My grandfather likes to tell me a story about a time that he went backstage with Isaac Stern after a chamber music concert that they watched together. When they met the principle violinist after his performance (apparently of questionable quality), the artist asked “How did you feel about my performance?”
Mr. Stern replied ever so tactfully, “Words cannot express how I feel…”
And that is how I feel about today. Unbelievable.
Me in the hallway (where I was with my roommates once we got smoked out by wood glue vapors):
I am now sitting on a chair that is on top of a pile of furniture and other random stuff in the kitchen, which is not more than 4 feet wide eating beef jerky and drinking iced pomegranate green tea at 8:59 in the AM listening to two guys shoot the breeze in my room in Spanish as they loudly destroy my floor with a large spatula- looking apparatus.
Do you ever sit somewhere and think to yourself, how in the world did I end up here?
Well, today’s amazingness is brought to me by the letters pipe and burst. Four weeks and two days ago, while I was in Virginia with my family for Thanksgiving, I received a 2 am phone call from my roommate, who had, hours before, returned from her own family vacation with her brother who was visiting for a few days. Assuming that something exciting happened (she was vying for a big job at the time— which I’m happy to report, she landed!) or that she was still on California time, I picked up the phone to an overly cautious, “Hey Jenny… How’s it going?”
And the saga began.
“What happened?” was my immediate Eeyore-like response as I knew that something wasn’t good, although I couldn’t imagine what it could possibly be.
“Umm… so… it was 1:30, and me and Zach were sleeping, and Zach woke up from sleeping on the sofa bed, and something was a little weird and he woke me and………… The Apartment is flooded. With scolding hot water.”
The scolding hot water part wouldn’t seem to be worth mentioning, except that the heat, rather than the water, caused 90% ofthe damage and caused our entire wood tile floor to buckle into little mountains that my roommate Lynn compares to moguls…
“Oh” (This response was all I could muster as I was standing in front of my entire family — at least those members with the inclination to stay up until 2 am talking and watching TV), and was too exhausted to garner much else.
“Is there anything you want me to try to save? I got most of the papers and important things that I could see off the floor”— I asked her to move my keepsake box, which, thank goodness, is plastic, and pick up my sheet music collection off the floor. In the end, my keepsakes made it, but most of my sheet music was toast. Soggy toast. Oh well– It’s replaceable. Could have been way worse.
“Good night” was all I could think of to say. Anything I chose to say would inherently be spinning my wheels, because there was absolutely nothing I could do from Virginia. “Oh, and thanks for being there taking care of it– I love you.” Boy did I feel bad that she was stuck with that mess, but I was coming back the next day, so I’d be able to help lighten the load.
The banging is getting louder— they’re moving into the living room– bang– ding–scrape– other miscellaneous onomatopoeias– the life-sized spatula is destroying the floor with what sounds like a mix between a running dishwasher and a box full of falling broken dishes being dropped over and over again. Crash. Ah. Can’t think. LOUD. Breathing. Breathing. Crash. Breathing. Thank goodness. Silence. Whew. That’s nice. Poor guy. Huffing and puffing. Tearing up floors can’t be an altogether amazing job… And we’re back. AH. There are wood shards flying across my face because he’s breaking up the floor right next to the kitchen…
The doorbell rings– it must be the girls back with breakfast and coffee. Yum! Thank goodness for breakfast and coffee… they made me laugh– I lean my head back when I laugh– OW! I hit my head on the leg of my piano bench. Time for breakfast in in hallway (you know, it’s like breakfast in bed, except, in the hallway…)
The last 4 weeks and one day have been laden with insurance adjusters, disorganized contractors, and 8 am phone calls/visits which, and of course I’m being general, went something like this: Phone rings. One of us wakes up, runs across the apartment to get it before the doorman hangs up. “Hello” “The flooring guys are coming up.” “Wait, what?” “They’re here to replace your floors” “But we have furniture. What should we do with our furniture?” Silence… “Ummm… he’s coming up”. This call is immediately and daily followed by a knock at the door. “Hi” “We’re here to do your floors” “Hi… ummm…” “You have furniture. Can you move it so we can start?” “Where?” Silence. These conversations always ended up with a ‘we’ll talk to the management and get back to you’. After 4 reruns of the same episode, finally, we talked made a plan with the flooring guy— and the flooring guy promised to work it out with the management afterward. He did. They are actually here. Bang— Bang— Bang– it continues to get louder. Apparently nailing floorboards is even louder than ripping them up. We would have two days of flooring– move all 5 rooms of furniture into two rooms for Tuesday, they’d re-floor the other three (we have a 5 room apartment- 8 if you count kitchenette and bathrooms). Then we would move all the furniture into the other 3 so they can do the other 2 rooms on Wednesday.
The ‘move’ took us all weekend, but we actually succeeded in getting 5 rooms of furniture into 2 rooms. (Well, 2 1/2 if you count the piano bench and stack of chairs in the kitchen–where I’m still sitting– only now, the girls are in the kitchen with me– one is on a folding chair on her knees pretending two chip clips are action figures and the other is DJing on her computer. Right now, it’s ‘Livin’ on A Prayer’… how incredibly apropos). Ooh a new twist– it’s starting to smell like something between glue and hair dye out of a box– whoa that’s intense. I’m going to go into the hallway to breathe. And maybe nap. Whoo…
I can’t write anymore– I’m exhausted. And we’re doing this all over again tomorrow– and then again next week when they plaster and paint the walls that the floor guys just finished destroying… the Apartment 5M post-diluvian saga continues.
Jenny J Bean