Sandra Tsing Loh is still dealing with getting older.
I’ve been talking about The Haze I’m currently LABORING through, as a 50 year old perimenopausal working MOTHER in the sandwich generation. I’m FINDING there’s such a fine line between problem solving and problem CREATING, isn’t there? Or, in the immortal words of Spinal Tap’s David St. Hubbins, “There’s such a fine line between genius and stupidity.”
Which is to say, there is some Jack Benny-like CALCULUS in my middle-aged brain that leads me to feel furniture should cost a certain price, and that price almost ALWAYS indicates self-assembly. The fact that LAST weekend I put together a Staples file cabinet from a kit that included—and I DO not exaggerate—224 screws and 23 pages—? Which took just under seven hours? That somehow does NOT deter me from sallying out the NEXT weekend to IKEA to buy a SURELY more SIMPLE desk called “The Galant.”
I’ve written DOWN the dimensions from the CATALOGUE. I’ve TAPE-measured my office to see that it will fit— Yes, it’s 100 degrees in Burbank on a Saturday afternoon. But I’m ARMED for urban COMBAT with my TREK shoes and fanny pack and WATER bottle. I’m not going to be FELLED by IKEA— This will be a SURGICAL WEEKEND STRIKE. And you know when you start using phrases like “surgical STRIKE on IKEA”—? Anyway!
I wrestle the gleaming birchlike desktop—which seems big as a sail—on my flat-bottomed cart OUT to the IKEA 15-minute LOADING zone parking lot— At which point I REALIZE— It’s not going to FIT into my car!
At which point SMOKE begins spontaneously billowing OUT from under my 11 year old Volvo wagon’s HOOD, and steaming green LIQUID begins hemorrhaging out BELOW.
It is the sort of auto malfunction so spectacular that passersby stop and gather ROUND in a kind of awe. I and my beached SAIL are soon SURROUNDED by a RING of IKEA shoppers holding LACK tables, plants, and pieces of ILSBO going, “Whoa, lady. Whoa. Jesus.” I call Triple A with someone else’s phone— MY phone being dead, as my phone RECHARGER is my now NON-working CAR—
And when the giant tow truck arrives, like a kind of Macy’s Parade FLOAT, completely JAMMING up the IKEA 15-minute loading zone PARKING lot? My instant excited thought is: “Oh! This is HOW I’m going to get my sail-sized DESKTOP home! I’m PAYING nine bucks a mile, why shouldn’t Triple A THROW IN some furniture delivery?” So, MANUEL from IKEA, in truss and suspenders, gamely staggers UP the tow truck RAMP with this thing on his head, and tries to WEDGE it into the truck bed while I waggle BUNGEE cords— and the thing LITERALLY cracks over his head.
Causing me FINALLY to think: “I am not making good decisions.”
Next week: “Menopalooza” explained.