Last Tuesday, when I went down to my apartment lobby to check the mail, another woman was there at the same time.
Sigi’s* a little German lady who’s probably lived here since the building opened back in the ’60’s. I was a little taken aback that she was standing there in her housecoat and bath slippers, telling me about a workman damaging one of her walls. She was waiting on the repairman to come and give her an estimate.
I was there when he walked in. A young man, he gave her the once-over. His eyes went wide when he noticed her attire. I give him credit for trying hard to focus on her face instead of staring at her clothes.
On May 11, back in the Santiago, I was reading before going to sleep. There was a little gnat-like creature buzzing around my backlit Kindle. I shooed him away and didn’t give it another thought.
That is, until the next morning, when I woke up with two bug bites on my right eyelid. They itched like crazy, but I tried to be good and not scratch at them.
One went away within a day or two, but the other, the one nearer my eyelashes, got infected. My eyelid swelled up and turned red. The area of the bite pooched out like a wart.
Since last September, I’ve been (mostly) in the UK. I’ve visited three of the four UK countries, and along the way, one of best things that’s happened to me is making connections. I’ve attended writing groups and book clubs. I’ve made friends in the American Expat community in Edinburgh, and I’ve met up with three fellow authors.
First, I met up with Hannah Byrnes of Manchester, England. Hannah and I had “met” virtually in an online writing group. In person, we spent an afternoon, wandering around Manchester, discussing the ups and downs of writing and promotion.
A barrister turned author, Hannah writes Young Adult fantasy novels, including The Dragon Children: The Prophecy, in which heroes Kai and Bridget must succeed in their quests to save the dragon kingdom.
According to the website, “The founders of The Displaced Nation share a passion for what we call the ‘displaced life’ of global residency and travel—particularly when it leads to creative pursuits, be it writing, art, food, business or even humo(u)r.”
Recently, the editor of The Displaced Nation invited me to write another article for them, based on my expat life and travels. For now, I am still in Edinburgh, Pillow Nº. 13, but you can read about my life as a perpetually perplexed peripatetic here.
“The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” Remember that quote from Alice in Wonderland?
Considering that my interview for The Displaced Nation’s “Wonderlanded” series went live this week on their website, I suppose I’ve got Alice on the brain.
I’m not certain that I’ve ever read the entire Alice in Wonderland book. I must have seen the Disney movie years ago. I vividly remember the White Rabbit running along, checking his pocket watch, and muttering, “Hello, goodbye. I’m late. I’m late for a very important date.”
I often feel that way, as if I’m meeting myself coming and going. For example, I meant to write this post yesterday, but I was saying goodbye to a friend in the afternoon and having dinner with another in the evening. In between, there was a writing webinar, a sink full of dishes, an unmade bed, and a pile of laundry to fold.
Call me OCD, but in only 550 square feet, clutter can’t happen.
How nice it would be to have someone to do all the cleaning and putting away, to pay all my bills, to cook for me and then just call me when it’s ready, so that I could write and socialize all day, but I guess that’s called a “nursing home.”
For now, I’ll stick to my mad, frantic juggling.
“Have I gone mad?
I’m afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usually are.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
I’m not getting any work done. All I want to do is sit and stare at the Cordillera.
We had just enough rain over the weekend that I can clearly see those majestic Andes Mountains for the first time in almost three months. I could be doing other things, but I only want to sit quietly and soak in this view.
Earlier, I went to an expat meeting. I didn’t know anyone at the meeting and the inevitable getting-to-know-you questions were asked.
“So, what do you do here in Chile?” I get asked this question a lot, usually by well-meaning people. It’s a normal question.
Since I’m not here for a job, if I’m feeling cantankerous, sometimes I reply, “Nothing.” That’s usually a conversation stopper, so instead I often say, “I’m retired,” which doesn’t fare much better.
This frequently earns me a skeptical once-over. “Really?” as if they can’t believe it. “What do you do all day?”
“Well, let’s see…” I laugh because explaining my schedule is complicated. Should I tell them that I’m an excellent time-waster? Or that every day is different? I usually launch into a spiel about classes and workshops, which satisfies their curiosity.
“Oh, so you’re a teacher?” Not really, not at the moment. I haven’t quite learned how to admit the truth, that I’m a writer.
Except on days like today when it’s far too tempting to sit and watch the sun light up the snow-capped Cordillera. Today, I’m definitely a flojera, a lazy mountain watcher. Can you blame me?
As I was driving to an appointment last week, I made a wrong turn and drove down an unfamiliar street. As I was trying to find my way back, I noticed a hen-house sort of structure in front of a home. I had to pull over to investigate it. As I peered inside the little red box, I could see half a dozen books scattered on the shelves.
It was called the Little Free Library. The idea is book-sharing, “Take a book. Return a book.” What a great concept.
The next time I was going to be in that neighborhood, I made sure I had my camera on hand and I deliberately went out of my way so that I could drive in front of the same house. This time, the Little Free Library was chock full of books.
I decided to get out of the car. Once I got over the awkwardness of standing in someone’s yard, I stayed for bit and thumbed through a few books. Maybe they could consider putting a bench beside the library, too, so folks could sit and enjoy the books on the spot.
March is National Reading Month in the US. Discover new worlds; take a new route; expand your horizons. Happy reading!
Ever since my first volunteer visits to Chile, I’ve been threatening to publish a book about my experiences.
That was back in 2009 and 2010. The story was written then and has sat, forlorn, in a computer file until now.
Last September, I returned to the US to publish this book. Little did I realize how long it would take to actually get it done. I was blissfully ignorant of the endless edits, the delays, the waiting. The revisions. I have read and reread the manuscript until I am cross-eyed.
Now, I can see light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve approved the cover and the final “big” revision is done. “A Million Sticky Kisses” is now being formatted.
It’s a good thing, too, because I want to have this book in my suitcase when I board the plane to return to Chile. With less than three weeks to go, I feel like I am playing Beat the Clock.
Coming soon, very soon, “A Million Sticky Kisses,” the story of a gringa teacher in Chile.