It should be a metaphor for something, and it probably is, but honestly, this is just a tale of building a bookcase. I bought a new bookcase for the very first time the other night. It’s a Target standard issue, essentially Ikea furniture (1). But it’s new and it’s for the new place. It might seem counterintuitive to buy more furniture for a smaller place, but I have a lot of books and it seems wise to get them somewhere proper to go.
I was with my friend, M, in Target and was also looking for bed risers. He joked that I should just get cinder blocks, which made me laugh, because for many a year, I used to have a bookcase made of cinder blocks and lumber, and I knew I also wanted to get a bookcase that night. The old bookcase was easy to move in that I was able to break it down to its most simple parts, but it was a pain in the ass in that its most basic elements consisted of boards and really fucking heavy cinder blocks.
I saw the bookcase the other day and was shocked that a five shelf bookcase was only $30. Mark asked me if I had tools, and I said that I did. I was hoping that I had the *right* tools, and that I wouldn’t need some crazy-sized Allen wrench I didn’t have. When I started to read the directions tonight, I found out that yes, I *did* have the right tools and was relieved. Screwdriver and hammer, it seemed, and I wasn’t even *supposed* to use an electric one. I could handle this.
By and large, I can, too. It just looked a little like my life. Took a little longer than expected and came out with a few scars and blemishes. I wasn’t able to completely finish the bookcase or this post before I had to step out … I don’t remember where I went; this weekend was so beautiful that I had to take breaks from cleaning and rearranging to get the hell out into the summer that was being bestowed on us by the benevolent weather gods who were concurrently making it snow on Arizona (that’s what you get for getting cuckoo with your laws against humanity, AZ).
I found out that I could handle screwing together the bookcase with relative ease, but at one point i had not paid attention to the finished/unfinished sides, and had to take them back apart and re-do things. Oh, sigh. Sigh le vie. And there were “hidden cams.” What on earth? They were simple enough, and things came together without much of a hitch. However, as I read the directions, I was somewhat shockingly perplexed to find that the flimsy cardboard back (that was NOT accidental material) needed to be put on the bookcase — otherwise the whole thing “would collapse.” Really? That’s the glue that’s going to hold this bad boy together? That’s disconcerting, to say the least.
It also proved to be the hardest part to get right. While the first section of backing got nailed on fine, the second section proved a little more difficult. I managed to get it all straightened out (literally and figuratively), and voila! Bookcase. A new bookcase for a new apartment for a bunch of old books and some old ideas about what I can and cannot accomplish. It’s coming together. It’s coming together.
(1) When did Ikea go from the standard of “Oh, my God, we’re so happy to have your cool, new, modern, affordable (a) Swedish furniture in our country” to “disposable pieces of crap you have to put together yourself with only pictures for directions (b)?” Wasn’t there a time when it was all new and lovely and everyone was madly in love with Ikea? Why is Ikea now said with a smirk or a grimace or some sort of huffy scoff as if to say, “Oh, that trashy bougie shit.”
(a) Kind of affordable. I think you can order whole kitchens from them now, and I think they have furniture that can get pretty spendy at this point.
(b) My first encounter with said directions wasn’t even really my own. It was watching my then roommate, AM, put together a coffee table (one that would subsequently have a seemingly permanent counter-culture Ikea display of marijuana and its various accoutrements (i): Yahtzee, Parliaments, and a rotating snack food (there was the summer AM and her friend, K, taught me the joy of pistachios). She got to work on that coffee table one afternoon, and as the hour/s passed and she grew increasingly frustrated, I marveled at her refusal to give up. She started to get pretty pissed at one point, and I recognized that point in a process that required tools and some sort of schematics, and I wasn’t sure if it had been me that I wouldn’t have taken the hammer and smashed the whole thing to bits. But she took a break, gritted her teeth, and eventually got the whole thing finished, despite the lack of written instructions — ones in English, anyway. I don’t know how much the words in Swedish were helping.
(i) AM also was the best bowl scraper I ever knew. Now, these were in my lean days, where the homegrown hydroponic wasn’t flowing freely just yet (no, Mom, if you read this, I never grew weed. I just knew people who did). And sometimes, we just didn’t have enough ganja to get us through to the next bag, wherever and whenever it was coming. Not to mention, we weren’t just living high on the hog — as is still today’s practice I’m struggling hard to beat, I was living paycheck to paycheck. I can’t speak for AM.
So, there were times, in all manner of desperation, that a good old-fashioned resin ball needed to be procured. And AM was the engineer to do it. She’d get out all manner of tools, real and fancied, and get to getting. It was being between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, smoking resin, or pot covered in it, is one of the most disgusting things you can do. On the other hand, you can still manage to get a meager high from it, if you are so inclined. And if you had the skills to get as much of it out of your well-used devices as AM did, sometimes, *sometimes,* it was 10% worth the effort. That’s why I left it up to her. I’d try, and end up with more tar on my hands than gold for the bowl. Thank goodness I met my best friend’s friend, who became my boyfriend, eventually to be AM’s husband, who ended the need for resin.