Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Some assembly required


*cue trumpets*

It only took three months. I'm not at all bitter.

Now that we have boxes stacked up to the ceiling, it is extremely evident that our much-anticipated Stuff is not sufficient to fill our house. Commence shopping. Commence budgeting. Commence stress.

We're all about IKEA, duh, because IKEA rocks my world. And DirectBuy. Of have you heard? It's a price club type deal; pay an (enormous) upfront fee, then you get factory prices - like pay $300 for a $1200 couch. Or $500 for $3000 cupboards. (Mostly I just get mad to find out the retail markups.) Anywho, it's a great deal if you have to buy a lot of stuff. Which we do.

(It also helps that my parents are members - we get the benefits without having to pay the fees. Score!)

Of course, buying Stuff at economy prices has its downsides. Namely, WE HAVE TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER.

I complain about it, but at the same time I get a real sense of satisfaction in saying, "I DID THAT."

I, woman, hear me drill.

It reminds me of an incident that occurred years ago.

We were freshly arrived Americans in Podunkville, Brazil. Language limited. We'd just moved into a house from a (gagmesmellyyuckyihatedthatplace) apartment in Sao Paulo. I was putting together a bed when *clap clap clap,* I had visitors.

(Brazilians don't knock on the door; they clap. TRUE STORY.)

A couple stood there, grinning, kindly reminding me of their names, and inviting themselves inside. They indicated I should continue doing whatever I was doing, and they would help me. We bumbled through language barriers, laughing and being altogether ridiculous.

The three of us crowded into the guest bedroom, where there were sideboards and headboards and screws and railings all over the place. I picked up where I left off, trying to assemble a particularly hard piece. I might have struggled just a teensy bit.

At this, my new friends took the hardware from me, and, wagging their fingers, admonished,

"You're too high class to do this stuff. Leave it to us. We're poor. We're used to it."

Is it weird I was offended?

These people were mostly teasing themselves. They meant absolutely no harm. They went on to be some of my nearest and dearest friends. But I still remember, four years later, how disgruntled I was.

Excuse-a moi? You think I can't do this? You think I'm not used to this? You think I'm too hoity-toity to identify a Phillips screwdriver? Let me tell YOU, buster, I put together this whole freaking house. And I'm dang proud of it.

And it occurs to me that Americans value do-it-yourselfers. When I admire a quilt, I go crazy if it's hand made. I may compliment a painting, but if I find out you did it, I'm in conniptions. As soon as we lay a hand on it ourselves, it increases in worth.

Brazilians, on the other hand, display pride for the opposite reason. They point out when they've paid to have something done.

I'm not saying one is right and one is wrong. I'm not going to draw any profound philosophical conclusions. I'm just going to say that I ASSEMBLED THE DESK I'M SITTING AT RIGHT NOW.

And I'm proud of it.


Kristina P. said...

We measure the difficulty of putting things together by the amount of swear words it takes. IKEA is my husband's arch nemesis. There's a reason we don't have the awesome cubby hole bookshelf I want.

Annette Lyon said...

That is a fascinating cultural difference. And it makes sense, knowing where each side is coming from.

And I'm totally with you. I get a huge sense of pride when I see one of my girls wearing a dress I made or seeing the little (itty bitty) cupboard in the half bath that I screwed together.

SO said...

I LOVE putting stuff together! But at the same time would like to have the money to buy furniture that didn't need to be assembled. It's quite the quandary.

gigi said...

You GO GIRL!!! HAve drill will travel!

Becca said...

The best thing about putting your furniture together - its easier to repair!

A drill is my best friend! (Though, I admit I mostly have the hubby use it, and I direct. I am WAY better at understanding strange directions.)

Kazzy said...

Reading the directions stinks too, but it usually helps me.

And we are huge IKEA fans too. Our entire living room is like an advertisement.

DeNae said...

You're such a Puritan, American, Mormon pioneer boot strapper chiquita!! And I'm guessing that most of the commenters who are saying, "YOU GO GIRL!!" are, too!

My problem is, I am so ridiculously left-handed (dyslexic? insane?), I assemble everything backwards. No lie. I look at the picture. Look at the tools. Look at the pieces of, say, the unassembled computer desk, and then proceed to put the keyboard tray on upside down.

Three times.

While my husband sits on the couch and laughs at me.

So I bow to your prowess.

Tessa Nelson said...

I LOVE your posts. I so want to be your friend! lol... no pun intended! You are so fun and quirky! Love it...

Christa Jeanne said...

Haha, I love it! I always feel the same way - hence why all my stuff is from IKEA (well, that, and I'm poor, lol). I really enjoy that sense of accomplishment that comes with sitting in a chair I assembled. It's a little disappointing when I, say, put together the TV stand with one side facing the wrong way and am too lazy/annoyed to fix it, but... y'know... whatevs.

Erin said...

I am so glad your stuff finally arrived. And the clapping thing is so interesting. If you don't hear them clap, do they whistle or rap at the door? Or do they just try to come in? Yay for you for putting your stuff together.

Deb said...

What an amazing observation! It is one that makes total sense once you pointed it out, but it never would have occurred to me.

Congrats on getting your things! Have fun shopping.

Tami said...

I don't mind putting things together, but I have to admit I mostly wait for my husband to play the handy man. There is something about my man in a tool belt that is very sexy.

Lara said...

I love it.

I love to put together furniture and do that kind of stuff. It helps that my hubby is a lot like DeNae up there and it just isn't his thing.

Have fun shopping! And I really hope my moving truck doesn't take 3 months.

Tobi said...

I had a crib break on me once. I couldn't find replacement parts anywhere. I desperately needed a crib for my daughter. So I did what any panic stricken mother does, I bought a new crib. It took me THREE hours to assemble the darn new fangled thing! My daughter laid on the floor next to me and cried for the last 45 minutes of the assembly because she just wanted to go to bed. It was the most pitiful thing I've ever witnessed. Ever since then I comfortably enjoy watching my hubby assemble the furniture.

Kimberly said...

I built our Entertainment Unit. I huge monstrosity of a thing that required the use of a drill, allan wrench, AND two different screw drivers. I display it proudly to visitors.

It only wobbles a little bit.

You are too cute. Have fun settling in!

InkMom said...


I'm heading to IKEA for my anniversary this weekend. I'm so not kidding. Of course, the Coldplay concert won't put a damper on our celebrating either. But enough about me.

Let's talk about Brazilians. My sister-in-law came over today to teach me how to make this really luscious frozen layered dessert -- a custard, a chocolate pudding, some cookies, and some chopped up chocolate almond bars, all topped with some whipped egg whites mixed with table cream (this canned cream is a phenomenon I'm not sure I'm happy to be acquainted with). Delicious! So good! Thank you for helping with ingredients (although, we didn't use any of the ones you helped with today. But you're still awesome.) and I'll think of you when I go have seconds. Right now.

Rachel said...

I love every thing about IKEA except the little tiny wrench that they give you to put everything together with. . .

Also, I have banned myself from IKEA because I find it does bad things to our budget.

Melanie J said...

Like Annette said, it's a fascinating difference. I'm also really proud when I put something together myself but I still only do it when forced to.

The Motherboard said...

I hate, hate, HATE putting stuff together.

(Can I still be a Mormon?)

Joni said...

Easter weekend. Hubby and kids go to in-laws. I stay home and assemble bunkbeds that came in oh so many pieces. Start to finish without a scrap of help.

I feel you, my desk building sista.

And my hubby loves it when I read to him all your Brazilianisms because he knows you speak the truth.

Brittany Ann said...

I love to make things by hand, it makes me feel self sufficient, and it makes me feel all fabulous inside when something says something about it. However, if I had to make something all the time, it would be a real luxury to have someone do it for me.

Willow Tree said...

The first time I changed my own license plates I blogged it. I look forward to DOing stuff now, I completely get what you're saying. :)


Harmony said...

I so freaking love you and all your posts. You totally make me smile you "post-er" . ha ha I'm such a quack-up.