An Instagram Story

This is Cailloux.

Instagram29

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.

Instagram24

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

Instagram9

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

Instagram8

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.)

Instagram11

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

Instagram1

Boxes arrived.

Instagram3

 

Long sunny walks started…

Instagram4

And then, Cailloux’s favorite activity… beach!

Instagram16

 

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.

Instagram 23

Instagram18

Instagram19

Instagram20

Instagram21

Instagram22

Instagram26

Instagram28

 

***

 

 

 





 

Advertisements

The Little Things, Storytelling in the Fall

Dearest Humans – On November 5th I had the pleasure of participating in the “Kindness of Strangers” storytelling festival at the Side Project Theater.

Honestly, I didn’t think I had anything nice to say about people. Turns out, they were happy to hear my inane rants and selfish motivations. They were kind – and here is the story I performed. It happened.

***

This past July was not a good month for me. A lot of things that could go wrong went wrong.

It all started with my front tooth. When I was 12 years old, for some reason, I competed with a friend to see who could swim as closest to the bottom of the concrete pool. I won, and I have the chipped tooth to prove it. I’ve been carrying a grudge on pools for 18 years.

Anyway, there I was minding my own business, eating a chewy breakfast bar at work when I took a bite my cap popped out and into my hand. One bite and I looked like Lloyd Christmas in “Dumb and Dumber”. I could practically whistle through the gap.

I know it sounds vain – because it is. And to you it’s really not important in the grand scheme of things, and you’re right.

But I couldn’t help myself. My tooth chipped and I was furious at my dumb 12-year-old self.

Shortly after the “tooth incident”:

  • The first proposal I submitted at my new job was rejected. It was an e-mail response with just one word: No.
  • Then, I got cat called walking down the street. I don’t know what he said, but he made a lewd gesture, which I could see out of the corner of my eye, and I felt like I needed to singe my skin.
  • Then while waiting on the platform another man shoved me out of the way to get into the train and grab the last seat
  • Then a CTA bus almost ran me over because it ran a red light
  • AND then! a woman cut in front of me in line at Walgreen’s!

Lady: you don’t know me. I’ve had a bad month. July hates me; I’m buying Polydent for my decaying tooth, I’m trying not to cry at work, I’m depleting my savings, and I can snap at any minute! I’m definitely not here for the flattering fluorescent lighting! We’re all waiting in line!

Everything got on my nerves in July.

There was one saving grace. The new job was a 10-minute walk from where I lived. That meant, I could walk home during my lunch hour and shut July out.

The walk to and fro served as a cleanser. And then in my refuge I could play with my dog, or read on the couch, or watch daytime TV, or whatever.

But July was strong. One of the days walking back to work from my refuge, three men stood in the middle of the intersection near my apartment waving their hands at cars, making them swerve all over the place, causing a commotion.

And I have to walk by there to get to work?

Should I try to take an alternate route to avoid them altogether? I mean, one of those cars can swerve out of control and kill me! I’m in real danger! Lest we orge I’d been cat called earlier in the week! My inflated sense of tooth-less ego was up in arms.

I decided to just speed up, cross and get over it.

As I got closer, though, I noticed a sinkhole in the middle of the intersection. I saw one of the men on his cell phone walking back in a hurry to a car pushed aside with it’s tire out of the axis.

This wasn’t about me.

These men were doing something nice and dangerous to spare others from the same fate they faced earlier.

I should have apologized. But I didn’t.

I kept walking, but this time my “cleansing” walk came with perspective.

This past July, a CTA bus driver waited for me at the stop when he saw me running a block away. I saw a biker get off his bike and help an old lady cross the street. Unscripted, it just happened. I saw 2 women on the Red Line help a blind man getting in find a seat, ask him where he was going, and stay with him until his stop came so they could help him off.

I had seen more kindness in strangers than rudeness.

Sometimes it is the little things.

***

I Tried ‘TheMoth’ Again – Theme Envy

Some insight into my youth: I was never, nor am I now, a cool chick. Not cool at all. In fact, probably the opposite of it, and probably because I wanted to be cool so badly.

With age comes wisdom, and wisdom is basically knowing that you’re not cool and not caring about it. I’m really wise, guys.

Anyway, the theme of the evening was “Envy.” I wrestled with the theme because I try not to be envious of anyone, except Beyoncé. (I think we can all agree, she’s pretty much ruling the world, and even with her 8th grade education, she’s still cooler and smarter than us mere mortals.) But aside from that, I’m pretty OK with who I am.

However, that’s not always been the case, has it? And when I dared to look back into my past, I realized I was really jealous in middle school. Below is a short (less than 5min storytelling) story of one of my darkest moments, and also, how I learned my lesson.

the moth logo

***

You may not be able to tell by my Olympic physique, but I was – am – terrible at sports.

And ALL I wanted to do when I was growing up was be in my school’s volleyball team. The girls in the volleyball team were the coolest. I had some friends in the team, and every year they just seemed to get cooler. They had developed a short hand; they had specific uniforms, knee-pads, and special sneakers they got at Foot Locker – not like my cheap frilly ones from K-mart.

My parents had refused to invest in expensive sportswear for me, and for good reason. I have absolutely no hand-eye coordination, no depth perception. If a ball was going left I went right, just absolutely clueless when it came to any sort of sport. If there was a speed reading competition, watch out. I would own that!

I had no concept of shame. I tried out for the team every year; I wanted to be cool like all the other girls. You know, when you’re in elementary school everyone is kind of together, there’s no real clique yet. But every year that passed it became clearer that I was not sticking with my cooler friends who were making it into the volleyball team, they had tournaments, they were let out of class early to make it to games across town on time, and they complained about being tired because they got home from practice soooo late.

Ugh, I wanted to complain about being tired!

They also looked cool. They had cool pony tail accessories, cool sneakers, and VB Rags. If you don’t know what VB Rags are, you are really missing out. They look like a cross breed between MC Hammer pants, if they were shorts, and Magnum PI Hawaiian prints on them. Yeah, hindsight. But they would bring the new collections to school, and they weren’t cheap pants, contrary to what they looked like. And the girls on the team would be let out of class so they could pick out their colors and buy pants for the season. I really wanted VB Rags.

There was an unspoken rule at my school that 6th graders were allowed in any team, even if they hadn’t participated in any sports prior to that. 6th grade was the equivalent of high school seniors at my school, and they wanted to give us a chance to be in a team sport. We were a charity case. But again, I stress, no shame. So, I tried out, and this time, I made the team.

First order of business, get my pudgy self into those VB Rags, a children’s extra large team t-shirt, and convinced my parents to take me to Foot Locker. I am in the volleyball team, I repeated this several times at the store.

Now, again, in hindsight, I should have picked up on some of the clues at the store, but I had fallen in love with a pair of sneakers, and no one could talk me out of them. They were green, black, with white piping high top court sneakers. It’s the early 90’s take it with a grain of salt.

The day finally arrives, the first tournament where I’m going to participate. I had a scrunchy that matched my VB Rags and my freaking awesome sneakers with the knee-pads coolly resting on top of them. Everyone knows you don’t pull up your knee-pads until you’re going to play! I had been practicing my volleyball-girl attitude and look FOREVER! Aaaand I spent a good 2/3rds of the game warming that bench real nice.

Finally, when we were so far ahead and there were maybe a couple of minutes left, I was allowed to go in. I played. Well, looked at the ball go back and forth. Whatever. I was in the winning team, and it went to my head real fast.

We went to sit at the bleachers to watch the boys’ part of the tournament begin. I did my best to imitate the cool way the other girls were sitting, because they knew how to sit on the bleachers. I was really uncomfortable. When 3 boys from one of the other cool schools walked in front of us, AND THEY WERE WEARING THE SAME SNEAKERS.

I was wearing boy sneakers. There were red flags at the store, but I hadn’t picked up on them.

And just like that, my cool moment ended. I was never going to be a cool girl, in middle school, there’s no way to bounce back from wearing gender bending footwear.

***

The Moth

Earlier this month I faced my fear of the stage and participated in The Moth.

The Moth is a storytelling slam where 10 stories are told based on a general theme given for the night, and it is held in several cities across the US. By pure coincidence (or luck, which happened to be the theme this night) I met the host of the Chicago Moth at a friend’s dinner, and he convinced me to face my fears and just go up there and tell a story.

I wrote and rewrote, and changed my story, and thought about giving up. Instead, I told the immediate people around me about it. I decided that if enough people knew, they would ask me about it later, and I would have to tell them how I did. And I wouldn’t be able to lie about the event. So, I basically guilted myself into performing.

Which I did. The storytelling slam was held at Haymarket Pub & Brewery on Monday, April 8th. The theme was “Luck.”

I got the second highest score of the evening from the judges (not too shabby for a first night out!) Below is the story I told. Because no notes are allowed during the performance, some things were slightly changed in the process.

the moth logo

***

I come from a big family.

When I say big, I don’t mean just in number, although we do travel in packs of 24. But I mean big in personality, opinion, and decibel level. We’re just really loud.

Anyway, about 5 years ago, when my family decided to take this Puerto Rican/Cuban hybrid and go to Europe and retrace part of our history, learn about our heritage… and we would spend New Years in Paris. Ooh lala. So ritzy.  This is a one in a lifetime kind of trip. Well, pack in 24 family members with large personalities and ages ranging 72 to 10. It wasn’t easy. New Years rolls around and one of my aunts brought with her all of these maracas and tambourines, and other noise makers, the idea being that we would walk from the restaurant where we were having dinner to the Champs Elysée to see the Eiffel Tower light up like crazy at midnight. And we would sing all the way there. We’re like the Partridges on steroids, we even had these matching Santa Clause hats, sequined, no less, that my aunt had ordered for ALL 24 of us. And at some point, people are actually starting to join us!

Now, I think if I were 16 I might be telling you a different story, cowering somewhere in a corner, about how embarrassing my family is. But I know better.

See my story actually starts a few years before when my family is actually huddled around a glass window in NICU hospital wing. And they are looking at our newest member, Tatiana. She’s in this tiny incubator, and she’s tiny, and she has all these tubes coming out of her attached to machines and things I don’t know about. And my family, they’re making faces at her, and singing, and being themselves.

Down the hall the doctors are telling my aunt and uncle that Tatiana was born with her duodenum separated from her stomach. That means that she can’t digest her food. A wall missing in her heart, and these are all complications of her Down Syndrome.

The doctors also prepare my aunt and my uncle for the worst, they say: “We’ll be lucky if she makes it through the night. She has a big fight ahead of her.”

Tatiana made it through the night.

Again the doctors came to the room and said: “We’re not out of the woods. We’ll be really lucky if she makes it through the week.”

This tiny girl in her incubator, with tubes all around. And my family is standing just outside the glass making faces at her, noises, being themselves.

And she pulled through every month after that. At a well-weathered 8 months, Tatiana had open-heart surgery. A surgery done on only a handful of newborns.

So, at 12 years old she was leading the pack on New Years Eve singing and playing the maracas, and other percussion items – her specialty, and rocking that sequined red Santa hat. And I know that something must have seeped in through that glass at the hospital. And I realize that people are joining us mostly because of her. She’s the glue, she keeps us fighting, she keeps us together.

It’s hard not to fight for us, when she fought really hard to be a part of this big, loud family.

So, every New Years, we now spend slightly less fabulous, but never quieter. And there’s still a lot of sequence and maracas, and Tatiana is still going strong making a ruckus at 4 in the morning. And I’m watching her play this year in the Little League World Series – might just have to break out my maracas and make some noise.

***

Team and Other Unexpected Happenings

By now you know about my love affair with Chicago. It’s really taken over my life, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. You also know that I’ve spent the better part of this year training to run around it for a little while.
Well, this may be my last post about the marathon for a while (rejoice, the mighty marathon will step off her running soapbox!) I know, as we train we become pretty insufferable and impossible to be around. So, please accept this as my formal apology. This is my last post about this, I swear! (Next, will post political rants – you know, things to unite the masses.)

Well, the point of this entry isn’t really just about the marathon, but about the things that happen while you’re running it that you never expect, and can never really plan for. Let me explain myself… and maybe it’s best I should start at the beginning. You see, I’m not much of a self-motivated person. I always need external forces to help me achieve my goals. And the best way to get me to do something is to attach other people to it. Why? Because, guilt of letting anyone down is the only way I do things. That’s exactly how I trained for this marathon. One of my co-workers at the time, Melissa, and I wanted to get back into running, so we signed up to run the Chicago Marathon with Team in Training. We thought it would be a fun way to be active and see each other outside of work. This was as far as I had planned. Everything that happened after that decision changed the course of my year – totally for the better!
The first long Saturday that Melissa and I finally made it out to, we met another girl who had gotten lost running through the unmarked path we were asked to run. (We found a kindred spirit, and we would soon learn her name – Elisabeth!) After that first week, all Melissa and I could talk about at work was our weekly meetings to gossip without interruption or fear of being overheard in the office. Laura was in the kitchen with us at the time, overheard, and we convinced her to come and run, just once! It won’t hurt! Just come out next Saturday, it’s like, 6 miles, tops! Needless to say, but our powers of persuasion are quite legendary. She couldn’t say no, she showed up, and we ran. Laura signed up, and soon after that Elisabeth realized that we all had a similar pace and running style. Soon, we were a pack of 4!

In the mean time, Melissa had gotten a new job, so Saturdays became the only assurance I would see her that week – and we had a lot of catching up to do at that point! Elisabeth, it turned out, lived really close to me, and we could start morning runs around the lake with our new buddy system! During the week, Laura and I would stay motivated at work, and do some cross-training too. Then shortly after that, Melissa was diagnosed with the evil “runner’s knee.” I love Mel, but her knee was being a little bitch! But with doctor’s orders, we were not disobeying, and Mel had to sit it out. Still, she became one of our loudest cheerleaders, and the day of the marathon showed up with bananas for us at Mile 16. How amazingly unselfish is that?! We’re sooooo an awesome team! (Mel got the “green light” to run the Nashville Half Marathon in April, and we’re already planning to go cheer for her and repay the favor.)

This was just the summer and we had already seen our fair share of action. In the mean time, Laura also got married (there’s pictures of her wedding in an earlier entry.) Elisabeth and I both had ups and downs with work, and I realized that my time at Second City had ended and started re-evaluating myself. Tons of self-discovery b.s. that we don’t need to discuss, because, let’s face it, we’re all awesome, and everything is going to be fine. Am I right? Right? No mental breakdown necessary! Anyway, we’re running, one foot in front of the other… running, focus!
The BIG day arrives, we’ve eaten what we’re supposed to eat, we’ve slept throughout the week, we set aside our outfit, and we’re ready to go! We started running and around mile 2, as it was expected, my shins started hurting – quick stretch, and we’re out! Ups and downs, and bathroom breaks happened, but everything was perfect. Alyson met us around Mile 8, and then Elisabeth’s parents were around Mile 11-12, and soon after that Mel at Mile 16, Jimmy (Laura’s husband) at Mile 17, Alyson at Mile 18 again, and Laura’s family doing the Pilsen stronghold at Mile 19. It seemed like every other mile had scored some sort of amazing support necessary to keep us from hitting the infamous “wall.” Then the unthinkable happened, that curve ball you can’t possible see coming. Laura pulled her IT band around Mile 21, no amount of stretch was helping, and Elisabeth quickly flagged down one of our TNT coaches in her discernible green shirt and purple tutu. She walked with us to the nearest Aid Station. Laura was wrapped up and iced. The doctor gave her the OK to finish the marathon, although, I think he did it out of fear that Laura would bite his head off – she can be scary determined. She had to walk it in.

Back to the beginning of our little group. Way back when we became this little pack, we promised to train, to run, and to finish TOGETHER. We used phrases like: “come hell or high water” and “through thick and thin.” Well, this was the test. One of us was not going to be able to run, walking in those last 5 miles took us 2 hours, but we crossed it together. We stuck it out, as did Abby. We plastered mustaches on, to make ourselves laugh, and people cheered us on. Laura smiled through the pain, even though at one point she had tears streaming down her face. Several times she told us she wanted us to run ahead. We didn’t, we stuck it out, TOGETHER. Cue the string quartet, the slow clap, and the Disney happy ending. It was totally “Kumbaya” and I was beaming! Not even the lack of medals at the end (yeah, they ran out) could ruin the fact that when theory became reality, we still stuck to our ideals. We’re all mushy and bffs and all, and it’s tots true!

I share this story, because I’m extremely proud of the people I have befriended along the years. I don’t take a single one for granted, and although some fall through the wayside because life does get in the way, I am always thankful for even the shortest of friendships. And it’s because they tend to show up when you need them the most, and didn’t even know it. It’s because the bonds that form when you stick by someone, show the character of that person, their integrity, their humanity. Even at my most cynical moments my faith in humanity is restored because of the people that surround me. Family and friends, they continue to impress me. My brother showed up at Miles 12 and 23, and walked the whole way to the end, in the cold, and applauded us. My friends, they stuck together, when one of us was down and never wavered, never questioned.

OK – the end! I promise no more sentimental posts for a while! Get ready for smartass, judgy Lali to make a comeback real soon!

And now for the fun picture compilation:

Injury prevention – wicked shin splints! (Notice the purple = team colors)

I also got a manicure to show my support. (Also, got a purple lipstick, but that ended up being a bad idea. It was cold, and I looked like I was entering the early stages of hypothermia.)

WE GOT OUR BIBS!! So young, so naive!

Still with that youthful exuberance… we can take on anything! (And probably over the world!)

It’s here! It started, ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod (that’s pretty much what’s going through my mind – and blocking out the terror.)

I calmed down once I saw the first sign coming down State Street. I’m remembering, and putting one foot in front of the other to fight cancer. Kicking it in the balls!

I’m running it for fun, whatever that means! So, I stopped and took pictures. Look at all of us! Mile 7 and we’re kicking ass!

We got a little crazy around Mile 22 and broke out the mustaches! Movember a little early, but rallied the troops!

OPPAN GANGNAM STYLE!! This makes the long hours seem worth it.

WIN!! This is the poster board my roommate, Alyson, made.

Friends we picked up along the way, and helped us cross the finish line. (Laura was already hurt, look at her putting on a brave face. Rock Star!)

Again – the signs made my life!! Thank you, guy.

Who cares about time? We crossed the finish line, we’re marathoners. We’re the 1%!!

***

My latest venture:

***

What Has Consumed My Summer and My Life

I keep having catch up phone calls with my friends – this thing about following your dreams and moving to different cities is great for the soul, but taxing on the phone time. Anyway, it’s the price we all pay in the search for happiness, and for that I am grateful my friends are in all corners of the world. (And thankful I have a place to stay in almost every continent, and more than one state!) Continue reading What Has Consumed My Summer and My Life

Summer Pot Pourri

Now that Labor Day is just around the corner, I thought it was the best time to update my blog on the summer city-escapades!
And for arguments sake lets pretend I meant to do this entry now, and not that I let time pass and am now somehow playing catch-up. Try and say it, I’ll deny it!

Moving on… this was actually quite an eventful summer. I convinced my brother to move to Chicago, I graduated from the Second City Training Center Improv program, kept up my training for the marathon, did a drinking trolly (not my proudest moment), and Grief Bacon (our sketch/improv girl group) made several appearances throughout the city of Chicago.  Yeah, I’m cool like that. I’m kind of a big deal… in my head.
Most importantly, I convinced Jose to move! His “look-see” trip started with a meal at an Irish pub in Old Town.

I’m already winning.

Gratuitous food shot.

The weekend Jose came was also the 8mile run for training, and I made him come with me to the run. The forever trooper he is, he came and he ran 6miles. I promised him crepes and farmer’s market.

I think I delivered!

On Sunday I followed up with a Red Sox v Cubs match up. Yeah, Old Epstein v New Epstein. Little did we know at the time that it would also be one of Youk’s last games with the Red Sox. He bleached them soon thereafter.

Big Pappy was *thisclose*

That’s Youk!

Beer and baseball go together like peanut butter and jelly.

So… In my never-ending quest to convince my brother to move to Chicago I packed the weekend in with cupcakes AND comedy!

Red Velvet and cream cheese frosting between baseball and comedy.

Yes, it was perfect and hilarious. We met up with Aimee and Jen for a drink and then all headed over to laugh with not at: Marc Maron (my favorite), Hannibal Buress, and others – hosted by Sarah Silverman. Silverman was great, and on point! I laughed so hard I had tears coming down my cheeks. I also felt more neurotic after than I did before.

Funny side note about the evening: when we left it was POURING. There were no cabs, and there would still be so much walking after we rode the train that Jose and I thought it was best just to walk all the way back to my place. We were soaked through. Worth it. Totally worth it.

***

Well, the trip wasn’t over, and we were celebrating. SO, I made a reservation at Girl & the Goat

It’s all it’s hyped up to be and more. It’s also where I ate meat. You don’t go somewhere with goat in it’s name and eat peas. I would put up with the illness JUST to eat. So, I did. Below is a series of pictures of the food. It’s just food porn. It is. Don’t look if you’re hungry, it won’t be pretty. But it was so pretty, and we had such a good time, it was hard to choose the pictures! And I edited, so there’s more where that came from!

Harmasa Crudo

Roasted Beet Salad

Green Beans

Goat Loin

Proof of the meat eating that would make me sick for the following week. Worth it. Worth. Ever. Bite.

PIG FACE!!!!

How Pig Face looks after you’ve mixed it together. YUMMMMM!!!!

Dessert #1

Dessert #2

Followed Swiftly by Food Coma.

***

We ran again. I think we felt guilty about the gluttony that we committed. Not really, this was the 312 run. We ran for beer… and company. Alyson, Jose, Laura, Melissa and me owned those 3miles in the blistering heat. They cancelled the 5miles because of that heat, so yeah, we’re badasses.

And we got sweet wayfarers.

I will now go back to thinking about my life in a vacuum. I’m going to tear and examine every single choice that I’ve made or not made, why I chose like that, decide if I should change anything, and ultimately be too lazy to do anything about it. This Saturday will be exactly 2 years since I moved to Chicago. I’ve managed to accomplish some things, but like Ariel in “The Little Mermaid,” I want more.

OK, I don’t want to sound like the entitled little jerk she was at the beginning of the Disney movie, but you know the reference, and I bet you even sang the line. I just now need to think about what my next steps are going to be. I finished Second City, my reason for moving here, what do I do now? What am I doing in Chicago?

And this, we shall see.

That’s right, no resolution just yet. This is my summer cliff-hanger.

***