about me     |      about macondo     |      contact     |   

macondo mama goes urban

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Okay. I mentioned that something was up. I've been hoping to get a bit of time to sit down and write this properly. You know, go out with a bang. Reflect on stuff.

But I should have known that was never going to happen.

So here's the deal. We've been here in Macondo for over a year. We've loved it, been frustrated with it, struggled to figure it out, and laughed and cried and shrugged our shoulders at it. And now we're leaving.

We had always planned to move away from here, but we thought we would give it another two years or so and get the most out of our time with the whole 'small children frolicking on the beach' thing. Then two things happened:
  • We never found enough work to make ends meet
  • We got jobs in a pretty cool city that we're excited to live in
Sooooooo, the Macondo family is going urban!

Once we finish packing, cleaning, selling, shipping, house-hunting, school-scouting, job-training, unpacking and settling in, I will breathe again and look around and realize that I have bookstores, theatres, kids' activities, public transportation, veggie empanadas, fast internet and maybe even potential FRIENDS all around me. And, I will not have to commute anywhere to finally get my hair cut.

I'm excited.

I am also really, really busy. In addition to all the packing, moving, settling and so on, there is the tiny little detail that I have two small kids. One that deals TERRIBLY with change, and the other that demands BOOBY several hundred times a day. Oh, and I have to hand in the first half of the book that I'm translating next week.

Oh! And try getting anything done in Argentina the first week of the World Cup! UTTER MADNESS.

[UPDATED TO ADD: It should be no surprise, really, that telos are offering super discount rates during Argentina's games, along with complimentary champagne and an Argentina jersey. I doubt they're finding many takers, though. World Cup soccer trumps even sex, don't you know.]

Anyways, all this to say that I am, sadly, going to leave my beloved Mama in Macondo blog right here in Macondo. Realistically, I won't be able to keep up with blogging for quite some time, and I need all the energy and focus I can muster for everything else going on in my life.

I have so loved creating this space and filling it with little pieces of me. Maybe I'll still go through my days composing snippets of blog posts in my head, but if not, I'll miss that. And I will really miss looking forward to and receiving your comments and emails. This has been such an important part of my Macondo adventure. Really.

I have also discovered many others who write so much better and more honestly and creatively than I ever could, and from whom I learn and take comfort and find inspiration (see my list of links in the sidebar). So I take that with me, and I'll continue to read along, probably with a huge case of blog envy.

Thanks so much to all of you for joining me here in Macondo!

And, I can't resist. Here are two more recent articles about Argentina you might be interested in:

A second independence for Argentina

Argentina's Bicentennial: Indigenous Tell Another History

Some unrelated, really cool stuff online

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Things have been quiet here on the Macondo blog because lots is happening in the Macondo household. Big changes are coming, I'll share the details soon (no, I am NOT pregnant!).

In the meantime, though, here is some random great stuff I've come across recently:

An online library of Canadian documentary films. There are some great films here!

A really, really cool site called Storybird, for writing and illustrating stories.

A 'computational knowledge engine', for quickly calculating or converting or consulting about just about anything.

A great tool for making any article you're reading online way more readable.

And here is an English language article about the recent bicentennial celebrations in Argentina. They totally blew me away. There were more than three and a half million people on the streets in Buenos Aires on the 25th, and another few million on the days leading up to it.

The highlights:

The inauguration of the stunning, restored Teatro Colón, one of the world's greatest opera houses.

A light show on the Cabildo building illustrating 200 years of Argentinian history. This was so incredibly well done. I had no idea technology had advanced so significantly since those Pink Floyd laser shows I remember from high school. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

The best 'parade' I have ever seen, featuring 19 art/dance/theatre installations representing different aspects and moments of Argentinian history, carried out by the fabulous performance group Fuerza Bruta.

THIS WAS AMAZING. I can't get over how cool it is for a country to celebrate and commemorate in this way, with millions in the street, with innovative and mind-blowing street theatre and art, with this penetrating representation of political, popular, artistic, social and economic life.

Here is an overview of the parade.

And here are links to see the whole thing.

Celebrating, Argentina-style

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tuesday is the 200th anniversary of Argentina's independence. (Yay for all the retrospectives that are sure to come. I love that stuff.)

The country is currently smothered in white and sky blue flags, ribbons, banners and puffy, flowery things, and today is the first day of an extra long weekend, filled with celebratory activities.

Lots of cool stuff is going down - free concerts, exhibits, fairs, publications, soccer games (Argentina vs. Canada, who can guess the outcome of that game?) - but alas, nothing grand is happening here in Macondo, because I live in the middle of nowhere.

(I love that free concerts that shut down major streets and fill gigantic plazas are a part of almost any big celebration here, often featuring some of my favourites, like León Gieco and the late Mercedes Sosa.)

Here in Macondo there will probably be fireworks and lots of horses dressed in flags.

Monster's school is celebrating with a fair next Saturday for playing 'old' games, like the ones that the kids' parents and grandparents might have played way back when. It'll be like a crash course for me in Argentinian childhoods and ideas for the kids' birthday parties - the local versions of Hot Potato, Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Duck, Duck Goose.

There are probably lots of creative and critical things going on in many schools. There must be, right? Especially because this is the 200th anniversary, and not the 199th or the 201st. There have got to be students, teachers and even school boards working on some brilliant projects somewhere.

(If you know of any great school May 25th activities, please share!)

This is a good thing, because the standard May 25th school festivities leave a lot to be desired. I can't say I am working with a large sample size here, but the default seems to be boring and highly questionable ways of celebrating this day, presumably in the name of transmitting a love and appreciation for the country and its history.

What are typical May 25th school activities in Argentina?

1. make white and sky blue decorations, paint flags, etc.

2. practice and perform a scene featuring kids or teens dressed up as the following characters:
- 'gauchos' (Argentinian cowboys)
- 'women'
- 'black people' playing the drums (painted black with a burnt cork, I am not joking)
- a 'mulatto person' selling empanadas (painted black with a burnt cork, but supposedly brown)
- a night guard
- a candle salesperson.

Talk about the cultural construction of 'the nation'.

(I am all for speaking up about school things I don't like, but I am going to take a pass this year on being the 'gringa' who comes along and questions this most traditional celebration of this most patriotic day. Maybe I'll be ready to jump in on this one next year).

But enough about schools and awesome cultural offerings that I will be missing out on.

Here is an online treat for those who speak Spanish and are interested in Argentinian history (which just happens to be FASCINATING): you absolutely must check out this spectacular multimedia mural.

It was drawn by the bizarre and brilliant Rep (he has a blog, too), whose talent I have a total crush on. If you click on many of the parts of the mural, you get a little note with basic info, and a click on the note brings you to a short documentary on the event or period it represents. (All this detail just in case you didn't realize it was clickable. Duh.) See also: video archives and resources for teachers.

Yes. No way. Maybe.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why, oh why would I even consider such a thing?

After Monkey was born I started to systematically rid myself of all the baby things I would no longer need, now that I was DONE, so so so DONE, I am never going to do that again, twice was plenty, thank you very much.

Every new onesie and pair of socks he grew out of, week after week, went right into a bag, handed over to a good friend without a second thought .

We moved to Argentina when he was just two months old, so I gave away all the winter maternity clothes that I would have no need for in my new warmer climate. When I no longer needed maternity clothes at all (yay!), I quickly gave those away, too.

All the baby clothes, blankets, breast pumping gear, baby toys, and baby books have been dutifully packed up and given away as soon as they were no longer in use. We don't have much (any) storage space, so decluttering this way was a no-brainer.

The bit of remaining baby gear we have -- a few slings, a sling-accommodating jacket, an umbrella stroller, nursing bras (arrgh, I am soooo sick of them) -- haven't disappeared yet because we're still using them. But now, I am starting to think I should hang on to them, JUST IN CASE.

What is going on?

I've just started to get this feeling. Maybe we're not done. SHHHH! I'm not even sure if I really said that.

I'm only thinking about it at all because I feel like if we're not done, than NOW is the time.

I don't want my kids to be much farther apart in age than they would be if we don't get started now. And I don't want my stay-at-home-mom years to extend much longer into the future. I don't want to start all over again with a baby after I am already enjoying some of the freedom I will have when my other two are more independent. And I don't want to push my luck with my age and my fertility - if I do want to have another kid, then I should get on it nowish, soonish.

This post is going to stay short, because I am writing on the YES theme today as part of Momalom's Five for Ten blogfest. And I don't have a whole lot of YES to say on this topic. It is more like a maybe? NO! but? NO! if? NO!

(In case you're wondering, Macondo Papa feels pretty much the same way about all this.)

Nonetheless, here I am saying maybe. (But NO!) I clearly have a lot of 'no' posts in me on this topic that I need to get out, but here's a shot at the yes:

- I love being pregnant.

- I love trying and getting pregnant.

- I love walking around with a little bitsy bundle in a sling.

- Babies are yummy. Toddlers are delicious. Preschoolers are, um, fascinating.

- Chances are that my labour would be too fast to subject me to the way-too-prevalent emergency C-sections here in Argentina.

- He/she would get the best papa in the world, and two fabulous big brothers.

- If I survive until they are all school age, I think they and I will love having a biggish family.

- It is entirely possible that I could have a GIRL (a really, really bad reason, but if I am going to be perfectly honest, this possibility is the only reason that the NOs haven't already won by a landslide).

What I think I need is one of those accidents/surprises other people sometimes have. But that would entail Macondo Papa and I deciding to see if maybe we could have an accident. Because we're like that. And then we'd be right back where we are right now.

Okay, should I actually publish this post? Yes.

Feeling lusty in Argentina?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lust, in Argentina, has a whole institution dedicated to it. The telo. It is both a rite of passage and a part of the landscape.

Telos are 'transitory hotels', paid for in two hour blocks, or three, or one and-a-half, depending. They are not sleazy or seedy, or at least not most of them, not if you don't want them to be. There are all kinds of categories of telo: luxurious, tasteful, basic, raunchy. Depends on your budget and what you're looking for.

Everybody here has been to a telo. It's part of growing up.

People here are shocked that we don't have them in Canada. Where do people go, when there are no telos? Young people who still live with their parents? People having affairs? Workplace colleagues that want a quickie on their lunch break?

What do horny, lusty folks do? I am asked. Where do they go?

I don't know. Home? Anywhere? Wherever? It is the source of one of those cross-cultural 'Huh?'s, like bedtimes and sugar.

(Note that I did not mention sex workers. I'm sure they use them too, at least sometimes, but they are not immediately associated with the idea of the telo in the same way that they are with pay-by-the-hour hotels elsewhere.)

Most telos have separate entrances and exits for cars, for maximum discretion. Many have a double set of doors leading into each room, so if you order room service, it can be left in your private entrance, and you can sneak out all naked - or whatever - to grab what they've left for you.

What might you want to order by room service in a telo? They don't all offer such services, but from some you can order everything from condoms and lube to a full range of sex toys, costumes and, I don't know, use your imagination and I'm sure it's available somewhere. No need to ask for any movies, though. The televisions are already turned on to the right channels.

Other telo features include, but are not limited to:

- large bed
- abundant mirrors (on the walls, ceilings...)
- red warming lights
- condoms and lubricant
- dark curtains, or no windows
- shower, tub, jacuzzi, sauna, depending on your budget
- themed rooms
- wheelchair access!!! (not always such a common consideration here in Argentina)

I must admit that I have only been to a telo once. It just seemed like too hilarious and fascinating a thing to miss out on, and I was into trying to have all these authentic Argentinian experiences when I first got here.

So way back when, we visited a mid-range telo. We were living together and had no other reason to be there than for kicks and dispassionate, scientific observation. That's not to say that we didn't get our money's worth, of course, but it all felt pretty anthropological -- Macondo Papa laughing at my fascination with the whole phenomenon, and me flicking the light switches, changing the channels, lifting the pillows and opening the drawers, looking for all the evidence of kink I could find.

Too bad I wasn't blogging back then, or I would have had a different eye for detail. If they offered child-care services too (hey, now there is an idea!), and if there was any chance in hell that I would actually use such services, then I would be more than happy to try it again. I could even offer a comparative analysis of different kinds and classes of telo. But this will have to be enough for now.

To add to my blog series on 'Random things you might not now about Argentina' (see here and here), a few more goodies:

- The word telo comes from an inversion of the syllables in 'hotel'. Kind of like pig latin. This is how many words are formed in Lunfardo, Argentina's super-cool slang language, often used in tango lyrics, or just to sound really hip and to complicate things for foreigners.

Other examples of common word inversions:

Woman: jermu (from mujer)
Book: broli (from libro)
To screw over, to fuck over: garcar (from cagar)

- Here's a fun game I play with myself: Spot the Telo.

Somehow Argentinians all know where they are and when they're passing by them, but to me they are invisible. In the city, they just have a coloured light-bulb out front, and blend in perfectly with their surroundings. On the highway, it's a bit easier, as they're bigger, they stand out more, and the double driveways and fluorescent pink hearts are a big giveaway.

- I will now start to collect names of telos as I'm out and about, and share them with you in a future post. They're often called things like Babylonia or Love Nest.

I am so not kidding about any of this.


This post was inspired by the fourth topic - Lust - in Momalom's Five for Ten blog fest.

The day I left home

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I was two weeks into my last year of high school. I had the coolest, hippiest friends in the world, and I finally, FINALLY had a boyfriend.

I had tolerably annoying parents, a jocky asshole of a slightly younger brother and another, littler brother. It was his birthday, the littlest one. He was thirteen.

While the birthday boy did his homework, my other brother and I were watching television, arguing about who got to choose what to watch. It was probably something like Facts of Life versus Cheers.

Give me the remote control, fuck you, loser, asshole, I hate you, I don't care, you chose the last show, fuck you, loser, asshole. Something along those lines.

These fights, of course, happened all the time.

One fight, a year or two earlier, had also ended badly, with a couple of blows to my left temple, and a mild concussion that meant I couldn't open my mouth wide enough to eat normally for a month. Accused of faking it when I was eating and chewing strangely, my mom insisted I go to the hospital to prove that something was wrong. We went, I was offended, she got her proof.

This fight, on my little brother's 13th birthday, started with a call to turn off the TV and set the table for our birthday dinner. I stomped around angrily, into the kitchen to get the plates, into the dining room to set them around the table.

On the way through the narrow arch that separated the kitchen and the dining room, my brother and I collided. Then he shoved me hard, with both arms, and I reeled backward. I was M-A-D. Outraged.

In my memory this part is silent, all action. But I'm sure I was not keeping quiet. I'm sure I was yelling or crying or both. That was my thing. Not pushing or hitting or wanting to. My thing was yelling and crying (still is).

I tried to get past him again, my hands holding a pile of plates, my shoulder and elbow and hip prepared to help get me through the narrow space.

I don't know if it was an open hand or a closed fist, but I remember it being like a karate chop. To that same left temple. Twice. Hard.

Yelling and crying my way through, I made it to the table to set down the plates, made it to the telephone, and ran into the living room to call my boyfriend. Tears and snot streaming down my face, trying to catch my breath, I told him that my brother, the asshole, had just hit me in the head.

Coming to see what the fuss was all about, my mother overheard me on the phone.

"Oh come on. He did not hit you. You two were just fighting."

Even now, when I think about this moment, I feel a tight ball grow in my stomach and push its way up through my chest into my throat. I feel the most uncontrollable shriek in my throat, pure disbelief, and I feel how it gathers steam and incoherence and rage as it bubbles out, struggling to get past the tight ball that blocks its path. I carried that tight ball, and that shriek, for so long.

I can't think of any other memory, of any other moment in my life, that I recall so physically.

I remember screaming at my mother that it was true, that he had hit me and that it wasn't okay. She asked my brother what had happened, and he shrugged and said that I had shoved him first. And that satisfied my mom.

I had an uncontrollable urge to hurl the cordless phone in my hand against the wall. Uncontrollable, except that I controlled it, absurdly worried about the consequences. Instead, I told my boyfriend that I was headed across the city to his place, that I couldn't stay home any longer.

A minute later I was out the door, my backpack full of my school stuff and a change of clothes. I walked quickly, crying hysterically, unable to catch my breath.

I didn't even think about the fact that I was leaving home. I didn't hesitate, and I didn't look back.

We were in the middle of a transit strike. I walked and walked. It was Rosh Hashanah, with the whole neighbourhood—all of my childhood bullies and their families—walking home from synagogue, showing off their outfits.

Standing on a busy corner, tears streaming down my face, looking impossibly for a taxi, a man pulled up and asked me if I needed a ride. I stepped into his car and told him I would pay him $20 if he would take me downtown to my boyfriend's house.

"I just left home," I told him.

He wouldn't take my money. He told me my brother was an idiot to hit a girl with such nice legs. A hero and a creep. He took me downtown, and I walked a few blocks to my boyfriend's house. I walked up the steps, bawling again, and my boyfriend's mom gave me a big hug and made me a cup of tea.

There was so much anger, and hurt, and loss, for so long.

And two regrets: not having smashed that phone against the wall, and taking a year to reach out to my littlest brother after I left.


This piece was inspired by the third topic - Memory - in Momalom's Five for Ten blogfest.

Dear Monster: Your birth story

Friday, May 14, 2010

I think I could write almost infinite iterations of both of my birth stories (but I won't, don't worry!). There are so many details, moments, fears, memories and meanings wrapped up in each of them. There is so much intensity, so much to say.

And it matters who it is for, too. Though I think it is important to be honest and real about birth, and I wouldn't sugar-coat my experience or be intentionally vague, I don't tell my story in the same way to a mother who has already given birth as I do to a woman who is pregnant for the first time, or as I do in a blog carnival on birth stories.

The prelude I posted a few weeks ago was a kind of disclaimer about how fast the Monster's birth was. Too fast to be a good kind of fast.

I often refrain from talking about my birth because it is so unusual; precipitous births apparently happen to only about 2% of first-time moms. I don't want to be scary, and I don't want to be dismissed, so I guess I make a lot of excuses and explanations instead.

Enough of all that. Below is the detailed, unedited version of the play-by-play of my Monster's birth. I wrote it for him, to him.

For a long time after my Monster was born, remembering and telling the story of his birth for me meant recounting the actual events of my labour and delivery, with more or less detail, depending on my audience. This is what I have written below.

But, now, four years later, I have much more to say about the less tangible things - about trauma and shock, about trust and strength and pride, about exhaustion and ambivalence, and about the total weirdness of becoming a mother to a newborn. And yes yes, about love and beauty, too. But all this is a writing assignment for another day.


Dear Monster,

The midwives had assured us that you would be late. Your due date was April 1, so we were expecting you around April 7, hoping you would have the good sense to avoid our birthdays and our anniversary.

On the Thursday before you were born, we had an appointment with the midwife and were told that you hadn't even dropped yet, so nothing was happening any time soon. That was fine with us since we both had lots of stuff still to do - Papi had to finish an essay, and I had to catch up on sleep, clean the house, buy a million things, and wrap my head around the idea that I was about to give birth and become a mom.

J and S organized a last-minute shower for me on Sunday, the 26th of March. I woke up around noon (wow, I haven't done that since!!) and I lost my mucus plug. Supposedly, this means nothing. We went to the baby shower, had a lovely time, got some prezzies for you and for me, and headed back home at about 6pm or so, I think. I was having more Braxton-Hicks contractions, which I hadn't really had at all until then. But no big deal. My entire pregnancy had been very easy.

Your Papi made me some dinner a bit later (perogies, I think), and Uncle D called to see how we were doing. Nothing new, we reported. I went downstairs to trash out with the world figure skating championships, and at about 10pm I had my first contraction. It felt like a period cramp, but lasted and then went away, and it occurred to me that it must have been a contraction. I called your Papi a few times, and he finally came downstairs saying that if I called him like that, he was going to think that I was going into labour.

Well, surprise - I told him - I think I'm going into labour.

Papi went to buy some juice, and I called J to freak out a bit and share the news. Then Papi sat with me and we timed the contractions, 10 minutes apart, quite light and quite regular. Thinking that this could mean anything, but that it would probably be a long time still, we didn't do much, but kept timing them. At about midnight they were 7 minutes apart, so we called our midwife K, just to give her a heads up.

Take a shower, and a Gravol or a glass of wine, and see if you can get some sleep or get the contractions to go away - we were told.

We were all sure that we still had a long time to go.

I had a shower (skipped the wine and the Gravol), and then we got the couch upstairs ready (unfolded it, put on the plastic sheeting and then a normal sheet) and got into bed.

It was actually quite ridiculous. Papi with the flashlight and his watch, every time I had a contraction, checking to see how long it lasted, then trying to go back to sleep. Every 7 minutes. Every 6 minutes. Every 8 minutes. Every 4 minutes. Every 3 minutes. Every 7 minutes. Not regular at all anymore. But we gave up on sleeping and started trying some of the tricks we had learned from our birth preparation class, as the contractions were starting to get more intense.

I walked around, tried my hands and knees, tried the big ball, tried hanging off of Papi, moving my hips around, going to the bathroom, low groaning with my jaw loose (the only one that worked for me).

They were getting a lot more intense, but weren't following the 5-1-1 rule (every 5 minutes or less, lasting for 1 minute or more, for 1 hour), meaning I wasn't in active labour.

When I went to the bathroom and had a bit of blood, we called K again, at about 1am. She wanted to hear me have a contraction.

Sounds like you're coping really well (means that doesn't sound like active labour!) - she said.

But in the end, the blood convinced her to come and have a look, and so she called A (K was a student who graduated the next day, A was one of our two regular midwives) and they came over. We learned later that A had come quite reluctantly, sure that nothing would happen so soon.

Meanwhile, I was starting to be in a lot of pain. Imagining hours and hours of it was starting to freak me out. Papi was trying to apply pressure or massage or support or help me with breathing, and nothing was very soothing. His touch during the contraction itself was unbearable.

At 2am they arrived, opened up their bags and got all settled in. I had a contraction, got onto my hands and knees, and K felt my belly the whole time.

Mild - I heard her say to A.

WHAT?? the thought that they would have to go from that to 'very strong' was unthinkable to me. And it only lasted 30 seconds. 'A' was sure that they were going to head out again and come see us the next day.

Then it was time for a manual examination, to see if I was dilated. The idea was that it would be less than 5 cm if I wasn't in active labour.

I saw K mouth to A - I can touch the head. She said - I think it's 9 cm, but I want A to check.

So A checked, (I should mention that it is extremely painful to have an exam like this while having contractions) and sure enough, they were really surprised.

You're going to have this baby really soon, [Macondo Mama]. I remember a really firm grab of my thigh from A, and it was reassuring.

She wanted to break my water to make sure it was clear. If it wasn't, she wanted to go to the hospital, just in case. I asked if it wasn't too late for that, and she said no. But it will make everything more intense. More intense than this?

I remember saying no puedo (I can't) at one point to Papi, and he smiled at me and told me that of course I could, and translated what I had said to the midwives. I asked if this was the part when I was going to think that I couldn't do it, and A smiled and told me I was already well past that stage.

I felt a painless gush when she broke the water, and it seemed like maybe just one or two excruciating contractions later, I was told it was okay to push if I wanted to. It was 2:20am.

(Here is a detailed account of the pushing stage).

I asked if I should change position to my side or something (I was on my back still from when they had broken my water), and A said that since I was already pushing well, that I should just stay the way I was. I had to pull on my thighs and take a breath and push.

They told me to keep my voice in and use it to push (instead of screaming, I guess). It took me a few pushes before I realized that I had to change gears. Instead of just trying to get through the pain, I had to be active and push through the pain. They said I was doing well.

Dear Monster, none of this conveys how much it was all tearing me apart!

Every now and then they checked your heart rate, and at one point they told me that I really had to push to move you along. And so I did. And you crowned, and Papi had a look and told me that you had green hair.

I pushed like crazy. And out you came.

You were born with your hand on your face, crying and perfectly healthy, with lots of long, dark hair. Your Papi cut the cord and looked at you and me with total awe. Neither of us could believe what had just happened. You were on my chest, wrapped up in a blanket, crying and crying.

You were born at 2:54am. According to the midwives' calculations, I had probably entered the active stage of labour at around midnight, meaning that active birth had lasted two hours and fifty-four minutes.

I was shaking with cold (probably more like shock), while the midwives were dealing with whatever they deal with, blood and afterbirth and things. I bled quite a bit, apparently. Eventually I birthed the placenta.

They examined you, they filled out papers, they asked us your name (what a weird feeling! you exist! you have a real name!) and they sent me off to the bathroom with your Papi. I could barely walk.

(It was only a few days later, when my tailbone was still hurting a lot and we retraced our steps, that we realized with the midwives that I had probably broken my tailbone while giving birth. We had known this was a possibility, since I had already broken it many years earlier, but luckily I forgot about that possibility when I was actually giving birth. I'm not sure if I experienced your birth as so extremely painful because of my tailbone, because it was so quick, or because giving birth is, after all, giving birth.)

Then we got cozy, they weighed you, diapered you. I nursed you for the first time - you latched right on and I had lots of colostrum.

They made me some toast with cream cheese (additional proof that midwives totally rule). They waited around a while, cleaned up, checked my bleeding a bunch of times, gave us a bunch of papers, told us to sleep as much as we could, nurse you every 2 hours, keep track of your pees and poops, and our other midwife would come to see us at around noon.

And that was it. They congratulated us, and left us all alone with you.

Papi made a few happy phone calls, and we went to sleep with you in our arms.

It was absolutely, by far, the most intense thing I've ever done, matched only a few years later when Monkey was born. But birthing you was, as they say, also my birth as a mother, and I don't have the words to explain how intense and life-changing that is.


Midwifery care during pregnancy and childbirth is covered by provincial health coverage in Ontario. Women under the care of midwives can choose to deliver at home or in hospital, and can transfer to medical care and/or to hospital at any time, whether for preference or for medical reasons. 

I did not see a doctor at all during either of my low-risk pregnancies (though I was offered information about and access to all of the regular pre-natal tests and analyses), and our midwives were responsible for our follow-up care for six weeks post-partum.

Happy news in the struggle for same-sex marriage in Argentina

Thursday, May 13, 2010

So there I was, well into a way too long-winded description of my 4-year-old Monster's sometimes elusive happiness, when my day kind of fell apart. I just can't write about happiness today. Let's just say that I would be forcing it.

I'm fine. I'll be fine.

But it's not a day for writing about happiness (today's theme in the Momalom Five for Ten blogfest).

Instead, it makes me really happy to be able to share this news, which will make quite a lot of people happy:

Argentina a Step Closer to Same-Sex Marriage

I've been providing updates on this every now and then, but when it finally becomes law (and it will! and soon!) I will write some more about how the actual debate has played out in congress and the media.

This is a happy almost-ending to a whole lot of struggle. So, cheers to social struggles that make people's lives better!

Here goes...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ok, so this is kind of pathetic, and kind of cheating, but here goes anyways.

I have tentatively decided to try to participate in a blog 'event' organized by Momalom, called Five for Ten. It seems like a great way to create and participate in some bloggy conversations with many writers I have been reading regularly for some time now.

But...I'm feeling pretty lame. There are writing themes. There are five different topics to write about, one every two days, for the ten-day period. And I find this scary. Very Scary.*

Because I am not a creative writer. I am not creative. And before anyone says that everyone is creative, I say Shut Up.

In a completely meaningless way, it is true - but I feel much more like crying and/or fleeing when asked to be creative than I do like creating.

I can do crafty (I sold necklaces and earrings I made on streets in Vancouver and beaches in Chile). I can do basic design-y (I made some pretty nice posters and pamphlets at my last job).

But I get unreasonably panicky when I am put on the spot to create.

Like those horrible workshop ice-breakers when you're supposed to get all creative on the spot and give your name a food-related adjective, so everyone can laugh and then remember your name? Yeah, I get remembered as the one who made up the lame example and had that shaky, almost-crying voice when she had to say it out loud. (Sounds like I'm shy, but really it's the whole creative thing that makes me freeze up this way).

Luckily for me, I don't have to read this out loud in front of a group of people, or draw or sing anything, or have any good ideas at all, really. The first topic is COURAGE, so I'm going to try and find some. I'll just see how it goes, and try to find some easy ways to cheat by cramming some of the posts I was already working on into the writing themes. And then maybe run away and hide for a bit.


*And probably impossible because of time constraints, but that's a different issue altogether.

8 more random things you might not know about Argentina

Thursday, May 6, 2010

More of the low-down on Argentina that does not include all the usual tango, maté, soccer, gaucho, asado, plastic surgery, blah blah blah.

See the previous list here.

1) The portion of a woman's bum that is covered by 'normal' underwear is totally different here.

Thongs are still thongs, of course, and granny underwear and boxer shorts and that kind of thing are also exactly what they sound like. But normal, non-thong underwear - your typical bikini-style bottom - cuts the bum cheek at a different angle. Rather than the 20-25° angle common in my North American world, it is more like a 45-50° angle, making the front and the back of your panties be kind of hard to tell apart.

This style is not just for the young, or the cellulite-free. It is the standard. And I must say, though it reveals more, it is a more flattering look, generally giving a smoother, rounder appearance to your behind under pants, and avoiding that I-have-4-bum-cheeks problem. (I did mention I would be talking about random things).

2) The word 'turd' - as in, piece of poo - is actually used quite a bit, sprinkling (so to say) a number of expressions, and just an all around kind of useful word.

You might especially like to learn the phrase, están cayendo soretes de punta. This means that it 'is raining cats and dogs' or 'it is pouring / raining really hard', but it translates literally to 'turds are falling endwise' or 'vertical turds are falling'. Used by young and old alike. True story.

3) You can go to a shop and buy just one band-aid, one balloon, one candle, one aspirin, one diaper, one cigarette.  (Pretty much true all over Latin America, as far as I remember).

And it is generally not much more expensive per item than buying the whole package.*

It seems so strange, in fact, to buy a whole package of any of these things, unless you are in a larger scale supermarket or pharmacy, that I sometimes will ask for just a few, even though my intention had been to buy a package. I ask for birthday candles, for example, assuming they will give me the whole package (almost nothing is self-serve here, you have to ask for everything over the counter), and they ask me how many. Umm, give me four, I guess. 

* Eggs are also sold individually, but they pile them into a plastic bag here in Macondo, instead of wrapping them up in newspaper as I've seen in Buenos Aires and elsewhere. This creates the 'One Will Always Break' rule, which makes it more economical to buy a dozen, than to just buy two (losing 8% of your purchase as opposed to 50%).

4) They have the best system for helping a kid when she/he gets lost at the beach.

Seriously, check this out:

When a child gets lost at the beach, a tall man lifts him/her up onto his shoulders and starts to walk up and down the length of the beach. As they walk past, everybody (and I mean everybody) claps loudly, drawing attention to the pair, and allowing the parents or caregivers to quickly and easily find the child.

How did this get started, and how can it be imported everywhere? And why does it only happen at the beach? A kid gets lost in the mall here and people act as if they don't already have the Best System in the World for helping her/him get found.

5) Birthday parties for grown-ups involve the birthday boy/girl hosting family and friends at home and providing all food and drinks.

I may be just a grump, but I find this to be a hassle. I love a good dinner party and everything, but cleaning the house, doing a major grocery shop (spending lots of money) and then cooking for many is not my idea of a fun birthday. On the other hand, it's generally not a fancy thing (unlike birthday parties for kids). Homemade pizza seems to be a standard, which Macondo Papa has perfected to an art. Then there's salads, boring beer, fantastic wine, and the best ice-cream ever.

6) Ice cream places deliver.

Holy crap, is that not amazing? Not here in our little Macondo (the ice cream place is only open on Saturday night and part of Sunday), but they deliver in just about any urban centre, as far as I can tell, and definitely all over Buenos Aires.

7) The Olympics barely exist. The winter Olympics do not exist.

Who really cares? But I do miss watching figure skating.

8) Many perpetrators of crimes against humanity during the 1976-1983 dictatorship, responsible for stealing babies, tossing people out of planes and disappearing 30,000 people are currently (still, finally) being tried for their crimes, and finally being given the life sentences with mandatory prison terms that decades of impunity had protected them from. 

This might be last on my list, but it is HUGE, in a historic, international justice, society-healing and collective memory-constructing kind of way.

Here's a good, recent article about it in English.
Related Posts with Thumbnails