Sunday, November 11, 2012

How to Build a Bed

Imagine the "How to Train Your Dragon" soundtrack playing in the background of this whole post, because a) it was on for the whole bed-building process and b) everything is more epic with the proper music choices. You may also substitute the "Lord of the Rings" or "Pirates of the Caribbean" soundtracks if you prefer.

Last week my Mom came for a visit. It was really fun to show someone else around the places I've gotten to know and try new things with her - for example, we discovered a new part of the old city and ate at a simply fabulous Italian restaurant. She flew in Saturday morning, slept most of Sunday, and went with me to IKEA on Monday morning. Why IKEA, you ask? Because I really need furniture. See, I arrived in Germany in early September and spent the first two weeks living in my contact teacher's guest room. My attempts to find a nice shared apartment close to the main train station ran up against the propensity of every German under the age of thirty to smoke like a trucker, and so I temporarily moved into a one-room apartment in one of the city's "suburbs" while continuing to look for a permanent place to stay.

A dozen apartment-viewing appointments later, I was ready to move in to any non-smoking apartment that would take me. Some prospective apartmentmates lit up in the living room while we were chatting. Seriously. I don't breathe well around cigarette smoke, so the lack of it was quickly becoming my only criteria for an apartment. By the time we got to early November, the settler in me gave the rest of me an ultimatum: find a place within a week, or decide to stay where I was. I chose the latter. Up until now I'd been sleeping on a camping mattress borrowed from my landlady, with the expectation that I would move out in a few weeks and didn't care to carry a bed from one living space to another. With the decision to stay, it was time to find something slightly more elevated than my foam pad. And while I've struggled to find some things here in the past, I knew that IKEA was the place to go for furniture.

Mom and I caught the appropriate bus out to a gigantic warehouse of a store, typical in the States but very unusual in Germany. Once there we weighed the merits of a bed versus a couch-convertible-bed and estimated the size of the furniture versus the size of my room. In the end, we left with a single bed frame, a mattress tightly rolled up into a compressed cylinder, a bunch of 2x4s to use as a foundation for the mattress, and a "clothes valet" meant to hold the next day's outfit. I meant to use the last one as a bitty closet, since I don't have enough space for a normal wardrobe setup.

I had presumed that, lacking a car to carry off these purchases, we'd take advantage of IKEA's shipping services. Mom's "old bones" protested the idea of waiting for a comfortable bed and we wrestled all the components on to the bus instead. Regrettably I only had my cell phone to take a picture of that spectacle. One box was seven or eight feet tall, while my mattress roll was too thick to carry under one arm. We'd briefly considered the idea of buying an IKEA rolling dolly for ten euros, before remembering that I had nowhere to put a dolly for the next seven months. So with frequent stops and some huffing and puffing, we got the furniture components on to Bus #1. Bus #2 was a little more complicated, as it runs on the normal commuting route between the center of the city and my area of "suburb," but several nice people helped us to hold the pieces for the short ride. Home at last, we took out the instructions and discovered that IKEA is fabulous. Their furniture is designed to have all components in the package, including the tools necessary to put them together. No need for extra screw drivers, nails, hammers, or pliers. It's a beautiful thing for a temporary guest like me.

The boxes, minus the mattress

See, for a rolled-up mattress, you gotta unroll it first.
 Maximum fluffiness is apparently achieved after three days. Mattresses, you can't rush them. I can report that mine feels no different now than it did last week Monday.

The mattress waiting to fluff. With instructions.

Frame, built.

Slats, laid down.

Not-quite-fluffed mattress, placed.

Sheets, put on.

Look, a it's a real bed! I call it Pinocchio.
Except seriously, Pinocchio is a really creepy film. The cat is cute and I do love Jiminy Cricket, but the island of boys turning into donkeys was the stuff of my nightmares. Along with Ursula. Ursula is scary.

That whole setup took maybe a half-hour or forty minutes, which I found pretty good for first-time IKEA furniture assemblers. Within another ten minutes we had my closet all set up too.

We're so good at this game.
And yes, I have a Hawaiian-print skirt. It was, in fact, my first skirt since about age seven that was shorter than my ankles. Ah, youth. Now I am happy to report that I live within the realm of "somewhere around the knee" for all my skirts and dresses, though I've never tried a miniskirt before. I think my thighs might get stage fright. They're rather shy that way.

With the addition of a toaster oven provided by one of my colleagues and a monthlong bus/train ticket, it's like I really live here! Such a nice feeling. I also bought a rug for the bathroom.

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