Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Longest Day Ever

That's what yesterday seemed like...the longest day ever.  But when I was thinking of the title for the blog, I remembered that the day I gave birth to both my boys seemed like that, too, although with very different, happy outcomes.

Let me start by saying I promise there's a point in here somewhere...bear with me.  Or is it bare with me?  

I am signed up for MSNBC texts, so whenever they feel something is "breaking news", they send me a text, regardless of the time.  Sometimes, it's totally worth it, like yesterday...sometimes, when some Olympian I've never heard of wins a gold for something I've never heard of.  At 2 in the morning.  

I turn the ringer to my phone off so I don't actually hear anything, but I am uber sensitive to light and when the screen lights up, believe it or not, that wakes me up.  So, at 2:21 am EST, I got the text about the 8.8 earthquake in Concepcion, Chile.  

Now, I don't know my geography in Florida, so knowing it anywhere else is really asking way too much.  Half asleep, I start googling from my phone where Concepcion is and it says something about the South and a border and maybe it was the midnight haze, but then I panicked because my grandma lives in Peru in the city that borders Chile and wow, please don't tell me that two families may be effected.  I should add that I think I'm getting J a globe for his birthday.  Ok, so back to reading - Concepcion is a crapload of kilometers away from Santiago, which, if I knew my metric conversions, which um, I don't, it would have or have not reassured me that everything is ok.  All this background work was done  because I was trying to determine if I should wake up my mom who is working in Puerto Rico and for sure had no idea what was going on.  All our family is there.  Everyone.  Hearing that an 8.8 mag earthquake hits where all your family lives is really bizarre, especially at 2:30 in the morning.  I finally called her.  It didn't matter much because my mom turned her phone completely off and there was no way of getting in touch with her anyway.  My mom really sucks for emergencies and is always completely unresponsive and inappropriate, so really it was probably for the best. 

Finally, I decided everyone was in a deep enough sleep that if I turned on the TV to see what was going on, no one would wake up.  I get to Channel 356 (MSNBC) and they're showing "Lock Up".  Switch over to the Weather Channel and they're talking about the wintry weather (sorry, wintry weather friends, but earthquake trumps snow).  Hmmm.... what's left?  Ugh.  Fox News has Glenn Beck on.  CNN?  Dammit what channel is CNN?  Part of my marriage vows surely consisted of not watching CNN...  

Of course, Anderson Cooper was ending and CNN was the *only* news network that had coverage.  Ummm, why did MSNBC find it ok to text me at 2:00 am only to not have any actual coverage? Grrrrr!  

I finally decided to try and go back to sleep, deciding there was nothing anyone would know other than it hit because it was still nighttime over there and more than likely, all power was out.  But I was shocked to find out that despite it being over 200 miles away from the epicenter, Santiago (the capitol) was hit pretty bad, too.  Unfortunately, that was where all my family lives.

Sleep was elusive.  At 6:30 am, I turned the news back on and this time, rewarded CNN with my viewership because they were the only ones covering immediately after, and was really impressed at the organization I saw.  Police were out, the President was in view, the citizens looked worried, shaken, but like survivors.  I love Chile.

It just so happens that my favorite aunt happens to be visiting Miami right now, so I called her and thankfully, she'd already heard from her two sons and everyone was ok.  I sent an email to my uncle, who unfortunately is not in Chile with his wife and kids, but is on assignment in The Congo.  He had, however, already heard from his daughter and apparently, they were all ok.  No power, no phone lines, but with internet and alive and well.  Yay!

We moved here when I was 4.  I've never ever lived in Chile and I've only visited once, although that trip is still very vivid in my memory.  I remember the ocean and the salt banks and the mountains and a beautiful hill with a statue of the Virgin Mary on top of it.  I remember the supermarket selling the best strawberry yogurt ever and the beautiful trees dripping with ripe, orange apricots.  I remember meeting my 95 year old great grandma and staying at this beautiful oceanfront home on a long and winding highway.  I remember feeling a small earthquake, or what they call "un temblor" -- a tremor -- during my cousin's birthday party in one of my families' backyard.  I remember drinking one of those delicious coca-colas that come in a small glass bottle at a time when "the New Coke" had taken over in the States and you just couldn't find real coca cola anymore.  I remember collecting antique keys and steel cast irons I later used as weights in remote little towns for my mom's collection. 

Because we moved around so much, I really can't say I feel like I belong to any country.  It's so hard for me to understand the depth of love Ray's family has for a country they were forced to leave - country they associate so much with, yet push away with the same intensity.  I admiringly envy people like Valk and Jodi who are just so patriotic and PROUD to be Americans.   I'm proud, too, and I know I live in the best country in the world, but I'd be lying if I said I felt "American".  I am an immigrant and that fact never ever eludes me.  I was born in Peru, but I can't say I've ever felt particularly Peruvian.  I love the food and the Incas amaze me.  Whenever someone questions my breastfeeding practices as weird or even disgusting, I remind them half-jokingly that I am an Inca and that is what my people do.  I really probably am not at all Inca, but you get the point...I channel the country I need to channel when it works for me.   But not yesterday.  Or today.  I feel like I felt as I watched the Twin Towers crumble.  Sad, helpless and...dare I say it?  Yup, patriotic.  The fact of the matter is I'll always be from all over.  But I find a lot of happiness in realizing that my heart belongs to two wonderfully amazing countries, both full of people with great hearts and unparalleled resilience. And, thankfully, their flags are the same color so as not to confuse me too much. ;-)

Having only one cousin here, it's insane to me to know I have so many cousins in Chile.  There's one I've only met thru Facebook.  His name is Felipe and he's the total cool guy you want to be friends with in high school.  I have another who is in a rock band.  Actually, that's my second cousin in a rock band.  The other one lives here and now he's an investment banker, but man, in a past life...I remember seeing his records at the Virgin Music in Times Square.  I'm not starstruck often, but my cousins definitely make me proud. 

Anyway, all this happened by 9 am.  My mom still remained asleep and had no idea what was going on, despite everyone with a working phone calling her and letting her know.  She says she woke up to 12 messages and an ungodly amount of missed calls.  Duh.  On a side note, I could never be that oblivious.  I could never be that disconnected.  Especially not when my family is somewhere else.  That isn't a criticism of her- I actually think it's pretty amazing to just sleep-- I'm just saying I couldn't do it.

Really, I could go on and on and tell you that I spent the day shoveling shit, literally, and working on the yard and catching up on RHOC and checking in with family and I even had a date night at home with my husband where we ate ceviche and lomo saltado and watched Couples Retreat, but at the end of it all-- and really, it took forever and ever and ever-- all that mattered was my family was ok, and my three boys were here with me.  I can't ever describe the love I have for them, and I don't ever want to.  Part of what makes it so special and intense is that there are no words for it. 

P.S.  I just want to add that while my disdain for Fox News is for obvious reasons, I still did not expect them to ever give me a valid reason, outside of political differences, to loathe them.  Would you believe that when  Ray started switching channels (he'd had enough of CNN) at 8 am, every news network and most local channels were covering the earthquake except for Fox?  I get that demographically, South Americans vote blue, but I expected even YOU to have half a soul, Fox News.  Fuck you.  Fuck you bigtime. 


Valkyrie said...

We hit all the news stations and I didn't see coverage like I'd expect on *any* of them. I've been shocked by what a non-story it is. I guess not enough people died. I hate how American-centric American news is. We never know WTF is up in the rest of the world. Daniel was watching the Spanish channels, where they were covering it in depth.

I'm so glad your family is okay!

I am kind of displaced too. We moved every couple of years when I was growing up. Even thought I tell people I'm from Firth, Idaho, I only lived there for five years. But because we moved so much, that was the longest I'd ever lived anywhere. Plus those were my formative years. Anyway, sometimes I'm a very proud Idahoan, and sometimes I'm a very proud Californian. It depends on the context. Mostly I'll be whatever I can be to not be like everyone else. If I'm in a group of conservatives, I'll be liberal. If I'm in a group of liberals, I'll be conservative. I'm just contrary. Jajajajaa

But I do love my country and am very firmly an American.

I don't think I feel pride about being an American. I was just lucky enough to be born here. I feel proud of the country itself. Americans aren't perfect, but we have done a lot of things right and we have been a unique experiment in history. And I love how innovative and independent we are.

Little Miss Me said...

Today I didn't see much coverage and I think it's mostly because Chile is really handling it all very well (although once again CNN was covering it more than the other stations).

Yesterday, at that time in the morning, I really didn't expect or think I should have seen anything else BUT coverage. The US was just waking up to the news and I'm sure it affected a lot of Americans indirectly. MSNBC annoyed me because they couldn't fucking figure out what time the earthquake happened, claiming that the time Chile said it happened was London time (GMT) and in her words, "that can't be possible". Of course, she was wrong. But really, what a thing to focus on.

And really, Fox just didn't have it on. Grrrrr!

Sheella said...

Univision, chica. :) I think the fact that CNN has more coverage is because they have a branch over there. I think or is it in Argentina? hmm, now I don't know.

The only time I ever really felt like an American were those two years I lived in Colombia. I was a complete foreigner over there, still am. I love Colombia but it really isn't my home. And I'm not a crazy patriotic American either. You know what I am, though? I am a New Yorker. Every time I go to another town or city, I always feel like I am in a completely different country.

Oh and my mom is like that completley unreachable whenever something important happens. In fact, the day of 9/11 we thought she was in that building. I was in Colombia and my brothers were in Miami. Phones were down and she turned hers off anyways. She had some awful nightmare about a bunch of panicking lost souls roaming the streets of New York. So she decided that she was going to take off work, turn off all her electronics and meditate and pray. The TV and her Radio were off too. She was completely disconected from the world, so she didn't know she should check in with anyone. At 5PM my brother was finally able to get in touch with one of his friends, and they went and banged on her door.

Crazy stuff.

Little Miss Me said...

S, could you believe that at 3am that morning, Univision still had their damn infomercials on? Hahaha. We are such an instant gratification society. Forget that total havoc was wreaked and there was probably no news to give, I wanted to see SOMETHING!

About your mom...did she have the nightmare before the plane hit the tower, or after?

When I went to visit in 2004, I went to Century 21 in downtown, completely forgetting that it would be across the street from Ground Zero and when I came up from the subway, I literally felt like the lost souls were taking over. I almost fainted and felt just like you would think you would feel with a bunch of sad, lost souls roaming around. It was the scariest thing ever.

Sheella said...

hhahahahaha. How dare they not have the new instantly streaming damn it. OMG, maybe we really are a bunch of spoiled Americans.

My mom actually dreamt that two nights in a row. Sunday night and then Monday night into Tuesday morning. She told me that it was one of the most vivid dreams she has had and to this day she can remember every little detail of it. She woke up from the second dream at about 4AM opened up her Bible and started praying.

I still have issues when I head downtown. I have been down to the South Street Seaport twice since it happened. The last time was actually last year when my cousin came to NY. I thought I'd be over it by now, but truth is I still can't handle it. We crossed the Brooklyn Bridge and I was fine. Then after we did the touristy thing we headed towards the train station to go back home and I got an eerie feeling. I just felt like everything got so quiet even though there was so much going on. I don't know how to explain it, I don't think I can.