On the Rise and Never on the Fence : Cathy Areu
Cathy Areu is one of those people you must like ….even when you disagree with her. She carries herself well with that witty intellect and sassy charm. The daughter of Cuban immigrants grew up in Miami, graduated with honors from Miami Killian High School got her B.A. degree from Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL and received an M.S. in English Education from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale. No wonder she landed that gig as a contributing editor for the Washington Post Magazine. The vibrant go-getter is also the founder of CATALINA magazine a top read magazine catering to the Latin demographic. It is also worth noting that she is one of PressReader’s international publishers. She has become a famous liberal commentator on TV – debating even the strongest conservative voices – including Sean Hannity. But as we mentioned, even when one disagrees with her, one can’t help but to like her, as she is okay, if you don’t see things her way. She simply wants to open your eyes to another point of view. On top of that, few Corona experiences were as highly publicized as hers (more in our interview, but we can already reveal, it was no picnic for Cathy). Now she is planning a whole new move: juggling wolves and swimming with sharks – aka…? Just read on. We spoke with her exclusively amid the post-Covid-19 opening of Miami.
You wear many hats. We see you as a passionate liberal political commentator on TV, then you also run a magazine. Tell us about your work.
I’m like most people in the media industry these days. I have to appear on more than one media platform to get my message heard. I started as a staff writer for my college newspaper, The Florida Flambeau, at Florida State University. And, eventually, like most print journalists, I went on to discuss my writing on national cable news channels.In the middle of it all, I made a life-changing decision, sold my car and moved to New York to create a company (catalina) and become an advocate for Latinas in the United States (my own demographic). I wanted to break stereotypes, and I have had to wear many hats to do it.
You were to my knowledge the first prominent Floridian face of Corona. A sentence that stuck out to me was when you said “the virus finds your weakness” which is so individual. Tell us more about that and about your experience.
When the pandemic started, I was in South Florida in quarantine with my family, but I was still working. So when COVID 19 hit me, it hit me hard. I was sitting in front of bright stab lights when a painful migraine came out of nowhere. This was followed by the worst five days of my life! Even though my condition was considered mild to moderate, I experienced the worst headaches; my vision turned blurry for days; I couldn’t taste; my throat was sore; and I had chills and stomach and body aches. … All these symptoms are something I’ve experienced before at one point or another in the past, but not as painful and relentless. It’s like Covid gathered up all these weaknesses and threw them on me all at once. I wasn’t sure if I contracted COVID-19 because, at the time, the only three symptoms listed were fever, cough and shortness of breath — and I experienced none of those! But my doctor here in South Florida broke the news: I was infected with coronavirus. Many weeks later, the CDC finally added some of the symptoms I had to their site, and it looks like the media continues to add new symptoms and findings everyday. I believe my doctor here in Florida was the first to call it, “My Corona,” and I was the first one to consciously feel and say that coronavirus attacked me in a personal way. It zoned in on my worst weaknesses: migraines and headaches (non stop for 5 straight days).
You have asthma but the virus seemed to ignore that…..?
Weird, right? This asthmatic didn’t experience shortness of breath until day 5. That’s when my asthma started to bother me a little bit. I panicked But, It turned out to be the final day of all my symptoms. I was finally able to go outside again for a run a few days after that. So refreshing.
You have two daughters who also went through the virus – how have you communicated the whole Corona crises to them and how have they been dealing with it?
I’ve been completely honest and transparent with them about it. They know the media industry, and we talk about news every day. The coronavirus was just another news topic, and they trusted me with the whole thing. They adjusted to quarantine quicker than I did, so there wasn’t a crisis in the house — it was more of an adjustment period of like three days. Like, creating a solid schedule for both of them and me really made everything about quarantine hassle-free.
But the kids didn’t understand the importance of my self-isolation, so they busted through my bedroom door and wanted to give me a hug and a kiss on the cheek to “help me feel better” … so yeah, they got the virus too. Both of them were ill at the same time, with a quick fever, but otherwise, they had different symptoms from me and each other. They may not be indestructible or made of rubber, but my two girls did feel a lot better in just two days.
You are in NY and Miami and said you got the virus in Miami. How did it happen?
I have offices in South Florida and New York City, so I’m back and forth all the time. I was in Miami when my symptoms started though. But I’ve heard symptoms can appear up to 14 days after being exposed. So, first I thought I caught it from a Publix run, but then who knows? I may have caught it in NYC two weeks prior. I’m not sure whether to blame a spring breaker on Miami Beach or a European NYC tourist. As a Miami gal, I’ll choose blame the spring breaker going to Publix on this one.
How are you supporting your health on the nutrition and fitness front? Anything you learned from the whole ordeal on how to better protect oneself on the immune boosting front?
My doctor said it was OK to go back to running, but I definitely needed my inhaler to get me back to where I was. As far as nutrition goes, since I’ve recovered and I can taste again, I’ve been eating pretty much everything. Black beans and Maria cookies surprisingly go well together! Luckily since I was in middle school, I was on the cross-country team, and took daily runs at Tropical Park. So I still run everyday, to this day, to keep my heart healthy (and to make room for Cuban bread).
Governor de Santis is opining up our state. What are the things you are gonna do first?
I wanna go to the La Carreta on 88th and catch up with the servers who I haven’t seen in so long. Like the good old days. And I want to go to all of the other South Florida restaurants that I know and love. I just want to sit in a booth.
What are your plans for the future?
After all of this, I’m totally going to run for office. Fiesty Cuban coronavirus survivors are exactly what our country needs. But, I look forward to traveling back and forth again to NYC, my second hometown. Nothing beats the best of both worlds: NYC diners and South Florida beaches. Before then, I’ll be discussing the day’s hottest topics on my Liberal Sherpa podcast, probably debating Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson and planning back-to-back trips to Disney (still wearing many hats).
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