Archive for sitting by the fireplace

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

Sometimes all it takes is a good night’s sleep. And while I wasn’t 100% myself in the morning, the feverish self-loathing and self-pity had turned into a more sizable, more manageable, slow humming doubt.

I went to therapy. There was a fire in the fireplace when I walked in and that immediately lightened my heart. She made me a cup of coffee. We talked and I cried. “I’ve been working so hard,” I said. “I just feel like I keep knocking my head against the wall. Nothing changes I don’t feel I have any clarity. At the same time I feel so different than the person I used to be. I have such a better sense of myself.”

“I’ve never seen you more centered than these past few months.”

“I just feel I’m still struggling with all the same things that I always have no matter how hard I try not to. I still live in fantasy. I still think that something is going to happen and my life is going to fall magically into place.”

The thing about therapy is that you can say anything and it doesn’t matter. You can go in there and say, “I feel so out of control about food. I can’t stop putting cookies in my mouth! I’ve been fantasizing about this man who has a girlfriend. I’m so annoyed about my coworker. I feel so worthless as a human being or this great thing happened to me.” It doesn’t matter. It’s all a tool to look deeper into what makes you tick. You figure out how to be more able by understanding the things that enable you.

“Shadow work stirs things up,” she said. “It may not seem that way but believe me all of this is part of the process.”

We talked about trying not to control outcome because of course we never really control anything, and about the things that I could do to be more present. When I left I drove feeling the palms of my hands on the steering wheel, the sun hitting the tops of my hands and arms, and how my back and thighs pressed lightly on the seat. By the time I got home I felt a little more on top of things.

Willa and I were supposed to have a writer’s meeting but ended up having a long chat over the phone when I told her what a mess I’d been the past day.
“I just feel so lost,” I said. “Where am I going to live? How am I gonna make a better, more fulfilling living? Who is going to be the father of my children? I have all these questions in every aspect of my life, and I don’t know where to start.”

“You are going to figure it out,” she said. “I have no doubt that everything is going to work out. You have to give yourself the space to go about your day, day after day, while still dealing with your feelings. This huge thing happened in your life and you were very brave about it. Don’t underestimate how brave you were but also you can’t forget that this huge thing has happened. It’s like a meteor that fell in the ocean creating not only ripples through out everything but this tsunami of emotions. And I can help you be better about money stuff because I had to learn to be better. I can give you tips. Just think every time you don’t buy something you are empowering yourself, you are taking control. It’s like quitting smoking, after awhile you start to feel proud, to take pleasure, every time you want a cigarette and you don’t have one. What you can control is how you spend your money, what you eat, because you can’t control the bigger things. I know you’ll figure it out. I have known you for a long time. I know things are going to work out. I know that you are going to figure it out. I would bet money on it; lots of money.”

She was right, and I hung up the phone feeling grateful and also knowing that the feelings of disappointment, of being let down where still fully alive in me. I was hurt and there was nothing I could do but acknowledge it.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 12, 2011 by ana

Last night Claudia, the chef who owns the restaurant where I work, cooked a huge paella on a fire pit in her backyard. It was the best paella I’ve ever had in my life- not dry, not greasy, not overcooked, just fragrant with saffron and perfect.

My friend Liddy and I got massages before going to the party and got there kind of late. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, one of the best things about LA is how easy it is to get a really great $50 massage on a moments notice. We felt brand new as we walked up the hill to the party. My sister met us there. Claudia’s house is almost like a tree house. The place was buzzing with people- outside on the deck, in the living room watching Hable con Ella, chatting around the dinner table, washing dishes, drinking in the yard or simply sitting around the fire waiting for the second batch of paella. A little boy ran around with a toy rifle wearing a magician’s hat. Liddy poured glasses of pink bubbly. We took in the view, the yard with its chicken coop in one corner and the plum and orange trees. We gobbled fork-fulls of rice, chorizo, and seafood, and talked to our friends high above Glendale Blvd. overlooking the reservoir with the observatory at a distance. It was the kind of night that makes you fall in love with LA and makes you think twice about moving away.

On the drive home I felt a little sad. Claudia, Liddy and I had been talking about dating, about wanting a summer full of sex. Claudia asked me if I had seen Leo lately. And I said what I always say we email but I can’t see him. It’s too hard. I feel like I saved myself from a lifetime of conflict and sorrow but that doesn’t make it any easier. That doesn’t make me love him less. I’m just not in love with him anymore. I’m not really angry at him anymore but when missing him sticks its claws in me it’s really hard to shake it off.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on March 9, 2011 by ana

Sunday night after the last table left we played an impromptu game of homemade scategories at the restaurant. Sometimes I really love working at a restaurant. I like the community. It’s funny because I grew up in a place where that feeling is so strong but I never felt it growing up. The only time when I was a kid that I felt part of anything was when I would go to camp in the summer. It’s different now. I get such a strong sense of community when I go home. That’s probably the main reason I would want to move back now. I don’t think I ever realized how important that was to me until I moved to LA. Maybe being far away from everything and everyone made me long for it more. When I lived in NY I hardly ever went back home to PR but once I moved to LA I started going more and more. I guess (physical) distance makes the heart grow fonder. Or maybe it’s just something that happens as you get older. The first inkling I had of how much I like being part of a group was the two summers I taught photography in Williamstown. Those months were magical in part because they had that sodalit√©.

Bruce Springsteen’s I’m on Fire played four or five times on Sunday night. It played while we played scategories. That song always reminds me of my friend Damien and an afternoon we spent drinking tequila when he was breaking up with his girlfriend. For some reason I can’t remember now, we drove back and forth on Highland between my apartment and his girlfriend’s house. He kept playing that song over and over.

Damien is one of those people that magically turned up in my life seemingly out of nowhere. I met him two years before we became friends. Our mutual friends, who I had met that summer teaching, held a salon on Wednesday nights at their apartment in Brooklyn. That week’s theme was goodbye letters. It was the week before I moved to LA. He was moving to LA too.

A year passed. It was the end of the following summer. I’d just gotten back from a month in Williamstown, and a trip to Paris where I’d met up with Wila. That summer I’d gotten my heart tightly squished by a boy that made the room pulsate every time he walked in. Paris was unbelievably hot. I would take a shower and climb into bed without drying my body so I could fall asleep. Wila and I took a train to Nice for a week an rented an apartment with a huge balcony. We had long lunches filled with wine, olives, bread and cheese, which we bought at the outdoor market on the way back from the beach. We ate slowly rolling cigarettes, she corrected her student’s papers and I read out loud excerpts from On the Beaten Track as we picked and sipped.

I returned to LA in a whirlwind of wanderlust and longing. Damien called at the end of that summer to see if I wanted to hang out. Mars was very close to Earth and it looked like a small red moon. We sat outside the house where he was staying in the canyon sipping tea, looking at Mars, talking about art, music, and all the odd, alluring things LA had. I fell in love with LA hanging out with Damien. He and I had a lot of crazy late night romps but we were always just friends. I’d never had, and never have since, had something so fun and uncomplicated as I did with him. I was even happy for him when he fell in love.

It’s Wednesday and that Bruce Springsteen song is still in my head. I was never a fan but in grad school I came across and excerpt of an interview in the Utne Reader that made me see him in a different light and in that little bit I got it.

“I remember when my parents moved out to California-I was about 18. My folks decided that they were going to leave New Jersey, but they had no idea really where to go. I had a girlfriend at the time and she was sort of a hippie. She was the only person we knew who’d ever been to California. She’s been to Sausalito and suggested we go there. You can just imagine-Sausalito in the late’60s! So they went to Sausalito, 3,000 miles across the country, and they probably had only three grand that the had saved and that had to get them a place to live, and they had to go out and find work. So they go to Sausalito and realized this wasn’t it. My mother said they went to the gas station and she asked the guy there, ‘Where do people like us live?’-that question that sounds like the title of a Raymond Carver story!-and the guy told her, ‘Oh, you live on the peninsula’, And that was what they did. They drove down south of San Francisco and they’ve been there ever since. My father was 42 at the time-it’s funny to think that he was probably seven or eight years younger than I am now. It was a big trip, took a lot of nerve, a lot of courage, having grown up in my little town in New Jersey. But that story leads back to those same questions: How do you create the kind of home you want to live in? How do you create the kind of society you want to live in? What part do you play in doing that? To me , those things are all connected, but those connections are hard to make. The pace of the modern world, industrialization, postindustrialization have all made human connection very difficult to maintain and sustain. To bring that modern situation alive-how we live now, our hang ups and choices-that’s what music and film and art are about. That’s the service you are providing, that’s the function you are providing as an artist.”

Morning sex

Posted in 37 with tags on October 18, 2010 by ana

This morning I woke up thinking I’m going to be very kind to myself today. I’m taking the day off and I will be simply nice and sweet to me. Hell, I thought, I’m going to do it the whole week. It is, after all, my birthday week. Then I went back to sleep and had a sex dream where my honey and I were having an amazing romp and were totally connected.

If I ever have a sex dream it’s usually in the morning while I’m half awake, half asleep. In the dream I pinched myself to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming, and I felt it, so I thought it was real. What a disappointment to wake up and not feel that intense connection had really happened. The feeling in the dream was kind of like when you first start going out with someone and everything is hyper-heightened. You are in this other reality and you feel sexier, smarter, happier and more vivacious than you usually are. Not a different person but a more dynamic version of yourself. I woke up wanting to really feel that, but my morning hasn’t been bad either.

It’s another grey morning in LA perfect for layers and sweaters. And after a lovely roll around in the sheets I’m having coffee and plotting my day. I think I will go see the new Woody Allen film and maybe get a Thai massage. I’m kind of broke so I’m debating.

I’m not sure how much indulging in two things will really be worth it. Maybe I should save one for a different rainy day. It seems impossible these days to find true joy in the things I enjoy but then in other moments I’m overwhelmed by the simple pleasures that fall brings. Yesterday, was wet with scattered rains. I sat having breakfast with a friend by her fireplace. I cried about the abyss I felt my life was in. I was in so much pain as I talked with her. Yet there was a coziness, a feeling that I was okay. That feeling was multiplied as I drove home. Somewhere between Spandau Ballet’s True and some samba on KCRW I felt blessed. Blessed to be dry, driving in my car listening to music. Blessed that I was driving home to take a hot shower before heading to work.

When I got home I had just enough time to sit with my boyfriend and read a little bit of the Sunday paper before I had to get ready. Right before I jumped in the shower we started talking about the future again. I brought it up. Our future as a couple is kind of a constant in my heart and in my head. It was a good talk but sometimes I’m not sure how much a good talk changes anything. It’s just a balm. It was a nice one. The only concrete thing that emerged from the conversation is how much we love each other.

I think my friend was right, a lot of couples who have been together for a while probably don’t break up for lack of love. I keep thinking of the title of that eighties movie with Drew Barrymore where she divorces her parents- Irreconcilable Differences. My brother and I used to watch that movie all of the time. I keep thinking- is that what we have here Irreconcilable Differences. And how is it that at this stage in the game those doubts about our religious differences are now coming up. Are we, in this heightened panicked state of possible separation, hanging on to our differences for fear of… what? Losing ourselves if we compromise, having things turn out fine but different than expected. Or is this just what needs to happen. Is breaking up somehow a saving grace? Are we meant to be with someone else?

I keep thinking, wow, these are some seriously adult problems I’m having. Some really tough decisions. And I still, on the verge of forty, feel like a girl. Maybe this is how I become a woman.

I’m, as my friend said yesterday, in the middle of the tornado. Waiting for the pieces to fall where they will so that I can look at them and figure out where to go from there. So true, so true. But today, this week, and hopefully lots of days henceforth I will be kind to myself, seek the pleasure in the small and recommit to a dialogue of love from me to me.