Oh hiiii friends! Almost didn’t see you there from under this pile of shelves and assorted tools that I don’t know how to use!
If you didn’t know, I have the soul of a 75-year old retiree named Marge who just loves to craft. And build. And tell everyone at the E.R. that the power drill was “really being finicky today” as they stitch up my little old lady hands for the millionth time.
I’ve been haphazardly trying to build things since I was a kid; cutting up old doll dresses and trying to sew them back together in new ways, hot-gluing marbles on wine bottles, and even hauling a broken dresser into my apartment and refinishing it.
It’s like I think I’m a carpenter or some shit.
Which I guess I technically am since I come from a carpenter-turned-architect father and a mother who used to make me every complex Halloween costume I demanded with not even a smidge of bitterness or resentment.
I can’t explain it. But there’s something that happens in my brain when I see a piece of wood, some Mason jars, and a handful of mismatched buttons. It’s like a switch goes on and I see it.
A project. A fucking cool project.
Since my first hot-glue gun purchase back in high school, I’ve been slowly getting more and more ambitious with my crafting endeavors.
I started with small things; those bejeweled wine bottles, painting old wood I found on the street and transforming it into coat racks and cutesy accessory shelves.
But this time. This time I did it. I really did it.
I screwed the pooch on this one.
Okay, alright. I hate that saying. But you get it. I really did myself in with this last project, okay you guys.
Before I get knee deep into telling you all the things you should do INSTEAD of this crafting project, let me just tell you that IKEA is a joke, mmkay?
Always has been. You know this already.
And I get to say this because I spent a summer in college behind the register at the Denver location getting my shit rocked by angry moms and impatient people who’d just spent the last 5 hours in a wormhole and blamed me for the very concept of the store.
Assemble yourself? Tools sold separately? You think I came up with this idea?
Okay, so maybe my previous monologue about my childhood as an amateur craftsman would lead you to believe that this was all my doing, but I don’t make the rules, okay lady?
And let me just say. This 10-step, happy-go-lucky, look-how-easy-this-all-is guide is buuuuulllshiiiiit.
Fool me once, well, shit, now I'm just bleeding and covered in cheap wood shavings.
I won’t derail my mission too much here, but suffice it to say that this guide is not legitimate if you live in the United States. Or specifically, if you live in New York. Or if you’re a human being. And especially not if you’re a human being living in New York, U.S.A.
But seeing as I’m Marge, the adorable old lady in your local hood who likes to buy fresh flowers for my table that nobody sees but me cuz' my husband is dead and my grandkids all have microchips in their heads and are too busy anyway, I just had to indulge in my creative calling.
It’s a storage bed. Made of, wait for it…kitchen cabinets!
So much storage! What a great idea for my tiny New York room with no closet cuz who needs a closet when you’re LIVING YOUR DREAMS (lol, me actually it turns out)?!
So anyway there I was, standing in a line at 9:59 AM waiting for a you-take-your-job-way-too-seriously security guard to open up the caution-taped gates into IKEA, land of broken furniture dreams and divorces waiting to happen, and I think I’m gonna be smart and avoid the maze and just cut straight to the customer service reps. Surely if I show them a picture of my dream bed they’ll kindly press a few buttons on their magic computer and summon all the parts and tools I need to bring this fairytale furniture project to life.
Oh, yeah. THAT totally happened.
Instead, I was ordered to go up to the Kitchen’s department, through the maze I was trying to avoid, and take up my request with them.
Cue a 30-minute interlude of shots of me running around in circles, coming across the same rug every time shouting, “DAMN YOU IKEA. DAMN YOU MARGE. DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL” intermixed with light war cries and intermittent sobbing.
At this point, you’d think I’d have had the sense to quit the project altogether.
But Marge never says die (and I already had the Uhaul for another 12 hours…), so I found the Kitchen’s department and committed myself to dropping several hundred dollars on cabinets that I had no idea would work out or not.
If you’re at all curious, the cabinets in the guide are not available in the United States. Just one more piece of evidence that should have alerted me that this project was just too damn extra and I really should have quit while I was ahead.
But no matter, Marge can compromise! We’ll take the other cabinets! They are white just like the ones in the picture that inspired this madness and surely they’ll do the trick.
Oh, Marge. You naïve and adorable little bastard, you.
Purchase made! I regret nothing and also everything and I’m not even worried about this whole cabinet building excursion because ̶
Wait…you guys? How am I supposed to get all this heavy shit (including 3 large MDF boards that I had chopped down to size at the Home Depot after about an hour of trying to defend my honor against at 19-year-old in the Lumber department who didn’t get why I was doing all this when I could just do…I don’t know, literally ANYTHING else) up to my apartment? Or into the truck for that matter? Also, how am I going to park this thing in front of the apartment?
These tiny but important steps were not in my 10-step guide, of course. The next 2 hours proceeded in a very hazardous manner; including but not limited to:
- Scraping my hands on the wood when trying to wrestle them out of the Uhaul
- Parking the Uhaul around the corner and sweating heavily making trips back and hoping for a kind stranger to ask, “Do you need help?” which never happened
- Pulling a back muscle because I can’t lift 50-pound cabinets correctly
- Dragging the boards into the apartment lobby and damaging them
- Saying fuck it and leaving the cabinets and boards in the lobby with sticky notes that read: “Please don’t steal, I’m not strong enough to get these up the stairs” until my roommate came home to help me airlift the heavy fucks into the apartment (shoutout to my main squeeze, Simone, you the real MVP!)
- More intermittent screaming and crying
You really should have been there. It was quite captivating.
No seriously. You should have been there. That would have been a huge help.
And that was just getting the materials, people.
Needless to say, the building part took me an entire day. Mistakes were made. Tears were shed. And a tiny chunk of skin came off my middle finger during a particularly rough tussle with a screwdriver.
I don’t know about y’all, but Marge is starting to sound like a damn psychopath.
But at the end of all the errors and corrections, I’d done it. I’d built the damn thing.
It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, and I had to take a break with the doors and shelves because at that point I feared for my own safety if I continued my course being that tired and bloodied.
But I did it. I built a bed.
If you think this is cool and want to build your own bed just take a moment to slap your own hand across your face. Don’t do it, okay? DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME. DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT SPEND $500 DOLLARS.
Instead, here’s a nifty list of 30 things you can do INSTEAD of building an IKEA storage bed:
- Order a simple boxspring from Amazon or even some cool bed raisers and slide your luggage, shoes, and various shit underneath the bed.
- Pay IKEA $75 to assemble your furniture.
- Pay some rando on Craigslist $15 to assemble your furniture.
- Never go to Pinterest, IKEA.com, or any crafting website to avoid exposure to unrealistic projects.
- Leave your bed on the floor as a statement of how cool and bohemian you are.
- Read a nice book instead.
- Consult your friends and loved ones if you get the urge to build your own bed lasting longer than 4 hours.
- Call up that nice therapist you had that one time, I’m sure she’s into helping you out with this whole thing.
- Take up gardening. But only if by gardening you mean succulents. Those are small and manageable and hardly ever die even if you don’t water them for years at a time.
- Go hang out at the Dog Park and make some new friends.
- Start a nice blog for your mom and cousins in Alabama to read.
- Research if you actually have cousins in Alabama.
- Make your blog about finding your long-lost cousins in Alabama.
- Book a trip to Alabama and enjoy the local culture while you search for your cousins.
- Check your bank account on your mobile. Did you know you can do that now?
- Reflect on all the outrageous purchases you made on your vacation in Alabama.
- Enroll in a 401K, get an IUD, or join the KGB.
- Watch a good Bruce Willis film.
- Watch any Bruce Willis film.
- Listen to Taylor Swift’s newest album.
- Pick a fun recipe that only uses 3 ingredients.
- Research new healthcare plans to enroll in once yours expires in a few days.
- Go to a Bubble Tea place when they’re having a 2 for 1 sale and then shit your pants from all the sugar in those damn things.
- Go to a coffee shop and eavesdrop into a very serious conversation in which a young Indian man asks an elderly white man for advice on "how to get more pussy."
- Get on a bus and get off at a random stop.
- Make an online dating profile.
- Delete your online dating profile.
- Use the money you would have spent on an IKEA storage bed an invest it in Apple. Or even better, something that actually fucking matters. Like cancer research. Or getting all the whales out of Sea World.
- Take a class on Finance.
- Sell a kidney.
As we wrap up March, which is Brain Injury Awareness month and my favorite month of the year, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on this experience and how it relates to my overall journey and ultimately, my fucking unshakable stubbornness.
Losing your independence changes a person.
And in 2014 pretty much everything was taken away from me when my head exploded. It was infuriating. I couldn’t walk, I was exhausted and dizzy all the time, I had to relearn 3rd-grade math problems.
So when I got it all back, I was adamant about doing things on my own, pretty much to a fault.
I didn’t want help reaching things or getting to the bathroom. I wanted to do shit on my own. Because I was an adult. And I wanted to feel like it.
Recovering from my brain injury made me even more stubborn about doing things on my own than I already was. If that’s even fucking possible.
When I try to do something now ̶ lifting a box, reaching for a high shelf, assembling my own furniture ̶ and if that thing is hard for me? Of forget it, I’m for sure doing that thing no matter how many fingers I lose in the process.
I do that thing like my life depends on it.
And if you think about it, it kind of does.
The act of proving to myself every day that I can do something is like my own mini Olympics. And every Gold medal will be the pride and joy of Braintown for decades to come.
I will never be building an IKEA storage bed again.
And honestly thinking about moving in a year or two gives me mild PTSD just thinking about how I’m going to dismantle and probably dispose of this thing.