The End

I’ve decided after a lot of thought that it’s time for a change. Until further notice, this will be my final post on this blog. It’s been hard to find time to write with a crazy, energetic toddler, a job search, and an international move to plan for. Also, since I will no longer be in Chile (at least for the foreseeable future), it isn’t necessary for me to blog to keep in contact with friends and family (how this humble blog was born).

I am not done with writing. Not by a long shot. I just want to take a moment to reflect and figure out my next project.

I have immensely enjoyed interacting with all of you and the little internet community we have created. Thank you for all of your support! If you would like to keep in contact with me (I know I would like to keep up with you!), here are several ways:

Twitter

LinkedIn

Facebook

Instagram

Please send me a message if you add me so I don’t think you are a creeper;)

Take care all!

Happy Birthday to Me

In the week since sharing my news that Squeaker and I are moving back to the States, the responses have been mixed. I’m not sure what I was expecting but maybe a little more of “Good for you for doing what you think is right”? Maybe it’s because I seem like a perennial country hopper, or maybe they wonder how I’m going to do it with a toddler. Who knows.

I also bought a ticket for the beginning of March. That way the worst of the polar vortex should be behind them up north and Squeaker and I can arrive and enjoy spring. Theoretically, at least.

However, in BIGGER news, Thursday is my birthday. Yes, 28 years ago, I was getting ready to make my entrance as a little squeaker and about to cause my parents some serious sleep deprivation.

Who know I'd have my own Squeaker one day?

Who know I’d have my own Squeaker one day?

Unlike past years, we don’t have anything crazy planned (crazy like watching a Breaking Bad marathon until we crash), but I’m thinking some sushi and delicious Chilean ice cream is in order. After all, I have to take advantage of it while it’s right in front of me.

It’s strange because I got more excited for Squeaker’s birthday and Christmas than I do for my birthday. I no longer expect large, extravagant gifts, wrapped in crinkly paper, but she does and I can live vicariously through her joy. Also, at 28 what do can you really look forward to anymore? 30? BAHAHAHAH. I already can vote, smoke, drink and rent a car–although preferably not all at once. So, yay?

This is going to be a short post today, because I’m off to enjoy some much deserved baby-free time :)

Hello 2014!

New Year in Valparaiso, Chile.

New Year in Valparaiso, Chile. Photo Credit

2013, while far from the worst year of my life, has been marked by a certain involuntary ennui. One the one hand, I’ve had Squeaker who is a spitfire and requires my attention 110% of the time or she is trying to lick an electrical outlet and stick her hand in the toilet simultaneously. But on the other hand, there have been some difficult moments, as well.

This year will forever be marked as the year I tried in vain to get a job but was foiled each time by my ovaries and a misogynist business culture. It will also be the year that my husband spent six months looking for a job after getting laid off for company budgetary reasons before finally accepting a job that will take him out of town five days a week. I’ll remember it was the year that I finally fell out of love with life in Chile and started yearning to be back stateside. It will also be the year that we filled out paperwork for a visa for my husband, but found out the wait is an average of eleven months.

In light of my lack of job and my husband’s traveling, we decided that I will travel back to Minnesota, probably in February, to find a job and get established with Squeaker while he rebuilds our savings that took a beating over the last six months and we wait for the eventual approval of our visa.

The thought of moving back to the US and going to a job interview where certain questions are illegal and it’s actually enforced make me giddy. I’m already counting my chickens before they’ve hatched with dollar signs dancing in my head. However, it’s sad at the same time because it means we will be separated and even though Chile exasperates me, there are bound to be things (but mostly people) I will miss here.

I haven’t purchased the ticket yet, but I except to do that soon. I have, however, been looking for jobs in Minnesota and applying like mad in hopes of getting a call back before the big move.

I’m not sure what will happen with this blog, because while I enjoy writing (when I have time these days, that is) I’m not sure the content is the best advertisement for a prospective employer. Also, my audience is the highest when I’m in Chile, writing snarky things about life here. That is kind of hard to do remotely.

At any rate, that’s my New Year’s news. I’m feeling good about it, albeit a little nervous to make an international move with a toddler. I hope you all have a great 2014 wherever you are, and that you get everything that 2013 withheld.

Happy New Year!

You will be missed

It’s been my fear as long as I’ve lived abroad that I would one day get a phone call that someone was sick and there would be nothing I could do because I was too far away.

I had expected to write a different post today. I was expecting to regale you with Squeaker’s second Christmas and how I had more fun than I thought I would. I also thought I’d be writing about how we’ve decided to move to the US and I will probably leave with Squeaker in February to find a job and get established while we wait for my husband’s visa, but I’m not.

It’s never a good thing when you get an urgent call from your parents while they should be at work. My heart pounded in my ears as I lifted the screen of my computer to talk. They called to tell me that my grandfather had passed away Christmas night.

He was never far from his pipe, until he forgot that he smoked.

He was never far from his pipe.

My grandpa Jerry was one of the nicest, most interesting people you ever met. He was unfailingly optimistic, he liked to keep busy (he worked into his 90’s), and was a sports and trivia addict. He made sure that everyone who came into his home felt welcomed and never forgot to offer them soda or sweets that he kept hidden around the house.

He was my step-grandfather, but never made me feel like anything less than his biological granddaughter. We would sneak out of the house to buy chicken and biscuits a half an hour before my grandma served a big lunch, laughing like she would never find out. We would stalk gophers in the backyard and, despite our best efforts, they would come back stronger than ever the next year. He never failed to give me money every time I saw him to buy ice cream–even well into my twenties. He knew more about Chile than some of my friends simply because he kept up with sports and knew that Chile has a decent national soccer team.

I’m happy that I was able to show him Squeaker, his first great-grandchild. And I’d like to think that, even though she doesn’t know it, she brought some joy and wonder to the last year of his life.

Squeaker was five weeks old.

Squeaker was five weeks old.

I know that he was confused and suffering these last few months and that he couldn’t always remember who everyone was, but I still wish I could have said goodbye. My mom was saying that out of all the people you meet in your life, my grandpa Jerry was one of the best. I happen to agree with her.

One thing he taught me is that you never say “good-bye”, you always say “see you later”. See you later, Grandpa. You will be missed.

Sending Love

This last weekend, my husband and I walked to the metro nearest our apartment, with Squeaker in her stroller almost asleep, to greet my mother-in-law who had recently arrived in Santiago from the coast. We were making our way back to get out of the stifling heat, when I looked on the ground and spotted what I thought was one of those slim, stylish cameras. (Note: they are likely not trendy any more with the ubiquity of smartphones, but I’m just that old.)

I squatted down to observe it and realized it was a cellphone. As far as cellphones go, it was an outdated model. It was maybe a hair better than one I had about four years ago.  But a phone is a phone.

And it looked well loved.

And it looked well-loved.

I remember once, years ago, when I lost my phone. Before I even knew it was gone, someone had texted one of my friends to let her know that she had my phone. I had it back later that day. I always thought it was a nice thing to do.

However, when I picked it up and began to scroll through the contacts–no easy task with the old touch screen–my husband and his mother urged me just to leave it on the ground where I found it. Someone will come back and find it, they said.

“Or someone will come along and take it,” I countered.

“You’re going to waste their minutes,” they said.

I found the first contact “Amor”, or “Love” in English, and sent them a shaky message in Spanish: “I FOUND THIS CELL CALL ME AT MY NUMBER xxx xxxx.” I got warm fuzzies when the phone lit up and said “Eviando Amor” (Sending Love). Blame it on Christmas, but I was feeling cheesy.

It was symbolic of my decision to be more positive about life in general. Like, when at the end of the yoga class, your instructor gushes something about the light inside of you and you are all, “I’m gonna let it shine, b*tch!” (Can you tell I hang out with a toddler too much?)

Sending that message from the beaten up phone was my reconciliation with the universe. Yes, things haven’t been easy lately, but I’m going to give you a break, universe.

Later that night, no one had called me or written me back. I resigned myself to the fact that they thought I had stolen the phone and it was an extortion scam, as are common here. Or maybe they didn’t really miss the phone that much. I even went as far as to say to my husband that maybe taking the phone out of the grass had been like touching a baby bird and now the mother was rejecting it because it smelled like stranger danger. He shook his head. I have a habit of anthropomorphizing household objects.

And, while the phone sits on my kitchen table, likely without charge, I’m still feeling good about things.

Over the weekend, I got called to an interview I didn’t even remember applying to. When I went, the HR Director told me she had no idea how she had come across my resume, but she thought I’d be a good fit.

Love sent. Love received. Thank you, universe.

Dear Santa–An expat Christmas list

Dear Santa,

I was talking to a few expats recently about Christmas in the US and Christmas outside the US. All of us agreed that Christmas in the US was somehow more Christmas-y than in Chile and it may be the weather and it may be the traditions, but once I walk into a mall decorated floor to ceiling in big plastic bulbs, fake evergreen branches and tinsel, I know exactly what I miss about Christmas, namely the commercialization *cough* symbolism.

Gimme some Rudolph and some Frosty the snowman shit stat.

Gimme some Rudolph and some Frosty the snowman crap stat.

And you’ve just audibly rolled your eyes at me. I can hear it over here. But seriously. I’m thinking pumpkin flavored everything, gifts wrapped in crinkly paper with silky bows, trees decorated to overflowing with kitschy ornaments, toasty hearths, listening to the Christmas music on almost every radio station, watching the Christmas movie marathons on TV, the bell ringers outside every store, the parades, the carolers, the clothes that you only wear once or twice a year, the winter activities (well, maybe when I was younger), and the sales leading up to and directly following Christmas.

"Shitter was full." It's not Christmas until you hear that line.

“Shitter was full.” It’s not Christmas until you hear that line.

Now, Chile has done a lot of catching up in the last seven years since I spent my first Christmas here. I now here Christmas music playing out from the grocery stores and coffee shops and kids line up to see legitimate looking Santas–not some skinny kid with a plastic beard and his harem of bikini-clad Mrs. Clauses. And that is okay with me. This is one time of year I’m cool with globalization.

Ho ho ho.

Ho ho ho.

I know that these cheap symbols are not supposed to be what the season is about, but they are what do and what have always signaled to me that the season was upon us. They make me feel comfortable and nostalgic–like I want to impart some goodwill on my fellow man.

And not act like this.

And not act like this.

So, please,keep-calm-and-let-it-snow-65 And get on the rest of it when you have time.

Thanks,
Me

Do you know who I am?

There was an exchange I witnessed a few days ago and it’s been playing out in my head since then. To anyone else, it may have seemed like a typical case of road rage, but I saw something different.

Really?

Really?

The three of us, Squeaker in her stroller, walked to the grocery store in the evening to buy some essentials for the rest of the week. Squeaker got bored because there were no dogs or toys nearby and started to cry, loudly. Since becoming parents, we’ve perfected the art of communicating through looks and gestures. My husband just looked at me and I  knew. I exited the store with the word’s crabbiest toddler while he finished paying.

We stood near the stairs leading up to the store which were right in front of a small entrance that cars took to the parking lot. She wanted to toddle around and flirt with a dog tethered on one of the poles in front of the store. Two Las Condes security guards were talking and one had his motorcycle half resting in the entryway for cars. His foot propped up the rest of the motorcycle and he was quite obviously not parked.

Suddenly a car pulled up to the motorcycle and began to honk. Imagine how you honk at the end of the day when you’ve been working for ten hours and you are hungry and tired and just want to get home and a distracted driver thoughtlessly cuts you off and THEN has the nerve to give YOU the finger. That’s how this woman was honking. From my point of view, it looked like she thought that her car (on the large side for Chilean vehicles) wouldn’t fit past the motorcycle. The guard motioned for her to proceed and she keep honking. Her husband was in the passenger seat shaking his head despairingly like he couldn’t believe he had left his home only to come face to face with such proles.

Meanwhile Squeaker had dried her crocodile tears and was now almost as interested and I was in the drama unfolding. Eventually, the woman decided to risk it and easily (E-A-S-I-L-Y) drove past the not parked motorcycle into the parking lot.

Not two minutes later, a woman, who reminded me of my paternal grandmother, sprang up the curb and ran–no lunged at the man–this woman, who did not look maternal or grandmotherly, very nearly had this man’s throat in her hands before her paunchy husband pulled her off of him. He had to pull this tiny woman off of a security guard or she would have cut him with her bad manicure. The whole time she was screaming, “HOW DARE YOU PARK THERE!?! HOW DARE YOU! NO ONE CAN GET BY YOU!”

The security guard said, “But you did. And I’m not parked.”

That incensed her. She lunged again, “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE!? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE!?!”

Her husband once again stuffed his generous girth in the middle of her chipped red nails and that man’s jugular saying, “He’s not worth it. He’s not worth it” like he was placating a house cat.

They finally went inside and stood by the window glaring outside for several minutes.

The whole time I’m standing there seething, SEETHING, with anger at the self-declared most-important-woman-in-the-parking -lot.

I’ve been known to lose my cool over stupid shit, but this has to be the stupidest shit I’ve ever seen someone expend that much energy on. When someone nearly runs you over which happens a lot on this busy road, please, go ahead and scream and yell (I do). When someone double parks and you can’t leave, jump up and down and cuss because that shit is annoying. But this was such a non-issue that it boggled the mind.

I realized the only thing that was missing from the conversation was, “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM, YOU MEASLY PEON, YOU?” And that really pissed me off.

Would it have played out the same in a less classist society? That’s what really bothered me.

The real list of why I’m thankful this year

Wow. I truly did not expect so many of you readers–both regular commenters and lurkers– to reach out to me when they read my last post. Thank you. I’m really touched.

I thought I’d post an update. I am feeling better. I’ve talked to my family and I’m planning my own Thanksgiving lunch here, which I’m starting as I type this. Someone suggested a “pumpkin” pie made with carrot because our style of pumpkin is difficult to find here. On top of that, I’m going to try my hand at roasted chicken, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. I told my husband that since we will have so much food, we should invite someone, but, on second thought, it might be better not to in case I burn the chicken and make lumpy potatoes. Plus, this way we get all the leftovers. thanks-giving-turkey-hd-pic

Sorry about that tangent into food. I just live to eat all the food. Anyway, I am feeling better. I was going through a few situations that would have been difficult on their own, let alone all at once. I’ve tried to take a step back and gain some new perspective. It’s never easy to feel under appreciated–in any capacity. I would never imply, ever, that being a mother and a wife are not worthy roles and that if that is what you aspire to be that you should somehow want more. I absolutely love being Squeaker’s mother and seeing how she changes before my eyes every single day and how I’m still her preferred person (shhhh!). However, I’m not one of those people that feels particularly fulfilled by domesticity, thus the yearning for a job and an office and a paycheck.

I also probably came down pretty hard on Chile. Let me just say this, life outside your own country is always a challenge, it doesn’t matter how comfortable that country is. Latin America, as a whole,  is  mired in religious dogma, patriarchy and classism, but Chile is still pretty agreeable on most days.

So, without further ado, here is the list of the things I am thankful for this year in no particular order:

  1. A crazy, fun, happy, heathy one-year-old.
  2. Our health. With a few exceptions, we’ve been doing pretty well lately and, knowing me, that’s saying a lot.
  3. Our families’ health and well-being.
  4. The gift of time with Squeaker.
  5. A solid network of supportive friends–even if they aren’t all here in Santiago with me.
  6. A husband who is infinitely more domestic than I am and makes a mean pie crust.
  7. The fact that we got out of our cramped, one-bedroom apartment and can finally breathe.
  8. That I survived the first year of motherhood.
  9. That Squeaker still wants, no demands, to breastfeed, despite all of our obstacles, roadblocks and naysayers.
  10. Never lacking inspiration as the mother of a hyperactive toddler, living in a foreign country and navigating the waters of culture shock to this day.

Please, enjoy your Thanksgivings, hug your families extra tight, AND (most importantly) have a bite of some real pumpkin pie for me for the love of GOD!

Trying to get into the spirit of the holidays and failing

The holiday season is one of my favorite times of year. I love the freshness of winter, the traditions, the anticipation, the coziness, seeing friends and family and the exchange of thoughtful gifts. Needless to say, I hate it here.

You can get this ceramic thing for about $3 USD.

You can get this ceramic thing for about $3 USD. Jealous?

photo 2

Or you can get any number of winter-themed decor, because why not?

No one wants to cuddle up in front of the fire watching the snow fall and drinking mugs of thick hot chocolate when it’s nearly 90 degrees outside. It’s not Chile’s fault that Thanksgiving (not celebrated here, obviously) and Christmas fall in their late spring and early summer and, that in spite of this, they’ve tried to adopt all of our cheerful, snowy decorations. But I’m not feeling particularly charitable or like giving credit where credit is due.

The one thing I’m Thankful for this year is sleeping finally in the next room after a long day of playing and talking about dogs. And she is a lot to be thankful for (because’s she smart and adorable), because in all other realms of life, I’m doing quite miserably. Job search? Fail. Interpersonal relationships? Fail. Interviews? Fail.

And I’m depressed. I feel like it’s moved beyond melancholy now. It’s hard to get started in the morning and when I do I feel like I’m just going through the motions of feeding dressing and caring for an extremely spirited one-year-old while failing as a wife and otherwise interesting person you would want to talk to.

And I’m dreading, more than I can articulate, being away from my family (who, in all honestly, drive me out of my mind at times), but at least they get me, laugh at my jokes, and see me as something other than Squeaker’s diaper changer with talents to impart on the world other than butt wiping (not that I’m knocking a clean butt).

And I just want to cry. I want to stare into a snow globe until I’m transported back to Minnesota and kiss this patriarchal society, cliquey expats, and summer heat good bye. Since that won’t be happening, I’m stuck in this state of ennui.

Watch out, we have a one year old!

One week old.

One week old. Such a peaceful sleeper. This was the photo that deceived the internets.

One year old.

One year old. Your crazy, funny, smart, non-stop personality is starting to shine through.

The world, it is a changing. It seems like last week they prepped me for delivery after a long nine months fraught with terrible morning sickness. Then, suddenly, they gave me a red, puffy screaming infant as if they had plucked her from the air and my life has never been the same. And I became your mother. Your scared, joyful, trepidatious mother.

The first few months were an adjustment. We had as much to learn about taking care of a small baby as you did about life outside of the womb (it seems like an ill-spent nine months to come out knowing nothing, right?). Despite our obstacles, we all grew and learned together. We learned how to change a diaper without getting shot in the face with projectile poop and you learned  how to control our every movement with your cries (in that sense, not much has changed). But now you are a year old and you seem less fragile every day. You stand up and intentionally fall right back down, laughing at the concern on my face. I’d probably do the same if I had a nice, cushy diaper to land on. What a great party trick!

And now you talk, well, jabber. You jabber all day long about cats and dogs. All cats are dogs, but dogs are nothing but dogs. You are convinced that someone should call Science and tell them. You still insist that everything says “woof woof”. I’m planning on telling that story when you bring home your first boyfriend (which your dad says is never going to happen, by the way), because what teenager wouldn’t want to be reminded that she would clomp around pointing at household items and barking? Although, I must admit that I am looking forward to the day when our conversations are a little more stimulating than “The cat says meow and the dog says woof.”

We had two birthday parties for you. I don’t think you knew what was going on. All you know is that people arrived and brought presents which you opened up and now you have more toys than can physically fit in your room and walking across the floor is a treacherous land mine of rings, and balls, and baby dolls.

And while we are on the topic of those dolls, it seems like everyone wanted you to have a baby of your own so now you have five (any more and we’ll have a baby Octomom in the making). They all came with their own tiny accessories so you can feed and entertain them. And you really do try to feed those mini plastic humans. You take that bottle and stuff it into every orifice on their face. Up the nose? Why not? In the eye? Don’t mind if I do! But, it’s cool. Don’t learn too quickly (or ever, if your dad has his way).

The other day on Skype, grandma said you were sitting like a toddler. A TODDLER. As in not a baby. For moment, I wanted to keep you little–maniacal cries, projectile poop, barking like a dog and mistreating dolls–forever. Please don’t grow up too fast.