ranch life

Assembly Required

I have only recently started watching the shows The Bachelor and The Bachelorette on ABC (like the last 2-3 seasons). I don’t really care for the actual show itself, I mainly watch because there are a few bloggers/ podcasters that do recaps that are hilarious, and I keep up so I know what’s going on for those. Honestly, it makes me a little sad to watch people feel so inadequate and heartbroken for no real reason– some people just aren’t a good match and it’s not for any particular reason. It’s not because anything is “wrong” with them– it’s just because they’re just not a good match. But part of what makes me really sad, and what makes the whole premise really lose credibility and “magic”, so to speak, is knowing that once it’s all said and done, very few of those relationships have actually lasted.

But, let’s be honest, they go on dates involving hot air balloons through the Tuscan countryside and other nonsense. Who wouldn’t fall in love under those circumstances?? Here’s the deal– what those people need to be doing is real life stuff to determine if they are really compatible. That’s why it all comes off the rails once the show is over. Once there are no more hot air balloons, villas, and someone else taking care of all the meals, all that’s left is a house and life full of things requiring work and assembly. You know how you’re really compatible and that your relationship can withstand anything? You assemble pre-fabricated things together. Then you take the hot air balloon ride as a reward later on.

Steven and I started putting things together about 4-5 months into our relationship and it all started with a bookcase for my condo. Or Steven’s desk the first year of medical school. I can’t 100% remember, but we did put both of those things together when we hadn’t been dating for that long. And I knew then that this had real potential because we made it through those assemblies without any huge issues.

Here’s what I know about assembling pre-fabricated things:

  • The instructions are typically vague, not especially helpful, and generally confusing.
  • You will feel like you are missing at least a few pieces. Sometimes you are. And sometimes you end up with extra pieces at the end that are unexplained. Both are disheartening and concerning, but you ultimately decide that you don’t really care as long as the end product is functional and looks mostly right.
  • It’s just naturally going to be wonky. The holes won’t line up, it won’t be exactly square or flush, and you will have to work with it a little (or a lot) to make everything match up enough to put in the screws or bolts or nails or whatever magic you need that is supposed to hold it together.
  • It will take at least (AT LEAST) 2-3 hours longer than you are anticipating.
  • You will do at least a few steps multiple times because the directions will convince you to do it the wrong way and then it will require fixing. This is typically why it takes 2-3 hours longer than you are expecting.
  • The whole process will test all your patience, kindness, and intelligence.

This past weekend, we made a trip to Lowe’s for a small storage shed to put in our back yard for our lawn mower and other tools. We’ve been on a purge to get some space in our garage lately. This started with renting an actual storage unit a few miles from our house to put our boat in, and then progressed to moving the tools to the back yard if possible (the end goal is to move all our exercise equipment out to the garage from the sitting room attached to our bedroom, and still have it pretty open to move around). We reviewed all the options, and ended up finding a 10′ x 8′ metal storage shed that was reasonably priced (we actually got a really good deal on it because someone had stocked the pile under the wrong price tag and we got a refund for the difference), and started Saturday afternoon about 1 PM with assembly.

First of all, our original plan of setting this thing on our back patio to utilize the already existing concrete as a floor fell through when we realized this thing would take up about 2/3 of our back patio. Nothing like opening the back windows to the back of the storage shed, right?? So, we decided to put it together in the back corner of our yard and figure out a floor later on (at one point Steven thought we’d finish early enough Saturday that we could grab something for a floor either that night or early Sunday and get this thing all squared away. Ha! What optimism!).

The current temperature in Texas is near the equivalent of sitting on the sun, y’all. It was SO STINKING HOT putting together all these metal pieces. We got the frame built and went to put up the corners, and for some reason the wind decided to kick up and pull them all down. As in, we had two of the four corner panels up (one in each corner), and before we could add more to support them, the wind flat blew the whole wall panel down and broke it off the screws. 😐 (and this was after we assembled, and then reassembled these wall/corner panels about 3-4 times because the instructions made no sense about which sides to attach to one another (what qualifies as the “narrow side”? Is that not super dumb??)). We ended up a little out of order on our instructions because we were fighting the wind, but were able to get the four walls up just as it got too dark to work anymore on Saturday night.

We ordered a pizza, took showers and crashed Saturday night with plans to get up early (like 6-7 AM) and try to finish the last bit of it before church (we thought we had the roof and the door and that was it.

And then neither of us slept worth two cents that night. I think our best stretch of sleep was from about 4 AM to 9 AM.

We finally got up about 9, got ourselves together and headed back out to start again a little before 10. Y’all. It took HOURS to put the roof together (again, because we had to figure out by trial and error which way the panels needed to sit, and because very few (if any) of the holes actually lined up to put the screws and bolts through without some finagling.

With an hour left of daylight, we finally attached the sliding doors (with the wrong bolts because we somehow lost the majority of the right ones somewhere, but it still works), and finished up that sucker at 8 PM. Total clock time for assembly: 18 hours. Or, you know, a small eternity. Plenty of sweat, a little blood (those edges were sharp, y’all!), a few almost tears (from me- I couldn’t find a piece at one point and was about to lose it), and our lawn mower now has its own room.

Here’s what I also know about assembling prefabricated things (that maybe also apply a little bit to marriage):

  • Anyone who thinks they 100% understand the stupid directions and knows exactly what to do is bluffing. It’s all figuring it out as you go along and doing the best you can. Sometimes you make mistakes, and have to backtrack, but this helps you figure out the right way.
  • It takes both of you to figure it out. We all have different strengths and the best bet is to maximize each person’s strengths and cover each others’ weaknesses. I can’t hold a roof panel into place against the wind perfectly lined up to the bolt hole with just sheer strength, but Steven can. Which allows me to slide the nut onto the bolt in the very narrow space between the roof beam and the roof panel. Teamwork makes the dream work, y’all.
  • You’ve got to try to have the most fun you can. Obviously, that is a less than delightful way to spend 18 hours of your weekend. Especially Father’s Day weekend, which was Steven’s first completely free weekend for a few weeks, and right before he works for 98 hours this week on 7 straight night shifts. But you know what? There were still times we had fun just laughing at how hot it was and how sunburned we were (…maybe it was heat stroke/ delusion???). There are always going to be things that aren’t fun, but finding the fun/ upside is the key to staying motivated to keep going.
  • Things won’t go as planned, but just keep rolling and you’ll get through it. It may (definitely will) take longer than you think, but it’s all worth it in the end.

Steven talks about hiring people to put things together like that one day, which sounds nice, obviously, but there’s a part of me that likes doing it together. It allows you to rely on one another, work together, and get some quality time in. Maybe we should just find some different hobbies to accomplish those same goals? That sounds like more fun and less work. And doesn’t require Steven to wear an undershirt with the sleeves cut off for better air flow… 😉

From bookcases to desks, other furniture, baby appliances, exercise equipment and storage sheds, I think we’ve put just about everything you can think of together over the last five (almost six) years and made it out the other side. And here’s to many more years of keeping up the assembly. 🙂



Linked with Erika for Tuesday Talk

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