Hello, World! I have a website!!

Does that mean I’m a somebody?!

Not really, just my little corner in this infinite Internet. But, in an effort to centralize (and force myself to write) I’ve put together this website. Isn’t it a Betty?

Well, the blog will be there now. I’ll still have musings, there still there, you can’t shut me up.

http://lalidelrio.com

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The Ice Bucket Challenge, a Personal Matter

In a matter of days my newsfeed was filled with people accepting and then doling out an #icebucketchallenge. It gave people a choice: throw ice water over your head or donate money to ALS research. A few days after the challenge went viral, articles both praising and panning the challenge started popping up. Of course, now we’ve got a debate. Is it narcism or altruism? Is it yet another empty hashtag, millennial, pseudo-movement?

At first I was upset. “THERE’S A DROUGHT,” I screamed. “THERE ARE PEOPLE WITH NO ACCESS TO WATER,” I shamed them. “GIVE THE MONEY!!” I was very righteously upset. Who did these people think they were? Don’t you know ANYTHING about ALS? Do you know how horrible it is to watch a loved one fall down, lose their speech, their ability to move, all the while remembering everything? To know that your hero is a prisoner of his own body. I felt slighted. They were trivializing the most difficult years of my life with an inane challenge.

Then the numbers came in. Something like $10million were reported since celebrities started playing the game. My indignation softened. That’s all I ever wanted for my grandfather. I wanted ALS to have more recognition, more funding, more medicine – that meant less people misdiagnosed.

Now that everyone knows about the challenge, now that I’ve come to terms with its existence, I’d like to tell you a personal story.

My grandfather, Avi, was a wonderful man. He was an architect, a teacher, a Cuban in exile, a husband, a father, and my favorite person. He also loved the good life. Good travel, good food, and good wine. In fact, my grandfather made sure to share all of this with us, he wanted us to enjoy our time together. We traveled in groups of 20’s. The entire family went on vacation together. (We still do, because that’s what he would have wanted.)My grandfather’s architecture office was the second floor of my grandparent’s house. That way he could have lunch with his family every day, and even when he had to work late – he was home. (Just to give you a picture of the man.)

One day he fell. Just fell down, and we didn’t know why. Then it happened again. Now we worried. Blood work, hospital visits, and then the diagnosis. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, once diagnosed, doesn’t stop, it doesn’t give you a time of rest. It’s degenerative, and it’s merciless. By all accounts, getting diagnosed with ALS was a death sentence, we were told. We believed everyone because we didn’t know what it was, no one else we knew had gone through this. We didn’t know what to expect. But if I’ve ever received a lesson in “never give up,” I got it then.

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My grandfather had this drawing behind his desk.

My grandfather kept working. He loved his work. So, when his speech slurred, when his mobility weakened, my family spoke for him, attended meetings, signed for him. There were these clear boards with letters and numbers on them. Even when he was completely immobile, his eyes would speak. He could look at the square and slowly form words. It was like a hangman game for decision making. It got even more difficult. The last communication form took the “Yes/No” approach. Looking at one hand meant “yes,” and the other meant “no.”

As I write this, I realize how much I’ve blurred out. How painful it is to remember him in those last years, because he was so alive. But I think that’s what made him so wonderful. He never showed any cracks in his determination. He enjoyed his life until the end. Until the very end, my grandfather lived. It was never a death sentence.

The last memory I have singed in my brain of Avi’s strength (and of my family’s devotion) is of my grandparents’ last anniversary together. My grandfather wanted to dance with my grandmother, so, my uncles lifted my grandfather from his chair and carried him, placed his arms around my grandmother so that he could hold her and dance as they did countless times before. It was such a simple moment. It was so beautiful. It’s probably the last time I thought something was truly romantic.

ALS robbed me of my grandfather, my friend, my hero.

Throw the water if you must. But donate money first. Please.

http://www.alscenter.org/

Avi y yo

AM I A HIPSTER? (AND OTHER CONCERNS.)

I wear Ray-Ban Wayferer glasses, I’m big into finding new spots, I like craft things, I’ve had poutine more than once, and I totally think bacon on popcorn is the great new frontier. Pop up dinners? I’m in!

When I moved to Chicago, I moved to Wicker Park, and then to Pilsen. Guilty… and guilty by association too!

I’ve been going through each item of the “hipster definition” list, and I’m afraid I may be one. I appreciate art:

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… and I downloaded the Snoop Dogg (pardon me Lion) app and thought it was hilarious. Laughed a good while.

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I’m sorry. I would like to apologize, formally, to everyone. I have come to terms with my reality. I won’t even offer up a defense – I am a hipster, and I’m OK with it.

The only thing that I feel deeply conflicted about is Liz Lemon not accepting me (but secretly, I think she would like me if we hung out.)

hipster nonsense

All you other people, don’t care. Do not care at all.

But even coming to terms with this hasn’t calmed down my neuroses. I’ve started to realize I am extremely neurotic, and it’s only getting worse with age. (The fact that I’m only realizing that now gives me more stress. The other day I found myself contemplating if I was destined to be a late bloomer for life.) I also started worrying about my Vitamin D intake. Should I be taking more? Is that a thing?

What I mean is, now that I’m well into my 30th year of life, have I really learned anything? Am I in any way smarter than say, when I was 25? I thought 30 would mean “you got your shit together.” You know, you’re an adult, and you do adult things. But since turning 30 I quit my job, moved in with my mom for the summer, and decided to move half-way across the planet for “new experiences.” Is that what adults do? Or have we altered the definition of adulthood?

And here is where I have arrived. Another year older, and I thought I had nothing to show for it. A new decade and not a clue about what I’m doing with my life. The main difference is, I don’t care. Or better, I don’t mind. I have no clue what these choices will bring. I can’t really tell, but if adulthood is knowing who you are, I definitely know who I’m not! I keep remembering a philosophy class from college (yes, that one that everyone remembers.) The professor said to describe a chair to someone who had never seen one. One by one students gave descriptions:

“It has 4 legs.”
“So does a horse.”

Not earth-shattering, but at 18, students

KKwhatevs

The exercise was just that. A way to chip away the preconceived notions of language and how we view our reality. At the time it was simple. A chair, the number 3, what’s more real? Like a really painful study of Magritte. But now in it’s most tangible way, if applied to adulthood, it can become a clear definition of what an adult is. Or better yet, isn’t. An adult is not someone who has a mortgage, is married, has a 401K, 2.5 kids, and a dog. (BTW – if I have a dog, am I closer to adulthood?)

An adult is someone who knows if he/she wants a mortgage, or to be married, or how to prepare for the future (or even if you want to prepare), if you want kids (some people should not be entrusted with minors), and if they want a dog!

I’m not defining the future by what I want to do, or where I want to be. So far, I know what I DON’T want, and where I DON’T want to be. I think that’s good enough.

Also, I think Tuesdays are the worst day. I’m writing this on a Tuesday. Tuesdays unlike Mondays don’t have the lingering residue of the weekend, and they are so far away from the next weekend. Wednesdays at least have the “hump day” marketing now. We’re seeing the cup of water week half full by Wednesday. Tuesdays are just boring. Uninspired. Sorry, Morrie. (This is a legitimate concern and thought ruminating in my brain.)

Your brain

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Your brain on critical thinking

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Other concern-musings from recent weeks:

  • Did my metabolism really shoot to zero at 30? If so, how do I lose weight/stay in shape? Do I need to work out more? I can’t work out more…
  • Does my dog think I’m abandoning her? Am I doing irreparable damage? Does that make me a bad person?
  • Could I have developed adult ADHD?
  • Am I just another Millennial statistic? AM I A MILLENNIAL?
  • Do I need to cut down my Facebook friends?
  • Am I watching too much reality TV?
  • Does “48 hours” count as reality TV? Am I watching too many crime-drama shows? Are they helping or glamorizing murder? Does that speak more to how our society operated or our creative collective?

My brain is fried, so cats.

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***

*I heard of a place that will serve toast all day, and I am genuinely excited to find this place and try their toast.

Dispatches from Dietland

Two weeks before my friend’s wedding (and a too-tight bridesmaid dress) I decided to go on an all-out diet. I am feeling emotions I didn’t know I had – I didn’t know existed! The roller coaster of emotions has really thrown me through a loop. I’m a week in, and now I’m starting to level out long enough to process emotions.

First, I was all in. ALL IN! LET’S DO THIS!!

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Then, I started to get real, and you have to say good bye to the good friends, the great company, you won’t be able to keep for the next few weeks.

Good bye, cheese.

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Good bye, chocolate & baked goods.

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And the hardest one of all… good bye, alcohol intake.

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You turn to television for sweet relief… something to escape. And you realize how much advertisement is about food. All the food you vowed not to eat.

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Because that’s all you can do now… watch TV. It’s the only thing you have enough energy to do.

The Food Channel is forbidden! OH MY GOD WHY IS THE TRAVEL CHANNEL AIRING THEIR “FRIED HEAVEN” ROAD TRIP SHOWS? You start convincing yourself the world is out to get you.

Everyone hates you and they have a vendetta against you.

I SWEAR EVERYTHING SMELLS LIKE BACON.

Just as your energy reaches a new low, it’s time to eat a measured cup of cantaloupe melon. SUGAR RUSH!

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For 10 minutes straight, you start thinking ” I can totally do this, what was I bitching about, this is AMAZING.” And you believe yourself ,too! This is easy. This is real. You can do this! (You give yourself this pep talk several times a day.)

You also start realizing how many hours there are in the day. How many of them can you sleep? 3 out of the 5 stages of grief passed by, and it’s not even noon.

This is all an internal battle, a solitary struggle. But then there is family. Some of them are supportive, a sort of cheerleading section.

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You appreciate this bunch. You also question them. Did you really gain that much weight? (This can also be the lack of sugar in your system talking.)

There is another group of lovely family and friends that love you for who you are and therefore will not be impartial. They tend to say things like “you look great just the way you are,” and “you don’t need to diet!”

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They are clearly lying liars! YOU STEPPED ON THE SCALE! YOU KNOW THE TRUTH! YOU PUT THAT DRESS ON!!

Oh no… here it comes… rage. Angers from my feminist side at my need to general society’s thin-obsession. DAMN PATRIARCHY! I DO ME!

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It’s already post meridian, and your crazy has reached new levels. You can’t be trusted with anything.

You. Must. Develop. A. Plan. Something to channel all frustrations. Cue “Eye of the Tiger.”

1) Lettuce! Add lettuce to everything!

omnomnmnom

lettuce

 

2) Turn off the television, start making collages, wash your hair, take the dog out for a walk – it’s summer. Walk around, see people outside enjoying the day, ugh, people enjoying things. They are grilling, there’s meat on a grill and it smells soooooooo good. You’d eat the charcoal just to have a taste of that delicious pig on a stick.  Pretty soon you’re delirious. IS SOMEONE FRYING SOMETHING? WHY DOES EVERYTHING GO BACK TO FOOD?!

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You head back inside. It was too much, you weren’t ready. But just like that another day has passed. Sleep is the most fun. You can dream about food without eating it.

The days pretty much look the same. But then, weirdly, you start developing a rhythm. Yeah, gurl, you got this!

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You start using the phrase “natures candy” un-ironically, about fruits. Who are you?! Who cares? You are halfway there, living on a prayer, and this time next week you’ll be eating, drinking, dancing, and all this will be a distant memory!

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shove food

 

I WIN, DIET! I WIN!

 

An Instagram Story

This is Cailloux.

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She’s what we like to call a Puerto Rican terrier, or “sata”. It’s an original island breed. They are smart and gorgeous, and the sweetest you’ll ever meet! She’s a rescue, so she’s also fiercely loyal and trusting. Four years ago, we embarked on our first adventure… we moved to Chicago.

She agreed whole heartedly, and traded in the beach fur for a winter coat.

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She didn’t always like them. She didn’t really like the boots either, but she did see squirrels…

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The solitary squirrel, a rare opportunity for Cailloux, and she seized it!

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We fell in love with Chicago, but after 4 years the adventure had to come to an end. And again she was ready to help. (Without opposable thumbs she was more there to provide morale.)

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Trusting as she is, she jumped right in! We moved back to her home country of Puerto Rico for the summer.

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Boxes arrived.

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Long sunny walks started…

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And then, Cailloux’s favorite activity… beach!

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She’s finally back home, she has a big yard.

The point is I’m leaving soon, and this time Cailloux can’t come on the adventure. And I’m going to miss her because she’s a great furry companion. At least, when I was living on my own, I felt less crazy about talking out loud. I wasn’t talking to myself, I was talking to my silent partner. And I’m going to miss her goofy little fur ball.

So, here is a series of very self-indulgent Instagram pictures I took of Cailloux.

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***

 

 

 





 

‘HAVING IT ALL’ IS NOT A GENDER ISSUE

Women are really important right now. Women are everywhere. Women are mothers running a household, and now they are CEO’s running a corporation. It’s difficult to avoid women. Women have even become trending topics! Women, women, women. Inescapable. The “fairer” gender, all of a sudden, is having its moment in the sun!

The popularity of women created an exploitable interest group now. Suddenly, as if we hadn’t existed before, suffragettes hadn’t worked tirelessly for voting rights, feminism was just a fad from lesbians upset with their bras, women – much like the fashion wheel – are a thing again. Tassels, fringe, leather, and lace.

But we women are in now, and people are going to talk.

I read through all the pieces, from The Atlantic’s seeming obsession with this topic and Indra Nooyi’s candid interview to the Matt Lauer-Mary Barra much contested interview. Then I red the “write-terpretations” of each (my new term for articles that write a new interpretation of a seemingly straightforward statement.) So many points of views, and each, increasingly more entrenched in the ideology that women could (should they set expectations accordingly) have almost all (and always at the cost of the family.) Basically, each ended with what could easily be put into an imagery of “think of the children” montage. The other response: what if women don’t want the family? It’s our choice. Another: It is insulting to our intelligence and derailing the conversation, you wouldn’t ask men that question! Or yet another: Why even ask that question?

I read everything. I devoured it like I was going to be tested on some right or wrong metrics developed by the Core program. It made me sick – then, I had my Oprah-like “aha” moment, although I don’t know if she would have liked my epiphany. “HAVING IT ALL” IS NOT A GENDER ISSUE! It should have never been. It is simply because now women are surpassing men in college graduations and entering the workforce to compete at a slightly more leveled playing field. (Sometimes, this part of my brain that still operates on guilt, somehow convinces me that we gave them patriarchy as a head start for their shortcomings – now as we bridge that gap some un-evolved binary gender adherent men are scared. Is that PC enough?)

As for the issue at hand – having it all. A more pressing and interesting question is why women entertain the question. Having everything in life is impossible. That’s not a gender dynamic; it’s cold, hard, calculating economics. Microeconomics, to be exact, and it is opportunity costs. Is occurs independently of what or who you are. In its simplest form, opportunity cost is “the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.” We must choose. There is a finite amount of time in this life as we live it; therefore, when faced with options we must forgo some to fulfill others. We prioritize. It’s why those “Sliding Door” fantasies occur; it’s why some people never act (but that is a choice in itself.) If presented with two things: career advancement or family, we must make a choice. Until recently (and still very much in the forefront) women’s answer should always be family. Well, of course, we could have a side job to get us out of the house and make us feel useful, but family always first. Then came a breed of women, unafraid to bitch their way to the top. (Because, men are aggressive. Women are bitches man-eaters. Fact.) The truth is, taking opportunity cost into effect, these women prioritized career. They chose like men. Because the male definition of success equates to acquiring a family without the need to maintain it, or even be present in its development.

Now that women (however few) have reached the same executive positions and success as men, the definition of success morphed. Success is being perfect at everything! Success is getting the promotion at work, completing all your Pinterest board dream DIY décor ideas, and never missing a parent/teacher conference.

Think of the Care.com commercials. Have you seen them? The “Multiplicity” ad presents, in a 30-second time frame, the definition of female success. Somehow, when the estrogen ingredient is added to success it equals to overwhelming.

Under any definition Indra Nooyi is successful. She has been married for 34 years, has 2 daughters, and is the CEO of a multinational corporation. She also happens to be a woman, and Indian. 3 things she’s worked for, 2 things that happened to her. When she asserts that women can’t have it all, and it is quoted over and over again as a banner from patriarchy calling out to all women letting us know we will never achieve our dreams of 100%, I can’t help but frown – if I had a large apple tree I would go and sit underneath it to sulk.

The “having it all” dilemma raises more questions than providing a guideline for how to live life. I won’t be Ms. Nooyi or Ms. Barra, but I have a right to use them as inspiration without an asterisk. Without a “but.” They should be controversial without questioning if they’re happy with their life choices. Men can look at, and idolize, Jack Welch and Steve Jobs, without even the slightest concern for their personal life. And I think that’s the end point of the argument. Having it all is not a professional question. It is absolutely personal, and to a certain extent it pries into the individual’s life in a stealthy way. It doesn’t come right out and ask “tell us everything about you,” but in a shorthand way requests personal information from the individual. Women are expected to answer how they handle it all at a higher rate than men. Women can’t just be powerful on their own; it must come at a cost. Somehow. Why? Are women setting the standard by even entertaining this question, or are we just more vocal?

Women are flawed, just like men. To reach those levels of success, there is more in common between two CEO’s independently from gender than between Mary Barra and myself as women. Don’t ask women can they have it all, we can’t. But then again, no one, not ever, will have it all.

I’m exhausted, life is hard enough. We’re damned if we do, we’re damned if we don’t. I’m going to go watch reality TV.

 

***

 Questions I would prefer we ask these high-ranking women (and all other high-ranking officials):

  • Would you reconsider bringing back Pepsi Clear?
  • Before Pepsi, did you ever think you were a Coke person?
  • Why does PepsiCo continue to obstruct California legislation on GMO labeling?
  • What has GM done since the ASOTRECOL hunger strike in 2012-2013 regarding labor conditions in its plants in Colombia?
  • How does GM counter the EPA claims of exacerbating pollution and the lawsuit brought forth by the US Department of Justice?
  • What does your company do in order to ensure compliance with local laws of operations in your international locations?
  • Does your company invest in its multinational locations? What does it do for the local community that will have positive long-term effects?

  ***

*Full disclosure, I read “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg and laughed at 50% of it. I agree men should share in household duties and as women we should be looking for partners instead of providers. Everything else, well, let’s chuck some of it up to lucky star alignments.

**And let’s get real, now that Kim Kardashian weighed-in in the matter, well, how can I counter? I’m just a nobody. Women can have it all! Vapid, dead-eye Instagram posts included!