Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Another move

We are moving this week.

After a year and a half of searching for the perfect place to buy, we've decided to put that thought on hold for awhile. The economy here is of course shaky but more than that - the real estate cycle seems to be at the tippy top - never a great time to buy. Also the govt, in an attempt to regulate the price of currency is tightening restrictions on money that comes in and out of the country - including real estate transactions. New laws cropped up in the past 6 months that would make it trickier (not impossible) for us to buy and then when we sell, well that's a whole different story. They do not want foreigners to buy and flip so when we buy, we need to be damn sure we want to live there (or can rent it out) for a good long while. All of that spells commitment. Commitment to neighborhoods and sizes of places we just aren't sure about yet. I love our current neighborhood Palermo but keep wondering whether we'll want more space or a yard with Valentina on the way.

So, we took the next logical step and are renting our first long term unfurnished apartment on a two-year lease. We decided location was more important than anything else. Then came noise factor since we currently live in the front side of a corner building where 3 major bus lines converge. Whaaaaattt did you say? I sometimes scream when Hugh is a mere 5 feet away from me in the living room.

Our new place is on the Park Avenue of streets - Avenida Libertador. Across the street is Rosedal Lake and the 1 mile runners track I visit at least 4x week (walking now of course) It's just two buildings away from the US Embassy so we've joked more than a few times, that when the civil war/riots start, we can just bungee jump from our balcony to safety inside the walls of our US friends. The apartment is "contrafrente" meaning it faces the back not from front side of Libertador and is mystically quiet. We have a balcony twice the size of our current one that looks out onto the lush manicured gardens of the American Embassy. The apartment itself is nothing special but the layout is functional and almost double the size of our current place. We had the walls painted a light buttery yellow and the chesnut wood floors are in great shape.

This week we are moving a few loads over every day. From my last trip to SF I brought back our remaining rugs, window coverings, bedding and our copper pots and pans. Everything else we must buy. Feels strange starting over literally from scratch at this age. Even when I had my first apartment in college, mom and others donated a load of kitchen supplies so I never really started from nothing. The sweet upstairs neighbor Haydee has adopted me. She comes down every day with another bag of stuff she thinks will be useful but I think is mostly crap. I do adore her and appreciate the kindness but its getting ridiculous. Yesterday she brought down a grayish floor mat (some 15 years old) that her fat cat used to sleep and pee on. Not to be an ingrate, but what, exactly am I supposed to do with that? Its so foul I wouldn't even use it to clean our floors. Of course I smiled graciously and have thanked her for each and every item she's cleaned out of her storage - broken set of espresso cups, turquoise and marine blue doile, odd sized curtain rod, two tiny floral plates, a plastic salad spinner. She keeps saying she doesn't want us to spend a fortune outfitting a new place but I have a feeling we are going to end up at Jumbo (the Price Club of BA) this weekend to just get it over with.

these photos are the view from our balcony. also one of the kitchen because its more than 3x the size of our current one and has space for a table even! wheeeeeeeeee

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Valentina Alexander

When this Leo married an Aries, she knew they would have their fair share of arguments. Add to inevitable clash of two fire signs, the Aries is an ex-lawyer, former debate champion and the Leo is a first child, fiercely independent, with a tendency to take self-righteous stands on even the least contested of issues…..the naming of their first child seemed a recipe for months of haranging, posturing, focus-group testing and lists of pros and cons.

Instead the name, much like the easy formation of the child came out of nowhere and just stuck. Both were drawn to “V” names. He, because his dearest family member is Vince Lee. She, because, well, no reason.

So, months before she starting wiggling around the womb and growing upwards into mommy’s squished ribcage, she was and still is Valentina – 27 weeks and counting.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A pregnancy scare

The short time I spent in SF included what felt like a years worth of life crammed into 7 nearly sleepless days. Spending time with Joni, visiting storage and packing up 5 suitcases of household items, preparing for the baby shower, visiting family and organizing baby gifts to travel back and being pregnant, emotional and exhausted. The final event started the day I was to fly back to BA.

I woke with symptoms of what appeared to be menstruation (never a good sign when you're 6 months pregnant). After a few teary 7am phone calls to friends and female relatives, Rachel took me to the maternity ER at CPMC. Friend Kristie called ahead and arranged for the doctor that helped her bring 2nd baby Nate into the world just weeks earlier to attend me. They did a thorough exam and sent me upstairs for an ultrasound. Kristie already had plans to be on that same floor visiting Ramesh who gave birth to twins Ariana and Farah two days before. I had to stop by their room for a hello in my hospital gown. When would we all three be together again in this scenario? me, pregnant and in for an out of town emergency, Kristie breast feeding two week old Nate and Ramesh with her brand new girls. Real surreal.

They diagnosed Marginal Placenta Previa - a condition that means for now my placenta is a bit too close for comfort to the cervix. The doc was a bit alarmist and claimed she would ck me in overnight for observation if I were a regular patient of hers but given my situation and desperation to just get and be home, she put me on bedrest for the rest of the day and said I could hop a plane the following day.

The airport scene was chaotic but ultimately manageable. Rach helped with all the heavy bags since I was instructed not to lift a finger. I "carried on" the suburban stroller (which you're only allowed to do if you are traveling with your child). Several flight attendants asked "where's your baby?" to which I replied with an impatient and irritated tone "she had to take an earlier flight with her father!". No one dared inquire further and I made it back to Argentina safely though spent. It was a turning point in this adventure. Already my daughter is the boss of me and I have no choice but to take her needs into account. Slow it down....was the message. And I have.


The Saturday after I arrived in SF my sis pulled together a aptly girlish afternoon baby shower at a tea house named the Secret Garden. 12 family and friends changed their holiday weekend plans to be there in less than a weeks notice. As a surprise my mom flew up from San Diego that morning and spent the weekend (Rey quickly fled to his brothers pad in Oakland for fear of so much estrogen in the apartment). It was a truly joyous afternoon that came together at just the right time. We nibbled meringue encrusted sandwiches and cranberry scones, sipped vanilla victorian lace teas and many got to know each other for the first time. My mom and aunt CJ especially enjoyed meeting so many of my friends. Then several read stories of their births(or the births of their children). Friend Megan read a poem she wrote about the births of her two children and many closeted writers came out. Lastly I opened gifts and we delighted in ewwing and awwing over tiny pink socks and bunny hats. Yes, that's a photo of me with a double breast pump. Can't wait to get that hooked up ;: I managed to squeeze all of the baby gifts (including a suburban sized stroller) into my luggage for the trip back to BA along with 4 rugs, our drapes, some pots and silverware, linens and our wedding photos. The rest will come with our friend Vaughn when he visits next month. Welcome to the Argentine underground railroad Vaughn....

Something in the Water

A festive night at Joni's with me, Rach, Rey, Joni holding baby Agreen, Carly (baby Elijah in the oven) and momma Shona.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


It's been awhile since my last post. At first I had neither time nor inclination to do any writing. Then I just dreaded putting down in print the words, for I don't know what - cheapening the experience by trying to express what just feels doesn't have a real description. Then I go back to what I know can do - just tell the truth.

On Wednesday this week my best friend Joni died.

I knew something was wrong a few weeks ago when I couldn't reach her by phone, email or skype for three straight days. Finally when someone picked up her phone, it was her brother, in from Arizona. The cancer had advanced to her brain after behaving somewhat in her spine but starting its journey in her breasts a decade ago. I booked a flight the following day to San Francisco. We spent part of every day together save for one during my 10 day trip. Friends dropped by all the time to visit, bring food, run errands, laugh and love her. I have never been around so much love. It was a week of new life as well. Her upstairs neighbor Shona gave birth to her son Agreen two days before I arrived so visited often with him in the sling. Friend Carly was due that week and gave birth to son Elijah two days after we had a big group homemade meal.

The day before my flight home we said our final goodbyes. Nothing trite or verbose - just love and a few words. She seemed peaceful and unafraid while I was anguished and heartbroken. 10 years, many vacations and our daily lives shared keep running through my mind. The day she told me she had breast cancer when we both worked at Oracle. Trips to Italy, Vegas, Utah, Mexico, Buenos Aires. Walking together in the 3 Day Avon Breast Cancer Walk. Lounging in her sunny apartment on Sunday afternoons with the dogs running round us on a play date. Seeing every new play at the ACT during theater season. Shopping, spa-ing, oogling men. Poking fun at our similarly ridiculous corporate personas.

Tomorrow morning Hugh and I will make a celebration of Joni's life at Rosedal Lake where she enjoyed long walks on her visit last October. I don't know yet what I'll say but I'll bring bright yellow dahlias and freesias.