|September 2, 2003|
I naïvely thought that coming out to California meant each entry on The Grub Report would be bursting with heirloom tomatoes, local cheeses, artisan breads, vats of wine, and blue potatoes, but no. No, my present entries cannot really be about food. Why? BECAUSE OUR STUFF HASN'T ARRIVED!!
I don't even think the all-caps does justice to my screaming frustration.
We arrived on the 24th at night with success on our wheels and delirious joy in our hearts. We were so cheesy that we actually took a roundabout way into the city so we could cross the Golden Gate Bridge. During a pit stop, Mathra picked up a bottle of Cline California Zinfandel (to christen our new California apartment) and grabbed a bunch of carnations. Those carnations were not intended for a vase and water. No, as we crossed the Golden Gate, we stuck them in our hair. Yes, we are that corny. but wait, it gets worse: as soon as we hit the Marina, that song actually came on the radio. It was all too perfect. What a pity that perfection couldn't have carried us further -- for the very next morning we got the news that would drive us crazy for the next nine days.
Our moving company, which could be known variously as Gentle Giant/Olympic Moving and Storage/Rainier Overseas Movers/California Movers Express, called to tell us that the driver had experienced "engine difficulties" and that our life would not, in fact, be arriving on the 28-29th, it would be arriving AFTER LABOR DAY! Mathra hung up the phone and told me that we would be living on the floor for another nine days and he muttered, "Teamsters." As in "Engine difficulties my ass! More like I'm taking a long weekend and there's nothing in the world you can possibly do, nanny-nanny-boo-boo!"
Already knowing pre-"engine difficulties" that we would be spending a few days without our stuff, I had the foresight to bring certain things with us in the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Van, namely the shower curtain, Tide, towels, bath mat, and air mattress being the most vital. So we weren't actually sleeping directly on the floor, but that Eddie Bauer aero-bed was the only thing we had to sit on in the entire apartment and it wasn't exactly a day at the spa for non-contortionists to be doing daily tasks with our knees up around our necks. Plus, for some reason, either the sound or the smell of the aero-bed's rubberized plastic freaked Poppadum out to the point where she wouldn't come anywhere near us when we were sitting or sleeping on it. As if she hadn't already been through enough.
What didn't we have? Well, not the money to spend on take-out or restaurants every night, so that meant a trip to the grocery store for prepared and frozen food. And that shouldn't have been a big deal, right? Wrong. I'll have you know that I put aside my chefly disappointment of being unable to immediately prepare wondrous feasts with California produce, herbs, and other foodstuffs for the sake of practicality and necessity. I was fine with living off frozen food for a time.
Enter Adorable Antique Stove That I Fell In Love With When We Rented Current Apartment. We have to light it with a match every time we want to use the oven. Cute and quaint, yes? Fine, but cute and quaint only gets you to a village in the Cotswolds. I could deal with that. In fact, I'd overcome my fear of the whole thing blowing up in my face if we could only buy a box of those extra long kitchen matches that would allow me to light the stove from the bedroom. See? I can adapt. I'm young, I'm flexible, I can be a laid-back Californian. What I can't adapt to is a stove that has a dial marker for 425° when what it really means is 625°! This is where my Midwestern Efficiency joins forces with my East Coast Impatience and beats my Laid-Back Californian to a bloody pulp. The very first night we used our oven, we stuck in a pre-fab Safeway quiche lorraine. It was in for five minutes and came out black. It set off the smoke detector. It made Mathra break a sweat using my hair towel to beat the quiche smoke away from the extra sensitive detector. It made the cats hide. Again. "It" was not the quiche lorraine, "it" was the oven. "Okay," we reasoned, "Maybe we didn't let the oven pre-heat long enough and it came on full blast. We'll do better next time." But we didn't do better next time, nor the time after that or even the time after that. In fact, it became very apparent that the problem wasn't us, the problem was the Adorable Antique Stove That I Fell In Love With When We Rented Current Apartment. It heats itself way hotter than it cares to tell us. Just last night, Mathra put in some frozen quiches from Trader Joe's and set the oven to 275°. Seven minutes later, they were fit to be used as a heating element in the early 1900s. And the fire alarm was screaming obscenities at us. Again. Today our apartment manager is sending his maintenance man to check the Adorable Antique Stove That I Fell In Love With When We Rented Current Apartment's thermostat but I'm all for getting rid of the beautiful old lady in favor of a pimply teenager that works.
Then Mathra set down to see how deep the moving gouge went. It was deep. Deep and pussing. When we got our first estimate on paper, they gave us an insurance quote of $13.50 per thousand dollars of insured goods but then charged us for $20.00 per thousand dollars of insured goods. When Mathra called them on it, citing what we had in writing, they backed down and appeared to give us the $13.50. I say "appeared" because something materialized on our next-to-final quote that recouped our movers' clerical error in their favor. It was an "elevator fee." AN ELEVATOR FEE? As in, "because you actually have an elevator we can't charge you the $2.50 per floor per 100 lbs. we would have so instead we'll charge you $4.00 per 100 lbs. for making it easier on us" kind of elevator fee?! Oh, and our stuff? Weighs 2.9 tons and that's no exaggeration. It's what we get for being literary.
I'm telling you, there's a special place in hell. Last time I visited, I do believe I saw a table reserved for Olympic Moving and Storage.
There have been some good things that have happened since we moved.
The Good: We're living off Trader Joe's guacamole, fire-roasted green salsa, the dilly, minty, cucumbery deliciosity of their special tzatziki, their restaurant-style tortilla chips and chipatis.
The Bad: Even more Tums are now needed, which we don't have BECAUSE OUR STUFF HASN'T ARRIVED!
The Good: I had an interview at Sunset.
The Bad: I was forced to wear a suitcase-crumpled skirt and shirt and not have extra résumés on hand BECAUSE OUR STUFF HASN'T ARRIVED!
The Good: We got a new queen-size bed that doesn't scare Poppadum at all.
The Bad: Even though we SPECIFICALLY changed the delivery time, it arrived a day early when I was at aforementioned interview in Menlo Park and Mathra was at Stanford, and we don't have sheets to fit it BECAUSE OUR STUFF HASN'T ARRIVED!
The Good: We are sleeping more comfortably on our new bed than we did on the aero-bed.
The Bad: The cats wake me up constantly in the middle of the night with their scampers that echo distressingly loud in an empty apartment and I don't have their Disciplinary Squirt Bottle BECAUSE OUR STUFF HASN'T ARRIVED!
When I sue in my dreams it is for: Pain and suffering, loss of potential jobs, loss of sleep, Poppadum's therapy, piles of indigestion tablets for eating burned pre-fab food, ulcer surgery, AA, and just BECAUSE OUR STUFF HASN'T ARRIVED!