Down the IKEA Rabbit Hole

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Miles run today: 3

Unnecessary items purchased at IKEA: 4

Scary moments we were sure we were lost in IKEA forever: 12

“I’m just telling you right now that I don’t approve of this kind of furniture,” my husband said as we approached IKEA yesterday for the very first time. 

“Got it.”

“Really. I’m not interested in expensive things we feel pressured to buy.”

“OK. I completely understand.”

I didn’t mention that IKEA is known for being low-cost or that I wasn’t looking to purchase any furniture. We had dropped the kids off with my mom a couple of hours earlier and were making the drive back home. We now had wide swaths of free time at our disposal. We could wander around the side of the road for hours. Or peruse convenience store shelves without hurrying back to the car. The free time was problematic. Had there been a time when we did stuff and had free time? I couldn’t remember. Back when we may have had free time, I wore black a lot and went out for coffee to talk about Big Things. But what those things were, I’m not really sure.

Now, heading towards IKEA, I was looking for An Adventure. And come on, people: IKEA has an entire boulevard named after it. A boulevard!

We followed large groups upstairs, a route we were directed to follow without question. There were yellow bags and carts at the start of the route, but my husband walked past them with his nose in the air. “Ha. They think they can make us buy something,” he said. Two seconds later: “Oooh. Yes. We need a vase like this. Seventy-nine cents? What? I thought this place was expensive. Think about all the flowers we could put in a vase like this.”

IKEA is like a grown-up, pre-fab Disney World of home stores. There are bright lights and circuitous pathways and maps and things for sale everywhere. Everywhere.

And they have all these nifty things that I am sure would make my life better. I wasn’t even sure I needed a pasta serving scoopy thingie. But I became convinced. It was so shiny, and just the right length, and I’m positive I had been thinking I needed one for the past 15 years.

We became mesmerized by a giant canvas world map that had lots of countries that didn’t exist when we were learning geography back in high school. Azerbaijan! Turkmenistan! Slovenia! 

We picked up 100 tea lights for our dining room table and carried them all over the massive second floor, though every twist and turn, past every corner that did not contain a bathroom, which was what my husband was seeking… desperately. The route through the upstairs became daunting. With every new vase, every granite countertop, every metal chair, my husband became increasingly concerned.

“Are you sure we haven’t already been here?”

“Well, there’s new stuff,” I said, dubiously. “I mean, we haven’t seen outdoor chairs before. Or desks and filing cabinets.”

“But we haven’t gone upstairs or downstairs. How big is this place? Is there an exit? Can you imagine if I had to drop you off at the front door to run in for one little thing? I’d never see you again! I would have to… skip dinner.”

Skipping dinner is my husband’s worst nightmare.

I was becoming certain that I should throw away everything in our house and start from scratch only with items from IKEA. Our chipped plates? Replace them with white plates from IKEA that come in packages of four for roughly 33 cents each, or something equally ridiculous. I now needed a water pitcher and large packages of Swedish faux Tupperware and even mangy-looking faux Tempur-Pedic pillows. It would be so easy to haul it all out to my car and send all of our current items to Goodwill so Mackelmore and his friends could pop some more tags.

As we emerged into the cafe area after what felt like an entire day of following twisty paths, my husband dashed for the restroom as I pondered a birdie-patterned plastic tray. I knew I could use a birdie plastic tray like nobody’s business.

We wandered some more, through aisles piled high with self-serve furniture, whatever that was. At the checkout, my husband wandered off again, and I discovered Lingonberry Preserves. I had been waiting my entire life for Lingonberry Preserves. Lingonberries have not even been invented where I live, and they are probably the best thing I’ve ever tasted.

So I bought two jars, along with the tea lights and pasta scoopy thingie. My husband raised his eyebrow at me, but I’m sure he’ll soon discover that lingonberries are the thing he has been missing his entire life. 

Our adventure did two things: it made me realize that there was a time when we used to spend time together, just wandering, and that we have probably managed to stay financially solvent because our children have prevented us from visiting IKEA. Thanks, kids. 

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And That is Beautiful

And that is beautiful.

And that is beautiful.

Miles run today: 10

Weeks I’ve not written in my blog: 11

Days until the end of the school year: 1

No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful
Everybody dies frustrated and sad and that is beautiful

They Might Be Giants, “Don’t Let’s Start”

My story starts: I was grumpy.

And don’t say that I am always grumpy. Just mostly more than usual and after 9 a.m. and before 9 p.m. but not always.

So I was grumpy. My family had signed up to do a neighborhood Adventure Run, and all I really wanted to do was loll about and not speak and read my book. But we were headed for the clubhouse under dark, threatening skies.

“You don’t want to be here, do you?” my husband asked.

“Not even a little bit,” I said. I have been told that when I am not smiling, my face is not altogether attractive, just to give you the visuals.

And after a slight delay, the skies opened up. Huge, thick, black clouds let loose, and big tiger paw drops of water sprinted for the ground as we huddled under the clubhouse’s overhang with the other families.

I was not amused.

But then the rain slowed down, and all of the little kids started stomping in the puddles, and the grownups shifted about from one foot to the other.

“Let’s get started!” the leader of the race (and a friend) yelled. “We’ll have a staggered start. Woodmans? Go!”

Whoa. My husband drove to the obstacle station he would be manning… a huge catapult he built out of jeans, exercise bands and wood.

The kids and I sprinted for where we thought we should be headed.

Thank goodness I had worn my old running shoes. My feet squelched through the mud, and the trees we ran past were heavy with the damp. We stopped and balanced on boards at one obstacle, filled buckets of water at another, and scooted under ropes at another.

We had to cross the neighborhood creek six times. It was swollen with water, so jumping across was not an option; we waded, and it was wet and cool.

We ran and screamed and cheered, and the weeds tore at my calves.

It was the best time I’d had in months.

Minus the tick I found on my leg in the shower a little while later, I would say it turned out to be a fun, muddy, kid-like day.

Maybe part of the lesson is that we often don’t know what we want… or what will be good for us. And that is beautiful.

These past few months have been challenging. But thank you for checking in on me!

The blogging community is a loving one. To my wonderful blogging friends who sent messages to check on me 1. after the Boston Marathon (as if I could qualify!) (thanks, Dennis!) and those who sent me Mother’s Day messages (thanks, Amy!) and those who sent plaintive comments (thanks, Mike!): thank you, my friends.

I have missed you and my wonderful little life!

Yes, I have toppled off balance, and as one of my favorite ’90s bands might say, “That is beautiful.”

Because life isn’t ever exactly what you would expect, now, is it? And the whole God laughing when you plan thing has not ever stopped me from planning… no siree, Bob.

Eight things I have learned about myself since I started back to work full-time:

1. I can actually be a fairly grumpy person, though the bubbly person might still be in there somewhere.

2. I may never again be awake to see 11 p.m.

3. I still love bunnies.

4. Twitter is a fun and productive diversion when you are brainstorming creative concepts.

5. Sometimes I fantasize about being in bed, and not in a fun, sexy way.

6. I will do most anything to keep running and keep eating chocolate.

7. Mean people suck.

8. I may be one of those mean people because I am not always a good friend.

To those of you who are still writing, I will check back in from time to time, but not for every post. I apologize in advance.

To those of you who are still reading my stuff, thank you. That is beautiful.