Back to Reality

My dear blog peeps, I’m so sorry to have left y’all abandoned and alone for so many days!  I hope you will find it in your gracious hearts to forgive me, or at least pity me for what the last week of my Christmas break turned into…

So, about that last week.  It could be summed up thusly:  stank sewer water cleanup, snow, and sickitude, all of the first degree.

The Stank Sewer Water Cleanup

Remember the disgraceful mess outside my mother’s house caused by the digging for a clog in the pipe outside?  Well, what I may not have noted was that the flood in the basement was two inches high in some places, and that the water was backed-up drained water from household use, which included sink water, bathwater, and….  the rest I leave to your imagination.  The plumbers who came managed to drain the water away, but of course they were not responsible for cleaning up the rest of the mess, their sole job being to dig up the entirety of my mom’s lawn and remove the clog.  Obviously.

So, last Wednesday (the day before New Year’s Eve), after attending the wake for Juan Diego’s grandfather (JD being Baby Bel’s wonderful, nutty, and mega-tall boyfriend) who sadly died a few days after Christmas, Baby Bel and I dressed in our mankiest clothes, screwed up our courage, blasted some music, and cleaned out the basement (well, most of it–we left a closet for the boys to have their own nasty cleaning experience).  We stuffed garbage bags with all the junk that had been stored on the floor and threw away half the contents of the basement.  We tossed toys that made it from my 80’s childhood into her 90’s one and joked that our childhoods had been washed away by the sewer water and sang loudly any time we were tempted to puke at the nastiness of the basement.  We doused the floors with ammonia and rinsed and mopped, times three or four.  We did a damn good job and finished in about two hours, which was as long as we could stand the ammonia and stinkwater fumes without fainting, and I’m sure we both dreamed of that foul basement.

The whole disgusting experience served to further strengthen my stance on home ownership:  no thanks.  I’d rather be very Continental and rent for the rest of my days–because if MY basement ever flooded, I’d pick up my scant belongings and move.

The Snow

I lived in Buffalo for plenty enough years to accept that yes, it snows.  But this time, the snow came with extremely cold temperatures–I’m talking a day-time high of 11 F on one particular joy of a winter day.  Not only did it snow every day for that last week, but the skies were 3 pm-dark ALL DAY LONG.  So there were no nice winter walks for coffee and bookstore fun, no ice-skating, no park runs, no nothing.  The family and I just huddled, shivered, and froze.

The Sickitude

As if seeing her basement provide a display of dirty waterworks weren’t enough, my mother spent the last week of my visit in a fog of flu with a helping of ear infection.  She’s a tough one and generally powers through anything, but this thing knocked her out and she spent the week in bed, tossing and turning and looking extremely pitiful.  Though she tried to keep us all far away, we still tended to her like dutiful daughters.

Unfortunately, some of her germs must have drifted my way and, combined with the germery that was the basement cleanup job, they did a number on me too.  On New Year’s Eve I woke up with the worst stomachache I’d ever had and some nasty flu-like symptoms as well.  To make matters worse, I had been the back-up hostess for New Year’s celebrations (given my mom’s state) and I had to back out of making dinner and merriness for the family and friends that night, which was extremely upsetting to me (yeah, I love my family and friends, but I also love hosting like an adult with grown-up china and sufficient cutlery).

Luckily, the stomach pains subsided long enough for me to get showered and dressed on New Year’s Eve and I managed to join the sisters, sister boyfriends, and a couple of sister friends downstairs, where I presided over kindly muted festivities from underneath the blankets on my sick couch.  I toasted the New Year with a tiny sip of champagne, threw water out over my shoulder on the porch to get rid of my bad luck (Puerto Rican tradition) right afterwards, went upstairs with the elephant-stampeding sisters and fam to wish my mother Happy New Year’s from six feet away, and then fell asleep while the Wii party went on around me.

After that, it was two more days before I felt normal, and I didn’t actually make it out of the house in a unmedicated state until Sunday.  I did, however, make Mr. Laura drag me out to my favorite bookstore on Saturday afternoon–sometimes you have to risk vomit and subsequent embarrassment for books, and no way was I letting this bug stop me from stocking up on good reads for the next six months in Trinidad.

But, apart from that (ha!), the visit home was an overall score!  Here are some pictures of the rest of the visit, from New Year’s Eve on, just to prove my point:

New Year's Eve family time, the photo taken from my sick couch--Miggi, Little A, The Mop, and Baby Bel joke it up

Minxy, Baby Bel, and yours truly, wearing masks before sitting with Sick Mama, as per her request the day she insisted she had "the H1N1, oy"

Minxy, Little A, Baby Bel and her Juan Diego--this is what happens when my family gets together to watch movies

Italian sausage and peppers pasta, courtesy of Baby Bel's cooking chops

Little A and Baby Bel enjoying snacks during a Flight of the Conchords marathon

The snow, the snow, the snow...

"Our" dog (borrowed from next door), the massively fat Bella

Hamming with Mamalicious and Little A before jumping on my jet plane

On a zen-like and very un-Laura tip, I feel ridiculously proud of myself for good behavior  on this break, despite the circumstances.  To wit:

  • I did not revert to the competitive-eating antics of yore.
  • I ran AND did strength training five times in the first week-ish (before disaster hit), and even had a 5K PR of 31:40!
  • I did not stress out, mini-mom-style, about much of anything this time around.   Being an older sister (and by a lot to the youngest two), my visits home tends to bring out a people-organizing, big-pots-of-food-making, stressy-and-naggy-and lectur-y side of me that I really hate, because I’m not like that in my day-to-day life.  I used to feel very old and very uncool after visits home because I would fall into that behavior and then beat myself up for it afterwards (your chica has guilt complexes that would make a good Catholic marvel).  I had resolved I would NOT revert to this me this time.  And surprise surprise,  I didn’t, and we still ate and came and went and had a great time–a better time, dare I say, for it.
  • I didn’t sob at the airport for the two hours between parting with the fam and getting on the flight, which is my usual MO.  (I did, however, cry three times on Monday before heading to the airport, so it may have been that I was out of tears).  This is a serious accomplishment because I am a HUGE weeper when I leave home and it’s a source of great amusement to my family.  Yes, I’ve lived away from home (and mostly out of the US) for eight years now, and I still cry like a five year old, snotfully and needing plenty of tissues, every single time I leave.  Whatever, I’m not ashamed–and they DO say that crying (or not bottling it up) keeps you young.
  • My suitcases were packed but not overweight, despite undertaking my usual twice-yearly-when-at-home shopping binge.

So that’s my visit home.


And, after an uneventful but tiring red-eye flight back to Trinidad on Monday night, I made it to my humble abode yesterday morning, unpacked my stuff, and have restarted my campaign to be favorite owner to the dog and a good blogger worthy of your reading exertions.  Regular outfit/dinner/etc. blogging will resume after this post, once I dust off the mirror and plate cobwebs–and get Mr. Laura to fix our laptop’s internet-getting card whatchamacallit, which has refused to connect to the internet since we poked and prodded at its security settings to get wifi access at JFK airport on Monday.