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't.care! 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.