Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Maya is back in serious training this month. She has a huge tournament coming in February in Florida: The U.S. Open, a black-belts only tourney. She's fighting in the fly-weight division. Fly has been her weight class, but I just like to say it. What do you fight? I'm Super Fly. Maya's been working out six days a week which means Mami is also going to Taekwondo six days a week. I don't mind. Sometimes I'm there for over two hours watching Mina's class then Maya's training. There's a treadmill facing the spar mats and I've been knocking out my workouts there too. I'm gonna be in Ms.-Fitness-World shape by the time Maya makes the Olympics.

I booked the trip to Florida two days ago after much trepidation and gnashing of teeth about allocating such a good chunk of money for a cross-country tournament. But then I stopped stressing and just booked it. Maya is an amazing talent. I'm simply clearing a path for the greatness of both my girls. The money will come. It's gonna have to come because I played myself by not fundraising earlier. But in a last-minute smart spark I made a bake-sale flyer where friends and family and coworkers can order cupcakes. I'll deliver them over the course of a month. Today was the first day pimping the idea, and I am very, very hopeful now. It's also perfect practice for the cupcakeria. I looked into all kinds of ways to ship the cupcakes to you guys, but shipping perishables would have to be sent overnight (as expensive as the cupcakes themselves) and I just don't see how the frosting would stay pristine and pretty. But I'll work on this.


The Cupcake Bakeshop has a great recipe for Churro cupcakes. I tried to make them the other night. I didn't follow any of the actual cupcake idea making instead a vanilla cinnamon cake with a cinnamon-chocolate buttercream. I did, however, convert her churro recipe into a vegan one, and they came out unbelievably. Tiny little churritos all crunchy but soft and cinnamon-sugary . . .lord have mercy. I was clicking my heels over the churritos and didn't notice that my oven took another temperature nose dive and ruined all the cakes.

I called the landlord about the oven the next day. I am convinced he is a member of some Russian mafia outfit, possibly in exile here. He's about 75 years old. He is dapper and intimidating. His wife is a lovely mess. She has lost track of her hygiene and short term memory. She has recessed deeply in her mind and mutters when she walks the couple blocks from her home to our apartment building to collect quarters from the laundry room. But when she sees the girls and me, she lifts her hands to her silk-scarved head that can't seem to contain her greasy dark blonde shag and she tells the girls they are the most beautiful girls she's ever seen. Her teeth have been on their own for decades, brown and partying in jagged lines, her glasses are crooked and dirty -- she wears no bra -- but she is full of love. "When something is beautiful, I must say it!" She says this every time. I once dropped off the rent at their apartment and in the living room there were oil paintings from floor to ceiling; three and four atop each other vertically, and endlessly hung across all the walls. Portraits and paintings of flowers and landscapes. My landlady had painted them all. This is when I first loved her.

So, I called the smug and cold landlord about the oven and didn't expect much because he's also known as miserly -- the long-time residents have said -- but the wife answered the phone and she said she'd call the handyman. The handyman, named Uras, is Russian also, in his 50's, and seems to be the whipping man of the landlord. He wears suspenders and white-paint-splattered jeans every day. His full hair is white and it goes super with his light-splattered eyes. I don't think Uras has always been a handyman. I think he was an artist in his past Russian life because he paints the apartments only according to how the color matches the lighting of each room. He will paint stripes of color on a wall after an apartment has been vacated and he'll soak in the feel for a few days, until he decides. His English is busted with extra helpings of liquidy Russian. But he always smiles when he talks and he waves his hands and talks in circles like an artist does. Sometimes if I mention Landlord, he closes his mouth and says nothing. Too much history for me to swim through.

Uras looked at my oven and said he'd be back. This is a man who fixes things with wire and duct tape, which I can respect. Once when he unclogged my garbage disposal he said, "I will get you wire [meaning a drain-food-catcher] because this disposal it is only for . . . background music." Meaning these pipes are too old to put chopped-veggie residue down them every single day.

When Uras returned he said in a sing-song way, "Good things come from bad things. I have new oven for you in three days, yes?" I was genuinely shocked and gushed my gratitude over and over. I may have bowed a few times because I tend to do that when I'm speaking to people with heavy accents. I saw the wife this morning on her quarter-collecting run and I expressed it all again. Bowing, I said, "Thank you so much for the coming new oven." She said, "You are beautiful. When something is beautiful, I must say so! When they are not, I keep quiet."


andrea said...

your description of the landlord's wife is making my day, homie. it's beautiful. and when something is beautiful... I must say it.


Marigoldie said...

I still forget sometimes that the decadent food you describe is vegan, because I'm so used to hearing delish food described and thinking "awww, I wish it was vegan." Churro cupcakes!

Landlord descriptions also delicious.

Melinda said...

Hmmm... Could you send the cupcakes unfrosted, with the frosting in a seperate container? I, for one, would be more than willing to rock some vegan cupcakes d.i.y-style.

kristen said...

Hurray for the new oven!! Hurray for super-fly Maya and being a super athlete. And how multi-tasking you are, banging out your workouts while your daughters are in class? Watching and working out.....damn, girl. (=

And how am I going to be able to decide what flavor cupcake to choose when there's red velvet, churritos and those lime ones to choose from?

athena said...

LOL, i love your landlord's wife. but isn't it true? when you don't have anything good to say don't say anything, but if you do, say it! that's my motto now and that's why i will begin making more comments on blogs especially here because i also think your writing is super-b!

tara said...

i just soaked this up with my red wine. i love your stories.
i want to meet your landlady. i wonder what she would say about me.

Anonymous said...

I think this is going to be my new mantra: "When something is beautiful, I must say it!"

You, your girl, and the landlord's crazy ass wife are all super fly.

Alexandra S said...

That description of your landlord's wife is truly priceless! And churros? yum! Cupcakes yum! Churro Cupcakes??? I can't even fathom how delicious those must be!