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Notes from Underneath: July 2009

Notes from Underneath

A California girl in Chilsters (that's Chile to you)

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Sign in the bathroom - I don't understand

I took this picture when I was at the gym. I was using the bathroom - and before you wonder what I'm doing with a camera in the bathroom of my gym, let me explain! I used the bathroom after working out, hence I had my iPod with me which is ALSO my iPhone, which incidentally has a camera.

Anyhoo, I was using the bathroom and there is this sign in the stall and it's to promote the use of this little container from a company called BioWay. The container is for "unmentionables" one my have used in the bathroom - lady supplies, if you will. Or, since a lot of the plumbing in Lat Am countries is not necessarily the most advanced, sometimes you have to throw out your USED (yes used) toilet paper into a waste basket so as to avoid clogging the toilet. The most modern facilities don't really require that type of thing and the most hygienic of facilities will offer these fancy receptacles for throwing out all other types of items one may have used and/or touched during their stay in their bathroom.
The point is, there are these little receptacles that open and close via a sensor. You wave your hand in front of the sensor and it opens to "receive" your trash and then you wave your hand again and it disposes it for you in a bio-hygienic way. Fancy Schmance, right?

But here's what I don't get. Why is Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai promoting this thing/service/what have you - in Chile?? As far as I know, she isn't all the rage here. I'm pretty sure the likes of Bradley Cooper and Clive Owen are MUCH more popular than Aishwarya Rai amongst Chilean women who are members of a gym in Vitacura. I don't get it.

Further, here's what the actual sign says (my comments follow in red):

Throw away your sanitary napkins, tampons and cotton [Yes it says cotton] in the container.

In using this container, you are:
Now, I'm not sure if you're really hearing me on this, but pray tell, WHAT does that EVEN mean?? My image as a woman meaning that I'm clean? And if I don't use that receptacle does that mean I'm unclean and therefore tarnishing the image of all women in Chile?? Or worse, all women in the WORLD?
Or are tampons, therefore periods, associated with women and I should really be doing my part in protecting that image by throwing my tampons out there vs. the toilet because due to the faulty plumbing the thing COULD overflow and that would create a mess, which is unclean, therefore I go back to tarnishing a woman's clean image throughout Chile.
I don't even KNOW what to make of that statement or what the message is OR why, of all people, Aishwarya Rai is encouraging me to protect my image as a woman by using this gadget in the bathroom stall!! I mean, what if I don't use it? What if I have NOTHING to throw in there? Or even if I did, and I declare anarchy and refuse to use it - what then??

Whatever. My point here is that I don't like people telling me what to do, especially when I'm in the bathroom. And I ESPECIALLY don't appreciate Miss Bollywood actress over here threatening me that if I don't use the receptacle I'm tarnishing my image as a woman. I'm just sayin.
And if anyone out there has any inkling or even a suggestion as to what the intended message of this sign might be, please enlighten me. Truly. Enlighten me.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Personalized Insurance coverage

I went to buy some medical insurance today... and was told that the insurance sales people make house calls.
How so very 1950s.
So now I'm waiting for him to call me so that we can coordinate a time for him to come to my mom's house, explain my medical coverage options and sell me some insurance - all in the comfort of my own home.
I swear, sometimes it seems like you're living in another decade here in Chile. How can one country have so much technology and modern amenities and at the same time be so old school? I'm intrigued...

In other news: I did get the checking account approved... booya!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Normal outfits, please!!!

I'm so sick of this cold.
I can't wear anything but layers upon layers and it's stifling. I feel like the kid in "A Christmas Story" and if I add any more bulk to the lower part of my body, I will soon look like a star fish.

More than half my wardrobe is on it's way to Chile (probably somewhere in the Pacific, floating along outside of Mexico). The other third is on the floor, in suitcases, crumpled beyond recognition. Today I took a shirt out, ironed it, put it on - only to realize it's too cold to be wearing it.

And of all the times I've been to these malls, let me tell you - nothing is jumping out at me saying "BUY ME!! LOOK HOW CUTE I AM!!" Nothing. I've gone through these purchase lulls before but I think that part of my problem here is that I have attitude about the style. I don't think it's Chilean fashion - true fashion, mind you - that I have a holier-than-thou attitude towards but more so, it's the department stores and what THEY carry. It's.All.The.Same. Seriously. It's like going to Nordstrom and just having Brass Plum to choose from --- everywhere!

Ok, granted, I will be the first to point out that I'm no Posh Spice in the wardrobe department and who doesn't need a little fashion help? I most certainly do. And I'm not saying that I have the best wardrobe around, because clearly I don't (hi, Wonder Woman Tshirt, anyone?) I'm also not saying that I incorporate much color into my wardrobe as black, white and gray is pretty much the color palette in my closet. And I should also take into account that I haven't really been anywhere that isn't a mall (no boutiques or small, independent stores) and that I don't know where to find them anyway. Also, I need to remember that more than half my wardrobe - and SHOES - are in the middle of the Pacific right now.

Ok fine. So in the end this wardrobe crisis doesn't come down to Chile being the fashion armpit of South America (not that I know of yet anyway) and it doesn't have anything to do with my own personal style and take on clothes.
It's the cold.
I realized this in Tahoe a few years back - or was it during a dreadful winter in New York City - there really is NO LOOKING CUTE in the winter.
Puffa-lump jacket - it's you and me, ugly together until at least September.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


First Week in Review - "You're Doing It Wrong."

Completed and made it through my first official week living in Chile and I think that the phrase, "You're doing it wrong," borrowed from the movie "Mr. Mom" most adequately sums up my first seven days living in the Southern most Latin American (major) city of the Southern Hemisphere.

In the movie, as the title clearly gives away, Michael Keaton (during his cute years, with prime 80s shag hair) loses his job and at the same time, his usual stay-at-home wife, gets an amazing advertising gig she can't pass up - so she heads to work and he stays home with the kids. The first day he takes the kids to school, he's driving in the wrong direction and just NOT following the instructions that of course all the other moms seem to know. Even his kids repeatedly tell him "Dad you're doing it wrong" and of course Dad doesn't agree with them until he reaches the drop off point and the yard mom introduces herself and confirms "Jack, you're doing it wrong." As the movie progresses of course he begins to GET it and eventually even becomes a yard dad and repeats those same words to another bozo parent who can't grasp the concept of going in one way and out the other when taking kids to and from school.

Here's the thing though, it's not that I actually DID anything wrong. It's just that I did everything with that phrase in my mind because I realized I didn't know HOW simple things were done. You all read about the bank charade and I think that was the only thing that I did (besides driving) where I was clearly messing up left and right.

On Friday night Gonzalo dropped me off at this pub/bar/place - call it what you will - to meet the American woman I mentioned in my first blog entry (wow she's made two cameos already. K if you're reading this, take a bow). Anyway, as I was getting out, I turned to him and asked if it was normal for me to sit there by myself, just in case she hadn't yet arrived. He said yes. Then I asked ok, well is it normal for me to go ahead and order a drink by myself while I wait. Again he said yes. Armed with these confirmations I went in ready to sit down and order my glass of sauvignon blanc and STARE DOWN anyone who made me feel that what I was doing was anything less than normal.
But in the end it wasn't necessary since we arrived within 10 seconds of each other. (In case you're wondering, yes it was fun, yes she was "normal," and yes I got buzzed at happy hour.) Oh and I did also realize that I bring something QUITE valuable to the table here in Chile - US Weekly. Do you know how many hoops one has to go through to get this magazine down here? I'll have about three weeks' worth in the next few days so whatever you do DON'T RUIN IT FOR ME. I'm really sensitive about my US Weekly reading.

Returning to the matter at hand, I accomplished the following things last week:
1). Signed my rental agreement for our apartment (moving in August 1st)
2). Got into the groove of working at home (which, nonetheless, remains odd to me but I'm sure it will grow surprisingly pleasant at some point.)
3). Opened a checking account (personal and business) - I think I did, anyway. You know how that goes.
4). Joined a gym and went for the first time today (similar to Equinox in Palo Alto - super nice - but of course I did the parking thing wrong - oy.)
5). Had date night with my fiancee (that, I think I did right)
6). Learned to turn on the califon all by myself (don't ask!)
7). Drove in Santiago (illegally but carefully.)
8). Spent time with Gonzalo and his family (including his kids).
And today's most triumphant accomplishment:

I realized I had left my $30 lock (kill me now, I bought it at Equinox and before realizing how much it cost!) at my new gym. I remembered that Gonzalo had told me about the equivalent to 411 back home so I dialed it, asked them to connect me to the Sportlife in Vitacura, talked to the person at the front desk and agreed to have them hold it for me until I went tomorrow. All while DRIVING down Holanda street!! Do you have any idea what this accomplishment means??? I had a problem and found a solution - by myself. It truly sounds so simple but I'm sure that each and every one of us, who has found ourselves in a completely different country, where we aren't sure of the norms, has had the memory of doing that FIRST thing all by oneself? Seriously I feel like a baby who located her hand and thumb!

Mr. Mom is a fantastic movie by the way. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. It's Michael Keaton at his best though can't particularly say I'm a huge MK fan. The lines are classic and so fitting. In fact, I'm sure that come six months from now, I'll be using Jack Butler's ol' line in response to "You're doing it wrong." That being:

Don't tell me I'm doing it wrong [Santiago]... I know what I'm doing.

Friday, July 24, 2009


First Date Night: Seafood and the W

Gonzalo and I had a very nice "date night" last night. The past week has been filled with to-do's (in case you haven't noticed) and so after his doctor's appointment last night (which he needed to do) he says to me "What's next?" What he meant was for me to take out my snazzy new iPhone and under the notes section, find our two separate "To Do" Lists - one is labeled URGENT and one is labeled Dario Urzua, after the street we'll be living on come August 1st. He wanted to know what else we could accomplish that evening from one of the lists.

I was NOT about to make another trip to Parque Arauco (the mall) as I have been there about four times this week, AND FURTHER, had been there earlier that day to get my engagement ring back. So I says to him, I says: "No hagamos nada." (Let's do nothing.) He's Mr. Efficient and Thorough so I do believe that his brain might have short circuited for a second but he pulled through in time to partake in our first official date night out in Santiago (since I moved here, that is.)

Now, if you're anything like me, you might have been a mermaid or a walrus in your past life. (Sometimes I think I still am THE WALRUS, but that's neither here nor there). I know this sounds like a really silly thing to say but what I'm trying to express is that I LOVE SEAFOOD. All of it, any and all kinds of sea creatures, are yummy yummy for my tummy. And in Chile they have this plate at most seafood restaurants called Machas a la Parmesana (razor clams au gratin) and I'm OBSESSED with it. OBSESSED. I do believe that my real motivation for moving here was the seafood, namely - this dish. And so my lovely fiancee took me to dinner at a seafood restaurant that cost an arm and a leg (un ojo de la cara y la mitad del otro, as one might say here in Chilsters). That was a lovely time though the waiters there are such sales people that they are constantly pushing more food on you!

Gonzalo: "We'd like to order the Machas a la Parmesana"
Waiter: "Can I offer you an additional appetizer? Perhaps garlic prawns? Or if you're so inclined a salad? We could make you a nice tomato and onion salad, or perhaps simple lettuce with hearts of palm? The machas a la parmesana really is a small plate; you should consider a second appetizer."
So obviously we ordered another appetizer. The one plate really was too small. He was right. Those waiters always know how to sell more food, don't they?

After dinner we made our way in the 41 degree (F) temperature over to the fancy schmance new W Hotel. We've all been to W's, some of us to W's around the world, and so in terms of ambiance, the W Santiago is just another hotel in a long list of modern/minimalist/urban hotel chains that are targeting either the nouveau riche or the over 50-mid-life-crisis crowd (and the usual business traveler who wants the hotel to be the same place where he parties and then expenses it, calling it a "Business dinner").

And on that note, the one thing that I've found to be quite consistent at all W's is the bar. Always techno-musickey-plush-covered-candle-lit-weird-lamps-in-the-corner kind of place and everyone who works there wears black. And have names like Natalia. Which incidentally was the name of the nice young woman who took our orders on the plushy sofa.

We went with her suggestion first: W's variation on the pisco sour and mojito, followed by the traditional version of the two. They were delish of course but OMG can we discuss the prices?? Gonzalo and I each had 2 drinks and I paid the equivalent of $45 USD for all four drinks. Now, I know what you're thinking. You're saying "Dre, that's normal, since when are you about to pass out from ONE $11 drink?" UM HELLO!!! I'm in Chile!!! Why does a drink cost the same here as it does back home?? Pray tell and why was the place packed with people all paying between $11 and $15 a drink??

But, it's what you get at any W and I'm glad to see that Santiago's W isn't about to be the black sheep of the Sheraton family by charging any less than its counterparts. Way to show 'em how posh Santiago can be.

We had a nice time though and as usual, I'm so grateful to be in a relationship where we can sit at the W and make fun of the foofy drinks that costs un ojo de la cara y la mitad del otro, and then sit at home the following night drinking glass of wine from the bottle in the fridge (which no doubt cost less than $7).

Keep a look out for the blog on the budget version of date night which will consist of a hot dog and beer for dinner and sitting in a plaza people watching!! We've actually done that before, but substituting the hot dog for ice cream. Good times Chilean Style!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Banco de Chile: Making Adults Feel like Imbeciles since 1893

Should you be so inclined to open a checking account at Banco de Chile any time in the near future, here's what I learned today:
1) get a co-signer who makes a lot of money. Trust me, you'll need it. Banco de Chile doesn't really want you without any "economic history." If they sit down with you otherwise, they're clearly doing you a favor.
2) practice filling out applications. Go to the local Starbucks and McDonald's and just load up on employment applications. Practice, practice, practice! It's the only way you won't mess up an 8-10 page application when the time comes.
3) draw rows and rows of boxes, about three inches wide by 1.5 inches tall. Sign inside each box WITHOUT letting your signature touch any of the lines. It's harder than you think!!
4) Make sure your signature always matches the one on your official ID. If you're a Smith, then be a Smith! Not a Gonali like me.

Banco de Chile - The Gestapo of Banks!

So Gonzalo came to pick me up at lunch today to take me to the bank so that we could open a joint checking account and so that I could also open a business account for my consulting gig. An important step in starting your new life in a different country. Access and mode of management for one's minor duckets.

The cool thing about banks in Chile is that everyone has an account executive designated to you, your account and your money. You always have this person's direct line, email address and whatever branch you open your account at, you have the option to make the person who opened the account your designated banker. In short, personalized attention in a way that is most often seen only in high net worth individual banking back at home.

Except the not so cool part about banks in Chile...all kinds of paperwork to fill out when opening the account. Though I think that I probably had more than the average amount due to the fact that not only was I opening TWO accounts, but that I have no "economic history" in Chile, therefore Gonzalo had to serve as my account's "co-signer." Yeah I said it: a co-signer. The same kind you need in order to buy a house, or a car or even rent an apt sometimes. You know, BIG stuff.

Quite contrary to what I've always known. In the U.S. anyone and everyone can open a checking account - it's like a right of passage. You get your senior year high school yearbook, you get your checking account. Here it's like applying for admission into MENSA; all kinds of hurdles to overcome, constantly having to provide examples of how utterly amazing you are and what an upstanding citizen you've been --> and THEN they tell you whether or not you are accepted. In fact, I don't even know if I'll get accepted for this said checking account but I very well hope so after all the crap I had to sign AND provide a thumbprint for!! Everything I signed, needed a thumbprint. Then they took pictures of us to send in with our paperwork!!

But wait - there's more!

Gonzalo: "Why are we signing this insurance document without a price detailed on it?" [mind you I need insurance to get a credit card.]
AE: "You are signing an insurance document without a price detailed on it. Why? Because your credit limit can fluctuate between one point in time to the next."
I kid you not, that's how he spoke. He repeated the question, but first framed it as a statement, followed by "porque?" and then followed THAT with the answer.

Really? Is that how we talk in Banco de Chile? That's how we talk in Banco de Chile. Why? Because they're old school I guess.

The most stressful part of this whole process was actually FILLING OUT the paperwork. Not exaggerating - this was full on S.A.T. stylie. Adding to the pressure, you couldn't make a mistake. Like, at all. I made ONE mistake, scratched it out and Gonzalo FREAKED out at me "YOU CAN'T DO THAT!!!!"

Apparently scratching ANYTHING out (or "altering" as the AE said) voids the entire application. Oooooookay. Start over, new application. If I were writing a Judy Blume book, this is how I would best describe what was going through my mind as I was RE-filling out the application.... "Are you there God? It's me, Andrea. I'm really nervous, God, and feel like all I really need in this world to be totally happy is this one little checking account... so many other girls have one, God. When will it be MY turn? When? Please God, don't let me mess this application up again ..."

In the end, I made it through the application without any mistakes but I don't recall having ever been so meticulous about writing since my 2nd grade cursive test. Those few pages took me about 30 minutes to fill out... maybe more. I'll never know. I was too stressed out to consider the time.

So yeah, and then we had to sign more and more papers, all containing little signature boxes which weren't allowed to have one millimeter of our signatures touching its lines. Gonzalo failed that and had to do it over. Apparently he has a really tall signature and he couldn't contain it in the box. It's hard stuff signing inside the box and not touching the lines. Banco de Chile doesn't mess around!

In the end it WOULD SEEM that the AE was satisfied with our applications, signatures, ability to stay within the box and ability to not F-up my penmanship the second time around. Thus, our paperwork should be on its way to the main branch. Before it was all over however, the AE asked me "Do the signatures on these forms match the signature on your I.D.?" And for the first time in my life I was paranoid that my signatures didn't match. I noticed that on my Chilean I.D. I don't write out the second "Z" in Gonzalez and that on it, my last name really looks like it's Gonali. You know, I wouldn't be surprised if my credit and debit cards came in the mail with Andrea Gonali on them. Banco de Chile would of course claim it was my fault. What, with bad penmanship and all.

To summarize:
Getting a checking account in Chile is a bitch and a half. Getting one through Banco de Chile is like pledging a sorority that doesn't really like you and convinces you that you'll NEVER get in. But even if you do, it's most likely because you slipped through the cracks and someone wasn't doing their job. Only time will tell if I'm in, you guys. I'll keep you posted.


Side note from my Chilean life: Some of what I miss most from the U.S. (thanks Mands!)

me: I really like that term, I hear you barking
it's funny
and derogatory in a way
but true at the same time
bc if you hear someone barking
you just get it
Amanda: I always think of "my dogs are barking" referring to your feet, tho
me: oh yeah
there's that
wow dogs are so versatile

Amanda: true...and then there's always the old phrase "who nuked my dog?"
me: ha!!
and you can be dog tired
Amanda: let sleeping dogs lie
lies like a dog
omg, somebody stop me!!

me: shut your dog face
OMG i just made myself laugh
Amanda: HAHA!!!!!
I just snorted
me: ooooh sh*%
Amanda: for realsies
me: that was some funny stuff
I might have to put this on my blog right now

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Monday, July 20, 2009


People...people everywhere!!!

So I FINALLY made it to Chile and I have to apologize to all you "true" followers out there (all, like, five of you). For some mysterious reason, I was completely locked out of anything related to Google (i.e. gmail and blogger) for TWO WHOLE DAYS! Thus I couldn't really check my email and most definitely couldn't blog. And trust you me, I have much to blog about.

First of all - can it be ANY COLDER??!! It's literally 45 degrees here and I'm not talking Celsius. It does not get any warmer. And further, no matter how modern the house and/or apartment, it seems that the heat here just refuses to work! You literally have to have these old school gas heaters - the kind you buy at the store and set up in the middle of the room so that it can radiate its toxic chemicals through the air and at the same time bring much needed warmth to all households. Also - side note - the heater is sold separately from the actual gas. You have to call the gas company to have them deliver the tank of gas you then connect to the heater for the aforementioned toxic warmth. That, or you have to pay like a GAZILLION dollars to get one of these said Toyotomi heaters, which, apparently, are ALL the rage here in Chile. Naturally, Gonzalo and I agree that it's a must-have for our apartment which we move in to August 1st.

Secondly, there are people EVERYWHERE. And all they do is shop - shop for bread, shop for clothes, shop for meat or wine. It doesn't matter - they're just everywhere and they shop NONSTOP. I know this because in the last two days I myself have been to the mall twice and to Jumbo (the large supermarket chain, quite adequately named) twice. Seriously no matter where I put my cart so that I could survey a particular aisle, I was in someone's way. Or they were in my way. Or they just crossed in front of me with no regard to me and the space I was inhabiting. Walking through the mall (Parque Arauco) is like playing Frogger. Dodging people (sometimes cars) is the name of the game.

And don't get me started on how people drive... three words on that: Pick a lane!

(Though I'm currently driving without a license so who am I to criticize, you know?)

Speaking of driving - I bet you're wondering right now: "Dre, what, pray tell, are you driving? You don't have a car! Remember, you sold it to that nice, young couple from Mountain View?" Why yes, dear avid blog follower (one of five), I do remember I sold my car to that nice young couple. I remember because I was a carless hobo for the remaining month I had in
MP before my Chilean departure (btw, thanks for that reminder). However, let ME remind YOU just how lucky I am to have someone like Gonzalo in my life (ADORE him!)... he mentioned having a "surprise" for me when I arrived in Chile. Put two and two together and I will simply provide this lovely image.

The cherry on top was the GPS which is about 85% accurate but that'll do for now. Sometimes it tells me to turn left where I'm not supposed to so I have to keep an eye out for that because it could create all kinds of scary. Other times it kind of gets into a frenzy and tells me it's "recalculating" over and over again. It usually does that when I'm driving and so I have to go REALLLLY SLOWLY to allow time for this recalculation. Today I got lost because the GPS
told me to make a left where it wasn't allowed. I spent the next twenty minutes making rights after rights in order to get on the correct street. I don't recall anyone ever saying that driving in Latin America would be easy. I'm not about to state the contrary either.

Finally, a few tidbits on daily life in Santiago:
P.S. - Gonzalo rocks for always accompanying me with a Pisco Sour, even though I'm sure he'd much rather be drinking rum (or "ron" as they call it here) and coke. Oh schnookums... don't ever be so fabulous! :o)

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Crime and Punishment

UPDATE: I wrote this yesterday, not thinking I’d have time to hit a wifi’d coffee shop anytime soon. Clearly, I did have time but thought I’d share yesterday’s insight today, as opposed to waiting until the weekend.


God forced me into solitude my last two days in California. And I think I know why. Or maybe I’m being superstitious and paranoid, in the usual manner of Catholics. If I am, so be it, but I did learn my lesson. Here’s the lesson = don’t gloat, Andrea!!

I was actually writing a new blog entry dedicated to patting myself on the back (I kid you not, I used that term in the blog) about getting a US based phone number via Skype so that my friends could call me without incurring some astronomical charges. They aren’t the most inclined to download Skype to make calls either so I thought this was an AMAZING doing on my behalf and I literally felt like I was a technological bad ass. I even said so various times in my blog. I used terms like “Jetsons” and “Bionic Woman” all because I got this number set up (something anyone can do, mind you.) In the simplest terms, I thought I was the cybernetic s*@t.

When all of a sudden my stupid Internet went out. Ok, no big deal since every once in a while my wireless will have a hiccup and I thought it was just that, but - oh, no – it was the incompetents at Comcast. The dumb bastards got my disconnection request date mixed up and they canceled my service two days before they were supposed to do so. A. Whole. Two. Days.

Long story short and three service assistants later, basically I was told that they were “sorry” and that it was “our fault” and that a service technician could come out to my house between 6-8 p.m. the next day. THE NEXT DAY??!! As in the day before I hop on a plane and get the hell out of dodge?? As in the day that I am out most of the day doing last minute errands and then out at night due to a goodbye dinner?? As in I-need-internet-at-this-very-second-not-at-the-end-of-the-day-tomorrow-the-day-before-I-leave??? “Yes, tomorrow. We’re very sorry ma’am.”

And click.

So here I am, in my “bedroom” which is outside of my empty living room (if you have Facebook, you’ve seen my pics of that by now), sitting on the floor on my inflatable Eddie Bauer mattress (with a stomach ache, mind you) feeling sorry for my dis-conectivity and kind of thinking it’s funny and most ironic that I was here about three hours ago, gloating away about how connected I was going to be and – ta-da!! – no Internet so as TO BE connected. Oh life! You are SO funny sometimes.

And I’m also thinking that it’s kind of a trip that the next few blog entries I write will be POSTED under ONE entry, probably with Saturday or Sunday’s date stamp. I’ll be in Chile by then! So they’ll have a present stamp but have a tone of the past. And that means the tenses are going to be all wrong and grammatically incorrect. But that’s the undercover nerd in me speaking and not to mention, six of one and half a dozen of another. Do you see? If I were really a technological bad ass I wouldn’t have this upcoming past/present tense situation to contend with!! In the end, I guess I learned that I should keep my tekkie self in check and that I shouldn’t gloat about my slowly evolving world domination via Skype!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Yesterday's "lasts" got nothin' for me...

Yesterday's "lasts" and good-byes:

Taking the train to San Francisco
40 minutes in time when I was completely alone with my thoughts, not really having to do anything I didn't want to do. Usually spent listening to my iPod or text messaging. Sometimes updating the Facebook status. Mostly just enjoying the minutes being enclosed in my own little corner of the world.

Approaching the building where I work
A former movie theater and thus has an unorthodox look for a place of business. The marquee's purpose now is to promote our brands and manga. Except there are too many brands and titles for me to ever know so I usually ignored that marquee. But yesterday I took notice. Something about a "word" ...

Sitting down at my desk and working in an office full of people
Full of people so long as you arrived after 10:30 a.m. It's the only office I know of where if you show up at 9 you can see tumbleweed floating from one cubicle to the next. Forget about going in even earlier. Is the building even accessible before 9???
An office full of people...that's something I'll miss. I'll work from home now, which of course will have its perks. But I kind of liked the whole ceremonial morning process of waking up, showering, blah, blah blah until I finally sat down at my desk. And from there hearing all KINDS of buzz around me, half in Japanese, half in English and then some in $%&@# (though that usually came from me...)

Farewell to my computer and the death of andrea dot gonzalez at viz dot com
Some noteworthy sub-points on that computer:
  • It was the 4th computer I had with the company. Not because they were super on top of making sure I had the latest and greatest in technology. In fact it was quite the opposite. For whatever reason, electronics and I don't mix and either my previous computers SOMEHOW got in water's way - or they fell down a flight of steps - or they were kidnapped by the Mexican mafia in the airport in Mexico City. It's not like any of this was MY fault, but nevertheless, it earned me the reputation of calamity Sam with electronics. Hence, the reason I had four computers throughout my VIZ career and hence, why I never got anything super new... when everyone else who had a company sponsored phone received an iPhone... I did not. I don't blame them. Who knows what kind of mishap would have happened with that thing!
  • That computer also turned me away from the dark side. Meaning, I used to be a dedicated and devoted PC user. Mac's were all kinds of weird in my eyes and only certain people used them - the creative types. I am not that person and therefore thought that Macs weren't for me. Well I was proven wrong and now I am a hungry and avid Mac aficionado. Weirder things have happened.
As for andrea dot gonzalez at viz dot com - well, that was just plain sad. I feel like a slice of my identity was deleted, Matrix-style. That was MY email for 5.5 years (albeit "rented" to me by VIZ) and now it's not. I console myself by reminders that I still have gonzandrea at you know where dot com and I can still call that my own. Right now, I guess all I can say is R.I.P. andrea dot gonzalez at viz dot com. Hope you're remembered for the force that you were!

After work happy hour with my friends

AWHH with friends usually consists of Sauvignon Blanc and in the usual style, contains high levels of talking
smack, complaining and making fun of each other. Yesterday's AWHH was with Jordan and Shannon, high ranking in my social network of friends and acquaintances. Topics covered in the hour or so I was with them: bachelorette parties, boobs, online dating, my moving crisis (now resolved) and Shannon's career - past, present and future. Quite a lot packed into a one hour special but always fun and now, most of all, astronomically cherished. I wonder what Chilean style AWHH will look like? How long will I be ordering Pisco Sours before I finally get sick of them? Right now I can't imagine that day will ever come, but I am always quite surprised by how often Chileans DON'T drink Pisco Sour...

But then again, these said "lasts" aren't really, truly "lasts." They were the last time I would be doing them as an employee of VIZ who worked in the city and lived in the Peninsula. I find solace in knowing that THESE "lasts" will be replaced by new firsts. The first time I meet my future husband out for happy hour after work; the first time I meet my friends in Chile out to go shopping; or the first time I can take a meeting with a Chilean partner without having to fly through various airports and time zones to do so.

And just as an end note, I have to say I was touched by my coworkers' send off yesterday...I mentioned before that I only knew about 5% of the 30% of the employees who work there and they were all present to see me off with some sparkling wine and cake. A good "last" memory of my time with them. Just as Coke used to provoke people with the slogan "I'd like to buy the world a coke," I too wish I could buy the 5% of 30% a refreshing beverage of choice... just to say Thanks!

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Monday, July 13, 2009


5 days and counting

I took a hiatus from my new blog project after only two entries. Is that normal? I was out of commish for a few due the aforementioned bachelorette party (which, incidentally, was a roaring success) but since there are only five days left before my life gets shaken up like a snow globe, I had to high tail it back to MP to continue the packing escapade.

There are several topics I want to touch base on in this installment of "The Chronicles of a Chilean Return," the first one being my Tio Pato. He's been a trooper with helping me move. Mainly by helping me find a home for each token in my life that will not be traveling back to Chile with me (ugh-almost like a less extreme version of "Sophie's Choice" but, you know, with material things as opposed to actual people.)

He came in today in full military operation mode and in a matter of three hours my apartment was left with ONLY the items I'll either be shipping to Chile or carrying with me in one of three suitcases. While we were driving through San Francisco to drop these selected items off at their destination (sad!), we drove below Twin Peaks and at one point he pointed out to the view - arguably the most amazing view in the entire Bay Area - and said "There it is Xime, your home. This is the city that opened its arms to you and housed you when all the opportunities you've had in this country came knocking." I almost choked up but in my usual way, simply answered "SF and I are joined at the hip. We need time apart - she's getting clingy." Not that he knew what I was talking about but I did know what he was talking about and it made me sad. Underneath it all I've been sad for a few weeks and though I am 200% sure about what I'm doing and where I'm going with this move, I still look around me and think "wow, so that's it, huh?" It's poetic that my Tio should be the one to force SF in front of me so I can say a proper goodbye. He was the one who received us at the airport on May 11, 1980. He saw me in and he'll see me out. And underneath his facade, I know he's upset about it too. I just keep reminding him I'll be back in January and hopefully I'll be successful in convincing him to hop a flight to Chile before then. Between all that I also tell him to not get clingy on me.

That move took about five hours, loading my things, driving them to their new home in SF and driving back to the Peninsula so that I can conclude this packing bit. The movers are coming on Tuesday so basically I had today to get the remaining stuff done.
And done it is... I can't even recognize
my old apartment in this field of boxes. And don't even get me started on my "bedroom." Let's just say that all I'm missing in order to make this a full CAMP OUT, is the tent. Though this twin sized Eddie Bauer inflatable mattress is proving to be quite handy right now and sure as hell beats sleeping on the floor for the next five nights. I digress from complaining about Camp Dre's Nekkid Apartment.

Finally, I wanted to share that tomorrow will be very bittersweet for me. After five and a half years working for Viz, tomorrow is my last "official" day as an employee. Of course I'm thankful/stoked/excited/eager to have started my own business that will allow me to keep working on behalf of Viz but nevertheless, I may still get a bit faklempt when I turn over my corporate credit card, company paid cell phone and laptop computer. The company has changed and grown so much since I first started there in 2004 that I'm almost convinced that only about 30% of the employees there have any idea who I am.

This doesn't bother me so much since I know about 5% of them anyway. What can I say? Eventually it got a bit out of hand and I just couldn't keep up with the introductions. Call me shallow but don't say I didn't try. Viz is quirky and I have a love/hate relationship with it. Mostly I love it but every so often I hate it. Regardless it's been a bad ass experience for me and I've had the chance to travel to so many places (Paris, Cannes, New York, Bogota, Rio de Janiero, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, etc) ON TOP OF THE FACT that, though rather indirectly, Viz made it possible for me to meet my future husband. How could tomorrow be anything less than bittersweet? I've decided though that what I'll miss most about the everyday at Viz is how much I learn just by being immersed in the Japanese culture. It truly has been an amazing ride and one of the most educational times in my life. Irreplaceable indeed (but not the Beyonce "to the left, to the left" kind - just to be clear.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


California Love

I'm looking forward to my last fun-filled weekend as a full fledged California resident: a bachelorette party for my friend C, who is getting married this coming August. Her sister organized the bulk of it - cruise stylie with events, outings and meals planned - at this amazing house in Sonoma County. Can't wait to go, even if my tan from my trip to Playa del Carmen is fading (while I perceive myself to be "white" my real "white" friends find me to be quite dark!)There is nothing I enjoy more than celebrating my friends and in this case, I am so happy to be there, given that in TWELVE DAYS, I'm leaving for Santiago. Can we say a Charlie Brown style "Ack!!!??"

Keeping in mind this upcoming weekend - one weekend - I can pinpoint SO MANY things I'm going to feel nostalgic about when I move. Almost like those cartoon drawings in the magazine "Highlights" where you have to find what's different/missing in one picture when compared to another. Off the bat, allow me to briefly state just a morsel of things I'll miss/grieve/look upon fondly on:

1.) Sonoma and/or Napa County. While Chile does have it's own wine trails and tourist attractions with regards to wines, nothing beats the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Especially when you've grown up taking trips with girlfriends to go wine tasting. This is the kind of stuff that people from the Bay Area take for granted. I know because that's me! It's always there, so what's to miss? Growing up in San Fran and then in the Bay Area, it's like a right of passage to head to Napa with the girlfriends, sometimes even going all out and renting a wine bus and/or a limo, just for shits and giggles.

2.) Road trip with girlfriends. The first road trip I can recall going on was with some friends from high school, including one of my current bff's - S. That kid was a rebel child disguised as one of those goody two shoes, ballet/drama style kids. I loved her to pieces for the ball of drama that she was then and love her to pieces more so now. We decided to go with some other gf's to Carmel - of all places - and when we got there, we practically passed out from boredom. What did we do? We
decided to take the car down to the next town over - no less than Santa Barbara. You don't need a map of Northern California to know that Carmel IS NOT and never was, the next town over from Santa Barbara. I guess we had fun though, but the next year beat out any fun we may have had in CA, when we decided to drive to Lake Havasu, Arizona for no other reason than because the MTV Beach House had been there the year before. I don't recall much about that trip except laughing about the town of Blythe, California. It's the last town before you cross on over to Arizona, and let me tell you, there is NOTHING to see here. In fact, we
tapped into "Wayne's World" and just kept repeating "Hi, we're in Blythe" all the while walking in place, waving like Queen Elizabeth. Come to think of it, this one event sums up many-a-less-than-stellar encounters I've experienced in recent years. The whole "WTF" thought process can easily be replaced with "Hi, I'm in Blythe." A void encounter. No jazz-hands, if you will.

Wait - speaking of road trips - there was also the time we drove to San Diego, crossed over to Tijuana with some random people and consequently GOT DETAINED there when I failed to show my Chilean passport to the border authorities (why would I carry that thing on a road trip?!!). They asked "What is your country of citizenship" and all I had to say was "United States" but I just couldn't LIE!!! I couldn't do it man... and still can't!! Ugh! I was almost left there to rot and right now would not be telling this story, were it not for S and some random peeps paying the Federales a good $200 to see me through the border to the other side....
Hmmmm...on second thought, let's never speak of this incident again.

Where was I?

3.) Sha-MONE!!! A couple of people will know precisely what I mean by this and for the rest of you let me just say, I'll miss the road trip mix CDs/tapes/iPod playlists. I would go into more detail than this but after I finish explaining it I'm just going to move on to realize that you had to be there and then I'll wonder why I bothered taking up blog space.

4.) Sunny California... there's a reason we're the object of bitter envy and jealousy. We're from California and no other place is as bad ass as this one. Mind you, I'll find and embrace the beauty that Chile has to offer having already been lucky enough to witness a lot of it...but something like California? No way. The cheese stands alone.

I feel like I've veered off topic but the object of this blog entry was to remind myself (and you while I'm at it) of all that I take for granted being a native Californian. Stuff that I wonder if I'll ever embrace again with such casual ambivalence as I have done so my entire life here. Or will I just come back and forever more be the returning tourist, wearing the San Francisco fleeces (or worse, socks and crocs - aaaaaahh!)

Oh my sweet, dear, chocolate covered, Cali ... what homage can I pay to thee that the great ones haven't already paid?

(And by 'the great ones' I do mean, Dr Dre and Tupac. Naturally.)

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Sunday, July 5, 2009


People like me!!! (an overwhelmingly joyous discovery)

I literally just spent about an hour freaking out on skype with Gonzalo about not being able to find "American" friends in Chile...what if I NEVER find someone who GETS "I totally paused" or "I can't believe this, they f*^king forgot my birthday?" Call me crazy, but this kind of understanding among my social networks is CRUCIAL to me.
And then I decided to google bikram yoga in Chile... and I am directed to a blogspot of a woman who - get this - married a Chilean and relocated to Santiago from New York City. What, what, what??!! Did I stumble into a miraculous pot of Expats who will feel my pain??!!
Yes. Yes I did.

All of a sudden this move is no longer filled with paranoid thoughts the likes of "OMG I'll be the only person who misses the salad bar at Whole Foods." I realize now that there JUST MIGHT be a possibility of finding a social network (dare I say, friends) who GET what I'm going through. And right then and there - full speed ahead doesn't feel so scary.

My Tio Pato and Tia Lucia came over to help me get rid of the "For donation" pile of stuff that doesn't make sense to take with me to Chile (i.e. kitchen appliances, etc). My apartment is slowly becoming a skeleton of a home, with just a few remnants of the former single life I am now willingly leaving behind. My once
amazing apartment, which I personally think should have been an example to all single women everywhere, has been dismantled as of about two months ago. So though I've been living a hobo-ish existence for some time, now it's in the most pathetic state ever. Boxes have become my nightstand, dresser, tv stand and kitchen table. It's pretty hot.

In short, my life has been either donated, sold on Craigslist or packed into 18x18x24 boxes. Today I spent the good part of the afternoon boxing the plethora of random Target buys I realized yesterday. I think I'm taking about 7 boxes of toothpaste because, it would seem, I think I'm going to a country where people brush their teeth with a little spit and a side of mint for taste. I also bought three of the SUPER SIZED Tylenol fast action! Those were indeed key buys - call me crazy, but I think I'll appreciate it come two months from now when I need something and can't make heads or tails of the Cruz Verde's in Chile (have you BEEN to a pharmacy there??!! I'm just saying: there's a learning curve with the meds.)
Anyway, my point here is that after complaining to the point where I am pretty sure that Gonzalo was about to ask for the engagement ring back (I kid), I stumbled across a blogger's site and it was like the answer fell from heaven - THERE WILL BE PEOPLE LIKE ME IN SANTIAGO!!! It's the little things that make me go 'round and believe you me, this was a HUGE little thing. The sequence of events that followed are 1) I found this blog spot and 2) I may have found a wedding photographer that suits our "urban/sharp/modern/simple" wedding plans!!

ALL THIS from simply typing "bikram yoga santiago chile" in the Google search bar.
I almost feel that all of you should type this miracle phrase in the search bar... I mean, who's to say that the lottery numbers won't fall in your lap? What what?! ;o)

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