Monday, June 11, 2007

It Started With a Puzzle


For a great many years, I've had a puzzle in my closet called "The Ultimate Alphabet" (scan of the box cover pictured above). It's a huge puzzle and I obviously didn't look carefully at the size when I bought it or I wouldn't have made the purchase. I believe it is 730 x 1020 millimeters (28" x 40") and no single surface in my apartment is large enough to assemble it on. So, while I've had the impulse to put it together on occasion throughout the last decade and a half, I haven't had a place to do it short of the middle of my kitchen floor and it wouldn't do to have my husband and I stepping over it all day and night, not to mention my students.

When I recently mentioned to my husband that I'd like to give it a go, he reminded me that he bought a large plastic sheet last year which we'd cut up sections of to block his cubicle off at work and rope in his air conditioning for a cooler space. The sheet is both large enough and sturdy enough to hold the puzzle so it could be moved around to unoccupied spaces in the apartment as needed. With this new possibility in mind, I decided to give the puzzle a go but wasn't sure where I'd stored it. I believed it was in the storage space behind my desks (pictured below).


As you can see from the picture, getting to this space requires that the desks be pulled out. They're not all that heavy but it can be a bit tricky because of all the wiring. Computers sitting on my desk are connected to devices stored in the closet. Nonetheless, I successfully got to the storage area but didn't find the puzzle there. I did find something I'd been wanting to dig out for some time, a set of cute retro porcelain cats (pictured below) that my husband bought me as a gift some time ago but I hadn't really had a good space to set them up in until now.

These types of plastic display boxes are commonly available in Japan from 100 yen shops (though this one cost 210 yen) and do a great job both of keeping dust off of your knick-knacks and pulling them nicely together into a specific space for a spiffy presentation. The parts of this kitten orchestra were relatively expensive and the remaining ones, unfortunately, are no longer available but, if anyone ever sees the piano player or any other missing cats from this set, I want to purchase it and would appreciate being notified of where the pieces can be bought. The stickers on the bottom say they were made by "Seven Corporation."

The trouble started after I'd successfully pushed the desks back into place and wanted to use my computer. In the shoving to reposition the desks, the keyboard tray got pushed back too far on the left side and was stuck. It would no longer slide out on one side no matter how hard I pulled at it. I even tried bashing on the back of it with a hammer and it was stuck fast much to my great frustration. There was nothing for it but to pull the desk back out again and remove the screws and see if it could be fixed.

To get at the back screw on the tray, I had to pull the desk out quite far but I forgot the fact that my computers were tethered to devices in the closet. On the third pull forward to get the desk out far enough to reach the back screw, my 160 GB external hard disk came crashing to the ground. The front face plate broke off but I still had hopes that it'd be ok internally. These hopes were summarily dashed when I turned it on and it made a sound like a needle repeatedly skipping on a record .

My desire to put together a puzzle had now resulted not only in a broken desk but also a broken hard drive and I was immensely frustrated and upset, particularly because I was having trouble getting the keyboard tray fixed and every time I tried to manipulate the disconnected left side, it would slip out of my hand and the still-connected right side of the tray would groan with stress on its screws and I was afraid the whole thing would snap off. The slipping resulted in my dropping the heavy left end on my arm twice and bruised my arm and caused a couple of pinhole punctures in my skin. With the aid of the hammer, I bruised up the front left end of the tray and finally knocked the tray into or out of the track in such a way that the tray slid smoothly in and out again.

After all of this, I had an insanely hard time getting the desks pushed back into place for a second time. My husband came home from a swim at the health club to find me crying on the floor in frustration. Being the most wonderful husband in the universe, he tried to help me get the desks back in with some success (he did about 80% of it and I finished the last 20% because he was stymied as to how I got them in so far before) and promptly went to Amazon Japan's web site and calmed me down about the hard drive by finding a very reasonably-priced replacement (320 GB for ¥15,000/$123) and ordered it.

In the end, I found the puzzle in a storage area above the computer which required no furniture moving or fuss and started to put it together only to find the sheet was so big that it couldn't be moved through the bedroom door for storage in another room so I had to give it up regardless. I'm pretty sure at this point that the puzzle is cursed. The attempted utilization of any one object should not result in the level of chaos and destruction that that puzzle has.

7 comments:

CMUwriter said...

I'm sure that it's cursed. Shari you may do well to throw it in the nearest river or something. I have to say though that even though i am not the cat nicknack kind of dude, those little guys kick ass. They remember me of a california raisins set i once had as a kid.

Roy said...

Oh I'm so sorry to hear about your frustrating experience. But at least you got out that neato puzzle. Have you thought about trying to assemble it on the wall? I'm sure you could find some kind of tactile semi sticky rubber sheet that would make the piece stick.

Also there's this:
http://www.jigsawgenie.com/magicmat.html

Shari said...

Thanks for the link (and the sympathy), Roy. However, I'm afraid if I involve myself with that puzzle again, there may be grievous injury involved. ;-)

Actually, I e-mailed me the company about purchasing a mat. I'll buy one if the shipping isn't egregiously expensive.

Thanks again!

Shawn said...

Just as a word of caution, you may need to get a priest to bless the river in question. I'm not sure a river is the best home for demonic objects. Plus, be sure to yell "the power of Christ compels you!" over and over again. I'm not sure what it does, but that's how they do things in the movies.

tornados28 said...

At first, I was thinking that your situation showed life in a typical small Japanese apartment. But then I thought about how much bigger homes here in America are the same. The more room you have, the more stuff you collect to fill it. So a bigger apartment usually does not help.

Most of my neighbors can't even park their car in their garage becuase it is full of stuff.

Shari said...

Shawn: ROFL. I needed that. ;-)

tornados28: I agree completely with what you say about more space meaning more junk for most people.

However, in my case, it's not so much overflowing junk but rather packing stuff in an imprudent place and having it bite me in the ass. The truth is my closet is not full at all but just blocked due to my furniture arranging choices. In terms of the entire space I have for my closet, easily 2/3 is actually empty.

We used to be packed to the gills with stuff but 3 or 4 years ago, I went on a binge of de-cluttering which I try to stay on top of.

Thanks for the comments!

Sharon said...

No Shawn, to get rid of demonic beings you bury them in consecrated ground surrounded by salt. The salt traps them and the consecrated ground hurts them. That way you can be evil by doing good. Ought to fit you perfectly.

At least, that is what it says in the Complete Guide to Being Evil While Doing Good. (And if such a book doesn't exist, it should.)