iamtheinvisiblehand

I wrote a few months ago that I wouldn’t be reading Fifty Shades of Grey because of the bad reviews and the weak heroine. It turns out I caved and read it, although no money was spent – thank God. I found this book in a suitcase my mother had filled up with books she wanted to donate, so I figured, WTH, let’s see what the hype is all about.

Let me just start by saying that although I didn’t spend any money on it, the hours I wasted reading it are gone forever and should’ve been spent doing something else. ANYTHING else. THAT, I regret deeply.

I had no idea that this piece of c#$% was Twilight fan fiction, but then it makes sense because the whole thing, the characters, the plot, even the location, are all Twilight-based: Anastasia is basically Bella, only this time around she gets laid every 20 pages or so. Christian has Edward’s copper tousled hair. They all live in Washington state.

I don’t even know where to start so I guess I’ll just make a bullet list:

-The bad writing. I mean , the worst writing I’ve ever had to endure. I keep wondering how Ms. James managed to pull this off. Are there no editors at her publishing house? Holy c$%&. holy s*¨#$, holy f$%&, later’s babe and all sorts of similar expressions are on every single page. “Later’s, babe”?. Who talks like that?

-I never thought I’d say this, but Anastasia is worse than Bella. She keeps asking herself why this guy wants her when she is nothing. Well, if you have to ask yourself that, then you probably aren’t worth it. Did I mention she’s a 21-year old virgin who has never masturbated, calls her vagina “down there”, has an annoying “inner goddess” and although Christian has told her that he’s into inflicting pain, she manages to act surprised at the end because she felt pain. Ugh. Oh, and she supposedly never owned an email account or a computer before Christian came around. In what century has this girl been living? AND, she is willing to put up with anything this psycho does because he is just so gorgeous, something that is said over and over ad nauseam.

-Christian has a little more depth, although psychologically he makes no sense. He’s supposed to be a 27-year old billionaire, which means that he is probably a tough guy, and yet he is whiny, insecure, jealous and a stalker. Someone that insecure could never make it big in business. I mean, the whole buying out the plane seat next to her, following her to Georgia, giving her a Blackberry and a computer so he can monitor her every move, that’s just sick and I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with him being a dom and her a sub.  

-The constant and ridiculous emails they sent to each other. Anastasia’s writing and speaking skills range from Snooki to Elizabeth Bennet in the same sentence. Who uses “avuncular” in the middle of a conversation?

-The BDSM. I’m not that knowledgeable on this subject but I’ve been told (more than once, actually) that this is a sexual preference and as such rarely reflects on people’s real lives, meaning that a sub in the bedroom is rarely a doormat in real life, and a dom is not necessarily a control freak either. So there goes the author’s research.

-These people have sex all around the place and every few pages. THIS is supposed to be the good part of the book and what has been turning women on all around the world. Let me just say that by the middle of the book I’d had enough already it was so repetitive and monotonous that I started skipping to the “substance” to see if the plot got any better. It didn’t. I can’t believe Kathy Lee and whatshername and the anchors of the Today Show actually raved about this book, saying it was a great Mother’s day gift.  Heck, even Dr. Oz had a show about how this book improved couples’ sex lives. Puh-leez.

-This stupid girl tries throughout the entire book to get to the core of his issues so she can fix him. In the process, we learn that he was abused into BDSM by an older woman when he was 15. And somehow, you never read or hear anyone criticizing this way-too-casual reference to pedophilia. Disgusting.

-Anastasia and Cristian are in an extremely abusive relationship. Stalking and wanting full control over someone is not love. Just because people prefer calling it something else or fool themselves into thinking it’s romantic doesn’t mean it isn’t abuse.

The fact that such rubbish made it to the NYT top 10 says a lot about us as a society. I mean, people can write whatever they want and hope it’ll go viral. The problem is, there must be way too many lonely, hopelessly romantic women out there to let this disaster become some sort of reading reference. Every single woman I know has read this book and loved it, and every time I’ve had something to say against it they consistently refute it, as if I hadn’t understood the darn thing, when I think I got it a lot better than all of them did. For someone who reads as much as I do, I’m pretty certain my reading comprehension level exceeds that of all of them, who have probably only read this one book this year because this sorry excuse for writing was published. 

It’s a sad day when you realize that issues such as abuse and pedophilia are being ignored for the sake of romance. I truly never thought that one stupid book could do such damage. And I don’t think I’m being dramatic here. When people start ignoring important things because they’d rather look the other way, they are accepting them by default. And shame on Ms. James. Instead of writing about a strong, independent heroine other women could look up to, she’s debased us all by serving up a spineless, immature weakling that can’t stand up for herself and puts up with unimaginable situations for the sake of a guy, who in turn, doesn’t even love her.

Writers who get lucky enough to be published have the incredible power of reaching other people’s minds and speaking to them through their characters. I believe they should take that responsibility and privilege more seriously and try to contribute instead of punching us in the face with their own sexual fantasies.

I wonder if Ms. James has daughters, and if she does, I seriously hope they are as disgusted with her as I am.

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My mother was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma last week, after an endless month of tests, scans and appointments with the entire gamut of specialists.

For those who don’t know, cholangiocarcinoma is one of the most aggressive types of cancer. My mother’s is in the liver and metastasis was found in the peritoneum. It appears that the tumor that is in the liver is in the one place that makes it impossible to operate. Those in the peritoneum are rarely operated. So, chemotherapy it is. Starting today. The oncologist ordered 3 rounds of chemo and after that she’ll be tested again to check for improvement. If there is any, chemo will continue. If not, we’ll just have to let the cancer take over.

I know chemotherapy has come a long way and that nowadays, the treatment is a lot “milder” than it was a few years ago, but still, I can only imagine how she’s going to feel, being the person she is.

I’m not particularly attached to her, or my sisters for that matter, and I don’t feel that this has brought us closer, as many people in this same situation like to say.

My mother is as close as you can get to being Marie Barone (from Everybody Loves Raymond), so she enjoys feeling in control, having us all together at her disposal and being the center of attention. I don’t mean to sound nasty but it’s true. She has told every single relative, friend and acquaintance about her condition and although I can understand why she’s done it (besides being entitled to deal with this as she pleases), I truly wish she hadn’t, because now it means that she has made the cancer the main event of her life and has to rehash it every single time she’s with someone.

I’m not sure if she has come to terms with the fact that although this is a huge beast, half the task is becoming aware that she has the power to get rid of it by staying positive. Cancer survivors always say that a positive attitude can go a long way towards recovery. Of course, easier said than done, especially considering that my mother might be the most pessimistic person on the planet. It’s so bad that we’re always telling her to move her dark clouds away from us whenever she makes one of her ominous comments.

Our sisters and I have approached this from our unique perspectives and considering our own individual relation with our mother. My eldest sister feels quite dependent on her, so everything that has happened has affected her deeply. I can tell she’s truly scared. My other sister, the doctor, is approaching this like the doctor she is, meaning that she knows the facts better than we do, and she knows the outlook is grim, but she’s doing her part all the same. My youngest sister is probably the most affected, because she lives with my mother and is doing everything in her power to change my mother’s lifestyle into a healthier one, so if it doesn’t work I know she’ll be crushed. That, added to the fact that she is probably the closest to her.

Me? Hmmm. I haven’t really changed anything in my behavior or attitude. I’ve become weary of the manipulation, the phone calls every single day and the pleads for closeness, so although I hate that this is happening, I haven’t felt the need to come closer or reconcile or even mend our relationship.  I’ve come to terms with this.

I’ve been told repeatedly that I’ll regret this. But as I said, I came to terms with my relationship with my mother a long time ago. It’s far from perfect, but I’ve overcome the resentment, the anger and the disappointment I felt when I was younger and have settled for a cordial relationship. And I’m ok with it. She’s my mother and I love her and now that I’m a mother myself I know how hard it can be and I’m sure she did her best. But that is it.

Funny though, I never thought of myself as a selfish person, and yet all I can think about is how I’ll be affected if my mother dies. It kills me that my daughter won’t be able to enjoy her grandma for as long as she should have. It saddens me that my mother sacrificed so much for her own mother and that when she finally had the chance to do what she wanted she got diagnosed with cancer. That she had to put up with so much in her life already and not feel as appreciated as she thinks she should be.

I’m not a religious person, but I do have faith that my mother’s condition will improve. I refuse to believe that a person who has been deprived of living her own life for so long on account of others will now be deprived of it on account of cancer. Life’s not fair, I’m well aware of that, but that would be just plain horrific and would change our take on life radically. For the worse. Living with the knowledge that hope is useless would just make everyday a little more difficult.

All wake-up calls are harsh and abrupt, especially when they are received close to home. I’m taking this as a reminder not to let life get in the way of living it. To realize that it’s ok to strive for improvement while still appreciating the life I have. To leave my stuff in order so that no one will have to make any decision for me and my daughter will have everything she’ll ever need in my absence. To definitely take better care of myself and my family.

I read an article last week on a mother that was charged with child abuse for “smooshing” (I don’t really know what that means but that is how the article described it) the kid who had recently bullied her son.

It appears that she’d heard that her son had encountered some trouble with a bigger kid, so she escorted her son to take the bus in the morning. The bully showed up and started arguing with the boy before even boarding the bus. The mother took action, the teen retaliated (!!!), and then the mother followed the bully onto the bus and pulled his hair. All this was caught on video and all the mother had to say was that she didn’t really regret it. 

The bullying topic is permanently discussed on parenting sites and blogs and the consensus seems to be the same: even though schools have established policies regarding the topic, at some point someone else has to do something about it (either the parents or the child have to eventually take a stance) because the law constrains the authorities way too much to truly be able to take care of things.

My take is that there is something essentially wrong with the way the issue is being dealt with and with the lack of consequences (or enforcement actions) that somehow conveys the message that bullying is ok.

I mean, bullying isn’t new. It’s always been present and is a part of many kids’ daily routine. The thing is, nowadays, it’s just so much more difficult to straighten up your kids when everything is now set up to “protect” the children, even in the cases in which they are the bad guys. And I’m not even talking about spanking the kids, which is not allowed anymore, but about truly and unequivocally letting them know why and how this is unacceptable behavior and making sure they never abuse anyone in any situation again.

Would I have done what the mother in the news did? Probably not. And I’m the mother who shamelessly shouted at another toddler on the beach for throwing sand at my daughter’s face. But it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have gone to the bully’s parents and the school to tell them all about their son’s cowardly actions.

People are always trying to explain bullying by stating that bullies have low self-esteem, are insecure, their parents usually pay no attention to them, and the list goes on and on forever. However, no one ever tries to analyze what happens with the bullied child, or what the long and short-term consequences are. The problem is always focused on the perpetrator and never on the victim. What does that say about us as a society?

In my opinion, there are two types of bullying: traditional bullying, which usually involves boys violently beating up other (smaller) boys. The other, is bullying among girls. This is a lot harder to spot, because it’s subtle. You’ll never see any bruises or scratches. And yet, bullying among girls is just as dangerous because it strips the bullied girls of any self-confidence they may have. It’s more if-you-don’t-bring-me-the-English-paper-by-tomorrow-I-wont-let-you-sit-at-our-lunch-table. Or in the case of smaller girls, if-you-don’t-come-to-school-with-a-ponytail-we-won’t-play-with-you. That is really dangerous, because if you aren’t truly alert, you’ll never see the signs until the damage is done and it’s probably too late.

The topic is way too broad and has so many takes that it’s impossible to condense it in a few lines. I will say, however, that I’m convinced that bad kids who aren’t taught that actions have consequences, turn into bad adults. Not being the religious type or a believer in divine retribution, there is, however, one thing I’ve instilled in my daughter and that is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. The good part is it’s easy enough to understand and I know she gets it because when other kids treat her or someone else badly she always asks them if they would like to be treated that way too and it usually stops the offender.

But then of course, she’s only 6 and at some point it will no longer be enough. That’s why I’ve also told her to defend herself or fight back if someone does anything to hurt her. It’s not ideal, and my daughter’s school strongly disapproves, but kids have to learn that it’s ok to stand up for themselves if they are being attacked, because the world isn’t an easy place and not all people are good. What’s the alternative, turn the other cheek? No thanks. But even though they have to learn to stay out of trouble, they must also learn that it’s ok to tell a teacher or an adult if someone else is being mistreated. We can’t allow our kids to be bystanders just for the sake of protecting them.

I heard from a friendly couple whose son attends my daughter’s school that last year there was a bully in his class. A full-blown bully who would beat up other kids in the bathroom or in the corridors on a daily basis. Mind you, this was happening in second grade, not junior high. Anyway, the problem was spotted early enough during the year and the bully’s parents were instructed to take the boy to therapy to deal with it. The school told those affected to be patient, that it was being handled, but it just went on and on and it wasn’t until the end of the school year that the kid was expelled.   

As a parent, to be informed that your child is a bully that is physically or psychologically hurting other kids must be a fatal blow. However, seeing it as the parent of a bully’s victim, how can you be told to “be patient” and expect your child to understand that it’s going to be ok, even though he gets slapped around every other day? How can you just stand aside and allow you kid to get hurt? I honestly don’t know how the victims’ parents handled it, but I know I would have pestered my daughter’s teachers and the school’s principal every single day until some effective action was taken. So the bully was expelled? Big deal, he was given a whole school year to inflict pain on so many of his classmates that I’m pretty sure the damage to those he bullied will last longer than the bully’s punishment (if any) or remorse (if any).

Anyway, regardless of the reasons why a child becomes a bully, I’m convinced that the parents are the only ones who can nip the problem in the bud. Sure, schools and the authorities may lend a hand, but if a child doesn’t get the message at home (loud and clear) that abusing others is wrong and unacceptable, there’s really nothing left for the others to do. 

A few days ago there was a minor scandal regarding the purchase of some refrigerators.

This is what happened: the largest retail store in the nation (think Wal-Mart adjusted to the local economy of a country with 40 million inhabitants) started selling refrigerators worth $2.000 for $200. There was obviously some kind of typo, but the price was published that way and people started purchasing the refrigerators and had them delivered to their homes, meaning that the mistake went unnoticed for some time.

It appears that many employees of one of the largest banks in the country (which, incidentally, is not only one of the wealthiest banks, but just as the retailer, it is also a part of one of the largest local economic groups,)  took advantage of the situation and started buying them. 

The bank’s CEO caught wind of the whole thing and wrote a letter to his employees admonishing them for their lack of ethics. I haven’t found the letter on the net, but it seems it was quite heartfelt.

When I read the whole story, I was a little surprised, but not necessarily at the attitude of those who made the purchase. I mean, as a customer you must practice the whole “caveat emptor” premise, but that goes both ways: for the bad (making sure you really get what you purchase and not something else) and also for the good (if the price is right and it’s not illegal, you can buy it). Besides, customers have no way of knowing if these are mistakes or if they are real promotions, so why attack them?

What really shocked me, was that the CEO had the nerve to come out and criticize the employees’ actions, when banks are by far, the most corrupt and unethical organizations, second only to everything government and politics-related.

I mean, aren’t banks fully responsible for the current (and prior) recession? Their  constant quest for more profits in complete disregard of reality and the truth have turned them into heartless, greedy entities that somehow manage to charge you +30% annual interest rate on your credit card, but only get you 0.25% per month on your savings account, all this with the government’s permission. And how about the cost of every single transaction? It doesn’t matter whether you transact at the bank, online or at the ATM, everything costs you, even though you are handling your own money.

When banks are in trouble, everyone has to pitch in to save them. For instance, a few years ago, the financial system of the country was in trouble, and so the government imposed a sort of tax on every single financial transaction to save the banks. Today, the financial system of the nation boasts $8 trillion in profit for the first half of 2012, almost $2 trillion of which belong to the banks, and we are still paying the tax, even though they are clearly out of the woods. And yet, when the people really need the money, the financial system is unwilling to lend a hand, which is quite unfair considering that the only reason there are profits to be made is because we gave them our money in the first place.

And don’t get me started on the torture of visiting the bank: there are 5 windows but only 2 cashiers (who, by the way, are paid very little and are asked to work ungodly hours, for the most part), so you must dispose of at least 30 minutes to waste, if not more. Where I live, if you are going to pay your bills in the bank with your card, and if the sum transacted amounts to less than $600, which is the maximum amount you are able to withdraw per day, you are charged a fee. They recommend paying in cash in these cases. I thought the whole point was to handle less cash and encourage the use of the card, but I guess whatever excuse to make you pay more is valid. If you want a cashier’s check, for instance, it costs about $20 for the bank to issue a check. Really? It costs $20 to have a clerk process the request and have the manager sign the check?

And I haven’t even mentioned the behavior of the retailer.

I used to work for another retailer a few years ago and I vividly remember what some suppliers would tell me about the way they were treated at this store in particular. It became so bad, many local suppliers chose to stop selling their goods there, as the fees and discounts were so steep they were barely cutting even. And I’m not even talking about the small suppliers: many of those who left were huge and did well enough to afford losing the sales made by this retailer. THAT’s how bad they were treated.

So in this case, I don’t feel sorry for the retailer, although I do feel sorry for those responsible for the mistake, because they surely lost their job, were forced to pay the price difference, or both, who knows. And, I don’t really think the people who bought the refrigerator should feel bad either, since, IMHO, there is no ethical conflict there. And last but not least, even though the bank’s CEO is a highly respected figure, he should have known better than to criticize his employees when every single thing he stands for is the reason why these things happen in the first place.

I’m not biased or anything, but as a moviegoer – especially now that I’ve slashed my movie outings from once or twice every weekend to once a month – there are certain crowds I just wish I didn’t have to put up with while trying to enjoy a movie.

I’ve narrowed them down to these 4:

1. The giggly girls. They manage to giggle about every single thing, but they are especially annoying during suspense or horror movies. I remember vividly a couple of stupid girls sitting next to me during Shyamalan’s “Signs” who just couldn’t stop giggling even through the scariest parts. And don’t get me started on the fits they have when there’s some kind of skin exposure, or if the actor is cute, because sometimes it’s not even worth enduring the rest of the film.

2. The teen boys. Not only do they fail to pay attention, but because they get bored after a few minutes, they start talking to each other – LOUDLY – or throwing their popcorn at unsuspecting viewers behind or in front of their seats. As if that weren’t bad enough, they keep asking one another what is going on, because none of them seems to be able to grasp the essence of the movie. And I’m not talking about serious or complicated movies, like say, “Inception” in which if you don’t pay attention you can easily get lost, no. I’m talking about “Puss in Boots” or “Transformers”. I mean, how thick can you get?

3. The parents with the bored child. Sigh. You can spot them easily because the child is already showing signs of a meltdown even before the movie has started. At some point, the child will get uncomfortable, either by having to sit still for 2 hours or by the insanely loud audio theaters are using these days, and the tears will come shortly after. In the end, they just waste their money because they have to leave before the child has a full-blown tantrum. I feel bad for these parents, having suffered this myself, and in their defense, there is truly no way of knowing beforehand how a child is going to behave during the movie, no matter what their behavior was five minutes before entering.

4. And last but not least, the phone-addicts. I mean, not only is it spelled out in huge letters across the screen, cinemas usually get the star of the upcoming blockbuster to tell people to TURN OFF THEIR PHONES. And still, these people think that the world will come to an end if they turn they wretched thing off.  Even if, let’s say you need to be available for whatever reason (even though it’s hard to believe a person can’t be spared 2 hours of their precious time, but whatever, it happens) , you can silence the device and still enjoy the movie. If it does ring, at least it will be silent and you can swiftly leave the theater to take the call. These people, however, never do that. Not only is their phone left on, it is not even silenced. To make matters worse, the phone is more often than not stashed at the bottom of the purse (in the case of the ladies) or in some unreachable jacket pocket (in the case of the men), so it takes them about 4-5 rings before they can get to it. And then, they answer it. IN THE THEATER. LOUDLY. And no matter how many “shhhhhes” they get, it’s like they’re in their own little world where there is no one and nothing else but the phone and themselves.

I’ll just have to forget about Saturday night screenings and stick to Sunday morning screenings, as teenagers and phone-addicts don’t usually get up that early.

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.

-Only if you are Michael Jackson you get to set wacky trends every decade or so: a sparkling glove on one hand, jackets in all styles, from red leather to sparkling to military-style, and match with a hat if needed.  

Courtesy of kkdtv.blogspot.com

-You can be as rich and powerful as you want and still be lonely and lost.

-A child that is not allowed to be a child will never really grow up.

-It’ll be a long time before another artist as complete as Michael Jackson comes along.

-And last but not least: If you wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself and then make a change

Men!  The only animal in the world to fear.  ~D.H. Lawrence

Last week, a terrible crime was committed against a very poor woman in the city where I live.

Not only was she assaulted and raped, but impaled as well. She agonized – while remaining conscious –  for a few hours at the place where she was dumped by her assailant. When the police finally found her, she was showing signs of hypothermia.

As if this weren’t enough, when they found her they asked her if she had medical insurance. She said no. She was then taken to a hospital about 20 minutes away from where she was, instead of taking her to another – private – hospital that was just a couple of blocks away.

The poor woman never stood a chance. She died later on due to cardiac arrest, after enduring several operations and all kinds of procedures to save her.

The worst part was the way the media treated the whole thing. It was pitiful and uninformative, to say the least.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to write this post and how to approach the broad array of issues that arise from such a hair-raising event, but in the end all I can say is that I’m sad. Sad and enraged.

Truly and deeply sad.

I’m sad because I feel like something inside of me died a little. Maybe it was hope. Because I always thought human beings were essentially good, but it seems to me that this theory has been proven wrong way too many times already for it to be true.

I’m sad because this was a monstrous crime committed against a helpless woman.

I’m sad because of the way she was treated for being poor and because no one should have to suffer what she suffered only to die part of a health-care system that wasn’t willing to help her.

I’m sad because this is not how things are supposed to be.

I’m sad because the justice system of the country I live in had already tried her attacker before for sexual assault and murder and had released him only 15 months after his conviction. Several arrest warrants are still outstanding for his involvement in other crimes of a similar nature, and yet he has just been released, again, after being apprehended this weekend due to “lack of evidence” or some sort of BS story concocted especially to let the perp walk.

I’m enraged because impunity is, in my opinion, the mother of all other crimes. I mean, why even bother making laws if they are only going to be stomped on by animals such as these and their lawyers, who are just as bad?

But what really infuriates me is that this sort of thing happens all around the world and no one seems to know. Or care.

And I’m not only referring to random violent crimes like this one. I’m talking about systemic, reiterative violence. Against women. Against children. Against other human beings.

People will only become aware of these things if the media informs them about it. But if the media hasn’t heard of it or decides it’s not newsworthy, then it’ll just be ignored and that is so unfair. And since this case had to do with a poor woman in some God-forsaken third-world country, no one will ever know.

Because I’m pretty sure the global media has ignored this: I googled the news in English and only found one reliable source that has not even been updated: http://www.ntn24.com/news/news/outrage-colombia-rape-and-impa-13948

So, I’ve decided to inform the few people who read my blog about it. As long as just one person reads it, I’ll feel like I’ve done my part by making that one person aware of what has happened to that woman nobody seemed to care about.

She is just one of the many who are killed, assaulted, raped or abused every single day across the planet. We can’t feel regret or remorse for things we aren’t aware of, but we should, every now and then, think of those who are not sufficiently important to be on the news, but who nonetheless suffer the unthinkable – some of them, every day -.


  • 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

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