Archive for summer

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.

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 .


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.

A hemorrhage of money

Posted in friends with tags , , on May 4, 2011 by ana

Friday morning, I woke up at Stevie’s after a night of royal wedding reverie and champers and cheesecake. The morning was gorgeous, sunny, cool in that way that summer days sometimes start.
I went home, finished packing my bag, and went to pick up my car.

$700 later I drove my ass to Vegas.  There is something so restorative about spending a little time away with your dearest friends.  The weekend was relaxed and downright tame for Vegas but it was perfect for me. We ate. We lounged by the pool.  We bought fancy makeup. We gambled a little. And we shook our  booties. When we lived in New York Nai, Alabama and I would sometimes meet for a drink around midnight, when Alabama would get off work, and then we would go dancing. I miss those days. I think one of  the current running themes of my life is how much things have changed. It makes me a little nostalgic but it also exciting AND scary.

Alicia and I went for a hike yesterday, and when I voiced all my apprehensions she said to me, ” you are on an adventure. You are in the middle of it. You are doing it.” After our hike I sat in her apartment and cried. I think every time I sit on that chair by her kitchen I cry.  And it wasn’t because Leo and I lived in the same building for four years.  Although I did walk down the hallway and looked at our old door. It made me feel a little woozy, almost as if I could look through the door with x-ray vision and recall what the light and space felt like in that apartment. But the strongest feeling that came up was how I felt when I moved in before I met Leo. When I turned away to head back to Alicia’s it felt like I had visited a grave. I’m not trying to sound all melodramatic but the door and the number above it felt like a tombstone. A door that I once had a key to no longer opened for me.

Alicia asked how I was feeling about Leo these days and I told her I missed him. Then I told her that when I was getting gas as I was leaving Vegas I started to cry. As I was telling her I started crying again. “How do you trust something once you’ve been burned?” I asked. “Because that’s the thing that I can’t wrap my head around. I felt so happy, so safe, so loved, and he changed. How can I ever let myself feel that way again. And I guess the answer is you just do. You meet someone and they inspire that in you. But what I realized when I was leaving Las Vegas was that I felt betrayed. I gave so much, I gave him my love, my attention, my care, my support. All the little details, the notes, the thoughtfulness that went into our life together. And he just took it, and one day he turned around and basically said that it wasn’t enough. That he wasn’t sure.”

Okay, maybe I am angry too. It’s just so many other emotions trump anger. But when I think of him not being sure my blood boils. I think the hardest part is that deep down no matter how much I miss him I don’t want to go back. I know it isn’t right for me. And I hope that there is something even more whole for me.

Later as I drove to meet my sister for dinner it hit me. In order to fall in love again you suspend your disbelief. You put your trust in hope.

Summer girls

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

It may be April but everything around here says summer. The air has a green, grassy scent to it, the sky is bright blue, and the days are warm if not downright hot. Summertime has always been enchanting to me- the long days stretching into night, the slower rhythm, all the time spent outside be it drinking cocktails with friends on a terrace, sitting at the Hollywood Bowl, watching an outdoor movie or going for a walk for no other purpose than to enjoy the late afternoon. No one in my life has embodied that more than my friend Kate. There is something about her, whenever I’m around her, I just want to slow down even more and take in all the magic, all the details around me.

Last time I saw Kate I was in New York for a few days. We had breakfast in Fort Greene. We ate toasted baguettes with avocado and caught each other up. It had been years since I had seen her but ours is the kind of friendship that you can pick up right where you left it. Those are the best kind.

Kate and I worked together in Williamstown and became friends walking to the local swimming hole on hot days. Pretending to be mermaids gliding, laughing, floating in the cold water. Our friendship cemented lying in the grass looking at the sky telling each other stories of older men we were intrigued by as girls, taking pictures inspired by Cindy Sherman photographs while laying next to oddly lit Louise Bourgeois eye sculptures, and making up stories about a house we had passed on a walk that had five huge black birds circling its roof.

The other day someone at the restaurant said, “I love listening to people’s voices when they are recorded.” I remembered Kate had this tape recorder the summer we met. She would bring it out while we sat outside the local pub on plastic lawn furniture drinking beer and tape whoever was sitting around. At the end of the summer we came back to New York. I was getting ready to move to LA and was staying with my boyfriend in Chelsea but I was always over at Kate’s. We would walk her dog in the hot muggy afternoons, get iced coffees, and buy tomatoes and cheese for dinner. Her brownstone overlooked a beautiful garden that belonged to a parish. One night I stayed over and slept in her father’s old office. She gave me one of the tapes she had recorded to listen to as I fell asleep. I loved falling asleep, amidst her dad’s books, listening to the hum of all the voices. It felt comforting, like being seven and falling asleep while listening to all the adults at your mom’s dinner party.

If I move back to New York will life be like my friendship with Kate? Swiftly picked up right where it was left.

I’ve been restless lately. It is a restlessness I associate with being single or really more like not having a partner in crime. I called Cleo on my way to dance class. When I talk to her it feels like I will move back to New York. I haven’t made my mind up yet but sometimes I feel a pull to go back. It is as strong as the pull I felt nine years ago to leave.