Cuban Opposition Leader Atuñez to Speak in LA on February 16th

To be Cuban is to be invested in the political outcomes of the island. Whether we live there or not.

We are all such crazy opinionated, and vocal people. I don't know if it was always this way, or if it's just what has happened in the last 56 years as the Castros destroyed our beloved homeland. 

People often ask me why the Cuban people just don't rise up and rebel against the communist government. The truth is that there are many brave souls who do. One such person is Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, better known as Antuñez. 


Imprisoned for 17 years in the Castro gulag, he has continued his resistance to the regime and has always called for the freedom of the Cuban people at great personal cost. For more information about his struggle, click here

On Monday, February 16th, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez and his wife, Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera will be in Los Angeles for a very special event. They will be sharing their experiences of life in today's Cuba and their views on what the truth of diplomatic relations could look like. 

I'm inviting all of my LA people to join us to support them at this free event. 

Monday, February 16th, 2015

9:00 AM

CML Studios

326 Mira Loma Avenue

Glendale, CA 91204

Flyer English

I hope to see you there.

To learn more about the plight of Cuban political prisoners and activists please visit my friend, Marc Masferrer's blog, Uncommon Sense and, of course, Babalú Blog.


My four kids have always been in super different places in life, which has always kept our lives interesting.


I remember when Amy Kikita started college. It was the same year Jonathan started Kindergarten. Yeah. Kindergarten and college. With Lucy in grammar school and Adam in high school there was never a dull moment around here. 

Change is inevitable. Kids grow. They go out into the world to find their fortunes. They meet other people. They make new friends. They have adventures. They find their way in the world and add different kinds of cares (good and bad) into our lives as parents. 

So I mark the passage of time as I always have, by the ages and activities of my children. Eric and I find ourselves navigating some challenges that we hadn't experienced before. But that's what keeps life exciting, right?

And, yes, our kids have always been in different places, but this season totally wins as far as the most diverse changes for all of them. Read on.


Amy has moved to South Florida. Specifically to Hialeah. With nothing to hold her here in Southern California, she has struck out to find adventure in Hialeah to get her Cubanity on. She has a job, an apartment, and a car. We text multiple times a day, but even at those times, I'm acutely aware of the distance between us. I miss her desperately. (Shh! Don't tell her.)


Adam has ventured into marriage and fatherhood. He and his wife, Alysha live near us and we have the good fortune to see them on different occasions.


As you can see, our dinner table is still quite full. (Also, I'm trying to master the art of picnicking, but that's not important right now.) The faces around the table are changing. And I'm not just talking about the extra wrinkles that are adding *ahem* character to our faces.

Eric and I celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary on August 8th. We had a lovely, quiet dinner and recapped all of our adventures. We agreed we would say, "I do" all over again. We also decided that quiet and calm may be over-rated. We have also categorically reserved the right to change our minds.


I took Lucy to San Francisco to celebrate her 21st birthday. We saw all the cool spots in the city and even had a cable car adventure. All the while, I kept hyperventilating when I remembered that my daughter was now 21. "Deep, slow breaths, Mom."


Jonathan started his first week at the local community college (where Lucy is employed, by the way). He is taking theater classes and also going out on lots of auditions in Los Angeles. I'd tell you what exactly he's been doing, but then I'd have to kill you. 


Jon's first day of school photo

Last week, Adam and Alysha were blessed with the birth of their baby. A beautiful boy. My son has a son. Making me an abuela. (I had a dream in which the baby called me, "Wella." I'm going to go ahead and go with that.)

People, meet my grandson, Asher. I think this guy has changed my life forever.


So many changes. 

In between all these milestones, I've made dinners, and done loads and loads of laundry. I've visited my 100 year old mom, and gone swimming in pools and at the beach. We've hosted lots of outdoor movie nights and have attended concerts and baseball games

I know this post sounds like somebody's annual Christmas newsletter, but guys, this only encompasses the last 6 weeks of my life. 

A few months ago I might have said, "I hate change." But now I embrace the many and varied happenings and simply say, "Bring it." 

Life is in session. Amen.

The Haircut

When I was a kid, as you know, I spent an extraodinary amount of time fighting The Battle of the Do, trying to tame my naturally curly locks into something more "comforming" to the cultural norm. Read all about that here...

I Have Naturally Curly Hair.

Of my four kids, Jonathan is the only one who has been stuck  blessed with the natural curls. Also, he can pretty much grow facial hair in the time it takes most people to boil water. Again, a blessing.

Imagine his delight when his high school performed Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream...the Disco Version (yes, you read that right).

He grew his curls out "long" (which in Naturally Curly Hair World just means "big") and used a pick to enhance his natural afro-ness. Along with this, he also grew his mustache out giving him a very convincing version of Creepy Disco Guy.

Behold the Epic Natural Fro.

Jon darby big hair

Jon darby midsummer

Jonathan as the actor Nick Bottom/Pyramus in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night Disco Dream

It's always fun for us to watch Jonathan on stage because he gets so into the roles he's playing. The Orange County Register thought he did pretty well, too.

Jon darby as pyramus oc register

How proud am I to see my son on the front page of the Varsity Arts section of the Orange County Register? Of course, he also happens to be wearing donkey ears and a leisure suit, but that's not important right now.

However, Jon is also trying to be an actor and for this reason, his manager suggested that he cut his hair. Not only that, she wanted him to get a professional haircut. At a specific place. In the most hipster part of LA.

Shortys in la

Which is how we found ourselves at Shorty's Barber Shop on Fairfax in Los Angeles on a Saturday afternoon.

Shortys menu in la

Eric and I sat around awkwardly waiting for Jon, trying to blend. We failed miserably, of course.

Jon darby at shortys

His talented stylist, Jessica took him from Creepy Disco Guy to Clean Cut LA Hipster in no time at all.

Jon darby haircut

I totally appreciated that this was a low-drama salon. They cut Jon's hair and the vibe was very welcoming and friendly. (Even if Jon's so-not-a-hipster mami may or may not have saved some of his curls in a zip-lock. Don't judge.)

Jon darby long hair

Jon darby short hair


Jonathan also had his brows "manscaped" and finally had some beautiful head shots taken by the very talented photographer Keli Squires-Taylor.

So here's the new and improved, cleaned-up-and-ready-to-work version of Jon.


What are you waiting for, Hollywood? Hire this kid!

Bodies and Shadows - Getting to know Caravaggio at LACMA

I am often invited to see and experience so many interesting and fun exhibits and shows that are specific to my general geographic location. For those of you who are geographically challenged by Southern California (no judgement, since you don't really know our state), we live in Orange County (The O.C.) about an hour south of Los Angeles and an hour north of San Diego. (Another So Cal Fun Fact: We measure distances by approximate driving time, but that's not important right now.)

My friends at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art invited me to the opening of one of their latest exhibitions - Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy. This exhibit can be viewed until February 10th, 2013.

Marta at exhibit
I know. It looks like it says Caravaggio and his Leg. (I know. Shut up.)

An hour's drive north and I was treated to the beauty and striking realism of Caravaggio's portraits. I particularly loved the violent contrasts of light and darkness in his works and was amazed by his ability to express powerful emotions in the way he juxtaposed his subjects and "zoomed" in on the action. 


When you see this show, be sure to get the self-guided-tour device. It looks like a large iPhone and tells you the story behind each of his works. This is the BEST way to enjoy this beautiful exhibit.


The paintings evoked the feeling that you were right there, up close and personal.

St francis of assisi in ecstasy
St. Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy (circa 1595)

The subjects of his paintings were strikingly "human." Quite a feat to capture so much reality and emotion on canvas. I quite enjoyed the exhibit.

On a side note, one of the artists inspired by Caravaggio who was also included in this exhibit, was Georges de La Tour. His painting of The Magdalen with the Smoking Flame (circa 1638 - 1640) was one I had seen 30 years ago at the Louvre in Paris. The reason I remember it so well is because my sister, Alina, had fallen in love with it and bought the print. What a treat to turn the corner at LACMA and re-encounter an old "friend" at this beautiful exhibit.

Magdalen with smoking flame

I highly recommend Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy. And I should also mention that currently on view at LACMA is a retrospective of director Stanley Kubrick's works until June 30, 2013. Go see it!

Thanks to LACMA for the invitation. It is certainly worth the one hour drive... in any direction.

For exhibit dates and times and more information for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, please click here.

LACMA is also on Facebook. Go "Like" their page. It's a great way to stay on top of their coming exhibits and special events. You're welcome. ;-)


{Disclosure: LACMA provided entry to the museum so that I could review the exhibit. All opinions are my own.}