Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A brief and shining ventilation

There are so many more important things going on than this. Obviously. But that's never stopped me before from complaining about the mundane annoyances of life.

The topic is bookcases. Two of them. Two of them that will replace the one I had before. The one I had before fell apart. This was not surprising, as it had fallen apart numerous times during the past 15 years. Usually, I put it back together with my handy assortment of tools. I have glued, nailed, crammed and jammed the thing into usable shelving many times.

Alas, it was not to be this time. Out of nowhere came the sound of wood crunching. Well, particle board crunching. When a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make any sound? When a book case falls apart in the music room and no one is there, it definitely DOES make a sound. Crunch was heard both near and far.

Various locking screws and nuts no longer screw or nut. So it was time for a new bookcase. Unfortunately, I could not find a suitable bookcase of the same size. So I had to spend twice as much and buy two bookcases. I would've preferred to move us into mission style furniture at this point. But, as we have no other mission style furniture, and no plans to purchase any new furniture for the next 10 years (while children are receiving their higher educations), I opted for very plain danish modern ish.

We picked them up over Thanksgiving weekend. After much discussion, we collectively decided that we needed to drive two SUVs to pick up two bookcases. Just in case they didn't fit into one. We trekked out on Friday. Black Friday, to be exact. The furniture store is located 30 minutes from our house. Somehow, 30 minutes seemed quite far to my dad. Why? I don't know. He lives in Michigan where you have to drive 30 minutes to get ANYWHERE.

But I digress. We easily collected the two bookcases in one, yes, one SUV and drove on back from the hinterlands to Oak Park. I thought my brother, Dave, might feel compelled to put them together while he was visiting. He's one of those guys who has a hard time sitting still. Always likes to have a project handy. But, after he repaired two of my kitchen cupboards, he didn't seem inclined to tackle the bookcases. Bless his heart. He left them for me.

I managed to avoid the task for 24 hours. But now I am working on them. I think putting furniture together (or any project that requires scanning wordless directions) is tantamount to giving birth. Once you've put something together, you forget how painful it is. You forget that it's akin to smacking your skull endlessly on the floor for several hours.

I hold the single page of instructions in stronger light. With my glasses on. So that I might see if the sketches delineate precisely which way is UP on each piece of wood. Decoding images is not my strong point. After knitting for many years, I still can't look at a piece of knitting and tell you how many rows I've knitting because I don't exactly recognize the difference between one row and two.

I imagine that's a learning disability. But in our academic world, word decoding is far more important than image decoding. I didn't learn I had this problem until I hit geometry in 10th grade. After scraping by with a C, I promptly forgot this challenge until I got married and started putting things together. Furniture. Bikes. Children's toys. Somehow, I became the designated put-ter togetherer.

I have developed coping mechanisms to help me decipher the wordless sketches manufacturers seem compelled to supply me with. I stare at them, mostly. For a long time. It's sort of similar to "measure twice, cut once". Look a million times, put together once. I've tried it the other way. I usually end up taking things apart several times. Or smashing them with a hammer, trying to MAKE them fit together.

And why is it that wordless sketches are the chosen instructions of manufacturers? Do they assume that a large part of their consumer audience is illiterate? Or do they think it's simply easier to follow a diagram rather than a wordy paragraph.

Obviously, I prefer a wordy, if precise, paragraph. :-)

Off to bang and smash. I mean carefully assemble.



Blogger Suna said...

Best o' luck on the bookcases. Been there too many times.

Thankfully, I can read knitting just like a book. I am geometry-impaired, so I thought it mght be an issue. I treat it as another language, though, like reading music, and that tricks my brain into not putting it into the "math" section.

8:44 AM  
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