Sunday, August 1, 2010


My husband and I have just finished a DIY project. It’s 9:07 PM. We started it about 10:30 this morning. The task was simply to build a three-drawer cabinet from IKEA for our new bathroom.

My husband and I have had some of our biggest fights during DIY projects. Which is why, mostly, we let others DI. I usually show up to the task already stressed out, fully expecting something major to go awry.

I was in the kitchen as Scott and my son were opening up the boxes. I heard them saying something about the instructions being all in pictures, like Lego manuals. Of course I thought they were joking. Who could expect someone to put together a complex piece of furniture without using any words? Well, apparently the Swedes do. Because there was not one single character in that whole multi-page booklet. The closest thing was a question mark, which was immediately followed by a line-drawn man talking on the phone to IKEA. Ok. The word IKEA was in there.

The reason that the project took 11 hours was not from sheer ineptitude. Those 11 hours included one trip to Home Depot to buy drawer pulls (because this three-drawer cabinet is not sold with drawer pulls). I had hoped also to find an exact match for the four screws that were missing from the hardware packet, but Home Depot, despite the fact that it’s the size of a small town, did not carry that particular screw. We were not able to go back to the IKEA we’d purchased from because that IKEA is in Bergen County, the only subsection of New Jersey still enforcing blue laws – in this case, Sunday Closing laws – that prohibit the sale of electronics, clothing and furniture on Sundays. So we instead trekked to Elizabeth, an IKEA I’ve been to only once and then at great peril since no one in New Jersey has a whit of patience for someone who doesn’t know her way around those loopy, confounding roads off the Turnpike.

The 11 hours included taking a number at IKEA – as if at a deli counter – and waiting for 30 minutes for someone to call 636 so I could get my four screws. It also included the time that I paced up and down the cinnamon bun department, trying to get Scott on the phone to tell him that he and my son could leave the showroom and come meet me now because my mission had been accomplished. It included the time I wandered outside, hoping that somehow the fresh air would prevent my calls from going straight to Scott’s voicemail. Or that it would enable us to hear each other during one of the times he called me. But the fresh air assisted in neither of those endeavors, so I just made my way to the main entrance and admired women’s saris until the rest of my family emerged.

Screws and drawer pulls secured, we headed back home but by that time we all required sustenance. This would have been easily accomplished if I’d gone to the supermarket yesterday, when it was on my To Do list. But I frittered the day away working, so we had no rations whatsoever. Consequently, the 11 hours also included my trip to the supermarket, unpacking groceries, and Scott’s frying up some vittles.

It also included a low point, early on, when I snapped at my young son needlessly, telling him how angry I was apt to be if he broke the piece of our project that he was holding at the time. It included his brooding time, my apology time, and the entirety of his silent treatment, during which I spent little time assembling and lots of time vacillating between self-righteousness and shame.

So, now we have a three-drawer cabinet for our bathroom. And I’m waiting for that sense of accomplishment to well up inside me. I'm too tired to post a picture of it. Too tired, even, to end this post properly. I'm just going to drop it here and go to bed.

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