I have a love-hate relationship with Ikea. I *love* the idea of Ikea, but hate actually shopping there. It isn't because of the crowds, I only go during the week, usually right when it opens. As a result you don't have to park in northern Örnsköldsvik, nor do you have to fear being crushed by throngs of people eating meatballs.
But even at 10am on a Wednesday Ikea is overwhelming. First off, it is so large that if you get separated from the people you came with you may not see them again until...Thursday. Additionally, you can't just cut across to get where you want to go. You must meander through their maze until you arrive at your desired section. And forget about trying to back track if you forget something. The only direction at Ikea is forward, where you arrive at the end and any sense of equilibrium you had left is quickly obliterated by the abundance of items in the *marketplace*. Here is where you find yourself thinking, wow, I didn't really need sporks, but these are so cute in the lime green, and so reasonably priced I should get several sets in case I have a dinner party and need lime green sporks.
And then there is the actual shopping. Attempting to compare and contrast something as simple as office desks goes something like this:
Me: So, we've narrowed it down to either the Guutengaart or the Sluukatorp.
Husband: Yes, I really liked both of those, but weren't we also considering the Kluunkaap?
Me: Oh yeah, but now I can't remember if it was the Kluunkaap desk or the Kluunkaap bookcase that we wanted.
Husband: Never mind, now I remember, it was Gaaarpuuntat.
At that point you feel so ridiculous, and are so overwhelmed by vowels that you just get in the car and go to Crate and Barrel. But let's say you can manage to forge ahead, make it through the ridiculous names and locate your items in the giant rows that make me dizzy. You must then make sure you pick up the correct pieces that you need to assemble your (insert name of piece of furniture here). Inevitably you accidentally take your eye off the ball and end up with the legs for the Raaavtonon desk, but the Duuktigor top and drawers. Usually in mismatched sizes. Of course you don't realize this until you get all the way home because at that point of your trip your sole goal is to flee the store with your items.
And finally you arrive home with the correct items in the correct sizes with all the parts matching. After letting the boxes sit in the middle of the floor for a few weeks you muster the energy to begin the assembly, only to discover THERE ARE NO WORDS in the instructions. Instead it is a series of hand drawn pictures with vague references (pictorial) to the pieces and how they fit together. Perhaps these are clear and straightforward to someone who works for Ikea building furniture. Or maybe the citizens of Sweden. For people like me who do better with explicit WRITTEN DIRECTIONS, preferably with a nice illustration, the instructions that come from Ikea are one of the circles of hell. Or you can be like my husband and just disregard the instructions entirely, putting together the furniture on sheer intuition. I will save the story for how that turns out for another time.