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 it...it 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?