(...and other assembled stories.)
The New York Branch is taking forever to take shape, but step by step, box by box,it is doing so, despite my tendency toward sloth. I am notorious for just letting things remain the way they are; when I bought my condo in DC, I received a discount from the seller because the place needed painting. That was 12 years ago. There has still been no painting.
It's been months since I first took possession of the studio on the 29th floor of Manhattan Plaza. For the longest time, the place looked like this:
And this:It looked like a U-Haul had barfed all over the apartment. Somehow, I was content to leave the place looking like an indoor campsite. Hey, I had my tall director's chair, from which I could examine the commanding view out the window. I quickly became the modern day Jimmy Stewart, peeping at his neighbors out the Rear Window.
My problem, you see, was (and still is) that I am absolutely useless with assembly of any kind. And EVERYTHING which I ordered for the apartment had to be assembled (even the director's chair mentioned above). The first big project was the desk from Costco. The online reviews suggested that assembling this thing would take about 20 minutes. It took me over two hours, though that was not all my fault. The instructions came only in diagram form, nobody bothers to write things down in actual words these days. These instructions turned out to be reversed. That is, the diagrams from which I was assembling the desk were all the mirror image of the actual item. I feel particularly proud that I recognized that fact before tightening the final screws.
So, this corner of the room, facing the windows:
Finally looked like this:
(though actually, now it looks more like this. I am the king of clutter):
With the desk finally assembled, I thought I was set. But the inflatable bed was starting to depress me. Such items are super for visiting guests, but just try to sleep on one for weeks at a time. I always sleep on the edge of the bed, no matter how big it is, and I started to feel that I was sleeping downhill. I bit the bullet, and bought an actual bed (which, praise god, I did not have to assemble).
From there, the 29th floor of Manhattan Plaza slowly took shape, with a swanky rug, and three occasional tables now dotting the landscape. (Please don't ask me to explain the term "occasional table," which sounds to me like these pieces are only occasionally tables, and are other things at other times). Here's the rug, on sale from Costco, plus a glimpse of those things which are only occasionally tables:
The infamous couch arrived several weeks ago, in a box.
And there it sat, for days on end. Now, in my own defense, I spent a lot of those days in DC, so I was not taunted every day. Remember, I'm now Bi-Urban, so half the time, I'm in another city. But eventually, it was decided. To misquote Oscar Wilde, I told myself, either that box goes, or I do.
I opened the box and found the instructions. The first thing I read: "The assembly of this item will take a minimum of two people."
The little old lady who lives to my right would probably be of little help, and I hesitated to ask the saxophone player who lives to my left, as he's a heavy smoker. Either one of them could drop dead in my apartment, and wouldn't that be my bad luck? I briefly considered asking one of the tenants in the building across the street, as several of them look to be pretty healthy gents, but they might wonder how I know they look like healthy gents, so I forged ahead alone.
Here's what I saw when I got the box opened fully:
Astonishingly, very little actual assembly was required. In fact, all I had to do was screw the feet on, and the couch was ready. And upside down. This was why the instructions required two people: the couch had to be flipped over onto its feet.
I don't eat Wheaties, but they should put me on the box anyway. I pulled a Hercules and flipped the couch on my own, without pulling an Achilles. It now looks like this:
The couch sits along the wall opposite my faux fireplace. Yes, I know how odd fake fireplaces look, but once you get used to the idea, the thing is actually relaxing. On top, my new flat screen TV is plugged into the giant antennae on the roof, about 15 stories above me. Almost nobody in the building uses the thing, everybody uses cable in NY, but I'm tapped out, so I will have to get used to watching only the broadcast channels (most of which, in Manhattan, are in a foreign language). Perhaps in another posting, I will describe my adventures with this TV, but for now, I'll just say that, for some reason no one can understand, I don't get NBC. I get everybody else I'm supposed to get, but not NBC. I'm fewer than a dozen blocks away from the actual 30 Rock, but I can't watch it on the telly.
Really doesn't matter. I think I have reached a plateau, a holding pattern if you will, in terms of the New York Branch. It still doesn't feel very homey, but it is definitely a place in which I can be comfortable. Especially after a long day of trying to figure out what I'm doing here; those days inevitably end with this relaxing sight: