Ikea – where body and soul go to die

I always thought I was a pretty strong girl. Not athletic, but strong. Whenever girls (granted, Korean girls) wouldn’t even dare try lift heavy things and send their ‘I’m so cute please help me’ looks to guys around, I wouldn’t even think of that option and lift things by myself. While such behavior often had the boys/men tell me that was why I was boyfriend-less, I was proud that I could do things on my own and my feminist side would scoff at girls who would voluntarily portray themselves as the ‘weak sex’ and thus perpetuate this gender discrimination. Or maybe I was just pathetically trying to feel better about the fact that I was single, I don’t know.

IKEA however put this firm belief to test and crushed down my pride into tiny little pieces, which I couldn’t even pick up because I was too damn tired of assembling their furniture in the first place.

The one and only thing you need to know about the IKEA manual is the first picture, especially when you’re about to assemble more than one piece of furniture (in my case, three – a dresser, a desk AND a bed, the worst of them all – with a small bookshelf and a chair as well).

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Yes, that’s right, the first drawing that tells you ‘No, no, you can’t do this alone. You need TWO people’. Peeps, if you’re new to the IKEA world, believe me, there’s a reason they put this drawing as the first thing you see when you open the manual. Disregard the other warnings. I don’t even know what they mean.

The dresser was, for the lack of a better word, doable.

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And yes, there’s a certain exhilarating feeling you get after you see the product of your hammering and screwing (no, not that kind, I know what it sounds like), your sweat and confusion. But after two hours and one dresser, I had had enough of ‘exhilarating’ feeling, and enough of manual work for a lifetime.

Hadn’t it been for my roommate, I don’t think I would have managed to get the bed done. I also realized that guys are just biologically stronger, there’s no denying… and that men are indeed useful for some very important things… But my sweet dream of sleeping on a bed that night was shattered as I realized that I hadn’t ordered the bed slates…

I was frustrated, upset, and disappointed. I wanted my room to be, after three weeks, a more livable place. I wanted to arrange my clothes in my dresser so that I didn’t have to go rummaging through a bundle of clothes from my suitcase. I wanted to sit at my desk to study and write, not sit on my air mattress with a chair as my ‘desk’. I wanted to sleep on a bed without making squeaking sounds at every little movement. I wanted … some organization in my room and in my life, which I desperately needed, after a month here. I wanted to neatly arrange my make up and my jewelry on the top of my dresser. I wanted to make use of the magnetic board of my bookshelf (the only reason I paid a LOT more money to buy the desk instead of a very simple table). I wanted to write down all the important dates of book reviews and exams for school on post its and stick them chronologically on my bookshelf, because, yes, that’s the crazy freak that I am.

Maybe I shouldn’t have made these plans in the first place. Instead of all this, I was left with sweat, dust, a splitting headache for the lack of caffeine, a hungry stomach for the lack of food, and a body sore all over. I gave up everything and went to my sister’s place to spend the night because with the bed frame, the dresser and the desk done, and the rest of the furniture lying around, there was no way I could inflate my air mattress again to sleep on it. After a day of studying, some academic and brainy work as opposed to manual, I was ready to come back ‘home’ and get back into the battlefield.

And yes, I still have to order my bed slates and will have to inflate my air mattress again,

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but oh my god, I am so happy that I have a desk and a dresser, with everything so neatly organized.

I swept and cleaned the floor, I had my sandwich sitting on my chair, I have my pictures on my magnetic board (which is awesome by the way) and I have neatly stuck all my post its. My make up and jewelry are neatly organized on the top of my dresser and my clothes are folded in the drawers of my dresser.

Please ignore my deflated air mattress on the right corner

Please ignore my deflated air mattress on the right corner. Also, this picture was taken before I stuck my post-its… too bad.

I could not be happier right now. Well, yes, I could be, if I had my actual mattress on the bed with my blue blanket and pillows neatly arranged on it, but well, I need to be a ‘glass half full’ person right now, after the ordeal of Thursday.

IKEA… you were not what I thought you were. I should have been better prepared.

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Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

For the purpose of this post, see: Two Sides of a Same Coin
For the ‘other side”s take on this topic, see: There is order in my chaos

(Disclaimer: All the examples and cases used in this essay are real, something my sister does/did, or something I do/did).

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When it comes to being clean and organized, my sister and I could not be more different. It’s not even about being two sides of a same coin, we’re actually two totally different coins, from different currencies. If all the European countries were still keeping their currencies, I would say she’s a Peseta, in reference to the economic mess Spain is going through right now, and I would see myself as a DM, Germany being the only one doing relatively well in its ‘less messy’ economy.
Just to make things clear, I don’t go around cleaning every inch and corner of the house I’m in. My mother would definitely raise her eyebrows and snort if I were making such claims. But as long as it’s MY room, MY space, in a house where no one else is around to do the cleaning for me, I do believe in maintaining things clean and rather organized. My room is a reflection of my state of mind and vice versa, and moreover, however weird this may sound, my room is a reflection of my system of values. Let me expand on that before I am considered a freak for using ‘room’ and ‘system of values’ in a same sentence.
There are times, of course, when my room is completely disorganized, with my bed unmade and every possible thing lying on my desk. That’s probably when I’m multi tasking and I actually enjoy being disorganized, because I feel that I shouldn’t be at ease and such atmosphere inspires a certain urge, reminding me of the responsibilities and tasks I should complete. This state of ‘frenzy’ will help me strike off my duties one by one from my list of things to do, and my room will slowly become more organized as my list becomes shorter. But it is impossible for me to even fathom the idea that anyone would choose to permanently, or at least for more than 2-3 days, live in such state. (Not pointing fingers at anyone here). When I’m done with that state of rumble, seeing the things find their own place one by one from lying pointlessly on my desk, and seeing my bed made and the blanket straightened, yes, even if it’s just for me to disturb it that very night, gives me closure. What will come next may be another phase of craziness, but at least, I will be able to welcome it with a refreshened sound state of mind. And, apart from all this, doesn’t a newly cleaned room just give you a satisfying feeling of accomplishment? Wouldn’t you rather see that empty bottle of lotion IN the trash can, where it clearly belongs? Wouldn’t you feel better to have your energy bar on your desk, where you can see it easily and eat it when you want to, rather than have it lying on the floor, underneath a pile of I don’t know what?

Believe me, it gets so much better once you pass this stage.

Believe me, it gets so much better once you pass this stage.

Cleaning and organizing a room is not something that is done without any thinking, at least, that is how I see it. This divine activity calls for your attention, your taste, your preference (would you rather arrange your scarves according to their colors or their lack/presence of patterns, or even, according to seasons?), in other words, your ‘system of values’. You learn about yourself during this intricate process. Are you a color person? (In other words, are you a ‘visual’ person?) Or do you value and arrange things according to their usage? (In other words, are you a ‘practical’ person?) Or perhaps even the frequency of their usage? Do you systematize books in line with their authors or with the topic of the book? And when it comes to books from the same author, would you see his/her books lying on the shelf comforming to how much you liked each book, or chronologically?
How can you miss on the world of opportunities and discoveries that cleaning and organizing provide?

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