Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Married Ladies' Guide to Buying a Desk in 25 Steps

Remember when I said that I quit my job to live at 150% of the federal poverty level?  Yeah, I may have exaggerated a little bit.  Oh, the figure is correct – it’s the “living” part that was a bit overgenerous. So now we get to race against the savings to figure out how to cover the shortfall.  Fun!

Of course, for my part, I immediately stopped all unnecessary spending.  Right about that time, the definition of "unnecessary" became wonderfully fluid.  Spending money is just so soothing.  And a desk felt necessary.  

So, from the expert, this is how to buy a desk in 25 steps: 

Step 1: Resolve—you are buying a DESK.  Woo!

Step 2: Spend an hour Googling for the absolute cheapest desk possible.  It is time you learned to live on a micro-budget.  Gasp at prices.  Decide to leave husband out of this particular decision loop.  You don't need help for this particular project.  And by "help" I mean "supervision."  Or "input."  Are those the same?

Step 3: Decide to buy a tabletop and legs separately.  Congratulate yourself on this brilliant bit of frugality.  Hey, Ikea sells that stuff!  Let's be honest, Ikea sells garbage furniture, but it's good for ideas.  It can’t hurt just to go look.  JUST TO LOOK.

Step 4: Bring the truck. 

Step 5: Remember a recent discussion you had about “fake productivity tasks” – and how accomplishing irrelevancies is just an “elevated form of procrastination.”  Ignore the little cartoon thunderhead that starts to hover around you.  It’s going to follow you around, zapping you with uncomfortable little bolts of electricity throughout the day.  Screw that thing: you are buying a DESK!

Step 6: Have a breakfast of Swedish meatbølls and lingønberry juice boxes at the Ikea Café –you need your strength.  Get some for your portable shopping buddy.  Remember she doesn’t like meatbølls.  Bonus: more for you! Get her some macaroni. Wait, macarøni?

So good you'll use alternate character sets! Image (c) dennisandluba via flickr

Step 7: Follow the arrows through the showroom.  Play house in each little display room, and imagine living in a 384 sq. ft. house  Imagine living in a 10,000 sq. ft. house where your living space took up 384 sq. ft. in the corner.  Remember that you do not need to take up skateboarding just because you are awesome at it on the Wii. 

Step 8: Stop at the home office section.  Ask a salesperson to help with the furniture that’s labelled with a tag that says. “Ask a Salesperson For Help.”  Wait.

Step 9: Keep waiting.  Make huffy noises.  Send a bitchy tweet.  Feel like you're accomplishing something!  Swat the storm cloud.

Step 10: Chase down another salesperson, but take your eyes off her for ½ second when shopping buddy takes a wrong turn.  Lose the salesperson.

Step 11: Let shopping buddy play at one of those little toy stations so that she has something to do while you enter a rage-fueled dissociative fugue state.

Step 12: Figure it out.  Head for the warehouse. Yell at a guy who doesn’t look before swinging around with a heavy box, hitting your cart and very nearly wiping out your shopping buddy.  Smirk when, the next time he swings around with the box, he hits his wife.

Step 13: Realize that the desk requires 1,357 pieces to assemble.  Think more about your grandiose theories of gender and behavior.  Do women prefer assembling to building because it creates an empathetic connection with the kit creator?  Do men build from scratch to assert dominance over nature?  Think about implications of empathy-centered personality in light of recent catastrophic career move. 

Step 14: Full-on existential crisis.  Not even kidding. 

Søren Kierkegaard, you magnificent bastard!  I totally get you now!
Step 15: Almost wipe out your shopping buddy while swinging around with a heavy box.  Realize you’re going to harm your child if someone doesn’t rescue you from your ridiculous plan.  To buy furniture.  What did you think I meant?

Step 16: Summon the white knight.  Stay calm when he asks the following: “You want me to drive for over an hour to come help you load the car?  How much are you spending?”  In medieval times, he wouldn’t cop attitude with fair lady.  Although mouthy medieval ladies wouldn't get to go charging off to slay home-office dragons.  Resolve to treat white knight with cool noblesse oblige upon arrival. Wait, who are you kidding? You're serfs now.

Step 17: Settle into a deserted warehouse aisle for the next hour.  Pretend you are in a giant hamster cage. 

Step 18: Race up and down the aisle.  Lose on purpose half the time.  Lose once for real. 

Step 19: You left your purse at the end of the aisle.  Send your buddy to get it. (Mild language warning.)

Step 20: Have a talk about not having wrecks at the store anymore.  Play Fruit Ninja instead.

Step 21: Think about writing a blog post. Wonder why people read you.  Wonder what it would be like if lots of people did.  Wonder why your readers tend to skew libertarian. Wonder if you are too good for fan service. Curse the government. 

Step 22: More Fruit Ninja.

Step 23: Look, it’s white knight!  Brace for impact.  He says "You don't need to worry, everything's going to be okay now."  Realize that everything is going to be okay now.  Feel that.  Congratulate yourself for realizing this.  You are a strong, modern woman!     

Step 24: Checkout.  Load the truck.  Realize you forgot to buy a bookshelf.  Bid farewell to white knight and shopping buddy.  Have a really, really long laugh.  Go back to store. 

Step 25: Spend next six days nursing yourself and shopping buddy back to health, as you've both been wiped out by illness.  Ikea Protip: Do not lay in all the beds. 

And now you have a desk.*

*Assembly not included in this post.  That would take a few thousand steps, a few hundred thousand words, and will likely involve: four rooms, the Christmas tree, an epic marble run, tools, tears, and laundry—so much laundry.  So let’s all be glad that I plan to spare you the gory details to come. 

Ok, here’s a teaser.

Step 1: Resolve—you are building a DESK!  Woo!


  1. > Let's be honest, Ikea sells garbage furniture

    I can shorten that sentence by one word.

    I had a commerce horror show / breakdown today - I was trying to buy 20 boardfeet of quarter sawn white oak in 3/4" thickness.

    I learned that when it comes to buying nice timber for furniture making you can have low prices, or you can have competent ecommerce experiences, but you can't have both.

    1. Part of why I went to Ikea was because I tried to buy low-priced timber for my now-12-months-in-the-making coffee table (with built in Lego storage and building areas), and it cost a ton of cash, and I still have no table. After a certain point in the construction, everything I do adds more to the overall build time than it subtracts.

  2. > Wonder if you are too good for fan service. Curse the government.

    That space between the period and the capital C represented...what?... a millisecond on the internal debate before delivering the service?

  3. So who is this avatar / icon you use here and used to use on Twitter before you switched to a fish?

    Because of the rounded-corner framing, I'm assuming some TV show?

  4. Nope. That's me, from a month ago, with the "Viewfinder" iPhone filter. That was me in the snorkel mask too. I changed Twitter to the bad-joke-eel meme because that is literally the face I make every time I tweet something, and for the same reasons the eel does.

  5. If I used something from TV, it would be SUPER fanservice-y, having already established that I am not, in fact, too good for that.

  6. You should have gone to a thrift store.

    1. I always feel like I have to refinish thrift store furniture. But yes, I should have.

  7. Holy crap, I think we're twins. Really. (Although I suffered without a desk for about a year after quitting -- but we were living in a loft at the time.)

    1. I almost bought that green tabletop! I went with the birch, but bought I bunch of cute green file boxes.

      I am super-organized and immaculate in my soon-to-be former office (I clean it after the janitor makes the first pass) but my house is the human equivalent of that scene in Finding Nemo where the fish try to be as gross as possible to junk up the tank. I don't think I'll be able to handle it once I'm here all day, though.