Archive for LA

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.

“Until my middle name was excess.”

Posted in 37 with tags , , on August 15, 2011 by ana

Cleo and I have been friends since 1994. We went to art school together and have shared so many laughs and tears I consider her to be my wife. I don’t know when she became that but I suspect it was somewhere around the time when we were going out six nights a week back around when I was 26 and she was 23. When I left New York she was, and still is, what I missed the most of my life there.  As of late I have been very lucky to have her in LA a few times a year. She’s been here twice this month. She left yesterday.

Saturday we went to see a movie. We were both tired and sad.  We sat outside the theater smoking a cigarette, and I said to Cleo,  “there is this hole in me, it has always been there, and I have always filled it with clothes and food and cocktails and shoes and boyfriends and cigarettes. Those are my default settings to ward against loneliness or boredom. I’ve never learned to fill it up with anything else, with anything that will actually fill it.”

Lately I have come closer to filling it than ever but I still haven’t really. I’m still being excessive. It is a quality I really don’t like about myself. It keeps me distracted. It keeps me from doing real work, from really creating or contributing at a level that I am capable of.  My acting teacher, Howard, would always tell people in class- don’t play dumber than you are. I think I have done just that but I don’t want to hold myself back anymore. Life feels too precious to waste any time.

I feel an urgency to change this, to pay off my debts, to travel, to live more and consume less. I feel thirsty to learn, to have great conversations, to keep growing. I feel such an intense yearning to actively create my own life and not just be a participant in it. I want a family of my own. I feel ready for it. I no longer fear how it will change me. It’s quite the opposite now. I feel ready but I don’t think I am. Otherwise it would happen, I am open. There must still be some things I have to tend to. For one, I have to start taking better care of myself. I have really been neglecting lately, albeit a fun neglect. I need to focus. I need to grow my creative self up.  I may be feeling more like a grown woman than I ever have but my guess is that I’m still about 10% shy of it.

Before we went to the movies I said to Cleo, “I can’t wait to move. I’m so ready to discover this new place, both it’s geography and myself in it.”

“You have to go out and live your life,” she said.

Los Angeles has been a great place to gestate.

 

 

I can hear you through the floorboards!

Posted in 37 with tags , on June 3, 2011 by ana

My upstairs neighbors have been fighting all morning. I went to lunch, came back and they are still at it. I hear them stomping, yelling at each other, the closet door sliding back and forth. It’s hard to tell what they are saying but their voices accuse and defend. Back and forth, back and forth, then it goes quiet and starts up again. It makes me kind of anxious. I’m so glad that is not my reality right now. I don’t know who my neighbors are. I don’t know if this is what they’re like when they have a row but from downstairs it sounds monumental. The building shakes. The again the building shakes when ever a truck goes by or someone treads heavily. Sometimes it feels like a mini quake, and I worry that the building is flimsy and will collapse on me.

Yesterday I drove through Koreatown. I don’t like to ever think of Koreatown- how I felt when I moved there and when I left. The life I could have had there. Leo and I had applied for the apartment and didn’t get it. I felt for sure it was meant to be our home and a month later the landlord called to say the other tenants, a couple, had moved out. The girl had left the guy. Ha! Foreshadowing, anyone? Guess that apartment was jinxed. Except Leo still lives there. Leo and I had some big fights. I don’t think they were anything like my neighbors but it’s hard to tell when you are on the inside of the fight. It’s one of the worst feelings in the world when you are going at it with someone you love. When you feel some injustice has been done. The last months of our relationship Leo and I had these colossal, draining discussions. I would be happy  never to revisit how they felt ever again but he fight upstairs reminded me of how I felt during that time. As I sat on my floor folding laundry I also felt grateful and relieved that the decision to leave and the majority of the pain that came with it was behind me.

On the drive home from work I thought how sometimes it can be really hard to tell what your relationship is truly like and where it’s going. In all my major relationships the end came rather swiftly and perhaps somewhat unexpectedly. None of them though were as solid and tender as my last one. That one really did have the potential to go the distance. But every single time I have been able to look back and see why they didn’t work. What seems confusing now is that while I was in them, living them, I believed in that union whole-heartedly. So, I guess the question is how do you ever know? And I guess the answer is you never really do. People change, their needs change but you just have to trust that their commitment and love will not waiver.

PR / NY / LA

Posted in 37 with tags , , , , on May 16, 2011 by ana

Why do I feel guilty when I wake up late? This is something that annoys me about myself. There is no reason I should feel this way, specially on the mornings after I worked late, but I do. It’s one of those things that ties along with how difficult it can often be to be kind to yourself. I meant to wake up at eight and go to a workout class but instead slept ’til ten. I was so tired when the alarm went off, and I felt congested and groggy. It’s allergy season, well it’s always allergy season in LA because something is always in bloom. Whatever is blooming right now is not my friend.

Friday, Stevie and I watched Modern Girls and drank Gin & Tonics. Gin has never been my thing but the drinks she made were so yummy and refreshing that I think I’ve had a change of heart. Modern Girls was one of my favorite movies when I was twelve. When I was growing up there was a video store on the corner of my dad’s street. We could rent movies there and they would bill my dad later. From sixth grade until about ninth grade I would rent five or six movies every weekend. Often I would rent the same movies every weekend. In Puerto Rico at the time there was little access to a lot of music and stuff that wasn’t completely mainstream. Cassettes that had been copied two or three times would pass from friend to friend but for some reason video stores often carried a bunch of really cool stuff. I rented Sid & Nancy, Liquid Sky, Suburbia, Dogs in Space and Mondo NY from that store along with a lot of other eighties movies. Modern girls was one of those movies that I would watch over and over again. All those movies, along with some other things, I think contributed to why I am somehow not exactly, fully typical puerto rican. Of course, that’s all changed now. You can get anything on the internet. It’s funny to go home and see a girl wearing a shirt with Siouxsie Sioux’s face. That would have been such a prize for any of my friends.

Saturday, I went to the beach for a friend’s birthday. Before heading there I stopped to buy some little cakes and sweet treats at a bakery. I left my bag on the counter when I realized I hadn’t put any coins in the meter and ran out to put some money in. So I think it’s official- any drop of New York blood left in me has now been sucked out by LA. Not too long ago Milly and I had stopped to get coffee before going on a hike and as we were walking out I pointed to a table where someone had left a lovely Prada bag and an ipad while they odered coffee or went to the bathroom. “Can you imagine if someone did that in NY,” I said to Milly. “Her stuff would get swiped right away. Who leaves their stuff laying around like that?” The answer is me.

I headed west a little aghast. The drive through Malibu Canyon was beautiful and endless. I think I’ve been to the beach six times since I moved here, usually because someone who is visiting wants to go, and that may be why. Well, I also have this aversion to the beach in California because it feels too cold to me. From the time that I was three until I was ten I lived two streets away from the beach in Puerto Rico, and the water is very warm there. But I love the ocean, and it seems silly to live so close and never go. When I lived in Brooklyn I would sometimes take the train to Coney Island just to sit in the sand and look at the water.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 5, 2011 by ana

From the second floor balcony of the apartment where I’m staying I can see just above the roofs of all the houses in the area. Yesterday as I was driving I thought this is the cleanest neighborhood I’ve ever lived in. It has this pristine, 1950s, small town feel to it. On the corner of the main road and my street there is a small playhouse, a little snack shack type place, and a Bob’s Big Boy where people bring their vintage cars a few times a week and hang out. It is the Bob’s Big Boy where David Lynch drank a chocolate shake everyday at the same time for years.

It gets really quiet here at night but not in a creepy kind of way. I live four blocks away from two huge movie studios with sound stages, back lots that look like New York and the wild west, and warehouses chuck-full of cameras, costumes, lights, and props. A little further east is Griffith Park. I love that dichotomy. LA is nothing if not the constant clash of concrete and nature. Coyotes, deer, bobcats and foxes live in Griffith park. There is also a zoo with gorillas, tigers, and elephants only a few miles from my apartment.

Today I spent the whole day writing and reading in the kitchen and I feel great. When I don’t feel restless, and I fill up my day with things that feed me I feel really grounded. It is a feeling that I worry about loosing if I move to New York or when I’m in a relationship again. I think about this a lot. How can I find a balance between the space of being single and the one in union. Can one stay singular and yet be plural? This is also one of my biggest fears about having a child.

One thing I’ve noticed in a non-planning planning sort of way is that there are several things that have to happen every single day, like having caffeine in the morning, to make me feel at peace. If everyday includes some reading, some writing, some sort of movement like dance class or hiking and some meditation, even if it is a five minute meditation, I will have a fulfilling day no matter what. The rest is icing on the cake because I’ve taken care of myself. I used to feel guilty about the time I spent reading on my couch during the day but now I realize that it’s not like I’m laying on my back eating bonbons I’m actually actively contributing to my creativity. And in doing so I’m no longer at the whim of my creative spirit but rather courting it daily.

I have never in my life really worried about finding love. I know that when the time is right I will fall in love again. I may get antsy about meeting someone but I never doubt I will. It has always been that way. On the other hand I have always panicked about finding a true calling. I worry that I will never be fully realized in that department. Above anything else that is what led me to write this blog. The hope that somehow it would help me discover that confidence, that trust in my ability to create a satisfying, sustainable career for myself.

I woke up this morning with the fear that I wont be able to pounding in my heart. It is still with me as I write. I hate that anxiety keeps me from trusting that life will fall into place. During the first months of disintegration with Leo, when the conversations where heart-wrenching but still full of hope, when we both would say that we wanted to make it work but sank deeper into the abyss, when I didn’t on the surface know for sure that we would breakup, but a whisper, almost inaudible but constant and unavoidable knew, I would call my mom sobbing out of despair with a mix of confusion over the breakup and confusion over my life in general. I had attached so much of my future success to Leo. I had imagined us always collaborating. I’d smacked my forehead against that fantasy so hard I was spinning. My identity felt so linked to who we were as a couple. My mom from a different time zone and with an ocean between us often said, “it is not about where you end up but how you get there. The trick is to find joy in the process.” Well, she didn’t say it quite like that. She said it in Spanish and I was so distraught at the time I only remember the gist of it.

Today I am as far away from rock-bottom as I’ve been in the past year and anxious or not I’m excited about my life. I just can’t forget that it is a process and that I have to show up everyday in ways that encourage me to be more present and inspired. It may no longer be rock bottom but I’m still crossing a threshold. And for the first time ever, after much search and much disappointment, I am willing to really entertain the idea that if I do the work necessary, if I create a daily ritual that strengthens me then the right things for me will come along when they are meant to be.

Posted in breakfast with tags , , on March 29, 2011 by ana

I found a Kate Bush CD in a box yesterday and it’s been on in my car non-stop. It has been years since I listened to Hounds of Love. Everything about it is perfection-the photograph on the cover, the theatricality of the songs, and how personal each feels. At the beginning of a song she says: I put this moment here. And it felt so apropos. That is how everything feels right now.

Up to this point I have been listening to Florence and the Machine steadily. I don’t know where I would be without Florence keeping me company during this period of my life. I love when music does that, when it carries you through, when it makes you buoyant no matter what you are going through.

Milly and I had breakfast this morning at this pretty place around the corner from me called Olive & Thyme. With its white walls lined with honey and cookbooks, the subway tiles, and the long refurbished-wood communal table it looks like something I imagine would be in the Hampton’s, I’ve never been, or like a small Joan’s on Third. Milly and I shared a yummy cheddar, egg, and bacon panini and a bowl of berries with Greek yogurt and honey. She looked gorgeous. Her hair was big and curly. She wore skinny, light-grey pants with a big cream sweater coated with silver paint, a blush shrug, and bright orange flats. We gabbed about clothes, work, how much we miss New York and what it would be like to move back. Would we be able to bring back with us that calm, easy, loveliness LA brings to our lives or would it be all out, out, out. Eating out, meeting people out for drinks, and coveting every last beautiful thing.

I saw these photographs online of this beautiful two bedroom apartment on Elizabeth street. Unrealistic as it may be that is where I want to be, that is where I would like to be. To walk out my front door and get a coffee at Cafe Gitane, eat the little Belgian chocolate they give you with it and go about my day.

It would be really hard to give up what I have in LA. Specially the long, lovely breakfasts I have with friends. Milly said, “lets have a quick weekend getaway see our friends and the Alexander McQueen show.”

“If I stop spending money like it grows on trees then, yes, let’s getaway.”

There is a song by David Byrne and Brian Eno, Strange Overtones, that has been playing at the restaurant a few times a night. In the song the narrator hears the person next door working on a song. The song makes me miss NY- hearing what others are doing around you. Creating, being creative is very different in New York and in Los Angeles. Here there is more nature, you can easily recede and find a calmness. New York is about the opposite, about the energy outside your door, an inescapable energy. Strange Overtones reminds me of when I lived on Claremont Avenue off of 125Th street in a building very close to the Manhattan School of Music. Someone played the cello all day and it would waft through building beautifully. I loved that. I crave that.

Sunday part 2

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on February 21, 2011 by ana

Last night my friend and I got into a fender-bender. It is the second time this has happened to me in LA. I realize it is not that uncommon here but it’s scary to get hit by a car. Specially if like last night we were just standing at a red light waiting for it to change chit-chatting our way to dinner. The guys who hit us hit us so hard we hit the car a few feet in front of us and then he left. That part seems so crazy to me. He just sped away- did he not think we would write down his plate numbers as he left??? The scariest part of all, though, was that the car in front of had a brand new baby in it. Everyone was, thankfully, okay.

Today, I’m still feeling the tension and the shaking I got from the impact but I feel fine. Last night was a different story entirely. I was freaked out and sad. More than freaked out I felt guilty. Sometimes, I feel guilty if I’m having a good time and something bad happens. Specially if I’ve had some wine. I can’t tell you the number of times I have broken or spilled something, including my clumsy self (I have my whole life been prone to falling,) and then felt so horrendously stupid. What is that all about? I don’t like feeling that way.

Then I just felt bad because I had no one to call when the accident happened. Not that I didn’t have anyone because I have lots of people who I could have called but no one who was my love. No one who would hug me, and curl up with me that night, and that made me feel such sadness and loss.

Then this morning I was talking to a relative on the phone about something completely unrelated and he said the shitty thing that I had been dreading over the holidays that some family member would say- “Now that it’s over I can tell you I didn’t really like him anyway.” Because I can always tell that some of my relatives dislike my choice in men. They are too artsy, too out there, not I suspect, puerto rican enough. No one is ever good enough for me because I never date someone who is from a “good” puerto rican family. I have always danced to the beat of my own drum why would anyone expect anything different from me when I have always been like this. Leo was a good man. The fact that the relationship didn’t end with wedding bells doesn’t take that away.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 19, 2011 by ana

Last night I sat in my car and talked for an hour with an old friend. We talked about New York and Puerto Rico- what it would be like to move back to either place. In some ways I am certain I will move even if I feel uncertain about it. I love LA. If you give this city a chance it opens up before your eyes. It’s magic is the everyday kind which is the most special kind. It’s the smell of jasmine and the streets lined with purple Jacaranda trees in spring, the constant battle of nature vs. concrete, the canyons in the middle of the city, the snowy mountains at a distance when it’s seventy degrees in the city, and the desert so close by, and the old ladies that were once probably starlets, and Jumbo’s Clown Room, and twenty-four hour Korean Spas. Maybe I’ve read to many Francesca Lia Block novels. Last night I slept over at my friend’s house and when I left this morning and stepped out on to Beachwood I just had the most overwhelming love for the city. Maybe I just love cities. New York used to fill my heart with joy. Simply just being there was also witchy.

I miss Leo. He sent some of my mail and put a chocolate bar with it. I know he’s being sweet. I know he misses me. I know leaving was the right thing but I do really, really miss the constant joy I felt the last six years- give or take a dozen fights and all the crying I did before I left.

On the phone last night my friend mentioned that a mutual friend I’d had a romp with was engaged. All but one of the rascally boys I dated between my previous ex and Leo have gotten married or are about to. It doesn’t mean anything. I know whatever is right for me will come when it’s supposed to but the irony is not lost on me.

round and round

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 14, 2011 by ana

That crazy energy is still cursing through me. I panic that nothing will happen. That nothing will change but everything already has.

It is a beautiful, warm day here in LA. It is a beautiful, warm January day. I’m feeling restless but also pleased. This right now is really as good as it gets. Not when something happens, not when goals are met but right now as I make my way there.

I have been trying to meditate every morning to no avail. I’m not kidding when I say I’m restless. There are so many possiblities now that did not exist before. An underlying sense that everythng is going to work out fills me up and leaves me too excited for words.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 5, 2011 by ana

I’m back in LA after a really sweet, fun holiday. The ups and downs have become more ups than downs though I suspect there are still some tears stuck inside me ready to spring.

I was gone for two weeks but it felt like a month. I haven’t had a Christmas like this one in eight or nine years. I came home last night and was glad I had moved all my things out of the Koreatown apartment before I left. The stuff that remains, the table, the chair, I’m still not sure what to do with. I’ve come back with a lot of plans filling up my head.

The time spent at home was exactly what I needed. The two weeks were filled by a three hour breakfast with cousins, and long lunches and dinners with more cousins and aunts and uncles. I spent time with dad and watched Pride & Prejudice with my mom. I bought tuberose on the street and visited my dearest friends. There were nights filled with champagne, and nights filled with rum. There were quick, and much desired, kisses after a birthday party at the beach, and auspicious New Year’s kisses as the sun came up on January first. It felt fabulous to be kissed to have a few boys pay attention to me.

It was cold the whole time I was there. I made it to the beach once for two hours and the tide was so high that there were only about 15 feet of sand to stretch out in. But the cold made it sort of special and cozy. I took a long walk in the rain on the first and stared at the beach in awe, falling in love. The sky in Puerto Rico always kills me.

And somewhere in that two week space I realized that I live too far from home. That I love my life in Los Angeles but I miss the east coast, and I miss Puerto Rico. That feeling was always there. I would often ask Leo if he would ever think of moving but back then it just didn’t seem like a smart career move. For him perhaps but maybe not for me. Things are really bubbling inside me. I’m giving myself sometime to think it all out but change is in the air and it’s exciting.