People…people everywhere!!!

So I FINALLY made it to Chile and I have to apologize to all you “true” followers out there (all, like, five of you). For some mysterious reason, I was completely locked out of anything related to Google (i.e. gmail and blogger) for TWO WHOLE DAYS! Thus I couldn’t really check my email and most definitely couldn’t blog. And trust you me, I have much to blog about.

First of all – can it be ANY COLDER??!! It’s literally 45 degrees here and I’m not talking Celsius. It does not get any warmer. And further, no matter how modern the house and/or apartment, it seems that the heat here just refuses to work! You literally have to have these old school gas heaters – the kind you buy at the store and set up in the middle of the room so that it can radiate its toxic chemicals through the air and at the same time bring much needed warmth to all households. Also – side note – the heater is sold separately from the actual gas. You have to call the gas company to have them deliver the tank of gas you then connect to the heater for the aforementioned toxic warmth. That, or you have to pay like a GAZILLION dollars to get one of these said Toyotomi heaters, which, apparently, are ALL the rage here in Chile. Naturally, Gonzalo and I agree that it’s a must-have for our apartment which we move in to August 1st.

Secondly, there are people EVERYWHERE. And all they do is shop – shop for bread, shop for clothes, shop for meat or wine. It doesn’t matter – they’re just everywhere and they shop NONSTOP. I know this because in the last two days I myself have been to the mall twice and to Jumbo (the large supermarket chain, quite adequately named) twice. Seriously no matter where I put my cart so that I could survey a particular aisle, I was in someone’s way. Or they were in my way. Or they just crossed in front of me with no regard to me and the space I was inhabiting. Walking through the mall (Parque Arauco) is like playing Frogger. Dodging people (sometimes cars) is the name of the game.

And don’t get me started on how people drive… three words on that: Pick a lane!
(Though I’m currently driving without a license so who am I to criticize, you know?)

Speaking of driving – I bet you’re wondering right now: “Dre, what, pray tell, are you driving? You don’t have a car! Remember, you sold it to that nice, young couple from Mountain View?” Why yes, dear avid blog follower (one of five), I do remember I sold my car to that nice young couple. I remember because I was a carless hobo for the remaining month I had in MP before my Chilean departure (btw, thanks for that reminder). However, let ME remind YOU just how lucky I am to have someone like Gonzalo in my life (ADORE him!)… he mentioned having a “surprise” for me when I arrived in Chile. Put two and two together and I will simply provide this lovely image.

The cherry on top was the GPS which is about 85% accurate but that’ll do for now. Sometimes it tells me to turn left where I’m not supposed to so I have to keep an eye out for that because it could create all kinds of scary. Other times it kind of gets into a frenzy and tells me it’s “recalculating” over and over again. It usually does that when I’m driving and so I have to go REALLLLY SLOWLY to allow time for this recalculation. Today I got lost because the GPS told me to make a left where it wasn’t allowed. I spent the next twenty minutes making rights after rights in order to get on the correct street. I don’t recall anyone ever saying that driving in Latin America would be easy. I’m not about to state the contrary either.

Finally, a few tidbits on daily life in Santiago:

  • Banks close at 2 p.m. every day and when they’re open, there is usually a line out the door. I can’t even begin to understand why this is when everything in Chile is either paid online or in person. Why are so many people at the bank??!!
  • Notaries are apparently a BIG DEAL. Whereas I remember getting something notarized at like Mail Boxes Etc by some franchise owner with a friendly belly hanging on the counter, in Chile the Notary is like the Godfather. He usually has his own office bldg or space and he has lots of people working for him to collect all items that need to be notarized. Then his peeps go somewhere behind the scenes to get his signature and stamp. I’ve never actually SEEN a notary the few times I’ve gotten documents notarized thus adding to this Wizard of Oz kind of stigma they hold in my mind. I feel like one of them is going to come out in a gangster suit, smoking a cigar telling me to leave the documents (as opposed to the gun) and to try the cannoli. Like I said, apparently they’re a big deal. Who knew?
  • Bread. Bread is integral to the daily diet of a Chilean. They’re all about tea time (or “once” as it’s called here) and it’s all about the bread. Which is good, mind you, but nothing like a warm piece of sourdough.
  • The Andes Mountains are beautiful and just like the Pisco Sours, I feel like Chileans don’t enjoy it/them as much as they should. I’m new here so I’m taking it/them constantly. Hmmm…good thing I’m not taking in the Pisco Sours WHILE in the Andes… the altitude mixed with the alcohol makes me CRAZY!

P.S. – Gonzalo rocks for always accompanying me with a Pisco Sour, even though I’m sure he’d much rather be drinking rum (or “ron” as they call it here) and coke. Oh schnookums… don’t ever be so fabulous! :o)

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Crime and Punishment

UPDATE: I wrote this yesterday, not thinking I’d have time to hit a wifi’d coffee shop anytime soon. Clearly, I did have time but thought I’d share yesterday’s insight today, as opposed to waiting until the weekend.


God forced me into solitude my last two days in California. And I think I know why. Or maybe I’m being superstitious and paranoid, in the usual manner of Catholics. If I am, so be it, but I did learn my lesson. Here’s the lesson = don’t gloat, Andrea!!

I was actually writing a new blog entry dedicated to patting myself on the back (I kid you not, I used that term in the blog) about getting a US based phone number via Skype so that my friends could call me without incurring some astronomical charges. They aren’t the most inclined to download Skype to make calls either so I thought this was an AMAZING doing on my behalf and I literally felt like I was a technological bad ass. I even said so various times in my blog. I used terms like “Jetsons” and “Bionic Woman” all because I got this number set up (something anyone can do, mind you.) In the simplest terms, I thought I was the cybernetic s*@t.

When all of a sudden my stupid Internet went out. Ok, no big deal since every once in a while my wireless will have a hiccup and I thought it was just that, but – oh, no – it was the incompetents at Comcast. The dumb bastards got my disconnection request date mixed up and they canceled my service two days before they were supposed to do so. A. Whole. Two. Days.

Long story short and three service assistants later, basically I was told that they were “sorry” and that it was “our fault” and that a service technician could come out to my house between 6-8 p.m. the next day. THE NEXT DAY??!! As in the day before I hop on a plane and get the hell out of dodge?? As in the day that I am out most of the day doing last minute errands and then out at night due to a goodbye dinner?? As in I-need-internet-at-this-very-second-not-at-the-end-of-the-day-tomorrow-the-day-before-I-leave??? “Yes, tomorrow. We’re very sorry ma’am.”

And click.

So here I am, in my “bedroom” which is outside of my empty living room (if you have Facebook, you’ve seen my pics of that by now), sitting on the floor on my inflatable Eddie Bauer mattress (with a stomach ache, mind you) feeling sorry for my dis-conectivity and kind of thinking it’s funny and most ironic that I was here about three hours ago, gloating away about how connected I was going to be and – ta-da!! – no Internet so as TO BE connected. Oh life! You are SO funny sometimes.

And I’m also thinking that it’s kind of a trip that the next few blog entries I write will be POSTED under ONE entry, probably with Saturday or Sunday’s date stamp. I’ll be in Chile by then! So they’ll have a present stamp but have a tone of the past. And that means the tenses are going to be all wrong and grammatically incorrect. But that’s the undercover nerd in me speaking and not to mention, six of one and half a dozen of another. Do you see? If I were really a technological bad ass I wouldn’t have this upcoming past/present tense situation to contend with!! In the end, I guess I learned that I should keep my tekkie self in check and that I shouldn’t gloat about my slowly evolving world domination via Skype!

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Yesterday’s "lasts" got nothin’ for me…

Yesterday’s “lasts” and good-byes:

Taking the train to San Francisco
40 minutes in time when I was completely alone with my thoughts, not really having to do anything I didn’t want to do. Usually spent listening to my iPod or text messaging. Sometimes updating the Facebook status. Mostly just enjoying the minutes being enclosed in my own little corner of the world.

Approaching the building where I work
A former movie theater and thus has an unorthodox look for a place of business. The marquee’s purpose now is to promote our brands and manga. Except there are too many brands and titles for me to ever know so I usually ignored that marquee. But yesterday I took notice. Something about a “word” …

Sitting down at my desk and working in an office full of people
Full of people so long as you arrived after 10:30 a.m. It’s the only office I know of where if you show up at 9 you can see tumbleweed floating from one cubicle to the next. Forget about going in even earlier. Is the building even accessible before 9???
An office full of people…that’s something I’ll miss. I’ll work from home now, which of course will have its perks. But I kind of liked the whole ceremonial morning process of waking up, showering, blah, blah blah until I finally sat down at my desk. And from there hearing all KINDS of buzz around me, half in Japanese, half in English and then some in $%&@# (though that usually came from me…)

Farewell to my computer and the death of andrea dot gonzalez at viz dot com
Some noteworthy sub-points on that computer:
  • It was the 4th computer I had with the company. Not because they were super on top of making sure I had the latest and greatest in technology. In fact it was quite the opposite. For whatever reason, electronics and I don’t mix and either my previous computers SOMEHOW got in water’s way – or they fell down a flight of steps – or they were kidnapped by the Mexican mafia in the airport in Mexico City. It’s not like any of this was MY fault, but nevertheless, it earned me the reputation of calamity Sam with electronics. Hence, the reason I had four computers throughout my VIZ career and hence, why I never got anything super new… when everyone else who had a company sponsored phone received an iPhone… I did not. I don’t blame them. Who knows what kind of mishap would have happened with that thing!
  • That computer also turned me away from the dark side. Meaning, I used to be a dedicated and devoted PC user. Mac’s were all kinds of weird in my eyes and only certain people used them – the creative types. I am not that person and therefore thought that Macs weren’t for me. Well I was proven wrong and now I am a hungry and avid Mac aficionado. Weirder things have happened.

As for andrea dot gonzalez at viz dot com – well, that was just plain sad. I feel like a slice of my identity was deleted, Matrix-style. That was MY email for 5.5 years (albeit “rented” to me by VIZ) and now it’s not. I console myself by reminders that I still have gonzandrea at you know where dot com and I can still call that my own. Right now, I guess all I can say is R.I.P. andrea dot gonzalez at viz dot com. Hope you’re remembered for the force that you were!

After work happy hour with my friends

AWHH with friends usually consists of Sauvignon Blanc and in the usual style, contains high levels of talking
smack, complaining and making fun of each other. Yesterday’s AWHH was with Jordan and Shannon, high ranking in my social network of friends and acquaintances. Topics covered in the hour or so I was with them: bachelorette parties, boobs, online dating, my moving crisis (now resolved) and Shannon’s career – past, present and future. Quite a lot packed into a one hour special but always fun and now, most of all, astronomically cherished. I wonder what Chilean style AWHH will look like? How long will I be ordering Pisco Sours before I finally get sick of them? Right now I can’t imagine that day will ever come, but I am always quite surprised by how often Chileans DON’T drink Pisco Sour…

But then again, these said “lasts” aren’t really, truly “lasts.” They were the last time I would be doing them as an employee of VIZ who worked in the city and lived in the Peninsula. I find solace in knowing that THESE “lasts” will be replaced by new firsts. The first time I meet my future husband out for happy hour after work; the first time I meet my friends in Chile out to go shopping; or the first time I can take a meeting with a Chilean partner without having to fly through various airports and time zones to do so.

And just as an end note, I have to say I was touched by my coworkers’ send off yesterday…I mentioned before that I only knew about 5% of the 30% of the employees who work there and they were all present to see me off with some sparkling wine and cake. A good “last” memory of my time with them. Just as Coke used to provoke people with the slogan “I’d like to buy the world a coke,” I too wish I could buy the 5% of 30% a refreshing beverage of choice… just to say Thanks!
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5 days and counting

I took a hiatus from my new blog project after only two entries. Is that normal? I was out of commish for a few due the aforementioned bachelorette party (which, incidentally, was a roaring success) but since there are only five days left before my life gets shaken up like a snow globe, I had to high tail it back to MP to continue the packing escapade.

There are several topics I want to touch base on in this installment of “The Chronicles of a Chilean Return,” the first one being my Tio Pato. He’s been a trooper with helping me move. Mainly by helping me find a home for each token in my life that will not be traveling back to Chile with me (ugh-almost like a less extreme version of “Sophie’s Choice” but, you know, with material things as opposed to actual people.)

He came in today in full military operation mode and in a matter of three hours my apartment was left with ONLY the items I’ll either be shipping to Chile or carrying with me in one of three suitcases. While we were driving through San Francisco to drop these selected items off at their destination (sad!), we drove below Twin Peaks and at one point he pointed out to the view – arguably the most amazing view in the entire Bay Area – and said “There it is Xime, your home. This is the city that opened its arms to you and housed you when all the opportunities you’ve had in this country came knocking.” I almost choked up but in my usual way, simply answered “SF and I are joined at the hip. We need time apart – she’s getting clingy.” Not that he knew what I was talking about but I did know what he was talking about and it made me sad. Underneath it all I’ve been sad for a few weeks and though I am 200% sure about what I’m doing and where I’m going with this move, I still look around me and think “wow, so that’s it, huh?” It’s poetic that my Tio should be the one to force SF in front of me so I can say a proper goodbye. He was the one who received us at the airport on May 11, 1980. He saw me in and he’ll see me out. And underneath his facade, I know he’s upset about it too. I just keep reminding him I’ll be back in January and hopefully I’ll be successful in convincing him to hop a flight to Chile before then. Between all that I also tell him to not get clingy on me.

That move took about five hours, loading my things, driving them to their new home in SF and driving back to the Peninsula so that I can conclude this packing bit. The movers are coming on Tuesday so basically I had today to get the remaining stuff done.
And done it is… I can’t even recognize

my old apartment in this field of boxes. And don’t even get me started on my “bedroom.” Let’s just say that all I’m missing in order to make this a full CAMP OUT, is the tent. Though this twin sized Eddie Bauer inflatable mattress is proving to be quite handy right now and sure as hell beats sleeping on the floor for the next five nights. I digress from complaining about Camp Dre’s Nekkid Apartment.

Finally, I wanted to share that tomorrow will be very bittersweet for me. After five and a half years working for Viz, tomorrow is my last “official” day as an employee. Of course I’m thankful/stoked/excited/eager to have started my own business that will allow me to keep working on behalf of Viz but nevertheless, I may still get a bit faklempt when I turn over my corporate credit card, company paid cell phone and laptop computer. The company has changed and grown so much since I first started there in 2004 that I’m almost convinced that only about 30% of the employees there have any idea who I am.

This doesn’t bother me so much since I know about 5% of them anyway. What can I say? Eventually it got a bit out of hand and I just couldn’t keep up with the introductions. Call me shallow but don’t say I didn’t try. Viz is quirky and I have a love/hate relationship with it. Mostly I love it but every so often I hate it. Regardless it’s been a bad ass experience for me and I’ve had the chance to travel to so many places (Paris, Cannes, New York, Bogota, Rio de Janiero, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, etc) ON TOP OF THE FACT that, though rather indirectly, Viz made it possible for me to meet my future husband. How could tomorrow be anything less than bittersweet? I’ve decided though that what I’ll miss most about the everyday at Viz is how much I learn just by being immersed in the Japanese culture. It truly has been an amazing ride and one of the most educational times in my life. Irreplaceable indeed (but not the Beyonce “to the left, to the left” kind – just to be clear.)

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California Love

I’m looking forward to my last fun-filled weekend as a full fledged California resident: a bachelorette party for my friend C, who is getting married this coming August. Her sister organized the bulk of it – cruise stylie with events, outings and meals planned – at this amazing house in Sonoma County. Can’t wait to go, even if my tan from my trip to Playa del Carmen is fading (while I perceive myself to be “white” my real “white” friends find me to be quite dark!)There is nothing I enjoy more than celebrating my friends and in this case, I am so happy to be there, given that in TWELVE DAYS, I’m leaving for Santiago. Can we say a Charlie Brown style “Ack!!!??”

Keeping in mind this upcoming weekend – one weekend – I can pinpoint SO MANY things I’m going to feel nostalgic about when I move. Almost like those cartoon drawings in the magazine “Highlights” where you have to find what’s different/missing in one picture when compared to another. Off the bat, allow me to briefly state just a morsel of things I’ll miss/grieve/look upon fondly on:

1.) Sonoma and/or Napa County. While Chile does have it’s own wine trails and tourist attractions with regards to wines, nothing beats the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Especially when you’ve grown up taking trips with girlfriends to go wine tasting. This is the kind of stuff that people from the Bay Area take for granted. I know because that’s me! It’s always there, so what’s to miss? Growing up in San Fran and then in the Bay Area, it’s like a right of passage to head to Napa with the girlfriends, sometimes even going all out and renting a wine bus and/or a limo, just for shits and giggles.

2.) Road trip with girlfriends. The first road trip I can recall going on was with some friends from high school, including one of my current bff’s – S. That kid was a rebel child disguised as one of those goody two shoes, ballet/drama style kids. I loved her to pieces for the ball of drama that she was then and love her to pieces more so now. We decided to go with some other gf’s to Carmel – of all places – and when we got there, we practically passed out from boredom. What did we do? We
decided to take the car down to the next town over – no less than Santa Barbara. You don’t need a map of Northern California to know that Carmel IS NOT and never was, the next town over from Santa Barbara. I guess we had fun though, but the next year beat out any fun we may have had in CA, when we decided to drive to Lake Havasu, Arizona for no other reason than because the MTV Beach House had been there the year before. I don’t recall much about that trip except laughing about the town of Blythe, California. It’s the last town before you cross on over to Arizona, and let me tell you, there is NOTHING to see here. In fact, we

tapped into “Wayne‘s World” and just kept repeating “Hi, we’re in Blythe” all the while walking in place, waving like Queen Elizabeth. Come to think of it, this one event sums up many-a-less-than-stellar encounters I’ve experienced in recent years. The whole “WTF” thought process can easily be replaced with “Hi, I’m in Blythe.” A void encounter. No jazz-hands, if you will.

Wait – speaking of road trips – there was also the time we drove to San Diego, crossed over to Tijuana with some random people and consequently GOT DETAINED there when I failed to show my Chilean passport to the border authorities (why would I carry that thing on a road trip?!!). They asked “What is your country of citizenship” and all I had to say was “United States” but I just couldn’t LIE!!! I couldn’t do it man… and still can’t!! Ugh! I was almost left there to rot and right now would not be telling this story, were it not for S and some random peeps paying the Federales a good $200 to see me through the border to the other side….
Hmmmm…on second thought, let’s never speak of this incident again.

Where was I?

3.) Sha-MONE!!! A couple of people will know precisely what I mean by this and for the rest of you let me just say, I’ll miss the road trip mix CDs/tapes/iPod playlists. I would go into more detail than this but after I finish explaining it I’m just going to move on to realize that you had to be there and then I’ll wonder why I bothered taking up blog space.

4.) Sunny California… there’s a reason we’re the object of bitter envy and jealousy. We’re from California and no other place is as bad ass as this one. Mind you, I’ll find and embrace the beauty that Chile has to offer having already been lucky enough to witness a lot of it…but something like California? No way. The cheese stands alone.

I feel like I’ve veered off topic but the object of this blog entry was to remind myself (and you while I’m at it) of all that I take for granted being a native Californian. Stuff that I wonder if I’ll ever embrace again with such casual ambivalence as I have done so my entire life here. Or will I just come back and forever more be the returning tourist, wearing the San Francisco fleeces (or worse, socks and crocs – aaaaaahh!)

Oh my sweet, dear, chocolate covered, Cali … what homage can I pay to thee that the great ones haven’t already paid?

(And by ‘the great ones’ I do mean, Dr Dre and Tupac. Naturally.)
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People like me!!! (an overwhelmingly joyous discovery)

I literally just spent about an hour freaking out on skype with Gonzalo about not being able to find “American” friends in Chile…what if I NEVER find someone who GETS “I totally paused” or “I can’t believe this, they f*^king forgot my birthday?” Call me crazy, but this kind of understanding among my social networks is CRUCIAL to me.

And then I decided to google bikram yoga in Chile… and I am directed to a blogspot of a woman who – get this – married a Chilean and relocated to Santiago from New York City. What, what, what??!! Did I stumble into a miraculous pot of Expats who will feel my pain??!!
Yes. Yes I did.

All of a sudden this move is no longer filled with paranoid thoughts the likes of “OMG I’ll be the only person who misses the salad bar at Whole Foods.” I realize now that there JUST MIGHT be a possibility of finding a social network (dare I say, friends) who GET what I’m going through. And right then and there – full speed ahead doesn’t feel so scary.

My Tio Pato and Tia Lucia came over to help me get rid of the “For donation” pile of stuff that doesn’t make sense to take with me to Chile (i.e. kitchen appliances, etc). My apartment is slowly becoming a skeleton of a home, with just a few remnants of the former single life I am now willingly leaving behind. My once

amazing apartment, which I personally think should have been an example to all single women everywhere, has been dismantled as of about two months ago. So though I’ve been living a hobo-ish existence for some time, now it’s in the most pathetic state ever. Boxes have become my nightstand, dresser, tv stand and kitchen table. It’s pretty hot.

In short, my life has been either donated, sold on Craigslist or packed into 18x18x24 boxes. Today I spent the good part of the afternoon boxing the plethora of random Target buys I realized yesterday. I think I’m taking about 7 boxes of toothpaste because, it would seem, I think I’m going to a country where people brush their teeth with a little spit and a side of mint for taste. I also bought three of the SUPER SIZED Tylenol fast action! Those were indeed key buys – call me crazy, but I think I’ll appreciate it come two months from now when I need something and can’t make heads or tails of the Cruz Verde’s in Chile (have you BEEN to a pharmacy there??!! I’m just saying: there’s a learning curve with the meds.)
Anyway, my point here is that after complaining to the point where I am pretty sure that Gonzalo was about to ask for the engagement ring back (I kid), I stumbled across a blogger’s site and it was like the answer fell from heaven – THERE WILL BE PEOPLE LIKE ME IN SANTIAGO!!! It’s the little things that make me go ’round and believe you me, this was a HUGE little thing. The sequence of events that followed are 1) I found this blog spot and 2) I may have found a wedding photographer that suits our “urban/sharp/modern/simple” wedding plans!!

ALL THIS from simply typing “bikram yoga santiago chile” in the Google search bar.
I almost feel that all of you should type this miracle phrase in the search bar… I mean, who’s to say that the lottery numbers won’t fall in your lap? What what?! ;o)

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