Friday, July 09, 2010

These Streets Will Make You Feel Brand New, Part 1

Just got back from New York. The trip was all I had hoped it would be from sweltering uncomfortable familial accommodations to serious play time in lower Manhattan.

Mama Luz was out of her gourd this trip, and I say this with the utmost amusement and a tiny bit of concern. It's not beyond me that's she's probably menopausal, but when someone like her gets her hormones extra fucked with, it's like swinging the mood pendulum from the Gateway Arch of St. Louis. The pendulum hitches and sticks on the frazzled, annoyed side much longer, however. The shit she blurts out had me rolling most of the time, but sometimes I was like, Damn Mama Luz. I will say that she is happiest messing around with the girls, especially Maya who has always been her running buddy, since Maya was 2. They are equally rough - I mean rough! -- and will laugh until sides hurt. Mina gets in on the action too of course, but she will land in Big Papi's lap or by his side, watching WWF, which Big Papi calls his soap opera. He filled us in on all the characters.

Ug, so sweet . . .Here's what's hard to talk about: The deep grime of their house sends my anal sensors into a hissy fit. Mama Luz will spend hours and hours -- it's gotten so much worse with age -- straightening and rearranging the house. Her ADD, and the fact that she drinks coffee from dawn to midnight, does not allow her to sit still ever. So, she rearranges. I was constantly asking where my suitcase was, damn. So, the house is fairly neat (though she won't throw anything away), but there is a layer of grime and dirt that gets ignored from all the straightening. It's not outright obvious, but because of my own neurosis it barks out at me as if sirens and flashing lights were swirling. I never took my shoes off. I had to talk myself down to take a shower. I wouldn't touch the kitchen. I opened doors with towels and closed shit with my knuckles. I felt like a crazy person in that house. I feel guilty writing this because it was an equal mix of her neurosis and mine, but either way, I didn't get much sleep and I didn't eat well because of it. Other than that, good times were had in that house no matter how sweltering hot it was (102 humid degrees with no AC) or how cramped we were (up to seven to one bathroom). I felt big, big family love and I will squash all my squeamishness to feel some of that.

Some stellar Mama Luz Quotes:
"My cousin has been menstruating for 3 months straight. It won't stop. I told her to have the doctor yank all that out because FUCK. THAT. SHIT."

"So, I get these bootleg DVD's four for $20 and this last time she throws in a fifth one for free so I get Shrek 3. And of course all the DVD's are ALL FUCKED UP EXCEPT FOR SHREK 3!" Big Papi chimes in, "Yea, but we can return them." Mama Luz: "Yes, she very good about that. I just have to be at the laundromat from 2-3."

Maya says, smirking and trying to hug her, "Mama Luz, I love you so much. Give me a hug." Mama Luz, "STOP HARASSING ME, BITCH!"

Baby Luz, who's like a real sister to me, has had a chipped tooth and one bad false front tooth since she was 10 years old. She's 38 now and recently got them fix and said, "Ma, look at my teeth!" Mama Luz: "YOUR TEETH NEVER BOTHERED YOU BEFORE. NOW YOU'RE TOO GOOD FOR BROKEN TEETH?" Baby Luz (because believe it or not she is more volatile than her mother): "WHAT THE FUCK!"

Maya just told me this story: Maya, Mina, Big Papi and Mama Luz were visiting an amusement park and went to a diner to eat before entering the park. Mama Luz downs her coffee and there is only a bit left in Big Papi's cup. She goes to take a sip from his cup and he softly protests, "Honey." Mama Luz, insulted, slams the cup down on the table and walks out of the restaurant. Haha. So clearly she's in a panic about getting enough coffee at the park. She buys a coffee at the park and puts it in the locker to cool so she can enjoy it after a ride, but she gets so mad about something else (unclear about what) that she does this overhead baseball pitch of the coffee right in the garbage can. Maya said it was so funny, but she couldn't really laugh too much. But see, the moods are amp'ed up a notch. Maya said by the end of the next ride, Mama Luz was all happy again. When I talked to them last night, I couldn't hear half of what they said because they were all laughing so hard. I'd hear Mina get hit with a pillow by Mama Luz, then Mama Luz yelling; Maya was wheezing the entire time.

Anyway, on and on with the stories . . .

July 4 is her birthday and this birthday was her sixtieth. If you said "60" or old or "grandma" to her, you'd likely get your clock cleaned. Big Papi organized a huge party at the house. He organized and then Mama Luz's ADD went into overdrive about what was needed and what needed to be where and how and naw, change it again and this and that and on and on . . .yo, it was miserable. I escaped to Manhattan the three days leading up to the party (more on that later) and left my children, Baby Luz, Big Papi and other family members to fend for themselves. Before I left, I told the girls, "Don't take anything personally. That's just her." Then I was like, Peace, I'm out!

On the day of the party, I came in on the train, back from the city, and arrived at the house around 2 in the afternoon. It was about 101 degrees, but the tents they put up in the backyard covered the newly arrived guests nicely. People streamed in from then on; family mainly, but friends of family and neighbors too. Around 3, I asked Mama Luz if she was having a good time yet and she stared me down with stink eye. Then she told me to get the ef out of her way.Cousin Nancy then got to making her famous Mango Mojitos which acted like a sledgehammer to bad moods,whether it was an unshakable stress about party planning, the beat down from the heat, the vice grip of menopausal hormones, whatever; mango mojitos were the cure. Rum it up, Nancy!Later that night, around 10ish, Cousin Tuty got the bright idea to mix a drink with half mango mojito and half straight Bacardi! Ai, dios mio. She called it the "I Love You" Drink because certainly after a few sips you were sloppily telling everyone you loved them.

At 3:30 in the afternoon, Mama Luz's happy switch went brightly on (mojitos kicked in) and stayed on until late, late into the night. The homemade food was laid out -- serve yo'self y'all -- drinks were flowing, music pumping. We danced on the hard concrete patio from afternoon until one in the morning, when the cops finally came to tell us to shut the racket. One in the morning is an early night by Mama Luz Party Standards, but all in all, the night was so fun. Here are some pic's.

Us with Titi Elsie, Luz's sister.The girls with their titi Luz. Mama Luz had gotten all the ladies in the family Old Navy flag tank tops. By the time I got back from the city, Mama Luz had rearranged my tank top out of existence. Of course she was mad at me about it. Ok, its on.

It ain't a party without some dominos. Here's Tio George, Mama Luz's son, and Papi Guillo, Mama Luz's dad, talking shit.Speaking of Papi Guillo, the mango doesn't fall far from the tree. At 83, he out danced us all, and just as flirtily as he did 10, 20, 60 years ago.The original PR Playa of the family.Don't stop, won't stop. Dancing with her cousin Nelli who drove four hours from Virginia to come to the party, then drove fours back after 10 o'clock.What the -- Guillo!Shake it, babies.Maya keeping our dances alive with Baby Luz.On and on til the break of dawn . . .Group picture! Except Uncle Raymond was balancing his mojito on my head in this one . . .Then Baby Luz risked her life and climbed on top of the house to get this great shot.Happy Birthday, Mama Luz. I love the fuck out of you.I was gonna write about the Manhattan leg of the trip too, but this got too long and Manhattan & Betsy deserve their own post. It will be soon coming; it won't take a month it's been taking me to write a post lately. Thanks for the nudge Pixilyn - much love!


Lauren said...

<3 <3 <3!

Jinxi said...

Fantastic! What a great trip and post.

Thanks for sharing. =)

Marigoldie said...

You're too good for broken teeth! Great stuff, looking forward to the Besty/Babycakes leg of the trip.

jagosaurus said...

This is gorgeous. <3

Anonymous said...

True family love post!! LOVEd it!! And *polite cough* I have this same issue with grime at my own mom's house......gotta love those east coast pile shufflers!! lol
So happy youre back!!! (hugs)


Maven said...

I read this before, didn't comment, and just reread it. Totally love.


lagata said...

I love reading your posts! Isn't family the best - for better or worse :o)

Kristin said...

Awesome post!

Not A Mountain said...

Oh! So amazing! I LOVE it! Stop harrassing me, bitch! I love the pic from the top of the house.

Madame One Tree said...

Amazing story, Amazing pictures, Amazing familia, and welcome back.

Rebel Girl said...

Catching up!