Aspen Princess: A summer day trip to Ikea |

Aspen Princess: A summer day trip to Ikea

As further evidence of my finally having become domesticated, I spent two full days assembling furniture from Ikea for the babe’s playroom.

Ryan was on a raft trip and I was determined to do this on my own and have it all set up and ready to surprise him when he returned. For a guy who fixes things for a living, the last thing he wants to do after work is go cross-eyed trying to follow the little picture puzzles that are Ikea assembly instructions.

So there I was, sitting cross-legged on the floor boring a hole into the instruction booklet with intense focus of my burning eyeballs and counting the 251 little tiny pieces and parts that are required to put something as simple as a bookcase together. Of course I got things backward and had to spend as much time dissembling the damn thing as I had trying to put it together, with no one but the pug to witness my tantrums when I could not for the life of me get the thing to come apart. That was ironic considering how hard it was to get the pieces to fit together in the first place. The CIA should really consider using Ikea furniture assembly as a form of torture as it has to be the quickest way to break down someone’s ego.

I had to go to Denver to get scheduled maintenance on my Mini, unsure of how I was planning to transport my Ikea purchases back to the valley without Ryan’s truck. This was further compounded when the loaner they gave me at the dealership was an even smaller Mini, though it was brand new and super-fast, even if it did sort of feel like driving a shoe.

Never in my life have I ever identified with a brand like I do with Mini, and I’m not just saying that. I pulled up at the service department and the door miraculously opened, like they were waiting just for me. I drove into the super-sleek garage with its shiny black-painted concrete floors and super-cool mod ceiling fans and was greeted by a guy who looked like he probably just quit working at Starbucks and decided to work here on his summer vacation instead, all young and cute and eager. As I waited for them to pull in the loaner, I was thrilled to discover a kitchen stocked with free Luna bars and La Croix sparkling water in a variety of flavors, as if they had run out and bought all that stuff just for me. The only thing missing were the gummy bears.

Before I knew it, I was cruising C470 in a brand-new car with stripes on the hood trying to figure out how I’m going to manage to afford my next Mini when my lease runs out next year. By the way, leasing a car is the best thing that ever happened to me because it essentially allows someone who lives paycheck to paycheck to drive around in a brand-new, German-made sports car. All I can think about are various color combinations and whether I want racing stripes. On the one hand, it’s classier to go with something more subdued, but on the other, why not just go for it? I’m kind of liking that denim blue and can totally picture it with a white roof, white racing stripes on the hood and white rear-view mirrors.

So the thing about going to Ikea is it’s kind of like the Grand Tasting at Food & Wine: You need to have a plan lest you find yourself eating Swedish meatballs buried under a pile of mixing bowls and towel holders you felt like you had to because they were so cool and cheap. I guess that part of it is inevitable, but you should at least have a list of items you know you need, so all is not lost.

I don’t do well in big stores like that, with the artificial lighting and lack of windows and the disorienting layout. I always feel like the little kid who lost my mom in the grocery store, going from aisle to aisle in a panic feeling dizzy and disoriented. Sending someone into Ikea with a shopping list would actually be a great way to diagnose attention-deficit disorder as well as a host of other mental illnesses. While you feel a sense of accomplishment over having purchased furniture that is unfathomably cheap, the real cost is the price you pay with having lost your mind somewhere in the process.

My friend Nancy reassured me that Ikea packages everything in super-tiny boxes and had no doubt I’d be able to fit it in my car, and she was right. I piled the 18 random packages into the back of the Mini with no problem, though not without risk of getting beheaded were I to come to a sudden stop when the stack of Ribba picture frames and Liatorp bookcase sliced through my skull. Sure, I got a few strange looks from the youngsters at Mini as I loaded a giant stuffed Siberian husky and one of those blue bags overflowing with glass bottles and house plants and plastic bibs and sippy cups into my car, but whatever.

Somehow, I managed to get all this stuff home and made the 400 trips it took to unload the small-but-heavy boxes from my car down the 17 steps into our house. The good news is the playroom is now in tip-top shape. The babe loved everything, including the swiveling egg chair with the nylon canopy I knew he just had to have because his life would not be the same without it.

I assume there is something to be said for putting your life back together after having a child, one Eket bookcase at a time.

The Princess is planning to spend the perfect mother/daughter day with her pug. Email your love to

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