April 15th, 2013

Ikea Report: Lessons and Purchases

So if you’re friends with me on Facebook or Twitter, you know I spent last week counting down to a trip to Ikea. Due to logistical (it’s far away and awkward on transit, plus I hate driving) and practical (we don’t actually need that much stuff) reasons, I haven’t been in two years, but it’s come to a point that there were a lot of gaps in the household, and I was very excited to go fill them. Due to my incessant posting, a few people asked me to report on how it went. I have no way of knowing if they were being sarcastic or not, but here we go.

Lessons Learned

1. You can’t get stressed about everything.
I can’t recall how much I’ve complained about it here, but my job has been very stressful since oh, the end of November. Boo. It’s taken a toll on me, but the upside is I no longer have the energy to get stressed about things outside of work that would normally bother me . When the major north-south artery in the city was closed for maintenance, we planned to take the obvious alternative, and when the entrance to *that* was closed, we took Yonge Street, which is about as dumb as trying to drive 15km through parking lots. The waste of time, and the waste of my husband’s patience (we split down gender essentialist lines regarding Ikea [only–well, also musicals] and I was very worried he would lose interest in the whole venture before we’d purchased anything) would normally have agitated me greatly. But at least no one was snapping at me, or asking me to check every line break in the chapter for the 3rd time. So I just rode it out, rather peacefully (for me).

2. Without context, the difference between bad parenting and a bad day is very hard to see. Why not just assume the best of people?
Ikea is filled with children and the children, not being major stakeholders in couch-purchasing, are beserk. It was also a rainy Saturday and I thought perhaps a few families were there as a last resort. Other than a few free-range children in the cafeteria who threatened to send my tray into my chest, most of the kids there were content to bother each other or their folks, not strangers, and some were really cute. And really, if you’re easily irritated by cranky children misbehaving, you don’t really belong at Ikea.

3. Some Ikea stuff is not all that.
When I was younger, I was quite enamoured at how Ikea stuff all matched, and how I could afford it all. I thought people who were snobby about particle board and flimsiness or some aesthetic criteria I didn’t care about were, well, snobs. I still basically think that–Ikea is good enough for “all normal purposes” as they say, and if my Billy bookcase isn’t particularly nice, it isn’t particularly ugly, either. But for the first time, I did see some ugly things at Ikea this trip, though. I’m not sure whether their stuff is getting less nice, or this is just something that happens to women in their mid-thirties.

4. If something comes with sauce, and you ask for it without sauce, it won’t be good.
I learn this lesson over and over, and always forget. I got the cafeteria salmon without hollandaise because, in case you don’t know. hollandaise is basically stealthy mayonnaise, a substance I loathe (other things that are secretly mayonnaise include: aioli, tartar sauce, ranch dressing, Russian dressing, the pink stuff in spicy maki rolls, and certain brands of Caesar dressing. Mayonnaise is horribly insidious, and can sneak in anywhere.) Anyway, the salmon was super-dry, but the Daim cake made up for it, though it’s been renamed something super-literal like “almond buttercream biscuit cake.” I thought perhaps I would learn to make it, I love it so much, but no dice–if you go to the link above, you’ll see Daim cake is actually made out of Daims. Which is not a thing, as far as I know. So…no.

Items Purchased

Kay, enough boring lessons–here’s what we bought.

1) A purple lampshade for the Not lamp I purchased at a Montreal Ikea in the late 1990s, whose shade smashed when I knocked it over last week. The new shade is preventing the living room from being an uninhabitable blinding horrible place, but it looks weird on the base and is going to get replaced as soon as I gather strength. Small fail. $9.

2) A geometric patterned brown doormat. Looks perfect in front of the door, goes well with the hardwood, kitten adores it and rolls on her back on it, kicking her tiny feet (this was part of the plan). Big win. $40.

3) Fuzzy blue mat that goes in the middle of my office for no discernible reason except that I liked it and it was cheap. Cats not too interested, but looks reasonably nice in my office. Small win. $10.

4) Striped turquoise napkins. Because everyone needs napkins, right? Haven’t used them yet. $4.

5) Malm nightstand. In a somewhat sad metaphor, both my husband and I entered our marriage with only one nightstand each. His is from Ikea, a Hemnes in chestnut, a few years old. Mine was from my parents’ basement, so I figured I’d discard it and match up with him. Only Ikea has discontinued that chestnut colour in the Hemnes line, or maybe everywhere. It comes in grey, blue, red, and white–no actual natural-looking woods anymore. This was the point in the expedition when I had been there for a while and was getting tired and it seemed to matter a LOT that I couldn’t buy that matching nightstand. I wandered around in circles for a while, hunting, as if perhaps the chestnut nightstand was hiding. I was super-sad. Then I came to my senses, and got on with my life. I wound up with a birch Malm, which matches my bureau. Haven’t put it together yet, so who knows how this story ends. $69.

6) Laundry hamper on wheels, like all the cool university students in our building have. Again, not yet assembled, but I’m really hopeful about this one. $35.

When we got home, we collapsed on the couch and popped in a *30 Rock* DVD–surprise, it was the Ikea episode where Liz and Chris get into a fight there. We congratulated each other on our non-fightingness, and whiled away the evening in the gentle glow of our modest purchases.

March 7th, 2011


I am moving at the end of March. Not moving blogs–we did that already–actually physically cleaning, evaluating, boxing, and lugging every stupid piece of capitalism I own and hauling it all across the city where I can repeat the process in reverse. It makes me want to weep a little bit. The fact that I will be very very happy in my new situation once the move is over cannot completely negate the fact that, before that, I won’t be.

One cheering thing is that I am moving in with someone who has nicer stuff than I do, which means that I get to get rid of some things with which my relationship has grown rather stale. And this could be cheerful for you, too, if you are in need of some furniture that, while not particularly exciting or new, is certainly serviceable, comfortable, and non-hideous.

I think most of this stuff is too non-new to charge money for, so basically if you have the means to transport it, the following is yours for a handshake:

–double bed, box spring, and metal bed frame (plus a couple pillows)
–eight-drawer bureau (blond wood, though the previous own [not me] wallpapered every other drawer with tasteful blue wallpaper–me, I like the effect]
–black sling chair
–tall bookcase (dark wood veneer)
–short white bookcase (this is the one piece that is actually ugly, because white furniture does not stay white very long, and I bought this piece used in 1998; but it does fulfill its role of holding books and the tv [on top] very well)
–hutch from a wood veneer desk, which I am using as a bookshelf

I could certainly supply photos, should you be interested, but I think the people who would actually like this furniture would be those for whom appearance is not an issue. Drop me a note if this is you: rebeccabooks@excite.com

December 28th, 2010

Reverb 28

What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today. (Author: Tara Sophia Mohr) (www.reverb10.com)

One thing I have learned from Reverb is that I cannot introspect for a month straight without starting to repeat myself. As I have said several times this month, the big things I want to do in 2011 is move and start a new book. There are other things I want to *happen* in 2011–*The Big Dream* being published, safe delivery of my friend M’s new baby, world peace–but I can’t really affect those. Of things I have control over, moving and the new book are paramount.

How will I feel when I live somewhere else? Uh, happy? But achieving any goal would make me happy. How about, less like someone is going to steal my bathtowel out of the basement washing machine? (this happened) Less convinced it’s only a matter of time until I get bedbugs? Oh, here’s a good one: more mature. This because I have never discarded a piece of furniture once I’ve acquired it, and I have only acquired a couple new things since I graduated undergrad. So basically, my apartment still looks like student housing and I’m about ready to be done with that.

The first two, there’s simply no way I can feel that way unless I move. For the third…I suppose maturity comes from within, I just have to *think* that way and I will feel it, blah blah blah. In reality, all steps towards the move–talking, planning, searching the listings, giving away/sorting my stuff, all feels like useful progress. So we’ll count those. Other things that make me feel mature but are somewhat unrelated to moving…doing a good job at work, not feeling awkward at a party (doesn’t happen all that often), giving gifts (who knows why for that last one, but I always do).

This is sort of a random exercise, because I don’t frankly care what *else* I can do to feel like I would if I moved; I want to actually do *that* and be done with it.

November 7th, 2009

Edmonton: the first 30 hours

Since arriving in Edmonton, I have done many things. I rode in a cab for half an hour without anyone except the driver (I have a taxi thing), I stayed up really late, I ran windsprints, I bought sweaters, I ate little tiny tacos, and mainly, I got to hang with AMT for enough time to talk about nonsense (my favourite sport). When I call someone long distance, I feel I have to have A+ material; when we are in the same room, I feel comfortable enough to blather.

Because the flight was in the middle of the night, I did not get the customary amount of reading done, though I did read a couple excellent essays in an ancient issue of Arc (2008, seriously, I’m behind). I was basically catatonic for the entire flight–not quite asleep, not quite awake. But again, no real jetlag, though I was pretty excited to go to sleep last night.

Today I am bright-eyed and ready to go meet AMT at her class. I get charge of the house keys and am determined to live up to the responsibility. Already, it’s not going so well, as I can’t figure out how to turn off several of her lamps, and being the person I am (a person who fears leaving lamps turned on all day will result in fire) I wound up unplugging them. Go, me!!

Ok, I’m to the streets of Edmonton, where it is bright and sunny and reasonably warm, but there is a wind warning in effect. Also, here they sell sandwiches at the Shoppers’ Drug Mart. It’s a whole other world.


November 6th, 2008

Everyone is awesome today

1) Today Fred reminds us all that she predicted Tuesday’s historic victory for Obama in July 2004. Today *I* would like to remind you all that I have been saying since the 90s that Fred is a genius, so really, reflected glory ought be mine. I predict further that somehow (from behind the scenes, most like) Fred also will do great things for government. Check back in 4.

2) Evie Christie‘s Desk Space is always awesome for literary voyeurism, but Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer‘s entry is bonus good because it not only talks about what she’s working on, it features a clip!

3) The new issue of The New Quarterly arrived last night, packed with goodness, including the much anticipated “On a Picnic” by the amazing Kerry Clare.

I am well pleased with our universe at the moment, what with all of the above, plus a democratic president-elect, plus 15-degree weather in November, plus…oh, maybe I’ll have some pudding now!

You’re in then you’re out

October 6th, 2008

This Week

My desk goes live! The Walrus review of *Once* goes on-line. And on Wednesday, Mark Kingwell, Joshua Glenn and Seth launch The Idler’s Glossary at the Gladstone. They’re doing a “Twelve Step Program for Idlers”–I’m not sure if it’s to become one or to stop being one. I’m hoping for the former, as I’m sure I could use 6 or 8 of those steps. I worked most of the weekend, and am tired now.

King’s taking back the throne / the useless seeds are sown

So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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