iamtheinvisiblehand

I’m not that big on tv. It’s not only a matter of time (or lack thereof), but mostly because 1. I’d rather read, and 2. There’s rarely anything I’d want to watch.

In the midst of so many reality shows (should they even be called tv?), some of them good (Top Chef), most of them abominations (Real Housewives of ___, The Kardashians, The Bachelor/ette, take your pick) that prey on people who like seeing other people mistreated, or who enjoy watching how other people live their lives, only a few shows are worth watching. I mean, that Gordon Ramsey is the meanest guy I’ve ever seen, and I believe his tv shows are quite successful, but how many of his restaurants are thriving in real life? Or at least compared to Tom Colicchio’s, who is tough but is always polite to the contestants and by contrast is an extremely succesful restauranteur.

However, there are a handful of shows that will make me leave the book aside or at least try to stay awake for a while. 

It took me a while to get hooked on Game of Thrones. I recorded the first 3 seasons and started watching them at a leisurely pace earlier this year. While we watched the first episodes of the first season, my husband and I started wondering why people were addicted to this show. As we reached the fifth episode, it all started to make some sense. By the time the 4th season started, we would be glued to our tv a good 30 minutes before the start of each episode.

I think anyone who’s ever seen Game of Thrones can’t easily drop it, no matter how gory or explicit it gets. And it does get quite gory and explicit. I mean, that scene with Oberyn was awful – and I only heard it because I had my eyes closed, but dear husband felt the need to describe in detail what I had chosen to miss -. I don’t think such graphic violence has ever been allowed before. And the nudity? Well, sometimes I think that all the actresses (let’s face it, the guys don’t get much exposure) that are of legal age up to those that are premenopausal must have signed a nudity clause. The only thing that would make me stop watching would be if Arya or Sansa Stark showed more skin than they should.  Or if Tyrion, the best character by far, gets killed.

I’m truly faithful to Person of Interest. I think it’s well written, the characters are well defined and portrayed, and the twists that we’ve been presented with are believable. I hated that Carter was killed, but I understood that it needed to happen, and that, I think, is what makes shows great: the fact that even though the characters may come and go, the story stands on its own. The story is constantly shifting and you have to pay attention if you don’t want to get lost. And it doesn’t hurt that Jim Caviezel is in it.

Downton Abbey is just great tv in every sense. As each season goes by, I try to find fault with it, but I just can’t. Nothing is left to chance, and even though I know that Sybill’s and Matthew’s characters were written out because the actors asked to leave, their departure looked as if they had been planned from the beginning. It makes me laugh, especially Maggie Smith’s character, but it also makes me cry just as hard sometimes. It also makes me feel nostalgic, as this was the one tv show my mother and I enjoyed and it was one of the few points in common we had. Now that she’s gone, I have no one to share it with, since no one I know watches it. Sigh.

I’ll put up with Scandal as well, but mostly because I enjoy seeing how each character keeps trying to prove that they are the baddest of them all. I understand that Kerry Washington is “it” right now, but I can’t tolerate her acting. In general, I’ll give Shonda Rimes’ shows some leeway, but I know I’ll get tired of them at some point. Just too much drama for me.

I’m a little behind on The Good Wife (OMG Will was just killed!!!) but I really enjoy it, even if I haven’t been able to follow the whole thing. I like Resurrection and its weird plot, but mostly I like Omar Epps, who I think is a great actor. The Last Ship is showing some promise, but I don’t know how much longer I’ll stick with it – the plot is going all sorts of places and I’m losing interest. As long as Falling Skies stays on, I’ll be watching. There’s something about a dystopian future that attracts me. Homeland is good, but I don’t know how much more I can stand watching Claire Danes cry. I was a fierce fan of Revenge until last season. I don’t think I’ll be watching the next one.

Regarding comedy, there’s much more to choose from, but my absolute favorites are Mike & Molly, The Big Bang Theory and The Middle. Maybe Mom. All of them make me laugh out loud, and that’s not easy. Two and a Half Men used to be on my list, but that was when Charlie Sheen was still on it. Ashton Kutcher is no match for him and they should have just cancelled the show while they were ahead. And I still don’t get why most people think he’s cute…

As for the ones that no longer exist, I was a huge fan of Almost Human (THAT was great TV, and yet for some reason the network thought that The Following was a safer bet. I mean, this was Karl Urban in a show that had great special effects and nothing about it had been done before), Revolution, and a show that has been long cancelled but still stings each time I remember it: Flash Forward. That show was huge everywhere except in the US, so after weighing it against “V”, the network chose “V”. Of course, it was the best decision, seeing that “V” lasted a whopping 2 half seasons (about 12 episodes each). I guess networks should change the way they measure ratings, because nowadays with DVRs, Hulu, and the multiple internet sites that allow streaming tv shows, people continue to watch tv but through other media, and that is seriously affecting advertising, which – let’s be honest – ultimately sustains a show.

I know there are many other shows worth mentioning, but I’ve probably never had the chance to watch them. Anyway, it’s a good thing there’s much to choose from, or I’d never watch tv at all.

Advertisements

I wrote this 2 years ago, but MJ’s legacy remains the same.

So, here it goes again:

iamtheinvisiblehand

On the 3rd anniversary of his death and as a tribute to his life and achievements, here’s what I learned from the greatest artist of our time:

-Moon-walking is hard (in my case, impossible), no matter how smooth the soles of your shoes are.

-Always say “Shamon” instead of “come on”. It keeps people guessing what you’re saying and makes them feel like idiots once they’ve read the lyrics.

courtesy of lastfm.es

-You can’t attempt to do the toe stand if you’re not wearing cropped pants and bright socks.

-The Crotch Grab doesn’t look good on a girl.

-Do not try the anti-gravity lean if you don’t have pegs rising from the floor into the heels of your specially-made dancing shoes. If you do, you will fall face-down. Been there, done that.

-Try listening to “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” and not wiggle your foot, tap your desk or move at all. It’s a physical impossibility.

View original post 112 more words

One year after she was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, and after months of unimaginable pain, my mother finally let go.

Upon her diagnosis, I would cry a lot, mostly because I was scared. After a few months, when the doctor finally told her there was nothing left to do, I would cry less frequently, but on the few occasions I did, the waterworks would last forever. I guess I believed that crying would make the whole thing more real. It meant accepting that there was no hope left. And now that all has been said and done, I find myself crying while I write these words.

I saw the cancer eat my mother – the strongest woman I’ve ever known – alive, and although it took a whole year to do so, when it was done there was nothing left but skin-wrapped bones and a severely swollen abdomen. Her mind, however, was untouched, which I think was even worse, because I can’t even begin to imagine what my mother must have felt when she saw herself in the mirror this last year.

And I still can’t believe that this happened to her. Or to me. This is the kind of story you hear about other people’s lives and sufferings, not your own. This is the kind of tragedy that happens to others. And yet it happened to me.

I know whoever is reading this must be thinking that I should be grateful that at least my mother stopped suffering and that in itself is a blessing. I know this is true. I saw her in pain almost every single day of this year and I am glad that this is all over. But still, I am selfish: I wish she was still here with me, nagging my ears off or constantly calling me about one thing or another, like she did while she still had the strength. I miss her more than I ever could have imagined. It’s so bad it hurts.

I find myself in her apartment expecting to hear her voice. Smell the lingering scent of her perfume. And yet I know that I’ll never get to hear her voice or smell her perfume ever again. I’ll just have to make do with whatever my memories can conjure up for me.

Why she held on for so long is a mystery to me. My sisters and I said our goodbyes many months ago and felt that she was in peace with all of us. And yet she hung on.

I guess that when you know you’re about to leave, you want to make sure that your life was worth something; that it made a difference, that you have left behind something worth remembering. Well, I am certain that my mother left an indelible impression on everyone she knew: I never knew or heard of anyone who disliked her.

Anyone who has suffered the loss of someone close knows that sometimes all you need is to say these things, get them out and sort of purge yourself of these thoughts and feelings, because they have a way of creeping up on you when you least expect it. I know this too. About 10 years ago, my dear uncle was killed in a bombing. A few months later, I was at the supermarket and came face to face with a wide variety of blue cheese, my uncle’s favorite.   All of a sudden, I found myself crying and couldn’t stop the tears from falling. Gushing, actually. Other shoppers passing by me would suddenly swerve their carts away from me. I must have terrified them, poor people. My husband had been choosing some vegetables and was quite alarmed when he saw me. I was crying so hard I couldn’t tell him what happened. My dear husband is a good man and knows me well, so he just hugged me and waited until I was done. No questions asked. I did tell him later and he didn’t get it. Go figure.

I’ve come to realize that even when you know what’s coming, you’re never fully prepared for the blow. I knew how this story was going to end, and yet when it did, I felt like a helpless, abandoned child. Now that I think about it, I realize that at the young age of 38 I have become an orphan. Sigh. I know people will say that I should be grateful that I had her for such a long time, when there are so many who’ve lost their parents before they even got to know them. I know this is true. But again, I am selfish. This was not supposed to happen to me. At least not like this.

I am grateful that she was an important part of my 38 years of existence. I am grateful that she was my mother – I could’ve done so much worse. I am grateful that my 7 year old daughter had the chance to meet her and make the most of their time together. I am grateful that my mother was such a loving and caring grandmother to my daughter. But most of all, I am grateful that I had the chance to say goodbye. To tell her how much I loved her. To thank her for all the sacrifices she made to give all of us a good life.

I just read an article called “Marry Young” written by Julia Shaw and published on slate dot com. In it, the author talks of how she married young and makes a series of observations on her life as a married woman,  and concludes that she wouldn’t have it any other way.

She makes interesting points here and there, although there is a strong religious undercurrent flowing throughout the article as well.

She also wrote: ” Sometimes people delay marriage because they are searching for the perfect soul mate. But that view has it backward. Your spouse becomes your soul mate after you’ve made those vows to each other in front of God and the people who matter to you. You don’t marry someone because he’s your soul mate; he becomes your soul mate because you married him.”

I married young as well (I was 26 and my husband, 27) and although marrying that young is not that common, most of my friends also got married more or less at my same age.

I knew that I was going to marry my husband the day I met him. I knew there would never be anyone else for me. So I got my undergraduate degree, found myself a stable job and managed to save some money .  My husband already had a job and was doing well, so as soon as we had some firm ground under our feet, we got married about 4 years after we first met, and after enduring a 3 year separation while I finished my studies in another continent. Our hopes and dreams for the future were aligned, we had similar cultural and educational backgrounds (this might not be an issue in other countries, but in third-world countries cultural and educational differences can definitely separate people, sometimes irreconcilably) and even though we are complete opposites, we get along fine. Mostly.

Unlike Ms. Shaw, I got married because I was (and remain) convinced that my husband was (and still is) my partner for the road, not because I was hoping he would become my partner after we got married. I got married because I wanted to, because I deeply loved (and still love) this man and because I couldn’t conceive living my life without him.

There’s a lot in the article about how it’s best to marry young. Someone published an article in response to this article stating the contrary, and how the older people are when they get married the lower the divorce rate.

I have no idea whether one position or the other is true. I do know, however, that nowadays women tend to get married for all the wrong reasons.

As women, we are educated to believe that we are complete once we’ve married and had children, sometimes while juggling a career as well. This is true no matter how liberal your parents or the society you live in are. Women who reach a certain age and have no marital prospects are considered strange animals and are looked down on with pity.  If she’s a successful businesswoman, then she is a workaholic and career-driven and for some reason that is bad. If she maintains a low profile, then there’s probably something wrong with her. If no one has ever met any of her dates, then she’s probably a lesbian. And the list goes on and on.

People like to think that it isn’t like that anymore, but it still is, so it’s no wonder some women will just jump into marriage even though they know it’s not the best decision for them.

I’ve seen it happen so many times I’ve lost count, but I’ve got two examples to illustrate what I’m saying.

I got married in August 2001. A friend and co-worker got married one month later, just before 9-11. They had been together for a long time, broke up temporarily (and they both dated other people during that time), only to get back together and get married. She was very attached to her family. So much so that she would have lunch with her parents every day and I frequently bumped into her shopping with her mom. Her husband was just as attached to his family: he worked at his dad’s company, so he pretty much did as he pleased and had a lot of time to play X-Box with his friends at home. Sometimes when she came home late from work, he’d already had his dinner and didn’t even bother waiting for her. They led totally separate lives while living under the same roof. They never got to celebrate their 2nd anniversary. I guess they got married because they thought it was the logical thing to do and it was expected of them, but they never stopped to think if it was the right thing to do.

And then there’s my sister. Sigh. She’s always been insecure when it comes to guys. She always had her share of nice boyfriends, but they all eventually ended up dumping her because she was so needy. And men dislike needy women who are always on their case. She finally got involved with this guy who treated her like crap. They moved in together but never got married because he refused, on the grounds that he had already been married once and it had gone all wrong. She did the most unbelievable things to please him. My sister, right until to the moment she got pregnant had always been a firm anti-children advocate. And yet she eventually got pregnant and had a boy because that is what HE wanted. They were always in trouble and fought like cats and dogs, mainly because this guy is an aggressive drunk. I don’t really know if there was physical abuse there, but I’m pretty sure there was verbal abuse. Anyway, even though they were unhappy together, up until the day they had decided to separate they had been trying to conceive another child in the hopes that it would bring them together. Long story short, the divorce and custody became such a nasty process that the judge slapped them with a heavy fine for their behavior and threatened to place the child under protective services  if they ever went back to court. A year later, the guy got married to another woman. The sad part is that although my sister knew what she was getting into because everyone had warned her about the guy, she had been alone for so long that she was gonna make it work this time, come what may.

Living with another person is not easy, no matter how much you love them and are willing to ignore their quirks and odd habits. I mean, I’ve been married for almost 12 years now and although I love my husband dearly, sometimes I have to restrain myself from kicking him in the butt for being such an annoying and demanding macho.  I’m pretty sure he tries to restrain himself too, but let’s face it, men can be clueless as to what affects us, even though we’ve told them time and again…

That being said, I’m convinced that not all of us are made to live a shared life. Some people prefer their freedom and feel complete as they are, which is perfectly fine. One of my closest friends is my age and remains single (and probably will remain single forever). She is extremely good at her work and still lives with her parents, since they all get along very well and she doesn’t feel the need to take out an apartment of her own. Even though we are close, I’ve never heard her talk about her dates or her love life in general and I’ve never asked her either. Many people have asked me if she’s gay and the truth is that although I’m pretty sure that she is, it’s none of my business and if she’d rather not say, then who am I to probe? Whatever her choice is, I do know that she is a happy gal and that’s all that matters. She is also aware that she could never put up with anyone else’s crap, so she knows that it makes no sense to look for a lasting relationship if she’s not going to be able to make it work. If you ask me, that is the sensible way to go…

So you see, more than it being of problem of WHEN you get married, it’s more about WHETHER you should.

 

 

I’m behind the news as usual, but I was lucky enough (?)  to catch about 45 minutes of the interview Lance Armstrong gave Oprah a few weeks ago and even though it was just a tiny piece of the whole thing, I’m pretty sure I caught the gist of it.

Like everyone who has seen the news in recent years, I’d heard a lot about the accusations against Armstrong regarding the use of steroids that allowed him to win 7 Tour de France. I guess I was always a little suspicious, especially since he was a cancer survivor, and now that I’ve seen the toll cancer treatment takes on its victims,  for a while there I was truly impressed despite my doubts.

But after seeing his interview, if I had to say one thing is that although it was supposed to be some sort of act of contrition to come clean about his doping past, I have never seen more a more calculated and rehearsed speech in my life. And Oprah, with all her years of experience said that she had been surprised by his candour, or something like that. I may not be an expert journalist or have a degree in Psychology or in any field remotely related to human behavior. I am, however, a consummate introvert. I’m  the girl sitting in the corner quietly, paying attention to everyone else, observing their attempts to attract attention and be in the spotlight for a while. I may not have many personal or social skills, but I am definitely a good judge of character. And I can say, without any doubt, that Armstrong did a fine job at fooling everyone.

It was clear that he was mortified for getting caught, but not for what he’d done. That he’d lied over and over to everyone and that when anyone hinted at the possibility that he’d been doping himself he’d retaliate like a spoiled child who is denied the pretty shiny toy he wants and showed no mercy until he got his way, no matter what the cost might have been for others. And for that he showed no remorse, no regrets.

He mentioned his kids, and how he’d finally come clean because he saw that he could no longer have them defend him when all the accusations made against him were in fact true. And again, what I saw was that he was almost angry he’d had to tell them the truth, but not truly remorseful. And you know, now that I’m a mother, I’ve learned one thing that has guided me through a lot of situations, and it’s this: if you can’t tell your kid about it, or have to lie about it and risk them getting hurt as a result, it’s probably not a good idea. If we do something that we become ashamed of and can’t afford to let our kids know about it, then we’ve definitely done something wrong.

He also said it was impossible  to win the Tour de France without using steroids, or whatever it was he used to win. That was a hard slap in the face for all the others who have competed honestly and trained long and hard every year to win that competition. What would legendary cyclists like Bernard Hinault and Laurent Fignon think about that? For that matter, what about all the other cyclists who never had the chance to win the race while he was competing because he was on drugs and they were not? Furthermore, the other competitors still fought their way through the competition even though they knew they slim to no chances of winning while they had to race against Armstrong, and that is a tough psychological component to beat.

I’m not naive, and I’m sure doping has become more common in competitive sports than it used to be before. Nevertheless, Armstrong had no right to imply that everyone was doing it if he was not going to present proof to back his words. Actually, I’m kind of shocked no one from the race-cycling industry has come out yet to set the record straight, but I’m pretty sure they won’t – and can’t afford  to – stay quiet for much longer.

Anyway, after all has been said and done, I’ve concluded the many of us out there simply chose to believe that he was a hero, the kind of person everyone admires and wants to be like, because he is the ultimate survivor, living proof that if you put your mind to something you can accomplish anything. What’s really sad is that I’m sure that he would’ve been just as highly regarded and respected no matter what his ranking was at the end of these competitions, because he’d already accomplished su much and gone so far. It is definitely much easier to see a hero, even though we know deep down that there is nothing more than a liar there.

My mother has finally finished her preliminary 4 rounds of chemotherapy. There is now a 3-week wait before a full battery of tests is made to see if and how much the treatment has helped. And then, all the decisions that have to be made will be made.

I hadn’t realized just how scared and stressed out I’ve been over this until this week. I was flipping channels when I found the movie “My Girl”. I’d already seen it when it was originally released and I remembered I cried. That was the time when I’d go to see just any movie. I became more selective when my daughter was born not only because of the obvious time constraints, but also because I decided that life already provided enough drama every now and then, so why pay to see something sad on my already limited outings.

Under normal conditions, I would’ve kept on flipping or just switched off to read a book (it’s currently Ken Follett’s “A Dangerous Fortune”), and yet I just stopped and forced myself to watch the whole thing. Obviously, when the time came I cried, only this time it wasn’t just a few scattered tears, no. This time it was bawling until I had no more tears left. I felt a little like Emma Thompson’s Elinor Dashwood when she learns that Edward is not married – everything she had kept inside for so long just came gushing out, uncontrolled, something like a dam suddenly bursting and flooding everything around it.  Me being so pale, the just-cried puffy eyes and reddened nose finally cleared after a couple of hours, leaving me to wake up this morning with swollen eyelids as a souvenir of the previous day. But also, I felt incredibly relieved.

The thing is, it helped me realized that ever since my mother’s diagnosis I hadn’t found the time or the strength to admit my fear and anxiety, nor was I willing to do so either. I buried myself in my work so I would never have time to think about it, and just avoided anything that would make me feel upset. And while crying is supposed to be a healthy manifestation of our feelings, when other people need your support or you need to convince yourself that things are going to be alright, crying becomes the affirmation to the contrary: it means that things probably aren’t going the way they should and in all likelihood it’s not going to be ok. And now that I know that I had all this buried deep down inside, I’ve come to terms with the fact that regardless of the tests results, life will never be the same.

I mean, if all goes well, then I’ll probably adopt a new take on life and be more optimistic, which is fine, although in my case it’ll probably be temporary; if it doesn’t, well, no matter what my relationship my mother is like, seeing your own mother deteriorate and eventually let go of this world has to be one of life’s hardest trials.  

Seeing her, a rather tall and large woman shrivel into a helpless old lady has already been tough enough. She’s lost over 30 lbs. since October when the chemo started and rarely eats, goes out or does anything anymore. I know there’s a depression component there that worsens it all but still, there’s only so much the rest of us can do to improve her situation. My mother will have to fight this battle alone and if she doesn’t find the strength to kick the cancer, no one else can do it for her.

Having said all this, I’m glad I had the chance to cry it out and acknowledge everything that’s happening. I know that difficult times are just around the corner and that I’ll probably have to allow myself to cry every once in a while if I don’t want to have another breakdown.

Busy as I’ve been, I only just saw that People magazine declared Channing Tatum as the Sexiest man Alive for 2012.

PLOP!

THAT guy is the sexiest man alive?

OK, I know that looks are a matter of personal taste but really, HE IS IT?

I also know that George Clooney and Brad Pitt can’t be on the cover every other year and should be named Honorary Members or something like that (Denzel Washington and Bradley Cooper could also be part of the club), but seriously, I think PEOPLE could’ve chosen better.  And I’m not saying that Tatum doesn’t have the looks, I’m just saying he’s not all that. Maybe he was also chosen because he’s become so popular and well-known. If that were the case, other guys could have made the list as well, although I must confess that I haven’t seen the full list so I don’t really know if the guys I’m going to mention were already included.

 Where is Jim Caviezel? He may not be IT, but he looks pretty darn sexy in Person of Interest. I guess he would have been one of my picks for the cover, because frankly, I think the guy is just perfect.

Was Johnny Depp in there? Don’t know, but he definitely should be.

I think Chris Hemsworth (Thor) was included, but I rather prefer his brother Liam (The Hunger Games).

Jay Ryan (Beauty & The Beast) could’ve also made the list. I mean, a tv show that has to thank the looks of their main characters for its ratings and not really the plot says a lot. 

Italian soccer player Paolo Maldini could’ve been a model. Luckily, he chose soccer, so tv exposure was greater and I got to see him quite often. The fact that he was an excellent player and completely devoted to his family always made him irresistible to me. He’s retired now, but he could’ve made the cover of any fashion magazine had he wanted to. Check him out, you’ll see what I mean.

Ian Somerhalder, Patrick Dempsey, Matt Bomer, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Gosling, Eion Bailey, Hugh Jackman, Hugh Grant, Matthew Goode, Stephen Amell, Richard Armitage, Colin Firth, Gerard Butler, Jude Law, Christian Bale, Gary Oldman,Ewan McGregor, Dominic Purcell, Rob Lowe, Edward Burns, Chris Zylka, Mathew Lewis (Neville Longbottom – all grown and gorgeous), Oded Fehr, Sendil Ramamurthy, Hayden Christensen, Paul Walker, Colin Farrell,  Sean Faris, Eric Bana all look pretty good to me as well.

Leonardo DiCaprio is definitely one of my favorite. He brushed past me in Paris in the spring of ’97. I was leaving a bar called Barfly while he was trying to get in. Titanic had not been released yet and he was in France shooting The Man with the Iron Mask. And even though I don’t particularly like blondes, I can tell you that the guy is flawless, and what’s worse: he looks hotter with each passing day. I’d definitely say he looks better now than he did then, as it seems that the whole maturing process only makes him look more interesting. That, and the fact that he has proven to be a first-class actor should’ve made him a strong candidate for sexiest man for 2012. Maybe People magazine took a leaf out of the Academy’s book and decided to ignore him despite him having proven over and over that he truly is all that.

There are guys like Damian Lewis who I don’t particularly like, but I can see why others would.

And there are guys who are so popular and make people swoon all over the place and yet I can’t see what it is everyone else is seeing. That would be the case of Ashton Kutcher, Usher, Justin Timberlake, Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Hamm. And Channing Tatum. Seriously, I don’t get it.

People magazine need to do better this year, because there are so many good candidates out there it’s a shame they’re left out and leave us wondering when the hell the definition of sexy changed.


  • None
  • Carrie Rubin: I don't always remember names well, but I remember circumstances. I especially remembered yours because it's such a rare cancer, and you were the firs
  • iamtheinvisiblehand: Thank you for your kind words, but also thank you for remembering it was me....it's amazing that you'd remember this considering the endless stream of
  • Carrie Rubin: I am so sorry to hear about your mother. After you commented on my blog yesterday, I remembered that your mother was the one who had cholangiocarcinom

Categories