Archive for 38

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.

On walks, scents, and being your own compass

Posted in Burgundy with tags , , , , on July 20, 2012 by ana

I’ve always loved going for long walks at night. Here, the air smells of mowed grass, trees, pebbly, dusty road, and wet wood when I walk. The last time I breathed air this clean was probably in Spain two years ago. It was around the same time of  year except the air smelled of river and stone.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about scents. I’ve been a bit violet obsessed. In part, because I think it is a suitable scent to wear while baking, but also because I like that it’s both dame-like and masculine in a dandy sort of way. I’ve also been thinking about red wine. Not the specific smells of a particular wine but the general scent. It is a layer in the olfactory memory of many great meals, and of memorable conversations sitting on couches or standing in kitchens with good friends. Then there was a conversation I had in Paris with a lovely perfume obsessed girl. Talking with her made me start thinking about the structure of fragrance and the often ignored construction of atmosphere through scents.

Trampling through the fields that are now my backyard, breathing in the green air, a group of small black birds flew by. Their wings flapping sounded almost like rain. Each time I’ve seen these bird in the gloaming sky I have thought of that Olivier Theyskens dress that Kirsten Dunst wore to the premier of Marie Antoinette at Cannes and wondered if a walk just after sunset inspired him.

I feel so sheltered, inspired, and grounded by nature right now. Sometimes limitations create expansion. I have very little internet access here. The service on my phone is also limited. Little by little this new quieter rythm is seeping in to everything. Walking back to my apartment I thought, I don’t need anything right now. I am perfectly satisfied. I am working towards things. I had a full day. I ate delicious food. I swam. I worked. I read. There is nothing right this moment that I want or need.

It has been so long since I felt that way. I used to feel that way with Leo all the time. We would be driving somewhere in his little vintage car. Zooming down the 101 to dinner or a show listening to tunes we loved, and I would feel that exact same feeling. This time, I thought, I got here by my sheer strength and will. I had a lot of help but I’ve steered it all with the needle of my own compass.

Quiet Days in France

Posted in Burgundy with tags , , on July 19, 2012 by ana


 

Burgundy is slowly and steadily stealing my heart.

Posted in Burgundy, paris with tags , , on July 12, 2012 by ana

I should say France is stealing my heart. So far, Baune has been a dream. I have to pinch myself. So often we worry about the unknown. I know I have devoted a lot of anxious minutes throughout my days to the possibility of loss, failure, and pain but if we are going to worry about the obstacles and clouds that life inevitably brings at the very least we should devote equal time in awe of the sweet surprises, lucky breaks and magical coincidences that occur.

I have been here two weeks. Most days I’m in bed by ten. I think I’m making up for my horrible jet-lag. I wake up do yoga, drink coffee, then head over to the school. I love the women I am working for. They are sweet and generous, love food and wine, and have an adventurous spirit that I always find attractive in people. The days are long but lovely. The space we spend most of the time in, the atelier, is light-filled and pretty.

Last Thursday I was off for the day and met up with an old High School friend who was in Burgundy. He took me to a rehearsal for the final concert in a music festival a couple of towns over. We sat in an old building that could have easily been at one point a church or some sort of barn or armory and watched as musicians from the Met and from all over played Mozart. I have never seen a rehearsal like that before. When I was a kid I would sometimes go with my mom to the rehearsals of the small theater company she helped run. Later, in acting class, my weeks were filled with rehearsals for our scenes. Rehersals are so interesting. They are labs. This one of course was completely different. It was at a completely different level, and the energy was so interesting. I started to sort of see what it is a conductor really does and wondered what it would be like to hear the world through any of their ears. A mezzo-soprano sang twenty-feet away from me and it was amazing to hear voice and see how the music flowed through her body. She had the confidence of being an instrument.

My days in Burgundy are so different from my days in Paris. I work for ten hors or so then I’m off, alone. I have no internet connection in my apartment, and it’s really quiet here at night. I am really enjoying the solitude. The world right now revolves around food, reading, and sitting with my feelings and thoughts. Before I left Paris Bree said to me, “If this was your Eat, Pray, Love then I think you are about to step into the pray part of the program.” I think she was right. There is a lot running though my mind these days. I think about how to temper the indulgent side of me with discipline. I think about balance, about finding a middle point and not going so back and forth in extremes. I have a feeling that that is how I will always be, and I think about the best possible ways to make peace with it.

I was in Paris this past weekend moving my things from one apartment to another. I am loving Burgundy but I also love Paris. It was wonderful to return. To walk around and stumble upon gorgeous chocolate stores and flower shops. My cousin Carolina was visiting and we ran around Paris eating one delicious meal after another. It was raining most of the time but it didn’t matter. I bought patchouli, violette, and opopanax votives at diptyque, and violet, and smokey earl grey teas at Kusmi. I’m having a romance with all things violet right now.

My new apartment is on the 20th, which feels so far away but I like the neighborhood and the apartment is full of windows. It’s on the top floor so there is a great view of the neighborhood’s rooftops, and the trees tops at Pere Lachaise. At a distance you can see part of the Eiffel Tower.

Just as it was before I left, I felt a sadness I couldn’t quite shake. This is going to sound ridiculous because how much can you care for someone that you knew for a month or two but that French boy still haunts my heart. It catches me off guard. I’ve tried to make sense of it. I’ve tried to figure out how someone could swoop in, shower me with exactly what I needed, then swoop out. How someone seemingly wrong could step in and fill my heart for just a moment and then be completely gone. When he left I felt sad and his departure highlighted all the loss of the last years. There is a part of me that feels that I’m really truly over Leo. That I have fully stepped by myself beyond the self that I grew into being when we were together. Of course, I suppose, that you never truly get over anyone until you fall in love again.

I think the French guy came in to show me some things I wasn’t seeing. And I think there are people in your life that for whatever reason change you. I have had this experience with men and women. It has nothing to do with sex or attraction or romance. There are people, sometimes this can even happen with strangers, you see something in them and it changes you and you never forget them. It happened to me on the train back from Paris. I was watching a boy, who was maybe twelve, with his grandmother. His face was so animated and sweet. There was something very proper and kind and wholesome about him. It was easy to see his expressions translating into his twenties and thirties, into his seventies as well. Whatever essensce was inside that person captivated me. Sometimes something as simple as a boy on a train can leave a mark in you.

I think all the cooking and solitude of the next weeks will carve something interesting in me. I’m feeling inspired. I’m so enamored by nature, by the mid-afternoon hail storms, and by the wildflowers and golden fields with bails of hay. As I write this I’m sitting behind my apartment on a picnic table. Butterflies and bees flutter and buzz around me.

I think this is the perfect place to be right now. I feel ready to let go of the past and step into this world of food that calls me. It has always intrigued me but I now can put it more clearly into words. I am closer to defining what it is I want. I see the nourishing, the sensual, the communal, the political, the celebratory, the textural, and not just the taste. It is exciting beyond words. It is a new world that has always been there.

a perfect morning

Posted in Burgundy with tags , , on July 3, 2012 by ana

field trip

Posted in Burgundy with tags , , , on July 3, 2012 by ana

This is Madame Loichet. She was born in the house that she lives in, and has a beautiful, beautiful vegetable garden. The lovely ladies I am spending my summer with in Beaune took me to meet her last Friday.

If you want to see more pictures of my visit with Madame Loichet. Visit my other blog: notebooks and gluesticks .

Beaune

Posted in Burgundy with tags , , on June 29, 2012 by ana

 

I took the train to Burgundy this morning. My bag weighed a ton but now I’m glad I brought nice candles and books and my rosemary plant with me.  Walking to the butcher earlier today, and a bit later while driving around Baune I was reminded of Lecce, where I was last summer in Italy. I was there at this time last year. The two cities don’t exactly look alike but they have, at least at first glance, a similar feeling. There are also similarities to what I did there and what I am doing here.

I instantly liked the women, a mother and daughter, I’m working for. Marjorie, the mom, picked  me up at the train station in her tiny, bright blue, vintage car. On the way back to the school we stopped at the cave to pick up some wine. Once at the school we drank coffee, discussed some of the work ahead, and got ready for tomorrow’s class. There is an old bloodhound at the school. Her name is Lilly. She looks like she could have stepped out of a Disney cartoon in the seventies or could be in a Sylvain Choumet movie today. She slept in the corner while I polished wine glasses. Kendall, the daughter, ironed napkins. The room was all white- white walls, white pottery, white napkins and aprons, and above the white mantel seven bright orange Gerbera daisies each in its own glass bottle. The daisies made me think of Cleo. They are her favorites.

After running some errands we arrived at my new home. A little time-share apartment that is part Florida vacation and part dorm room but with a field behind my porch and  a church steeple and mountains in the distance. I’m not staying in Baune but a smaller town ten minutes from there called Levernois.  After I unpacked I had goat cheese and figs and saucisson for dinner on a picnic table outside. The sky was still light at almost nine o’clock at night. I ate slowly, barefoot, taking it all in and thought this exactly where I am supposed to be and how I am supposed to feel- a little alone in the country, swimming in feelings of both the impermanence of things and their beauty. I think the days, the air, the sky will add up and fill me with just the right thing. What that is exactly I don’t know.

Earlier, while we drove around, Marjorie said to me, if you stay open to the experience it will change you.

I know she is right. I think she is one of the reasons why I’m here. I think I am going to learn a lot from her about running a business, about cooking and in general about how to create the kind of life I’m after.

Last month, when all was said and done with the painter, and I had lost my job at the bakery, Nicki said to me, it is all about stepping into the adventure of the next moment. 

I keep thinking about that. I carry a lot of joy within me but there is often an unshakable longing and nostalgia. It leaves me wondering what exactly it is that I feel is missing. What is it that I want that I don’t have and how can I give it to myself. I think the answer lies in diving deeper into this life of food, writing, creativity, and celebration, and eventually in opening my own business. I want to find the stillness that allows things to unfold as they are meant to, without sadness, without fear or judgement or exasperation.