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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.


The fact that I’m scared shitless is exactly why I have to do it.

Posted in 37 with tags , , , , on August 30, 2011 by ana

Last night I had an anxiety-ridden dream or maybe I woke up in the middle of the night had a mini panic attack and fell promptly back to sleep. Either way at some point in the middle of the night, awake or not, I freaked out. It was really strange. I can’t say anything like that has ever happened to me before. Basically, I started thinking about Paris- how I only know 2.5 people there, how I don’t really speak the language, how it’s going to be winter when I get there. And that turned into- you are insane. You have completely lost it. This is all going to explode in your face and you are going to feel more lost, more alone, more distraught than ever. Are you crazy? What are you thinking?!! I don’t ever talk to myself that way. The decision is pushing buttons and stirring things up.

Some of the fear comes from the voices in my head that say you are too old to be picking up your things and moving, your time to have babies is running out, you are always chasing something, settle down. Those voices are cultural and relate to my family as an entity, how I was raised, and what is expected or hoped for for me. These voices are not so much my parents but my large, opinionated, loving, and conservative puertorican family.

There is also the voice that wishes she lived closer to her family and worries that every decision I’ve made since I left Puerto Rico has physically moved me further away from them. And the voice that wants to settle down, on her own terms, but settle down no less. That voice wonders if I’m walking towards or further away from all I want.

All those voices make the voice that made the decision to take a leap feel small. That voice was strong and clear when I made my decision but all the doubting ones have made it cower. It’s as if the woman I have become, who is confident and centered, passion-filled and inspired, excited and present is having a fist fight with the girl that often feels awkward in her skin, who feels nothing quite works out her way. The part of me that knows that she can do this, that knows she must do it, has gone to take a nap until the confident one has put the awkward one in her place. And it might take a minute because the girl has been around for a long time but the woman has only been around for a bit.

This morning I cried while I was meditating. Lately that seems to happen when I try to meditate. I say try because I struggle every single day when I sit down to do it. Today I asked myself why I was crying. What the deep sadness inside of me was about. And the response I got was the feeling of how intensely the breakup with Leo had rocked me to my core. That feeling brought on more tears but also a feeling of pride and of strength and a deepening of the knowledge that the person I have become was born out of our parting ways.


Posted in 37 with tags , on May 14, 2011 by ana

Something funny has been happening lately where I’ve been feeling opposite things simultaneously. On the one hand I’m so annoyed I have gained weight. Nothing fits me right now, and I am a girl who loves everything in her closet. I regret eating so much sugar the past few months. I really have such a sweet tooth, and I struggle with it. After eating more cake than any one person should, I told one of the chefs at work that I needed to go to sugar eaters anonymous. Does that even exist? It must, right? Honestly, I think the sugar thing is hereditary because my grandma, mom, and cousin all love sugar. Well, my mom not so much anymore. She says one day she kind of lost the taste for it. I hope that day comes for me, soon! My mom tells me, and I actually faintly remember this, that I stood by a plate of cookies she had made for my third birthday party not wanting to play because all I wanted was to eat them.

So on the one hand I want to loose weight, and on the other I have never loved, liked, or appreciated my body more.  It’s like I’ve finally, after 37 years, grown into it. As much as the weight gain makes me unhappy, the body love makes me feel very grown-up, sexy, and happy.

Same thing goes for my life in general. I’m scared. I really have no major plan but I’m also little by little starting to trust that when the time is right I will know what to do. I have thought this before but now I’m slowly starting to feel it.  It’s not super strong yet but it’s there. The only other time I have ever felt this was when I decided to move to LA. I really didn’t know what was going to happen once I got here.  I knew I wanted to move. I knew I wanted to work as a set-decorator. And I had three friends and a place to stay at my cousin’s, where I now live again. I had graduated from grad school a few months earlier and while the experience over all had been great that last year in New York, my thesis, and my experience with one particular professor had left me feeling blue. I had moved in to my then boyfriend’s apartment as I  went about the business of packing my apartment and putting everything in storage with Nai and Alabama’s help. The month before I moved I had these moments of panic.  I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen when I got to LA. I wasn’t really sure of anything but this voice in my head kept saying that everything was going to be okay, better than okay, and then I would feel really excited. And everything has been okay, better than okay.  And while I’m not quite fully in that feeling yet but more and more I’m starting to get glimpses, not enough to feel excited, but enough to counter balance the panic.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on March 8, 2011 by ana

I made lentil soup today. It wasn’t until the soup was almost done that I thought- I haven’t made lentil soup since I left Leo. It was a staple in our house. We ate lentils all the time. I know the recipe, which I found in a Spanish cookbook I bought at a thrift store, by heart. Maybe I’m just too tired today to feel anything- it didn’t make me sad to make the soup or see our kitchen, in my head, as I stirred the pot. It didn’t make me anxious to think- I have left all those things behind. My pots and pans, the little furniture I owned, my mattress. It didn’t make me happy to think- I am free. I can go anywhere.

Leo emailed me last week saying he wanted to pay me for the things I had bought when we moved in. It was a relieve that he said that because I kept putting off asking him. I’ve been avoiding thinking about all those things. But now that he has brought it up I’ve been thinking about what I will do with the money. I think it will be my piggy bank for whatever move comes next- loft downtown? NYC? Puerto Rico?

Once he buys the table, the washer, the dryer it will be truly the end. Even though it has already ended that one unresolved string will be cut. I don’t entirely know how I feel about it. I want to move on but I know there are still so many feeling under the surface- guilt, loss, sadness, nostalgia, longing, and, still, even a little perplexity.

But at the same time something else has cropped up, something bigger to think of. The thing that I am most excited and terrified about (in a good way) is being able to sustain this new found sense of self. How to be present, how to surrender to the work, to the journey, and to love and motherhood when they finally come.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags on December 18, 2010 by ana

And in the end moving, like quitting smoking, was easier and harder than I ever imagined. I took my last box, and returned a few hours later for my Global knife and a cutting board, and it was done. And it felt odd. And I hope never to set foot there again though a part of me will always live in that beautiful, large apartment that was never meant to be.

I leave for PR in a few days, and when I get there this part of my life will be done. I will rest, recharge, return, and begin a new chapter.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 13, 2010 by ana

Continuing with my eighties movie marathon in the past week I’ve watched Kiss Me Goodbye, Hello Again, and Absolute Beginners. I’m probably more than half-way done with my packing, moving, and storing. During the week I go to the old apartment and take as much as I can then find it space in my new room.

In a week I leave for PR. I can’t wait to be home. To see my mom, my cousin, my sister, my friends, and to walk around and go to the beach. This weekend I bought a few things for my trip- a pair of wide-leg black pants, a long Grecian-looking leopard print dress, and a bra with black stars and matching shorts. For a day I had that lovely feeling off having something new, of looking forward to wearing it, but then I thought what’s the point. Lately I feel that way about a lot of things- what’s the point of going to class, what’s the point of working out, what’s the point of going out. This feeling is so contrary to my natural state of being. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to feel that way for now and that it will pass.

I left my home with Leo in great part because I could no longer handle the limbo-his inability to make a decision. But limbo, albeit a different type of limbo, has settled in my life. The days seem to pass and I just float in them. Everything seems different. Sometimes I feel excited about all the new possibilities that will eventually come my way. I look forward to the energy I will get once I’ve gotten through it but other times I just feel aimless and tired. Everything is new. I’m not quite sure who I am in this new life.

This week I ate so much. Last week I had no appetite. This morning I got my period so I hope the fat, bloated feeling I have is due to that. I went off the pill and all moth long I’ve felt like I was getting my period. I’ve been on the pill for the last five years or so. I guess this is my first real period in a long time. This is a new chapter in many different ways. I have started a new journey by breaking things off with Leo and part of that new adventure is a path towards a baby.

Yesterday was filled with ups and downs. I had two great conversations on the phone with my mom and my little sister. But then I talked to an old friend and realized how distant we were. I know I haven’t been so good about keeping in touch but I grew tired of always having to go out of my way to see her. Then my mom called to say her neighbor had passed away from a stroke. This whole year has had a surreal quality form beginning to end.

At some point in December I usually write a list of all the things that have happened in the past year. This year has been really hard to write it. I know that I’m forgetting many details but this is what I have so far-

New year’s in Miami with Leo and his family,

my stepdad and my grandmother passing away three days apart from each other,

going to PR for their funerals and being with family,

taking Alexander technique classes with Jean-Louis,

my sister moving to LA,

feeling so happy and content spending time with Leo and sis,

going home again for my mom’s birthday,

doing a series of three Reiki sessions,

being in PR while Leo worked there, staying in a hotel, and swimming in the roof top pool on our last morning,

house sitting for friend’s in Silver Lake- feeling madly happy and in love,


going to Sanibel island with Leo and his family,

his mom asking me why he hadn’t asked me to marry him and telling me that she thought it was because he was too close to his family,

traveling with my mom to DC and NY,

traveling with Leo to Spain,

jet-lagged in NY having dinner with Leo’s sister,

Leo’s sister asking me why her brother hadn’t asked me to marry him and then telling me she thought it was because he was very religious, and that he wanted to raise his family that way,

waking up the next day and walking from 39Th street to Houston and back crying,

crying on the plane,

unpacking not only from our trip but from our move,

our first house guests,

making goat cheese ice cream,

crying, crying, fighting, crying,

slowly realizing what was happening,

trying, crying, exploring koreatown,


spending my birthday in Napa,

moving out,

my dad visiting,

spending time with friends.

I know that so much is missing but right now that feels like an accurate map.

left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 2, 2010 by ana

I feel angry. I slept horribly last night. As is the case lately, I couldn’t fall asleep until late. I stayed up watching movies. An awful eighties surfing movie called North Shore. I remember watching this movie with my step-cousin when I was 14. Watching it made me think a lot about her. She’s been on my mind a lot lately because I always tell my sister stories of all the fun we used to have making up games and putting up skits as kids, and then later when we got older hanging out with boys that lived in my dad’s neighborhood. When my body finally fell asleep my mind didn’t quite shut-off. I kept telling myself to fall asleep. This used to happen to me all the time in High School, and I would wake up exhausted.

Yesterday I began to seriously move my stuff out of the apartment. It is so bizarre. I just pack as much as I can carry and try not to think about it too much. I feel lost in my life right now. I feel very little motivation. I just keep taking steps however small to take me through the day. Two days ago when I talked to my mom she said, when I was getting divorced I felt I was sinking in an ocean but I knew that the second my feet touched the ocean floor I would start swimming as fast as I could towards the surface.

Maybe my feet haven’t quite hit the surface. My mother’s other piece of advice when it comes to break ups also comes from her divorce. She told my dad at the very end something along the lines of-at this moment I still love you but when I turn around and walk away every step I take will be in the opposite direction. I love that. It was so strong of her. I know how hard it was.

If there is one thing that has come from all this is how much I’m loved and how much people want to help me. People have offered to help me move, to give me shelter, but I know that I must do the hardest part, the getting over it, all on my own. I feel it most when I come home late at night to a bed by myself. I have actually found it surprisingly easy to sleep alone. My new bed is cozy and it swallows me up. The hardest part is not having anyone to talk with late at night. It’s not every night that I miss that but when I do it hits me hard. Everyone is asleep and I’m alone, no longer with the man I loved. I don’t mind being alone it’s the not being able to talk about my day with someone at the end of the day. It’s the loss of a best friend. That’s what gets me.

I am so angry, even if intellectually understand that this break up is for the best. I don’t understand how you can love someone for 6 years and be so passive about them leaving. I feel that I fought for this relationship until it became clear that the man that I was with would never grow up. That he could compartmentalize his feelings while I was living the unraveling of our union. I moved out the day I couldn’t stand that disconnect anymore.

I miss my life terribly, even if at times I feel joy in this new life. I accept it. I accept things as they are but it pains me and it makes me so angry that he is so la-di-da about it all. Even if he says he feels a void, even when he says he is miserable his actions are otherwise. He never could go out of his way for me. Always his needs came first. I just want to type how much I hate him right now, even if that doesn’t seem quite right. I just want to scream and kick and at the same time I just wan to stay in bed forever.

But it’s the anger that I need to cling to. Even if in most respects I don’t hold a grudge. I really believe that things happen for a reason and in the end who we really are has been revealed. Even if I don’t know how I know I will come out of this better than I was before. Even if I can’t even see what my life will be like three months from now, I know I will end up exactly where I am meant to be. That is my faith.

And the anger that I feel right now will push me forward. The anger will heal me because this type of anger is really just love for myself.