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Notes from Underneath: April 2010

Notes from Underneath

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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010



Wedding stuff is over, the event itself as well as the mini-honeymoon we took to NYC this past weekend.
I wrote an email to my friend back home and stated that things were heading "back to normal" ... and all afternoon I've felt weird.

What the hell does "back to normal" mean in Chile, anyway? At least for me ...

See, I moved here because I'm in love and naturally the long distance thing can only lead nowhere when one is in love. Yeah, the relationship can last for a while but it can't move forward without being IN one another's lives physically. So ok, I moved. And then of course there was the whole wedding planning thing, which I've warmly and accurately cataloged here in my blog.

I'm married now and legally (technically too) I have a family of my own. In which case I need to do something with myself so I can not only be a contributing member of society but also a contributing member of this household. I'm went back to school for a graduate degree in Marketing. I had/have two intentions with this: 1) I'd like to further my education, especially here in Chile, so I know what's up and 2) I want to open my networking possibilities. The thing is, the way I feel about it, it's like I'm back at square one with all this ... like when I went to school the first time and wondered what would become of me when I was all growns up.

So that's how it feels now...yet ... I'm...33. Time is inevitably NOT on my side. And I'm not talking kids here by any means ... I'm talking career. In Chile age is a huge factor and I have 2.2 seconds to make something of myself that might somehow resemble something successful.

Success is relative, I know. And the irony is that I am going back to school so that I can learn what it means - AND what it looks like - to be successful here in Chile. It's ironic because what's successful here isn't necessarily what I grew up thinking was successful. I feel like I'm speaking in tongues right now, but trust me, it all makes perfect sense to ME. I'm working it out, bear with me.

See, it's not enough for me to watch my husband be a bad ass at work, despite all the headaches, stress and pressure that come with being said baller. In fact, it sometimes infuriates me that the majority of ballers are men in the corporate field here. I will fight the good battle with this society to be there as well but ... to do so... here I am again, at the bottom. What am I doing right now (well, writing this blog but besides that, what I should be doing) is studying. Reading chapters upon chapters of marketing crap IN SPANISH, which let me tell you, isn't an easy feat for me. Every other sentence I read makes sense only 20% of the time.

Anyway, where was I?
Oh yeah, normalcy.

I'm just not in a "normal" place here in Chile, as related to my regular normalcy back home... Or actually even when compared to my normalcy before school and the wedding. And the dog for that matter.

Ok, so maybe where I'm going here is that my normalcy has changed quite a bit in the past year. Each phase of "normal life" that I live lasts a short amount of time, relatively speaking, and I don't find that I have enough time to adapt. These next nine months, post wedding, are actually going to be the longest stretch of "normal" I've encountered since before moving here.

So is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Stay tuned.


Sunday, April 18, 2010



Married muffin over here ... had a blast last night ... enjoyed celebrating with every single person there...and eternally thankful to my husband and friends back home for the video that made me cry like a baby...

More on all that later.

For now, here's a preview of what's to come (visually.)

Saturday, April 17, 2010


What´s on tap today ....

No big deal´s the day ... that which has been the bane of my existence as well as the light at the end of the tunnel. Today Boo-yah, I made it! WE made it!

A quick summary of the days that have passed: family arrived from the U.S. and my sister and nephew arrived from La Serena and since then, it´s been chaos and running around. I rather enjoyed it actually because my day-to-day is really, really standard. G´s kids are with us so that´s good news and it would seem that up to this moment, the b*tch face hasn´t reared her ugly head.

I decided to spend the night at my mom´s house to be with her, my sister and nephew and also to have that extra level of anxiety and excitement for when I see G at our "First Look" session with our photographer (and friend), Kyle. The fantas-great hair and make up guy will be here at 10:30 (so in about an hour) and I´m still in PJs by the way. Who cares? I´m the bride, yo!

Last night´s rehearsal dinner was fun, though of course couldn´t have passed without a family glitch (that would have been too perfect) when during our speech to the family we realized we hadn´t coordinated a dance combination for my mom (i.e. couple´s, uncle-bride dance, groom-groom´s mom dance) and she was, in a word, PISSED. What can I say? It totally slipped our minds... plus with three dances already ocurring, we wanted to keep it short! If G´s dad were alive and if my mom were married then there would surely have been a moment during the ceremony dedicated to both couples... but that´s not the case and as such, we just adapted... I guess without thinking about hurt feelings. ACK!

I loved being with my family though... and mixing them with my husband-to-be´s family. I had a great time and it finally hit me that HOLY SH*T baby´s getting married and these people are here just for us!! That´s a great feeling, ps.

In short, today´s the day peeps... we´ll see how it all turns out. The good thing is that the sun is out and SHINING like no other. It rained yesterday for the first time in months so I´m especially stoked that not only is it sunny, but it´s clean and clear! Although, to be honest, a little rain would still have been cool.

I´m going to miss my friends there but I know they´ll be with me in spirit and I know they´re all happy for me.

Crrrrazzzzzyyyyyyy!!!! And crazy in love too!


Thursday, April 15, 2010


It's occurred to me ...

... that I'm getting MARRIED in 2.2 seconds.

The whole reason I'm here in Chile, the culmination of months of planning, wanting to pull my hair out and cry and all things in between IS HAPPENING this Saturday. Crrrraaaaaaazy.

I can't say I feel like a bride who's about to partake in her wedding. I still don't feel that. I do feel really excited that my Uncle Pato is here and it's becoming more of a reality with tomorrow night's impending Rehearsal Dinner with the fam. I'm having a Rehearsal dinner??? There was once a time when I was sure I'd NEVER get married. Who'd want to marry me? The one who'd been cheated on and who could only manage to find guys that needed all kinds of maturing?

Ah yes, but this one did find an awesome guy and this one IS getting married. In exactly 48 hours I'll be someone's wife and I'll have acquired a husband - just like that!

This week has been full of sh*t to do for the wedding ... starting with Monday when we had to go to Casablanca (the small, nowhere town where the winery is located) to do the "manifestación," where one goes and gives the information of the witnesses who will bear witness to the actual marriage on the day and also to confirm the time and location of the wedding. That was fun... especially that one part when we realized the car had died ... in the middle of nowhere, farm town Chile. I was sure the evil-ex had some voodoo doll of us and was messing with our technical fluidity when out of nowhere my fully charged iPhone just DIED due to "low battery." Strange things are afoot at the Circle K ... for sure. Needless to say we made it back to Santiago. And today has entailed ALL KINDS of running around - the kind of stuff I've read about on other blogs and have heard brides talk about when they discuss their wedding ... that was my day today and OMG it's my day tomorrow. Don't even get me started ...

In between all that I have to 1) work and 2) study for a quiz on chapters I need to read for class ... of which I'm about 3 behind ... and each one is nothing short of a zillion pages long - IN SPANISH just for sh*ts and giggles. Oh - and did I mention I have a high maintenance puppy??

Yes, I'm personally stressed but I have to say that the Chilean vendors did pull through and rally these last two weeks before the wedding. It would seem that all things are in order - thankfully enough. I'm sure you all remember my previous rants about said topic... I digress.

The bottom line is this: I'm going to be a married muffin and I really, really adore the guy I get to marry. Simply put - he's the best. I can't believe that I'm going through this amazing experience of planning a wedding and then partaking in everything we planned so diligently and put so much thought into.

No, I'm not the ultimate Bride.
Yes, I'm currently more stressed about school than I am when thinking about Saturday.
No, I don't have wedding vows yet.
Yes, I'm a slacker.
And no, you can't borrow my chapstick.

Until Sat then folks ... single me has ass to kick and names to take.


Friday, April 9, 2010


What kind of Chilean man marries a Gringa?

Back in February, my friend Kyle posted the most offensive blog I've read thus far this year! Actually, as you'll see, it wasn't really HER sentiments that offended but rather, the sentiments of random weirdos who contact her via her blog (unfortunately one of the pitfalls of blogging is that you're "out there" in the cyber world and anyone, anywhere can contact you to say pretty much anything). In short, her blog post contains clips of emails she received from certain people stating how the only reason any Chilean man would consider dating an American girl would be for "purely sexual reasons." And that mostly, Chileans want to "try Gringas" in the same way, he states, that one would want to test drive a new model car. Then there's the mention that only women who have zero luck in the States run off to South America to try their hand at love, but that too will backfire since men here treat women pretty much the same way they did in the 1800s. Pretty much at ANY moment the "true colors" of Chilean men will come out and WHAM, SLAP, BAM! Abusive husbands!

Don't believe me? Click on the link and read her blog for yourself then get back to me (or her) about how appalled you are. (If you aren't appalled, step away from the computer and away from my blog.)

In 8 days I'm going to be married and as I'm writing my vows (or attempting to do so because I'm failing miserably) every so often I've remembered this particular blog entry and now I'm seriously thinking of each and every Chilean man I've met who has married a non-Chilean woman - my own Chilean man as well - and what motivates them to marry us or have a serious relationship with us. And as far as I can tell, neither the man nor the woman in each scenario is anything less than awesome in their own right.

I'll speak of the women first since as a woman, I've got more material. To begin with, I don't know a single non-Chilean woman who lives here that has come "running" from her home country in order to desperately find love here in Chile. Having made the move from the US to Chile less than a year ago, I can attest that there is no such thing as merely "running to" Chile. It's not easy for us here, even if we have found love! Some American women I've met don't even speak Spanish fluently yet they still manage to make their lives as best they can here. These type of women, in general, are not those who run away from something but in my opinion, run towards something!

In my own experience I believe that the women I've met here, myself included, are courageous women who have their head on straight and who know what they want and who go after it. We're not the kind of women who sit around and cry "woe is me" about having a long distance love, but who pick up and go to see where destiny and fate take us. Further, many of these women initially came to Chile on study abroad programs when they were very, very young - even before love was ever an option in Chile! They left their comfy college surroundings, the light fare of everyday (or every other day) partying to trek to this land at the end of the world and to live with a random Chilean family (random at the time, mind you.) Hello - guts!!! Excuse me, but I know very few Chilean women - or women in general - who have done something like that.

In addition, these women all have jobs here and many are on the road to long-term careers. They've made friends, maneuvered their way through bureaucracy (and trust me, Chile has lots) and on top of that, we constantly prove ourselves to the fellow Chileans to counter any pre-conceived notion they may have about Gringas. Whatever that may be, we have to constantly fight to have them remove those stigmas from their minds and to look at US as individuals, not as part of a whole.

In short, the non-Chilean woman who finds herself in this narrow country next to a Chilean man is NOT weak-willed or running away or insecure or shy. We're not full of issues that can "explain" why we're here in the first place and we're not the kind of women who will conform to what any society or culture says of us and how things "should" be. At least, this is my view of the women - myself included - I see. I see go-getters; I see strong-willed; I see adapting; I see adventurous; I see respectful; I see women who literally go to the ends of the Earth for love... And I'm sorry, but Chilean women do NOT hold the official, exclusive license on these attributes (don't mind me and my unabashed use of work-speak!)

So then I ask you (particularly those dumb asses who posted on Kyle's blog), what kind of Chilean man marries such a woman?

A ROCK STAR Chilean man, that's who.

The man who prefers a strong, unique, adventurous, determined, committed and hard-working woman is not the kind of man who would even be interested in dominating such a woman! The man next to us is just as strong, just as determined and takes pride in having a partner he can be on par with.

What if I were so bold, so controversial so as to say that the man who chooses to be with a Gringa isn't interested in Chilean women in the first place? I say this because I take G as an example who was once married to the quintessential Chilean woman back when he himself was SO NOT who he is today. And today, as a bad ass in his career, a guy who has his act together, confident and engaging he tells me that in general (GENERAL, people) Chilean women as partners bore him. Hello!!! BORE HIM. Then again, my Chilean guy is SO NOT typical, it only makes sense that he and I are together. In fact, we're so made for each other, we first determine what is standard or "envasado" and we request the exact opposite - almost always.

In the end, there are all kinds of women out there, Chilean and not, as is the case with men.

But being 8 days away from getting married, I'm happy to conclude that the kind of man who marries this Gringa is - simply put - amazing. What makes him unique is that he loves me for the bizarre mix of customs I myself am. Being "American" but with "Chilean" ancestry and family, I'm a smorgasbord of characteristics and ideologies (some good, some annoying) and regardless of being Gringa or Chilean or what have you, he makes me always want to be a better version of me.

Here's hoping I do the same for him!

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010


The postgrado

Um ... school in Chile is weird.

Ok, I should rephrase that since I'm not technically in "school" or "colegio" but at a university getting a post-graduate degree (postgrado). In short, I'm dabbling in Graduate studies. And for someone who was raised and who received her entire education (for better or for worse) in California, studying in a foreign country is weird, overwhelming and scary all at the same time.

Adolfo Ibañez University is considered one of the top private business schools in the region (so you can imagine my surprise when I was accepted) and their professors stem from various educational and professional backgrounds, including MIT, Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Universidad de Chile, La Catolica, etc. These are (unfortunately only) men who serve on Boards of Directors, own their own companies, are Gerente Generales or of similar titles and who, for some reason or another, also teach courses in Integrated Marketing (what I'm studying).

Yesterday was my first day of class and there are about 45-50 students - people who also come from different walks of life and careers. Yesterday's professor was the head of the department and the same man who interviewed me when I applied to the program. He's charismatic, energetic and seems to really know his (version of) business. The program is going to be demanding and what I'm realizing is that it's going to be hard to adapt my thinking to that of Chileans. Half of my motivation for doing this is to understand how Chileans think, how one can market to them and what kinds of consumers they are. So yesterday when the professor was speaking, I found myself thinking "No I don't agree" or "No, it's not like that" and then had to stop myself and REMIND myself that "oh yes, this is what the typical Chilean thinks, this is how he acts and reacts."

For instance, he was talking about why JC Penny or Sears didn't make it in Chile when they attempted to expand their business in Lat Am. Or why Wal-Mart hasn't decided to change its name to just that and continues to hide behind the local name "Lider" (Wal-Mart bought out the local hypermarket chain, Lider last year). The tend to look down on the big corporations but at the same time embrace the status said corporations bring (think Starbucks, which incidentally has take this country by storm.) Chileans are rock stairs in the retailer arena (it's the only country with less than 20 million people that has over three department stores who compete in a healthy environment.) And the likes of Sears and JC Penny didn't thrive because Chileans are much too loyal to their brands. So as I'm sitting there thinking "But no - there's bigger and better out there." I have to remember that in Chile there's no room for bigger and better if it's not Falabella. Enough said. I can't beat them, I need to join them. Integrate and then work in crazy, unconventional ideas! It's my master plan (insert wicked laugh.)

Seriously though, I find myself arguing with the professor in my head though who am I to argue when the reality we're talking about is Chilean and I'm here to learn about that? It's not the time to fight the power, Andrea!

Then there's just the idiosyncrasy of many Chileans, which will slowly become apparent in each class. For instance, in yesterday's class the professor was making a point about perception and he projected a slide with one image of Tiger Woods in mid-golf swing and the other picture of Eminem and 50 Cent together. He asked the class "How many of you find it strange that the world's number one golfer is black? Or that one of the best selling rappers of all time is white?" AND OF COURSE there were a handful of people who agreed that it was "weird" that the best golfer in the world is black. The most outspoken woman in this group stated that it just seemed "raro" (or strange) because it made more sense for a white, blonde man to be the best golfer.


As one friend correctly pointed out last night after I told this story, back home even if someone was thinking the same thing, NO ONE would say it! And here it's like "Oh yes, he's black and rich and that's weird."

Of course I'm smart enough to know that MOST LIKELY these sentiments don't stem from any malicious part of the Chilean psyche or character. In fact, it's so homogeneous here, blonds are MORE idolized than normal AND it just so happens that many of the blonds are also from affluent families. The Chilean reality is just different ... and I'm here to learn about it and to try to influence it.

First and foremost, I need to sit down and shut up and learn about how they tick. How do I market to them so that they can eventually expose themselves to "weird" things ... realizing of course that "weird' to them is having "too many" milk options. I kid you not there was a discussion yesterday on why there is any such thing as Lactose Free milk and even Soy milk - THE HORROR!!! :o)

Ok, theories and idiosyncrasies aside, I'm also going to HATE MY LIFE with all the reading material I have - IN SPANISH. I can't even begin to imagine how I'm going to write an actual term paper IN SPANISH or contribute to a group effort when half the things they say go over my head! I fear being the dumb one in the group ... seriously. Ack!

The upside is that I have my own Gerente to bounce ideas off of ... when I arrived home from class yesterday, a beautiful ENORMOUS bouquet was waiting for me at home, accompanied by a note telling me how proud he was of me and how he intended to fully support me through this tough year ahead. :o) (Sigh... bliss!) It's not going to be easy but then again it's been a while since I've done something that was this hard. Life can get pretty boring if one doesn't challenge the status quo. And life can get pretty tense if one is always fighting the foreign mentalities and actions. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

I'm seeking knowledge and understanding of the people who surround me. If anything, so I can learn to sell them on a different way of thinking! :oP

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Thursday, April 1, 2010


I'm cool with it

Sixteen days before my wedding and I'm wondering if I'm supposed to be FEELING something about that.

Everyone keeps asking me if I'm "excited" or "nervous" and wondering about how I feel regarding "the big day." And I'm like ... well... remember that one episode in Sex and the City when Miranda was preggo and everyone else made a big deal about it except her? She mentioned "faking a sonogram" when she learned that her baby was a boy. Squeals from everyone - even Carrie! - ensued.

That pretty much sums up how I feel. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say about the wedding at this point except the truth - which is: it feels like I'm planning an event that I'll be attending and kind of hosting. Except for the hosting part, it feels like I'm attending someone else's wedding.

It's not how I feel about G because THAT FOR SURE makes me giddy. Just thinking of seeing him all dapper in his clothes and knowing we'll be married makes me happy, simply put.

I just can't be bothered right now with feeling or saying anything other than "going to a party on April 17th." I'm stoked on the party since it will have all my favorite things so that will be cool. How many people attend parties where everything is exactly as they want? So that in and of itself has me looking forward to April 17th for sure. I'm also happy to be seeing people I know all dressed up, eating, drinking and generally being merry. And I'm FOR SURE eager to see my Uncle, who, if all goes well, will be arriving in Chile a few days before. Each one of these things makes me eager and happy to be involved with the festivities surrounding the wedding.

I'm going to conclude all this speculation of "What's the matter with me?" and just say that I'm truly not the bridey bride AT ALL. I don't typically like to be the center of attention in such an obvious way so that itself puts me in a different league than many other brides. I'm not even frantic about last minute anything. We don't have our table descriptions, menus, favors, etc and only about 30 people have RSVP'd but I'm not even worried!

Although, it's nice to see that people are excited for us. THAT also makes me really happy. I like to make others happy ... G, my mom, my family, my friends. Making them happy makes me feel content and pleased. So if anything, I'm happy to give people a social life on April 17th, too!

The short answer to the "big day" question is this: I'm cool with it.
I'm stoked on marrying G and cool with the actual wedding. I'm grateful we can gather all the people who will be there and spend the TIME with them celebrating. I'm happy to see everyone around me smiling and sharing with us.

If this is a weird answer, I just repeat that I'm a weird bride, man. But I'm cool with it.

[Note: in exactly two weeks I reserve the right to post a completely different and completely opposite blog. One that oozes with stress, worry, anxiety and excitement, all at once.]



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