31 January, 2007

from the sublime to the mundane (and even a bit nasty)


















Well, after my glorious celebrity evening, head in the clouds, I was bumped firmly down to earth yesterday. It was just one of those... you know.

It started off perfectly all right, even very nice indeed, with some runny-nosed little Form 3 gulls reading to me on the top floor of the school, and a gorgeous bouquet of flowers from Avery's headmistress, I can't really think why! When I ran into her at school I protested, "Mrs D, what on earth are you doing sending me flowers? But they're lovely, thank you," and she put her hand on my arm and said, "Many reasons, my dear." Now that's a gracious lady.

And then, too, a really sweet lunch out with my husband (who dressed up in one of his new bespoke jackets for the occasion, which he insisted on calling a "date"). We jaunted off to Wright Brothers Oyster House, where I'd sampled oysters on Saturday, and had such fun. We ordered adventurously, which meant that some dishes were hits and some misses. I succumbed to curiosity and had rock oysters "Japanese style," which were topped with wasabi, soy and a tiny bit of pickled ginger. Good, but the flavors masked the oyster. John stuck with a sixer of the special "Claires" I had the other day, and they were sublime (I nicked one from him with his permission). Then I had another experiment, the "Rockefella," a nice warm but unexpectedly raw take on the traditional cheesy spinach version, and they were delicious. Subtle, a nice warm shell but chilly oyster and a delicate spinach puree. John had the petit plat de fruits de mer, which would not have done for me because I am a bit squeamish about some of the things that might have been included (squid, which wasn't, clams, which were). But he was in heaven, and the chilled poached langoustines were completely fresh and delicious. I also tried a cold mussel and while I didn't dislike it, in fact I liked it better than hot, I wouldn't cross the road for it.

Then we completely caved to voyeuristic nosiness and ordered what the two guys sitting next to us each had, which our wonderful New Zealander waitress assured us were good, deep-fried whitebait. Now, perhaps the very word "bait" should have been a clue. Not awful, but baity. Sorry, I don't want to think about eating something's eyeballs, as it stares up at me through admittedly good, crunchy batter. No thanks, but we're glad we tried them because it was going to happen sometime with that menu, and you might as well get it out of the way the first visit. We'll definitely be back. Oh, and an excellent green salad with squashed tomato halves soaking up a lively dressing and little tender beet greens.

Fair enough, until school pickup, then, it was a stellar day. See, I'm such a Scandinavian, that the first seven hours of the day were virtually forgotten in favor of the following, say, four. I went off for my second visit to the acupuncturist at Sen, the extremely chic and posh Chinese health centre in South Moulton Street, chosen for its proximity to the unaffordable watch shop where I'm attempting to get my ancient watch fixed. And it hurt like bloody HE-double hockey sticks! I thought it wasn't supposed to hurt. It's this crazy finger I have where every so often, the first knuckle fills up on the inside with a painful bruise, and then the next day it's so cold I think it's going to fall off. Granted, I have others, but it's annoying, and someone suggested acupuncture. I fell for the "book four appointments and get one free" offer, so now I have to use them up. Ouch! And it's hard to see improvement when success is only... negative. In that it hasn't happened again, YET.

I slunk away feeling hard done-by (to pay for pain is annoying), and came in to face Avery's Extreme Homework Complaints about how, even considering Leap Year, could a boy reach the age of 8 with only one birthday? I was stumped, and even more so when the phone rang with my friend Sarah on the other end, and get this: our book has been plagiarized! Yes, it's not enough that the wretched thing took seven years to write and get published, and that my royalty checks have to roll over onto one another until they reach $50 per quarter, because it's not worth it for University of California to print the smaller checks. No, my "get rich quick scheme," as John kindly refers to it, is now being not only not bought, but stolen!

Here's how it happened. Sarah was approached by some journal or other to review an art history book, recently published by a university press who, for reasons of a potentially litigious nature, shall remain nameless for the time being. Well, she's reading and reading and... hey, she wrote that! Or I did, or both of us, or several of the contributors to our book. She was in such a state of helpless rage that she could hardly be coherent, not to mention I constantly interrupted her to try to stave off Avery's homework panic. Finally we agreed she would email our editor and give her a heads up. Whole sections that she says just leap out to her as having been written by me, shining from the page, unacknowledged. We're not even cited in the bibliography as a source, even though, modesty aside, we're the authorities on the subject he's discussing. We are seething.

To add insult to injury, fully a third of the mussels I bought to steam for our dinner were already opened, which makes them inedible. Good point, that. I always knew that if they didn't open during cooking, you should throw them out, but I didn't know until last night (and a hasty google search by John, the intended victim) that if they do open before cooking, the same applies. Oooh, not only those mussels were steaming. I had it coming out my ears.

Ah well, by midnight all had been fed, one had been read to, sung to, and tucked in, everything was tidy, John asleep. I came upstairs just to sit in the kitchen, still redolent of the thymey, garlicky, buttery mussel sauce, with a little hint of toasted ciabatta in the background, and soaked up a little quiet domestic harmony. I guess life is like that: you're up in the clouds from your crush, then still pretty high up there with your lovely husband slurping down oysters, then you're flat on your back stuck through with needles, then contemplating a lawsuit, then all is peaceful again. Maybe it would be boring without the roller-coaster? I'll think about it and get back to you.

1 comment:

Kristen said...

That is quite a roller coaster of a day. I'll be watching with anticipation to see how this all unfolds. I hope it is in your favor!