Sunday, December 13, 2009

This Must be the Place, my packing song

As I pack today, I can't help but think about the amazing first season of the tv series Rome I just finished or how great it would be if by some miracle I found out before stepping on the plane that Frei and Piñera weren't the two candidates to go on to the segunda ronda of the presidential elections (big fat chance, I know, but I'm dreaming big).

And I'm also excited to see my sister graduate from Georgetown after 27 months of hell in their nurse anesthesia program because that's means that we all get her back after her almost 2 1/2 year stint of nothing but studying and working (we're really kicking it off with a 2-week trip to Peru in April).

I also get to see one of my absolute favorite people in the world after almost 2 years apart, my best friend from college whom I adore/admire/respect/have the most fun ever with, H. She's flying to Virginia from Seattle on Friday and I have the perfect and most fitting surprise planned for when I pick her up at the airport (I'll post pictures from my NEW laptop that actually works once I get it from the DC apple store).

And of course, I am so happy to be spending the holidays with my parents and my sister. My family needs some quality holiday time together this year after the year and a half we've had with two untimely and obviously painful deaths in the family and my parents' ongoing struggle to keep their house. Of course, it would be so much better if Italo were going with me because he seems to make everyone feel better, but it just wasn't in the cards this year so we'll have to make due.

Off to try and fit as many bottles of wine in my suitcase possible without going over the 50-pound limit. Here's a great live version of the song:

Happy Holidays!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

How to Alienate a Gringo

I'm following Heather's and Abeja's lead on how to alienate a gringo. Since we offend easily, this could be an endless list but I'm keeping it short and Chile-specific:

1. Say you don't understand their Spanish
This is certainly true sometimes, but come on, you reallllly can't understand that she just said hola? I can always call the moment a cashier or taxi driver is going to quadruple the speed at which he speaks (yes, this is Chileno-specific) and the number of chilenismos he uses. Lots of Chilenos LOVE when Gringos don't understand them and Gringos, of course, hate it.

2. Ask, "are you all really as cold/unfriendly as you seem in movies"?

This question itself doesn't bother me at all, it's just the number of times I've had to answer it.

3. Cut in line

short Chilena with her empty shoulder bag pushes in front of you in line to cargar her Bip--nuff said

4. Give your children bebida when they say they´re thirsty

This one's obvious, but it gets to me more and more as I see the children drinking coke getting younger and younger (think a baby who can't walk yet drinking it from his/her bottle)

5. Make Jote(wine + coke = gross) out of the nice bottle of wine they brought for you

i may have to continue this one but that's all I've got for now...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I stole a kitten last night

Yes, my two group blog posts are half-finished and yes, Italo and I accidentally stole a kitten last night.

We were enjoying a Saturday night at home with wine, peruvian takeout, and Curb Your Enthusiasm episodes after an exhausting afternoon translating and editing for my boss, but we were interrupted by the persistent cries of what was clearly a distressed kitten. Larry David had to wait while we got the keys to our rooftop hot tub (had NO idea we had one) to see where this kitten was. We didn't find anything up there so we started down the stairs so we could check out of the hall windows.

On the 7th floor, we realized the cries were coming from an apartment which was strange because any cat owner in their right mind wouldn't let cries like that go unattended. So, I peaked out the hall window and saw a kitten stuck out on the edge of the apartment balcony and started freaking out because I thought the kitten would either fall off of it or try to jump to me.

Fast forward to after Italo tried to fit through the window that wouldn't slide open while I held his legs so he wouldn't fall and we had successfully saved/stolen a beautiful kitten from our building supervisor's apartment. By the time we got to the first floor, I was so worried the guy who owned the cat would no doubt think we were NUTS for taking his cat and also probably think we were trying to rob his place. Luckily, our doorman had our back since several people had called down asking about the kitten and he promised to keep calling the guy on his cell phone and to leave a note for him when he got home if he didn't pick up.

So that's how we spent the night with the cutest, but most messed up kitten I've ever seen. I think the fact that his owner leaves him out on the balcony for 24-hour stretches doesn't help his issues. We ended up having to call the owner early this afternoon to come get him even though apparently he got home last night. That's almost as weird as our "taking" the cat in the first place, ja.

And all today I've heard his cries from the balcony which kills me. He didn't cry at all in our apartment so something's up with that guy. A picture or two is coming (yup, we took pictures of our loot) while I try to figure out the deal with this guy. We named him Balconcito in honor of our first encounter.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Apartment

I wanted to tap into my Thanksgiving spirit today and say that I'm thankful for a lot of things in my life: my family, my friends, my job, my amazing boyfriend, my education, my dog, free podcasts in the morning, Chilean wine, and Felicity reruns on Sony, but that post would get too cheesy. So I'd like focus on one thing and declare that I am shamelessly and forever grateful for MY APARTMENT!*

It may sound materialistic and shallow, but I am totally, as in 100%, obsessed with my apartment and neighborhood. So much so that I had to write about it and clearly, i don't get inspired to write that much so it truly is a great place, hah.

But back to the place. Each time I walk out the door I feel lucky to live where I live with the new coffee shop with good wifi literally 3 steps from my door and my pal across the street at the liquor store who sells us overpriced bottles of wine almost daily (yikes, we drink a lot of wine!). And every time I walk in the door I think, "I'm so lucky to have this huge patio and honest and friendly doormen."

And yes, I'm a Santiago Centro girl and proud of it. I love the convenience of living near tons of banks, restaurants, servipags and sencillitos. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else in the all...ever. And I've lived in Las Condes, Providencia and San Ramon so it's not that I don't know what I'm missing or in the case of San Ramon, not missing (sorry suegra!).

OK, I know that no one would be jealous of my siutico landlord or the absurd gastos comunes we pay, but there's no way I could afford our place in the U.S., especially not smack dab in the center of the city and I'm eternally thankful that I can here.

I guess I can't say that with a straight face since all you have to do is read back a few months to read about my bitching and moaning, but it's partly true.

Anyway, happy Thanksgiving and happy eating to everyone, and a special shoutout to my adorable little place: I appreciate you (and of course my family, friends and Italo).

*After reading Lydia's mi mama/nuestra mama post, I feel Chilean saying my apartment since it's OUR apartment, but it's MY post :) and it's riddled with the word my to prove it

Friday, November 13, 2009

Culture Shock?

I was talking to my best friend from home the other day about how much happier I've been lately when it comes to my life in Chile. Granted, I attribute a lot of this to the fact that I love my new job and hated the old one, but he attributed it to my having finally gotten over my culture shock.

At first, all I could think about was the silly seminar on culture shock all study abroad students at my school had to attend before they left for whichever country the had chosen. Then, I took offense and thought, "Hey, I've lived here for more than two years now. I'm way past that study abroad stage.". But I thought about it more and I think he was right. I think I've moved on to another level of what I like to call "cultural comfiness".

I really resisted Chile when I first moved back here without realizing it, but it manifested itself in my never doing "permanent" things here. I never got health insurance, I never bothered to get a cuenta rut and I was always planning for when I left in a year or two. Now, I'm making up for that lost time by really living here.

I think my job change factors in here again because not only do I like it, but I also think the experience I'm getting there will help me in the future regardless of where I end up living and working. Also, the people there are more settled here. There's no group of foreigners here to teach for 6 month or a year and then leave. Everyone's here now and maybe for good if they're not already from here. It's a really good feeling to know your boss hired you to stay as long as you want instead of until your 1-year contract expires.

Also, I don't know what changed but I've been able to get closer to Italo's family, especially his mom and sister. Our relationship is stronger and a lot less tense, but I can't explain it well beyond that. All I know is we're communicating so much better now when before, I was always frustrated because there was always a barrier that made it really hard for us to see eye-to-eye.

Going along with this idea, I'm able to think about Chile on its own, not compared to the U.S. Instead of thinking how it would be in the U.S. and bitching about how it is here, I can (sometimes!) avoid that entirely. For example, Italo and I went to Oktoberfest in Malloco last weekend and I had the best time ever. Normally, I don't like big events like that here because the lines are a mess and it's impossible to get water (see my Cumbre de Rock Chileno post) and good food. And to top it off, getting back by bus takes forever. This time, I not only didn't mind any of that, I hardly noticed. And I remember thinking, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but here right now (I only tried 3 beers the entire day so it wasn't the alcohol talking).

Lastly, I'm not as anxious about being away from my friends and family back in the U.S. I was having a really difficult time feeling at ease knowing I was so far away from "home". This made me a nervous wreck at the strangest times because I always thought something bad was going to happen. I still feel like that because bad things have happened, but I have a much more grounded and logical approach to it.

I guess my friend was right that it was a sort of culture shock I had to get over to get to this point because I've never hated Chile, I've just never felt completely comfortable here. Now, I can honestly say that it feels like home for the time being. Maybe it's because we might be leaving next year?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hummus in Chile made easy (well, easier) and Pho

I make hummus a lot wherever I am because in my book you can't go wrong with lots of olive oil, garbanzos and garlic, but here in Chile it's much more of a process because you have to soak and cook the garbanzo beans before you even start. I'm so used to soaking and cooking beans that that part doesn't doesn't bother me, but not having a food processor for after I cook the beans is a bit frustrating.

I've often gone to town with my pot and "masher" (a.k.a. glass cup) for over an hour trying to turn those darn beans into a smooth paste, but the finished product is never what I'm hoping for. I have a blender, but it can't handle too many solids so it's been useless so far. But on Sunday, I finally did it!

I always buy garbanzos without the skin and this Sunday at la Vega was no different. What was new was that they only had the really small beans without skin which seem to be the answer. I also put them into the blender immediately after they were done so they were really hot. Then, I added all of the other ingredients and was finished in under 10 minutes which beats my previous "making hummus in Chile" record by a ton.

Italo has become a master pita chip maker so we had a delicious Sunday night snack with a bottle of Concha y Toro Riberas Camenere (not as good as the Syrah or the Cabernet Sauvignon in my opinion) and scrabble.

Earlier that day, I made Vietnamese Pho from what I think is the perfect recipe because it's so easy to follow and delicious. It turned out a lot better than my first attempt a few months ago because I bought more beef bones for the stock and did a better job cutting off the fat before I cooked them. What's so wonderful about being in Chile and making pho is that churrasco is a cheaper, easier to find and still yummy alternative to flank steak and the spices and sauces that go in it will last me forever.

All in all, I had a very successful Sunday cooking which is my all time favorite way to spend a day of rest at home with my man. My next cooking adventure will be trying this ridiculously delicious sounding stew recipe my mom gave me that involves soaking a pork shoulder in 2 bottles of red wine and TWENTY cloves of garlic over night.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Chilean" Craving?

Today for lunch I didn't feel like cooking because I've been sick in bed all day, but I was pretty hungry and craving what is to me a really Chilean lunch even though I'm not sure it qualifies as a plato (dish). When I mentioned it to Italo, his jaw practically fell to the floor since I almost always insist on 1 of 2 things: picking up takeout or going to la vega and cooking some elaborate meal. So when I suggested something easy and inexspensive, it was surprising.

What was it you ask? 20-minute white rice, a tomato, and one of those frozen hamburgers from the grocery store although I would have been happy with any meat. What makes it so Chilean to me is that it was arranged on my plate so that the tomato juice dripped onto my rice making it kind of a soupy concoction and I ate it all with a dollop of MAYONNAISE!

One thing I love about a meal like that is that it's so filling and inexpensive, but what I have always complained about in the past is the fact that a "meal" that is a very common lunch special or menu at countless restaurants here is (to me) something you make in college when you're too broke to go to the grocery store so you throw together whatever's left. Granted, I'll never consider it a culinary treat, I will admit that I overreacted a little bit and that it leaves me totally happy and satisfecha (full)...sometimes.

My question is what are other people's not-so-Chilean Chilean cravings? Rice, tomatoes and meat are certainly not what I think about when I think of Chilean cuisine. Instead, I think of cazuela, pastel de choclo and machas a la parmesana, but perhaps it's the combination and the memories of eating it with my host mom while I was studying abroad here (think the Clos commercials in the metro when he remembers la despedida de su hijo) that instantly remind me of Chile.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

New Style

*I'm ignoring the hiatus from the blog world to write this as if that didn't happen

I've decided that I'm only going to write about food and alcohol and any establishment associated with the two. My favorite thing to do in Chile is find a new anything: new pikada, new wine store, new restaurant or my new favorite fruit and veggie stand. Anyone who knows me knows that I love good food and good wine and will go to great lengths to have it.

Unfortunately, I'm so in love with my neighborhood that it's really hard to get me to leave it. There are tons of restaurants I want to try or have tried and loved, but I haven't and won't go to them anymore because it means taking a taxi or the metro. To remedy this problem, last Thursday my boyfriend suggested we just head out on foot and eat at the first place that looked good--such a good idea and an excellent attempt to deal with my being picky since we could stay close to home and walk around my favorite place in Santiago.

So, we headed towards the patronato/bellavista area looking for a hidden gem. I started to lose hope quickly as we passed empty restaurant after empty restaurant. I wanted to head back and just get a pizza and a great bottle of wine, but Italo was determined to find a great new place.

As we got closer to bellavista, we started dreaming of yummy peruvian food which was when we noticed the El Otro Sito sign. We checked out the menu and everything looked as amazing as everyone's described it, but it wasn't a night to shell out 10.000 clp an entree and then worry about the wine so out of starvation we opted for the meat restaurant next door called Vaquita Sabrosa.

Walking up the stairs, I sort of regretted our snap decision to eat there because there were noticeable stains on the floor and all of the chairs. And when I tried the complementary cheese empanada that came in the bread basket, I almost had to spit it out because it had an unidentified gritty substance all over it. Clearly, they had been sitting out for hours because they were cold and stale.

To save the moment, we rushed to order a familiar bottle of Santa Ema Cabernet Savignon and checked out the menu. Granted, a lot of items on the menu were cheaper than at restaurants like Las Vacas Gordass, what we ended up getting was just about the same price--beef medallions wrapped with bacon for 4990 clp a plate. To go with it, two orders of french fries and a house salad (yup, we're chanchos).

Our food came quickly and it looked a lot better than I thought it would after the empanadas. The french fries were delicious! They were nice and crispy which is hard to find I think. The meat was just as good as other more famous meat restaurants, but I wasn't blown away by it. Bacon can mask a lot of things and make anything taste delicious, but I still think it could have been better. And the salad we ordered was a joke. The vegetables looked and tasted like they had been sitting out all day so I was really disappointed since I love a great salad.

We finished up and had those ridiculous bajativos (they were served with kids' straws!!) and paid the 22.000 clp we owed. We had 2 main dishes, 3 sides and a bottle of wine so that's not too bad, but it's a little steep considering it's ust an OK restaurant.

All in all, I'll never go back there. There's another meat restaurant nearby that's really touristy, but has great salads, free and delicious empanadas and a much better wine list (I think it's called Los Socios) so I'd definitely opt for that and take the clean seats as a bonus :)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I love Chile right now...

because a lazy Sunday in bed after waking up before 7am Monday-Saturday is not only acceptable, it's expected of you. And I am living it up in my new sheets, pillows and comforter while I wait for my homemade bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich (thanks to my man). And then I'm going to drag myself out of bed and go for a jog, but it doesn't matter because my classes are all prepared for tomorrow and I have nothing that needs to be done today. Happy Sunday!

Saturday, June 6, 2009


I am counting down the days until the new Regina Spektor CD comes out on June 23rd. At least once a day, I watch the 3 new music videos she posted and listen to the 2 other song without videos, but most days I listen to all of the songs way more than once (just ask Italo!). It makes my ears happy and my day that much better. I don't have a favorite song from the new ones, but I do really love the video for Dance Anthem of the 80s. It's a Regina-ized version of an excellent and iconic 80s movie scene (Say Anything, anyone?)

.Dance Anthem of the 80s

Only 17 days left :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bad Belmont Lights

So, I´ve been smoking a little bit for the past few weeks and I need to stop. It started with all of the stress of moving and then didn´t stop there.

I´ve never been a heavy smoker, but I smoked for almost a year in high school and quit. Then, I switched to stress and social smoking in college. I´d sit with one of my roommates and smoke one cigarette after another over coffee during exam time. I´d also always smoke a cigarette or two or three or four or five on a night out with friends.

Then, I was never worried about it because I was stupid. But also because it would often be after a long day of hiking or snowboarding or doing something active and it was always isolated to a few days out of the month. I never felt the effects of it. Now, I´m living in smog city and not getting the amount of exercise I used to and it makes me feel disgusting.

Simple solution? STOP SMOKING!!!

But it´s not quite that simple for me because I´m weak under peer pressure. We´re going to my suegra´s house tonight where smoking never hurt anyone and going to the gym doesn´t exist. If there´s alcohol involved in our San Jueves (Saint Thursday--their name for a night of drinking, cards, and smoking) that means double the nicotine inhaled and double the number of times I´ll have to say no because boy are they all generous with their smokes. It´s a constant test of my will power. At least my mom will be here on Tuesday which will give me the perfect excuse to stop again because everyone except Italo pretends they don´t smoke when my mom´s here so they´ll be inhaling cigarettes when she´s not around which means I most likely won´t be around either.

OK, now why am I posting this? Because I´m going to report back here after my weekend and if I have an audience, I think my results will be better. So, I promise to be honest and if I smoke, please feel free to chew me out. Once I´m over this few day hump, I´ll be fine.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

no phone, no internet, and no tv....

make Isabel a dull girl.

Don´t worry, I´m not about to chase Italo into the bathroom with a knife or anything, but I am going a little crazy feeling totally disconnected from everything and everyone. And it also explains why I haven´t posted in forever.

Our new building only allows VTR (our previous provider)to install cable and internet, but no phone so we have to use Telefonica. And let me just say that I hate telefonica after this. We called and they said that because of our comuna, it will take 14 days to come and install everything. That is absolutely absurd, but the bastards know we can´t do anything so they CAN take their sweet ass time heading over to install everything. When we called VTR, they were there within a few hours. Then, we called them again to come install cable and they were there first thing the next day. It may be a fluke, but I love VTR.

The no TV thing is fine, but the no internet and phone thing is killing me because I feel totally cut off from my family and since I don´t like talking on skype in internet cafes where everyone is listening, I´m a lonely girl in my new apartment when Italo´s gone.

The good news is that I absolutely love my new place and my new barrio. It makes me happy to walk down my street to run errands and my favorite restaurants are all
within walking distance. Hell, I could shout my order from my apartment to my favorite sushi place.

Also, my mom and her friend are coming next week and I cannot wait. I am so excited to show my mom´s friend around because she´s never been here. This will be my mom´s fourth time in Chile so she feels like a pro, but I have a bunch of new places to take them both. I just wish my father and my sister were coming, too. Maybe they can take a trip together later in the year (hint, hint!!).

Anyway, I´ll keep reading everyone´s posts, but my blog will stay dull for a while. I need the time to sit down and explain my moving fiasco, but I promise thatit´s coming.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

very brief update

I haven't written anything in a long time, but with good reason because I've been ridiculously busy. Here's a quick replay of my week:

-decided we had to move
-found a great place that was a little too expensive
-got the owners down 30.000 pesos-->planned to sign contract
-ended up throwing up all day Thursday from something I ate so we didin't do anything about moving and I did nothing about working.
-signed the new apartment contract
-broke the news to our landlady who took it HORRIBLY (I rescind my recommendation of her and our soon-to-be vacant apartment to my two fellow bloggers)
-packed up our entire apartment and arranged to move for almost no cost
-ran into 10,000,000 problems with our building, landlady, and the law about moving our furniture across town
-called my contract lawyer student hysterical over everything who assured me it would be OK by Monday
-had to spend all of my chanchito I had saved for my mom's visit which left me with less than 5.000 clp to my name until payday
-maybe/sort of/kind of have everything straightened out for getting our salvoconducto (license to move our furniture from one building to another), evil landlady meeting, work, and another almost as good deal on moving.
-OH, on top of it all, Italo has to defend his thesis Tuesday morning so he's super stressed about all of this plus his thesis/he hasn't been much help in the packing process ;)

To say the very least, I'll be THRILLED when this is all over. It will be nice to finally sleep next weekend. I'll expand a little more on the move and whatnot, but for now my pillow and a borrowed copy of Anthony Bourdain's book (thanks, Heather!) await me.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Group Post: What drew me to Chile?

This is part of a group post that took place on Friday. I am way behind on mine, but you can read the others here.

Much like Abby says about her reasons for coming to Chile, mine are boring. I was a Latin American Studies major at the University of Virginia and studying abroad was always a part of my plan. I had a gut feeling that led me to Chile, but no specific reasons as to why I chose it. When people ask me here I always say that it was because of the history, the Andes mountains or the fact that a professor from my department started the study abroad program and it had a great reputation--but that's not really true. I have no idea where Chile popped into my head, but I remember thinking I'd go to Chile years ago and I never really changed my mind. Again, this isn't that interesting. What might be a little more interesting is why I chose Latin American Studies which then drew me to Chile.

My grandmother's family on my mom's side is Puerto Rican with some distant Mexican relatives. While my grams (Carmen) grew up in New York City, she spent a lot of time on the island with her family. Her father used to pal around NYC with his beat generation cousin Luis Muñoz Marin (yup, I'm a Marin). My grandmother was fluent in Spanish and very latina in many ways, yet she somehow lost touch with a lot of her family and never seemed to be too proud of being Puerto Rican/Mexican/American (she would say her family got there by way of Spain).

When my grandmother got divorced, she moved to Mexico to live with family with her two young daughters. There, my mom learned the Spanish she's never forgotten. She also picked up her taste for delicious Mexican food and her tendency to want to have her entire family under one roof.

Right when I was born and a few years after my sister was born, my mom hired a nanny from Bolivia, Deisy. From then on, she and my mom only spoke in Spanish so my dad was left to fend for himself, my sister picked it up right away, and my first words were "jugo" and "gato". We ate chicharrón and I was (and still am) Deisy's little chanchita. I switched from Spanish to English with ease since my mom, grandmother and Deisy only spoke Spanish in the house. But when I was still very young, Deisy got another job and left and we had many other latina babysitters and nannies, but I don't remember them well. The only one who sticks out in my mind is Deisy because she was (and still is) a very important person in my life. The Spanish, however, left with Deisy.

After that I never really thought about Spanish. I remember a trip to Puerto Rico when I was 12 and I didn't understand anything my family said to me in Spanish, but they all understood everything I said in English. It was then that I decided to take Spanish in high school, but I was horrible. I'm really a brick wall when it comes to teaching me a new language and it only got harder as I got older, but at least my interest was piqued.

When I went to college I decided to take an introductory Latin American history course just for fun and because I wanted to know a little more than I did about Latin America (which was next to nothing). During my first class of my first semester of college, I was hooked. I was fascinated by the history and everything my professor said. I really started trying to speak Spanish and trying to learn more about my mom's side of the family. When I decided I was transferring to another school, I based a large part of my decision on my study abroad options and the school's Latin American Studies programs. At UVA, I continued.

In October of 2005, my grandmother died. This was a huge blow for my sister C. and me because she was living with C. 10 minutes from my college dorm so we spent tons of time together. Even though you can't say she didn't live a full life, it was still so shocking. My sister and I had a really hard time dealing with it and I was already struggling as a transfer student so I decided I'd take a semester off from school and move to Puerto Rico to be with my incredibly warm and loving family there. They welcomed me "home"* with open arms and I made all of the arrangements to leave school. At the last minute, though I decided I'd stay at school which was the right decision for me in the end, but I was left with this yearning to go abroad and learn the Spanish I'd lost.

Going to Puerto Rico would have been an amazing time, but I was really set on going somewhere new when it came to picking a program. I wanted my own experience living abroad alone and if I had gone to Puerto Rico, I bet my mom would have been down there every weekend and I would have probably spoken more English than Spanish. And since Chile had always been in the back of my mind, I started checking into programs there. After months of fighting with my study abroad office, I finally got my program approved and prepared to leave for Chile.

Like I said before, basically nothing drew me to Chile specifically. It was just a feeling I had. A lot of people even tried to convince me not to go, but I was dead set on it. My advisor said that Chile was too dull for me and that I would be safe, but bored. Another professor thought Mexico was the only way to go. My mom, grandmother and Deisy certainly weren't tied to Chile either. If I followed any of them, I would have gone to Mexico, Bolivia or Puerto Rico, but I think I wanted Chile to be all about me. It was a good time in my life to go away and be with new people which would force me to learn Spanish, but it was also so much about those 3 women and feeling connected to them.

I've always felt latina. Maybe it's because everyone says how much I take after my mom's side of the family, but I'm really not latina. I have the same heritage my sister has (1/2 Irish, 1/4 Puerto Rican and 1/4 Norwegian) and she looks like the Irish side of my family and doesn't speak Spanish. There's no reason for me to have come out more hispanic, but I did. I really identify with the culture, the food (not Chilean food, though), and the people. I love the history and feel totally at ease in Chile and in every other Latin American country I've been to. I've always had the urge to know more about my family which then turned into a need to know about Latin America in general. When I go back to the U.S., I want my life to remain part latina. I want to work with latinos in the U.S. and I want my future children to grow up speaking Spanish just as much as English. Now, Chile's a part of me even more than Puerto Rico (although I'd like to change that) and I'll always feel part Chilean after I leave here.

I realize I haven't really answered the question of what drew me to Chile, but it's because I don't know the answer. Chile is totally different from Puerto Rico, Mexico and Bolivia, I know. Why I didn't go to any of those countries (and territory), I don't know. I plan on spending a lot of time in Puerto Rico and hope to get the chance to get to know Deisy's family in Bolivia, but Chile is so special to me. I bitch and moan about a lot of things here, but I also know that when I leave here I'll miss it like crazy. It'll always be a big part of my life regardless of what the future brings.

Oh hell, maybe I came here just to meet Italo :) who knows...

*My grandmother's cousin always calls Puerto Rico home so when I talk to her, she says, "when you come home to us"....and "We're so glad you're home". It's the cutest thing.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fear and loathing in Lapiz Lopez. No, just loathing.

I hate the store Lapiz Lopez. It's overpriced, poorly run, and under-stocked. As an English teacher, I need to have some office supplies so I occasionally wander into the store and always always always leave annoyed and stressed.

I am not a patient person, but for some reason Chilean bureaucracy rarely gets to me so this has to be bad. Sometimes, I even enjoy taking a ticket at the bank so I can sit and read while I enjoy the air conditioned room. If I had a car, my feelings would be different, but since the metro is expensive I try to take it only twice a day and it's virtually impossible to run more than a handful of errands each day if you have to go to different comunas on top of working, I'm OK with it. I tend to space out what would be a day's worth of errands in the U.S. over the course of a week here. It lets me be a little lazy and not feel guilty about it. Shopping at Lapiz Lopez, however is never a pleasant experience.

I just started the largest private English class I've ever had so I decided I need to be much more organized about archiving lesson plans and keeping track of what we cover each class. Since I live right by a Lapiz Lopez, I stopped in after my first class with these students to get some notebooks, paperclips and some sort of binder to keep all of our handouts. What should have taken all of 5 minutes ended up taking 20 because of 3 people who do their job horribly.

In a nutshell, I walked into the store, picked out what I wanted to buy in 2 minutes, then waited and waited and waited. I'm sure everyone living in Chile has been into one of these store, but for anyone who hasn't, it's a school and office supply store that has little counters setup all over. If you want to buy a pen, you have to ask the person behind the pen counter to show you each one until you find the perfect pen for you. This person then has to write down the price of the pen so you can take the pen and piece of paper with the price so professionally scribbled down and pay for it.

This day I was there, there was a woman having a particularly difficult time deciding on a pen so I was stuck waiting for 2 boxes of paper clips that cost around 75 cents each. I tried to reach over the counter and grab what I needed, but the woman snapped at me. I was in no mood so I went to another person working there (I have NO IDEA what his supposed job there is) and asked him to hand me the paperclips. Then, I took my paperclips, two notebooks and plastic file-thingy to the counter to pay.

I got the "you poor, stupid foreigner" look from the cashier because no one hand-wrote the prices down for me. I told her all the prices, but she said I had to take it to someone else and have them do it (WHY doesn't the cashier have the prices listed at the register??!). I went to a guy doing nothing who said to drop my items off and go wait for them at the counter so I did. Then I watched as he walked around and asked his co-workers how much each item cost and they all sort of guessed as he wrote down the prices. I ran over there and said that the prices were clearly marked on the items but he said he had it covered and to go wait for him.

I was pissed by now and intent on making sure he actually did have it covered so I checked over the official torn off piece of scrap paper and sure enough, he had written the wrong price for my paperclips. The total was about $1 more than it should have been which isn't a huge deal, but I certainly wasn't going to pay for nothing. I told him he wrote the wrong price down and pointed to the shelf where the paperclips were hanging behind the security-tight desk with the price clearly marked yet he STILL wen to ask a co-worker instead of checking the marked price.

Finally, he got the right price and scratched out the incorrect total and I went to the cashier to pay. She about chewed my head off because she thought that I had changed the price to make it cheaper. This really pissed me off because she wouldn't listen to me so I said "Oye, no me hables asi. Anda a hablar con ese hombre si no me crees pero estas loca si crees que voy a pagar más por un error de la tienda" (lHey, don't talk to me like that. Go ask that man if you don't believe me, but you're crazy if you think I'm going to pay for the store's mistake). She did, changed the price and took my money and practically threw the bag and receipt at me and I left the store.

As I walked to my apartment, I was fuming over the experience. I always try to be nice to people in customer service jobs because they're constantly subjected to people's bad sides, but in situations like that I can't help it because costumer service doesn't even exist. Plus, I am so chata (sick of) with what I think are people taking advantage of the fact that I'm foreign. So many times people try to scam me because they think I'm stupid or because they think I don't understand the system. Now, I fight it every time but it makes me wonder how many times I was cheated when I first got here in 2007 and didn't even realize it.

What's more is that of the 3 times I've been to Lapiz Lopez, there's been a mistake with the bill each time and it's taken much longer than it should have. In the U.S., I absolutely love shopping for pens, pencils, folders, and anything associated with organization and now, I would love to get some binders and plastic bins to organize the tons and tons of English books and handouts I have, but the process is so unpleasant and expensive here that I just end up throwing everything on any open counter space I can find in my apartment.

It may just be bad luck, but unless I have an office supplies emergency, I will never set foot in another Lapiz Lopez. Shame on me for going in a third time after 2 already bad experiences, but I won't do it again. At least when I go into the small, privately owned office supplies stores I expect it to take a long time so I'll be more patient. But Lapiz Lopez, you won't get me again.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Chilly in Chile

I couldn't be happier with the weather today. Chilly, rainy days just before fall begins are pure bliss. Today I stayed in bed with a big cup of coffee way too long, went to see a great movie with great friends, and am looking forward to a glass of wine and Italo's cooking followed by one of my new favorite series, The Big Bang Theory. I'll save my mujer pesada story for another post so as not to ruin the onda of this one.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


i've spent way too much time on this website today. I thought I'd share it because it's hilarious.

Monday, February 23, 2009

the Expatriate Price

There are many things we expats miss out on while living outside of our mother country. So far for me, it's been 2 weddings, 1 funeral, and many family gatherings and mini-trips . It also means missing out on daily life and happenings that can make you feel like an outsider when you're out of the loop. It's the price we all have to pay for living our lives in another country.

I get this feeling when the actual day comes of the event or holiday I'm missing and sometimes it puts me in a funk. This year on Halloween I just sort of sulked around my apartment watching The Nightmare Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus .

I'm the younger sister so I think my "not being left out" syndrome is more severe because I've had it since I could talk and my sister got to go to the New Kids on the Block concert with my dad and I didn't. The rest of what I feel when things happen there while I'm here I think is pretty universal: It sucks not to be with your family when good and bad things happen.

Last night, I found out that the store where both my sister and I worked all through high school and part of college is closing. It's a small, family run ski and snowboard shop and I'm devastated that it came down to this. I really feel like a part of my childhood is disappearing and I desperately wish I could at least be there for the end. When I think of how it must be for the owners, it reminds me of Meg Ryan's character in You've Got Mail when she closes The Shop Around the Corner.

This couple B. and N. built the store from scratch and really offered a superior service (repeatedly voted best ski boot fitting on the east coast). It wasn't like working at a typical store, either. I babysat for their children, we all went skiing/snowboarding together most Sundays after work, they were there to celebrate my high school and my sister's college graduation and at our Christmas Eve party. They never forget a former or current employee's birthday and they consider us all part of the "fam" for life (even though I haven't actually worked there in over 4 years).

This feeling will pass and this couple will move on with their lives and excel at something else, I'm sure. We'll all have the great memories and it will be OK, but for now, I'll be dramatic and self-pitying because I can't be there. And then it will pass until May when my dad's side of the family (HUGE Irish-Catholic family) goes to New York for my cousin's wedding.

For anyone who might read this blog from the Northern Virginia/DC area, this store is having a going out of business sale that is sure to be great for customers. They have ski, snowboard, hockey, and skateboard equipment so go here if you want to read more.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pre-Academy Awards Show Thoughts

EDIT: I JUST realized that E! isn't showing the Academy Awards, just the pre and post shows. How did I realize that? I just watched 2 hours of pre-show only to see it repeat. There goes my Oscar night, haha!

Could Ryan Seacrest lack any more tact when talking to anyone who's not white?

I REALLY hope Penelope Cruz wins for her role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona because I just watched that on Friday and she was wonderful

And I hope Doubt and Revolutionary Road (Titanic Dos as a certain Chilean man calls it) win something

I don't think I'll be able to stay up to see the good awards

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

La Vega

I have only been to La Vega twice (a market in the center of Santiago). This is mainly because I had no idea I lived so close to it and because I almost always do my produce shopping in San Ramon at my suegra's Sunday market. I went for the first time last week with a friend and fellow blogger who led me around so I could see what it's all about.

First and foremost, I think the prices where we went, which is actually farther back from LA VEGA and even La Vega Chica, are unbeatable. I'm a frequent feria shopper (at least once a week) so I'm always checking out produce prices and the prices I saw both Vega trips were lower than anywhere else I've been. I spent around 4.000 to 5.000 pesos each time and saved around 2.000 pesos in total. That's a pretty large amount proportionally speaking so I was pleased. I also liked that there was a lot more to choose from that my San Ramon feria and the smaller one close to where I live.

I think that you can get quality produce at a great price so I will continue to go there since it's a nice walk for me that will continue to get nicer as it finally cools off here. With that said, I think there are some definite negatives to shopping there alone which I did yesterday.

First, I get the feeling (and about 5 billion Chileans have told me) you REALLY need to watch your things there. Yesterday, I was right next to a woman who got her necklace ripped off and the weon culiado took off too fast for the woman to catch him and no one paid the slightest attention to the hijo de puta charging through the narrow stalls of La Vega Chica. I quickly took off my silver necklace that has immeasurable sentimental value to me and stuck it in my backpack that I always wear on my stomach with my arms wrapped around it and kept going. I'm always careful with my things, but never paranoid about being robbed, but I was yesterday.

Second, is that the SMELL walking through the meat section is nauseating. I seriously can hardly take it. It makes me want to vomit and my being nauseated certainly wasn't helped by the fact that I got unidentified meat juice splashed on my feet both times I walked through there.

Third and last, are the catcalls. I never write about them but the obnoxious catcalls the male vendors make bug me enough to say something. In general, I don't like the "casera! casera! que andas buscando?!" at the markets here because I like to take my time and walk though the produce sections a few times before deciding on the best options. But the pressure to buy the vendors' food together with the catcalls make me particularly uneasy.

Basically, I will continue to shop there because I love buying fresh produce at a good price, but I'll always be a little on edge because I'm determined not to get robbed here and I like to associate the words "browse" and "stroll" with my shopping experiences, but I can't really do that there.

Monday, February 16, 2009

He IS just that into you

I'm not writing this to sound like a cocky little b*tch, but I can't help but post after going to see He's Just Not That Into You with two friends tonight. I still have a copy of the book because I loved it, but I did try to sell it at a yard sale so someone else could use it. I think it gives great general advice to women about not obsessing over plain old shitty men and it's fun because that episode of Sex and the City is hilarious. It really did open my eyes to a certain situation (junto con all the great advice my incredibly honest friends gave me, of course) and I vowed then and there never to make any of those "mistakes" again.

I'm not sure my revelation had anything to do with my meeting Italo, but he was and still is the first guy I dated seriously after a series of flings and kinda sorta boyfriends that would have made very comical (or tragic?) vignettes in the film. As I was watching the movie, I kept thinking two things:

1. I didn't make even one of those embarrassing and needy mistakes that I had made before when Italo and I first met

2. He IS just that into me!

haha, I didn't need a movie to tell me that, but it's refreshing to be reassured. Oh, and by the way, I AM just that into him, too :) :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Music videos belong on MTV and VH1

And the irony in that is that they're not there anymore, yet you can find them on other stations without video or music in their titles.

You know the music videos the Sony channel plays here over and over and over and over and over (like Motel right now) until they find a new one to play over and over and over and over? Well, I think that I see them so much that when I hear the song on the radio or somewhere else, there's a split second where I think I must like the song and that's why I'm singing along, but then i realize where I recognize it from and change my mind.

I ALWAYS have the kinda new Juanes song in my head and it drives me insane: "es tiempo de's time to change", but I just cannot stop singing it.

I'd have to say that the most annoying one was that Belanova song "1 2 3 Go" with the "Oye niño no tengas miedo" bit and I think the least annoying was the Sarah Bareilles one "love song". i never liked that song when I heard it in the U.S., but after hearing it about 100 times here and watching her little interview, she and the song grew on me.

The Alicia Keys/Jack White song from the James Bond movie was OK, but it was so long with the interviews and it bugged me how many times Alicia Keys said "scat" or "scatting".

Anyway, I think this means that I watch way too much t.v. and I'm out of blogging material for now, but I was just watching the new video of the month and for a second there I thought I liked it, but I definitely don't.

Dylan-the-dog update: He had to have another operation because he was spiking a fever and had a lot of fluid in his stomach which meant infection. The vet flushed out his intestines several times to be sure to get all of the infection out, but he said you never know. It's too soon to tell if he's in the clear, but as of 2 hours ago when I last talked to my mom he was OK and is going home for the night to sleep. He's not eating which isn't too surprising because he never eats at the vet's even when he hasn't had 2 major surgeries but it's important that he does tonight. If all goes well tonight and tomorrow, they're going to send him home and put him in the almost all clear. I'd just like to get to Sunday with his being OK so we can all relax and I can look forward to seeing him when I go home again.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What a difference a day makes

Just a quick update on my emotional state, haha. Things are much better today. It still looks like my mom can't come in April, but my wonderful man called me shortly after posting yesterday with his "solution" which was to use the money he has saved to invite my mom to stay with us and cover all of her expenses. She would never go for it because she's thrilled that he and I are saving for graduate school applications, GRE and TOEFL tests as well as an English course for Italo, but it's a very nice gesture that my mom appreciated. I may try to change my ticket in July to April so I can fly home for a month and substitute teach ($110 a day!) and babysit to pay my mom back and maybe save a little bit, too. Either way I think it will work out.

(Maybe?) more importantly, my dog is still being monitored at the vet, but he did really, really well last night in the overnight clinic and the vet thinks he may be able to go home tonight which I think will help him recuperate faster. Another good thing is that the enormous vet bill isn't going to be quite as enormous as my mom thought originally so I think I can pay her back in a relatively short amount of time ($2,600 down from $6,000). And I know, a lot of people think it's absolutely insane to spend so much money on animals, but I don't care. My relationship with my dog is the simplest, most rewarding relationship I have so it's totally worth it. And just look at how adorable/regalon he is:

Thanks so much to those who commented for your kind words. I'd never shared a personal problem like that before and hope I won't have to for a while (but come on, that's life, right?) but it was a really nice outlet for me and I appreciate the comments so THANKS! :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

bad, bad day

Today has been just awful. I got some bad news around noon today and it just kept piling on from there. And what just makes it unbearable is that it's been a ripple effect and I can't see the end of it yet. I think I'll wait to delve into some of the details in the hopes that something miraculous will happen to change things, but for now I'll just say that today, among other things, brought me the news that my beloved dog Dylan is very sick in the animal hospital and will remain there for at least 3 more days so the vet can monitor his system after having a piece of a towel removed from his intestine (the vet and I have noooooooo idea why my pick eater of a dog would eat a towel). It absolutely kills me to know that he's in such a grave condition and that that I'm here and not with him. What's worse is that he's my dog which means he's my responsibility yet I'm in no position to pay his vet bills. Partly because of this, I also just found out that my mom isn't coming to visit me in April because she can't. And that was horrible to hear because it makes me so sad and because I know it's so much harder on her. It totally sucked to hear how upset she was and I had no idea what to say to make her feel better which I hate. For our family, 2008 was a very, very rough year so a day like today just magnifies an ongoing bad situation. Normally, I'm a (somewhat) optimistic person, but I'm having a hard time seeing the bright side of things today. Here's hoping that tomorrow's better...

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Chilean Wonder Woman

I have posted about my suegra P. before and how wonderful she is, but I didn't touch on her superhero traits. She is a Jack(lyn?)-of-all-trades. In her family, they (we) all play a game at almost every family gathering where everyone has to go around and list one "profession" or responsibility she's assumed without repeating any of them . The list is endless (seamstress, nurse, butcher, carpenter, vet, therapist, grill master, life coach etc) and the point of it is to show that there seems to be nothing this woman can't do. Common sense doesn't even begin to describe her approach to EVERYTHING. She's just one of those people who always knows what to do in any situation and yesterday, I witnessed her newest skill as a bombera (firewoman).

I was walking from the market with P. and my cuñada when when P. said, "I smell something smells like plastic.". Two seconds later she was sprinting down the street and around the corner while my cuñi and I were still trying to figure out what was going on. Once 4 or 5 others dashed around the corner screaming "agua!!! agua!!!". we realized there was a fire. My superhero suegra threw her groceries down, ran into the house next door, dumped their trash out and filled the bin with water and then darted next door to throw it on the kitchen fire in under a minute. I don't think the owners of the house would have realized she had been there if she hadn't told them afterwards. There were several people there before she got there and they were all helping in some way, but no one took action like P. did (including me).

The fire turned out to be a small kitchen fire so it was under control within a few minutes and everyone was OK. The woman who owned the house was crying and obviously very shaken up, but that was to be expected. Everyone else in the house was calmly cleaning up the mess and all of the people from the street went back to what they were doing before the fire. P. came out the house, picked up her bags, and we walked home to eat lunch. She probably would have left it at that, but her daughter and I were amazed by how naturally she ran into the house not knowing how bad it would be (there was thick, black smoke EVERYWHERE). Her children are semi-used to her doing stuff like this, but it still totally blows my mind how quick she is to help ANYONE who needs it.

Not only that, but it's truly a gift that she always seems to do the right thing. I remember her brother telling me a story about the guy next door shooting (and eventually killing) himself and P. running next door to help with whatever happened when she heard the gunshot. My first reaction to a gunshot would probably be something like "take cover" or "hide", but hers is, "go help".

"Go help" seems to be her mantra and she never strays from it. She went with her niece to pick up her furniture after a nasty divorce, she went with her sister to every doctor's appointment when she was going through radiation, her other niece confides in her regularly and seeks her advice and she calls me everyday to make sure there's nothing I need and if I were ever to need any thing, she'd do or get it for me.

She is always the first person to run to any family member with a problem and she's always the first to offer any kind of help. She knows things you only learn through experience and boy, has she experienced a lot.

While I'm geographically very far my family and the important women in my life, it is a great comfort to know I have such a talented and wise woman so close. I have a kick-ass mom at home who can do anything and an awesome sister as well as everything my late Grams taught me, but here I have my Wonder Suegra and I think she's a fine addition to the group of women I admire.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

WEIRD and possibly disgusting question

OK, I hope I don't gross anyone out with this post, but I'm dying for someone who knows something about German men (and their peeing habits) to help me out with this.

Tonight, I was chatting with Italo and he mentioned that a friend of his who is dating a German girl told him that German men pee sitting down. He said this because when this friend went to visit his girlfriend in Germany, she and her friends were disgusted that he peed standing up (not sure how they ALL found this out) and told him that all German men pee sitting down.

Anyone know anything about this??? I have no idea why I want more information, but I guess I'm just so used to crossing the tiny plaza by my apartment and seeing men stopping to take a standing leak in front of everyone in broad daylight without so much as batting an eye--It would be interesting to know that most men from an entire country actually take the time to sit down and get 'er done! I tried to google it, but as to be expected I got a bunch of porn sites instead of what I was looking for. I did find a guy's blog about posted signs in public restrooms in Germany that prohibited standing, but it was a kind of crazy blog so who knows if he's reliable or not.

OH, and I totally understand if no one wants to reply, haha..

Friday, January 30, 2009


I FINALLY got my visa. Well, I mean I'm on my way to get it stamped in my passport which means maybe in a month I'll have my carnet and be able to do things like get decent health insurance and go to the doctor when I'm sick instead of self-diagnosis.

Since I slept in about an hour I'd say I'll be waiting a good, hmmmmm 2 hours up down at Extranjería, but the point is I'll have it--YAY!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Homage to Professor D.H.

My advisor and absolute favorite professor from college is being nominated for an award and some of his former students were asked to write a letter in support of his nomination. I got the email a few days ago and need to finish my letter now because it's due today. Now, I am thrilled to write it because anyone who knows me knows how influential this professor was for me, but I'm having a hard time writing a letter that's as good as I want it to be. I figured I'd use this post as an outline to help me organize my thoughts and I'd get a chance to talk about at truly amazing professor.

Professor H. really took me under his wing when I transferred schools and was having a really rough time with it, to say the least. We bonded talking about my Puerto Rican family whom he had met while working on his college thesis (over 40 years ago!) and he gave me brutally honest, but priceless academic advice. He listened to me talk, as I held back tears, about my transfer woes and about wanting to take time off to figure things out. He gave me all the academic support I needed to make a decision about what I wanted to do. He signed off on my petition form to take time off, but encouraged me to find a way to stay in school. Just his caring enough to listen made a world of difference considering I felt totally insignificant in all of my classes where not one of my professors knew my name (seriously, I made a comment halfway through the semester in a religion class and the TA asked if it was my first day there!). Now, obviously a lot had to happen to change my situation at school and a large part of it had to do with getting involved in extracurricular activities and improving my social life, but Professor H. absolutely shaped and guided my academic life in college.

A year and a half after transferring and finally finding my niche at UVA, Professor H. went to the mattresses for me and my fight to study abroad with a particular program in Chile. My school had some sort of deal with a certain study abroad program and would not let me study with the program I chose (I chose it over the other one after a lot of research and many recommendations from students and professors alike, mind you). If it weren't for him and his effort (think very firm/angry phone calls and letters to stupid 20-somethings in charge of ALL of study abroad programs) to make sure I got my program approved. I did! but it's only because he fought for me and got the entire Spanish department to do the same. I'd probably still be speaking Spanglish at best if it weren't for him and the program, of course!

Professor H. is also the most interesting and engaging professor I've ever had. He is an expert on Brazilian history, literature and culture and he's fluent in Brazilian Portuguese (including ALL slang), but what's more, is that his passion translates into excellent teaching. I took each of the classes he taught at UVA because his history lectures were fascinating and his Portuguese classes were so entertaining we students all brought friends to class with us. I worked my ass off to get good grades in his Portuguese classes because he really challenged everyone of us to excel.

Perhaps most importantly is Professor H.'s dedication to his students both inside and outside of school. Granted his classrooms were always small because there isn't a huge interest in Brazil and Portuguese at my alma mater, but he still went above and beyond for his students. Proportionally speaking (# of students and department $), he invited more people (professors, friends, famous musicians) to our school than any other professor. He often took his students out to dinner just to be able to practice Portuguese outside of school. I also remember he helped pay for a student's plane ticket to visit his father in the hospital because the student couldn't afford it. And for me, he is the reason my boyfriend got his visa to visit the U.S. last March, but I probably shouldn't get into it here or in my actual letter, haha. (NOTE: We have NEVER lied to the embassy! I can assure you all of that.)

I think I feel so compelled to share about this professor because I don't think he'll get the award, even though he deserves it. He singlehandedly created the Portuguese department at UVA and is a favorite among everyone from my major, but people at the top don't really care about. Portuguese and Latin American Studies don't bring any money into the school and things like that matter to the point that I think it would affect the outcome of a prestigious award like this. I hope I'm wrong, but if he's gone over 30 years without the recognition he deserves, I doubt "they'll" even throw him a bone as he retires. What's worse is that I think the Portuguese department will disappear after he leaves. He created it and I think his life's work will virtually disappear since he hasn't found a suitable replacement. It's tragic to think about, but it's very likely. Here's hoping...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Recommended "I've been Wronged" Playlist

No, I haven't been wronged recently, but one of my closest friends here has. What she (and I) thought was a wonderful man recently behaved like a motherf*cking sh*thead. The point is that the other night, instead of crying at home being miserable, she washed her face, dressed herself up and went out (still miserable, but at least she tried!). I really admire her for being so honest about her feelings and then picking herself up because she knows she's an amazing person. Before going out, we talked about it at my place over a bottle of wine. I put on some music, but wanted to be very careful not to play anything that would make her sadder since there are so many amazing songs that just make you cry your eyes out in a situation like that. We didn't get a chance to listen to everything I had in mind before we left, but I decided to post some of it incase anyone else [hopefully none of the ladies who read this blog] needs it.

1. Let it Die ~ Feist (Ok, so obviously if you're going to talk about it, you're going to cry so this one's to get that out of the way quickly!)

2. The Million You Never Made ~ Ani DiFranco (Now, be angry!)

3. Bloody Motherfucking Asshole ~ Martha Wainwright (different stage of anger)

4. Breakin' Up ~ Rilo Kiley (dance and sing it on out. I wish this song had come out when I could have used it because it's so fun to dance and workout to)

5. See Line Woman ~ Nina Simone (if done well, a song about a prostitute can make you feel gooooooood)

6. Radio ~ India Irie (i love a little girl power..OK, clearly i love a lot of it)

7. Not About Love ~ Fiona Apple (a deeper insight into the whole shebang)

8.. Single Ladies ~ Beyonce (too little, too late. Learn the dance and get Beyonce's body for that extra KICK)

9. Ella ~ Bebe (some Spanish reinforcement)

10. Precious Things ~ Tori Amos (One line in this song makes it just so amazing. Hint: it starts with, "so you can make me..."

11. Untouchable Face ~ Ani DiFranco (you just have to get that one last f*ck you in there)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Santiago's toll on my feet

My feet are not very pretty in general. Unfortunately, I inherited my dad's feet which not only means two ugly big toes, but foot problems as well. Then, I didn't help things by breaking both feet (at different times) so badly I had to get pins put in in them to correct the break.

So, the point is that my not so attractive feet also hurt me a lot because I refuse to wear tennis shoes around all the time. I LOVE cute flats and sandals and wedges (although I broke my foot wearing wedges so I seldom take them out of my closet here on these sidewalks), but since I walk so much in Santiago, I am constantly comparing the cuteness to comfort ratio before I walk out the door and I always carry backup band-aids just incase.

I thought I was in heaven when I found a pair of adorable Puma flats that were both comfy and stylish, but they turned out to offer zero support and I felt every uneven step in the city. Walking down Paris or Londres near my apartment just killed me. So, lately I've opted for a newer pair of flip flops, but my feet get totally destroyed in them and I get very grossed out when I step in unidentified liquid knowing it hasn't rained in forever. I went to get a pedicure once and the woman spent the entire time scolding me about neglecting my feet when I'm actually very good at giving them extra care in the summertime--they just suck!!

So now after a day of opting for cute flats even though I knew I had a lot of walking ahead of me, I'm suffering enough that it prompted me to dedicate an entire post to my feet woes! I'll use better judgement tomorrow.

sidenote: I'm doing pretty well on my resolutions so far. I'm farther along in Cider House Rules and loving it of course, I've been good on my diet except for Saturday at our asado (yummmm choripan!), and my man and I have a movie date tonight with our usual snuck-in wine and home-popped garlic popcorn.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A brief appearance at La Cumbre del Rock Chileno

So, Italo's sister scored 4 free tickets to La Cumbre del Rock Chileno today and invited her friend, Italo and me to go. I was pretty excited because Italo and his sister went last year with tickets from the same person and got to sit in the VIP section. I was hoping for shade, seats, and easy access to refreshments--not quite.

We got there at around 2pm armed with some sandwiches we snuck in and realized we were going to be with everyone else roasting under the sun in the big field(full of litter, mind you). We were going to buy water and any other food once we were inside. Once we got in, we realized there was a ridiculous, yet all too Chilean system for buying food and drinks. You have to wait in a huge line to buy a ticket for your food and then go wait in an aggressive crowd and push your way to the front to actually get your food or drinks. Now, I'm not knocking the ticket thing entirely because I've seen it done well at other concert venues, but it clearly didn't work there today. There were way too many concert goers and too few people working.

By the time the four of us got our water (30-40 minutes from the time we first got in line), the heat had ruined me. I drank my cup way too fast and was left worried about when the next time I'd drink water would be. The lines had gotten even huger and no one was very interested in paying 1.000 pesos for a cup of water and then actually getting it an hour later. I am a very hydrated person so thirst is my nightmare and thirst plus heat minus shade makes for a miserable me.

We sat down for a while and ate and played the cards I'd brought as I baked in the sun. Now, I am a baby when it comes to heat so I admit I can't handle situations like that very well, but everything was made worse by the thought of 8 more hours outside with no water, food or shade. I didn't say anything, but Italo knows when I'm uncomfortable and he very sweetly said, "let's go", but I insisted I was fine, in fact thrilled to go home by myself so he could stay and enjoy the day with his sister and friend. He was impossible to convince so we both ended up leaving early (exactly 2 and half hours after we got there). I was a little embarrassed because I hate being finicky around Italo's family. I think they think gringas are more high maintenance in general and I know I've done some things that are totally normal in the U.S. that they view as complaining or being particular (like asking to be switched from smoking to non-smoking because I made a non-smoking dinner reservation or insisting on renting an apartment with heat and having a fan in the summer). I don't like to perpetuate the stereotype nor do I want them to get sick of my gringa ways, but I think it was all worth it for the sheer bliss I felt chugging my first and second bottle of water just as we exited the the concert gates. Then, the cool breeze walking to the bus and the yummy ice cream we bought on the way back made me almost forget we had even been to La Cumbre...almost.

Maybe next year I'll try it again with a big umbrella and buckets of water, but this year it just wasn't for me.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Big sigh of relief/What the f*ck?!

This past Monday I went into work to pick up my paycheck and get my attendance book for the one class I had that didn't end in December. To my surprise, SOMEONE there told me that my students had asked to stay with the teacher who subbed for me because there weren't many classes left and they didn't want to switch around anymore. I wasn't sure how to react because that didn't make sense considering I've been with these students for 4 months so I asked, "en serio?!?" and the response I got was, "en serio!". I was assured that it had nothing to do with my teaching, just convenience for them, but I found that hard to believe. I asked a few more questions because I wasn't satisfied, but I got to the point where my only options were to cry because my students didn't like me that much after all or, just leave and deal with it like a big girl. I chose to walk out and deal with it, but it was still really bugging me today. These students and I had such a fun time in class. They're the same ones who invited me to their company's big anniversary party. I brought stuff back from the U.S. specifically for them and we had planned to get together this weekend. So naturally, when I thought about it more it seemed really mean of them or highly unlikely that SOMEONE was telling the truth. Well, just a few minutes ago the mystery solved itself. I got an email from one of my students saying how upset they are with the new teacher and that they're trying to get me back because they don't know what happened. Ok, so 1. YAYYYY! They like me! They really like me!! and 2. Why the fuck did the institute take that class away from me and then lie about it???!!!! I am very relieved three people I really like don't hate me, but I am also pissed at SOMEONE from work. I am waiting to calm down so I can ask about it again without getting angry, but I am determined to get this class back!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Morning thoughts and resolutions for the new year

I am experiencing a very blissful morning. I got the best night's sleep I've gotten here since getting back and woke up just as reruns of my favorite show, Gilmore Girls came on. i am lying in bed, feeling the nice breeze of my fan, drinking coffee and planning my day. I've only been back at work 2 days, but for some reason I felt like I really deserved an undeserved break. Luckily (not for my bank account!), two of my classes don't start until next week so I'm still on a semi-vacation which gives me time to catch up on my doing nothing. Although, I am adding more reading, gym time, and healthy cooking to that so I'll be slightly busier.

I haven't posted about New Year's Resolutions like many other bloggers. It's probably because I kinda hate New Year's, although I like the idea of resolutions. And I made some resolutions without thinking about them going along with the holiday, but I guess even I got into the New Year's spirit so I thought I'd share them even though they couldn't get more cliché.

1. Keep our apartment cleaner. As my friend L. put it once, Italo and I are like two little kids in the kitchen who don't want to take responsibility for the messes we make. We both think we're master chefs which means there's no one to clean up at the end of the meal since we both did the cooking. We get into the nasty habit of cooking dinner at night and leaving the dishes for the next day. I really want to stop that because in our tiny kitchen, one dish, let alone many that not put away makes it very cluttered. I also want all of our books, work things, and clothes where they belong. This is my resolution, but it pertains to us both. Luckily, Italo is right along with me on this one. My next one is slowly breaking him down, though.

2. Eat healthier foods. My last 2 years of high school and my first two years of college, I was a health nut. I tried to eat all organic foods and snacked on nuts and freeze dried berries. I was also a vegetarian so I lived on tofu, beans, cheese, fruits and vegetables. I loved eating like that (minus the vegetarian thing now) and I'm not sure what happened. I looked back on the last 6 months in Chile and realized my eating habits had gone to shit so now I'm determined to bring healthy back. That means absolutely no deliciously disgusting Chilean white bread. It also means no more bleached grains like pasta and rice and no more (or very, very little) red meat. I can't do the no carbs thing because I'm a carb addict, but I can cut way back. So far, I've only bought whole grain pasta and the rest has been legumes, fruit, veggies, eggs and cheese. I've also switched my quick dinner recipes from Rachel Ray to Ellie Krieger (her recipes are easy and delish!). I've been making and storing snacks incase Italo or I get hungry between meals (hummus, roasted chickpeas, almonds, yogurt popsicles, etc). Drinking less beer and other alcohol on the weekends is a must, too. The one thing I cannot and will not give up is red wine. It is too wonderful and inexpensive here and I love it too much. After 3 and a half days of this new diet, I feel great. I have more energy and I just feel happier. Italo was starving the first 2 days, but now he's into it. He's lost about 5 pounds (I hate that about men!) just because he's not eating white bread so I think he's pretty motivated, too. I'm also being really creative with our dinners so he doesn't miss the breads and pastas. All in all, I think I'm on the right path with this resolution

3. Exercise More. I know, I know. EVERYONE vows to workout more at the start of each year. I'm doing it too. This is another thing I used to be adamant about. I want to get back into the routines I was in before. I'm not worried too much about being heart healthy because I walk everywhere and now that my discount metro pass ran out, I'll be walking even more. I'd just like to get back into my strength training routines and be able to mix it up. I found some pretty cool variations for cardio and strength training in some fitness magazines and I'm going to get a new gym membership so I can do my trusty elliptical workout. Italo and I have also been saving to buy bikes (and helmets!) so we can do cerro San Cristóbal and Santa Lucía on the weekends. I'm terrified to ride my bike in this city, but I'll have to overcome it. In general, I want to be more active. I miss that drive to workout everyday I had in college. I'm trying to get it back.

4. Be better at keeping in touch with friends and family. I haven't been very good at writing some people on a regular basis and they told me that when I was home. I can be pretty bad about responding to emails and messages sometime and I have no excuse. It's not that I don't want to keep in touch, I just get distracted and forget sometimes. I promised I would be better because I miss these people a lot while I'm here and I'd like them to know that. So far, i've been doing a good job about it and I hope I can keep it up.

5. Prepare better classes for my students. It took me a while to take my job seriously, but just before Christmas, I started really getting into my lesson planning and enjoying my classes more. I'd like to continue with that and make them even better and more organized. Since teaching English looks like my occupation for a while, I want to feel like I'm good at my job and I'd like for my students to know that I'm trying. So far this semester, I have some great students so it shouldn't be hard.

6. Read more books people recommend to me. I have a lot of friends and family members who constantly recommend great books to me. Some of them even give me the books. I am always very grateful and have every intention of reading the books, but I seldom get around to it. I am going to change that. Especially because two people in particular always read the books I recommend so I need to stop being lazy and do the same. Yesterday, I finally started Cider House Rules by John Irving given to me by a certain A.H. I've read A Prayer for Owen Meany (it's on my top 5 favorite books list) and The World According to Garp so I really have no excuse for not reading his other books. Then, I'm going to start on another one and another one and hopefully another one and so on...

7. Spend more quality time with my man. For those of you who know me, you know I spend a lot of time with Italo, but during the week, it can become very routine-like since we both work. True to my astrological sign (Sagittarius), I hate getting locked into a routine, especially when it involves love, so I want to change that. I want to be able to devote time every day just to hanging out and doing new things. And actually, I think this diet and exercise thing goes along with this resolution. It's been fun grocery shopping and cooking together the past few days and once we get bikes, it means another shared hobby (aside from eating!). We went for a bike ride when we were in Virginia and it was the first time we'd done that. I loved it! Italo's first love was a bicycle (ok, not really), but I wouldn't be surprised to see him tear up talking about his old bike, and I just loved that we were doing something together that he was so passionate about.

OK, I had more resolutions than I thought! Also, Happy new year to everyone!

random comment because I don't want to post another blog, but for anyone in the U.S., I have to recommend the movie Doubt. I went to see it with my parents and sister and we were all extremely impressed. It was by far the best movie I've seen in a long time. it's pretty impressive that my whole family thought that since we all have different tastes in movies.