Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

First of all, a disclaimer. I KNOW it's politically correct to say "Happy Holidays," because there are some people who aren't Christian and celebrate other holidays around this time of year. BUT, I hate that phrase. My rule of thumb is that you wish someone a happy whatever you celebrate. In college, my friend R. routinely wished us a Happy Hanukkah and I loved that. I used to babysit for a pretty hippy family and they wished me a Happy Solstice. Go them. But me, I celebrate Christmas, so I'm going to wish you all a....


My time at home is going to fly by, and I honestly can't judge if I'll have time to sit down and write a post. I'll take lots of pictures though, and post when I get back.

In the spirit of the the holidays, I leave you with some of my favorite Christmas carols.

When I was little, I loved to sing. The only two songs that I like to sing (no matter the season) were this one:

and this one (but I always missed a stanza):

And because I'm a kid at heart, and really love animals, here's a version of another favorite by Sufjan Stevens. Love him. Also, how cute is the little boy in this video?

I hope everyone has a wonderful, relaxing Christmas with their loved ones. If you're here in Chile, try not to roast. If you're in the northern hemisphere, I'll be freezing into an ice cube along with you.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Home for the Holidays

In five and a half days, I take wing (well, the airplane does) and head north on a 11+ hour direct flight to JFK. Then I will trek across The City, wait a couple of hours and head a bit more to the north from La Guardia to BTV, aka Burlington International Airport (with flights to Canada, hence the word "International").

I'm going home for Christmas. This Christmas will be very different than previous year's, but I'm looking forward to it nonetheless. This (North American) summer my parents had incredible luck given the state of the housing market and sold our house. It wasn't my childhood home (we moved out of there when I was 18), but I did like the gardens, my Chinaberry Red bedroom walls, the upstairs sitting room, the huge porch and the radiant heated floors.

The house my parents sold this (North American) summer.

A washed out picture of me, but you can see the Chinaberry Red Walls. Pretty, yes?

However, for many reasons it was the best choice for my parents to sell the house, so they did, and now they live on the other side of the state, about 2 hours by car from the rest of my extended family. But, they live close to my brother's university and MUCH closer to my dad's work.

Anyway, because now we live on one side of the state (the blue arrow) and my sister and grandparents live on the other side of the state (red arrows), when I arrive to BTV (black arrow), I will be spending the next three days staying with various relatives and celebrating Christmas.

First, I'll go to my sister's apartment to have dinner, then go to church at night. We'll all come back to my sister's place and spend the night, then celebrate Christmas morning there with breakfast and presents. Then we'll go to my grandma's house to celebrate with my mom's side of the family, which always involves lots of delicious food because the members of my family are REALLY good cooks. Then when the days is over and we'll go to my other grandma's house to spend the night. Then the 26th we'll celebrate with my dad's side of the family, and when the day is over, we'll finally return to my parents' house on the other side of the state.

It's going to be a whirlwind, but it will be wonderful for the following reasons:

1. My lovely family.

2. Ruby
3. Stella
4. Christmas Carols
5. My grandma's and mom's and aunt's cooking.
6. Hopefully, a White Christmas. Or at least, one that is not 85 degrees and sunny.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Small Visitor

Yesterday my boss got to work and went to the kitchen to get water for coffee. She told me she heard a cat crying. I went to investigate, because I love cats and my boss doesn't. Indeed, I heard quite a loud mewing noise coming from the ceiling in the conference room. I told the guard and he called someone.

Then, I got distracted because my students left yesterday and there were a lot of tears and hugs and words of inspiration after a life-changing experience (mostly for them, but also for me).

In the middle of this, I heard a knock on the door followed by the familiar mewing and there was one of my colleagues holding the TINIEST kitten I've ever physically seen in my life. The maintenance people found her (I'm around 85% sure she's female) in the ceiling tiles in the conference room, all alone.

I was then distracted again by the goodbyes, but also very much thinking about the little orphan found in the ceiling. So when my students left, I went and found the little one in my colleague's office. She told me that she had sent out an email via Chilespouses (she's also a gringa) and was waiting for a response. She was worried because her husband hates cats and they were going to be moving the next day. Right away I told her not to worry, that I'd take the little one home at least for the night until we found her a home.

Before the day was out she had luckily received a response, but the little orphan couldn't go to her new family until today.

So that's how I ended up with this tiny visitor last night. She was the perfect guest, very polite and didn't make a peep the entire night. She learned how to use the "litter box" I set up for her on the first try and drank water and ate kitten food. In the end, she was a much happier kitty than when she was found.

Today I brought her back to the office where she happily napped in Charlie's carrier (which was like a mansion for her) and occasionally wanted out to explore under my desk. Then, after work, my colleague took her to her new home where hopefully she is getting lots of love and attention. I think she's going to be a great cat. She likes people, is very loving and playful and is a purring machine.

Charlie wasn't very happy about her presence, but he tolerated her at a distance. He was curious/scared of her at first, and then just pissed because I wouldn't let him in the bathroom (his favorite room). But now all is forgiven and he knows that he'll always be my number one man.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Teletón

This year was my first Teletón. Seems strange, considering I've spent a combined total of 30 months of my life in Chile. But since I studied abroad first semester, I missed it then, and Teletóns don't happen during Presidential election years (aka 2009) so I missed it last year too.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. What is the Teletón? It's a phoneathon fundraiser that takes place every December (except Presidential election years). It lasts for a continuous 27 hours to raise money for Fundación Teletón rehabilitation centers throughout Chile for children with developmental disabilities. It was started in 1978 by Don Francisco, aka Mario Kreutzberger, a TV personality who hosts Sábado Gigante, a variety show that is well known throughout Latin America.

During the 27 hour transmission, all the major network TV channels in Chile transmit the show. It's a combination of entertainment (Ricky Martin, Faith No More, Americo, etc performed this year), testimonies from children who are recipients of the rehabilitation centers' services, the presentation of donations and advertisements from the companies that sponsored the Teletón.

So now, my impressions. First of all, I think this is a great cause. This year, the Teletón raised over US $35 million for the construction of and continued functioning of rehabilitation centers throughout Chile. There is no doubt that these children and their families benefit enormously from this service. Also, I think this event definitely brings Chileans together in solidarity with a great cause, and after the year Chile has had, this is definitely a positive thing.

There were two things that rubbed me the wrong way. The first being that it kind of felt like a 27 hour advertisement for the companies that sponsored the Teletón. The second was that I didn't like the constant scolding by Don Francisco and the emcees about the lack of funds flowing through. At the beginning, when they called into various banks throughout the country, the banks would report how much they had earned so far compared with last year. In most cases, it was lower, and the emcees would act disappointed and call on the people of that region to get to the bank to donate. However, in the end, they surpassed their goal of $16 billion pesos and change, so I'm not sure all the scolding was really necessary.

So there you have it, Teletón. Oh, and I have to say that I still have this little ditty stuck in my head (it's the number of the bank account, in case you were wondering).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reasons why I hate being sick

I promise this blog won't turn into a "Reasons why" blog. Just bear with me* because I'm sick.

  1. Feverish dreams and thoughts. Over the past two days, I had a fever for almost 20 hours straight, plus on and off for another 8 hours. This means that I slept horribly. And every time I managed to fall into some sort of a sleep, I dreamed the strangest things, like that each of my legs had a mind of its own and needed to be placed with a host family. I kid you not. That was a major concern of my feverish brain. Also, the inability to NOT think crazy things like that drives me nuts.
  2. Cleaning up my own vomit. Sorry if that was TMI, I just had to put it out there.
  3. The boring diet you have to eat. At this point, I honestly don't feel like eating anything, but I know I need to or else, you know, I'll die probably. And the LAST thing on earth I feel like eating are Galletas de Agua (Water Crackers?) which are so awful and dry and tasteless.
  4. Going to the doctor. First of all, I always feel inadequate when I go to the doctor, like I'm not sick enough. For example, when I went to the doctor this morning, my fever was pretty much gone and when he took my temperature it came out at a very normal 36.9 degrees Celsius (pretty much like 98.4 degrees Fahrenheit). Also, the doctor's office is normally a nightmare, and today was no exception. There were two small children running around, one yelling at the other to "attack me! attack me!" and then when the mother finally got them to calm down one of them started whining that he was hungry and wouldn't shut up about it. Also, a little old woman tried to cut me in line when I went to pay my co-pay and the teenager sitting next to me was listening to his music on his cell phone without headphones. HELL!
  5. How tired you get after doing any simple task. Yesterday I took a shower and then promptly had to take a 2 hour nap. Today I went to the doctor and slept for 4 hours after that. After writing this blog post, I'll probably have to sleep for an hour or so.
That is all. Time for a nap.

*I had to look up on Google whether it was "bear with me" (my first instinct) or "bare with me" and this explanation made me laugh: "bare with me would be an invitation to undress". Hahaha. Could it be that being sick also makes my sense of humor that of a 10 year old's? Oh well.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Reasons why I'm happy

  1. I went to Valpo and Viña this weekend with Jack and it was so relaxing. We stayed at a beautiful apartment in Playa Ancha and spent the days walking along the beach, eating delicious food, and laying on the beach. Oh, and of course watching the Teletón, which I had never seen before. That probably deserves a post all of its own.
  2. Universidad Católica won the Championship!! I'm not that into Chilean soccer teams, but I hate Colo Colo because it's like being a fan of the Yankees. Who wants to cheer for the team with the most money and that everyone cheers for? Plus, their uniforms are fugly. And I strongly dislike the Universidad de Chile because a bunch of hoodlums on their way to a game stole my purse. Also I've been to a few U. Católica games and the stadium is in one of the most beautiful spots in Santiago (even though it's so far away it's practically Argentina...)
  3. I'm going home for Christmas in 17 days! I can't wait.
  4. Wednesday is a holiday! Yay for breaking up the workweek. I think I'm going to go to the pool on Cerro San Cristobal. Fun.

Well, I think 4 reasons are enough to be happy, especially for a Monday.