Archive for the 38 Category

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!

 

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. -Joseph Campbell

Posted in 38 with tags , on February 7, 2012 by ana

Except for my childhood and brief stints as an adult I have my whole life, for the most part, felt fat or at the very least not up to par. Somewhere in me lives a voice that says I am less, I am not enough as I am. I know I’m not the only woman that feels this way. And I can not possibly be the only one who is exhausted by the constant battle we wage against ourselves. I’m not talking here about losing weight per say but of self-acceptance. I can look at women who have the same body as me and see beauty, lushness, sexiness. I can also see that in me, sometimes, often, but right underneath the skin, right underneath those sentiments, there has always been one constant thin layer of self loathing. At times it’s almost imperciptable but it is always there.

Two days ago I finished sorting through my books. I narrowed the books I’m keeping to three boxes out of ten. It was not easy at first but once I got going it became almost effortless. Why keep moving all this books? So that one day I can have a beautiful room filled with them? The day I can have a library I’ll be able to buy whatever book I want.

Among the boxes of books were my photographs.  Looking at them I realized how much of a disconnect there has always been between how I feel I look and how I look. I was kind of floored by how perfectly fine I looked in almost every photograph and not at all how I felt at the moment the photos were taken. This all got me thinking about how much time I’ve wasted hating parts of myself, wishing for change, and feeling frustrated. It is one of the main ways in which I hold myself back, and keep myself from being in the moment.  I’m tired of living a life noticing the lack more than the haves. It’s only taken me 38 years, countless therapy sessions, and millions of moments where it has felt like I’m banging my head against the wall to see what a waste it is to walk through a perfectly good life that way.

I only had one resolution this year. To wear lipstick everyday. After all, my aunt was right, a little color on your face does make a difference. But I’m adding one more. To explore the idea of radical self-acceptance.

 

perfume as madeleine

Posted in 38 with tags on January 29, 2012 by ana

Late this afternoon, I took a break from the storm of clothes that is my room, and went to the shops with my sister. She needed new underpinnings, and I wanted new perfume. I like marking experiences with scents to create an instant gateway to a particular time. Anouk gave me some violet scented hand creme over the holidays and it rekindled my love for the smell. When we were in high school we were obsessed with this cloyingly sweet, purple colored cologne for kids that they sold at the drugstore called Violetas Francesas.

On the drive over my sis was playing old ballads and it reminded me of how much her mom loved all those songs. It made me think of the different ways we mourn through the years sometimes in devastation, sometimes in celebration, and sometimes in longing. I remembered a period when I would listen  to the spanish singer Rocio Durcal and feel so sad for the loss of my step-mom, for what that experience was like for my dad. Her songs made me think about what it would be like to lose your spouse and how you would have to go on living while both carrying them and letting them go.

At the store I bought Tom Ford’s Violet Blonde. On the ride home I was texting with Vee about my new perfume and I remembered I had quoted Tom Ford in my grandmother’s eulogy. It made me love the perfume even more. My grandmother would have celebrated my going to Paris. She would have asked for every last detail and enjoyed every tale.

“Generosity is what grandmothers are good for, right?  If you’re lucky and you have a great one.” – Tom Ford

 


Julie Delpy, are you the patron saint of my move?

Posted in 38 with tags , , on January 26, 2012 by ana

I sold my car on Tuesday. It felt so strange to let go of one of my most important possession in LA. When I told Stevie I was selling my car and that it made me a little sad she said, “those are just the cocoons getting shaken up.”  I had my car for nine years. As I walked over to hand off the keys memories of driving to the desert and up north to Napa and San Francisco came back to me. I remembered how often I got lost when I  first moved here and all the mini adventures taken in my car- drives to the beach, to parties downtown, to beautiful, magical houses where friends were house sitting in Laurel Canyon and above the Silver Lake reservoir.

Yesterday, I got my visa in the mail! So, it’s official. I can move to Paris. It’s amazing how everything is falling into place. Selling my car was the main thing that was stressing me out. Last week I asked my boss, who was sitting at the bar doing the schedule, if she knew anyone looking to buy a car. She looked up at the couple sitting at the other end of the bar and jokingly asked if they wanted to buy a car. It turns out they did and they were actually looking for the same car I had! They asked why I was selling and when I told them I was moving the woman said,”look at Julie Delpy. She’s doing it. She’s doing her own thing. She’s stumbling through it. She’s just did Two Days in New York. Did you know? It’s really good. You can be like her. You are doing your own thing.”  It was funny that she mentioned Julie Delpy because a month ago my friend Katy’s boyfriend said to me that he had been looking at Before Sunset for a project he was working on. When he saw her apartment in the movie he thought of me and imagined me living in an apartment like hers. I loved that he said that because I don’t know him that well but think he’s a real sweetheart.

Five days later  the lady at the bar bought my car. And if that wasn’t a sign that all roads lead to Paris, at the last minute I needed to go to the DMV for some paperwork. It was four in the afternoon and they close at five. I jumped in my car and miraculously made it downtown on the 5 in ten minutes. Ten minutes!

 

 

 

tears on asphalt

Posted in 38 with tags , on January 21, 2012 by ana

Today, I’m feeling really, really panicky about my move. All I keep thinking is that I only know 1.5 people in Paris. Everywhere I have moved I have always had at least two or three friends that I have known for years and years. I’m not worried about making friends because I know eventually I always do but I’m scared I will feel beyond lonely, that I will hit a million dead ends, that this is all one huge mistake.  What am I doing!!? My french sucks. I’m feeling completely intimidated and lost. I have never been as on my own as I will be. I’m afraid all my money won’t last as much as I need it to. I am terrified.

Of course, I can always reason with the fear. I know I am lucky and if worst comes to worst there are quite a few people who will gladly, happily, and excitedly take me in. I know that everything will fall into place and work out as it is supposed to. I know this in my head, but it feels totally different in my body. Still, nothing in me, no instinct, no thought, no gut feeling is saying don’t do it. It’s just a lot of emotions are coursing through me, and I barely know what to do with them so all I can do is what I need to do- get ready, start sorting through all my stuff, organize all my papers…

I was talking to my  dad  yesterday. He said, “try to get rid of as much stuff as possible. Sell everything but the few books you know you can’t replace and things you will take. It is an act of purification.” He is right. Paring my things down is one of the most appealing parts of moving but getting rid of my books is very difficult, as is letting go of clothes that I love but don’t wear. We attach so much emotional value to our beloved objects. I guess they become symbols of our past, right? Kind of like a map- this is the dress I wore to my 35th birthday dinner at my friend’s beautiful loft, this is the book I picked out in the 9th grade on a trip to the bookstore with my mom.  I love those reminders but I also feel this deep need to empty myself so the new can rush in, so the internal becomes richer.

 

On Monday I saw Leo. It was the second time in the last year and a half that I have seen him.  It’s still bittersweet to see him. We went for a hike. When I met up with him, when I saw him walking towards me smiling, I could literally see him start to well up with joy. That kind of killed me. That we can have such an effect on people. Hiking with Leo was easy, comfortable and that always gets me too. How physically at ease I feel, how normal it feels to be next to him. At one point in the hike it came up that he was changing his phone number and I said to him, ” you can’t change your number. Yours is one of the few numbers I know by heart. What if I need to call someone in an emergency.”

“Maybe, I’ll keep it for you,” he said. Though the thought that he could help me in an emergency from California all the way to France was kind of ridiculous I love that I know that no matter what I can always count on him. We walked and talked for about an hour and a half. While coming down the mountain talking about movies, I realized that Leo and I had always walked side by side, that we had never really sat across from each other in our relationship, that we had never really faced each other. Well, maybe in the very beginning we had.

After the hike Leo asked if I wanted to go for a bite but I had to go. He looked really sad when I said I couldn’t and then he took a deep breath and just blurted, “I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry.” I told him there was no need because I had forgiven him a long time ago.  He said, ” no, I have to tell you. I’m sorry for being an idiot. I’m sorry I was an asshole. I’m sorry I wasn’t honest. I wasn’t honest with myself. I should have let you go sooner.”

I told him things had ended when they needed to, not sooner or later than they had to. “You are right,” he said. “I know you wanted me to fight for you but I had doubts and I kept hoping they would resolve themselves. And when you said you were leaving I thought I had gotten my answer. I’m sorry for everything.”

The whole thing was so intense. I felt simultaneously present and removed. I told him jokingly, ” I’m done crying over you.” And proceeded to cry in the parking lot. “Why didn’t you tell me you had doubts?” I asked. “Why didn’t you talk to me?”

The summer Leo and I began having serious disaccords his sister had made me super uncomfortable by asking me why I thought her brother hadn’t asked me to marry him. That night was one of the most surreal of my life and really began the disintegration of our relationship. I had felt so uncomfortable. I was incredibly jet-lagged and stuck in a very loud Brazilian bar in Williamsburg. The morning after that night I had woken up and left Cleo’s apartment while everyone slept and walked up and down the whole city sobbing. I didn’t stop crying until I got to LA that night. Hell, I didn’t stop crying until November and that night in the Brazilian bar was early August. In the parking lot, facing Leo’s apology, the taste of that night came back to me.

Leo looked lonely. I asked if he was sad. I asked if he was lonely but I didn’t say much else. He told me that he loved me. I wanted to tell him that I was afraid that I would never find another person who I would laugh with the way I laughed with him but I didn’t. I didn’t want to open myself up like that. I told him that I loved him back.

“We could have gotten married and had children and been happy,” he said. “But this break up would have always come.” When he said it I knew he was right. The break up now felt completely inevitable. Not only because there was a great philosophical/religious divide between us that would never be bridged but I just want a different type of life, a different type of man by my side. Still, that man, the man that took a ten hour plane ride to be with me and my family for a little over a day when my step-father and my grandmother passed away, was a really good man. And the conversation in the parking lot was really a generous gift.

Tropicalia

Posted in 38, family, friends with tags , , on January 15, 2012 by ana
I’ve been struggling with this post. Truth be told  I’ve been struggling with posting in general. The last few months of 2011 were kind of dark for me. There were lovely highlights,  lots of truly sparkly moments but underneath I have been trying to sort some stuff out. For as much as I naturally seek the beauty and the joy in everything, for as much as I see the glass always half-full, a part of me leans heavily towards the blue and nostalgic. The stuff I have been working through has to do at it’s core with trust. There is a conflict of emotions that I don’t know yet know how to put in words. I can’t yet connect it to the narrative of my life. I need more distance before I can write about it. So before everything gets smooshed up I’m just going to post what I’ve got.
I just got back a few days ago from two weeks in Puerto Rico. It was a very mellow Christmas by Puerto Rican standards. There was a lot of crime and violence this past year. More than there has ever been. I think that probably contributed to the quietness of the holidays.  Of course, mellow here could be considered full of reverie in most places. Christmas season isn’t completely over until the feast of San Sebastian, which starts this weekend. That said, after staying in and spending New Year’s eve with my mom, I woke up thinking my days of being wild and young were officially done. (Let it be known they did not go down without a fight.)
This vacation was really good for me. I feel replenished. I feel different than I did before. It’s was good to be home, to spend time with family and friends. It was also the perfect place to embrace all the experiences of 2011 and step into 2012 with an open, valiant heart. It is so beautiful there- breezy and warm. The skies clear and full of fluffy clouds. Cumulus clouds, my youngest sister, who will turn thirteen next week and is now as tall as me, reminds me. There are large iguanas, one sadly dead in the middle of the road, and tiny lizards. Everything is lush and green, and like clock-work at least once a day, if not twice, the rain rolls in and washes everything clean, and then making you aware that you are in an island, promptly rolls out.
Each day home was its own sort of lovely. I took a twenty-four hour Brady bunch-like trip to Saint Thomas with some of my younger sisters, my dad, his girlfriend and her daughters, and went snorkeling for the first time. I walked with my mom to the ocean early January 1st. I went to the beach with my sister and then after drank sweet, cool papaya shakes made with coconut water, cinnamon and vanilla. I went to the beach with Anouk and drank lots of mojitos while we talked about life and love. I bought tuberose on the street and filled my room with their perfume. I ate my favorite breakfast, a baguette toasted on a press and cafe con leche, with my sister Lili, played with my niece, saw most of my cousins, had long, lovely meals with girlfriends that I’ve known almost as long as I’ve known myself, and sat in the glow of multi-colored Christmas lights on my mom’s balcony talking late into the night. I heard lots of Puerto Rican Christmas music, ate all sort of fried things filled with cod or crab or beef, and drank plenty of Medallas, the world’s best shittiest beer, alcoholic water really, and the absolutely perfect thing to drink in the hot, humid weather. I baked for my family, read Joseph Campbell, and got lots of rest.
The end of last year had me climbing walls. Since the moment I decided to move to Paris things seemed to move at a snail’s pace but now that my departure date is getting near time is really speeding up.  I started this week a little heartbroken (more on that later, I think) and jet-lagged but at the same time I felt very light and full of love from my trip. Today I keep getting jolts of excitement and also waves of sadness for all that I love that will stay in LA. As I finish writing this I am sitting on the floor with the entire content of my closet around me. I’m sorting out what I will take , what I will sell, and what I will give away. All the paperwork for my visa is on the bed waiting to be sorted and a long to do list, that includes selling my car, looms somewhere in  my bag.  The coming weeks are going to be crazy but in a good, exhilarating way.

 

notebooks & gluesticks

Posted in 38, notebooks & gluesticks with tags on December 22, 2011 by ana

notebooks & watercolors

Posted in 38 with tags , , , , on December 14, 2011 by ana

I found this drawing in an old journal. I think I was living in Brooklyn, and quite possibly had the chicken pox, when I  drew it. I had the chicken pox when I was 27. The older you are, the harder it hits you. I looked like an alien.

I haven’t been feeling like myself lately. I can guess why but all the guesses so far haven’t felt quite on the mark. So, I’m just trying to go with it and stay as focused as I can while enjoying the feeling that exciting stuff is on the horizon. Most of the time I fail but I’m not letting that stop me from trying.

In a little over a week I’m going home for the holidays. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s my favorite time of year to be in Puerto Rico. I’m longing to breath the salty air and feel the sun on my skin. I’m craving the feeling of being in my mom’s apartment and my dad’s house.  I can’t wait to see Anouk and my three other friends who I have known forever, and I’m really looking forward to seeing my family. Going home always recharges my batteries and infuses me with perspective. Nothing like driving past your old High School to give you a sense of all that you have done right in your life and how happy you are for the choices you have made.

 

I think what I like about the drawing above is that it reminds me of how much I have always loved food and thought about it. I had a boyfriend, at the time I made the drawing, that used to always tell me that I was in my element whenever I would cook. I loved going with him to his sister’s house in Upstate New York and cooking. She had a great kitchen that opened on to a deck, and what seemed like a forest beyond her yard. When I think about it now, I don’t think I ever really heard what he was saying. I don’t think I saw what he was seeing in me or I didn’t take it seriously.

The drawing also makes me think about my friend Elle because she loves food and she loves small drawings. I’ve known Elle for a long time but it wasn’t until she was my boss that our friendship gelled. Elle has always shown me interesting, lovely, loving ways of looking at food. Working for her at epicurious was the first time I realized that there was a world of food out there and people who were excited and passionate about it.

My whole life there have always been little hints of how I feel about food. It has always excited me but it has also always been a relationship fraught with conflict because of my relationship to my body. All this has been shifting in the past year. Sometimes I feel like my old self, conflicted about my body, conflicted about food and how I eat. Other times I feel a new experience emerging that is so much healthier and kind and embracing. This newer perspective on food and body image feels exciting, empowering, and  sexy to me.  This is what I hope is the next part of my journey, more of that exploration, more of that embracing, and more celebration.

I’ve been thinking about the weekend I spent with Willa a few months ago.  I think I wrote about it before. I was in tears almost the entire time I visited her and she was so loving.  We went to the beach one afternoon with her baby. It was cold and misty, and most of the beach was closed off as a haven for seals. I felt so frustrated, so restless, so hungry for answers. I played with her baby and cried, and she said to me,  “you are like one of your collages, filled with all the things that you like and interest you. You don’t have to be one thing. You can be a collection of all the things you’ve done.”

That night we made a pasta that I learned about in the summer, orchiette with cabbage and pancetta. We drank wine and after dinner I snuck off to have a cigarette. Willa came out to keep me company. We just sat there, staring at the trees behind her house. “I think so much of what you are feeling,” she said,  “has to do with the break up, with the disappointment, with the unfulfilled expectations. And you have a right to be angry. I’m angry. Paul is angry. None of us can believe it. That he would just let you go.”  And I told her I felt so stupid for trusting, for believing in him. That I felt so disappointed  with myself. That I wanted a partner. That I wanted a baby. That I needed to loose the weight I had gained from all the drinking and candy I had eaten over the past year and do more yoga, and go for runs. The list went on and on. Willa hugged me and said, “you are perfect just as you are and love will come when the time is right and it won’t care if you have gained or lost weight. It won’t care about your accomplishments or disappointments. It will love you as you are.”

Anouk, Stevie, and Mina have also said this to me. You are perfect just as you are. When Willa said it on her deck that night, I think it was the first time I really heard what they were saying. It’s such a foreign idea to me that I’m still wrapping my head around it and embracing it. Usually before I go home for the holidays I hit the gym in a frenzy. Trying to look better, to change myself somehow. This year it hasn’t mattered. Not because I don’t care. Not because I’m letting myself go but just because I don’t feel my worth is attached to it the way I did before.

Home is often also often a reminder of all the things that I have to supposedly have at this stage in my life- husband, career, family. I want those things but, as much as I can’t often help feeling impatient, I’m also starting to see that it doesn’t matter whether I have those things right now or not. I’m following my heart and that is all that matters.

My friend Valentina called this morning to talk about a puerto rican stew she is making for her holiday party. When I told her about all my visa woes and restlessness she said, ” Ana, no stress. You are going to go when the time is right. What is meant for you is meant for you and will be waiting for you.”

I know she is right. Things are unfolding slowly for a reason. It is not for me to figure out why. I just need to trust it. I battle with that trust. I throw temper tantrums at it. But the things that I want most- to become a better baker, a better writer, a better artist, a better ice cream maker, and to fall in love again- all happen over time, with openness, and little meddling. If I look at the patterns and the rhythms of my life I have the proof that when I let go and relax, at the right moment, secrets are revealed.

 

girl in flux

Posted in 38 on December 7, 2011 by ana

Do people really change? Have I? Sometimes I feel confident, open, loving, like the person I want to be. Other times the old voices roll around in my head making me feel insecure and mediocre. I’m moving in eight weeks. The past week I have felt excited, scared, needy, restless, stressed and tired. I think I am more freaked out about my move than I realize. One minute I am thrilled and excited. The next my mind goes into these scenarios of bad things happening to me. Something similar happened before I moved to LA from NY. I know that taking this giant leap is right. I know that I would never not do it. I know that, just like it did here, amazing things will happen in Paris. And that it will also be hard. I cried a lot when I first moved to LA. I cried in traffic, in parking lots, in prop houses but I also thrived. It was the same in New York. I cried on the subway all the time my first couple of years there.

I find myself needing to be alone but also feeling incredibly lonely. My friend and his boyfriend came in for dinner the other night. When I apologized for the food taking a long time they said that it didn’t matter that they were having a great time. I felt so envious. I am hungry for that kind of connection. I miss sharing the tenderness, the warmth, the sexuality, the laughter.

Kat said to me yesterday, “You have to be easy on yourself. It’s only been a year since you and Leo broke up. You guys were a great couple. You were a really fun couple to be around.” She is right. There is still conflict and anger in my heart even if I don’t always see it. There is so much desire in me to keep growing, to keep striving for a life that is present, inspired, confident, sensual, and centered but somedays I just feel lost in the shuffle, inpatient, and frustrated.

 

 

notebooks & gluesticks

Posted in 38, notebooks & gluesticks with tags on December 1, 2011 by ana