holly pretsky

Labor Laws

Chile is obsessed with pregnancy. The Virgin Mary, the archetype of baffling fertility in Western culture, presides in some form or another over almost every city, town and village in the country. “Legend has it that the Virgen de la Merced appeared in the river here in this village,” a vineyard worker in Isla Maipu relates as we tour the vineyard chapel. “She’s been our protector ever since.” It’s a rigidly Catholic country where abortion is totally illegal, including in cases of rape, incest and when a woman’s life is in danger. In 1989, the government of Augusto Pinochet, a military dictator who ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990, prohibited abortion and made it punishable by up to five years in prison. Engraved in stone on a wall outside La Catedral de Valparaíso is a tribute giving voice to aborted children. “They tore us apart,” it says, “they strangled us, they poisoned us with the indifference of an executioner. For our death, they pay money.”

Story Day

I work in a library because it didn’t pan out with my startup sticker business. I used to make bumper stickers about atheism: evolving homo sapiens in tie-dye colors and stuff like that. It didn’t work out, so I went back to school for library science. Everyone else in my graduating year made a long distance book club and I wasn’t invited to be in it. I don’t mean to sound dramatic or self-pitying or anything like that. But I do want to clarify that literally every single other person in my library science graduating class (seventeen people) is in this long distance book club and I was not invited to be in it.

Lonely Business

In November of 1990, in an Alaskan strip club called Sands North, Sandy was sexually assaulted in a corner of the dark room. She was 17 years old, and it was her first day working as a dancer. She was good at dancing. Once, in 1989, she had performed with the Minnesota Vikings cheerleaders. But, as she puts it, she was “shaking like a little leaf” on her first day in the club.