Sunday, May 31, 2009

Me voy a Paris

Manana el 1 de Junio me voy a Paris y ya les contaré como me va. Una semana de trabajo en una de las ciudades más bellas de la Tierra. Y al final del viaje mi hija se reunirá conmigo. ¡Y volveremos a recorrer nuestros propios pasos, haciendo las mismas caminatas de siempre, y revisitando lugares conocidos, que aunque se repiten son siempre maravillosas!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Winds of change

I feel the 'wind of change' blowing hard all around me.

And somehow, putting aside my natural fears --and the fact that I am deeply 'branded' because of all my terrible experiences in Communist Cuba when I was barely an adolescent --I am happy the world is changing for the better.

We have a black President, which would have been something unimaginable just a few years ago, now a Latina woman who grew up poor in a project in the Bronx and went to Princeton and Harvard might be a member of the Supreme Court ---and in certain issues the bull is being held by the horns, as things that need to be solved and we had come to believe they could never change (such as Health Care) are tackled ---and at least there will be the hope to improve things.

It is curious, that the social and political 'Revolution' Fidel Castro promised, and became a bloody and cruel disaster, destroying an advanced country like Cuba on the way, seems to be happening in the USA. But this time as a consequence of Democracy, without blood, within 'capitalism', which to me is the essence of personal freedoms, with a plan, and the ability to choose. And it feels amazing and incredible!

I have always been a great believer of the words ·"Yes we can" in my personal life. And never, for one single moment, I have thought that there is something that we cannot change and improve if we want to. To me it is very difficult to take 'no' for an answer --and I love to change things that are not right. And this is why I suddenly like to feel 'change' around me. A certain boldness. A desire to shake things up a little. And please notice that I say 'a little', because radical and sudden changes are not my thing either.

But when I came to the USA one of the things that have always bothered me is hearing the words "it´s supposed to be like that"....and it has always bothered me very much to 'accept' that wrongs had to stay being wrong.

"You cant fight City Hall" is another phrase that always made me feel so rebellious!

Why not?...Why cant we fight City Hall? That was always my reaction. And now, maybe because of the new government and the bold steps I see around, it makes me look at things twice -- and hope a little more.

One the other hand I cant give myself 100% to these feelings. There is always some mistrust lurking from inside me. The fact that in Cuba the supposed Democratic Revolution betrayed all of us has played a decisive role in my life. So, I can trust maybe 75%...or maybe even less...but I do hope that things that needed change and fixing will be fixed --and the United States will shine even more as a beacon of the power of freedom and democracy and an example for all the world.

Note: The black and white photo is Havana's Capitol building (inspired in the Capitol in Washington DC) --where choices and changes have not been possible for the last 50 years.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Stylish and serene London!

On my recent trip to London, while I was in the English countryside -which is so beautiful in Spring, with never ending fields of tiny yellow flowers- I probably saw hundreds of sheep and coal-black young stallions..And centenary buildings...and palaces...and castles...and so much greenery and pieces of History...that taking a deep breath I suddenly realized...this was very good for the soul!

Traveling puts us in the right pespective and makes us see people and things in just the right way. And in England I have always been impacted by the reality of this thought. On this trip it was proven, one more time, the immense value of being polite, corteous, and loving and respecting traditions, the way the English do.

This sense of serenity and respect makes life easier and more harmonious. And since the very first time I visited London in 1969 (I saw the Moon landing there when I was single and very young!)- the city and its way of life, which has not changed in its core, have 'calmed me down', tamed my rebellious Cuban temperament --and brought the best in me.

On this trip I flew British Airways, probably the best consistently perfect airline in the world, sleeping like a baby on its Business Class flat beds (they elegantly call it Club Class). Later in London, I was pampered beautifully at the grand and recently refurbished The Langham hotel, which is just steps away from the heart of everything and had the most amazing staff --and a subtle and yummy fragrance piped through the air conditioniong system that welcomed us with enchantment every time we stepped into the hotel. I ate like the Queen (better, because she does not get to know these amazing restaurants!) at trendy and delicious places like Asia de Cuba, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, Nobu Berkeley ST and L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. All different cuisines and all a-ama-zing.

I had Afternoon Tea at the lovely Palm Court at the gorgeous Ritz Hotel (a 'must' experience to understand the serene harmony of what England is)...I went to a wonderful candlelight Vivaldi and Bach barroque concert at St. Martin-in-the-Fields...I took a bus tour and visited medieval Warwick Castle, the town of Straford-upon-Avon where Shakespeare was born and is a beautiful place and then we went on to Oxford, which amazed me with its centenary buildings and the dining hall and church of Christ Church, where Harry Potter was filmed...

Like a simple tourist, I also took a 'bus' tour of the city I know so well, under spurts of rain and sun, marveling one more time at the Tower Bridge, the London Eye, the Big Ben, and all the old and new landmarks....And I was so very happy walking around stylish and sober Mayfair, checking out the old places, the stores and the elegant red brick buildings I have known forever, including the jewel that is the gorgeous art deco bathroom at Claridge's.

The end of the trip was also amazing with a stay at Cliveden -the old stately home owned by the Astors and turned luxurious hotel, where I was assigned the Lord Astor suite, just next door to Lady Astor's amazing bedroom --and was in awe of the place and the atmosphere around me. The parterre gardens, the champagne trip on Nancy Astor's boat in the Thames, dinner at The Terrace, tea at the Wedgewood Salon where the Cliveden set used to play cards...This 'taste' of this lost world was also so very good for the soul!

I was lucky to have shared this trip with my childhood friend and colleague Eva Leivas-Andino, who -like me- also dreamt of marrying an English Lord when we were 13 and in school in Cuba -- and who loves these same things. She lives in Miami and flew to London to take part of this exquisite adventure. Thank you Eva for your company and enthusiasm.

Of course, now I am back home in New York --and suddenly can see the differences between America and Europe. And my feeling is that is mainly a matter of character. Of a deeper education. Of culture. And -above all- of being able to enjoy the subtle things of life.
I like both, but I must confess that I already miss England's politeness and respect. It was lovely and so absolutely brilliant!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Vacaciones en Londres

Me voy de viaje de trabajo y de vacaciones: una semana en Londres y en Cliveden, un divino 'stately home' que perteneció a la familia Astor en el campo inglés. Espero pasarla muy bien --y regresaré con muchas cosas que contarles.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My First Mother's Day - Havana, Cuba

I dont have my mother nor my father any longer. They both have left us. But they left me with great memories and a deep sense of love and family.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Back home -albeit in my dreams

This time my dream was longer and for the first time in 40 years I was able to go inside my house in Havana!

Many, many times I have dreamt that I am back in Havana, and suddenly I am near the house where I grew up in Miramar, near the Comodoro Hotel and Jesus de Miramar's Church --but for some reason I was never able to get close to it. Sometimes I was just a block away, but suddenly the vision fizzled out and some difficulty always came up in the strange world of dreams, and I was not able to get any closer to my house.

But this time the dream was so vivid and free, and slow...And there I was, walking very happily from 5a. Avenida and 84 St. and enjoying every step and every twist and turn, towards my house. I even walked by the place where Leon went to Kindergarten --and vividly saw the little children's straight backed chairs in the patio --although the place was very run down, and there was grafitti on its walls.

I then continued and after a quick cut -because dreams are 'edited' with weird cuts and fade outs- I was in front, and soon -inside the house! I was looking at the tiled floors, the big glass doors, the light pouring in golden and crisp, the interior curved 'canteros', or wall planters, mami had designed to keep her beloved plants around the walls of the dining room filled with her beloved 'malangas'. And I walked through the halls, saw the kithcen...and the huge green and black tiled main bathroom....and then the dream evaporated!

But it was wonderful...absolutely liberating and beautiful!...And not only I was inside the house, but the same feeling I used to experiment when I lived there was suddenly alive in my spirit. The same feeling of 'childhood peace' and lack of torments...the same 'everything-is-in-order' sensation children usually feel, even if their homes are not so 'peaceful' all the time, like mine was...But I felt exactly like I did whenever I entered that house after a schoolday --or coming from the beach club on the weekends...The feeling that I was home.

And that same sensation must be what happens when we die and start a new life! It's a way of 'feeling' without the need for words or actions. It's feeling deeply and instantaneously. It's a purely spiritual and material feeling at the same time. It's knowing it all without explanations.

And that is why that visit to my childhood home -after 40 some years of futile trying and trying to reach it- felt just amazing!

Friday, May 1, 2009

La Moda Tiene sus Emociones

¿Zapatos? ¿U obras de arte?

Los zapatos -de los que vivo enamorada- cada dia me sorprenden más, porque la última tendencia son los diseños complicados, con enorme originalidad --y algunos como si fueran esculturas -- ¡puras obras de arte y también verdaderos 'ejercicios' de valentía y voluntad para poder caminar con ellos con equilibrio!

Y los de última moda me tienen un poco preocupada, porque no estoy segura si me gusta tan solo miralos -o ponérmelos. ¡Los veo tan incómodos y raros!

Por eso es que la ropa de moda debe ser más sencilla, menos complicada, pues los zapatos muchas veces son la 'estrella' del conjunto que llevamos. Y lo más divertido es que desde las marcas más caras como Christian Louboutin, con sus suelas rojas, y los propios "manolos" de Manolo Blahnik --¡hasta los más económicos, de la marca Payless! -- son definitivamente muy artísticos. ¿Y los tacones? Como dicen en España ¡de vértigo!

Y esto ocurre en todas las facetas de la Moda...La ropa, los bolsos, los diseños de muebles, de objetos para la cocina, para la casa, ...¡y hasta las cosas más tontas!...todas tienen un giro original, un toque de 'arte' popular, de belleza, de impacto y hasta de surrealismo. Y eso me encanta porque es emocionante que en el siglo XXI haya un mayor respeto al diseño --y este pueda ser llevado a lo cotidiano con naturalidad y que nadie se sorprenda, ni haya un 'salon des refusés'.

¿Lo peor de todo? Que muchos de estos zapatos son tan espantosamente incómodos que voy a tener que hacer como hacía la millonaria árabe Mouna Al-Ayoub, quien tenía sus trajes de Chanel colocados en maniquíes y los colocaba como adornos en los salones de su mansión parisina. Y yo quizás pueda colocar esos zapatos 'de vértigo' junto a mis libros y mi colección de botellas de perfumes antiguas, en una esquinita del mínimo librero de mi minúsculo apartamento neoyorquino, donde compartián 'atagère' con muchas otras partes y seres de mi vida.