Down in Louisiana

From the still bayous to the red clay farms of Louisiana, from the end of the Mississippi River to the nearby edge of Texas, down in New Orleans and up to Shreveport- the south is undeniably.. a paradise.

Not for its obsession of Chick-fil-A or football, nor for it’s love of the onslaught of innocent animals, but for its simplicity of life in the sweet state of Louisiana.

After a weeks worth of time in the two polar cities, the south had confirmed what I already knew, that I am and always will be, a city girl.

But in retrospect, I am thankful to have gotten so far away from all the noise of New York.

 

Shreveport was the city to wake up to. Late October rain fell throughout the neighborhoods in ready preparation for the town’s upcoming Halloween festivities. Overnight you somehow knew that the deer were traveling back to their nests and the other furry critters were curled up in a hole somewhere. An early morning sunlight broke through whatever clouds were left over and exposed the precipitation hanging onto splinters of grass. The roads were long, the streets were empty and all the lifted trucks slept through the night before rattling their engines again in the morning. It was a place for comfort.

What I learned in Shreveport was the importance, and necessity, of valuing your family. And in this particular experience, the bigger the better. Nothing was better than spending time with your loved ones in an intimate setting… even if it was at an ax throwing bar… or Deja Vu. Nonetheless, the four-generation of the Figueroa bloodline was enough entertainment already. 

In the Big Easy however, I died and resurrected again night after night thanks to Bourbon Street. When in Louisiana, you must do as the Louisianians do and that is drink copious amount of daiquiris until you see your shrimp and grits regurgitated in the bathroom. But one must go on if you were to go to the Superdome the next day, which we did. As on honorary Saints fan for 2.5 hours, I lost myself in the creole accent and you know I had to yell WHO DAT with the lady sitting next to me.

I was there for a good time, not a long time.

And if it was anything these ragin’ Cajuns knew, it was how to properly deep fry a gator. It was a blessing to taste food from where it originated. Nothing was better than the stuffed catfish and charbroiled oysters. A cup of jambalaya, a crawfish pie, a crab cake here and there washed down with a light beer of your choice- that was my paradise.  I would go back to Louisiana just for the food.

In my mind, an image of a tomato lives so loudly and vividly. I saw it painted on a square ceramic tile in a gift shop outside of the French Quarter. I stared at the image of the red little vegetable and its green leave stemming from its navel. I wanted it, I wanted to hang it up on my kitchen with the other hand painted tiles I’ve collected from Barcelona, Solvang and Olvera Street. I wanted it for inspiration to cook new meals and use the fruit introduced by my ancestors. The ‘creole tomato’ the only souvenir I wanted from New Orleans besides a beignet from Cafe Du Monde, the souvenir I never bought- now grows in my head rooting for my return.

 

Sound and the City

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I learned a new sound today. It was that between myself and the city.

The steps it took to march out of the subway into a new world;

The noise of a an unfamiliar chatter in a foreign tongue;

The music spilling out of each headphone setting the tone of my story.

A star crossed path in every corner,

I was impartial to its commotion.

 

Santa Barbara

I’ve been thinking about traveling lately and it came to my surprise I never divulged about my weekend in Santa Barbara.

For some reason those few days I spent in the central coast have been so vivid to me that California has been on my mind for days. Albeit I am already predisposed to yearn for my native west coast.

If it’s not for its rolling hills of green grass and sparkling beachfront views, then it’s definitely the laid back organic vibes that makes Santa Barbara, a paradise.

In the middle of February a storm was passing through Southern California, but we managed to dodge the raining bullets. Away from the traffic of the city, away from the commotion at home, away from work and everybody we know. We spent a weekend to ourselves, a staycation for our first anniversary.

In its fine detail of what is old and what is new, a Spanish town once thrived in the missions and avenidas that make up Santa Barbara’s etymology. The American Riviera of scenic landscapes that is too rich to describe but alluring in its night and day aura in an area that overlooks the Pacific ocean.

In comparison to it’s beautiful seaside housing, its downtown is just as refreshing as the crispy ocean air that glides through its corridors. Our simple night began with a bottle of wine bought from the Santa Barbara Winery, a Cabernet or Pinot Noir as our weapon of choice. For me, nothing is more intimate than sharing a moment with someone over a glass of wine; in any quiet space, in any outdoor setting, over a plate of food, whatever it is- wine is always a must. Of course however, one must transition to from red to white when seafood is involved, and seafood for me, is also always a must.

For quality and reasonably priced seafood, The Santa Barbara Fish House was our destination for dinner. We couldn’t resist the calamari nor the clam chowder, I mean come on, on beachfront cities you know you have to indulge in the ‘catch of the day.’ Cioppino for me, and spicy seafood pasta for him, a glass of wine each, all for under $100. I would definitely come here again. As I get older and become more bougie, $100 starts to seem like the adult $1. But I digress.

To retreat back to our 20-something crowd, we entered the Funk Zone, literally. It’s an area mixed with college students of nearby universities and locals who’ve never left after graduation but have managed to plant roots either through craft business or some other kind of work. This is where you come to bar hop on the weekends and eat greasy truffle fries when you’ve had one too many. We went to Figueroa Mountain Brewery, hopefully (or not) I didn’t drop too many hints there of taking that last name.

The next day we went to Solvang, the Danish Town. Ah, I was so pleased to come here on a cloudy weekend morning. To start my day off at a cute cafe drinking a vanilla latte, I was already in love with the little european town just outside of SB. Solvang is just so charming. It’s as if you were Denmark but in Central California. It’s the perfect place to spend a few hours taking pictures of its giant windmills or buying little trinkets of nordic mythology and mosaic tiles of it’s quaint cottages. One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Santa Barbara was just to see the American Danish Town in person.

The only way to send off our weekend was to have bottomless mimosas at a Mexican restaurant, which are plentiful in this city. And if you’re every in the next door town of Montecito, be sure to go to Lucky’s- a steakhouse of fine dining that makes you feel as if you were in a 1920’s Hollywood lounge.

Until next time!

 

 

Weekend With Ricky

brooklynIn between four walls, a memory laid sleeping in my bed. He was long and statuesque, he made my small room look even smaller. He was curled up in between my bed sheets and what I was hoping for for months had finally manifested; my other half joined me across the country.

Albeit it only for a weekend, it was a weekend worth telling.

Perfectly imperfect, is a good way to describe us. A duo that lusts for each other physically as much as we do mentally. A duo that fights the hardships of long distance. In a moment of weakness what was ‘We’ almost became ‘Me’ and our story would have ended on two different coasts. But alas, we did not choose the easy way out.

Together we stand, divided we fall.

On a humid August day in New York my L.A. boyfriend brought his Mexican ass to Brooklyn. Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass we sat alongside the river at an Italian restaurant. “Wine with my Wino,” he said. And I smirked at his remark. It was the first time we had seen each other in two months, the first time being able to feel something tangible; the taste of lips, the smell of cologne, the softness of hair. He accompanied me in all the bars I wanted to visit and we made our way through Downtown.

A pair of lovers found themselves in the heart of Queens at a ballpark of America. His Quest for 30 became my new baseball adventure. A roaring crowd in Citi Field faced what could be a playoff berth and Ricky and I were there to witness the Mets defeat the Nationals. But our love for sports didn’t match our love for food that night so we twirled through the city and ended up in the East Village looking for a burger. Eight out of 10 he gave his professional cheeseburger connoisseur opinion on this “In’n’Out-Shake Shack” mash up. I ordered the Mac n’ Cheese balls.

In the middle of the night, I was overcome with emotions. My sobbing had awaken Ricky and he was holding me in his arms trying to sooth my anxiety. I didn’t want him to let go. In my moment of humility he held onto me until I was asleep again and just like that my protector made me feel like I was home.

He was scheduled to leave me on Saturday, but I coaxed him to stay with me for one more night. On top of my apartment rooftop was the skyline of Manhattan. Where we spent his last night sitting and drinking wine out of two plastic cups, listening to Jay-Z smoking Maryjane. There he was, my Dodgers-loving, Lakers-loving, In-n-Out-loving, Crossfit-loving better half, sitting next to me as if I never left. Under the night sky in Brooklyn a pair of lovers found themselves in, what else? In love.

I said goodbye to him at the airport, and my heart was completely shattered. I felt that I would never see him again even though I knew it wasn’t true. In a moment’s notice he was gone from me, and again he became just another memory.

Week 1, New York

ManhattanNew York. I sit in a slightly packed train cart, next to someone I’ll probably never see again, wondering which borough of this incredibly huge city they’re from. I sit and I look. I stare at the different forms of life; a business person, a teenager with his skateboard, a pair of friends, myself- from the reflection of the window as each stop zooms by. I think: New York. I finally did it.

I’ve decided to document my experience moving across the country and hopefully give some life back to this little blog. In many ways, the New York state of mind has always been near to me. I fantasized about an education at NYU and a summer at Columbia studying the impact of journalism when I was a teenager. I imagined myself a Carrie Bradshaw in my early twenties and constructed my own relationship with the city before I even met it. I looked, but never touched the big apple albeit the temptation was juicy. At 26, I finally decided to take a bite of the city and put matters into my own hands.

Now one week in New York, I still don’t know what to think of it. It’s rainy and I hate it. But I love it because the clouds clear and the sun shines through the buildings of Manhattan and the sky for a moment reflects a beautiful magenta hue, again I am enamored. The city is overwhelming. Grandiose in its facades and at times overcrowded, but the people of New York know where to go and where to be. They walk faster than I can run and are more focused than I can ever be.

Something about New Yorkers intrigue me. The east coast accent is almost music to my ears, like the hard beat of a hi-hat mixed with the slang of a rap song. The thick accents of a tongue inherited from generations prior fascinates me as much as the Puerto Rican or Dominican Spanish I can barely understand. Words are elongated, syllables are dropped and comes out a tune that I can’t stop listening to.

Someone once told me “There is nothing like New York,” and it stuck with me. Although I don’t quite have my bearings down (or a place to live yet), I’m not worried. I figure I’ll make the best of the city in my time here and eventually I can call one of these closet sized rooms home.

One week in New York and I’m afraid to start missing my friends and family. It is hard not to when your whole life is 2000 miles away but writing and the occasional FaceTime from my boyfriend always helps. Each hour feels long but the days are going by quick. Fortunately work helps the time pass and each day I’m looking for a second job. I try to remind myself that I’m here for the experience and here for the long term goal which is to receive the training I need to become a successful news producer. When the time is right, home is where I’ll go!

 

 

Denver, CO

What can I say about Denver besides the fact I entered the city with a predisposed sentiment of hostility? The true American Midwest frightened me; the weather was on the cusp of its arid fall season, thanks to its pivotal location between the High Plaines and Rocky Mountains; the food was urbanized by everything having an egg thrown in it or some Mexican dish containing an unnecessary amount of black beans; the Downtown area was quiet, maybe just a little too quiet for my liking and the people were friendly, maybe just a little too friendly.

Denver, in all of its autumn colors of pine greens and maple leafs’ yellows, was at its best. The air was crisp and the sun shone from the mountain tops so brightly, teasing of its last few hours before the storm. Snow hugged buildings like fleece on a winter coat but  transformed into a blanket of ice the next day, covering every inch and crevice of the city.

I moved through LoDo like a token on a game board, stopping at each block and questioning the Coloradian lifestyle. Each step was another battle between myself and the snowflakes bombarding my face. I couldn’t move any longer, my four layers of clothing was defenseless and I was succumbing to defeat of my first snowfall. My company was frolicking in the middle of the streets while I was pressed against the sidewalk, desperately looking for coverage from the snow.

It was obvious that I was out of my element.

To further embarrass myself, I was the obnoxious L.A. fan in Bronco Country. It was me against the entire population of Denver. Those who were not hiking or skiing were at Mile High stadium, those who were not cheering for the Rams, were trying to be smart with me. Although I was instigating every time Todd Gurley rushed into end zone, to my defense I shouldn’t be taken anywhere in public because si ya saben como mi pongo pa que mi invitan.

Denver, Colorado; a place I would probably have never visited if it wasn’t the home to my boyfriend’s and his mom’s NFL team. It was cold and country but in its corners I found bits and pieces that suited my likings.

My few days in the Midwest was as to be expected; In Denver’s 20 degree weather I danced on the bar top of Coyote Ugly (and kicked a drink in a guy’s face), fell asleep to a Jazz band performing outside of the Denver Performing arts complex across from our hotel, met Eric Dickerson during the game’s tailgate, and patronized the mother-son duo for being fans of the losing team.

The city was a mile high, and so was I.

 

Eurovision

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Petit Palace Boqueria Hotel Barcelona

Six months after I left Spain I was on the next 12 hour flight to Barcelona. I was so homesick for Europe, for countries that spoke different languages, for a time zone that I was never quite able to adjust to. So there I was again, March 2017, my second Euro trip but this time with another.

I planned the majority of my vacation as a solo traveler but three weeks prior to my departure date my ex-boyfriend joined the ride. At an incredibly awkward time in my life where I wasn’t ready for literally anything and where this was the first time we had spoken to each other in months, we spent 24 days together traveling throughout Europe.

The trip was planned around specific dates; Las Fallas in Valencia, Real Madrid fútbol game at the Santiago Bernabéu, Drake concert at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin and whatever museums, monuments, and structures I could fit in between.

The whole trip in itself was actually a lot of drama considering you could have cut the tension between my ex and I with a baby’s spoon. Anyways, back to traveling.

Continue reading “Eurovision”

The Summer Abroad

IMG_1726.jpgIn 2016 I spent seven weeks in Valencia, Spain for an internship I found through a travel website. It was my first time in Europe, first time traveling alone, and first of many other things.

That summer was more than a storybook movie. It was my fantasy, a dream turned into a reality. During the week I interned at a Spanish tourism blog translating articles to English and created new content for its sister website. But on the weekends I found myself chasing after Spanish men and whirl-winding through the callejones of Spain’s third largest city.

I fell in love with the country. My Spanish love affair betrayed my Mexican heritage but I couldn’t resist the castellano lisp, the jamón serrano or the never ending days at the Playa Maravillosa.

In my subpar Spanish I flirted with the common Spaniard; fair skin, light eyes, combover haircut, and of course my favorite, bearded. I admit, I played my role as La Latina/ La Morena, but it only made things more exciting. A 5’7″ curvaceous woman with long, thick brown hair and brown eyes was different to their European beauty standard. Hailing from Los Angeles was also a plus.

Since I didn’t have friends in Spain I began using the locals to show me around. In my adventures I found myself meeting a group of five madrileños in their mid-20’s visiting Valencia for the weekend. We met at the port and they included me in their botellón at the beach where we exchanged drinks for information about our countries. Our night began after midnight at the club High Cube and I danced in the tropic heat to Celia Cruz’s La Vida Es Un Carnival. The nightlife was a creature in itself; mystic, nocturnal, and sensuous. In the eight stops it took returning to my apartment in Benimaclet, I saw the sun rise on the horizon.

That weekend they invited me to the rest of their activities. I judged a competition on who had the best English (none of them did), I watched them race in the sand and saw half of them fall flat on their faces, I listened to them speak about their lives back in Madrid, and I shared an afternoon ice cream with them at the beach.

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When they left, I felt like I had lost the closest friends I made on the trip.

That summer was a true summer to remember. I left pieces of my heart transiting through Valencia and Madrid to Barcelona and Paris. I was face to face with Diego Velázquez’s ‘Las Meninas’ one weekend then witnessing the most beautiful landscape at Park Güell the next. I lost myself inside The Louvre and was found again in the middle tier of the Eiffel Tower. I dove into the Mediterranean Ocean during the Noche de San Juan and walked passed by the Estadio Mestalla everyday back home from work. The Gran Fira de Valencia marked the end of my summer in Spain, but it was just the beginning of my worldwide travels.

Hill St & Broadway

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After spending the holidays with my lover, I decided to spend some time with my lover of 12 years. So, my best friend Stephanie and I left the suburbs and trekked to the city where my heart longs to be, Los Angeles.

I spent the day daydreaming about a fabulous life in downtown, walking in my 6 inch Timberland Glancy boots, repping my giant gold hoop earrings, eating at the Grand Central Market during the lunch rush hour.

While enjoying my seafood paella I realized that three weeks into 2018 my personal goals have never been more adamant. Stephanie and I made a list of resolutions for us to have and to meet for the new year: to loyal friendships and relationships, to career growth, to new travels, and to a bigger wallet.

Already, I feel something inside me changing. I feel celestial but also earthly, like the moon guiding the current of the ocean and the waves creeping back and forth onto the shore. Like I’m finding the happy medium with the person I’m becoming.

I found solace in Amy Winehouse’s lyrics and admiration in Frida Kahlo’s photography. I also have a regeneration in self help using cooking and exercise as my therapy sessions. 

I worry less about what my significant other does on social media and have little to no worry at all about his past relationships. I’ve advanced in not jumping the gun when it comes to dating. Taking things slow and at my own pace. In return, I’ve found my heart growing in all different directions.

If 2016 was the “Year of Yes” and 2017 was the “Year of Uncertainty,” then 2018 is the “Year of Self.”

Making lists and writing things down help organize my thoughts so here are just some things I’ve jotted down for 2018.

-Plan a trip to NYC (Xmas time or earlier, watch a game at MSG or Yankee Stadium, drink a Manhattan in Manhattan)

-Buy a Nikon camera for blog

-Plan a trip to Vegas for Cinco de Mayo or go to Miami for my birthday

-Write about makeup and politics and how they’re intertwined; write a piece for Los Angeles Affairs

-Learn how to make paella and attempt to make it once

-Stop saying “lol” in texts

Fin!