25 October 2007

From aliens to fish eggs

Oh, dear readers. It has been quite a day, a day whose tale must begin by gathering the threads of the piano saga. It is nearly two months since we purchased the piano, and it is still not in our apartment. As of today, it is forlornly sitting in the building hallway, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Only this week did we receive the money back from the first moving company. Meanwhile, upon my return from the US I discovered there were several calls from the store where we bought the monster. We called them, only to find that they had gotten so fed up with us not appearing to claim our purchase that they put it back up for sale.

This, needless to say, was perturbing news, and we insisted that they remove the for sale sign. They (justifiably) wanted us to pick up the darn thing, already. So we went a new route (the Mister had already found other potential carriers-up-the-stairs but we gave up on that plan) and decided to get parking reservation from the town government to park a lift, and coordinate the delivery from the store with the arrival of the lift and some extra hands, all designed to just get it up here.

That was all supposed to happen at 8 am, today. But what we discovered at about 7:30 am was that a car was parked in the essential space, and that the city had placed the no-parking-special-reservation placards on the wrong side of the building (for which we had paid 55 euros, of course). We called the number they had given us to get the police to come and move the offending car, several times, but we received brusque insinuations that our plight was unimportant to them and they were shorthanded anyway.

Meanwhile, the lift guys, who had arrived on time, are sitting there and eating our money. With their coffee and cigarettes. For breakfast.

The piano arrived at around 8:30, and everybody drank more coffee and argued and looked up at the windows and gesticulated. (This from what I could see by leaning out of the window where the piano was supposed to enter. The Mister was down in the thick of things.)

Eventually they decided to bring the piano into the building, and so they did. It is now sitting in the entryway, blocking everyone's passage and just inviting people to scrawl graffiti on it, I'm sure.

We paid the lift guys their 100 euroroos, which they had totally earned by sitting there and drinking coffee and gesticulating. So now we have paid some 150 euros to get our piano about half a foot further upwards towards our fourth-floor window. I had to leave for French, the Mister had to catch a plane to Italy, and I just wanted to cry. I had to say goodbye to him, arrive late to French, and find out I had done terribly on my last exam.

But: the Mister to the rescuuuuuuuue! After class I talked to him on the phone. It transpires that before going down to the aiport, he had returned to the parking-reservation place and insisted that it was their mistake (I made the reservation in the first place--in French!--and I can say with confidence that I indicated the CORRECT side/street numbers) and they should give us another free reservation. At the same time, he called the lift company and coordinated a time with them and with the parking reservation guy for this Saturday. And the lift guy said something about not charging us as much the second time, or something, so that's good news. Then, because without the original piano delivery guys who came with the truck this morning, we needed more lifters, he called our ex-neighbor, who agreed to come with some buddies. So he had it all set up before I even got back home.

Which was a relief. Because I was more upset this morning about the daunting thought of renegotiating and coordinating all these people, in French, while the Mister was on his trip, than I was about not having the piano. At this point the piano itself is a chimera, an illusion whose physical reality even now is masked by the hallucinatory fact that it is loitering in my building entryway.

So that was the morning. The afternoon didn't get much better. I took a nap, in part because I hadn't slept well last night. I had woken up this morning with specific, novel-length dream memories of watching a city-sized meteor land on Chicago, and the all-too-real aftermath of a major disaster. It included aliens who landed in various shapes and their alien animal species, and taking care of an alien who I wasn't sure but thought was an alien child. I even remember thinking about the theological implications of discovering that aliens were real, and feeling the old 9-11 kind of fear and chaos, even while I felt surprise that I felt resolute and maybe even brave. (PS: Did you see the series of NY Times articles on sleep and dreams? They were fascinating. Go read them.)

I didn't dream during my nap.

But I did wake up unaware of what time or day it was. Which is why, when the Mister called at around 8:30 pm, probably a few hours after I had woken up, and I looked at the clock, I started shouting. Because I was supposed to have been at choir rehearsal at 7:30. My one regular evening commitment, and I had missed it. Tonight was important, too: the orchestra conductor, the one who will be conducting us during the concert, was there to rehearse us. So I rushed out the door, grabbing my Messiah score, and caught the next bus. And of course it took me longer than usual to get there. I caught the last 50 minutes of rehearsal, though, at least that.

After a day like today, an upside-down and topsy-turvy day, one that started with disaster-dreams and ended with frenetic catching up to my regular schedule, I decided I needed a treat. So I stopped at the french-fry stand that's across the street from us. People have told me that this humble little trailer is actually well-known for delicious frites, but we had never tried them, probably because the last thing you're thinking about as you step outside your front door is "Where can I get some good snacks?" And also because, returning home, my mind is usually occupied with what we have in the refrigerator and what I can make with it, instead of the fried food across the street.

So tonight I tried them, and they were indeed tasty. Oily and hot and salty, freshly cooked, sliced from potatoes today.

And then I got another treat, only a couple of moments ago: the Mister called from Sassari, on the island of Sardinia, and he explained his utterly delicious meal to me. I was both glad I wasn't there (a bunch of older Italian professors speaking in heavy dialect) and sad to have missed the trip (I was planning to go, but it was two days of travel for one day of being there), but happy to eat vicariously through my husband's description of his glorious sampling of Italian regional foods. Including a wine that "tasted like flowers," a special myrtle grappa, and bottarga, which I've heard of but never tried--it's fish eggs that are salted, cured for several months, and pressed. It's used sort of like parmesan, grated over pasta, or served on bread or sliced as hors d'oeuvres.

On that culinary note, I need to escape to bed. I hope I will not have novelesque dreams that I remember in the morning. If I dream, I hope it will be of Italian food and the music I will play on my piano....one of these days.

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