Monday, November 29, 2010

Going Local

One of the great things about getting out of Santiago, and especially of going down to southern Chile, is the local products and dishes. There are areas known for certain agricultural products, fruits, other areas for wine, others made famous for national or regional dishes, and then there are dairy products like cheese and butter that just taste so much better bought from some little farm or local factory and sold at a picturesque road-side stand.

For example, we stopped for lunch and ate "Plateada" which is a cut of meat similar to brisket, but cut in thick strips, slow cooked--braised really, and served with potatoes. It is a dish that is served all over Chile (as far as I know), but for some reason in Romeral, at the restaurant "Colo-Colo" it has gained national fame.

Then, on our long drive from the south of Chile back to Santiago, we stopped and stocked up on some local goodies:

Longaniza (sausage-above) and home-made country cheese from Chillan (below)

and cherries from Curicó

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Life gets harder...

Ok, that is a blantant lie!

It hasn't gotten harder (yet... but I am sure it will). Life did get more breathtaking for a week as we accompanied my father-in-law to his conference in Puerto Varas, a small touristy town just north of Puerto Montt, in the Lake Region of southern Chile (about 1000 KM/621 mi--10 hours by car with my speed-devil FIL).

Puerto Varas is one the shores of one of the biggest lakes in Chile: Lago Llanquihue (yan-QUI way) with the background view of two volcanos: Osorno and Calbuco.

Among Chileans there is a kind of collective nostalgia for the south of Chile... captured in one of the songs from Los Prisioners in the 80's: Tren al sur

With its lakes, rivers, forests, volcanoes, mountains, and fjords (and lots of rain) it is also a popular destination for tourists who come to Chile. I love the south of Chile, I think because it is very similar to the geography of the Pacific Northwest where I lived for many years. In fact if you flip the globe they are on parallel inverted lattitudes (if that makes any sense).

While travelling with two small tots is never exactly relaxing, we did have a great time and enjoyed the stunning scenery.

We ate in places like these:

I tried raw oysters for the first time. I tried to photo-document it, but it turns out I am not all that attractive while eating, so I will spare you that photo. Verdict: they are actually pretty good, I am not sure why I resisted so long.

By far, the highlight of the trip was the Saltos de Petrohue, a series of falls at the base of the Osorno Volcano.

I still can't get over the color of the water... mesmerizing!

Lovely, huh?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Don't hate me...

... just because I get to spend weekends and holidays here... (meet my father-in-law's beach house in Mirasol)

My brother-in-law (who is an arquitect) designed it.

Did you see that?

Yes, that is the view!

My hubs helped come up with ideas for the gardens...

We hung out at the beach

and went here

and ate this

with this lousy view

It was a tough weekend! But you can feel a little bad for me because on the beach, my hair looks like this:

And though our first day was lovely-sunny, our second day was only lovely-cloudy

I went running on the beach in the drizzle and then had to spend the rest of the morning like this, meditating over coffee...

The kids were clearly unhappy too

So, you see, there are some perks to living in Chile...

Now, when are you coming to visit?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


After a long over-night flight trying to make the kids comfortable enough to sleep, hence without sleeping much ourselves, we are here, in Chile. It almost doesn't feel real yet.

Our first few days we spent recovering and having long lunches, full of welcome speeches, with my husband's family. The kids have loved having all this new attention, they love their new room and new toys, playing with their aunts and uncles and cousins and Tata (grandpa). They don't seem to be having any problems living in a new country.

oh, except G REFUSES to speak Spanish. She understands, but she won't answer or repeat... I am sure that will change, but for now I think it is important to respect her process.

These first few days have been vacation-like, but I know the complicated part is just about to get started. After a few days of rest, we started "tramites" (errands), bureaucratic steps, like getting ID cards and practical matters, like getting a cell phone.

It is odd to be back in a country, a city that I knew much better at one time, but now only vaguely remember. So much has changed and so much has remained the same, it is both disconcerting and comforting.

It is a re-encounter with many things, some positive, like the view of the Andes, the corner stores where I ran to get bell peppers and then 10 miuntes later returned to get oregano while we were in the middle of cooking lunch and others negative, like the ambiguity of all bureaucratic processes which result in standing in line at the registro civil to get my carnet (ID card) discovering that I am missing a step, making a trip downtown and standing in line at International Police to register my visa, a step that the consulate failed to mention and that wasn't specified anywhere on the website, and now I get to go back to stand in line again to get my ID or going to the supermarket (Jumbo)--OH MY GOODNESS! the number of people they can fit in a store here!.

I took the metro (subway) downtown today to run some of these errands. The subway system is awesome and would totally be awesomer except for the herds of people that make it intolerable at certain times of the day at certain stops. But it was lovely to walk around my old stomping grounds (I used to live and work right down town, a few blocks from La Moneda--the presidential palace).

I had to change dollars into pesos, so between that and carrying some important documents, like my passport, I was a little nervous. My husband says I am too cute to rob, but I am not sure that is a good enough deterrent ;-) haha. That is another thing that will be hard to get used to-the sense that you have to be cautious and aware at all times.

We went to the cemetery today to visit my mother-in-law's gravesite (my husband hadn't been back here since just before she passed away four years ago this month).

I saw so many interesting things and didn't have my camera

... next time, I promise.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane

My flight from the US to Chile is imminent... a countable number of hours away. I won't be more specific just in case I do have an internet stalker who would love to foil my plans... with my luck in this move, that might just be the case.

I can't believe the departure is finally here. It has been an exhausting week, packed to the minute with last minute details and good-byes.

We had to go to Houston on Monday for our last papers. The legalization of my university documents and the kids emergency travel papers (in lieu of a Chilean passport to enter Chile as Chilean). It had to be left to the end because they give you a window of 10 days to travel. So the timing of everything has been a little stressful.

It is about a 2.5-3 hour drive. About an hour into it, we started having car problems. We decided to risk it and keep driving. We HAD to make it to the consulate. There were a few scary moments, but we got to our exit, pulled up to a red light and the car died... like died, died-couldn't even pull the key out of the ignition.

But considering a quite unfortunate situation we were VERY fortunate!

We were two blocks from the consulate.

We were right next to a Starbucks and 3 guys came over and helped push the car into a parking lot.

One of the three guys used to be a mechanic at his parent's garage, so he set us up with towing numbers and his parents. He looked under the hood and said it was the serpentine belt (runs the alternator--all the power for the car)

We finished our activities at the consulate and got the car towed to this guy's parents' shop.

His parents are perhaps the sweetest people we have met in a long time. The man is in his mid 70's, has had a heart-attack, and is hard of hearing. His wife of 60 years works by his side, helping run the same old-time garage for over 50 years. All of their 5 kids have worked there at some time.

Our car isn't very common in Texas (where you are no one if you don't have a Ford 150-it is bizarre) so it was hard to find the part. This little old woman called and ran all over Houston, until 8:00, trying to find the right size belt finally found one, but the store closed. So we had to wait until the next day. The man had been helping entertain the kids with little Texaco trucks from the 50s and 60s. The woman took us to Target to get some supplies and then to a Hotel nearby.

In the end, the bill was much less than we had imagined. the belt itself cost about 70 and I think they charged us for 1.5 hours of labor, plus the towing, so it was not the catastrophic amount we imagined when we broke down.

We were so moved by the generosity of these people, going way above and beyond what a normal garage would do for you... so sweet! He even asked for our address so he can send us the photos he took of my filthy kids playing with trucks.

It was one of those experiences that alters your view of humanity.

We drove back yesterday and have since been lost in a whirlwind of tasks.

......and my next post will be from SANTIAGO, CHILE!!!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

River play

Still waiting on the consulate, of course...

We are having lovely fall weather so we got out today to enjoy it. I finally let my hubs talk me into renting a canoe with the kids. I have fought it until now because the idea of tipping over and having to try to save the kids with my lousy swimming skills frightens me. But they are getting old enough to know to sit still so we did it. They loved it of course! We also rode the train (and saw Jack Black) and had pizza and snow cones.

It is still in the upper 80s here so my little fishie begged to play in the water. It was a little mossy for my taste, but she clearly had no problem.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Shipping News

Have you read that book? It is good, but slow, and not at all what this post is about.

It is not that I have been lazy about blogging, I promise, just busy keeping the kids from chasing the cats and being loud and touching things and running or jumping... just being kids, generally, which seems to be annoying to people who don't have kids... but they will soon, so they will see.... haha, the joke is on them...

We have had some delightfully informative conversations about parenting and discipline where I like to say: "Yes, that is brilliant... in theory" ... and then I chuckle knowingly to myself.

The good news is that we finally shipped our boxes. Our final pile looked like this:

We debated and fretted about what company to use for shipping and finally decided that one of the port-to-port alternatives we found (recommended by friends in Costa Rica)would be cheaper and much more straight-forward. It does mean that we had to take our boxes to Houston (the port) and we will have to pick them up in Valparaiso (Port in Chile).

In the end it feels like any method of shipping you use and any company you contract, you end up genuflecting, silently blessing your boxes, closing your eyes and just hoping it all works out. But it feels SOOO good to finally have that taken care of.

They were organized on three pallets and shrink wrapped and measured and weighed. There is about 10 cubic meters and probably over 3000 pounds.

It kind of looks like a lot of boxes, so it is surprising how useless most of it is in terms of setting up a house. It is all books and tools, some kitchen stuff and a few toys.

The tools part was fun! I tried not to question what my hubs wanted to bring... I mean, I have boxes and boxes of books and I was adamant about bring other things(kitchen) that I know will be hard to find. So I tried not to be judgmental about the tools. But I found myself asking: "Really, there won't be shovels in Chile?" and "Where will you store that enormous and very heavy extension ladder?" and exactly what and where will you be digging with those three pick-axes?" But my hubs loves garden tools. What can you do?

The worst part was that every time I said we had to be packing, he'd start organizing his tools. It brought us close to divorce and nearly drove me insane. Now when people ask him what he is going to miss most I jump in and say "his wife."

One day he spent a good 20 minutes trying to take the head off of a rake-with different drill bits and then a saw and I said "really? is this a good use of time? how are you going to reassemble that?". I finally had to put my foot down and make him do something useful or die a slow and painful death. I am bossy and make very unrealistic threats to get my way. It is the only way to get things accomplished, I have found.

We are almost ready to fly... just have to get a hold of the consulate. I wish they would answer the phone.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Big changes coming up

So, we did it... we finally sold the house! It is done. We are out. We packed eveything we are sending to Chile in boxes; we packed everything we are carrying with us in suitcases. We signed away the first and only house we have ever owned.

There is so much about it that still seems surreal. I already miss my own space. I miss our friends down the street that I never tire of seeing. I miss the park two blocks away where we have gone almost daily for nearly 4.5 years. I have this heavy sadness now, though I have been too tired and busy keeping my kids from picking up, chasing, releasing into the wild, or otherwise harming (or being harmed) by the 5 cats of the friends we are staying with until we take off (yes, that is every bit as fun as it sounds.)

Is it always sad to leave a house? I am not sure. Perhaps, because we are not leaving it for a new house, where the sadness might be overtaken by the excitement of filling up a new space. There is excitment somwhere inside too, for the new adventure that lies ahead, but right now the sadness is most present. We are leaving our own space for a space that isn't ours. We are leaving a life already established for a life that will take a few years to settle into. We have sold almost everything we have accumulated in our 9 years of life together and will arrive with books and baking sheets.

So we will be heading out in a few weeks. We don't have a date yet, we still have to take care of a few things like shipping our things. As soon as that is taken care of or scheduled we'll buy tickets and make the final trip to the consulate for the final paperwork.

Can you believe it? Soon I'll be blogging from Chile!

Speaking about blogging from Chile... I have contemplated starting a new blog for this new chapter of my life (now with more photos! and fewer posts on marital strife!) ... would that confuse my 3 readers? Would that be annoying? Part of the reason is that I have never liked the title I gave this one... I just needed something-- played with a spanglish title and then settled for an alliteration obsession. But I am NOT actually all that "unabashed"-- well maybe about illegal immigration and health care reform-- but generally speaking, I don't just lay it all out there (or maybe you think I do, who knows?) so it has never seemed to fit. I even contemplated trying out a new blogging platform, like wordpress, but I don't know... does thata require a lot of patience? Because I am fresh out...

Any ideas? suggestions? objections?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Life is busy this week with my birthday and packing (yes! and yes!), but I wanted to leave you with something other than inherited relationship patterns...

It is fall! Well, in Texas, it is only fall-ish. This means temps drop into the mid sometimes even low 90s. I love fall. And even though it doesn't really feel like fall in Texas, I feel is an automatic reaction in my body. I start dreaming of pumpkins... so does my daughter, G.

She also starts talking about Halloween. This year, determined not to wait until the day before Halloween until I buy costumes, I bought them at the beginning of September. G is going to be a pirate--she is so excited. We found a little pirate dress to wear over some black leggings. I made her a patch and we found a sword, a hook, and hat and even some earings (clip-ons-and I will spare you my opinion on piercing little girls' ears). Nico is going to be a race car driver. He is very into driving--or playing with anything with a steering wheel. Apparently that really does come hard-wired in the male DNA because we have done nothing to encourage it.

I got a hook/sword set for Nico too because otherwise I would end up wanting to shoot myself in the foot as they fight over just one sword. It has kept them entertained, they run around the house yelling "Petah Pahn" (peter pan)

We have also done some fall art--though I have no arts-n-crafty bones in my body--seriously, my kids are art-deprived.

But we did do these:

I was thinking of the cute little poem by Calef Brown called "Polkabats" in his book Polkabats and Octopus Slacks. He writes the most imaginative little poems for kids and does these amazing illustrations. Check him out...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Who have you turned into?

(Note: to read more about the MHC-Major Histocompatibility Complex, that mechanism I mentioned in my last post by which you can "smell" whether a potential mate is genetically compatible, see teamawesomesquared's post here. It is one of her specialty areas... cool huh?)

Because we really haven't delved deep enough into relationships...

Even if a delectable smell and perfect body proportions are enough to initially incite your passions, not all pairings lead to a long-term relationship and/or marriage. There are complex reasons why we choose the mates we choose.

I know, in a way, over-analyzing love this way is not romantic. You will not find a fairy tale definition of love in my musings. It is all pheromones and your mother, here.

... and maybe a little astrology, I have told you that my husband and I are the 3rd generation of the Taurus-Virgo combination, right? Coincidence? Self-fulfilling prophecy? (My sister-in-law also married a Virgo, her husband's birthday is the same as mine and he and I have some interesting similarities... it makes you wonder... no?)

The psychology (caveat: I am clearly not a psychologist) behind choosing a mate, sub-consciously searching for certain characteristics and establishing a kind of relationship dynamic is a tangled but fascinating web.

My husband and I were watching a movie or a TV show the other evening and one guy made the observation that at some point in your marriage you discover that you are (or have turned into) either your partner's mother or father.

I turned to my husband and said: "Who am I babe? Your mother or father?"

Then I gasped and said: "Oh my god! I am your father..."

He kind of turned to me, with this odd look in his eye, a recognition, almost like shock. Then he said: "What about me?"

But, that is a tougher question. He is definitely not my mom, and the knowledge I have of my father is patchy. I know him, but haven't had much contact with him since my teen years. My husband is only like my father in the sense that he is not very communicative about his feelings, it has to be beaten out of him, but it seems like a lot of men are like that, so it would be hard to say I chose my father.

Clearly, if you both come from a very healthy dynamic, none of this is a concern. If the relationship models you both saw in your parents were loving and kind, none of these sub-conscious mechanisms will make you fearful.

Perhaps all I can say of my own parents is that they had an awful relationship. They were married for 13 years, had seven children and then divorced. Post-divorce they were just as hateful toward each other. My husband's parents were married over 35 years until his mother's death a few years ago, but they also had a bitter, painful, rancorous relationship.

The funny thing is that I have had two fears as a married woman: turning into my own mother (sorry, mom, you know it is complicated) and turning into my husband's mom.

I can't quite make sense of it all; there are these wheels constantly turning giving me a feeling that at some level we are recreating and reliving some set of patterns, that I can just sense but are beyond my complete grasp. Do you ever feel that way?

I am like my mother in some ways. It is odd how you seem to choose a mate who will allow you to turn into your mother (or your father), isn't it?

I am also like my mother-in-law, in some ways. After we were married I started seeing some of the parallels. My husband is similar to his father in the way he relates to me, and I in turn react much like his mother reacted. We have tried to be conscious of it, to work on creating a healthier dynamic. I guess in the end that is all you can do, take it a few steps farther, make it a little better than what you saw in your models.

But I honestly hadn't seen the ways that I had taken the role of his father, that one took me by surprise. I knew that we had some similarities in our upbringing: coming from chaos we have both become driven-we push ourselves. Yet, I hadn't considered the ways that we are both, not just driven, but drivers.

I don't believe that there is only one person we can be with. I think there are lots of possibilities for most of us. But in some ways it is absolutely uncanny that I would travel to the end of the world and happen to find the man with the perfect smell, who fits all of my safe requirements (if you remember my toleration post) and that together we happen to fulfill all the wierd psychological roles that need to be filled.

What's your story? Who have you turned into?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Decoding love

I am serious when I say I have been thinking about relationships lately... I have all these relationship ideas just floating around. So I am going to try to share them in some random, non-sensical fashion.

I think a lot about why we choose the people we choose, why we see some people as potential life partners whereas others just don't measure up. Our bodies must react, either negatively or positively, on several different levels.

I think biology has a lot more to do with it than we think. Do you ever wonder what kind of assessments or analysis your brain is doing sub-consciously?

I was reading an article about the science of love that mentioned research that was being done on the "major histocompatibility complex." It was only explained briefly, and it is not completely understood, but from what I understand, it deals with the messages your body sends through smell--chemicals, pheromones. At some level it is a kind of biological selection-choosing someone who is genetically compatibile with you.

This idea is fascinating because smell has always been a big factor for me--is that weird to say? It is not about deodorant or cologne or morning breath, just that bare-bones, man-in-his-essence smell that has to speak to me. I love my husband's smell; it has always driven me crazy. It is like my body knew that we would make these:

(One of my favorite pics of all time, captured by the hubs)

Not that all kids, or even my kids, are genetically perfect, or you may even choose not to have kids, but it seems that bodies send some kind of biological messages, which other bodies decode--the idea of sensing strong genetic what-ifs...

Do you ever think about the biological side of love? Does that take away some of the "magic"?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I recently got an email telling me I had been added to a list of travel blogs about Chile. The description of my blog was fine, but part of it made reference to my husband getting the raw end of the deal.

So I felt kind of bad for my sweet hubs and decided to make up for all the mocky, complainy things I have said about him here. I think all relationships have their weaknesses and strengths, and perhaps I more readily share some of my irritations, because they are more comical (in retrospect). But make no mistake: I got a good one… I am lucky.

I have been thinking about relationships lately anyway, not because mine is in crisis, but because of some things I have been reading and some conversations I have had.

Scenario 1) We are at the Chilean Consulate. I am talking to one of the female employees about my visa while the hubby entertains the kiddos. She notes: “He is good with your kids.” I confirm that this is true and that they adore him. She adds: “At least he is involved, if I ask my husband to help out he tells me to screw off.” Me: WOW!!

I told my husband about it later in the car. She is probably my age, not like she’s from an older generation, and her husband, though he is Chilean, grew up in the U.S., so I don’t know if the “it’s cultural” card can even be played… and my husband is Chilean and grew up in Chile. I can’t even imagine, seriously, having a husband who doesn’t or won’t participate in child-rearing.

Scenario 2) I am at a girls’ night in, at a friend’s house. We are laughing and the wine is flowing; one of the women turns to me and blurts: “Does your husband just fart ALL the time?” There are hysterical peals of laughter as many start sharing their stories… while I am thinking, “No, no he doesn’t.” Not that our home is “gasless”, but he doesn’t walk around just “lettin’er rip” or make a show of really “leaning into it” or lifting his leg and laughing about it. No, farting is not much of an issue here.

Scenario 3) I am talking to a friend as my husband is getting home from soccer practice. He suggests I should go give him a massage. I tell him that is not how it works. He said, basically, “if he doesn’t get what he needs at home, he will look for it elsewhere.” I just laughed and said, “No, he won’t.” He was surprised at how certain I was, he was incredulous that it wasn’t even a worry of mine. I am not naïve and it is not that I think I am ALL that with a cherry on top that he could not possibly be tempted elsewhere. I know that people are mysteries and can change and do things that are unexpected, but I know at least that much about him--it just is not in his make-up.

I have been ruminating about what we tolerate and what we don’t, in a relationship. It is fascinating how it varies so much from person to person, and how it is all intertwined with our upbringing, our relationship models, our interests, personalities, fears, and desires and how it changes over time. I am sure that other women look at parts of my relationship and think: “I would never tolerate that.” I look at some things other women deal with and think: “I would never tolerate that.” I know it is complicated. I know you have to pick your battles. There are things you thought you wouldn’t tolerate and you do because there is some kind of payoff. There are things you don’t tolerate because you chose a certain kind of person. There are things you thought you could accept that just seem to drive you insane. There are things you tolerated at the beginning and have grown an aversion to. There are things that might be unpleasant, like farting, but in the long run, really aren’t that important. There are things, like abuse, that I wish I could convince all women to never tolerate.

So just so you know how lucky I am, here is a list of things (besides farting and cheating ;-) that I don’t have to deal with: in many cases because he just doesn’t do it, isn’t interested, or it is not part of his nature, others that I don’t tolerate or probably wouldn’t tolerate even if he were into it—

No back hair
No video games.
No Sunday night or Monday night football… He rarely watches sports except soccer.
No ogling of women in front of me.
No porn.
No controlling or guilt.
No jealousy.
No yelling or screaming… ever.
No name-calling, belittling, or insulting, not even once, not even in anger-never.
He would never, ever physically hurt me.
He would never refuse to watch a “chick flick” with me.
He never gives me a hard time when I go out with the girls and leave him with the kids.
Oh, and if I ask him to carry my purse or go buy tampons, he doesn’t even blink!

You can say it: I have the perfect man!

It almost makes putting up with this and this and this… seem so minimal, doesn’t it?

What do you have to put up with? What are you lucky enough to not deal with?

(edit: or for all of you lucky enough not to be married/paired up (haha), make it past or conditionl: what would you tolerate/not tolerate? what have you had to tolerate?)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Running from lameness

Do you ever get those sad reminders of how lame, or lazy, or just reluctant you are of breaking free of your comfort zone?

I had one of those yesterday... so sad... so lame

I ran this:

Clearly, that is not the lame part, that was the awesome part!

It was fun!

But let me tell you, I was all sorts of hesitant to run it. A guy from my hubby's soccer team invited us. The team was me and 3 guys. I felt really insecure about it: about running with 3 guys, in a race, about being the slowest (which I was, but that is ok.) I couldn't believe I had agreed to it (that damn margarita!) but couldn't back out.

So we ran it. There were 4 laps, each one was 2.44 miles, which is not long. I usually run 5 miles, 3-5 times a week, but not running as fast as I can. It was just under 2.5 miles and I thought I was going to die. Maybe I need to plan better pre-race energy foods? I felt like I was going slower than ever, and it felt harder than ever... plus there was a little incline at the beginning--bonus!--I was like good god! you have to be kidding me! I am 50 feet into it and I am already out of breath and in a panic! But then it got better.

I was the slowest, but I ran a good time for me, which is really all that matters. I ran a 7.30 minute mile, when I usually run a 8.30-9.0 minute mile. So I finished in just over 18 minutes. My hubby and his friend both ran about a 6.15 mile and the last guy ran just under a 7.0 minute mile. I was happy I did it, just breaking out of my comfort zone and doing something different.

(note to self: learn how to drink while running! Between the movements and the heavy breathing, man, it is hard to swallow. I almost drowned in the two inches of water from the little paper cup I was handed on the route.)

So, the lame part is that I have lived in Austin for almost 9 years, I have RUN in Austin for almost 9 years, and I had never run an official race, not a 5K, not a 10K, not a half-marathon, not a relay. So lame!

I ran 3-4 races in the last year or two I lived in Chile, after I had gotten into running. But for some reason, here I just haven't even looked into it, or I make excuses that they start too early, that I am too tired, that I just had a baby, that I have too much studying to do... there are millions of excuses. But when you get together with a bunch of people who all love doing something you love to do, it is such a cool feeling and you feel so inspired (to train harder so you legs look like THAT!)

I talk all the time about running a marathon... I just need to do it! even if I am not as prepared as I want to be... maybe it is one of those things that maybe you never feel ready for.

So I am going to start running more races... and then I might sign up for this, a marathon in Chile, in December, along the Pacific Coast.

How so NOT lame would that be?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Confession # 8: Imperfections

How lame is it that I have only posted four times in August? Pretty damn lame!

I am not sure who or what to blame, the hot August blahs? It is not like I have been busy... it's definitely the blahs.

As penance, I'll end the month with a confession.

First, you should know that I am not very vain. I have blemishes and cellulite, just like the next girl; there are a lot of things I like about me such as my hair color and my hands, but there are also things I don't like that much. But as a general rule, I don't worry about my imperfections much-they are part of who I am and our obsession with physical perfection is just downright unhealthy.

My "beauty" routine, even when I have one (which I don't, currently) is very basic. I primp and preen very little.

I can't stand to spend more than about 10 minutes on my hair. I do get hair-cuts, that are spendy because I have short, freaky hair, but I get cuts that require minimal morning committment. I put some gunk in it and dry it. Done!

I wear minimal make-up, but only if I have somewhere to go. I never make myself up otherwise. I put on some eye stuff and maybe this barely-there foundation stuff (that is no longer manufactured :-( I can't really get away with anything more than lip gloss or a very neutral color lipstick. Once I put on make-up, I never touch it up or re-do it.

After I get ready in the morning, I rarely look in the mirror again... all day. I never feel the need to "see how I look." I NEVER look in the mirror if anyone is around, like in a public bathroom, or a mirror in a public space... NEVER! It just makes me feel weirdly self-conscious.

Second, I always feel like I don't have that much to complain about. I am not a beauty queen, but I am not extremely homely either. I run quite a bit, so my weight is normal, I have a tiny build, but don't think I am super skinny, really. A facebook friend wrote in her status update one day that she hates when skinny women complain about their bodies... I always feel like that is going to be the reaction if I say I am unhappy with something, because I know I don't have it so bad... so I usually don't share.

But here is something I have learned: society creates a space big enough for all women to be unhappy with their bodies.

So here are a few of my funny little imperfections:

1) When I was 13 I went to a make-up night with a church group. The beautician told me that I had eye-brows like Brooke Shields. I went around for months telling family and friends the good news. I grew up with out a TV, people, I had never seen Brooke Shields. Then I saw her... and never bragged about having eye-brows like her again. To be fair, mine aren't that... what's the word? bushy? It's not a unibrow, they are not abnormally hairy... but I have a sister that mocks me incessantly (because in my family we show our love by making fun of physical imperfections)--she holds her hands above her eyes and moves her fingers like my eye-brows are swaying algae on the ocean floor. Of course, she plucks hers into almost non-existence, which I find equally disturbing. To be honest, I have zero interest in plucking eye-brows. I try every once in a while and then quickly realize that I just.don'! I have eye-brows, so shoot me!

2) I have creepy feet. It's true. But just because I come out and say it, doesn't mean I want you to stare at my feet when you see me next, ok? They are the kind of feet that probably shouldn't walk around in flip-flops, but it is hot, so I don't care. Plus, I am sure someone has uglier feet, so I take comfort in that. I have short, wide feet (think brick-ish). My toes are short and stubby, like little nubs, and kind of curl under. They sit really tight together, like they were meant to be webbed, but separated at the last minute. I can do nothing with my toes-can't separate them, can't pick anything up. Also, I may or may not have fungus on two toe-nails, which I may or may not blame on Ecuador or genetics and which I may or may not refuse to solve by taking some anti-fungal pill for 6 months that is really hard on your liver. If you know anyone who has an incurable foot fettish, I can cure it. They will see my feet and will not be able to fantasize about feet ever again. Yes, I have that power. Does all this classify as TMI?

3) I am missing a tooth... as in, I had a baby tooth, it fell out, and there was no permanent tooth there to grow back in. One of my English students in Chile once, was a dentist and noticed it: "la teacher is missing tooth number 19" (or whatever number it is and in worse English, but defintely with the "la" in front) It is genetic; my brothers are missing two, the same one and then the one on the opposite side and I think another sister is missing one too. It makes for a little gap in the front teeth, which used to be more pronounced and bothered me more, now I don't care very much... I should have had braces, but my parents started orthodontic care with the oldest of 7 (I am 2nd) and then promptly got divorced, so the rest of us didn't get our teeth fixed. C'est la vie! One of my vain goals, when I have loads of dough, does include getting braces and then a titanium implant. Will you think less of me if I have "work" done?

There are other imperfections (perhaps not quite as "funny"), of course, let's see, just off the top of my head: my eyes are too close together; my stomach will never resemble flat again thanks to abdominal separation with my last pregnancy and a double c-section scar; and my legs, in proportion to my size are strangely puffy and amorphous, complete with cankles, fatty knees, and fleshy thighs.

Apart from those few things, I am the essence of perfection!

Anyone else want to share their funny imperfections on the interworld?

For other confessions see here, hereand here... and maybe here

Monday, August 23, 2010

An unlikely couple (warning: explicit)

This may classify as one of those things you don't just "put out there" on the web, but I thought it was hilarious.

Every once in a while, I like to say something that takes my hubs by surprise, something that I just normally wouldn't say. It is not that I am particularly prude, but I am definitely not crass.

We were looking at some photos he had taken at an expo last week. He went with a co-worker of his and his wife; they are newlyweds. He had taken a picture of the two of them. They are both very nice, but in many ways they are just an unlikely couple. Even physically, they don't quite fit. He is very tall, probably 6'5" and very skinny. She is from Mexico, very short, about 5' and what you might call chubby. We were talking about how it is that unlikely couples come to choose each other.

(There is a concept, I believe in evolutionary psychology, called assortative mating that asserts that people ususally end up with a mate of equal value-though exactly what "equal value" means might be debated)

So, I said: "I wonder if people think that about us."

He looked at me and said: "What do you mean?"

Me: "Well, you know, because I am so hot" (totally tongue in cheek btw)

We both laughed. Then I added: "People must think you have an enormous pe.nis."

(hysterical fits of laughter--which is not meant to insinuate the contrary, btw--during which I may have even offered to help him carry it)

"Of course" he said, "why else would YOU be with ME?"

Then later, he adds: "I like that story better, actually, than assuming that if a hot woman is with some old, ugly guy, it is because he has a lot of money."

Me: "yeah, and that is so clearly not the case here."


It reminds me of something I read in a novel called Mating (Norman Rush) that I am reading (very, very, very slowly, I might add):

"Causing active ongoing pleasure in your mate is something people tend to restrict to the sexual realm or getting attractive food on the table on time, but keeping permanent intimate comedy going is more important than any other one thing."

What do you think? Do lovers that laugh together, stay together?

(and does the word "lovers" in reference to a married couple creep anyone else out?)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I watched Date Night last weekend with a couple girl friends. It was funny but not as funny as I thought it would be... I may be picky about my comedies.

The main characters were a maried couple, with kids, who had gotten to a blah point (yes, that is the technical term for it) in their marriage. There was one point where their friends, another married couple, confided in them that they were getting divorced, and the main couple was talking about it one night. The husband admitted to having fantasies about Cindy Lauper, an odd choice, perhaps; the wife said her only fantasy was just to be ALONE.

This may have been the funniest line in the movie. I SO get that!

My husband woke up one morning, hugged me, and told me he had just had the worst dream. He dreamed that I had left him, but that I hadn't left him for another man, I just didn't want to be married anymore.

I told him that, sadly, that is how it would happen.

My fantasies never involve finding someone better, newer, more exciting, more handsome, smarter, kinder, sexier. No, I have it pretty good in all those arenas. My fantasies involve living on a remote island BY MYSELF.

It is absurd, even at my most irritated moments, to think life would really be better with someone else. In fact, when those horrible "what-if" scenarios pass through my mind in which I must face dating again, I shudder with fear and dread (but then, I was never very good at dating.) If anything, it sounds like a lot of effort: trying to figure out what makes him tick, what ticks him off, what pleases him, what baggage he carries, is he trustworthy... moving through all the stages of a relationship, negotiating all the terms... sounds exhausting!

I don't even want a cabana boy on my island. I can make my own mojitos.

A huge part of that desire comes from being constantly "on call" with the kids. The number of times I hear "mommy" every day is mind-boggling. Even when "papi" is home and the kids want little to do with me, I am "the getter-of-things" and "the listener" of all the observations and memories and questions and wishlists.

Fortunately, my husband needs very little coddling and ego-stroking and entertaining and emotional reassuring. Still, I am the house manager: I schedule, remind, find, oversee, organize, prepare, budget, etc. There are moments when I don't want to answer to "mommy" or "babe" one more time; I don't want to help anyone find anything or clean something or pick up after anyone; I don't want anyone to need me for one more thing.

I want to sit by the side of a babbling stream and read all day if I want; go on long hikes and not carry any snacks or diapers or changes of clothes for anyone; sleep uninterupted and wake up late; wash only my clothes and the dishes I dirty; have entire weekends where no one else's "me-time" interferes with my "me-time."

Anyone else have a fantasy? Did I steal yours?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Visa in hand

When I tell people we are moving to Chile, the reactions are so interesting.

Many people think it is exciting and a great opportunity for our kids.

My family is not very happy that I am moving, which is not that unusual when you consider they are my family, but a little odd when you consider how rarely I see them.

One of my sisters lives in the same city I do... and I hardly ever see her. She has calculated and is convinced that we will see each other exactly four more times in our lifetimes: she'll be able to come to Chile maybe twice and I will come back to the US to visit twice. I tell her that is probably more frequent than I see her now.

My general practitioner, who had to write a letter for my visa, stating I was in good health, with no communicable diseases, looked at me with mild disbelief and asked if I didn't like the U.S. anymore. It is a lot more complicated than that.

Several people have almost congratulated us on "getting out just in time," before Obama completely ruins the country (not my position, clearly). Apparently, Chile is one of the hot destinations for wingnuts who want to escape the socialist U.S. and pay lower taxes. This fact is a little disconcerting. I can only gently remind them that Chile is a land of Spanish-speakers, plus you still have to pay taxes in the US, even when you live abroad.

I was talking to a neighbor one day who asked, why Chile? (my husband is from there) Had I been there before? (yes, lived several years) what is it like? (beautiful, frustrating, it is hard to describe, but it is not a bad place to live) Then he said: "But it is not the U.S., right? No, it is not the U.S., but I don't know how to communicate, just by tone, what I mean by that. What I meant is certainly not what he meant.

A month ago, I had a part-time job offer and thought I was going to be packing up and moving quickly to Santiago. We had an offer on the house so the plan was to take the kids with me and have the hubs join us a few weeks later, after closing on the house.

When our offer fell through, I had to re-think the plan. Not knowing what was going to happen with the house, leaving early and living in Santiago, not alone, but without my husband, would have been difficult in innumerous ways. I decided not to take the job, since it was only part-time, it would not have paid enough to pay for some of the services that would have made some of the inconveniences bearable... if that makes any sense.

So, here we are still, a kind of limbo-hell in some ways, but I have been trying to make the best of it, taking the kids places, hanging out with friends, making lots of goodies so I can eat my weight in frustration. It has been hard for me to sit down and write about any of it.

While I was thinking I was going to leave in mid-July, I applied for my residency visa, so I can live and work in Chile. It was approved quickly, but my plans had already changed. There are always timelines with immigration issues. Once my visa was approved, they gave me 30 days to go pick it up. Once I pick it up, I have 90 days to enter Chile. If I don't enter within that time frame, I have to reapply, which would be mostly painless... except for the $400 dollar fee and some time-consuming documents, like an FBI report to confirm my crime-free life.

I went to the Chilean Consulate Wednesday and have a newly stamped visa in my passport and several copies to take to immigration in Chile to apply for my identification card.

So... 90 days.

I would love to think that our house ordeal will be solved by then, but nothing will shock me now. I may have to go anyway, which isn't ideal in some ways, but may work out just fine, for several reasons, if it comes down to that.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Unexpected delights

If I had known we were going to be around all summer, I would have planted a garden.

Yet, I found myself cultivating this little beauty that popped up from a potted plant.

A renegade tomato plant! Some of the joys of composting come as a surprise.

We already ate two tomotoes and there are two more growing.

Nothing feels more like summer than a fresh tomato.