Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What a brave mother we had!

I love movies and since I have been resting in bed for several days now, to calm down the terrible pains of my injured spine --- Netflix and its genial Instant Watch have been keeping me in excellent company.

And last night, after finished seeing a wonderful Czech movie called "All Our Loved Ones", I could not stop my tears. Tears I could not hold, because the tale of this high middle class Jewish Czech family in Prague at the beginning of the Second World War, was a carbon copy of what happened to so many Cuban families when the Revolution took over. And this brought to my heart so many bittersweet memories that I cried tears of satisfaction at being able to look back at a life lived in decency --and tears of pain at reminiscing at so many terrible things.

The resemblances were amazing. The denials, the disbelief, the surprise, and afterwards their desperation at what was happening to them, was so very familiar....In their case the family (a doctor, a renowned violinist, a scientist and their children and elderly parents) were carted to a concentration camp and a horrible death --while for us Cuban refugees we were given the opportunity to start new lives, albeit missing always a vital part: our country and in many cases a complete and united family. Oh yes...We were luckier, much luckier -- since another choice was to stay and try to adapt to a new way of life, directed by Fidel Castro's daily whims, whatever they were...Certain death of the spirit and the quick deterioration of any possible ideals!

But the steps that took us in parallel paths were so very similar. The friends who turned enemies. The mistrust that invaded our day to day. The disbelief at laws nobody could understand. The daily persecution by the members of the Defense of the Revolution Committees. The insults. The humiliations. Even the inventory of our property, spoon by spoon and piece of underwear by piece of underwear, done in our homes, paper and pen in hand, by a member of the Revolutionary Defense Committee when we asked for permission to leave! I was seeing the movie and the faces of disbelief of the family members ---and it was like seeing the stunned faces of my mother and my own uncles and aunts during those horrible early years of the Cuban Revolution.

When the movie ended my tears were bittersweet because they had made me think one more time of the bravery and courage my mother had had when she decided that Leon and I could not grow without personal freedoms and surrounded by such a toxic new society --and we had to leave Cuba.
And one more time -by now millions of them!- I asked myself where did our still beautiful and young mother get her immense valor to take such a huge step? She is in my thoughts like a tropical Joan of Arc battling for her two children and never complaining one single time! And how grateful we are for the bravery that gave us freedom!

What an amazing woman she was

Our mother was so convinced of her ideals and of her concept of right and wrong, that she never wavered, nor doubted her decision. And after fighting the bureaucrats, the government hiennas and all the odds --she finally was able to leave Cuba with 2 adolescents, penniless and without looking back --and she gave us the opportunity of a new life!

And like her --thousands and thousands of Cuban women who were not afraid to start from scratch, forge ahead and become the foundation of their families! Many of her own friends and friends of friends... I feel such respect and love for all of them.

Mami -in her mid forties and so beautiful- worked picking tomatoes in Pompano Beach tomato factories...she baby sat and ironed for 50 cents an hour...she cleaned after and took care of an elderly American woman, whose daughter was an alcoholic....and then she became The Queen of Popcorn working as Candy Girl of a movie theatre in downtown Miami....And she never complained. Not once. Not even when she was assaulted coming home at 11pm from the movie house --at gunpoint!-- and this even became a funny anecdote.

All these memories came to me as a rolling thunderstorm as I was seeing this movie. The feelings so raw and clear...And once more time I was in total awe of our mother and the way she handled the worst moment of our lives. She was brave and at the same time loving and funny, reassuring us every day that things were all right. It was amazing. And looking back, I am afraid I could not have done for my daughter what she did for us. My generation is not as strong. Our beliefs are probably not that defined and resolute. I am definitely not made of the same strong earth...

So, hats off for that generation of elderly Cubans who are still living in exile....The best generation of all!....That of the patriarchs and matriarchs that gave us so much, for the sake of love and freedom --and without asking for anything in return.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Life is here. Life is gone

How fragile Life is!...And in consequence, how fragile we are!

Today I feel very bad at the death of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. Hers I expected and it was heartbreaking to see her fighting until the last day -but Michael's sudden death has stunned me. Poor man! I don't think he ever had a chance to be a real child. He never was truly happy --and somehow his talent, and the strange 'persona' he had invented, was the instrument of his own death. Very sad!

This proves one more time that one moment Life is here --and gone the next. The mysteries of death and a world beyond come over to confront us -- and questions remain unanswered.

This week we have seen icons disappear --and this 'brands' our own lives. Keeping 'bed rest' due to my herniated disk and all the subsequent pain, makes me very sad and melancholic, as you can see. And this news don't help at all!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The pain of real pain

For the last 4 weeks, I have had a terrible pain in my lower back. It happened 10 years ago for a couple of months and then I was careful and it went away --but on my last trip to London I was careless and carried some heavy things --and it came back with a vengeance.

I think is ciatica produced by a problem disk in my spine....A doctor will tell me more in a couple of days and I hope I will get better. Well, it has to get better because I feel useless and this depresses me very much. I am used to be on the go all the time, to walk a lot, to be independent --and this really affects my life.

And pain is such a downer, such a way to feel like a zero...Even a head-ache throws off our attitude, you can imagine what the pain from a ´pinched nerve´does for your psyque. It can cause desperation, and the biggest despair, especially when even strong pain killers dont seem to work. Pain can be the biggest equalizer, reducing us to nothing --and showing us all the importance of good health.

When one thinks about it, God must have made pain what it is, so we realize that there are things beyong our own personal power. Things we cannot control nor avoid at any cost.

Thus, I dont understand people who love to be sick, or love to say they are sick. That kind of attention is horrendous and not for me.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Amazing pleasures at upcoming movies

My love for the movies is my best 'company'. Something that since I was a little girl, and my mother took me to the 'Duplex' theatre in Havana to see the most amazing movies, branded my life with a wonderful sense of pleasure.

And in the last month I have seen 2 amazing and gorgeous movies that made my spirit soar and revived my faith in love, beauty and dreams. Two films that caused in me the stirring feelings that only a good movie can!

One is "Coco Avant Chanel" (Coco Before Chanel), which is opening later this year (so be in the lookout for it) but I saw yesterday at a private press movie screening from Sony Pictures Classic --and left me feeling happy and romantic and loving fashion creativity more than ever. The movie will probably be nominated for many awards for photography, acting, art direction and direction since is superbly done in all these aspects as well as in the powerful feelings it conveys.

Coco Chanel's life was very tragic and filled with ups and downs, all of her own doing, but before she was 'Chanel', she was a young woman who fell madly in love with Boy Capel --and this movie shows that aspect of the young Chanel, since she was a child in an orphanage until she finally became the famous Coco Chanel that created a fashion legend and a worlwide coveted brand, that is alive and well to this day. The visuals of this movie are amazing, so very beautiful and the script so good, and the direction so intelligent...I dont enough words to describe my enthusiasm, so you must RUN to see it when it comes to your city.

The second great movie I must recommend is "Young Victoria", which depicts Queen Victoria when she was single and met and fell in love with Prince Albert --who became her beloved husband. I saw this movie flying on Business Class of British Airways some weeks ago, the day after I had visited Kensington Palace in London ---where the movie was filmed! Visually stunning and with great acting and art direction is also a jewel.

These are 2 'feel good movies' that will be on my list of all time favorites and unforgettable films like Love in the Afternoon, Gone with the Wind, Sabrina, etc, etc...Don't forget and give yourself the pleasure of seeing them. You will thank me a thousand times!

Monday, June 15, 2009

¡Un divino viaje a Paris!

Acabo de regresar de Paris --y una vez más he quedado encantada con la belleza de la ciudad y la Historia que puede disfrutarse paso a paso. La ciudad es un tesoro en muchos sentidos --y comprendo que conocerla bien toma cientos de visitas, pues en cada una de ellas aprendo algo nuevo y descubro un nuevo secreto ¡y la llevo visitando varias veces al año desde 1969!.

También he disfrutado mucho -y es lo que más me ha impactado en este viaje- el refinamiento que existe en las cosas más sencillas -como son los paquetes de regalo que nos hacen en cualquier tienda y especialmente en pastelerías o tiendas 'gourmet' -igual que una innata cortesía que todavía existe en muchas personas que se sienten orgullosos de lo que hacen, como los viejos empleados de hoteles, restaurantes, etc. En muchos existe todavía un profundo sentido del 'métier', de la profesión que se tiene -y en ello hay orgullo en ser lo mejor posible y desafortunadamente en Estados Unidos mucho de esto va desapareciendo, o ya ha desaparecido.
En este viaje contré a la gente mucho más amable que en otras visitas (como las 2 que hice el año pasado)--y mucho más amistosos cuando le decíamos que mi hija y yo éramos americanas. Coincidimos con la visita de Obama a Normandie y con la noche que se llevó a Michelle a cenar cerca de la Torre Eiffel y todo Paris estaba muy excitado --aunque creo que debía de mandarle la cuenta de 29 dólares del taxi que nos llevaba a cenar a los Campos Elíseos ¡y se encontró con el trafico cortado 30minutos para dejar pasar a los Obama!

Aparte de esto, Paris me dejó su imagen grabada en la retina más que otras veces y cuando regresamos a New York, para mi sorpresa --¡encontré mi ciudad sucia, fea, y llena de gente maleducada y espantosa tan pronto el taxi cruzó el túnel y entró en Manhattan! No me gustó nada sentir así, pero fue exactamente de esa manera. Encontré New York vociferante, agresiva, desorganizada, caliente, demasiado poblada --y me ha tomado una semana en volver a sentirme más o menos 'en casa', aunque añoro la suavidad de los amaneceres grises-azules de Paris....las caminatas por las Tullerías...por la Place Vendome...por las callecitas vericuetas de St. Germain...los croissants suavecitos del desayuno...el choucroute de L'Alsace...Añoro también la visión del Louvre con su Pirámide de cristal y sus edificios milenarios...los puentes que atraviesan el Sena...la divina misa cantada que oí el domingo en Nôtre Dame...la visita a la Torre Eiffel al atardecer...los recorridos por los pasillos de la nueva Fauchon y de Hédiard...mi conversación con el empleado de Caviar Kaspia que me explicó orgulloso los misterios del caviar que venden....y la visita al Mercado de Granjeros de la Madeleine donde los dueños de un puesto nos regalaron dos sombrillas como 'souvenir' de nuestra visita...Cuando fuimos a la boutique de Christian Louboutin fue como entrar en un mundo de cuentos de hadas y nos atendió un chico catalán encantador. Cuando cenamos en La Table de Joel Robuchon nos atendieron como princesas...Y todo lucía sincero, natural...

Ahora aprecio aun más desde la distancia, el paseo por el barrio judío el domingo --y el almuerzo en el loco y delicioso As du Falafel...igual que me regodeo pensando en la tarde en que recorrimos los 'bouquinières' del Sena en busca de tarjetas viejas...y después nos sentamos en un café de la Place St. Michel a ver pasar el mundo. Paris me sigue emocionando --y me provoca aprender más y más de ella y de los personajes que han habitado su historia.

En este viaje no todo fue perfecto porque perdí mi cámara en un taxi lo que me dejó tristísima y tuve que correr a comprarme otra...También tuve un dolor espantoso de un disco que me estaba presionando un nervio en la espalda, lo que me tenía loca todas las mañanas hasta que me tomaba los montones de pastillas, que me ordenó un milagroso médico cubano antes de irme de viaje ¡y que eventualmente me curaron cuando terminé mis días de trabajo y llegó mi hija a reunirse conmigo!

Fue en ese momento en que Mari Claudia y yo comenzamos a 'reconocer' Paris de nuevo-- y me mudé del Grand Hotel, donde me habían invitado los ejecutivos de Issey Miyake Perfumes -- a un 'boutique' hotel fabuloso, de 4 estrellas, súper céntrico, a dos calles de la place Vendôme y 1 de la rue de Rivoli, llamado Meliá Vendôme que me encantó --y se lo recomiendo a todo el mundo porque es de precios moderados y tiene un servicio divino.

Y alli comenzó la aventura que nunca termina, porque ahora estoy empeñada en aprender más de la vida de Madame de Stael, ya que ví en las librerías parisinas varias nuevas biografías sobre esa mujer tan interesante --¡y así volveré a escudriñar la Historia, que comprendo es lo que más me gusta en la vida! Bueno, sí, después de los recuerdos, el amor a los míos --y tantas, tantas cosas que llenan mi existencia de inmenso placer muchas horas del día.