Friday, May 24, 2013

"Screw" You, IKEA!

So, my new roommate and I took a trip to IKEA last weekend so that we could begin the process of furnishing our new apartment. For me, specifically, I was in desperate need of a small computer desk, because up until now, I had been typing with my keyboard and monitor sitting on top of boxes and things. Now, my only memories of the hell that is IKEA, are from the apartment that my best friend Sarah and I shared together in Forest Hills about 14 years ago. I remember we bought, among other things, a tiny end table called “LACK”, and it lived up to it’s name in every sense of the word. We also purchased a small dresser for Sarah’s bedroom, which she was hoping to use to put her clothing and undergarments into. Well, since IKEA specializies in crushing people’s hopes and dreams, the dresser turned out to be about as large as a Weeble Tree House, and I think Sarah was able to fit her nailfile and one sock into the microscopic, horribly designed drawers.

For any of you who have not had the honor of shopping or buying from IKEA – you should know that almost everything you buy there has a sign that reads “some assembly required.” Anotherwords; what you are sent home with is a large cardboard box filled with endless screws, european pieces with names that you’ve never heard uttered or printed anywhere ever in your lifetime (it’s a Swedish company), instructions that have NO WORDS IN THEM but only pictures that involve lots of circles and big X marks drawn through things, stick figures of people with question marks above their heads, and endless arrows that lead to absolutely nowhere. It is a cardboard box filled with confusion and mind-games, that leaves you a baffled, frustrated, manic-depressive mess on your floor, screaming at the universe to please let lightning strike you now, so that you dont have to put this goddamn desk together. It taunts you and it laughs at you and it mocks you with it’s Swedish pieces with names like “divet”, that are supposed to somehow fit into other pieces that they never actually fit into at all.

So there I was – in my new bedroom – the pieces of my new, tiny corner desk and all it’s assembly parts scattered across my bed – trying to decifer and make sense of these directions. I think it was somewhere around the time that I saw the big square with the X through it, next to the other big circle with the square with an arrow through it, next to the smiling stick figure guy with a cartoonish-looking hammer in his puffy hand - that it really started to hit me. My husband, who was soooooo good at this kind of stuff, will never again be able to do this for me. He will never again take care of the stupid instructions that don’t make sense, or change the oil in my car, or check to see what that noise is in the other room, or find the mouse and get rid of it, or kill the cockroach without pause, or take out the smelly trash, or open the door for me, or hold his umbrella over me or give me his coat to wear when its cold, or make sure Im safe and lock all the doors at night, or send me a text to let me know he arrived at work safely, or hold my hair and put a washcloth on my forehead when Im sick from a reaction to percacet. He would never do any of those things, and so many other things, ever again.

Of course, I already knew this. I already knew that he wasnt ever coming back. But somehow – sitting there attempting to put together this stupid desk in this stupid new life that was forced upon me because of his stupid death – I really felt it. And suddenly, without warning, the emotional breakdown came. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed, and then sobbed some more, like I havent done in a long while.

It wasnt the organ donation reception honoring my husband that my mom and I attended a week earlier, or the moving for the 2nd time in 7 months, or the rejection from my ex-roommate, or the sheer stress from the past few months of my life that brought me down. No. It was IKEA. It was those damn Swedes and their “do it yourself” furniture that finally did me in.

7 hours later, and with the help of a fellow widowed friend who very sweetly walked me through each step of the idiotic instructions on the phone, my task was complete. I now had a desk. And if anyone reads this and says some shit about how I should feel empowered because I did that all by myself and “Wow! Look at what you can accomplish all alone!” or any of that type of bullshit, please dont. Just dont.

I was 28 when I met Don. I was 35 when I married him, and I was 39 when he died. For all of those years before meeting him, I did everything by myself. I moved out of my parents house when I was 18 years old, and came to NYC to become an actor/performer. So, I have had decades worth of “empowerment”, and by the time Don and I moved in together, I was so grateful and so ready to have this partner, this teammate in life, and to no longer have to do every goddamn thing by myself. Now there were two of us struggling through this mess called life instead of just one. Two of us to pay bills, get groceries, talk about having kids in the future, buying a house one day, figure out the logistics. And then it was ripped away – just like that – and suddenly, I was back to doing every goddamn thing alone again. Im sorry, but when you have the right person, two is sooooo much better than one. It just is. There are just so many things in life that are so much harder to do alone, and so much easier to do with two of you.

Things like:

Parallel parking. Changing the litter in the litter box. Carrying a large box or other large items up the stairs. Having someone to shut the light off. Sitting in the car when you have to double park it in a city or busy neighborhood. Brushing the kitties teeth like the vet instructed. Clipping their nails. Locating a foreign “thing” that appears on your body in a place where you cant see it. Scratching an itch on your back. Say

Saying your vows. Then repeating. It takes two people to look into each other’s eyes and feel love. Two people to make love. Two to dance a foxtrot that you spent 8 weeks of dance lessons getting it choreographed so you could have a lovely First Dance at your wedding.

And it takes two people to figure out how the fuck to put together a crappy computer desk from IKEA. One to hold up the piece of wood, and one to screw in the weird-plastic-looking-screwy thing. One to decifer the picture instructions, and one to put them into action. One to light the match to set the whole damn thing ablaze when you finally lose your mind, and one to call the police and make it look like arson.

So, Congratulations IKEA. Because of your unbelievable incompetence and inability to create items or directions that humans with brains can follow, you have forced me to start feeling my feelings again. You have  made me sob like an infant again, and shoved the grief back into my life, much like you shove those divets into the holes that are way too small to fit them.

Are you happy now, IKEA? Have you had your little fun with the widow? Good. Glad to hear it. You should know that your desk sucks and it’s a bit wobbly and thats not my fault. It’s your fault, cuz your furniture is questionable and shady on it’s best day. Screw you.

Pictures In order: 1: IKEAs stupid picture directions. 2: my desk, in pieces, ready to be created. (cat not included. Although if he was, some assembly would be required.) 3: Our first dance Foxtrot from our 2006 Wedding. 4: The piece of crap tiny desk, finally finished. I need a drink ....... or six.


  1. exactly. Just because you can do shit on your own doesn't mean it's a coup to do so.

  2. Yes. Just YES... This is really how it is.

  3. Yep.
    Just last night as I dragged the garbage and recycle bins out to the curb, I sighed and thought - 'this sucks'. Even though I took out the garbage regularly when Dave was alive - it didn't ALWAYS rest on my shoulders.
    Life is just easier with two people going through it together. And you're right - it needs to be the right partner.

    I rarely feel empowered when I 'accomplish' things that Dave used to take care of. They're just another reminder that he's gone and nobody's going to take care of it but me.

    Last year at this time I bought a wooden patio set from IKEA and so I had a table and 4 chairs to assemble.
    As usual I was too proud to ask anybody for help.
    I understand the added grief that 'some assembly required' truly means.
    Doing that shit alone just sucks.

  4. I work for IKEA and I know there is nothing I can say to change your mind because I understand that it isn't so much about IKEA but the fact you have to do this alone. I felt this way about my sprinklers and A/C and it sent me into a tailspin!
    To ease some of your dislike of IKEA can I say in their defense that they offer amazing insurance which saw my husband through a horrible journey through cancer. They also supported me through my grief in the most amazing ways. They have even donated items to our local widow support group.
    I know this doesn't change your opinion or hurt. They have just been so good to me that I had to write in defense of them. Sending you HUGS and wishing you the very best.

  5. Love this! Thank you for posting. Screw you 'insert name here'!!! This blog is one of few places where I feel sane. As sane as one can feel in widow land.

  6. Kelly, I frequently curse the world when trying to get the lawn tools to work, put air in the tires, assemble Ikea furnish or whatever the task is at hand. Sadly, it absolutely sucks having to figure all this out alone. No one can try to tell me differently.

    Wishing you more "assembled" furniture as you trudge forward. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  7. That is really great to hear about IKEA, Anonymous. Im really happy that they were and continue to be so kind to you during these times. Nice to know that some companies out there are supportive and understanding when we need it most. Thanks for sharing.

    p.s. Their "do it yourself with our lame-ass instructions" furniture still sucks LOL.

  8. I totally relate to this! Tom and I married "later", , and so for years, I was Ms. Self-Sufficient! I took pride in being able to "do". But, this week, I came a-p-a-r-t because I couldn't work the GAS CAN! (The new, fancy EPA regulated cans that don't let fumes (or gas) -escape!). I cried & carried on. . Wish I could say that was the first time- but no, two weeks before that it was trying to figure out how to work the darn plumbing snake. I stood there, snaking the toilet, crying and thinking -"My life sucks.". I miss all he did for us. I miss all we did together. I hate doing it all alone.

  9. Last Sunday I had to be at an event and when I got there I had to park in a remote parking lot. Ordinarily this wouldn't have been that bad but I have a groin injury (I know TMI . . .) and it was pouring rain. I almost gave up and went home but since I was in charge of said event, I limped through the rain in pain -- heartache and groin-ache. All I could think of was I no longer have anyone to say "I'll drop you off and meet you in there." There's more dropping off and meeting in there. I'm so sad about that.

  10. My sucky do-it-alone moment came this week, after having the water heater replaced (and did it really need replacing or was I taken?)... checking in the basement for leaks prior to leaving for several days... finding water all over the floor and leaks at the pressure tank...not wanting to now call for a plumber. I did do the fix myself with help over the phone, but only after adding more water in the form of tears to the floor as I mopped up the mess.

    Yes, we can do things, but it sure was nice to have someone else there to help, each of us doing what came naturally to us. Here it is Friday night, just finished the lawn, holiday weekend just begun, looking at catching up at my house before work week starts again. I am so tired of my never ending list. Ditto that it all just reminds me that he's gone.

  11. I LOVE this!! Thank you for putting into words what I have also felt for over a year now! You made me laugh and it's so true....everything about it. I especially love the part about "setting it ablaze" --helps to get some aggression out just thinking the thought:) Now every time I see an Ikea piece I will think of you..and we all know it's not about "Ikea".
    Best to you and keep on sharing--Aloha

  12. It's not the fact of setting up furniture, or going to a meeting, or cooking/cleaning up that so bothers is the "doing it alone" that really, really sucks. I was always the one that did the furniture setting up/construction - but my partner was there to offer comments (sometimes helpful, sometimes but the fact that he was there was the point. Now I find myself facing holidays again(didn't take any last year after his death) and not wanting to take them...why would I...hoiday alone with no one to say, "did you see that or hear that" or "lets's do this today or meet with these friends today". It's me, all alone, to do whatever - but why? What fun, pleasure or enjoyment is there in that - absolutely NONE! One of my biggest misses is our conversations when we'd start off with "remember when..." can't have those anymore...I so miss that.

  13. I can so completely relate to this. It was wonderful to finally have somebody to rely on, to be in it together with. Finally, all of the responsibility did not fall on my shoulders alone. To have that taken away after getting it for such a short time truly sucks.

  14. Just catching up on this blog... and wow... I had a moment like this that I wrote about on my own blog:

    I can relate. Everything that I have to do that Hubs did before... it's just.. irritating.