The Times, They Are a-Changin’

It might be a little dramatic to suggest that the times are changing for the world at large any more than they usually do, but the times for John and I are certainly on the move. We moved out of the closet that was our sorry excuse of our apartment for the last year into a yup-tastic condo community this weekend. It’s got a pool and AC and appliances and everything.

And I do mean everything—including neighbors.

We got the keys on Thursday and decided to camp out on the floor so we could stay late getting a few things ready for the real move. I had painted a substantial chunk of the apartment and I just wanted to keep going, and we wanted to assemble and coo over the cunning widdle pre-drilled holes of John’s Ikea desk, which has been weighing down our car for a month. (I admit, we got a bit ahead of ourselves on that one.)

The sexiness of the apartment had us both a little giddy. We have a porch, for goodness’ sake, and an icemaker! As John put it, we will actually need to be watchful of our energy habits in this apartment, because it is luxuriously full of energy-wasters. Not so much an issue in our last place, where our energy consumption was capped by what we could safely plug into two outlets. Anyway, when we finally crashed on the floor that first night, well after midnight, we were so happy with the place that even curling up on the hard wood floors seemed like a luxury.

I’ve been a big bundled ball of nerves and energy this week, between the apartment and the new job which I have more or less been hired for (pending the completion of an Everest of paperwork), so sleeping hasn’t been easy even when I’m exhausted. And while the floor might have felt luxurious, it’s not quite meant to be a mattress, is it? I don’t think I managed to hit a decently sound sleep until something like three in the morning, about an hour before we met our first neighbor.

I had been listening to all the echoing sounds of emptiness in my nerved-jangled state as I was trying to fall asleep, and part of the reason I took so long to drift off to dreamland was the fact that every clunk of the icemaker or hum of the AC turning back on jolted me into an adrenaline-flooded certainty that burglars were in the next room. So when the ceiling above us creaked at four in the morning, it broke my tentative hold on sleep in a heartbeat.

Creak, creak, creak. CREAK. CREak, CrEaK. Creakcreakcreakcreakcreak….CREAK. Creak! Cre…ak? Creak, creak, creak, CreaK. Creak, creak, creak. CREAK. CREak, CrEaK. CREAK. Creak! Cre…ak? Creakcreakcreakcreakcreak….CREAK. Creak! Cre…ak? Creak, creak, creak, CreaK. Creak, creak, creak. CREAK. CREak, CrEaK. Creakcreakcreakcreakcreak….CREAK. Creak! Cre…ak? Creak, creak, creak, CreaK.

Apparently, the floor that forms the ceiling of our bedroom incredibly creaky and we have a neighbor who likes to pace back and forth before even the sun has decided that it’s time to start the day. Sunday morning, same routine. Today I was actually exhausted enough to sleep through it, but according to John, it looks like this early racket is going to be a routine.

This has the potential to be an enormous problem, but I think it may turn out to be a bit of a blessing. My new job (if I actually manage to confirm it) will be dragging me out of bed just as early, which will take a bit of adjustment. Having to work such early hours may be the best coping mechanism for a neighbor’s irritating habits, and having such an irritating neighbor may well prove to be invaluable as an alarm clock.

See? This apartment really does have everything.


I could just tell you about the trip John and I took to IKEA on Saturday, but words wouldn’t really do the experience justice. The Swedish furniture showroom/ warehouse/ restaurant isn’t so much a store as it is a phenomenon. Friends who have gone have tried to explain it to me before, but the lovable oddness of shopping at IKEA really needs a little something more. Today, I give you a picture blog.

The first thing that struck me about IKEA was the words “Returns & Exchanges,” painted above a door maybe twenty feet off the ground and surrounded by a guard rail. We were in a moving car, so I didn’t get a picture, but the sight left me with the impression that IKEA doesn’t make it easy to return things. The second thing that struck me, however, was a sign in the parking garage with this huggable heart saying, “It’s okay. You can bring it back!” I can’t imagine a friendlier way of having my worries about buying unsatisfactory merchandise smoothed away.

The merchandise is rather remarkable as well. Especially the chairs.

I don’t know what John’s looking at, but I think this chair was trying to seduce him. I had to pull him out of it. It also could have been trying to make him feel old. The chairs may have some sentience. I had offended a vaguely egg-shaped chair for being ugly and extremely overpriced, and it decided to add injury to the insult by holding me captive. That’s actually not a bad piece of advice for IKEA: Don’t sit in any egg-shaped chairs, and don’t insult things within their hearing and then sit on them anyway. They won’t say anything, but they will get even.

This chair was a different story. It may not be the prettiest thing I’ve ever sat in, but I believe I did experience a hint of transcendence while sitting there. Something about the shapes just cradles the human body in the exact way a human body is meant to be cradled. The very soft leather didn’t hurt the experience either.

All I have to say about this is, “Captain, they stole your chair off the Enterprise and skinned it.”

“It’s…dead, Jim.”

This was my big, unnecessary splurge of the day. A beautiful hardcover book of wok recipes for$0.99. Now I just need to buy a wok…

The children’s section is a lovely playland of brightly colored furniture that I would have loved when I was about three feet tall. The effect is slightly ruined, however, by the large bin of stuffed rats at the entrance of the area: large ones on the top at grown-up eye level, small ones on the bottom for the kids. Really, guys? Stuffed rats? There is a very small percentage of the population, I think, who would not find that at least a tiny bit creepy.

Here we have the self-serve furniture warehouse, which is a neat concept. The showroom is very classy and shows things all set up, then you write down a bunch of numbers and go on a scavenger hunt through this maze of identical brown boxes, crossing your fingers that you actually wrote the numbers down correctly. It’s a blast, like rolling LARPing and shopping into one happy Swedish package. The real star of this shot, however, is the fan. In case you need more clarification on why this is so impressive (click to make the next picture bigger if you can’t read it)…

You have to appreciate a company that doesn’t mince words or images.

Picking up the desk (which is what we went for in the first place) was better than bumper cars. IKEA does not mess around with it’s shopping carts. They have four-wheel drive, and even the flatbeds take corners like they’re on rails.  IKEA-cart racing would actually be a pretty versatile sport. They’d have to have different weight events and awkward parcel events, and events for navigating around families with children and through narrow spaces. It would be hilarious. What am I saying? It was hilarious, but no one else realized we were winning, so they weren’t trying very hard.

The very best thing about driving the cart was the Travellator. I did not make that name up.

Everyone knows that if you put a sketchily balanced and heavy box on a cart and send it down a very steep ramp, you must wage a tremendous war against the forces of nature to prevent said box from slipping off the cart or even taking over the cart and running after the innocent children and old ladies below. Gravity works. But apparently, if you’re IKEA, you can crossbreed a ramp with an escalator, and the offspring has the magical ability to carry you in a downward direction while thumbing its nose at gravity.

Look, Mom, no hands!

Because I have seen pictures from IKEA before and heard the amazing tales, I know that it’s not something you can ever understand without seeing it for yourself, but it was worth a try. Maybe Jonathan Coulton can help fill in the gaps…