My apartment in Korea is brand new. Like, so new that I was the first person to use the toilet, which I am super proud of. In fact, my whole building is so new that I am still the only person living on the entire 19th floor. I can make a racket. I can walk down the hall naked, blasting deadmau5, while drinking a cup of coffee in the morning. I am the uncontested king of the 19th floor.
Except I am a poor and incapable king. I have no microwave. No table. No chairs. No toaster. No decorations. No vibes. No nothing.
However, my apartment did come with a working television, so I needed some place to put it other than on top of a cardboard box.
Long story short, I made the terrible decision to go to Office Depot and buy some piece of crap to rest my TV on. Mind you, this Office Depot was basically just a shed with some paper and pencils. I actually had to order my TV stand from a catalog, which should’ve been a very bad sign to me at the time, but the guy behind the counter was kind enough to help me out. The entire conversation took place from behind our smart devices via language translators, which was pretty scary, but it made me think, “Whoa, dude, the future is here.” It didn’t make me think, “Whoa dude, this is a bad move. I’m not even sure what I just ordered out of this Korean catalog.”
A week went by and then I got a package in the mail (getting the package from the security guard is a whole different story). I opened it up, fearing the worst, and alas, there were pieces of lacquered wood and plastic. But definitely not any directions.
I searched frantically for some sort of guide, but those kindred spirits at the Office Depot warehouse just didn’t send any instructions. I was fairly confused at my next move. Was I to build the thing and totally fuck it up? Or was I to call the Korean phone number and get some directions, but totally fuck that up too?
Or was I to live by my old and trusted saying? When in doubt, toss shit out.
I cooled down by going up to my rooftop to drink a German beer (stay tuned for the post about my rooftop). And when my head had cleared, I decided that I’d try to build the pre-fab cabinet, without instructions, like any self-respecting 21st-century bro.
I soon found myself half naked on my apartment floor, surrounded by screws and random pieces of lacquered wood. I was knee-deep in confusion and existential doubt. I was only eight pieces away from feeling like an award-winning architect, but I felt like a little boy trying to build a super-duper hard Lego set. And my dad wasn’t around to help, either. He was probably playing golf and slamming Coors light or something.
I almost called the US embassy.
But whatever – I was lost in a cloud of mental doubt and struggling to understand fundamental engineering. What had previously been a minor hindrance to me snowballed into an existential crisis of sorts.
Was I physically capable of building this cabinet? If I did build it, would it even matter? What am I doing here? Do I even matter? Do cabinets even exist?
I began to remember all the crappy furniture that I had constructed in my life. More than a few desks in college, a dresser from Ikea, a computer table, chairs, lamps, coffee stands, tables, etc. I visualized all of these objects sitting atop a mountain of garbage. Building them had given me some sense of accomplishment, but I was just beginning to realize that they would eventually end up in a dump. The sheer inevitability of this fact was daunting to me. The futility of my actions was sinking in hard, and I seriously thought about throwing the cabinet out of the window right then and there.
Then I started to think about all the other types of things I had created in my life: stories, blogs, a 13-minute electrosymphonic masterpiece, friends, relationships, and even a piece of wall art. Some of the stuff I’ve created is crap, but some of it is kind of nice. Some of the things I’ve made will definitely end up in the garbage, but some of them – I hope – will outlast me.
I made this to decorate my trash can.
In the final moments of my little crisis, I considered the world at large. I thought about the scope of time, and the inconceivable amount of things that humans have created: walls, finger nail clippers, castles, ships, books, drugs, ideologies, fancy cardboard packaging, nations, businesses, dirty looks, religions, cuisines, computers, lawn mowers, artificial colors, dubstep, Halloween, fertilizer, music, the Internet, chairs, potted plants, sculpture, light bulbs, espresso, agricultural techniques, chemistry, fibers, cinema, air conditioning, sports, toothpaste, knives, language, and dank memes.
I snapped out of my little reverie and realized that this half-built cabinet had just completely blown my mind. I wanted to cry and pee at the same time, again.
But instead I just built the cabinet thing and called it good.
Fuck this mystery piece of furniture for inspiring me to write this thing.
Moral of my story? I’m happiest when I’m creating things, not consuming them, and I feel like that’s true for most people. But honestly, I’m in no position to give advice, so just ignore everything that I’ve said and we’ll call it good from here.
Sorry – this really had nothing to do with Korea.
Now I gotta go build a chair,
Love ~~~ Squincy