August 23rd, 2006

Black Rock City

3-D Jigsaw Puzzles

Sorry I didn't write anything last night, but I was too exhausted. Heck, here it is 24 hours later and I'm still exhausted, not to mention covered in minor injuries, from having done two 3-D jigsaw puzzles yesterday. So to speak.

When I moved into the RV, seven years ago, I sold all of my furniture. So when the RV tipped over, burned down, and sank into the swamp (to borrow a phrase) and I (after two years of homelessness) moved into this apartment, I needed furniture, and free was better than cheap. Heck, I'm still borrowing kukla_tko42's second-best bed. I got several pieces of furniture for free by luck. A friend was working at the front desk of a condo in the city where an elderly resident was moving out and couldn't take her furniture with her; the manager of the condo offered it for free to anybody who would get this beat-up garbage out of his parking garage. Thus, among other pieces, I ended up with a beat-up couch that was not substantially younger than I am. It was also an awkward size, which meant that we did mild amounts of damage to the apartment just getting it into here, but at least it was free. That was five years ago, and words cannot describe how dilapidated that couch had become. So I bought a new couch on the Internet, which arrived yesterday.

So, step one had to be getting the old couch out of here. The landlord said that I could avoid the (hefty) fee for dumping furniture if I could fit it into the dumpster. That suited me, because carving it into dumpster-sized pieces would also solve my problem of getting it out of the apartment without doing further damage to the place. The only minor problem was that over the course of the last umpty moves plus various loanings-out, I managed to lose a fair number of tools. This left me to tear apart an elderly but very large couch with just a slightly rusty carpenter's hand saw, a rechargeable Dremel rotary tool, and a rusty pair of Kline brand electrical pliers dating back to when I was a union electrician ... circa 1980. Come to think of it, that's also about when I got the carpenter's saw. I did it, too. It took me about three and a half hours, counting the time it took the Dremel to recharge twice. (Box-springs style construction. There were a holy heck of a lot of steel rods and wires to cut through.) Eventually I got it apart into four large pieces plus a grocery bag of loose scraps and torn-out foam. And all it cost me was a boatload of sweat, one small burn, half a dozen minor scratches, one serious scrape, three Dremel blades, and (this morning) a leg cramp the size of a golf ball. Other than that, it was something of a good time. When I was almost done, I remember standing over the wreckage and reminding the universe that there comes a point where it's a bad idea for an inanimate object to tick me off too far, and lest you doubt me, behold my works ye mighty and despair.

Step two was, of course, assembling my brand new Home Reserve Kid Glove Emerald Tuxedo Sofa, only the second brand-new couch I've ever bought in my life. For those of you who don't watch organization shows on home decorating cable TV channels, HomeReserve.com sells a line of furniture over the Internet that's famous for three things. First of all, the whole thing is designed to break down neatly into two very small boxes plus a pile of cushions; the wood parts are jigsaw cut and screw together via t-shaped plastic inserts to hold the screws which aren't going to strip their threads without serious goofing up. This lets them ship the whole couch for fairly cheap, and lets you pack it up to move or store for even cheaper. Secondly, it's designed to add basically the equivalent of 3 small dresser drawers' worth of storage capacity to your space, that being what's in easy to reach storage space under the seat. Thirdly, a feature that I'm especially fond of, is the versatility of the fabric design. The fabric zips and velcros on and off very easily, which means two things. For one, you can change the color and texture of your couch on a whim, seasonally if you like, for fairly cheap. But even cooler than that, it means that your couch or sofa or chair is machine washable, delicate cycle, wring dry, put on foam cushions wet. The price is even reasonable. And it went together in about two and a quarter hours (counting putting the fabric on the cushions, which would go a lot faster the second time) using no tools other than a medium-sized Philips-head screwdriver.

For all of those cool features, though, I'm not sure I'd buy one again, and I might not have bought one if I'd seen one in person first, because frankly, it's not that comfortable. The foam cushions are so thick and tall that they all but eat the armrests; there's no leaning back into the armrests on this without the optional throw pillows that I didn't buy. becka_kitty thinks it could be because it's so new that the cushions haven't compacted yet from use, and it'll be more comfortable later; we'll see. I'm also imperfectly happy with the depth of the seat. But the back is a comfortable height and very nice, and I do love the fabric. We'll see if it grows on me in time.

P.S. Before tearing apart the old sofa, I found a couple of large books that I'd stashed under it at some point to get them out of my way until I needed them: my 1998 large-edition, laminated (so you can use dry-erase markers to mark it up temporarily) Rand-McNally Road Atlas and my copy of the 1999 Exit Authority. I remember when I needed one or both of those books at least once a day, at least four days a week, and when it was critically important for me to buy a new one every year. That was seven years ago; has it been that long? Dear ghod I miss it. It's been so long since I needed a new Exit Authority that I didn't even know yet until I went search for a link to it, tonight, that they seem to have stopped publishing it. How people who work or live on the road get by without it, I have no idea.