New York,

Posted in New York with tags on October 7, 2013 by ana

On nights when jazz wafts out of one apartment, up the street, and in through my bedroom window you make me feel like I’m living in a movie. I like that about you.

PS: On those nights I feel like I’m 23 again (in the best of ways) and forget that you have lots of ugly new buildings and chain stores. On those nights I may even forgive that some of your neighborhoods are now barely recognizable (in not quite the best of ways.)

Love, labor, lost

Posted in New York with tags , , , on September 17, 2013 by ana

It’s been a long time since I sat down to write. I stopped writing because I started to feel like the posts I was writing were getting repetitive but also because I decided to move to New York, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about writing that down. When I realized I had to move it felt like if I wrote it I had somehow given up on Paris. So I didn’t write at all and now so many things have happened that is hard to know where to begin. So here is where I left off. During my last two months in Paris I

- finished my five weeks of pastry school.

- had a fling with a boy from LA visiting Paris. We went dancing, ate palmiers from different bakeries in the Marais for breakfast, kissed in the middle of the street late at night, and had an oyster bacchanalia.

- moved, again.

-spent a quiet, magical christmas eve with my mom.

-felt sad to be alone on New Year’s but danced until five in the morning at Rosa Boneheur with some fabulous frenchy friends.

-walked myself home in the rain from Parc Butte Chaumont to Chatelet at five in the morning on New Year’s day.

-spent afternoons in Montmarte with my friend Joey going for arepas or to the movies after buying candy from a chubby french lady who wore her hair in two braids.

-went to San Sebastian with my friend Kelly. Where I made dessert for my friends supper club and ate so much delicious food that I still think about.

-had a magical night at the Louvre watching the Marina Abramovic documentary.

-had the most perfect going away party in my friend Cleo’s insane hotel room overlooking the Tuileries with the Eiffel Tower twinkling at a distance.

I decided to move to New York as I finished my written exam for pastry school. The same voice that said I should move to Europe popped back in my head and said, what are you thinking trying to open a business in Paris there is still so much you need to learn. Grow up. Go home.

I wish I had kept up my writing because so many memories of those last month are coming back as I type this. Including how strange and comforting it felt to go to the embassy when I had to get some papers signed. How many ham and cheese galette with a bowl of cider lunches I had mourning my departure, how the sun never came out for the entire month of January and I spent 90 percent of that month completely alone walking along the seine, watching movies in my apartment, and trekking to Monoprix.

I miss Paris. I think about it almost every other day. I miss the rhythm, my friends, the supermarket. I was never a girl who dreamed of going to Paris. I was just a girl who wanted to live in Europe and in the end Paris completely stole my heart. Sometimes I can’t believe I did it. It seems like a dream. Like a movie of someone else’s life. Others I can’t believe I didn’t try harder to stay.

But as soon as I arrived in NY it felt like the right decision was made. NY welcomed me with the open arms of an old friend. She said, welcome back, pull up a chair, stay a while, stay forever perhaps.  Many times in the last seven months I wanted to write something here but didn’t. Now it feels like too many details to fill in. Within a week of being back I had a job and a great apartment. What ensued since has been intense, endurance building, at times extremely lovely and rewarding, and at others sad and maddening.

There was a boy and for a brief second I thought- wow! But in the end he had many pieces but not all the right ones. It was amateur hour on my part. I got burned. I felt foolish. And all of it by my own hand. Dealing with that part and looking at myself in both an introspective and forgiving way has proven to be a hard task.  Specially because I feel lonely and it vexes me.
I’m not sure how to make peace with the feeling and with how my choices have deposited me in them. I have chosen a career that gives me a weird schedule. I have moved many times leaving behind communities I loved and built. I can only be me but what am I doing right and what am I doing wrong. The only word I can think of that perfectly describe how I feel is abysmal. Not because I feel extremely bad. I feel simply bad but it carries a tunnel like feel to it.
Is it all the changes and transitions that have ocurred in the last two years that leave me feeling unstable? Is it my looming birthday?  My biological clock? The simple desire to share my life with someone?  This part of my life is driving me bananas in a way it never did when I was younger. And I know I have to reseign myself to it but it is incredibly hard. I felt like this around my last birthday too- a weepy, needy puddle. I have never been that girl but I feel such deep frustration at life not giving me what I think I need and it feels helpless.

One of the biggest lessons as of late has been that things are not a choice that once made just happens. Patience, discipline, commitment these are not words that once chosen one suddenly embodies. I don’t know why I always thought that and why I never believed myself capable of them. These words, these choices, along with many others occur as a constant dialogue. We don’t wake up everyday feeling these feelings but rather, often but not always, need to go looking for them within us. Sometimes they become second nature and sometimes we need to find stronger, clearer definitions of them.

I have worked harder these last months than I ever have in my life. I have never been poorer. And I have come to the realization that it makes sense (somewhat) that people in kitchens make so little. It’s a test of endurance and love.
Right now, as I write this, I feel such deep sadness and loneliness. Maybe it’s because I can’t stop thinking of my sister who is in rehab, and I feel such sorrow, confusion, anger, and despair that I can barely talk about it. Or maybe it’s because I started a new job, and like any new job, it’s not exactly how I envisioned and I hoped it would be.
Right now, and for the last few weeks, there is a darkness that I can not seem to shake. I’m tired of these moments but know there is nothing to do but live them. I think this is a test of surrender. To just have faith, to will myself to have faith, that I will fall in love again, that I will find a life and community in NY, that I won’t always be broke or feel lost.  I am longing to weather these storms and feel a sense of triumph and accomplishment but all I can do right now is put my head down and work.

I heart Cary Tennis.

Posted in paris with tags , , , on January 9, 2013 by ana

Cleaning my computer I came across one of his columns saved many, many years ago. Given the decisions (going to New York) and the changes (a fresh new set of uncertainties) ahead it seemed apropos to post it below.

Dear Pond Jumper, 

Isn’t it strange how you can fly somewhere and suddenly that’s where you live? We just end up places. It’s the modern condition. I don’t think we’ve adjusted yet, as a species — the way we’re wired, that is. Yes, there are bureaus and agencies to administer the shifting accounts of nationality and wealth, of telephone number and e-mail address; yes, the you@your.e-mail.abode is a borderless fiction of zero gravity that moves with you nearly at the speed of light. But what we used to call a person — not so much the body itself, which can move in and out of its cultural crosshairs, but the location of the being defined by intersecting lines of family, history, soil, trade, the sets, unions and subsets of attributes and proclivities, the smells you smelled as a child and the smells your grandfather smelled as a child, all that: It was thus for so long a given that maybe we didn’t even think to place a high enough price on the geographic and temporal circumstances that define who we are, and then our easy, automatic sense of rootedness, of connection, of belonging, slipped away so quietly and so fast we couldn’t quite remember what it was supposed to feel like. And now we move to Paris and what we say about the view is, it’s the view that you saw in that movie. 

I’m always getting the question wrong. I wish that were part of my charm. Maybe if I were French, it might be part of my charm. But I’m American and I’m afraid my obliqueness comes across like a failure of manhood, something maybe they have a pill for in the drugstore. Besides, you’re not looking for some faux-Gallic take on things, are you? You’re looking for good-old fashioned American advice. 

Well, OK. How do you organize your identity now that you’re in exile? The best way, it seems to me, is by defining a purpose and a duration for the accomplishment of that purpose. Why are you in Paris? What do you mean to accomplish there? Is it only to have lived there? Is it only to smell the bread every day, to eat the food, hear the music of the language, feel the exquisite lightness of an ancient civilization and emulate it, absorb it, take it in like a culture vitamin? So how long, would you say, would that take? A year? Two years? Five? Put a time on it and then say, “This is what I am doing in Paris.” 

You need to construct a narrative. You need to be able to say something like, “I am living in Paris with my boyfriend but I only plan to stay here three years, and I will visit my family every year for two weeks.” Or you could say, “I am living in Paris because I prefer the pain of France to the pain of America, especially the delicate little pastries.” 

There are various reasons to be someplace. They don’t all have to be well-thought-out. You could say, “I like the air in Paris and for that reason I intend to remain, at least until the air in America improves.” Or you could say, “I am only here for an adventure; my home is in America, where my family and friends are, and where I grew up, and I intend to return there before the decade is out.” 

Do you see what I mean? You need a mission statement, as it were, so you can explain yourself to yourself and to others. Here are some other possibilities: “I am enjoying Paris, but since I cannot work here, I do not plan to stay indefinitely.” Or, “I am going to return to America for an education in international relations, after which I hope to return to Paris as a special attaché to the diplomatic corps.” Or, “I plan to stay here and study, raise a family, marry my boyfriend, and become a French citizen.” 

I came to San Francisco on a whim and stayed for the air and the beer. 

Perhaps Paris is for you like one of those things one must do before dying. If so, when you have done it, you will have to figure out what to do next. That can be a tough one if doing the next thing involves leaving the boyfriend. But that’s the way life goes. (That sounds at least a little French, doesn’t it?)

 

Covered in butter with a light dusting of flour

Posted in baking, paris with tags on December 11, 2012 by ana

My French is now a at a first, perhaps second, grade level. A very solid step forward from my kindergarten French. Everything is still in a time delay. It takes me 5 or 6 seconds to understand what someone has said but I’m no longer translating word for word what I hear. I actually understand. This is huge, satisfying, and down right exciting. I still feel shy at times about speaking but each day less and less.

School started two weeks ago. They were not kidding when they called it basic intensive pastry. I’m in school between nine to thirteen hours a day six days a week. I love the intensity in the same way that I loved being a busy waitress. You have to stay present but with your peripheral vision in the next step or two ahead. You can’t think about the past except for, again, peripherally keeping track of time. As in, I  put my cake in the oven twenty minutes ago. Any further thinking about events past will only trip you up. If you messed up your tart dough (as I am known to do) or a table you waited on was rude or annoyed at you. You can not dwell on it too much, you can only remedy it and move forward.

When I’m at school I like to imagine Julia Childs there even though I’m pretty sure the Cordon Bleu she went to was in a different area and building. I like to think her spirit and that of the fictional Sabrina roam the halls, much like Wim Wender’s angels roamed the library in Berlin, and watch over me. There is something very stodgy about the school and all the recipes we are learning, cakes made with flavorless candied fruit, tarts filled with too much cream and tinned pears but it’s a base and I’m learning. I’m learning that I have so much to learn, and in making yet another variation of a pastry filled with almonds and raisins or syrupy cherries I am tightening a lot of loose screw in my skills. It’s not the filing but the container, and thus my pate sucre and my laminated doughs are becoming truly mine. There is something about the blandness of the sweets that is making me explode with ideas. For so long I didn’t know who I was. I often felt like dormant, errant potential, and now it no longer feels that way.

Some days I think I want to do another chunk of time there and others I want to step out and learn another way. I’m torn about signing up for the next level. It’ so expensive. A big decision is coming up for me. If I don’t do the next course chances are I won’t be able to stay in France for the time being.  I have been putting off thinking about my visa. I told myself I would wait until January but January is here. Before I know it I will need to figure out what is most important. I always wanted to live in Europe. Now that I am here I feel it suits me but, BUT I have some very big decisions ahead of me. All of them are good and exciting and all of them involve giving something up to get something.

I don’t know where I am going or how I am getting there but I feel a sureness in my steps that I have never felt before.  I feel that things have unfolded exactly as they needed to. This is a very recent thing, this feeling of confidence in the face of the unknown. I keep thinking of this scene in The Golden Child. My brother and I used to watch that movie all the time when we were growing up. In this scene Eddie Murphy has to step into the abyss and if it turned out that he was indeed the chosen one in the void a path will appear. Right now things feel that way. I have no idea where I am going but as I keep following the direction that I feel I am meant to the path is appearing. Out of the not knowing a clarity is emerging. This may sound ridiculous but I feel now, at 39, that I have finally grown up.

 

 

 

Land ho!

Posted in paris with tags , , on November 19, 2012 by ana

For a long time I felt like I had cast myself off from the shore in a small boat and was drifting at sea. In Spanish there is saying- hay que dar le tiempo al tiempo, which translates to you have to give time time. When my relationship was just starting to fall apart Elle said to me, you have to wait until the tornado passes and see where the pieces land. Then you can start from there. I feel like I have been walking in the rubble for a long time. At times I found things that delighted me, small treasures among the debris, and others I saw only destruction.

How long does it take to get over someone? Who knows. I’ve known people who cling to relationships that lasted a year, and I’ve seen people walk away from nine year relationships relatively unscathed. My friend Bree says fully getting over a relationship takes half the time you were in it, and I always thought you had to live each season and holiday spent together apart. Whatever it is everyone has their own timing. It can’t be rushed. You just wake up one day and feel different or maybe, like me, you just feel like yourself again.

There have been so many lovely, fun, downright magical moments these past two years that to say I have been depressed almost feels like an insult to them. I couldn’t have been depressed all the time. Yet, there was often a layer of sadness under everything. It’s still lingers but more as a memory than anything else. More as a feeling of whoa, what did I just emerge from!

All this time I have thought I am one lucky girl to be in Paris but I didn’t exactly feel it-until now. These days I sit in my French class, look out the window and feel ecstatic to be here. Paris is just so pretty. The ornate balconies and windows of the buildings across the street from my classroom literally make my heart sings. I walk around truly, finally, feeling that I am here.

In observing the city I find myself thinking a lot about acting. Specially, when I am on the  metro. Watching people’s gestures, postures, and expressions brings me back to acting class over and over. Both to what I loved about it and the places where I held myself back. It is so interesting to explore different mediums but some just aren’t quite the right fit even if they fascinate us. Those classes, Los Angeles, they feel distant but ever so present. There was so much that was idyllic.

In the past weeks I’ve started to see that in part I left because of heartache. Even if the main reasons for moving where my vagabond spirit, my desire to live abroad, and a strong gut feeling that moving to Europe would be very good for me. I also just needed a clean break.

And it is finally, truly, starting to feel like new beginnings. The future feels like it is rushing forward even if I have no idea what is going to happen. It feels like everything is coming together somehow and in the right way. In French class the other day, as part of an exercise someone asked `a quel âge devient-on  un adulte?, and I thought 39.

I start school tomorrow, not classes, actual school with an orientation, a proper first day, and exams. I am excited. I feel confident and inspired, grounded and expansive, and it is a feeling that spills into everything. It is going to be crazy hard, a pastry bootcamp. Three months of school condensed into five weeks. I hope it is everything I want it to be. Maybe it won’t be as I imagine but it feels like the best next step.

 

39

Posted in 38, paris on October 21, 2012 by ana

Today I woke up and instantly felt anxious about money, finding an apartment (again!!!), the French language, and the near future. The near future being the day I have to renew my visa. I’m craving a clarity and stability that are not meant to be mine right now. So, I find myself thinking, over and over, about Rilke’s quote:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions.”

 

October has been one emotional month. The whole year has been a roller coaster. Something is changing. I don’t want to feel sad any more. I feel a desire to take care of myself, to feel pretty, to be joyous. These things were never completely gone from my being but it has been months since I felt 100% myself.

This morning I focused on the awesomeness ahead to shake off the hunger for answers, and I really felt it. That awesomeness would be pastry school and my birthday. I’m turning 39 in a day. I’m excited for a new year, and I’m feeling satisfied with difficult, brave, tear-filled, confusing 38. For so long I have been swimming in a sea of Bon Iver fueled melancholia, and now it feels like I’m shedding my skin. I’m starting to feel fierce again.

It’s crazy to think that two weeks ago when my mom came to visit I was a hot mess. I went to pick her up at the airport and cried on the RER all the way there. As soon as I saw her I fell into her arms crying. I was so sad and also incredibly happy to see her. Across a lengthy part of the airport and all the way back to Paris I expressed through the tears how angry I felt that things hadn’t worked out with with Leo. How frustrated I was with life. How guilty I felt for not enjoying Paris to its fullest. How ashamed I was for always loving deeply, and how stupid I was for making myself vulnerable in Italy.

Hashing all my troubles with my mom was calming. She spoiled me. We went to the Louvre. We bought perfume. We bought pastries all over town and had a little tasting party. We laughed. We watched stupid movies. We went to a strange and beautiful circus.

One day my mom said two things that I really needed to hear. She told me that my brother had brought up my break up and had said to her, I don’t know how she did it. Conjuring all her strength and with a lot of difficulty was her answer. It made me so proud that both my mom and my brother saw me and got me. So many people in my family have brushed off my break up by simple saying, he wasn’t right for you, which given how hard the decision was for me, how in love I was, and all the rest is incredibly belittling and disrespectful.

At one point I was telling her how much I missed our life together and she pointed out how much my life had changed for the better. Not because he wasn’t in it but because of the experiences I had had on my own. Being on my own I was going after things that I had never had before. If you would have stayed in your relationship, she said, your life would have been throwing dinner parties, collaging, going to acting class, and sometimes collaborating with Leo. Now you are actually working towards something. You found baking, you traveled to Italy, you moved to Paris. You would never had had any of that. She is right. My life would have been sweet but it would not over the years have felt fulfilling not in the way it does now.

The day my mom left my dad arrived. I guess it was family month in my life. Last christmas one of my sisters pointed out that the men I was usually crazy about were intelligent, interesting, charming, generous, and unavailable. By unavailable she meant not completely there for me. Then she asked me who it reminded me of. I knew she was right but here in Paris I saw it so clearly. I saw the loveliness that my dad brought to my life but also the ways he had failed me as a parent over the years. How ridiculously critical he was in unnecessary ways among other things. I noticed how much I drink when I’m around my dad, how I never want to disappoint him, and how he never sees me. To a large extent my dad has no idea who I am even though I have never kept from him anything about myself.

Ever since the summer I had been feeling these waves of anger that are unfamiliar to me. The time with my dad, though at times fun and wonderful, unleashed some very old rage. It was painful. I don’t want to feel angry towards my dad. I still feel a little shell-shocked from the visit but it reminded me that I have to accept people as they are not as I wish they were, and that those who get me, get me, and those who don’t, well, that’s their problem. I don’t want to be a people changer or a people pleaser. It has taken me 38 years to arrive at all of that and often I forget. It is almost as hard as learning to live with the questions.

 

This afternoon, I was on my way to pick up a pretty dress from storage when I had this sudden feeling of well being. The metro was curving around the top of the canal. It was raining a little. I was listening to some of the cheesiest Spanish pop the nineties had to offer, and I felt such a deep appreciation for my life, for the bangs and the bruises, the moments of sorrow and unease. I don’t know what changed but suddenly the heart ache, the sadness for the hoped for but not attained, seemed miles away. The anger is still there but I hardly ever feel angry. I’m going to guess feeling angry right now- probably a good thing. More than anything what I’m starting to feel is clarity. Clarity!!! I’m on an adventure! Great things are happening. Great things have happened. They do not need to be perfect, fuzzy, or wrapped in bows. They can be crooked and have edges. Ha!

 

All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust. ― J.M. Barrie

Posted in Italy, paris with tags , , , on September 13, 2012 by ana

I’m packing for what will be the first of two moves this month. I have been home from Italy for two weeks but the trip feels like it was a few months ago. All in all, the trip was wonderful, and so much of it is engraved in me. There were sweet parts and sexy bits. There was silliness and sadness. There was restless sleep, afternoon naps, tanning in the garden, and lots of iced tea. We spent hours reading cookbooks and watching British food shows on dvd. There was pizza and french fries at a beloved pizza parlor, cooking and dancing in the kitchen, and a five am bottle of wine, and toast with butter and honey for me, one night when no one could sleep. I tried to stay light but failed often.

My first time in Lecce I was so present.  This time I was often in my head; many times without even realizing it.  It was, all at once, refreshing, fun, inspiring, relaxing, and difficult to be there. But I wouldn’t change it. There is something magnectic about Lecce that feels very grounding to me. I think it has to do with the stones the old city is built from. The way they hold the dry heat. The walls feel like they are holding you.

The first night I was there, last summer with my mom, neither one of us knew what to make of the place. There was something  simple but also mysterious about it. We lost ourselves in the maze-like streets of the old city, which have no sidewalks. The streets were still packed at midnight, and it reminded me of something my friend Trish had told me was one of her favorite parts of living in Eritrea. She said that in Asmara people went for walks at a certain time of the evening to greet each other and convey messages.

In so many ways Lecce steals my heart. This time as I walked around I kept telling myself, just breath all of it in and  bring it back to Paris with you. I returned home inspired and excited, and then a week later it all went to shit. The guy in Italy is lovely in so many ways but there is something missing; an emotional vulnerability. It’s like it is almost there but not quite, not ever. Ours is the dance of the constant mixed signal. Both from me to him and him to me. Face to face it is lovely.  Apart it is wretched. That coupled with the search for a new apartment, a dwindling bank account, and the natural fear of starting a new business I just felt completely miserable last week. The night before we found our new place, I looked out the window at the Paris skyline and just freaked out. I felt alone and scared. I just kept thinking, this has to work. I’m taking the good kinds of risks. My heart is in this. It just has to work.

I wrote Stevie an email and said, just tell me everything is going to be okay. I just needed some reaffirmation and a little transcontinental, transatlantic hand holding. When I was in LA freaking out about Paris I realized that what I needed was to create my life in Paris. To create a routine- yoga classes, Sunday markets, morning meditations.

After Steves wrote back, I woke up the next day feeling a bit more grounded but still pretty anxious. Then in class it occurred to me that the next part of the Paris puzzle was to create more stability. A lightbulb went off, and I did what every good New Yorker does. I got myself some storage space. Words can not express how much peace a tiny closet with a padlock has brought to my life.

Then, of course, shortly after an apartment was found. A really nice place, albeit for two months, but it has a pool right across the street and really high ceilings.  It’s not available until October, thus the two moves in one month, but it will be perfect for fall.

With that all sorted, the Italian guy and all the emotions I feel about him came back to rattle me. I think there is so much of what I want in a man in him. It’s like a carrot that gets dangled in front of me and it makes me crazy. But the answer to this part of my journey is the same answer that has always been there. This is about me and making for myself the life of my dreams. Italy is like Neverland. So, I guess that makes me Wendy. In the end Wendy leaves Neverland and decides to grow up. I think it is the same for me. It doesn’t change how I feel about him. He has been incredibly catalistic in my life. And that has to be enough. How can that not be enough? That is huge.

My last morning in Lecce I had breakfast with a friend before my flight. He picked me up at five am and drove me to the airport. It was still dark, and he talked about his sister and his mom. At the airport we happily ate shitty pastries and talked about Game of Thrones before saying goodbye. I love that in this small city so far from anything I know live people that I adore. That is amazing. I dislike that I try to hold on to it, change it, posses it. I hope to one day  make peace with that  because I want to be that kind of person. I want to love with out trying to posses or change.

The last part, that I have figured out so far,  of creating stability in Paris is taking better care of myself. The last two years have brought long streaks of being in self-destruction mode. Not self-destruction in a super terrible way but in that way that heartache can make you drink too much, smoke too much, and either eat too much or not at all. I think there is a time and place for that kind of living but I’ve had my share of it and it is time to be done with it. I’m turning 39 in a little under a month and a half.  I want to feel better than I ever have, and I want a baby.  It took me so long to figure out what it is I want in my life but it is so clear to me now. I want a business, a child, and a partner. I think for a long time I looked to making my life with someone as an extension of what I wanted to make of my life but I don’t think that is now the case. In truth I don’t think that would ever make me happy.

love letters

Posted in paris with tags , , on August 12, 2012 by ana

I’m back in empty, hot, sometimes breezy, Paris. In a new apartment that is large and sunny. I love it here. I only have the place until mid-september but it doesn’t matter. Right now it’s perfect. The neighborhood reminds me of non-hipster Brooklyn. On the street you hear a lot of other languages, not just French, and that kind of makes me feel like I’m home.

I spent the last two days in Beaune with Iris. She came out to help me move back and to have a little belated birthday getaway. It was a nice way to close my six weeks there- cooking, plotting the next moves in our lives, walking around and taking in the picturesque wine town.

The day after I got back my sister came to visit. A two day stop on her way home from a whirlwind vacation that took her to Spain, Greece, and Germany. I barely got to see her when I was last in LA, and it was good to reconnect. She’s moving back home to PR. I love that we shared LA. That she came to be a part of my life there. I loved having her here. We ran around looking for perfume, picnicked, walked along the river and the canal, drank Champagne, and ate at Fish and Candelaria. My favorite part of her visit was running slightly buzzed, after two Guepe Vertes from Candelaria, to the Pompidou as the sun was setting. We laughed and gossiped and talked about our favorite Gerard Richter paintings. She was the perfect welcome back to Paris treat.

The long days in Burgundy, the swims and the walks were really good for me. It feels like I’ve turned a page.  I feel inspired and centered by my projects. It feels like solitude helped me garner some momentum. I loved being in the country. I needed it but I’m happy to be back. A city is where I belong most of the time. Paris, like New York, is a place that people want to visit, and that makes living far from those you love easier.

 

I talked to my step-brother yesterday. It had been a year. He just returned from one of his voyages. His voice was clear and bright. He spent some time filming the aurora borealis this year, which blows my mind.  My lovely, dark, sweet brother was so beautiful an encouraging on the phone. He asked me if I planned to stay in France. I told him I was living life without a very concrete plan. That I wasn’t sure of what came next except for language classes in the fall, pastry school in November, and starting my cookie business.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to acknowledge how big and brave and exciting the decisions I am  making are. When I was in LA. I was such a hot mess. When I told Stevie that I felt so lost she said, you moved to France. That’s huge. Of course it’s going to be hard at first. Something clicked when she said that. Where, oh where, would I be without my friends. I have my own personal gang of cheerleaders and baton-twirlers, and I ‘m so, so grateful for them. I’ve had so much encouragement in emails from Willa, and Rami, and Noah, and Vee, and Anouk these past few months. And Stevie and Mario and Cleo who constantly give me their unconditional love.

My Walter Mercado horoscope, fondly referred to as the Liberace horoscope in my apartment in Paris, said I would love and be loved, and of course I instantly thought it had to do with a guy. I will find love in August, I thought. But that’s the thing, right. I am loved and I love. There is no lack of love in my life. I have so many people who love and adore me. More than most people. I am really lucky, and I often take for granted how easily I am able to connect with people and make friends, good, loyal, loving friends.

A few weeks ago, in one of our transatlantic, early morning for me, late night for her, conversations Cleo said to me when you are doing your own thing, you shine. Every time through out your life that has always been the case. She’s right and Burgundy brought that back to me.

 

On the phone, my brother said, I think it’s great what you are doing. All your plans…

My little Parisian adventure, I laughed.

Ana, he said, I think it’s more than an adventure. If it was just an adventure you would have come home already.

You are right, I said. It’s kinda scary

To which he replied, Anita, don’t be afraid of being scared.

That is very good advice.

Posted in Burgundy with tags on August 5, 2012 by ana

I’ve spent my last few days in Beaune house sitting, cooking, reading in bed amidst baskets filled with old linen sheets and napkins with an ancient bloodhound napping the day away on the floor, and the alternate scent of boeuf bourguignon and cigarettes wafting up from the restaurant downstairs. I have changed during my time in Burgundy. For one, I’ve become a better cook. I feel I have gained a more relaxed and clear approach to food. My head is full of dreams. Food dreams and restaurants and delicious sweets. In bed I read all morning a frothy, girly book by Sophie Dahl then Tamar Adler’s book, which has the best chapter headings, and after a book about taking better photographs I found on a shelf. I feel I have forgotten much on that subject.

I’ve read a ton this summer, which is exactly what I was craving. Reading sets my mind in order and spending entire days doing so, just like spending the day at the beach, makes me feel relaxed, sexy and pretty.

The apartment I’m in right  now is lovely- high ceilings, an old baker’s table that sits twelve in the dining room, a Lacanche stove in the kitchen. I was thinking earlier about homes and about my parents. I’m craving home, family, not only mine but one of my own. I am craving a beautiful comfortable couch and an inviting kitchen table. For the last two years anything domestic has repulsed me so I will take it as a sign that things are changing. The three men I have cared for in the past ten years have like rocks in a toy rock tumbler been tossed around enough, in my heart, to resemble something smooth and polished but not quite the gems promised. I’ve had an invitation to go to Italy for a week. I may go. I keep weighing the pros and the cons but I think I already know that I’m going to go.

family & France

Posted in Burgundy with tags , , on July 30, 2012 by ana

There is a series of three photograph taken the day that my parents got engaged. They are celebrating their engagement with their siblings, all who were already married. Everyone is dolled up and laughing. I think they were taken in my grandfather’s study.

I used to be fascinated by these photos. I found them when I was in art school during a period where I pillaged both my parents collections of photographs. I was obsessed with family snapshots. I was never really sure why those photographs in particular captivated me but it had something to do with how fresh and young they all were. Looking at it from the future, knowing the significant events that occurred- the births, deaths, divorces, illnesses, accomplishments, that moment frozen in time, seemed like a pause before the first dip in a roller coaster. For some reason I woke up thinking of those photographs.

 

The other night I was in bed reading and absentmindedly playing with one of my teeth. This got me thinking about my grandmother. How she lost a lot of her teeth around age 92 or 93. This in turn made me think about getting older and getting old. About being sixty, eighty or ninety-six, the age my grandmother was when she passed away, and how I would look back on this time in my life and see my loves, my fears, my hopes. I tried to imagine, to get a feeling for how I would look upon this time when I’m older. For some reason this way of thinking about getting older, from the future looking back as opposed to from the present thinking forward, gave me a strange sense of reassurance. I realized that the thing that fascinated me about those photographs was that life hadn’t calcified into their bodies. The thing that I find most paralyzing about getting older is how much more weight our choices start to carry. From that stemmed the decision to move abroad. The fear that time was passing by and that I had to do the things that I had always wanted to do.

And because of some good decisions and a bit of luck I found myself today having a picnic by a field of sunflowers, then spending the remainder of the afternoon planting lettuces, carrots, and radicchio, and picking green beans for pickling, and unripe apples to make pectin.

When I got back it was so hot I started watching an Yves Saint Laurent documentary in bed. A St. Vincent song played in my head and wouldn’t go away. I stopped half-way through the movie to return some emails and somehow, amidst all the loveliness of the day and the anxiety of the future, while sitting in a pleather couch in a hotel lobby,  it hit me- the density, the loveliness of all I had, so far, lived and experienced in France.