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Michael Stelzner’s Writing White Papers is considered one of the “bibles” on the subject and I’ve been rereading it. If you’re even remotely interested in writing white papers or other research-based forms of long-content, I highly recommend it.

(and by the way, I totally did not see how this photo turns the title into a pun when I chose it.)

Stelzner made an illustration that I’m sure many people could relate to (especially if they possess a “Y” chromosome), but it certainly did not produce the desired reaction in me:

Namely, the Man Dissed IKEA!

Stelzner writes:

“Lessons from IKEA” (I saw this and thought “Oh, goodie!!!!”)

“I clearly remember the first time I wandered into an IKEA megastore. A line from that famous Eagles song came to mind, “Welcome to the Hotel California…You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” (Aw man, what did he just say?)

“IKEA, a Swedish-based retail chain that specializes in low-cost household items designs its stores with only one way in and one way out. The path to freedom mazes shoppers through the entire store. No shortcuts, no easy way to find what you like, only a mile-long zigzagging path from beginning to end, past everything the store has to offer. By the time you reach the checkout line, you’ve been exposed to far more than you bargained for and you are exhausted.” (sweet, sweet exhaustion)

Shopping at IKEA is “Every (Wo)Man’s” Hero’s Journey

Passing through the sliding glass doors and allowing my eyes to gaze at the escalator that is so filled with the promise of treasure, I feel like Frodo and Samwise starting out on their quest; only a much happier quest, one I don’t actually dread. You know, a different sort of quest where they’re going to give a nice IKTORP table to Galadriel, because it really does seem like she needs one in that forest and they know it will make her happy.

Ahem, what was I saying? Oh yeah…

I am filled with awe when I wander through the exhibit rooms. For a while, these rooms become mine. And the mindblowingly creative ideas! (I did NOT know you could make that cute wood shelf into a pot rack! Look, they turned this curtain panel into a makeshift hammock!)

I follow the yellow brick road…

(Okay, it’s commercial tile, and why ISN’T it yellow, IKEA??? You’re missing out on branding that pathway. It seems SO obvious. Royalties, is it royalties?)

…through the endless displays and it inspires me with a child-like awe coupled with my grown-up feminine Eriksonian “inner space” subconscious desire to fill my home with good things that will bring comfort to my family:

“This STRONGELFEN bookshelf would look perfect in the guest room!”

“This BLUTZINGEN French Press is only $9.99? Let’s get three!” (Get it? Blood zinging, because it’s coffee? See, I should write for IKEA!)

The IKEA Journey Contributes to the Great Conversation of Mankind through History, as Illustrated through Applicable Quotes from Shakespeare and a Comparison to a Beloved Disney Ride.

IKEA to me is better than Disneyland (and despite what you witnessed above, far, far cheaper). Best yet, the joy carries over into the home… for at least a year… until the furniture collapses.

(It ends earlier for for my husband, who, as soon as we are home, or at least within the next couple of months, begins the rituals of cursing and sifting through the pile of Allen wrenches he has accumulated to do battle with our new deconstructed dining room. But every true joy requires struggle, every warrior is fortified through challenge. You’re welcome, honey).

But I digress. Back to the store:

I run my fingers over the thrift shop-acquired books on the BILLY bookshelves (placed there for purely aesthetic reasons, so that I understand that these bookshelves can indeed hold books). The artist/academic in me cries out with Celia: “Oh wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful wonderful, and yet again wonderful, and after that, out of all whooping!”

and with Miranda who exclaims “Oh brave new world that has such lingonberries as this!” (Okay, I might be paraphrasing this one).

and with Portia (who’s father, bought the three caskets of gold, silver, and lead at IKEA Belmont – they actually were SKUBB drawer organizer boxes that he painted):

“The quality of BRIMNES is not strained, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.”

And with Ophelia, who by the way has her own IKEA line of blanket throws (trendily spelled OFELIA):

To duvet, or not to duvet, that is the REAL question, Hamlet.”

Thank you , Shakespeare.

Because let’s face it… Shakespeare princesses bloweth Disney princesses out of the water.

The Calm Before the Final Stage of the Quest

At the end, passing out of the store and into the towering warehouse is like floating through the Grand Canyon or like the calm part on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride right before the waterfall and descent into barbarism, debauchery, and slaughter. Soon, the tasks of checking out, loading the car, and re-entering the real world will be before us, and also, the existential dread.

(Always, the existential dread)

But for now, we and our carts drift lazily with the current.

Perhaps this is why I don’t go more often than I do, despite my current desperate need for lamps. It’s too immense, too weighty, too special to treat it as just a simple outing or Target run. But oh what wonders await on an IKEA quest.

So, Mr. Stelzner, while I appreciate your point, you clearly missed your mark with this reader.

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Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!