Archive for the family Category

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.

 

the ties that bind

Posted in 38, family with tags , , , on November 30, 2011 by ana

Over the long weekend I went to Virginia to visit my cousin Carolina. Going to Virginia always feels like going home. Every summer growing up I stayed at least a month with either my grandmother or my aunt and uncle. Every corner of the house Carolina grew up in is filled with memories. Every time I walk past the guest bathroom, which still has shimmery seventies wallpaper, I remember running in, from a savage game of war with my cousins in the front yard, to fill up water balloons in the sink, and the trouble I got in when I accidentally dropped one on the wood floor. Every time I pass the door to the basement I remember a game of cops and robbers that left me handcuffed to the basement staircase when one of my boy cousins lost the key. In a way, in Virginia, I got to have a kind of suburban life that I never had in Puerto Rico. One where we rode our bikes to the local pool and ran around outside until the sun set late into the night.

Carolina and her husband live in the apartment where my grandmother used to live. This is the apartment where Carolina and I went into the guest bathroom as brunettes one afternoon and emerged a light shade of peroxide copper a half hour later thanks to a bottle of Sun-in we conned someone into buying for us. Across the street from that apartment there used to be a movie theater where I watched E.T. nine times, Annie six, and the first of the Batman movies at least twice. If I stand still long enough I can almost see my grandparents in their bedroom or in the kitchen. Thankfully, the incredibly awkward 8×10 fifth-grade portrait, where I’m wearing a mint green denim vest with a baby pink t-shirt, has been taken down from the wall, and hopefully burned.

Carolina is a year and half older than me.  When we were little we would make our moms buy us the same outfits so we could pretend we were twins but in reality she’s rosy-colored and I’m olive. Her hair is straight and mine is wavy. She’s a skinny-minnie and I’m curvy. And our politics are at opposite ends of the spectrum. When I was little my heart did cartwheels whenever she was around. It still does actually. Sometimes there is nothing lovelier than time spent with someone that has known you your entire life, who knows you through and through, and completely understand the ins and outs of your specific family. And it was wonderful and truly inspiring to see how sweetly her marriage has bonded and evolved as it has navigated hardships and obstacles.

On Sunday we went to see  Gabriela, the daughter of a friend of my mom’s, in an Arthur Miller play. She was intensely good, and I kept thinking of how deep one must dig to unearth something compelling and how much one also has to surrender.

On Monday I went to the zoo in DC by myself and wandered around looking at the elephants, silverback gorillas, and tigers with that mixture of sadness and awe that zoos tend to inspire. I rode the metro and the vertigo inducing escalator of the Adams Morgan station with my fantasies and longing firmly planted across several countries and an ocean, where I have been pretending, somewhat foolishly since the summer, to remember and forget them.

I returned to LA happy and with new shoes but also arguing with my heart. Telling it it was a sucker and a nit-wit for harboring the desire to date someone who wasn’t present and available, for liking someone that feels impossible. I woke up knowing, AGAIN, that is easier to pretend that I don’t like him. It’s just easier to tell myself- let it go- every time I think of him than it is to pine for him. It is better to just hold him in my heart as a catalyst because when we correspond my lust and my ego go crazy, and all I want to hear is, I guess what any girl wants to hear from the guy she likes, that he will do anything to try to be with me because he doesn’t want to be with out me.

All of this has got me thinking about what is solid and grounded. How amazing and guiding it feels to have  fallen in love with my own creative path, for one, and seeing how all the things that interest me begin to combine. Everything in my life is really great right now, really good things are happening. I need to be grateful and not let my inner Veruca Salt tell me otherwise. I struggle to be present but when I’m not I miss the feelings of security, stability, and sensuality that noticing the richness and the details of the moment, and distilling its guiding whispers bring me.

 

 

 

 

Travels

Posted in family with tags on July 3, 2011 by ana

I spent most of my really long layover in Chicago reading The Hunger Games. Is there anything more satisfying than getting sucked into a book. About an hour before boarding I grabbed a glass of wine at a bar and thought it was so civilized that they let you take your wine with you to the gate.

On the flight between Chicago and Madrid I drank two more glasses of wine, which gave me a nostalgic buzz. Thousand of miles up in the sky I thought of all the trips I had taken with my mom and my dad-separately. I thought I get my sense of magic from my dad and my sense of delight from my mom. I thought of all the unique experiences both my parents had brought into my life. Then something made me think of Leo, which made the same  thought roll over and over in my head, which was basically the feeling of what I lost and what I gained.

Between nostalgia, the book, and sleep we landed in Madrid. The wine made me  so thirsty and once I switched terminals I went in search of one of my favorite things to drink in Spain- Coca light! I never drink diet coke but for some reason it tastes so good abroad. The same is true of a bunch of other junk food. Doritos, kit kats they taste different, like they used to when you were a kid. My sister Ellie was the one who turned me on to European junk food.

While I waited for my mom at the airport I remembered something Leo had said last summer when I just simply said goodbye to him, my dad and one of my sisters as they boarded a plane. They were all flying back an hour before me on a different plane. “That is the difference between your family and mine,” he said. And what he meant was not entirely clear but I could figure it out because his was the kind of family that took forever to say goodbye, that could not stand to be apart from each other and my family was not like that.

And then three hours later we where in Rome.

pre-departure delight

Posted in family with tags on June 29, 2011 by ana

Earlier today I called my dad. He was having drinks with friends, and I could hear the city, my city, San Juan behind him. In my mind I could feel the balmy air, see the dusky sky, and I wanted to be there. My sister Lela is there. She left on Sunday. Maybe that’s why I’m missing it more. I get that way sometimes when I talk to my parents on the phone. I don’t know if I would want to be there always but sometimes I just miss the rhythm, my family, my high school friends. It’s a city but it’s a small town and there is something so relaxed, celebratory, and beautiful that permeates everything there. I know it’s totally an island cliche but it’s true.

Tomorrow I have a layover in Madrid. I’m meeting my mom there and together we’ll fly to Rome where we will meet my brother, his girlfriend, and her son for a few days. My dad asked if we were spending the day in Madrid, which sadly we are not, and suggested I take my mom to the market he took me last year at the end of our trip. He loves that market. I do too. I was blown away when he took me there. It was one of the most magical parts of a pretty fabulous trip. After we hung up as if on cue I turned the radio up Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti’s Fright Night came on. We listened to that song, to that album, last summer all the way from Castropol (the town my paternal grandmother’s family is from) to Madrid. It is a Leo song. And I usually stay clear of Leo songs. But I didn’t and it was sunny and glorious and downright full-blown summer here today. And I remembered how fantastic it had been to spend a week in Castropol. How much it had changed since the first time I had been there fourteen years before and how the same it still was. How insane and delicious the food was (the jamón! the languostine and spinach croquettes!), how lovely it was to drink coffee with my dad in our kitchen in the morning and Albariño with cousins and distant relatives at night by the river, and my sister Ellie and her bestie cracking Leo and me up all the time with their super girlie puerto rican girl ways.

And then it really, really hit me. Tomorrow, and for the next two weeks, I will be somewhere where the rhythm will be totally different from my day-to-day. And the I-CAN’T-WAIT turned into that feeling you get right before something really special is about to happen.

Moving along

Posted in family, lunch with tags on May 27, 2011 by ana

At times, when I’m at work, I feel like an empty jar with a scream trapped inside.  I’m done being a waitress. It’s time to move on. I never want to tell anyone the specials ever again. I never want to be nice to someone who is not because I have to.  I never want to ask someone if they want something to drink and have them look at me like I have three heads. When you work in a restaurant you see all sorts of people often they are incredibly nice, often they are appalling. Diners often behave as if you weren’t standing right there witnessing them act like it’s the first time they’ve ever stepped out of the barn and sat in a restaurant.  No more I’m done. Well, not really. I still have to stick it out a little longer but I feel like at long last change is in the air. How can it not be?

I was talking to Carolina on the phone two weeks ago and I said to her- give or take a month by the end of the year things will be different. I will know what the next big step is. Then yesterday I had lunch with my dapper cousin, and he asked me if I had a deadline for my endeavors. He has asked me this before over the years. Essentially- when do you decide you are done chasing your dream and go out and get a job with benefits and growth potential. I get it. I know he is concerned. “Because you could keep writing and acting and who knows when any of that can pan out,” he said. I see his point of view, and how his career, background, and life shape it that way. I know what he says comes from a place of love and a wish that I be safe, comfortable, and happy. I know he is a sobering voice of reason BUT I believe that I will find the right thing or that it will find me, and I’m not giving up or resting until I do. This is huge for me because I have always felt that way but for the first time in a long time, maybe ever, I believe it.  I know this because when he asked what my plans were I said I’m working on it and for the first time in my whole entire life I felt a new feeling of complete confidence in myself and not one drop of anxiety or panic.

Tossing, turning and Dita Von Teese

Posted in family with tags on May 19, 2011 by ana

Last night I kept tossing and turning until about three in the morning. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t fall asleep. I was cold and couldn’t get comfortable until I was completely under the covers hugging a pillow. Usually I can fall asleep right away. It’s really quiet where I live and my bed and room feel like a cave at night. It’s cozy here but it’s always cold because my cousin is always hot. Part of the reason I find it cozy is  because it reminds me of my grandmother’s apartment in Virginia. I didn’t grow up with air conditioning ( something kind of odd for PR) in my home we only had ceiling fans because my parents liked it better. The apartment that I’m in now and the apartment where my grandmother lived both have central air. Scents linger in a different way in a home that has central air. The whole building often smells like her old building and like her home itself, a mix of laundry detergent, what ever is being cooked and Yardley’s lavender soap. On days when it’s warm it also reminds me of her apartment in summertime. The feeling coming into the cool inside from the sweltering outside. I also feel like I’m living in a hotel and I kind of like that.

My sleep has changed since I moved here mostly because I have a a big TV with fancy cable starring at me. This happened the first time I lived here too. I didn’t grow up with cable. The TV at our house was after thought so it holds a kind of allure for me. I guess it does for a lot of people but it’s a love/hate thing with me.  I find my life is richer when there isn’t one around but I’m drawn to it when there is one near me.

Last night I went out. It feels like a long time since I’ve gone out other than to a friend’s house or to dinner with my sister. I did go out for my friend’s birthday last Saturday but I didn’t get to be a social butterfly since I ended up talking with one person all night.  I guess I have been intentionally or not in a bit of a cocoon. Last night was different. I went to see Dita Von Teese dance at the Roxy and it was a lovely fun night. I was blown away by the production value of all of Dita’s numbers. I find her self-made spirit and lady-like everyday style incredibly chic and inspiring. I really enjoyed the show although I have to say, the girls in my dance class prancing in their heels and undies are way foxier and sultry.

24/37

Posted in 37, family with tags , on April 28, 2011 by ana

It’s funny how arbitrary a mood can be. I woke up blue but after applying for a job that sounded really great my spirits immediately lifted. But then a little later this cloudy sadness draped itself over me. It’s so unpredictable. Something that I think will for sure make me sad will not even cause a stir, then something random will leave me devastated. It can be something as simple as remembering, while I’m peeing, the fancy trashcan I bought at Bed, Bath & Beyonce the week we moved into the new apartment. If I’m not diligent about moving away from a thought like that it can easily snowball. Sometimes I don’t even catch it until I’m already feeling sad.

It doesn’t even have to be about Leo. Sometimes I’ll feel sad, and envious, when I see my sister in the thralls of boy craziness, running off to go on tour with the boy she likes for a week, partying, and doing lots of impromptu revelry. And though I don’t exactly want to be 24 again or have the stamina I feel a pang of envy for the excitement she has right now. This is a pattern in my life. There are always slow, somewhat monastic periods and then there are periods where every second is filled. Those monastic moments, which are really not that pious, are always mostly annoying to me. I do love my alone time but I love it best amidst moments of business.

To be single at 37 after a long relationship feels odd to me. I’m not 30 anymore, my habits, my lifestyle, my interests have grown up while I was with somebody. I think it would be different if I had been single or in and out of relationships all along. This is a new world.  I’ve never been single as a woman. It shocks me how little I want to be running around painting the town red and also how I don’t know exactly how else to be single if not like that.

A conversation with my brother

Posted in family on February 16, 2011 by ana

Last night I talked with my step-brother on the phone. The last time I saw him was over a year ago at a memorial for his dad at the hospital he had worked at for over twenty years. That memorial was the first and only time I ever saw my brother cry. Remembering that day now I realized something I hadn’t that day- how present my stepfather’s spirit was in that floor of the hospital.

Soon after that memorial my brother returned to Belgrade, where he had been living. Now he is back in PR installing a piece in an art show. I had been trying to reach him for days wanting to talk to him before he left for Serbia. Yesterday, as I pulled in to the restaurant to grab some dinner and pick up my tips from the previous night I finally got a hold of him. Sitting in my car as I watched people walk to and from dinner it felt great to hear his voice. When my brother isn’t drinking he is beautiful-gorgeously sweet, his voice both crystalline and gravely. He is funny, silly, witty-a pleasure to be with because it is possible to have a great conversation with him. And when this happens I miss him terribly.

He was surprised that it was me. I asked him about the show. He said he ran into Anouk (his ex, my bff) while installing his piece. “I was walking outside to smoke a cigarette when I saw this cute girl sitting on a bench reading,” he said. “And I thought, who is that cute chick? I can’t see so well without glasses anymore. She must have seen me coming because she said hello before I could tell it was her. She’s such a cool girl. She was sitting under a tree reading. It was very romantic.”

I told him Anouk had told me she’d run into him. I told him Leo and I had broken up.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“Yeah. I’m okay,”I said. “I just… I wanted to have a baby. I wanted to get married. It was time.”

“When a woman like you,” he said, “asks for what she needs and the man she is with doesn’t give it to her, he does not deserve her.”

“I know,” I said.

“You do? You agree with me?”

“Yes,” I said, “that is why I left.”

“Let me just interject with something funny here,” he said. “Just because it will make you laugh. There are no more laundromats in Old San Juan so I had to go to Puerta de Tierra to wash my clothes. The detergent they sell there makes me smell like a “putiflor”. So I’m walking around smelling like I visit a whore house every night.”

“That’s pretty funny.”

“I just wanted to make you laugh. Are you okay?”

“Yes,” I said. “Because I know why I left. It doesn’t make it hurt any less but it makes it easier.”

“As long as you are clear, at least you know one thing in your life.”

It was starting to drizzle in LA. “When am I Going to see you?” I asked.

He laughed, “you are just as far away as I am. Are you going to stay in LA?”

“I don’t know. I’m not making any decisions yet.”

“I never understood why you moved there,” he said. “But it is not for me to understand.”

“Are you going to stay in Serbia?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “There isn’t anything in Puerto Rico anymore. My reason for being there was my dad. Well there is you, and your brother, and your mom. We are still family you know.”

“I know,” I said.

I felt really happy after I hung up the phone. There is my family that I was born into with all my siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins… I feel very much a part of that, of it’s foundation, of it’s comfort. Then there is my other family full of additions, full of step-parents, step-siblings, even the half-siblings of my step-siblings. I have an incredibly twisty family tree, and it has often felt overwhelming. Sometimes it’s a lot to love that many people but what it has contributed to my life has really been enormous. I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t have all those twisty knobby branches on that tree.

Eighties movies

Posted in family with tags on November 9, 2010 by ana


Sometimes when my parents come to town I get really sad. It makes me realize that they are getting older, that they are so far away and that maybe our lives together will always be lived in short moments-phone calls, a weekend here, a holiday there. It makes me question why I live so far from them. Living away from where I grew up was a journey I began to dream of in high school, maybe even earlier. Sometimes I wonder if I have out grown it. Is it time to come home? I have asked myself that question at different times throughout the years. I have been living away for eighteen years. Do I stay here and pursue my dreams or do I start a new life back home. I miss my family, the sense of community, the sky, the beach, the smells and the sounds of home.

 

Today is a gorgeous day in LA. I have acting class in a half an hour, and I’m parked outside the class typing. I haven’t woken up sad for the last few days but I have carried sadness with me most days. I saw my boyfriend three times this weekend and while seeing him was nice, it also makes it really hard to not think about us if he is so present. Kingdom of Rust by the Dove’s just played on the radio. It makes me think of all the concerts we have seen together. The last few-Phoenix, Belle and Sebastian, Arcade Fire were really hard for me, were bittersweet. I cried during all three.

 

This weekend my sister was feeling strong heartache too. She slept over and we watched Into the Night on TV. Into the Night was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I have always loved movies were the characters lives are transformed through the events of one night. From After Hours to Modern Girls to Adventures in Babysitting. It does not matter if the movie is good or not, I’ll still like it. Into the Night is an odd little movie with Michelle Pfiffer and Jeff Goldblum. It’s very much an LA movie. They drive from LAX to Marina Del Rey, Malibu, Century City, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Downtown-all over the place. David Bowie, Jonathan Demme, Roger Vadim, David Cronenberg and Jim Henson have cameos in it. And the score is fabulous in a very eighties kind of way, like it was composed on a little Casio keyboard. It takes me right back to being in seventh grade when I used to rent and watch five or six movies in one weekend. Those nights at my dad’s where I began to dream of a different life away from Puerto Rico.