Thursday, May 29, 2008

Smiles, smiles, smiles

The Big Day

Hugh captured this image of me just outside the chapel at La Candelaria waiting for my sister to arrive in a white rose and cala lily decorated horse drawn carriage. The wedding day of her dreams in full swing. I spent the day with that mixed look of consternation and alarm - tromping through postcard imagery of castles, green pastures and lazy horses with payments to vendors, to do lists for the kitchen staff, orders for the band and 4 key cue cards for the actual wedding ceremony (the priests translator backed out last minute so I stood in).

Aside from a few minor glitches (one table missing from the reception set up, no corsages delivered for the moms, sun shrank behind the frosty clouds in the afternoon, Rachel dropped her expensive bouquet of orquids on the carriage ride to the chapel and one of the wheels ran over it) it was a perfect day and the wedding had a dream-like quality most brides strive for but - the typical Hilton rubber chicken served to 200 people you don't really know - just can't deliver.

I taught a yoga class in the morning to my sis and several others then the bridal attendants (me, my mom and aunt) settled in to the master suite in the castle for hair, makeup and photo taking. Rachel glowed thanks to six months of pre-marital 6am bookcamp classes, umpteen facials and genuine wedding day glee.

The ceremony was short but charming. The priest delivered it in Castellano and I translated the important parts (do you blah blah?). I held up cue cards so they could respond in spanish "Si, lo somos", "Si, nos comprometemos", "Si, quiero". Rachel looked straight into Rey's eyes when she was meant to say "I will/Si, quiero", but instead said "I love you/Si, yo quiero". It worked and many teared up. Rey's mother was apeased with the catholic priest and proper order of things including receiving communion. Then, it was over and we all headed to the castle for a champagne reception with a live latin jazz quartet I found on the streets of the San Telmo Fair a few months prior. The band was a huge hit and the dancing started early.

After the reception we meandered across the sculptured lawns towards the dining hall for dinner and more festivities. First came the Ballet Folklorico show and then the traditional asado feast. Eyes bulged as tray after tray of meat emerged from the kitchen. Hugh walked from table to table explaining the difference between "vacio and asado, chinculin and rinones". After dinner but before dessert the speeches started. Most were spontaneous and heartfelt. Rachel cried during most of it - always the sensivite crab. Just when the room felt heaviest Hugh delivered the most entertaining speech of all - an awards ceremony based on the absurd events and personalities of that week. We'd talked through the ideas for it a few days prior but he went to Lobos (small town near the estancia) that day to pick up a slew of accompanying gag gifts. I played Vanna White to his game show routine and delivered a big plastic butt to my aunt who fell on her ass the night of the party while dancing. My mom received miniature baby dolls for her obsession with grandchildren. Friends michelle and eileen got statues of a happy bride and groom for their blow-out girlfight the previous evening (married couple award). Rachels Dad received "extreme makeover Dad edition" tie (she'd sent him straight to the spa and for a new suit the day after his arrival) and so on. Squeals of laughter gave way to dancing. I found my second wind at 1am and boogied the bump and Angelina-esque boobs to Michael Jackson Off the Wall and other hip hop classics. What more to say?

Suicide Watch

I guess its no surprise after just a few harried days my body rebelled in a most unpleasant way forcing me to stay in bed with furried friends Utta and her cousin Dudley. I followed the "agenda" starting with early wake up on Saturday and walking all day, entertaining, eating, visiting, running around and stressing over each persons issues, travel needs and inconveniences until Monday night. Auntie Brenda, Hugh and I ordered take out from Garbis - a local middle eastern place that we frequent every so often. Then Brenda and I got massages at the spa down the street. Still not sure whether it was the undercooked Keppe al horno (most likely cause), the deep shiatsu just one hour after eating, or the previous three days of nonstop entertaining. At midnight I went to bed with a tightness in my chest just at the top of my ribcage that smelled of a heartburny something. At five in the morning I woke up with wretching pains in my stomach which moved from one side to the other and up and down. I knew something was wrong but I tried to ignore it hoping that falling back asleep would just melt it away somehow. Two agonizing hours later I got up and staggered in to my aunts room in tears - sure that something was wrong with the baby. Panic set in. She calmed my nerves and laid me down in her room but the pain wouldn't stop. Twenty minutes later I dashed to the bathroom and vomited what seemed like four full meals. Made two more such ladylike excursions to the porcelain god that morning before I finally accepted the truth - I was sick and out of commission for the day. It was a great disappointment as we were scheduled to take the train to San Isidro for my sisters hair and makeup trial. I made a half-hearted attempt to dress and my mom, sister and aunt put me back to bed with stern warnings to rest. The dogs stayed with me all day and when Hugh got home he said it looked like we were all on "suicide watch". There was a party for all the wedding guests that night that I had to miss too but by the next day the episode had passed and I got back on the wedding wagon.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Twas the night before....

the family arrived for an American-Argentine wedding bonanza and she couldn't sleep. Her mind raced with new themes for the maid of honor toast, the early morning grocery list (TP, paper towels, coffee and soymilk for Aunt B, what else could I be forgetting?), and the weekly plans ahead -

Sat: Rachel/Rey, Aunt B, Rey's family arrive. Hugh meet and greet at the airport. Imagine hectic crazed day helping everyone get settled. Group dinner at Don Julio's mabe??

Sun: Mom and Carlos arrive. Meet them at their apt to help with ck in and money exchange. Eveyone goes to San Telmo Antique Fair

Mon: Spa day for some. Show Aunt B around the city - her first trip out of the US ever! Sneak off for prenatal yoga class.

Tues: Girls take train up to San Isidro - wealthy suburb north of BA for bridal hair and makeup trial.

Wed: Hugh takes boys out to steak eating, chest puffing, girl watching excursion. eek

Thurs: Day trip to Lujan - visit the churches and altar of famous virgin saint lady. Group dinner and milonga.

Fri: Board bus for La Candelaria estancia. Enjoy lunch, horseback riding, games, tennis, naps whatever. late afternoon rehearsal with Father Renee.

Sat: Wedding day! Meet florist, band, cake lady, priest to coordinate set up. Harry Karry. Fabulous photos by celebrity photographer from SF.

Sun: Exhale a bit. sleep in and enjoy the last day at estancia. bus back to BA late afternoon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mommazilla wakes

Friend Elizabeth from NYC mailed me a preggo care package with two great long tanks from Old Navy maternity and two Belly Bands – neither of which exist here in Argentina. Just in time as last week the bump poofed out to noticeable form. I can now rest my hands comfortably on the top of my belly like an armrest. We went to the monthly doctors visit yesterday and heard the baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Very exciting. One of us shed a few tears of joy…

Hugh’s new nickname for me is “Mommazilla” as in the neurotic control-freak Bridezillas on TV. Maybe I have been a bit consumed with the coming birth but its going to take real effort and planning to have the baby naturally and possibly at home. Sadly Argentine hospitals boast 50% cesarean rates. Epidurals, episiotomies, vacuum, forceps and being strapped to a fetal monitor giving birth horizontal is the norm. There are no birthing centers here so its either a hospital or at home. When I mentioned my desire for a natural birth to my very conservative geezer doctor, he scoffed, shook his head and said “what a WILD idea”. He admitted that the field of obstetrics had gotten out of hand and moved away from the natural course of labor and birth but nearly pounded his fist on the table that “the risks are too great to give birth outside of a hospital with immediate access to blood and surgeons!” He asked me how I would handle labor without an epidural (with a haughty patronizing tone I might add) and I reminded him that I’m a trained prenatal yoga teacher. Yes, I can use various breathing techniques, postures and meditation. He rolled his eyes and waved his hand “you, with your yoga are in the clouds. I am down here on earth dealing with the realities of the situation”. Then he turned to Hugh (who by this time was well indoctrinated and terrified) and bellowed “you could lose her and the baby!!!!!!!” So, the appointment started on a high and ended with a thud of pessimism and confirmation of nonsupport. Mommazilla continues her search for a supportive OB and other options.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Birth movie - The Business of Being Born

Ricki Lake (yes of the cheesy talk show 15 yesteryears ago or so) just released a documentary expose of the birthing industry in the US. Its a must see for any pregnant, soon to be or already been pregnant woman - or dammit, for any woman that knows someone that is or will be pregnant or men associated with preggos. ok - that covers everyone right? it's a scary look at our health care system and what the insurance industry and the business-ization (yes, i just made that up) of medical care has done to birth. shocking and there are scenes of real births - oh my god is that a head coming out of a vagina!!!!

you can buy it, rent it or do like me and watch it on the puter via streaming video link for FREE:

watch out for weird dreams...


i can't stop crying. its like the emotions of a lifetime of pent up sentimentalism burst anew with each subsequent thought. last night she came to me in one of the most vivid dreams i've ever had. we were completely alone. there was no doctor, no midwife or doula, no family or even hugh. it was me, alone - quietly and peacefully opening my body to let her into the world. she arrived wide-eyed and with a full head of chesnut hair. she stared straight at me and knew me right away. the name we'd chosen didn't fit. i knew what to do and wasn't scared. i raised her to my left breast and she started suckling. then i walked naked through a city of crowds unashamed and unnoticed. it was just the two of us and everything was beautiful and right. i woke up and cried reliving the dream. in yoga class during the visualization/relaxation at the end all i could think about was her and my dream. the rainfall on my cheeks persists.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A second chance

Sunday afternoon I read a second time at the US Embassy booth at the Feria de Libros. This time it was considerably more crowded at the fair, we had use of a microphone and speaker which drew in a crowd and several of my friends showed up to support me. I opted not to pimp my new pregnancy curves in a sexy red tango dress but still enticed more than a few passerbys with my writerly lenses. I read the same story but this time read first in English which delighted the Argentines always looking for ways to practice their second language. Many followed along with with the book. Then I read again in Castellano. I earned my first Argentine fan - a strawberry headed grandmother with smeared candy lipstick who asked me to autograph her book. Wednesday I attended the US sponsored Big Band concert and met the US ambassador to Argentina. Saturday, my writers group will attend the Tom Wolfe reading (one of the big highlights of the book fair) and a special reception held at the Ambassadors residence - hello free food and booze!!! oh, yeah, I won't be boozing it but...I'll definitely be foodin-it. My involvement with this year's fair ends next week at a workshop entitled "How to Launch a Writing Career Using the Internet". Today the Thursdays@Three writers group met for a practice run and to get our duckies in order. Its been a long time since I had to organize thoughts so logically and visions of Powerpoint presentations (describing the strategy for the plan to the plan for next "Q1") came flooding back. I'm presenting the piece on blogs - how to, why would ya, and some tips on keeping readers interested. In the process of researching a bit for my talk I found out one of the top 10 most popular blogs is a site dedicated to silly photos of cats. Yes, technology is transforming our lives!!! We think the seminar will get good attendance. as resources for Argentine writers are limited and infrequent.