At Mamushka’s — Contemplating Granuelita

Right now, I’m sitting in my mom’s comfy queen-sized bed while she’s at work. Today’s my day off the pay-the-bills-job so I’m busting an all dayer/all nighter grant application fest.  I have 3 apps that are due by tomorrow morning.

Usually on Thursdays from 1pm – 6pm, I’m at my granuelita’s house eating her incomparably delectable healthy Mamaita Cuban fusion food, drinking the BEST Cafe Cubano in all the world made especially with Leche de Cabra (well, both her & my mom’s cafesitos are equally, but distinctively DYNAMITE), and chatting up a 5-hour storm with her about every area of human life from relationships to politics to poetry to nutrition to dreams to spirituality to antique family memories to The World As We Know It & Far Beyond it.  We also run her practical errands — go grocery shopping, go to the bank, go to the post office, etc.

This is the way it’s been for the past 2 1/2 years with us and I LOVE it.

Yet today, I had to cancel our weekly date because I have these three grants due by tomorrow morning, which I had NO time to finish this past week.

Mamaita (a name I’ve called my granuelita since I could comprehend her existence) was sweet as sugar cane about the cancellation and completely understanding, but I still feel dejected about it.  Why is it that I can cancel on others if needed and not feel the wounding melancholia I do when I cancel on my grandmother?

She doesn’t guilt me in the least or make herself a martyr.  In fact, quite the opposite. She’s encouraging of me finishing my grants and assures me that she’s perfectly fine and has plenty to keep her busy and that we’ll see each other next Thursday…

Still, I hate canceling on my grandmother probably more than I hate doing anything else and I rarely, maybe once every 6 months, do it.  It’s feels like gutting a fish — and I’m the fish.

But Why?

I’m just going to spew a stream of conscious thought reasoning for it: …..

Because Mamaita is 79-years old with bad knees and hurting hips who labors for 2 days to cook me that delicately crafted AMAZING food, which is one of the ways she says “I lub ju.”

Because I love sitting in our matching recliners and listening to Mamaita “talk out” her feelings, contemplations, and memories — both positive and negative .  They date as far back as 1930’s Cuba in El Oriente to present day Huntington Park (HPEEE!), California.

Because she’s the most penetrating poet I’ve ever read and heard recite, but she won’t let me film it.  Therefore, all I have of her matchless and rare symposiums are the present moment in which they happen and after they’re gone, my recollections of them.  It’s not just because she’s my grandmother that I say this.  I try not to be loosey goosey or faux with compliments so that when I express them their genuine sentiment is felt.

Because no one has ever or ever will resemble her.  She is a unique conundrum who’s entire essence I comprehend in places within me where words cannot form because only Consciousness exists.

Because our dynamic feels older than the concept of Love and more familiar than the dark bags under my eyes reflected back at me in a bathroom mirror.

Because our imperfections conspire with one another to compliment each other, which destroy all feelings of separateness — leaving us connected, consoled, and amused by each other’s presence.

Because she employs Spanglish better than any other human being on earth, especially when she reminds me to “Live La Vida from Dayee tu Dayee.”

Because she LOVES reading and learning about/discussing the multi-layered grandeur of existence.

Because she swims through the violent pains of her past always determined to wash up Alive on the shore of the present moment.

Because she came from one of the poorest barrios in Cuba (El Barrio de Jesus Maria) — convinced that education was her salvation.  Education, she’s believes, is the food her life used to sustain, nourish, and better itself.

Because she sports red-hair and gold-rimmed glasses more fabulously than any other 79-year old Cuban woman on earth.

Because she loved the Christmas Mix I made her and we listened to the whole CD in one sitting — Singing along to:

1) Navidad Y Año Nuevo – Eydie Gorme

2) “Epoca” – The Gotan Project

3) “Amigo” – Roberto Carlos

4) “Deja Que Suba La Marea” – Omara Portuondo

5) “Al Dibujar esta Rosa” – El Camaron De La Isla

6) “En El Tronco De Un Arbol” – Olga Guillot

7) “Escandalo” – Olga Guillot

8) “Latinos en Estados Unidos” – Celia Cruz

9) “La Negra Tiene Tumbao” – Celia Cruz

10) “Bamboleo” – Celia Cruz

11) “La Vida es un Carnaval” – Celia Cruz

12) “Cuando Volvera” – Celia Cruz

13) “La medicina cubana” – Celia Cruz

14) “Mi Bomba Sono” – Celia Cruz

15) “oh, Freedom” – live at Newport Joan Baez

16) “Blowin’ in the Wind” – Joan Baez

17) “Instead” – Madeline Peyroux

Because she’s HILARIOUS and makes me laugh all the time.  I can only do her stories and sayings justice by relaying them to you in person.  Feel free to ask me about them next time you see me if you’d like.

Because she’s the root from which all the brazen, brilliant, powerful, independent, gutsy, and eccentric women of my family — stem.

Because she’s my grandma, my family, a kindred spirit, and fellow artist.

Because she’s my beloved friend.

Sacrificing Mamaita’s Cafe Con Leche to finish grants and work on career aspirations for professional advancement just feels wrong.

To acknowledge, comprehend, and love her replenishes my sanity.

I realize now that I feel worse for me — for what I’M missing out on by not showing up for Thursdays with Mamaita — than for what she’s missing out on.

APPARENTLY: I feel bad for me!   LOL.  Mamaita is obviously fine with today’s arrangement, understands, and is happy to resume our hang out sesh next week.

I’m the one beating myself across the face for hours with an invisible metal pan for making MYSELF feel bad.

Well … There you have it!  Mystery solved ;p

About vanessalibertadgarcia

Vanessa Libertad Garcia is a Cuban – American writer & filmmaker who grew up between the burbs’ and hoods of Los Angeles. A graduate of Loyola Marymount University, she’s completed a myriad of successful projects that tackle both the film and literary worlds. Ms. Garcia has worked in various capacities as writer, director, and producer on fiction films such as the HSF/McNamara Arts Grant recipient “A Two Woman One Act” and documentaries such as “Maid in America,” which debuted on PBS’ Independent Lens. Two films out of the many, which have screened at top festivals such as The Los Angeles Film Fest, The Habana Film Fest, Cinequest, and Outfest to name a few. Ms. Garcia has had writings published by venerated literary staple Lambda Literary and the up-and-coming Amor Fati. Her first book “The Voting Booth After Dark: Despicable, Embarrassing, Repulsive” is drawing laudable reviews. It’s available for purchase at, barnes&, and many other sites. She presently has a feature film titled “Dear Dios” based on the books’ characters and a second book — the collection of poetry “Bloody Fucking Hell” — in development. View all posts by vanessalibertadgarcia

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