I Almost Died for a $250 Discount on an IKEA Chair

Life has been a little boring around Philadelphia. I mean, sure we have a new house, new car and I’m starting grad school in the fall, but there hasn’t been anything REALLY exciting happening like there was in DC.  So I decided to spice things up a little. Because, is life really worth living if you don’t appreciate the thin line between life and death?

You guys remember my POANG chair, right?

Here it is:

And, as you can tell, it doesn’t really match anything in the living room and now that I think about it, my bear is kind of creepy, too. So my biggest first world problem last week was to find a matching leather chair to balance out the other two leather chairs that we have. Remember, Russians love leather.

Mr. B and I went to IKEA, where we saw that the POANG chair was available in leather.  However, it costs $200 and the footstool is another $100. And you know me.  There’s no way I’m shelling out $300, especially at IKEA where I expect to have to reassemble the chair at least five times a month using an allen wrench and some of my own minor bones because the screws they include don’t fit by a couple of inches.

So you can imagine my excitement when I saw the POANG leather chair PLUS tuffet on Craigslist for $50.  The photo looked ok and the ad mentioned that the bottom was a little scuffed up, so I was trying to figure out what the catch was.   And then I saw.

The chair was for sale in West Philly.  Now, some of you well-versed in American pop culture may know that West Philadelphia is where The Fresh Prince was born and raised.  Which makes it sound like a friendly middle-class neighborhood.  But the reason Will Smith’s mom sent him away from West Philadelphia was because the Philly crime map looks something like this:

Actually, I just realized this makes it look like you should never go into the city of Philadelphia.  Which is probably true.

But anyway. Back to my story.

West Philly is not the best area to be in at night.  Or during the daytime.  Granted, UPenn is in West Philly and it’s a really pretty area to walk around in, but that’s like saying that there’s a Green Zone in Baghdad and it’s a really pretty area to walk around in.

So,to be safe, I Google-mapped the address I’d be picking up the chair from, and I came up with this street view:

Which doesn’t look too bad, right? I mean, kind of sketchy, but not sketchy enough that a girl couldn’t go get a deeply-discounted chair.  So I consulted with a safety expert, after I found a couple pictures of the actual house on Flickr, which is where I edited out the link.

With that vote of confidence, I emailed the seller and said I’d be picking up the chair.  Note that I did this during the daytime (I left work a little early that day, which is why Mr. B couldn’t come along.)

So, here I am, female, young, in a brand-new car, alone,  headed to West Philadelphia, which some people who love the area describe as

“block-by-block. My street was wonderful. But, a few blocks over, where my cousin lived, there were plenty of boarded up drug houses packed with squatters.”


uhhh cuz my cousin got shot there?

Good thing I googled this up only after I went.

Anyway, so as I drive to the house, the neighborhood gets sketchier and sketchier, people on the street are looking at my car,  and soon I’m getting to the point where I’m seriously debating turning around, but I’ve already gone so far, and a $50 chair AND tuffet await me.  My Jewish instincts overpower my will to live.

I drive up to the house, park across the street, and text the girl, because I’m not sure it’s the right house.  Mainly because there is what looks to be a homeless man sitting on the stoop.  On another stoop across the street, a man sits and smokes and watches me.  I’m sitting in my car, waiting for the girl to text back, feeling like a creep, and also feeling like I probably should relearn self-defense.

She comes out of the house and waves to me, and I feel even more like an asshole for not getting out of the car.

She comes up to me and shakes my hand. “Hi, I’m X,” she says, shaking my hand.  “And this is Howard.”  He smiles a toothless smile at me.  She motions me inside.  I look back at my car with longing.  The chair is exactly as promised, only covered in dust since she is renovating.  The row house itself is gorgeous and has so much potential to be fixed up as a historical home, and it’s obvious that the owner has already put a lot of work into making the front beautiful. Unfortunately on the inside it’s 100% falling apart and it’s a good thing I’m not wearing flip-flops because holy tetanus.

Unfortunately, the house is located in West Philly and I’m afraid that any moment I’m going to have to call Mr. B and tell him that he either needs a new car or a new wife.

So, she helps me take the tuffet and chair out to my car and just as I think she’s standing there to help me load them, she says, “Bye,” and runs back into the house.

So here I am, alone, chair and tuffet out on the street, trying to load them into the car as quickly as possible while the guy on the stoop continues to watch me.  Howard seems to have meandered off.   I don’t try to position them in the back seat, I don’t try to lay them down in the best possible way, I just stick them in the car and go, go, go.

Two minutes out, I realize that I put the chair in in such a way that it’s blocking my entire rear-view mirror, and I not only need to get out of West Philly, but merge lanes on the highway, etc, to get home. Well, screw that. Because I am not stopping.  I floor it and rely on my vision from my two side mirrors to get to I-76, merge onto that highway, and then get home and take a stiff long drink.


Do NOT try ANY of this at home.

Unless you are Jewish and want a 71% discount on furniture.

But aren’t you dying to know what it looks like?

Here it is. Zaaaa, right?


And here’s the entire living room.  Better, yes? (Just lie and humor me.)

By the way, interesting story about the original POANG, which is now in our bedroom:


I got this one, also from Craigslist, but in D.C. And by D.C. I mean that part of Silver Spring where it turns from Nice Suburban Georgia Avenue into OHMYGOD It’s sketchy DC. Which is less sketchy than West Philly. But still.  But instead of going during the day like I did this time, I decided to go after work, alone (where is Mr. B in these situations?) Also, I had my Honda Accord, which meant that the chair originally didn’t fit.  So there we were, a small white girl and a small Asian girl, kneeling on the ground on sketchy Georgia Avenue after dark, un-Allen-wrenching the chair to make it fit in my sedan.

Apparently I’ve learned nothing.

Other than the fact that I LOVE discounts on POANG chairs.


This post wast not sponsored by UPenn…yet

This picture has nothing to do with the post, but you're going to need one of these delicious drinks (orange vodka, champagne, cranberry juice) from Jones in Philadelphia after reading it, probably.

The background information that’s relevant to this post is that last month I got into Temple University (no relation to Jews) for an M.A. in Economics.  If all goes well, I’ll be starting it in late August.

So, this weekend, Mr. B and I spent a bunch of of time at the UPenn Hospital visiting one of our family members recovering from surgery. Everything is ok (knock on wood), but there’s just something about hospitals that makes a hypochondriac think.

Me: I love this hospital.  It’s so much better than any other hospital I’ve ever been to.
Mr. B: That’s because it’s UPenn.
Me: I know.  I’ve been dreaming of going to UPenn (Wharton, specifically) ever since I was a little girl, but I didn’t go there because I was too lazy to fill out the 10-page college application and plus my parents told me I’d have to pay for it myself.  Plus I’m not smart enough.   But now I’ve decided my life goal is to somehow be associated with UPenn.   But I’m going to Temple.  That’s bad.
Mr. B: That’s the perfect place for you to plot as you work on your degree.
Me: I’ll plot my way into UPenn while I’m working on my master’s.  I like it. But wait.
*at this point, we’re walking by the Ob/Gyn wing in the hospital*
Mr. B: What?
Me: What if I can somehow have a baby at UPenn? And the baby can be an anchor baby?
Mr. B: You think if you have a baby at the UPenn hospital, they’re going to let you in as a student?
Me: It works for staying in America, right?
Mr. B: You are so Machiavellian it scares me.
Me: It’s one of the qualities that will endear me to the committee, I think.



On Running Shoes and Revenge

I ran a 5k last week (Mr. B was still “recovering from illness”.) Because we haven’t run in over a month since we were busy with house stuff, this was the hardest race I’ve ever run, especially since the second half was uphill. Can you tell?


I barely managed to finish under 40 minutes, but that’s ok, because two things were in my favor: the free pretzels afterwards:


and the fact that I got a new pair of running shoes because I accidentally left my old ones out in the rain and they acquired a smell I can only imagine is imported directly from the public toilets in Moscow.

The thing about running shoes is that once you run a lot, you need special shoes, and a special person to tell you what kind of shoes you need.

Here’s what I learned about my running style after going to the running store:

  • I have VERY nice arches.  I should consider becoming an arch model.
  • I maybe should consider picking shoes by criteria other than “They look really hot.”
  • I run about 10 miles a week, which isn’t really that much and maybe I don’t need special running shoes.  Maybe I’m not even really a runner, like the shoe store dude is.
  • Shoe store dude runs, like, 50 miles a week.
  • I hate the shoe store dude.
  • I love my shoes.
  • Mostly because they are blue, not because they are actually comfortable.
  • I really hope the shoe store dude doesn’t see me running the 5k.
  • I can never go back to this store again.
  • But I have to, because Mr. B needs new running shoes, too.
  • I thought Mr. B was too sick to run?
  • Apparently being too sick to run doesn’t mean you can’t get bangin’ new shoes.
  • Time to register for the next 5k so Mr. B can start running again, too.
  • Preferably one that goes uphill both ways.
  • And one where the running store dude makes you look bad.
  • Because he not only finishes ahead of you, but does another lap, just for fun.
  • I wonder what kind of running shoes running store dude wears?
  • Those must be his secret.

Friday Links

Happy Friday! I’m trying to decide on vanity plates for my new car.  The rules for Russians getting vanity plates are that you have to get something obnoxious that somehow incorporates Latin characters acting as Cyrillic characters.  The other options are to have your name, the city you are from (usually Odessa), or a Russian swear word.

If all else fails, just add a Russian license plate to your front grill to be completely obnoxious.  If it’s a European Union plate, double points.  Israeli plates?  Tripple points and the Real Russian Man of the year award.  Because nothing says “I Support Israel” like driving a Hummer fueled by Venezuelan and Saudi reserves in America.


Moscow in Russian spelled in Latin characters.

Suka=bitch.Both swear word and Latinized Cyrillic! Win!

OK, this isn't a real plate because it's too long, but if you use your name, you have to be either -chka or -enka or -usik. And 69. Always 69.

I’m going to try a different tack for one of my options.  I choose you!


And with that, here are the links:

  1. Why do Russians always buy Ferrero Rocher? Because it’s delicious.
  2. This is so sweet.
  3. How to fail at a job interview.
  4. I just wrote about this….
  5. How to move.
  6. Obligatory Ioffe link.
  7. #thingsiloveaboutslavs
  8. Do you hate Blake Lively? I do.
  9. AOL still exists?
  10. Worst interview questions ever. (this guy is really good at case interviews)
  11. Slutwalk India. Wait…why am I reading FP on this?  Here’s one by an Actual Indian Woman!