Monday, January 28, 2008

Just Checking In

Santiago. Still great on toast. Big dinner tonight with the major VPs and I got some big compliments to tomorrow will sleep in until 11. Hahaha. Not really.

So much to tell you but y'all it's almost 2am here and I just got back and sleep is my only priority because I am usually in bed and asleep by 11. The best ting about sleep deprivation is that it makes the day go faster/

I can't wait to tell you about Si from Australia and my newest guy buddy Eduardo and how our VP tonight literally patted me on the back and how we have been working crazy hours. I hate this and I love this and I thrive on it.

More later but now I have to sleep.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Love: Messy, Wet, Stinky Love

I am in messy, wet, stinky love with this city. Also I guess this country and continent but I haven't seen the rest of it.

I am so in love with this city that I smile all the time. I walk down the street smiling. Last night I went out to dinner by myself (something I am now comfortable with for the first time in my life). Out on the patio there was a large table of French people and a small table of Germans (possibly Swiss-German but I don't have enough German to tell the difference between German and Swiss German) and another small table of 2 Americans. I eavesdropped on all and picked up a few fun things. And I couldn't stop smiling. I love to watch people. I never imagined I would love a place more than Tokyo - Santiago beats Tokyo by 1,000 miles.

Mostly I think I look horrible. I have far too much extra weight and on the road it is nearly impossible to maintain let alone lose. I have 45.6 years of wrinkles. I have the beginnings of jowls. I feel 25 and then I catch sight of myself in a mirror and it just freaks me out that the person who feels the way I do LOOKS the way I do. I have really bad clothing. But I bought an embroidered summer blouse in Mexico last month and I've been wearing it and when I wear it with my jeans I feel just a bit cuter. I wish I had 10 of them. Also the water here - it is really something. Somehow the water is perfect for my hair and no matter what it always looks cute and curly and wild. And it's so soft. I know above and beyond any makeup or clothing the best thing I can do to look good is to put a smile on my face. A smile is by far the best makeup. All the time I see thin gorgeous girls on the street walking with a scowl and they are not attractive at all. So I figure if I smile I beat them by a mile!

So last night about 8:30 I walked to this restaurant for dinner wearing my cute shirt and sporting my soft curly hair and smiling my fat American ass off and y'all the owner asked if he could take my photo and the waiter took it and they put me on a board with freaking Julio Iglesias and other celebs. So I think I looked cute despite the tonnage. Still the photo I know sucks and I will probably never go to this particular establishment again because I am so ashamed and embarrassed. Also totally flattered.

But it was nice to feel attractive for one night. They do this cheek kiss thing here like in Mexico - everyone cheek kisses and I am totally a handshake girl if I can get away with it but last night I gladly cheek kissed the restaurant owner because he made me feel very special.

So getting back to Friday night with Lety - it was so good to see her. Her driving SUCKS FOR AIR! Drivers here are really bad and she is possibly the WORST. I'm talking going the wrong way down one way streets and running up on curbs and stuff. Which seems to be the norm here by the way but she was JUST AWFUL and it was all I could do to hold on and not pull a gun and tell her to let me drive. If I had a gun I would have. Her girls were tired and so her husband stayed home with them and we went for a light dinner at freaking 10:30 pm (can't get used to that) and sat and shared my ipod earphones and listened to music and talked and ate and then she drove me home which took about 2 hours because she is a really sucky driver and I am lucky to be alive now. In fact I think God Himself was personally sitting beside me. Otherwise I would be dead. For sure. And I loved ever minute. She ran red lights and I sat in the passenger seat with my life flashing before my eyes howling with laughter. I saw parts of Santiago that just made me want to pack up and move. This was by accident because she was totally lost. Also she sucks as a driver (did I mention that)?

So in a nutshell. Santiago is great (except for the horrible smog which is so amazingly bad I want to put in a call to Al Gore). The drivers here suck. Avoid Leticia if she is the "driver." I am as brown as a berry and I own one shirt that makes me look cute. My hair rocks.

A week from now I will be back home for a week before I return for the month of February. Yesterday in ATL it SNOWED. Today at last check it was 26F. I think I will fall into a deep depression. To think I was so upset about giving up my sweatpants and coming here. I have a one year reprieve from seasonal affective disorder.

Did I tell you how much I LOVE Santiago?

Did I mention my tan? Y'all I am so brown!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Lety is on the way!

Difficult situation. I am not happy with the way Lety resigned after 5 weeks employment. But I love her dearly. 2 weeks here and I finally called tonight and she will be here in minutos with her husband and 2 little girls and I guess we will go have one of those 10 pm dinners that they do in these parts.

I can't wait to see her. Despite what I feel about her departure from the company I love her with all my heart and I can't wait to see her. I must keep friendship apart from business.

I can't wait to tell about this reuion - I have the vidcam ready. Honestly I just want to go to bed but Lord! A few horas with Lety will be so wonderful.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Leg Hair and the Andes

When winter sets in I gratefully pull on the sweatpants and sweatshirts and don't ever think about shaving my legs until the windows have been open for a few days and I can put on shorts every now and then. Obviously I am single haha. Ahem. The week before I came here I made an effort to start shaving my legs but the past week has been hectic and I'm still trying to get real with the fact that I flew from 14F temps to 85F temps. That kind of stuff will mess with your head big time. In a good way. But yesterdayI woke up and put on my bathing suit and went to the rooftop pool and swam and got some sun and realized that even though it has only been a week I need to once again shave my legs because it's summer folks! Beautiful, sunny, hot, flower-engorged summer!

I have the greatest idea. I will live somewhere in the northern hemisphere from May through September then live in the southern hemisphere October through April!!! Why didn't I think of this before? I swear Paris Hilton is such a waste of riches. I could do the rich thing so much better than her and I promise I wouldn't be tabloid fodder.

OK so anyway - it's summer here (did I mention that yet?). Friday night I met Sam in front of the OK Market (they need to do some work on their marketing strategy - not bad, not good - just OK). We went to a great tapas place only two blocks from my apartment where we sat on the balcony of the second level and ate the most delicious tiny things that filled both of us up not because of quantity but because of the most soul-filling flavors. I think I would rather go back there every night than anything else in the world. But THE VIEW my friends! THE VIEW will kill you from too much taking of the breath. So OK, not the way it looks in real life because last night it took my breath away despite the buildings and phone poles. But what you see in the distance is about an hour's drive from where I am! These mountains are huge. And although the smog obscures them most of the time you can still feel them there even if you can't see them. And then there's a clear night and they appear and honestly my heart just leaps for the sight. The view of the street from the tapas place was also gorgeous:
Here are a couple of views from the rooftop pool:
So now I will shower and dress and get out on the street to explore my little area. Must find coffee.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Yo Quiero Santiago!

Tomorrow is Friday. I can't begin to tell you how quickly this week has passed for me. There is so much to do in the office, so much crazy boring data entry stuff that must be done for hours on end to set this new account up in the system and also so much training that must be accomplished with the staff. And so tomorrow is Friday and I can't believe I have been here for almost a full week.

I continue to just love Santiago. The people here are very friendly and helpful, much like the Japanese were when I was in Tokyo. Once again I am in an apartment on a high floor of a building in a city where I never would have thought I would be happy but I am, incredibly so. Tonight there was a corporate party on a large balcony of a building next to mine and when I got home from dinner they were playing old Madonna and I went on the balcony and enjoyed it and some folks were sitting out on their balcony on yet another building and waved to me and I waved back. I think it helps that it's summer and people are out and about. At any rate I have gotten used to it already and it is just wonderful to be here.

I had a guilty cat moment earlier. Mostly this is because I haven't had any bad cat moments since I arrived and it's been a week now so it was time. I do miss the punks so much and am thankful that I'm distracted enough by work that I don't dwell on it. Gale (my awesome cat sitter) is going over every other day and on the days she goes I don't even shower without my phone just in case. On her visit days when the phone doesn't ring I know I can go to bed content.

OK - got to sleep now because we have to meet 30 minutes earlier than usual to go to work in the morning which means I actually have to get up when my alarm goes off the first time!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Joi de vivre

Joy for life - joy of life.

Today many more problemas uncovered and Sam told me he was glad I was here. I am happy to be the bloodhound and hope I can resolve the issues I've found in the next few weeks. I'm happy to be here too. I have massive cat guilt mostly because it is summer here and I can get out and about and while I think about the punks every day I am not miserable for leaving them. Yet. I am quite certain that feeling will hit hard over the weekend.

My babies!!!!!

Tonight Sam and I caught a late dinner (late by US standards and early by SA standards). We made a night of it and put together a plan for the next day or so. There was this really drunk local man who approached us to talk and we kind of brushed him off. As he was leaving he came by to say goodnight and to do that cheek-kiss thing that I really hate but put up with and he told me he would soon travel to Germany and looked forward to seeing me there!!!!

Laughing my fucking ass off on that one. At what point did I become German? I have never even been to Germany! But I was polite and did the cheek kiss thingy with him and he went on his way and afterwards Sam and I and Ceci the waitress just laughed our asses off. And I am still laughing!

Travel is so much fun!

Monday, January 07, 2008

My South America Apartment

Greetings from Santiago. I have already managed to get a sunburn! You gotta love summer.

Today was the first day in the office and oh my but there is a lot to do. A whole lot. A mess. To be fair most of it is the client's responsibility as they keep giving us bits and pieces of information, all of it incomplete, and therefore it's kind of hard to keep it all straight. No wonder they hired us. I think they must have gotten it so screwed up they figured it was better to hire us than to try to sort it out themselves.

So all in all a headache. But today Sam and I were driving back to the hood and bitching and moaning and I looked into the distance and told him that no matter how lousy a day can be you drive home with the Andes staring you in the face. This picture doesn't do it justice because there is another layer of taller ones behind what is visible here. With the heavy pollution here, especially at this time of year, the Andes look like a theatrical backdrop that has faded over many years. You kind of see them faded out and they are HUGE and still pretty far away so you know they have to be freaking ENORMOUS! I was looking and there were these low clouds and then I realized they were not clouds at all - it was snow on top of the mountains that were barely visible. The pollution is really horrible. I woke up with a sore throat which I had all day and sneezed and had watery eyes and multitudes of snot. And I'm not sick. I did that over Christmas. This is totally pollution related.

Getting on to my apartment. I told you it was tiny and that's the truth. It's about twice the size of my first Tokyo apartment and about 1/2 the size of my second Tokyo apartment. It is 100% perfect for my purposes. I can get up in the morning and brew a pot of coffee. I have a small fridge to make ice and keep water and sandwich stuff and milk for morning cereal and if I want to fix myself dinner there is a bit of equipment to be able to do so. I have "zones" unlike a hotel room. I can sit in the living room and read or blog or work and then go in the bedroom and be away from work. I have a small washer (it both washes and dries and I will experiment later and let you know how it works). It makes me feel like I have a home here and that might seem strange but when you have to be in one place working for a long time it makes all the difference. Anyway, here are some photos of my little home: The bedroom with huge sliding glass windows!
The living room looking out onto the balconey - more huge sliding glass windows!
And for some reason Blogger wants me to stop with the photos already because it won't let me load any more in tonight. I'll post more tomorrow.
FYI I am now doing a laod of laundry in my washer/dryer combo. There has been a lot of churning so far. I am so curious to see how it ends up. It's a very small machine and 1 pair of jeans, one flimsy summer skirt/blouse combo, 2 pair underwear and 1 pair socks filled it up to the max. So officially I can say I miss my high capacity washer back home where the above load would have constituted a "very small" setting.
Santiago is so great and this is mostly due to the fact that I am in a place where I feel comfortable going out by myself. Independence is a remarkable thing. Makes all the difference in the world.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Hello From Santiago, Chile, South America!

I landed this morning in Santiago just a bit after 9 am. The flight was late taking off and late landing and since somehow I am always (ALWAYS ALWAYS) stuck in a seat at the very back of the plane it took forever just to get off the thing and get in the various lines required to enter a country on an international flight.

On this flight (phewy on coach - my year flying business class on JAL has spoiled me forever) I was stuck in the middle seat which means sleep is impossible and peeing is even more difficult. Somehow I did manage about 4 hours and I can only hope my mouth was not hanging open the whole time. Sam met me immediately outside and took control of the suitcases bless his heart and we drove to the apartment.

This apartment is one I found way back in the spring when I was told I should be prepared to fly to Santiago for at least 6 months on about 3 days notice. I researched and made contact and found this place and sent the link all around as possible accommodations for the ex pats out of sheer selfishness - it is a pet-friendly place and I wanted to make sure anywhere I went was cat capable if I was going to be there for 6 months! So now I am here for 3 weeks and I am thrilled with the little apartment, even if the cats are still in Stone Mountain (not worth the stress to them for 3 weeks).

I'm on the 11th floor of a nice little building in a good area that is relatively safe. I have a tiny bedroom and tiny kitchen and tiny bathroom and tiny living room furnished with the most comfortable tiny overstuffed furniture. I have a tiny balcony overlooking other buildings with the Andes in the distance.

When Sam picked me up he immediately took me to the grocery store for simple provisions (COFFEE) and then we went for lunch and then I came back and unpacked and sat down fully intending to read for a while and I crashed hard. Total REM sleep for about an hour. Minutes after I woke up Sam texted to say he was going to Ruby Tuesday's down the street to watch the playoffs and I told him I would meet him there.

I went to the rooftop pool. You can't imagine the view of the Andes in the background between the buildings! The pool was small but cold and I spent about 30 minutes before taking a much needed shower and heading off to Ruby Tuesday's.

We watched the first playoff game which was great and the first part of the second which was tragic and then I came back home. It's now cool enough that I have turned off the A/C and opened the windows.

In my building residents still have Christmas decorations on their doors. There is still a tree in the lobby. And it is about 90 during the day (much cooler at night). How strange that here Christmas happens in summer. The last two weeks in Atlanta were cold and grey and dreary and downright freezing (13 in my backyard Wednesday morning). Here it is hot and summer and sunny and flowers blooming all over the place and people wearing summer clothes and cute sandals.

I feel like I have been picked up and put down on another planet and yet Santiago feels so much like home - the people don't LOOK different like they did in Mexico and Japan. They look like you could set them down in St. Cloud MN or Atlanta or LA and you would never think they weren't American.

These are just my first impressions. I am sure I will have more realistic impressions when I have been here more than 24 hours and I'm also sure most of my impressions have to do with the fact that I am living in a very good, relatively safe part of the city. But so far I can report that the people are very friendly, the city is drop dead gorgeous, and the view of the Andes is more than I could ever have imagined (just wish the smog didn't mask most of it). I am thrilled with my little apartment, and now I need to deal with the fact that it isn't 10:45 pm, it's 12:45 pm which means I am up far too late!

Photos to follow and also some video.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

David Letterman is my Daddy

Oh Lord. I am forcing myself to stay up late tonight so I can sleep late(r) tomorrow and live through an overnight almost 10 hour commute to Santiago. So I am watching Letterman for the first time in about 10 months and his beard makes him look like my own father which is so weird on so many levels which I won't discuss.

In other news the Iowa Caucuses (the weirdest election thingy ever and quite impossible to understand and explain although I have to hand it to the evening news tonight to shed light and for those who have an IQ over 60 it's kind of clear now) happened tonight. Huckabee is #1 on the re-re side (not a surprise since the idiots who elected Bush(es) and still feel morally superior would certainly go with an evangelical christian because evidently they are insecure enough in their "christian" bullshit to need one of their kind to lead the country. And you will notice please that I do not use an upper case 'c."

Barack won on the DEM side which will make this an interesting year. The several sides of me are still torn about this. The feminist in me leans very much to Hillary and yet the patriot in me (not to be confused with the Patriot Act which is Bush fascism) says my country is not yet ready to elect a woman. Stupid fucking country. I only hope we are able to elect a black man. Even though they are both intelligent and qualified and far better than you or me my concern is that we don't have another 4 to 8 years of stupidity in the name of somebody's saviour. If Jesus lived today he would certainly NOT be running for governmental office. He would have far more urgent matters to deal with. If my understanding of His life is correct he actually maybe created politicians so He could deal with with the moral things. My understanding is that He was more concerned at the leper and prostitute chriaty/love level than the congressional and senatorial United States law level. Call me fucking crazy. Please forgive me for taking the bible literally but in the past 8 years living in the bible belt the concept has grown on me.

And I don't care if they are "Christian" or "christian" because the only thing required to lead a country is some smarts and some chutzpah. Obama and Hillary both have chutzpah.

I still don't know. But I am terribly happy to be leaving the country tomorrow for at least a few weeks as I think it will give me distance from the US media and therefore I can work on my own damned decision.

I am so happy to be able to comfort myself knowing I was out of the US for about 16 months of the GWB presidency (so far). It was nice to not see that stupid monkey on the news every night. It will be nice to miss a month or so of the monkey business leading up to the election of the next one.

Looking forward to more travel and with my absentee ballot in hand . . . y'all have fun just in case I'm not here!

Not A River In Egypt

Yep, it's official. While I have done a lot of preparation for this next trip I am in total denial. I blame this on the flight time which is 9-something pm tomorrow. PM. Not AM. PM. So all along I've been saying "Oh, I can do that the day I leave because I'll have all day." Now granted most of the things I've been leaving for tomorrow are in-house things like packing, making sure the litterboxes and water dish are clean, putting out all the supplies the catsitter might need, but there will be one outing tomorrow to pick up an electric transformer (otherwise I will blow out all the cool little electronics I carry with me not to mention the company laptop), have one last look for summer shoes (isn't going to happen), and buy some suntan oil for someone in Santiago who will remain unnamed.

Today I am finishing some last minute laundry. I will suck out Sonny's old man bump. I'll check to make sure I have a bottle of sunblock so if I don't I can add it to tomorrow's list.

This is somehow surreal. The past two days have come close to record setting low temps in ATL. When I woke up this morning it was 13 in my backyard. I am going to land in a place where it's high 80s to 90s. What on earth does one wear to the airport?