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Interview questions that would not fly in the United States

Ugh.

Ugh.

I’ve made it no secret that I’m looking for a job. I have been for a while actually. I feel like the job karma fairies are frowning on me since I have given up better jobs than the ones I am considering taking. And if they are, in fact, metaphysically smiting me, then they are laughing their pixie dust butts off when I walk into an a farce masquerading as an interview.

It shouldn’t be this hard. I have an MBA and some decent experience, plus my Spanish is fluent and my accent is hardly gringo-rrific. But it is. Here are some real, honest to God interview questions and situations that would make your HR department in the states quiver in fear.

The unprepared interviewer

Interviewer: I have to confess that I haven’t read your resume…

What I did: Start babbling my experience like a little bitch. Feel the sweat beads pool above my lip and worry that it makes me look like I have a mustache.

What I wish I had done: Walk. The. Eff. Out. Why should I bother if they won’t expend even the minimum effort to vet me?

The personal questions interviewer

Interviewer: What is your husband’s last name? Where did he go to high school/college? Where does he work? What projects is he working on right now? What neighborhood do you live in? Do you have kids? How old are you? What do your parents do?

They are trying to establish my social class by figuring out my husband’s and my family’. My elusive answers often irk them so they find new ways to phrase the question. None of this has anything to do with my job performance, but it once took up 90% of an interview. 

What I did: Roll my eyes in my mind, go to my happy place and continue the interview in auto-pilot.

What I wish I had done: Ask, “Is this relevant for the job?” And, then, watch as they mentally crossed me off the list of candidates.

The welcome-to-the-1950’s interviewer

Interviewer: Oh, you are married? Do you have kids? YOU HAVE AN ALMOST ONE-YEAR-OLD? How are you going to take care of her? How are you going to work? DO YOU WANT MOOOOORE KIDS? Are you on birth control? Can you take a pregnancy test? Do you have live-in help? What if your daughter interferes with your work?

All those questions are used to discriminate against women in the workplace because *GOD FORBID* you would pop out a kid, they have to give you a six-month maternity leave and treat you like a human being. HORRORS!

What I did: Bend over and take it.

What I wish I had done: Calmly state, “If I were a man sitting in front of you with TEN kids would you be asking me any of these questions? No. You would just assume that my barefoot and pregnant wife is at home whipping up a fabulous lunch and wiping snotty noses with the help of our two live-in nannies. Oh, and no matter what, my daughter will ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS be more important that your shitty job that pays less than working at Starbucks back home.

What I wish I had done: Walk. The. Eff. Out. Go home. Download a copy of The Feminine Mystique and burn  my bra.

The naysaying interviewer (very much related to the unprepared interviewer and are often spotted together)

Interviewer: You won’t like this job. It’s too challenging/boring/difficult to learn, plus you are over-qualified and I’m really not sure why you are here.

What I did: Ask, “Can I  be the one to decide if I don’t like the job?”

What I wish I would have done: Walk. The. Eff. Out.

The interview always concludes with a “We’ll call you!” and the perfunctory cheek kiss that already feels fake because I know they’ll never call or email and I’ll never see that bitch again unless she’s stealing my spot in line at H&M pretending like she doesn’t see me.

With this charming attitude it’s hard to believe they won’t hire me, right?

What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you on an interview?

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Brown Eyes

Brown eyes?

Brown eyes?

This is an old photo from when she was about eight months, but it’s the best one I have of her eyes. 

Chile is a country of morenos (people with a darker complexion and dark hair). Don’t let a Chilean see me write that because they will be quick to point out that blonde people do too live here! You know, especially in the south where communities of German immigrants settled or in exclusive neighborhoods around Santiago. But the truth is that for every blonde-haired, blue-eyed Chilean, you’ll see nine that have brown or black hair and brown eyes. And that’s cool! That’s fine!

I recently read a joke column here (or at least I hope it was a joke) about how to conquer a gringa. It said that since we don’t have a lot of morenos where we come from. We really dig that exotic look, so boys, let your Latin freak flag fly when wooing the foreign lady. In part, it’s true. In Minnesota, blondes are so overwhelmingly common, that I walk around thinking that I know everyone, which leads to awkward small talk, but moving on. So, when I touched down in Chile, the olive or tan-complected men stood out. Obviously! I married one.

When we found out we were expecting, the comments started rolling in, “Maybe she’ll have blonde hair!” (Because I’m blonde here.) “Maybe she’ll have light eyes! Then, she would be so pretty.”  Considering how Chilean my husband is, I half expected her to be born holding a Pisco sour, mainlining the pebre. However, the notion that she would be prettier if her complexion was light and her hair was flaxen and her eyes the color of the deep end of a swimming pool was hurtful.  As much as I adore my big, baby blues, I didn’t marry  him so that we could birth little Aryan babies.

Once she was born, the comments kept coming. At first, it was understandable since her eyes were a weird shade of gray and green when she was a newborn. Then they consolidated into a burnt gold and now they are brown. She has big, beautiful brown eyes. They are my shape, but my husband’s color and I think they are adorable, mischievous, and smart.

But no one wants to admit that her eyes are brown. We have family members and random people tell us that her eyes are green. GREEN! No, they are hazel. HAZEL, I tell you. And if I insist that they are brown, they act shocked. BROWN???? It’s like they don’t want to tell me that my daughter doesn’t have my best feature–the one feature that almost unmistakably identifies me as a foreigner.

And it’s not really their fault. Chilean society (much like the United States) relies heavily on beauty standards unattainable to the majority of their population. Aryan women smile out from billboards. You turn on any telenovela and the people could as easily be from Switzerland or Italy, except that they are throwing around the cachai’s and po’s like it’s their job.

Traditionally in Latin America, the ruling class has been whiter than the working class. Imagine a long history of colonialism and you’ll understand why. In Chile, you can almost guarantee that a blonde person (not a bottle-blonde, but a blonde-blonde) is privileged in ways others aren’t. As a foreigner, this concept took me a long time to understand. I’ve been living here for a total of five years and I’m just beginning to grasp the undercurrent of classism here.

But, I don’t care that her eyes aren’t blue and her hair isn’t yellow and that means she doesn’t look aristocratic. She could have been born with zebra stripes and I still would have thought she was the most beautiful baby that ever was and ever will be. And when I look at another baby, I’m not looking to see what color their hair or eyes are. I’m looking to see that same sparkle I love in Squeaker–the same glance that implies worldly knowledge she can’t yet impart.

I hope that she, too, grows up thinking she is beautiful, inside and out, no matter what the look du jour is.

The silver lining

Saturday, as we were leaving the birthday party of one of Squeaker’s baby friends, we had just exited the confines of the park onto the city curb when a woman in a white sun dress approached us. She was flanked by her family and she walked right up to me.

Even if you don't believe in these guys, it was still nice.

Even if you don’t believe in these guys, it was still nice.

At first, I hesitated. I have a very defined personal bubble and if you get in my bubble I will instantly suspect you are a: creep, b: a pickpocket, or c: both a and b. However, I noticed that she was smiling–and not at all like a serial killer. In that moment, I knew she was going to say something about Squeaker, who was tucked in her Ergo with the hood up, enjoying a meal of boob, and falling asleep. I figured she was going to ask me to see her, since many strangers can’t believe that one would “wear” a baby and assume I’m suffocating her under the hood, because why not? Either that or she was going to cut out the middle man (woman?) entirely, pull back the hood, and catch a good glimpse of Squeaker’s surprised face with my boob stuffed in her mouth.

But she didn’t. She took another step closer, “I saw you coming from across the park. I’m sorry to stop you like this. I just have to tell you that I see a lot of light, love and angels around you two.”

A peripheral glance at my husband showed him deliberating between slack-jawed awe and checking for his wallet.

She continued, “I think she’s going to do many things in her life.”

“Thank you. Thank you very much.”

I noticed that her eyes were moist like she was on the verge of crying. I like to think of myself of something of a human lie-detector and when I saw that I knew she was speaking her truth. Sometimes, if I talk about something so truthful that it resounds with the universe, I tear up a little too. But, shhh…that’s my secret.

Then, she entered the park with her family and we were left standing there, looking at each other.

“What just happened?”

“I think she was a little psychic. I think she was legit.” I replied.

We walked away talking about it as Squeaker snoozed, unaware.

And just when I had been getting down on living in Santiago…

Woof Woof

IMG_4727I’m a few days late for your eleventh month. You’ll understand some day when all your friends tell you, “Oh, she’ll for sure sleep through the night by eight months…” and your baby doesn’t, wont’t, or can’t sleep all night long and then after a night of starts and stops decides to wake up at 6:30 when the neighbor’s dog starts barking. That day will be fun for me. I’ll be all, “YOU USED TO DO THAT. How you like it now?”

Anyway, eleven months! You’re a big girl now. I don’t remember a time when you weren’t crawling and sticking your fingers into everything. We’ve had to get creative where we put things. Is that a computer dangling on the back of that chair? Is the toilet brush in the bath tub? The list goes on.

In fact, you are so obsessed with putting things in your mouth that we’ve begun to pass around a speck of dust…just to test you. We pass it back and forth and show  interest in the non-existent particle until you become insistent on having it. Then, we make a big show of handing it to you. You take it with great care and put it straight in your mouth. When you realize that the mystery speck has no flavor or texture you give it back, but you never drop it.

I’m not sure if I should count your latest as your first word, but I’ll let you decide. One day, during show and tell, you’ll have to explain to the class that your first word wasn’t mama or dada, it was woof woof. We don’t know how this happened. Maybe it was when you were scampering around the apartment with your shoes in your mouth. Or maybe it was when we saw one of many street dogs in Santiago that it just clicked in your tiny head that dogs say, “Woof woof.” Now all animals are dogs (because “dog” is a flexible term). What does a cat say? Woof woof. What does a pigeon say? Woof woof. What does the baby on the swing next to you say? Woof woof, that’s what.

And now you are standing–almost ready to start walking (but not quite yet because walking is scary). To imagine that less than a year ago you were a little baby lump that cried, slept and guzzled milk, well, we’ve come a long way. Thank you for taking me a long for the journey, you amazing little person you.

 

I’m back…

For those readers who still check to see if I’m going to suddenly post something, today is your day. Thanks for sticking with me. I’ve been on an impromptu hiatus since traveling to Minnesota and having THEBESTTIMEEVER. Seriously, we’ve talked about it and we’ve said that it would have been better if maybe it would have been a leeetle bad because it was too much fun. Too much.  I didn’t want to leave. My husband’s flight left before mine and he told me he half expected me to not board the grueling red-eye with Squeaker. But I did. And the first few days, and weeks, I wished I hadn’t.

There was a time when I loved the socks off of Chile. It was probably after the semester I studied in Concepcion and moved to Santiago to teach English and basically just be a free spirit. I had no responsibilities besides a handful of classes I hardly took seriously. I partied a lot. I went out with friends almost everyday and probably went to work hung over at least half the time. Uh, hi Mom?Life. Was. Good.

But one cannot feed oneself on a few classes in a city that is as surprisingly expensive as Santiago is. So sh*t got real, real fast. And, needless to say, I started falling out of love with Santiago. But, I still tolerated it. I made excuses for the quirks and idiosyncrasies that chased some of my other expat friends away. I cracked self-deprecating jokes to lessen the blows of cultural shock. I kept this blog as a form of therapy.

Then I became a mom to arguably the most intelligent and adorable baby the world has ever seen or ever will see. And things changed. I began to yearn for my life, my culture, my food, my traditions, my family, my language…

And then I went home and everything was as I expected it to be, but better and I just couldn’t process coming back. It’s like my brain was a computer and crossing back into Chile was the Y2K bug. I just shut down. I sat on the floor and looked at my apartment with the still packed suitcases filled with treasures from the US and cried until the tears wouldn’t come anymore. And then I stopped blogging, because there isn’t a funny way to say, “I’m having a profound existential crisis, y’all.”

And things didn’t seem to pick up from there. I’ve been on five interviews for jobs that I would be qualified for anywhere else, but here because I’m a woman, or a mom, or married, or a speaker of Spanish as a second language, or too educated, I’ve been passed up–and not always kindly. I finally did take a part-time job. The only reason I took it is because the owner smiled at me and told me she was a mom, too. And it’s a good job. The pay is good. The team is supportive and friendly. I really can’t shouldn’t ask for more, but I do. I so do.

And, that’s been my funk. My delicious, all-absorbing funk that I’ve been in for two months.

I’ve slowly felt myself returning to normal, but getting back into the groove of the thinly organized chaos that is Santiago has been difficult. But, I’m putting the smelling salts away and rejoining the world (the internet world?).

So here’s what I’ve been up to:

Someone started crawling

Someone started crawling

And then standing.

And then standing.

And that same someone also learned that she loves the water...for short increments.

And that same someone also learned that she loves the water…for short increments.

We went to the Minnesota State Fair and I realized how much I miss summer and fried food on a stick.

We went to the Minnesota State Fair and I realized how much I miss summer and fried food on a stick.

See, here's Squeaker fighting me for my deep-fried candy bar on a stick.

See, here’s Squeaker fighting me for my deep-fried candy bar on a stick.

And we saw a Twin's game in the new stadium and I was forced to express all my knowledge of the game so that my husband could understand and we both ended up confused.

And we saw a Twin’s game in the new stadium and I was forced to explain all my knowledge of the game so that my husband could understand and we both ended up confused.

And we chill-axed a lot.

And we chill-axed a lot.

Then, we got back and it was still gray and still cold.

So we started making our own fried food. Here's our second attempt at Chilean sopaipillas.

So we started making our own fried food. Here’s our second attempt at Chilean sopaipillas.

And the national holidays (Fiestas Patrias) came and went so we made empanadas. Well, I ATE empanadas.

And the national holidays (Fiestas Patrias) came and went so we made empanadas. Well, I ATE empanadas.

And Squeaker went to the beach for the first time where she not so adorably tried to shovel sand into her mouth.

And Squeaker went to the beach for the first time where she not so adorably tried to shovel sand into her mouth.

And basically, we've just been adjusting to real life again.

And basically, we’ve just been adjusting to real life again and taking it one day at a time.

So, how have you been, world?

The reunion

I haven’t written in two weeks! That’s an insane amount of time for me on this blog, but when you have a visa to renew (I’m a permanent resident now, b*tches!), a trip to plan (Squeaker, the Chileno and I are now on Minnesotan soil), and a nearly three-day family reunion, things  like free time and computers get pushed aside.

When I started planning this trip a few months ago, I kept this last weekend in mind (I’ll get to that later). I knew I wanted to return for the reunion and that I also wanted to see my aunt who is driving up from Texas in a few weeks.

It just so worked out that my husband was able to travel with us and THANK GOD. We got Chile’s crabbiest immigration official who went as far as to imply that Squeaker wasn’t even our Squeaker and at best we were lazy, irresponsible, no good parents who didn’t have a national ID number for their baby (we were still waiting for it) and horrible, awful, child traffickers at worst. But, we made it, and because we had already appeased the travel gods, US immigration was a cake walk. The customs official even joked that next time I should be less honest about how much alcohol we are bringing. But, in case they are reading this, we will always declare our one lonely bottle of pisco, okay?

reunion arrow

Like I said, we went to a family reunion that has been in the works since Squeaker was just two days old. It’s a long story, but for the sake of your attention spans, I’ll be brief. When my mom was about two years old, one of her paternal aunts (my great aunt) had a baby out of wedlock. In those days, those types of things were looked down upon (and some could argue that they still are) and even though my grandparents promised to help, she gave her child up in adoption.

Twenty-seven years ago with my grandparents. Does Squeaker look like me?

Twenty-seven years ago with my grandparents. Does Squeaker look like me?

They had tried unsuccessfully to find the child since, going as far as hiring a private investigator, but got nowhere.

Then last year, when Squeaker was barely two weeks old and I was still pulling my hair out in exhaustion wondering why anyone, ever wanted to be a mother and why the human race just didn’t cease to exist, my grandfather got a letter from his long-lost nephew. The family quickly started bombarding him with messages of welcome. I sent my share of emails since I was nearly bed-ridden with a newborn with day/night confusion.  He told us something unexpected. He had a brother…a biological brother from the same mother (my great aunt) also given up in adoption.

The last several months has been met with both joy and pain for my grandparents. I know they feel a great deal of peace that they finally know what happened to their nephews and the family is complete, but there have many just as many questions. Why, for one, is a good place to start. How, is another. But, unfortunately, my great aunt died young and there are few answers. However, I know they are comforted that both men had good childhoods and wanted for nothing.

This last weekend, we spent several days together as a family meeting and reuniting. I saw family that I hadn’t seen since I was in kindergarten. Squeaker was surprised that everyone knew who she was and everyone spoke in English.

We had to wear name tags, which doubled as fun toys, for the record.

We had to wear name tags, which doubled as sticky toys, for the record.

As I’ve discussed in other posts, I do not deem to judge other women. I may finally understand how beautiful motherhood is, but babies still aren’t for the faint of heart. Though I could never give Squeaker away, I can’t fault another woman for giving her baby to someone who can better care for them.

I really do believe that things happen for a reason–not that things are predestined exactly, just that we have to learn certain lessons at certain times. Everyone’s journey is different and some involve motherhood and some don’t. Some involve adoption and some don’t. Some involve reunions years in the making and some don’t. And there is no right or wrong answer. There just is.

The case of the pregnant 11-year-old in Chile

Yesterday, in the few minutes I have a day to watch news while I drink my coffee, CNN International had a brief spot about four unique abortion cases around the world. One of them is playing out right now in Chile. Pregnancy_test_result_photo

An 11-year-old girl became pregnant after being repeatedly raped over the course of two years by her step-father. Her mother then further shocked the country when she claimed that the relationship was consensual. As if an eleven-year old could even understand the implications. The girl’s grandmother was the one who brought the case to authorities.

Medical professionals agree that the girl, known only as Belen, has a high-risk pregnancy (she’s eleven!), but she has said that she wants to have her baby. She said it will be like “holding a doll in her arms”. President Piñera has praised her for her maturity.

As if she had any other choice!

This case has opened a firestorm of debate in Chile where abortion is illegal IN ALL FORMS–even in rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother. Chile is one of the few countries in the world where there are absolutely no exceptions. And they will take your ass to jail if you try to get one.

Now, my own views on abortion have evolved some since becoming a mother. It literally hurts my soul to think of having an abortion. I would never have one. I love being a mother in ways I couldn’t have imagined before. It’s the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life. But I respect that not all women are ready to take that journey. Who am I to tell another woman what to do with her body? I don’t tell you what high-blood pressure medication to take or whether to do chemotherapy because I leave those decisions up to you and your doctor. As far as I am concerned, this is the same. Case closed.

Honestly, if Belen really is mature enough (and that would have to be proven) to want her child, then good on her. She’ll need help raising it for sure and her mother can not be counted on to help. Yet, this case is symbolic in the larger fight for women’s autonomy over their bodies.

I have some problems with the pro-life argument here:

1. It unfairly targets poor women: I once heard a quote that went something like this, “Poor women take unsafe drugs and herbs to induce an abortion; rich women have ‘appendectomies'”.

2. It doesn’t make the problem go away: Even with the threat of jail, women are still willing to terminate their undesired pregnancies. They just do it in unsafe and unsanitary ways.

3. Being pro-birth doesn’t mean that you respect life: Chile has even fewer social services to protect, clothe and educate a poor child than the United States. There is no welfare, Medicaid (some could argue that that is FONASA), SNAP, WIC or even a solid education system to make sure that the woman can provide for her child. They are talking of removing the baby as soon as it could conceivably live on its own in an incubator because she is too small to even give birth. In a way Belen is fortunate that her case has garnered so much attention because Piñera has promised to follow her medical care.

4. When the fetus becomes more important than the mother (a child herself), there is a problem: I’ve already said that if this were a real choice with a viable second option, and she still decided to have her baby, then go for it. She wouldn’t be the first. But, she is in a country where that option is not even on the table–not even if she were to become extremely ill during the course the pregnancy. Should her life be in danger because a sick man abused her and her mother failed to protect her? Tell me how that is God’s will. Please, tell me. Because that is not my God.

5. The responsibility falls purely on a woman’s shoulders. Enough said.

This is not an isolated case. There is another case of a 16-year-old who is 30-some weeks pregnant also by her abusive step-father. These are girls. GIRLS. Belen should be playing with dolls, not preparing for motherhood. I find Piñera’s remarks repugnant.

There is a petition going around to encourage lawmakers to decriminalize what they are calling “therapeutic” abortions which would apply to this case of rape and danger to the life of the mother. You can find it in Spanish here.

Third tumor-versary

Two weeks after surgery.

Two weeks after surgery.

Last Saturday marked a special day for me. Three years ago, I was prepped for surgery, wheeled in the operating room and injected with anesthesia. I remember my last fuzzy thought being that that might be my last memory. They operated that day to remove a benign brain tumor in an operation I had a 10% chance of never waking up. It was two days after the 4th of July where we had gone to three different fireworks displays and eaten our weight in greasy, fried fair foods. My life was about to change, but not in the way I expected it.

We marked the day (I hate to say “celebrated” because it sounds weird to say, “WOOHOO, you had a brain tumor!”) with pizza and cake. It was kind of like a birthday party, except the tumor was thankfully not present. My husband asked me if I was going to make it a special event every year. I responded, “Maybe when it stops affecting my life, I’ll stop remembering it.”

That day forever changed me. If you would have asked me upon waking up if I thought I would be married with a crazy, bicultural baby in less than three years, I would have laughed…or cried. I can happily say that what looked like one of the worst days of my life became a blessing in disguise. It forced me to evaluate how I was living my life and how I prioritized things. It forced change in some relationships that needed to change. It was painful, yes, but it forced me to evolve beyond the stasis in my life. And things have turned out rather beautifully, I’d say.

I hope that Squeaker never has to go through anything like that.

I hope that Squeaker never has to go through anything like that.

The animal sounds and the zoo

Squeaker,

You are obsessed with animals, or rather the brightly colored animals from this video that we could watch until we puked kitties and rainbows.

You squeal like it’s the first time every time I put on the video and it buys me three minutes to do something important like chew my food. Daddy even learned the chords on guitar, which amused you to no end and you fell over giggling. Actually, you fall over a lot. At seven and a half months you don’t seem to be in any hurry to sit. Crawling, now, that’s another matter.

Then, I noticed that this fascination translated to three-dimensional animals, like the cat at your Chilean grandma’s or the cats on our walks. Your eyes grow large and you purse your lips into a tiny ‘o’ while looking at me like seeing a cat walk lazily across the lawn is the most unbelievable stunt you’ve ever seen. The whole time I’m babbling, “The cats says meow. MEOW! MEOW! MEOW!”

So we thought that last weekend would be the perfect time to take you to the zoo and publicly make animal sounds for your enjoyment.

It was a gray day and kept sporadically raining only to dry up soon after. But, it didn’t matter, because by the time we got to the zoo you were fast asleep. Yet, still, I kept humming, “These are the sounds that the animals make….” We had to admit at that point that it was more for our benefit than yours.

Now, the Santiago Zoo is not particularly big or interesting. They are the run-of-the-mill animals in small cages looking dazed and glassy-eyed. The interesting part is the that the zoo is built into a hill that offers a great vantage of the city when there is no smog, which conveniently happens when it rains.

Downtown between showers.

Downtown between showers.

You eventually woke up.

But you were more interested in the handrail than the animals behind it.

But you were more interested in the handrail than the animals behind it.

Even with my masterful attempts at the song, you didn’t seem to make the connection. Maybe it was because those animals didn’t look like the progeny of a smurf and a munchkin.

The one animal you seemed to enjoy was the seal who swam slowly by the window gazing soulfully into your baby eyes. It stopped in front of us to poop and twirl around in it. You looked at me. It’s like you were thinking, “I would totally do that if I could sit up unassisted.”

I’d say the day was a success even if we only learned you’d rather go to an aquarium and we enjoy the Animal Song more than we care to admit.

The lovely smog

It’s been colder lately, getting down to about 32 degrees Fahrenheit every night. Sometimes friends in the States still make the assumption that Chile is a warm and tropical paradise. While some areas are, Santiago is sandwiched in the middle of the country, surrounded by an awe-inspiring mountain range. That produces a climate with a distinct winter–no matter how mild.

The Andes are arguably my favorite sights in Santiago. I grew up in the Midwest, tornado alley, y’all. These mountains impress the crap out of me. It’s like how my husband goes nuts when he sees a lake or a squirrel and can’t get why the first thing I do in the morning is take in the view, I don’t understand why more people aren’t busting out raps and sonnets to the incredible, jagged and snowy mountains in their own backyards.

The mountain view is also a good indicator of the air quality in the winter months. One of the things I perennially hate about Santiago is the smog. It’s not the thick, visible particles that would plaster themselves to my face in Venezuela, but it’s choking and foul just the same–and it obstructs the stark lines of the Andes. Also, it makes your eyes scratchy, your throat tickle, your head ache, and your lungs prickle. Someone once told me that living in the city is akin to smoking ten cigarettes a day. As a non-smoker, that kind of blows my mind.

Here is the sun rising through the smog. That is not fog. See how the Andes have lost all their definition?

Here is the sun rising through the smog. See how the Andes have lost their definition and look like a sketch on the horizon?

And we breathe that because holding your breathe is harder than it looks.

But according to the government, it’s all good:

airquality

“Bueno” means good. We’re all breathing “Good” air here because this is 1984 and bad means good.

Actually, I heard that it’s because the government only counts those thick particles like the ones I could peel off my face in Venezuela. They conveniently ignore the finer particles that are just as bad. According to this article from Daily Finance, Santiago has the third worst air quality in the world (really the second if you consider that the first two tie). Admittedly, it’s not hard to contaminate a city surrounded by mountains that make it challenging for the air to rise and clear out.

When I decided to use a photo of the mountains in the backdrop of the city for my new blog header, the first thing the designer said to me was that he was surprised he had to Photoshop out the smog. Now, we Photoshop a lot of things these days, fat rolls, thigh gaps, white teeth, but it was the first time I had heard of someone erasing the smog.

Real life Photoshop happens when it rains and we wake in the morning to fresh snow on the mountains. Even though I’m no fan of rain, I’m hoping it does soon. Either that or I’m out of here in a month for vacation!