Monday, April 20, 2009

The Pastry Tour

My parents recently came to visit for the week--earning them millions of points in the parent unit column. In trying to divvy up a week's worth of tourist activities, I realized that there really isn't much to do in Santiago, except eat. So we did.

We ate manjar croissants, slices of chocolate mousse cake, helado banado en chocolate, handmade truffles, chocolate volcanoes, brownies, sweet popcorn. We sampled the best of Santiago's pastelerias and heladerias. My parents started calling their adventures here "Tur de Postres" or The Pastry Tour.

We had an really interesting discussion while eating dinner...or maybe while waiting for Patagonia, one of the many fine establishments on the tour list. Mom was talking about the difficulty of getting Dad to cook meals for them, even though he's retired and technically has time. Let's just say, he's just not that into food.

I cannot even fathom what it's like to not be "into" food. To be sort of disconnected from it. My whole life is food! Just like Dad says that punctual people spell time with a capital T, I think I spell Food with a capital F...and maybe a capital OOD too.

At first I was offended (as always) when they teased about how our tour was starting to lean heavily on the entertainment value of food (how I managed to not develop a thick skin in my family is beyond me). But by the end of our trip, I began to be proud of my extensive pastry and food knowledge. Though Dad gets the benefit of a slim profile, the love of food is a thing to celebrate. Food is a great joy. It brings people together. It builds a sense of family and community. People gather around food.

It's the first time I've really thought about what a gift it is to love food. I've always felt it was such a burden, this constant stream of conscious commenting, rejecting and utlimately loving food.

Are American women afraid to really enjoy food? Afraid if we love it, we'll fall down that slippery slope of weight gain and with it self-criticism and body hatred?

As I begin to form an idea of what I would like to do when I return to the glorious land of the free and home of the brave, I believe this blog will be more and more about fitness, body image, and shape, as well as what I can discover around this topic in Chile.

Weigh in (haha, I couldn't resist) on what you think about this idea...I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Pictures of food and the parental units' adventure are coming...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My Favorite Illusion

Control is my favorite illusion. We think we have it. We think that if we follow these steps, if we stay inside the lines most of the time, that we will get everything we ever wanted. But I haven't lived to be 30 without realizing that control is life's greatest illusion. Whoever said, "You want to make God laugh? Make plans." was a genius.

I think it is probably the greatest lesson I've learned. It's also the one I need to relearn over and over again. Every time I forget, I look up from my book and realize that I'M IN CHILE and then I remember. Chile was not my plan for 30.

To be honest, I thought I would meet the man of my dreams in college and get married by 22. How this would happen was a bit fuzzy, but I spent many hours ballroom dancing in my room with my imaginary groom. He was perfect. Unfortunately, real-life men did not quite live up to my imaginary man. And as much as I wanted to get married early in 20s, it just didn't happen.

This is what frustrates me when I hear how "young people are waiting longer to get married." Every time I hear a comment like that, I just want to yell, "It's not like I don't want's just that there aren't any takers..."

Okay, that sentence might've actually hurt a piece of my soul there...but just for a second.

I'm not sad that I'm here. I would never have gotten to Chile otherwise. I would never trade the path I'm on for the comfort of what I imagine marriage brings. You know, the ability to let yourself go a bit. To know that no matter how you look, someone has sworn to love you.

I'd like to think that I'm a wiser and stronger woman for being single. Capable of handling tougher situations.

I'd like to think that it was my newfound wisdom and not bitterness that made me want to laugh when I heard my friend's plans recently. My 28-year-old Chilean amiga told me she wanted to be married with kids by the time she was 35. I nodded politely. But what I thought was, "God's going to have fun with you."

I wish I had asked her what her plan of attack was, because I surely don't have one. I just wanted to know if she had some secret method of making sure she'd meet the man of her dreams by the time she was 34 (remember, she's gotta have kids by 35). I mean, it's not like you have a lot of control over who you meet, right?

I'm also confused about how you're supposed to know when you meet HIM. Is it some kind of zing? The men closest to HIM have been those that have somehow made me feel more ME with them than without--which is almost impossible to recreate. How is a man supposed to make me feel more like ME having just met me?

These thoughts make me wish that I were a man or at least had the brain of man where I might consider this idea for a milisecond before moving on to more pressing problems like how the Broncos should attack the draft.

I'm boggled just thinking about it.

Obviously, if I'm writing about, it's not completely out of my mind. I think about it. About a family. And then I think about living in Shanghai. Or traveling to Antarctica. Or joining the Peace Corps. And then I think about a family again.

Boggled. should the Broncos attack the draft?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Anyone Want Two Cats?

Okay, I'm going to get right to it. I'm thinking about giving my cats away...for good.

Some times I just hate being an adult. It seems like the older we get the more our decisions are not black and white but infinite shades of gray, where none of them feel really right and good.

I don't like the idea of giving away my cats. I have taken care of since they were kittens. But my other options suck too. 1) come home in a bad economy to try to find a job in a field I'm not yet prepared to enter and find an apartment without even knowing where I really want to live. The problem with having lived in Chile is that my world has opened so wide that now I'm not sure how to transition to that stable life I had...and whether I even want it. 2) put them on a plane and subject them to the cargo hold for countless hours...twice and I'm not even sure I'm staying in this house...or even in Chile for long... 3) Find temporary housing for them or pay a fortune to a business that takes care of cats--$30/day for one cat I think.

When my parents suggested I possibly give them away, I cried. I have felt like such an asshole all day--mainly because I was relieved that it might be an option. That I wouldn't be a social leper for considering it as an option. It had crossed my mind more than once that I like not having a lot of responsibility. I like not having to take care of anyone. And if I do give them away, will I feel guilty for the rest of my life for abandoning them?

I can't decide whether I'm being selfish for wanting my freedom, for wanting more time to figure out how to make writing a career, to establish myself here, where I don't have to earn such a large amount of money to live or if I'm being responsible for beginning to recognize that my lifestyle doesn't really fit with having cats (and don't even get me started on my dog...I can't even think about that right now...). Perhaps I am both responsible and selfish.

I never thought I'd be the type of person who would give away my fact I remember being horrified by a story about a woman who after 8 years with a cat gave the cat away when she realized her soon-to-be husband was allergic. How could you possibly give a cat away? And here I am, contemplating giving away two.

The only way I can even remotely feel good about this is if a friend, a family member, someone I knew would take them.

So, I sincerely hope someone reads this blog and can offer me advice or my cats a permanent home...or a temporary one...or a suggestion I haven't thought of...

Please...someone's gotta have a good idea out there somewhere...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Content and Needing a Temporary Home for My Cats

As I write this blog, my roommate is teaching our friend Prema how to salsa. Earlier, I walked through the living room to fill my cup with more hot water for tea and was suddenly dancing, wrapped up in the music, in the "pasos," in the laughter. It's not even noon and this house is filled with love and happiness.

It is April, and I am content. The tension I felt in January and February has dissipated completely. My roommates and I are getting along. I eat lunch with Kanke every Wednesday. Caitlin invites me to her friends parties. I miss Mari, but I'm dealing.

Every day, I wake up at 6:45am (on my own accord) and I write until 12:30 or 1:30pm. I write in my blog, travel articles, an essay for which I need to find a home, queries, copywriting. After a healthy lunch here (yes, I'm still vegetarian), I often go and read about journalism--in lieu of a second degree--though I'm contemplating that too. After the cafe, I head to the gym and either take class, life weights or ride on the bike. I have a super kickass ipod playlist that carries me through the worst of it. Then, sometimes I meet my friends for ice cream, sometimes I go home and read until it's time for bed. Then I do it all again. And it makes me incredibly happy.

Sure the metro at peak hours is super scary--it's a mob sometimes and I get carried by the crowd. Yesterday I almost couldn't get out and I had to yank my backpack past two people in the very front that wouldn't get off the train to let people by. (at that hour, I wouldn't have either--the rule is never give an inch...ever).

I read the whole time. It's my form of a personal bubble, my defense against the Chilean cutters and those who pack themselves like sardines on the trains. I hold my book up and don't look at the world. If someone gets to close to me, my book is liable to accidently rub against their hair, their face, their shoulder. Sometimes they glare at me. But I just smile and read on. They can move if it bothers them I've decided.

I've taken to reading not just on the train but during the walk to the transfer train and the walk home. I look up from my book only for stairs and streets. I'm sort of surprised I didn't discover read-walking earlier, after all I love both activities. Occasionally I trip over over a root or run into someone, but most people see that I'm not looking and get out of my way. This is by far better than trying to walk my own pace through the crowd. I'm happy, less stressed out, less frustrated with the strollers. I just walk and pay attention to the story unfolding in my head. It's the only way to do the metro at 6:30pm.

The weather has turned from unbearable to breezy. It's like a gift from the gods. My life feels that way too.

I feel lucky. I'm grateful for everyone that helped me here, helped me become who I am, helped me find my way. It is in these moments when I feel like no matter what happens, things will work out. They just have a way of working out.

That's why I'm writing to also say that if anyone, anyone out there can take my 2 cats for a few months, please let me know! I know it will work out somehow, I'd just like to know how :)

Thanks everyone!