some assembly required


It’s so exciting.

It’s also a god damn headache.

Finding the perfect place, signing the lease. 

Packing, unpacking. 

Buying new furniture, constructing new furniture. 

That’s what I’ve spent most of my time doing these past few weeks. Buying furniture and tricking my friends into coming over “to hang out” when really I just need help deciphering picture instructions and placing piece A to piece B with screws F, M and L.

Stripper scientist got wrangled into helping me set up a bathroom organizer that had so many identical unmarked rods, we had to put it together and take it apart twice because we messed it up.

A new character, CeCe, was manipulated into setting up a TV stand. However upon the suggestion, she replied with an enthusiastic, “yeah man, I love that stuff.” She did most of the labor that followed, which was vital because I am easily overwhelmed by the sheer amount of different pieces you have to keep track of when constructing new furniture. The TV stand was, hands down, the most complicated thing I had ever put together. I did alright with it, though, because per CeCe’s suggestion, we cracked open a few beers and knocked it out. Now it’s chilling in my corner and I keep looking over at it with pride.  We put that together, we didn’t need a man. Women are so much better than men. 

Who knew screwing hinges onto doors could be so empowering.


My parents came up last weekend, as you all know, and we bought a couch and three bar stools. I was able to take the couch home day of sale, which was convenient considering I had no place to sit aside from the floor. What they didn’t tell us was that the couch came with unattached legs. That needed to be attached.


What they really didn’t tell us was that the couch came with unattached legs. That needed to be attached. And there were no pre-drilled holes for the screws.


My dad was sweating profusely, my mom was red faced, Halethorpe emerged. We forced 24 screws into the wooden frame of my brand new sofa before finally heaving the structure into it’s place in my otherwise empty living room, and shortly thereafter we collapsed into it’s suede embrace.

But it was David, poor David, who is most certainly not a man, and most certainly not named David, who got the brunt of the assembly load. I mean, not only did she help me move on 4 consecutive days from 6 PM to 10 PM for no money; on Friday I was able to convince her to come over and help me set up…

the bar stools. 

I had to finance these bar stools, that’s how expensive they were. So when I was informed that not only would I be financing the bar stools, I would be putting them together myself, I knew: this was going to be a blog post.

And oh, was it.

First of all, I only got two of my three today. I have to wait an entire month for the third chair. Because wanting an odd number of something is just too much for some companies to handleKeep in mind, that means everything you are about to read is something I will have to live through for a second time a month from now. It’s not over yet.

Second of all, this is not a company that often sends out “DIY furniture.” They are a reputable furniture company that usually sends fully assembled pieces out to their customers. But bar stools, they contend, are easier to ship unassembled. I was peeved because I paid am paying a lot of money for these stupid chairs, and I am really sick of putting shit together.

The instructions stated that we would need 2 people to set up the chair. What the instructions failed to mention was that we would need 2 people per chair to set up the chairs. The broken English helped nothing.

David and I took on the assembly, my dad read the instructions, and my mom decided that this was an excellent opportunity to paint her nails.

Do you, mom, do you.

Right off the bat, we had to differentiate between three different size screws and 3 different sized washers. The company couldn’t be bothered to sort them for us, I suppose. That would have been an additional $100 per chair, I’m sure.

Once that was done, David and I secured the legs of the chairs into the foot rests, and celebrated completing the first step.

We shouldn’t have done that. That was premature. That was assumptive of success and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in this move it’s that you cannot assume the success of completion until the task has been complete. 

Yes, we ran into a road block on step 2: installing the swivel bar.

My dad said, “we must have done something wrong.”

David said, “we are too early on to have done something wrong.”

I said, “they made it wrong, it’s them. I’m going to call them and yell at them until they give me my money back.” Because I was ready to be mad at them prior to ever buying the chairs in the first place. I reveled in my cynical victory.

My mom said, finishing off the first coat of metallic pink polish, “maybe you should loosen the screws on the foot rest, and the next piece will fit.”

My mom wasn’t even helping. She wasn’t a part of it. So I ignored her and opened up the next box to inspect its contents, only to find that the other chair’s swivel bar was the same size as the first’s and that “they messed up both chairs! I am going to ruin them!”

They didn’t mess up either chair. My mom was right. We had to loosen the screws to place the tops of the chair legs inside the swivel bar’s parameters.

It was right when we had to attach the back of the chair to the seat of the chair that four people became necessary. I wasn’t even a part of this aspect of bar stool construction. It wasn’t me. David and my dad started to tackle it, and then my dad took over. About 10 minutes into a continuous struggle riddled with cursing the company, their broken English, their unclear labeling system, and poorly utilized difficulty scale (this was rated 2 out of 5), my dad said, “you all should start on the next chair.”

Fundamentally, piece by piece, these bar stools did not want to be bar stools. They rebelled against themselves, fighting a futile but tireless battle to be the trees they once were. In the time it took David and I to persuade the second bar stool to cooperate with our plans, my parents failed to connect the backs of the chairs to the seats of the chairs.

My dad was ready to throw the stools into the flames of burning man.

We all considered the difficulty rating, 2 out of 5.

What does a 5 look like?

A five would be a week and a half off of work, 3 wine bottles, a psychologist and a small support group. A five would look like crying, screaming, a complete mental meltdown, and resorting to moving into a cardboard box in the city by choice. But even setting up a cardboard box may be too daunting after an encounter with a level five.

My dad suggested that a level five may be characterized by the deviousness of the group of people who met together and discussed in what way they would mentally destroy you.

We assumed we received level two solely because we got all of our pieces, only some of our washers were warped, and washer type D was one short and washer type E had one extra. Survivable torture. Usable pieces. Construction was possible.

We also predict that level five would be missing parts to the furniture. We also predict that, in the event of receiving a truly evil chaos committee, they would simply remove the Allen wrench from your kit, thereby rendering the entire pursuit fruitless, hopeless, and traumatizing for all future endeavors.

You cannot assemble furniture without the Allen wrench the company provides you with.

When purchasing DIY furniture, the box should warn, “significant annoyance and assembly required.”

Enjoy this picture of me and David doing the most to construct these chairs:


This was right about when I swore a cluster of dust swarmed my eyes, which were at zenith to loose metal screws.


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