’s been quite difficult for me to adjust to living here in Chile and accept what my life now looks like compared to what it looked like when I was back home. What’s been most difficult has been the uncertainty about my future, especially my career. I have this familiar paranoia that continues to walk around with me in that I can’t decide if my inability to adjust is something about ME or if the circumstances I willingly chose to be a part of are making it difficult to progress.
Only two ideas from the lines above are ones that make me think:
1) are the women I know who have also made the leap to this strange land actually bearers of some kind of wisdom and secret that makes life here better and positive, a revelation I’ve yet to stumble across?
2) why am I so unwilling to embrace this life, what it looks like now and who I am as I live it?
What is it that I see in other women here that makes me think my reality is so grossly different from theirs? In fact, I’ve spoken to many of them who have told me that they too had a difficult time adjusting to living in Chile at first, and when they hear me complain or see me wanting to bang my head against the wall over the idiosyncrasy of the Chilean culture, I know I’m generally preaching to the choir. There’s nothing I’m currently going through, or have gone through in the last 14 months, that they have not also experienced and ultimately accepted or overcome. In fact, even this past Friday as we were all out celebrating a Gringa friend’s birthday, I was sitting there talking to the birthday girl and she said to me, “Do you ever look around and think ‘wait, what am I doing here? How and when did I end up living in Chile?'” Um, yes, that notions sounds vaguely familiar to me. But it got me thinking: she, like other gringa friends, have been here much longer than I have, yet for the most part, if not completely, they live happy lives here. But even so, just as my friend made me realize with her rhetorical question, they too must stop every once and a while and think, “how did I get here?”
The devil’s advocate in me (or the pessimistic, masochistic side of me – your choice) then remembers that most of the women I’m friends with here aren’t really, truly here for the long-term. Eventually, as their plans unfold, they’ll make their way back home, husbands in tow. They’ll carry with them the adventure they had of living in another country, surviving and excelling in said country (in this case, Chile of course) and all the bad memories and experiences of adapting will become examples, anecdotes or memories of how living abroad shaped their current and/or future plans and selves. I compare that to my reality and realize, I don’t have that luxury. I made the decision to leave everything I’ve ever known, everything that ever meant anything to me, every last memory and experience I was ever a part of, and start my life literally ALL OVER AGAIN, in a foreign country. And the thing is, there is no going back. At least, not in a way that I would willingly choose.
And in my head I wonder, over and over again, would Chile seem so difficult if I knew that at some point down the line, I’d be back home again, better than ever because I’d be with my husband, the person I adore most in this world? I don’t have the answer, nor can I pretend to know what it’s like for others…but from this perspective I think that would be an important secret to embracing life in a different country. I don’t know what it’s like for my friends here, what it’s been like or what other people experience here and I’m not saying that what I write here is the truth. Really, it’s just a thought.
As for point #2 above, I began to really, truly analyze: what makes my life so uncomfortable here that I am so far removed from accepting who I am and where I am now that I live here? I still can’t put a name on it but I can describe it as this: I feel like I’m redoing the period of my life post-college graduation, when I had no idea where I was going, what would become of me or why it seemed that my peers had their sh*t together and I didn’t. In short, I feel like I’m experiencing my quarter-life crisis all over again, meanwhile I’m actually heading into my mid-30s! Wikipedia lists a variety of characteristics of this social and cultural phenomenon we know as the quarter-life crisis and you can see them all here. However in my case, I can call out the following as relevant:
* confronting their own mortality[i.e. realizing that I’m not getting any younger and I have a list of accomplishments that seem to just be sitting there, not transforming themselves into reality.] * insecurity regarding the fact that their actions are meaningless [This might have more to do with a certain quest I’m on that so far, has proved fruitless. Also, school.] * insecurity regarding present accomplishments * disappointment with one’s job * nostalgia for university, college, high school or elementary school life [except in my case it’s the life I left back in California] * tendency to hold stronger opinions [fighting the power here really makes me quite obnoxious. And it’s not like I’m happy with being that way.] * loss of closeness to high school and college friends [missing one of my good friend’s wedding this past weekend and not even KNOWING my best friend’s boyfriend = sucks.] * financially-rooted stress [as I’ve gotten older, I have more financial responsibilities and I’m still not at the point of being able to save for, say, a home? Plus school and the final wedding payments have killed me in the last few months.] * desire to have children[or the simple to desire to be at a place in my life where it’s a viable and intelligent option to start a family. Guess who’s not getting any younger?] * a sense that everyone is, somehow, doing better than oneself * frustration with social skills [it’s not that I’m awkward – I don’t think – but I do tend to have my weirdo moments in everyday Chilean encounters.]
I remember feeling many of these things and more, immediately after college. Then my career and life began to take shape and one by one, these sentiments became irrelevant. Of course, 10 points were replaced by ONE HUGE point, that being: “Waaaaaaaaaa! I want someone to love!! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa I’ll never find THE ONE!” And the like. Now I have the latter fantastically filled but upon moving to Chile, all of the points above made their way back into my life (como Pedro por su casa) at a time when I had completely forgotten ever feeling that way at all! Of course I wouldn’t trade what I have in my personal life right now – the fulfillment I have with the person I’ve chosen to live my life with and the relationship we have together – for more time in California, not in a million years. I accept Round 2 of the quarter-life crisis because I figure, I survived it once before (and alone at that). After all, now, I should be better equipped to give all the points above a good kick in the b*lls anyway. At some point soon, I’ll have hurdled it all and I’ll look back, wave goodbye and say “thanks for playing.”
…Geez. Had I known that my seemingly innocent choice over which DVD to watch prior to falling asleep last night would spark such an existential crisis (and consequently, a ridiculously long blog post) I would have opted for “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” instead …
I’m not the kind of person who is moved to tears easily. Unless I’m watching a cheesy commercial then of course, all bets are off and the waterworks begin. However, this story about the miners and how they were found to be alive after 17 days trapped 2,300 feet below ground, under the San Jose mine near Copiapo Chile, moved me. Of course I cried.
I cried because these human beings, after living 17 days in a small area I’ve read is similar to a “small flat,” have genuine hope in their eyes. Putting myself in their position, in the faintest of ways, I’m sure I don’t come close to the relief they felt when the probe finally reached them and they had the first opportunity to communicate with the world above. And they did so with the note above which simply reads “All 33 of us are fine in the shelter.”
“Fine” is a relative term. They’re fine relative to what the other option could have been which is … a dreadful extreme. I always think logistics and really ridiculous details most of the time, though. In this case I wonder what it feels like for them to not shower, to not have a beer, to not watch soccer, to not smell freshly baked bread, to not drive … to not change underwear, to not brush their teeth, to not hug their wives/girlfriends. Now that this has happened, do they regret the decision to work in the mines? Is that even an option for these experienced miners or is it just their way of life, the way trains or “ferrocarriles” were a way of life for my grandfather.
They haven’t yet learned that it will take anywhere from 3-4 months to build a shaft wide enough to bring them up one by one. I was thinking that by the time this is finally accomplished, it will be Christmas time here … isn’t that perfect timing? Not for them though. I’m sure they wish they could be with their families for the upcoming Independence day celebrations (Chileans are a patriotic bunch, especially on the 18th of September and ESPECIALLY since this year marks 200 years since Chileans won their independence from Spain.) I’m sure they wish they could just have their own space, up top, right NOW.
How will they feel once they learn that they have to keep surviving, keep their sanity and keep each other going for at least three more months, probably four? Four months can fly but only with activity and experience. Four months ago it was April (the month I got married) and it definitely puts the length of four months into perspective.
When they pull the miners out one by one in December, flash forward to the future when you see those same images on a screen, reciting a story. This is for sure the story of a made-for-tv movie. Or a tell-all book. In the meantime, I hope the most basic of things for them right now – sanity and comradery.