I’m officially sucked into World Cup fever

Why in sam hell is soccer not more popular in the U.S.? What’s the matter with us? We’re the only country that doesn’t use the metric system (though we tried) and we’re the only country that doesn’t really, truly care about soccer.

Let me rephrase. We care about soccer for our kids. We like them to partake in AYSO and all the yuppie moms feel like they’re cool and different for having their girls playing soccer alongside the boys. That much I get, and coming from that world, that much I can obviously relate to.

It’s true that we’re a product of our environment and with that being the case, when I lived in California I was totally in tune with the Super Bowl and the World Series. After all, even for those of us who didn’t follow football and baseball during their respective regular seasons, the two championship series were reason enough to paaaartay Lindsay Lohan style. With that, what’s not to love about sports in the US?

Truth be told, I do know a thing or two about baseball and had been known to watch entire games all on my own. I can thank an ex-boyfriend who was an obsessive baseball fan for that. But I could never get into football, even though I also ended up having a (different) boyfriend who was ALL about the dumb sport. Frankly, I could never be bothered. It seems so mundane, awkward and … what’s the word I’m looking for … Neanderthal (ish). Clearly not for me.

Now that I live in Chile, I’m taking note of this fabulous little game called soccer (or “futbol” as it’s known everywhere but in the U.S. – go figure.) I don’t know much about the sport, really. I know the basics: one team tries to kick the ball into the goal which is protected by the goalie from the other team. You can’t use your hands, there’s 11 players on the field and halfway through, each team switches sides. Those of you who are experts out there, feel free to correct me and add more insight to my thwarted soccer knowledge.

The real reason I am taking note is because the World Cup starts tomorrow… and starting right now, tonight, the night before, I’m ALL OF A SUDDEN SUPER STOKED on this! Who am I? It’s contagious, what else can I say? First of all, more than half of my social media peeps are talking about it nonstop – how can I ignore that? Second of all, Chile apparently has a really, really good team. At least for Chilean standards and considering the history of Chilean World Cup teams. I hear that much of this is thanks to the new coach, which brings me to the next reason I’m particularly keen to the World Cup lately… my brother-in-law works for Bielsa, the Chilean World Cup soccer team’s coach and I just think it’s SUPER cool to watch the news and catch glimpses of him on tv!

And let’s not disregard the media. HOLY sh*tballs the media is having a field day with the World Cup. Each and every television network has a team in South Africa and they do “special reports” everyday about everything under the sun related to South Africa and/or soccer. We’re spewing World Cup out of our noses and South Africa out of our rear ends. And the department stores are having a ball with advertisements that speak to the consumer who just “can’t possibly watch the games on a small-screen tv.” It will be interesting to know just how many tv’s have been sold since World Cup fever began …

Finally, speaking of frenzy and contagion, even the government is helping out! Chilean Labor Minister has said that her Ministry would like employers and employees to reach an agreement so everybody can enjoy the matches of the Chilean team. Is that insane, or what? Trust me, this is NEVER the case in the US with the Super Bowl or the World Series. The rationale behind this request is that workers will be more motivated to work if they are allowed to watch their national team in the most important championship of the sport. The end result? A motivated employee is a productive employee. But it’s not just the professional world! The Chilean Education Ministry has authorized elementary schools and high schools to allow their students to watch the matches during school hours. To the point that they even suggested starting the school day at 7:15 am. Wha-wha-what? Higher education isn’t about to be left behind either… Most universities have placed big screen tv’s throughout campuses so that students can watch the matches. In some universities they even agreed to change class TIMES so that everyone could watch the games!

If this is what’s going on with “regular” games, I can’t even imagine what Chile will come to if La Roja (what Chileans affectionately call the Chilean soccer team) makes it to the second round!

I’m imagining a “Turn around and go back. We’re closed until further notice” sign at the airport and borders for all new arrivals.

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Patience in the land of the impatient

I know I’m going to age myself here yet again, but there’s a commercial I remember from 1987 (when I was 10, mind you) for Heinz Ketchup (note that in searching for this video I just now realized that that the actor in it is Matt LeBlanc. Who knew?)

Don’t ask me why, but from the first time I ever saw this commercial, I took note of the message and have constantly reminded myself of this tried and true cliche over and over again. Seems rather heavy that a 10-year old would take to heart such a sophisticated message and further, that said 10-year old was able to see past its use in a commercial advertising the thickness of ketchup. I can’t say that many things (experiences or people) have truly shaped my life, but believe it or not, as weird as it sounds, this commercial really did shape my ideology, at least in some aspects, and sort of gave me this comforting philosophy I could grab on to whenever I was feeling anxious or desperate for something to happen NOW.

So you can just imagine what it feels like for me to live in a country where it would seem that the general population lives their life going against the grain of this message.

For instance, the manner in which most Chileans drive. I’ve seen it all, really. Running red lights, swerving around pedestrians crossing the street – so close that the car actually rubs against them, needing to make a right hand turn at the next light but too impatient to wait their turn so they get into the left hand lane to zoom past the line of waiting cars, only to block traffic as they try to turn right FROM THE LEFT HAND LANE. All this sh*t annoys me and I fight with people constantly (from the safety of my car with windows rolled up, naturally). But one of the things that bothers me the most (aside from the 92% of Chileans thinking that turning on their hazard lights all of a sudden gives them the right to stop ANYWHERE on the road), is to see a car that is driving behind me at a comfortable pace, suddenly speed up to go around me only to fit him/herself SNUGLY in front of me and continue driving. WTF? I seriously wish I could ask the person what the motivation is behind doing something so.lame. He didn’t gain any distance on me, nor did he find himself with tons of road in front of him giving him a chance to gun it down the road. All I can conclude is that, to him, it’s all about doing things quickly, getting sh*t done, no matter how he goes about it. Therefore, shaving the four seconds he gained by going around me, makes him feel like king of the world. If he’s in such a hurry, how ’bout leaving the house earlier, buddy? Novel thought. So as you can imagine, I end up driving behind this dumb a** a pretty long while… until he decides he needs to make a right hand turn so he gets into the left hand lane in order to get there sooner.

Also, there’s the quick fixes applied to any and all things. If something breaks around the house, a heater, a lamp, the tv – what have you, the first part of the solution doesn’t involve taking it in for repair, or even considering buying a new item. The first option, because it’s the quickest, is to try to fix it yourself. Duct tape here, a nail and hammer there, a little rewiring here and pretty soon the thing is “as good as new.” Of course this comes with a price, such as only being able to plug it in to the wall from the outlet in the bathroom (“the electrical current in there is lighter” – probably from a fix-it job on the light fixture back in the day), or the having to watch tv at an angle or something because the pressure to left helps align the collapsed tube inside. The same item will probably go through about two to three rounds of home fixes before its decided that it was too old anyway and that a new one is in order. In my world, the moral of this story is that sacrificing a little time at home without the broken item and allowing someone more qualified to actually take a looskie and fix it, would probably have resulted in quicker turn-around AND money saved. But, that’s just me.

Yesterday after class, when I arrived at my parked car in the school’s parking lot, I realized that the person who parked next to me had parked at an angle, completely blocking my entrance into the car. You know, so that I had to open the passenger door and climb in that way. No, he/she hadn’t scraped my car or even remotely touched it, but in a technique I’ll never truly grasp, he/she managed to park the dumb car about an inch away from mine. I’m not even going to try and assemble the math involved with accomplishing such a feat, but it REALLY.PISSED.ME.OFF. But let me tell you why … this person, like me, had class on Tuesday mornings, maybe even had class all day long. Like me, this person had to get up super early, fight traffic, fight the crazies who make right hand turns from the left hand lane, dodge pedestrians, go around the hazard-light-using lame-O’s who stop in the middle of a busy intersection, and all the countless things that make driving in Chile hazardous to one’s health. So what gives? Running late I guess and in running late, arriving to find that the parking lot closest to campus is full, except for this one, teeny, tiny, cramped spot next to my car. ANY NORMAL person who wouldn’t mind parking just a little further away would rationalize that in parking their car in this teeny, tiny spot, the person next to them (me, in this case) wouldn’t be able to get out. Of course we now know that this f*cktard didn’t rationalize and parked there anyway. I can forgive that he/she might have overslept and because of this was running late. I can understand that he/she might have been faced with a nana who also arrived late at home and couldn’t leave the baby alone until she arrived. I can relate to a car that didn’t start until about the 5th attempt. WHAT I DON’T UNDERSTAND and what I CAN’T FORGIVE is the imprudence and stupidity that erupts from being impatient! Because this person was late and couldn’t be bothered with taking an additional 30 seconds to park just a little farther where there were more spots available, he/she decided to remain close, park in the glove-compartment of a spot which left me crawling through my car to reach the driver’s seat. God forbid he/she actually walked through the scenario.

Naturally, I left them a note on the windshield. It read:

“Hey Partner,
Did you bother to see how you parked? You left me with no room to get into my car and I have to now crawl in through the passenger side. What’s the matter with you? Where did you learn to drive? Iraq?
You’re about as ridiculous as they come.”

Here’s what went through my mind right before writing this note. “It’s almost 2 pm. I’m really hungry. The drive to my house will take about 40 minutes and I have to go to the ATM first. I should hurry up because I need to get to work AND I need to take my dog out. Plus I have a test on Tuesday and I’m so behind on reading. I should really get going.”
However, I decided to take the two minutes it took me to open my notebook, find a blank sheet, whip out the writing instrument, write this note in ALL ITS GLORY, rip the sheet out and place it on his/her windshield; put everything away, close my school bag, walk around the car, crawl into my seat and drive off.

Smug? Yes. Unnecessary? Maybe. Satisfying? Hell yeah.

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Constant highs

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh, a trailer. What kind is it?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The good Chile

The other day, I received a pep talk from two sources: my dear husband and a friend here in Chile. Both made their points well and I heart them both for taking the time to break it down for me. Without getting into specifics, both gave me some perspective on different things I was worrying and/or complaining about and basically allowing said worry to surrender me into the ‘woe-is-me’ mentality.

It’s not my intention to constantly throw myself a pity party at every last thing that goes wrong in my life because in comparison to a large percentage of the world, I have many things to be grateful for in life. I’m not going to list them since that’s what my Thanksgiving post was about. Instead, I’ve decided to showcase the things that make Chile a pretty cool country. After all, it’s not like I’m living in Afghanistan or in some obscure country village of China (though I’m sure both have their charms). Believe it or not, there ARE things I do like about Chile and some things that used to bother me now have become part of my norm (i.e. weighing the vegetables in the supermarket BEFORE arriving at the check out stand).

In fact, here’s a short list for you to ponder and do what you will with:

Chilean seafood: Call me crazy but Chile has got some of THE BEST seafood I’ve ever eaten. It’s fresh, it’s tasty and it doesn’t matter if you go to an expensive restaurant or a “picada” (some hole-in-the-wall restaurant), the seafood is fresh and tasty almost all of the time. My favorites are ceviche, reineta, machas a la parmeseana and …

locos (Chilean abalone) with mayonnaise

and Centolla (King Crab)


Chilean wine
: When I was single, living alone in my tiny (but cute!) apartment in Northern California, I never purchased CA wine … reason being is that I like white wines as opposed to reds and in CA, only the Chardonnays (not a fan) and Zinfandels are worth the buck (in my humble opinion). As such, I purchased a lot of wine from Australia and New Zealand. Why? They made better Sauvignon Blanc – within my price range of $8 – $12USD and available at the local Trader Joe’s. In Chile all that changed … for someone who loves Sauvignon Blanc as I do, Chile is a wine-lover’s heaven! Some of my favorites include Casas del Bosque Reserva (where we got married!)

Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc (the wine of choice on the catamaran in Mexico when G proposed) and Santa Ema’s Merlot Reserva. Granted this last one isn’t a white but my WORD is it a tasty piece of processed grape! The first two are definitely available in the U.S. from what I hear and so I highly recommend them!

There are of course all the destinations and the amazing geography (Atacama Desert, the Lake Region and Patagonia to name a few). None of which I’ve visited but have heard amazing things about all and more! But the great thing is that there’s pretty much something for everyone in Chile with regards to leisure. Granted, I’d argue that we don’t really have amazing beaches here but then again, I’m from San Francisco where the beaches were also non-existent and cold.

I also like the tomatoes here. I wasn’t such a huge fan of tomatoes when I lived back home, but would dabble in them with the occasional lettuce here and there. Since I’ve moved to Chile this has completely changed! I eat tomatoes, literally, on a daily basis. They’re sweet and have a very distinct tomato smell and taste. Never grainy and always juicy (but not too ripe.) Just perfect. Ahhh, the perfect tomato!

In general, people here are friendly, even if (in my opinion and for what THAT’S worth) there’s too much predictability among the GENERAL public. But even this lends itself to a pleasant surprise when you do meet people that are more out-of-the-box than the norm, such is the case with many of the people with whom I attend school. I was relieved to speak with women who were career focused, not family focused (yet) and who are all pretty much close to my age. I continue to find similar things in common with people there and it truly does give a feeling of not being alone in this big, bad, less developed world. Also, the people are more “en confianza” (trusting, comfortable in knowing you) and when you do spark a conversation with them more than once, eventually they’ll open up a much deeper side of their lives than their counterparts would in the U.S. Sure it might seem inappropriate at times, but mostly it’s engaging. After all, if some little old lady is telling me that romaine lettuce gives her awful gas, I can’t help but laugh!

Also, people here just like to hang out and talk about whatever. There need not be an agenda on topics, they’ll talk to you about the stop light and how it hasn’t worked in three weeks. Some of these people like to ask about your entire lineage – how are they? Did your aunt get over that hip issue? did the dog recover? Can you believe she’s pregnant? And so on. You gotta love the openness in sharing everything AND the constant desire to interact.

And the little old ladies here are a hoot for the most part. No, they shouldn’t be driving, but then again they shouldn’t be driving anywhere … but her old school views on the world, her knit sweaters and the way she truly believes that her dog (a poodle, naturally) will get “jealous” if she is seen petting another dog (ie Obi) is really endearing. Plus, you gotta love the fact that they wear “medias” (stockings) even on warm days.

Chile is actually really modern and considering how small it is, I find it to be quite globalized. I’ve noticed that there’s all kind of restaurants out there and even all kinds of ingredients to make the most far out recipes you can think of… or that might just be my experience since I’m not that daring in the kitchen in the first place. And modern – the fact that one can get on the bus and metro by simply placing a card against a sensor that “beeps” and deducts your money, to me, is brilliant. Considering that Caltrain and Muni back home are still working off a system that was surely invented in the 80s. Meaning, I still have to count change in order to pay for tickets on both. The retailers issue credit cards, with VISA logos, on the spot. There’s no waiting for the bank to send it to you in the mail in 5-7 business days. And when you pay at a restaurant, they don’t take your credit card to the machine to swipe and then bring back your receipt… no no… they use these nifty machines which they bring right to your table

Where you can add tip, confirm the amount and wa-la! Receipt prints out and you’re good to go! Maybe this exists in the US already … but I’ve never seen it so I think it’s brilliant of Chile. Granted, the reason this is done is safety. It wasn’t and isn’t considered ‘safe’ to let your cards out of your sight. Where once it was offered as more of an added-value, I think later it turned into the norm it is now.

And finally, I’ll add that one more good thing about Chile is how the little carts at the airport are free. In the US, you have to pay $5 bucks for them! What a rip off!!

So there you have it, my short, though not all-inclusive, list of what makes Chile cool. There is more, of course, lots more. But I think the other stuff warrant exclusive posts.

But more importantly, what do you think? What makes Chile cool? Talk to me, goose.

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I’m all growns up

Being a grown up is hard. This coupled with the fact that I can no longer take comfort in the phrase, NOR THE MERE IDEA of, “When I grow up…”

Too late! Adulthood, here I am. I got here a while ago I guess but when you’re single it’s so much easier to pretend there’s a point in time somewhere in the future when you’re going to be all growns up. Looking back, when one is single, it’s really much easier to accept being down or having things go completely awry. You still have the future, some point in time when you’ll be married and run a home and have a dog, share debt with your sig other and hell, maybe even have offspring.

I look around and confirm that yes, I’m already there, minus the the kid part. So it makes it that much harder when things aren’t going well in a particular area in life because I tend to be pretty hard on myself and I wonder, “Where is the baller lifestyle I once dreamed I’d have?” This notion has nothing to do with not being grateful for what I have: my lovely husband, my wonderfully cozy apartment, my cute albeit high maintenance dog, my health, that of my family’s etc. These are all things I’m particularly happy to have going well. In fact, so much goes well, I often feel bad for wanting more in other areas.

I’m stuck somewhere in the middle of the life I willingly and wholeheartedly chose (here in Chile with all that it implies) and the life I thought I’d have given the people I know and where I grew up. Something is just not adding up.

I wanted to be a relatively young, hip mom. The kind who does yoga, cares about what she wears and always leaves the house with little heels on. The kind of tells her kid to question the status quo and who dresses her girls in black vs the typical boring pink so many moms choose. In my head this mom has most avenues of her life in line which is the main reason the kid exists in the first place. In my mind, this could have been me if only certain things would have worked out a little bit better than they have thus far …

The older I get, the more I fear that opportunities are farther from my reach. There’s challenges in both being old and young, but here in Chile the challenge is more with those of us who are old. Unfortunately here in Chile, my age is considered middle age… adult, old, kind of over, where you are is where you’ll be, kind of thing. There’s more to why I feel this way but those thoughts will remain offline … Unlike CA where this same age means prime time of life. It’s a little weird to adjust to that. Everyone I know socially in Chile is younger than me. My uncle always tells me that this is the best thing, associating one’s self with younger people as this too keeps one young. I definitely agree. But I look at them in wonder at how the pages of their lives aren’t yet written because they’re young. If they stay here, they have an advantage. If they leave, they have time to get their act together back in the US so as to be in tip top shape for their prime time 30s. What a win-win situation, I think.

On a nostalgic note, I used to want to be a writer. In fact it used to be one of my life’s goals, the idea of writing a novel. I used to really like to write and imagined I’d one day be the next Isabel Allende. Obviously that didn’t happen and the writing is now limited to this blog, which of course, is better than no writing. I once had this idea to write about an airport and everything that happens there. The different stories behind why each person is there. I thought it to be quite interesting since some people go to see their kid’s off to college; some go to see their lost love’s leave; some go because of work; some because they’re trying to find their path somewhere else. So many stories that I thought for sure it would make for a good novel. Then I thought it would be really cool to write about my family’s story with the idea being to go back about two generations. You might not believe the story of my family and all I can equate it to is Isabel Allende’s “The House of the Spirits.”

I once thought I’d be a journalist too. This was the reason I studied Communications in the first place. Lo and behold I come to find out that such a degree means nothing here in Chile and it’s as if I merely graduated from high school. This is the main motivator behind deciding to go back to school again for a graduate degree. Maybe it would have been easier to have just kept on with the Journalism bit back in the day. Now of course, I’m too old.

I’m an adult and in Chile, I’m a middle aged adult. This is the hand I’ve dealt myself and I’m learning to adjust. I say this because in my head I feel like I’m still young and on top of the world. IN MY HEAD. Outside my head the reality is different.It would make it far easier for me to have certain things work out in a slightly more positive manner but I’ll remain hopeful that this will soon be the case. Absolutely nothing in Chile is easy and I was delusional for thinking it might be.

But don’t mind me … right now I’m just a little scared of having arrived at the Adult phase without all of my equipment.

Fast forward to minute 1:15. This sums it up.

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Date on, evil woman! Date on!

I know a lot of you have been wondering about a certain element in our lives – a plague, a tumor, a zit on the face of humanity …how’s it been since the wedding, you ask? Not that G shares any kind of insight on that dark side of existence but I’m happy to share something that’s becoming more and more evident as days pass:

It would seem b*tch face has a boyfriend.


Since this blog is relatively public and whatever I write can (and would) be used against me (or G) by said b*tch face, I’m going to have to leave it at that. If you know who I’m talking about and what it means for there to be a sad little man in her life right now, join me in a happy dance!

Happy, happy, joy, joy. Happy, happy, joy! Second verse, same as the first!

Oh but I do feel sorry for said sad little man, for he knows not what’s to come if he stays. Though, for our sake, I do hope she’s charming enough, for long enough, to nail him down. And I hope he’s stupid and tolerant enough to propose marriage. Don’t get me wrong, I wish them a lifetime of everlasting love but the reality is that SOMEONE’S true colors are going to come flying out. I just hope she keeps a lid on them long enough for them to make the thing LEGIT. I’m not gonna lie.

That’s my news – short, sweet and totally vague. Let’s pop some bubbly to that, mkay?

And happy dance!

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The recession’s a b*tch

Today it officially “went public” that my current employer laid off 40% of its workforce yesterday in an attempt to respond to the financial crisis surrounding most businesses in these times. In a sweeping motion, about 55 people lost their jobs … and I gotta say, it’s a sad, sad day for us all, even if these cuts don’t necessarily affect me.

I currently work for this company as an independent, so I’m not technically on their roster of employees and of course, I’m not included in the overhead of additional costs such as insurance, medical, etc. I began working for this company in January 2004 so I’ve seen it through it’s highs and lows and even barely survived previous lows when lay offs were necessary. All in all, I’ve been nothing but grateful for my chance to continue to work with them even from afar. I’ve commented on this a few times on my blog, actually.

It’s sad to watch this company go through another set of lows, this one by far the lowest valley it’s walked across since I’ve been involved with them. I know it’s not a matter of the company itself but more so, the company’s reaction to its environment. In fact, article after business article seem to echo the sentiment that things are going to get worse before they get better. There’s even an entire website dedicated to listing which companies have laid people off and how many were laid off. Check it out for some depressing statistics.

I remember my company’s highest high (that I’ve witnessed anyway) and it was in 2005 or 2006, I believe. We had just merged with another company and to commemorate that, a huge party was thrown for all of our partners during one of the biggest conventions our industry holds. To this day partners still talk about that party – the location (NYC), the food, the drinks – it was really memorable. Following that, we acquired one of the most popular brands to come out of Japan – EVER – and with that came a roller coaster ride of success. Those were good times. Because we had this NEW BRAND in our portfolio, we rubbed elbows with big wig companies in our field and were wined and dined by many just so that they could be a part of the NEW BRAND team. I look back with nostalgia because at that moment in time, it seemed we could accomplish anything (dare say, could we be the Disney of Japanese animation?) Our reality was big enough to hold our dreams.

2009 and 2010 have brought on a completely different reality that folds both the economic environment and the declining sales of our products into a burrito called LAY OFFs.

My company had a cool working environment because the people were from different walks and so many of them were these brilliant, creative minds. The people made the company brew with life. And I imagine that those who didn’t return to the office today are going to miss that the most. I know because I went through that too. Nostalgia kicks in, you feel medicated with it and for a second, you just remember all the good times, all the everyday crap you used to take for granted and even all the annoying walls you’d hit working with the bureaucracy that surrounded us. And even those who do return to the office today (aside from lucky them for having jobs) it’s a b*tch to return and see your colleagues gone. It kind of makes your heart sink, actually. Again, I know because I’ve been at both ends. I’ve had to walk away from the company, the comfort of the everyday gig, the joy of the weirdo people and I’ve also had to go into the office and look around me only to find empty seats of the former team members who once occupied them. There’s such a weird, emotional, sad and depressing feeling about layoffs and I think that it’s not about the money lost or the hassle of paperwork. If you’ve been there long enough, being removed for whatever reason, feels like being kicked out of your home. Or like someone broke up with you.

But I guess I’m looking at it through my experience and trying to understand the whole landscape of what just went down. I truly believe the people who run the company are good people and I am willing to bet that the decision to make such a drastic move didn’t come easy. For those who today are at home, searching employment websites, I offer this: the upgrade is inevitable. I hope that all those who are no longer with the company do find that moment when they look back and think “I’m glad that happened, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.” [wherever ‘here’ happens to be.]

And if I knew you, my personal sentiment to you is this: whatever comes next, will be amazing.
(Now, if you happen to be stoked on all that went down, then my message to you is: carry on. Drink a beer and be on your merry way!)

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Religion

After going through the hoopla of wedding planning, and further, realizing what it means in Chilean society to get married in a Catholic Church, I really started to examine my faith. Does this sound weird? Hold on, give it a second. Let me elaborate.

I grew up Catholic and spent the first part of my school years attending Catholic School …and I LOVED IT. Seriously I have THE BEST memories from that time in my life. I attended a small, relatively unknown Catholic school called St. Monica’s in San Francisco and as far as I can tell, the uniforms and curriculum are still the same. The principal has changed (now it’s a man vs. a nun) but for the most part, things look pretty much as they did back in the early 80s when I attended. I remember the school yard and being separated from the boys until 6th grade when we were finally allowed to mingle together. I remember roll call in the morning in the school yard, each line according to class and each person according to last name. The Student Body President (an 8th grader naturally) would read the announcements and lead the school in a prayer and Salute to the flag. All this after declaring: “Attention” (when we’d all drop our school bags to our feet); “Arms Distance” (where we’d each put our right hand on the right shoulder of the person in front of us – you know, so as to be at arm’s distance), followed by something else that I can’t quite remember right now but it led into a prayer and then the salute. Good times!! I love structure, even to this day! I remember all the fun stuff, even Choir rehearsal and attending Church. I loved singing and even being called to read a passage from the Bible at the podium. The music and choir teacher was a nun who was evil as sin and mean like the Grinch … we all hated and feared her – Sister Miriam Jean … it was awesome! Further, I remember having to stand up next to my desk, alongside all my classmates and address each person who entered the class “Good afternoon Sister Margareta Marie, Thank you Sister Margareta Marie.” Ahhhh … classic. In 5th grade we had a teacher (a nun) who made us stop and pray each time we heard a siren on the street and given that the school is located on Geary, one of the busiest streets in San Francisco, you can imagine the disruption each and every day. Finally, sex ed, which started in 6th grade, was referred to as “Family Life.”

From the outside looking in, I know all this sounds crazy … too structured and archaic even. But I had a blast and thankfully, also received a really solid education due to the structure imposed on us by the nuns. When I first began attending public school in 8th grade, I was floored at how many people couldn’t spell basic things! All in all, a very positive experience for me, that Catholic school.

So why is it that now I feel the farthest from the Catholic church?

In fact, I’ve seriously started considering Judaism as a source of faith that I can actually believe in. Yeah, Charlotte York style but minus the Jewish husband.

I can’t say for sure that this is where I’m headed because like all things in my life, all major decisions, I need to research until their are no more texts left on the Internet to research. I want to know from A-to-Z what the Jews believe, what their customs are, how that differs from what I’ve known and what that may mean to my future kids. The sad part is that I’ve very casually looked online to see what’s out there in Chile …. and I’m not even sure there’s a temple here!! How is there no Rabbi in this country?? How can there be so few Jews that no one has insight??

The point of all this is that I’ve lost a lot of my faith. Though I’m at the beginning of a quest to change that because I feel that there is something more to life than just us humans. I believe in God and I believe in a greater power. Where I focus this belief is still an unknown to me. But despite all that, because I was taught from a very young age that faith and spirituality enrich your life, I truly believe this to be the case. And this is why I’m determined to find out exactly what it is I believe in. I can’t imagine my life being complete without something to believe in, something to comfort me and something to guide me. But hey, that’s just me.

In the meantime, I still think it’s really weird that G’s kids gloat about going to Church every other Sunday (when they’re not with us) and that they randomly bust out in Catholic songs while doing the most ordinary of things. The me now thinks it’s really, really weird and all I can think is “Dear God don’t let my kids be one of them” … even though I know that *I* was one of them back in the day!!

I just want something to believe in that makes sense to me. Something that I can encourage my kids to believe and participate in as well.

Incidentally this by NO MEANS includes Mormonism. Those who know me know what I have to say about that … but I digress. Though I do invite you to laugh a little …

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You mess with my dog, you mess with me

See this face?



Believe it or not, more often than not, people in this twisted country are SCARED OF IT. And I have to say that I’m getting pretty fed up with the whole notion of it.

When G and I take him downstairs in the elevator so that he can run around outside in the grass, we’ve experienced everything from kids screaming in fear, to women backing up in the corner so as not to touch him, to people literally looking into the elevator when it stops on their floor on our way down and saying “We’ll catch the next one.”

Does he bite? Absolutely and definitely NOT. Does he jump up and get excited around people and other dogs? Yes, very much so. But then again, he’s FIVE MONTHS OLD. He’s learning that jumping up is bad and he’s also learning that pulling on his leash to get closer to a person so that they can pet him (in his mind obviously that’s what they want to do) doesn’t get him any closer to the person. In fact, when before he used to pull and pull and pull, now he pulls and sits when he realizes he’s not advancing. He weighs 25 pounds, yes he’s a big dog but if one more person looks at him and says “Wow, he’s big. He’s going to grow even more?” I’ll seriously punch them in the face. The story is getting old, people. Can your square minds conjure up something a little more creative?

One thing I was stoked on when we decided to get a dog was that in SOME WAYS, Chile is pretty pet friendly. Upon further inspection I realized that this only applies to two things: 1) pretty much everyone has a dog and 2) there are a whole lot of vet options. Other than that, I feel I was led astray under a false pretense. Chile is NOT the dog friendly place I once thought it was, considering that you can’t really take your canine anywhere that’s not a park or a street. You can imagine how I felt in New York where dogs, in comparison, seem to wander free, checking out the spots and drinking mocha frapuccinos with skim milk (not lowfat because that’s a West Coast expression) next to their owners.

I’ve taken to completely ignoring my neighbors when I’m downstairs or outside with Obi. They can’t be bothered with him and therefore I can’t be bothered with them. G and I are already foreseeing that people who live in the building are going to complain and what they’ll mostly complain about is their fear of the aggression they anticipate Obi will have when fully grown. They believe this because he jumps around when he sees other people and pulls and pulls to get near them. Um… cut to the point when (and if) the person allows Obi to get close and he puts his face on the floor so that they can pet him. Yeah – super scary, square heads!

But the biggest indicator of his personality now and in the future is how he acts with G’s kids. Again, when they walk through the door, Obi is jumping around FREAKING OUT happy to see them. After a while, he’s over them and carrying on with whatever his business happens to be. The kids pet him, play with him, brush him, love him, HUG him, get on the floor with him and as far as I can tell, the kids go home to their mom after the weekend in ONE PIECE.

The problem isn’t Obi, it’s Chilean custom and society. Bulldogs aren’t the norm anywhere but LEAST OF ALL here in Chile. It’s beyond these people who dislike him for no reason that Bulldogs EVERYWHERE are a status dog and hello – not a guard dog or a fighting dog. Further, unlike SO MANY people in this world (many Chileans as well) I did my research on this dog and can surely have experts testify (I’m all geared up for court, peeps!) that this breed is passive, non-aggressive, calm, LAZY, good with children and ideal for apartments (due to their almost-non-existent need for exercise). So when the people in my building wonder if he’s a good breed for an apartment, excuse me, but can I just yell “DO YOUR F-ING RESEARCH BEFORE YOU TELL ME ABOUT MY DOG, B*TCH!”



Sorry about that, blog readers. That was mostly aimed towards the woman who lives on the 8th floor and my neighbor across the way. Both of whom look at my dog with disgust and apprehension…But now that we’re on the subject of them, I’d like to share that the neighbor has two sons, both college age. The woman on the 8th floor has a little girl, about one year. I’d like to complain that the neighbor’s sons play music as if IN A NIGHTCLUB all hours of the day when the parents aren’t home and once even had a party where their drunk friends started pounding on MY DOOR trying to get in. Did I complain? No. And though the woman on the 8th floor keeps her kid under wraps, as a person with no kids, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve refrained from complaining about children. I don’t have them so I can’t relate but trust me, I’m aware of them more than you know and I keep it to myself when annoyed.

And speaking of the problem being Chilean culture, the poodles have GOT.TO.GO. There are about 1,294 that live in my building alone (slight exaggeration) and they YAP YAP YAP at everything and everyone. Mainly owned by square couples or old people, they poop all over the place and their delightful owners NEVER clean up after them. Again, do I complain? No.

These people would pass out in a city like New York, where you see every breed imaginable and they all live in apartments (or if they’re lucky, town homes and penthouses). I’m talking Great Danes, German Shepards, Bulldogs, Pugs, Collies, Chihuahuas and everything in between and no one cares! They have boutiques dedicated exclusively to pets and it’s the only city in the world where I feel comfortable enough asking if the collar comes with a matching leash (it did). This city and its attitude towards dogs would, in short, BLOW THE MINDS of the people in my building. Sweet buttermilk biscuits, I wish I could blow their minds …

Dear 50% of the Chilean population (or more, who knows) and Dear People who live in my Building:

Yes I have a bulldog. Yes he’s a puppy and he’s going to grow even more, maybe reach 50 pounds as a fully grown adult. Yes’ he’s funny looking and walks like a crab. I don’t expect you – or even WANT you – to think he’s cute. I get that he doesn’t look like an Ewok or those fuzzy, cuddly Gremlins and I’m ok with that. I’m sorry he’s in his jumpy, happy-to-be-near-people-phase but I’m working on teaching him that jumping up is bad. People good, jumping up bad. Just as I imagine it took you some time to teach your kid to walk, my dog needs time to learn to behave. Just like your kid, mine is a kid and he deserves to have the chance to act like a puppy. Just as I don’t look at your kids and scorn the fact that he/she’s there, please don’t look at my puppy that way. Like it would you, it breaks my heart. He didn’t ask to come here, I brought him here and the bottom line is that he makes us very happy in our home.

What’s that you say? You don’t care and highly dislike him anyway because you IMAGINE he bites? Oh, and you continue to look at him with disdain, as if he’s ugly and gross?

You mess with my dog, you mess with me. And hell hath no fury like a woman scorned …over her bulldog.

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The question always asked

I thought I’d shed a little 411 – or at least some subjective perspective – on the question of G’s kids. It’s the question that always comes up and even if it doesn’t, it’s the question that people quietly ponder. How is it with the kids … or, how do you feel about the kids?

G has kids from his previous marriage. Like many couples in Chile, post-college marriage is the next step for a couple who has been dating for years. This was the case with G and lucky for me (perhaps not so lucky for the former wife), things didn’t work out as the case may be for many. Sh*t happens. Mainly it’s that Chile has these crazy societal pressures about getting married if you’ve been with someone longer than 2 years. Or maybe it’s the lack of opportunities present at the time being, that marriage seems like a viable option. Not to belittle that LOVE might actually be a player in this decision, the fact of the matter is that MANY times, it’s not love as we like to think of it (romantic, butterflies-in-stomach, can’t-breathe-without-eachother kind of love.) Though I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that the love I just put in parenthesis up there is the kind of love we feel right now … I’m so blessed to have gotten married with THAT kind of love. I’m not going to pretend to know the kind of love that existed when G married the first time, at the tender age of 25, but I CAN attest that it was NOT the kind of love we have for each other.

Then again we’re older – I’m 33, he’s 34. We’ve seen the world – literally been to countries on the other side of the globe. We’ve worked our a**es off in our careers to advance as much as possible. We’ve looked for higher education – these are all things that weren’t present in his first relationship as a husband that are present now. Experience, age, wisdom, desire to succeed, worldliness. Call it what you will, my point here is to build a picture for you, the reader, of the differences in time, people and circumstances surrounding his first marriage and his second (and final) marriage to me.

What occurred in the first marriage that is for now absent in our marriage is the subject of this blog: his children. He has one little girl and one little boy, born respectively.

My objective thoughts on them are these: they are very well-behaved, highly educated, highly charismatic children. If I were to hold any feelings of contempt for his ex-wife, I’m not an idiot and can recognize that she has done an exceptional job with their children. They are, in short, pleasant. Of course Gonzalo deserves credit as well, but be it as it may, laws in Chile don’t usually allow for joint custody, split 50-50 and as such, the kids spend the majority of their time with their mother. I’m right in saying “Hats off” to her for how she has influenced her children for the most part.

Hand-in-hand goes how G has been as a father. Being the product of divorced parents myself, I can attest that G is by far – literally by far – THE BEST father children from a divorced family could ask for. To say that he’s present as much as allowed by his ex is saying the truth. He calls EVERY DAY – literally every day no matter where in the world he is … that’s when he’s not actually WITH THEM. Otherwise, he has a set schedule of when he’s with them and he adheres to this schedule as much as his life allows him to (considering he travels for work and sometimes travels with me as in honeymoon). But even then, he always plans any trip considering the weekends he has the two kids. And when he’s with them it’s not simply “ok here’s the DVD player, what movie do you guys want to see?” It’s full on INTERACTION. Whether it’s planning an educational trip (like the zoo), or a family lunch with his mom and brother or just playing Wii – he’s RIGHT THERE with them, always. I simply can’t reiterate it enough – he’s an amazing father to his kids. AMAZING. And even THAT word falls short.

So what’s it like for this gringa to be a third wheel in all this? I’m not gonna lie – it ain’t easy, kid. Selfishly, I want G all to myself. Even at my own wedding, I feel I danced with him and was PHYSICALLY with him less than 50% of the time. That’s hard for any new bride at her wedding; I can’t imagine I’m the only one. Further, as with most little girls and their fathers, his daughter adores him and wants him all to HERSELF. After all, she doesn’t get to live with him 24/7 like I do. This means that when I’m with him and they’re here, there are no me-and-him seconds … the kids have radars that go off if I come within two feet of him! I’m exaggerating here but it’s as if this were indeed the case. I make it a point to be more distant when they’re around (so as allow father-child time and not interfere) but the second I forget that distance and move in for the hubby/wifey time with a mere kiss – INCOMING!! Children are at our feet … with no particular point or question in mind … just that they want to be present more so than I am in his eyes.

If you think about it for a second from my perspective I hope you understand how awkward this can be. I will understand your gut reaction to defend their actions and reactions so I hope you take JUST ONE second to empathize with the awkwardness that ensues all around me when the kids are around. I’m this random third wheel. Yes, their dad didn’t live with their mom for many years before I came around so (THANKFULLY) I’m not the woman who “replaced mommy.” But instead, I’m the woman who stole their dad’s time and 100% devotion. So there’s this CRAZY competition for his attention.

Competition is the wrong word because it implies that I participate. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I SO don’t participate, that I go in the extreme opposite direction and basically build my own life and agenda on the days the kids are here. My thought being “Go, be with your dad! Run wild and free. I’m peacing out.” Which of course, to G, is a nightmare. Basically our main reasons for arguing is this that I’ve just described. I go one way, he goes another with his kids … but he’d rather that I go WITH him in the direction he goes with his kids when they’re here.

I know it’s the logical thing to do, the family thing to do (after all, he and I are now family), the RIGHT and loving thing to do … but I’m not there yet.

For us, I hope to get there sooner rather than later. I know he suffers when I distance myself because he misses me just like I miss him. The weekends the kids are with us literally feel like days I haven’t seen him. Yes, we’re in the same apartment, sleep in the same bed and basically move around the same areas, but it’s NOT the same.

I hope time bridges this gap and eases all awkwardness.

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