Saturday, March 24, 2007

It Started With Lipstick

This is a piece of clip art. I figure I'd better make that clear.

Sometimes you have your day mapped out and it looks rather busy but generally you're okay with it. Then, one little thing goes wrong and it's as if the universe knocked over the first domino in a sequence of misfortune.

Yesterday, my first domino was a student who wore lipstick. She arrived ten minutes late for her lesson then wanted a 90-minute lesson instead of the 60 she'd planned. Since I'd slotted the hour between her lesson and some telephone freelance work I had to do as my lunch time, the circumstances squeezed my free time down to 15 minutes. Instead of the nice curry I'd planned, I scarfed down leftover chicken on crackers before the phone started ringing.

The first student who I was supposed to talk to on the phone called simply to say that he couldn't call and wanted to call at the end. This robbed me of 15 minutes on the other side of my free time between lessons so I had to rush around and clean up the coffee cups and coffee pot before my next in-person private student came along.

This rushed clean-up resulted in me missing a lipstick smudge on my first student's coffee cup. Bear in mind that I don't wear lipstick so I don't often have to clean it off of cups and it doesn't come off easily in some cases. The top rim of the cup was clean but there was a remnant of the smudge a bit lower down. While I was teaching my second student, I noticed this just as he took a drink and was pretty mortified. What was worse was that I'm sure he noticed as well.

After he left, I was hoping the smudge was a shadow and not lipstick and I tentatively reached for the (mostly full) cup to take it into the kitchen and I knocked it off the table and spilled coffee all over the living room carpet. I had to rush and try to clean it up before it stained the carpet. There's now a huge wet spot in front of the sofa and I'm pretty sure there will still be a stain.

At this time, I'm pretty tired from working all afternoon and early evening and a bit of stressed but I have to get dinner together. I planned on making mustard dill burgers (recipe to be posted soon) and I plop all the ground chicken in the bowl and add the spices but when I get to the dill, the jar is nearly empty. The lid had become dislodged while the jar was in the refrigerator and, since I store spices on their side in my small Japanese refrigerator, most of the spice had leaked out onto the shelf.

Even though I'm tired, I have to hop on the bike and go buy dill since you can't have mustard dill burgers with a tiny bit of dill. After all, you need enough to get a nifty pickle flavor in the burger or it's pretty much a plain burger with mustard mixed in. I crammed the partially completed burger mix into the refrigerator and headed off to the nearest store which I know sells "Gaban" brand spices (same brand as my current jar of dill). I search their shelf three times and there's no dill.

Dill isn't a spice you encounter much in Japanese cuisine so I figure I'll have better luck at Queen's Isetan since it tends to carry more imported food. I hop back on the bike and head to that shop (which is further from my home) and search their shelves. You can guess that the dominoes are still falling at this point. There's no joy for me on the dill front. Having no choice, I head for a store that is even further out which also stocks Gaban spices where I'm nearly certain I bought my first jar of dill.

This store is up an incline and I'm riding at night with a friction lamp on my bike and what I soon notice is a low front tire. This is a recipe for hard pedaling. All the traffic lights go against me as I ride there and most of the pedestrians are absorbed in their cell phones or simply meandering all over the sidewalk in a world of their own. It takes a bit of self-control not to resort to aggressively ring my bell at these dreamy obstacles.

When I get to the last shop and check out the spice rack, of course, I see no dill as I carefully scan all the bottle labels. Given that I'm so sure I bought dill at this place before, I check the titles on the rack in addition to the labels and discover that there is dill but it's hidden behind a misplaced bottle of a more common spice that someone has placed in front of it. Sometimes, fate has to be tricky to keep those dominoes of misfortune tumbling but I was triumphant. I also decided a pint of Lady Borden chocolate ice cream was now in order.

An hour after I shoved my bowl of ground chicken into the refrigerator, I trudge back into the apartment and finish up preparation for the burgers. They're wrapped and ready for cooking later and I go into the bedroom to finally relax. On the way in, I notice that there is a piece of orange plastic lying next to my orange iBook. This does not bode well. I pick up the plastic and it's the door to my CD-ROM drive. Somehow, for the first time ever, it simply fell off.

At this point, I'm thinking that if I even try to snap it back on, it'll probably break but I brave the dangers and it goes back on (seemingly) without incident. I haven't tested it yet so it may yet have an unhappy surprise in mind for me.

I realize that none of this constitutes a tragedy but this was definitely a day of a good many paper-cut-size pains. Days like this wouldn't be so bad if they were counterbalanced by the toppling of dominoes of good fortune on a similar number of days but life just doesn't work that way. Here's hoping today is a better day.


Amy said...

Mmm, mustard dill burgers? I'm waiting for the recipe!

Realizing I'm out of a key ingredient right in the middle of a recipe is a very frequent occurrence for me. I've gone on a lot of frantic shopping expeditions like yours, and so many of them end in disappointment that now a missing ingredient means the meal is put off until the next day. For these occasions, I keep my shelves stocked with instant noodles, retort curry and other emergency foods.

I think tiny the tiny kitchens here are to blame. Back home I was in the habit of taking out all the ingredients and having them ready before I started cooking, but in Japan who has the counter space for that?

Anyway, sounds like you really deserved that ice cream. Hope you enjoyed it!

Shari said...

Hi, Amy and thanks for your comment. :-)

I wish I could blame my small kitchen but I think that I just made an assumption in this case which was wrong. Well, sort of, I assumed most of my dill wouldn't spill out of the bottle into the fridge.

I did enjoy that ice cream. ;-)

Nanny Haha said...

The fact that your visitor probably saw the smudge and yet chose not to make a scene just goes to show how even-keeled and polite the Japanese really are! I love that about them. They are really quite tolerant and slow to anger in ways that we westerners are not. I know PLENTY of Americans who would have stopped you in your tracks and shown disgust at the cup. Some would make a scene and get all offended. Personally, I would have pointed it out but made a joke so my host wouldn't be embarassed.