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Every couch I have sat on since then has felt unreasonably, needlessly luxurious. The only couch anybody needs is a metal frame pulled from the curb, a few pillow cases, and a stack of old newspapers.
But in spite of myself, as a year-old, I find myself drawn into the same capitalistic pitfall that many young professionals are drawn into — a need to prove my adulthood with mid-century furniture.
This is why, a few weeks after moving in with my partner, Kevin, we decided to buy a couch from West Elm. The couch would be the most prominent piece of furniture in our small apartment and our first big purchase together — a gigantic spongy representation of our shared style sensibility.
It was more than we were used to paying for a piece of furniture, but the price seemed to be proof of enduring quality.
I looked at the image on the West Elm website and saw an entire montage of us laughing on the couch with friends, reading the Sunday paper on the couch, drinking obscure liqueurs on the couch would this be the couch on which we would discover that we loved Cynar or Chartreuse?
This is the moment when I need to warn you of something vitally important. No matter what Apple commercials and jewelry ads tell you, you should never, ever view an object as a metaphor for your relationship. Engagement rings are the biggest racket in history, and even if you love each other, one of you will lose your ring.
If you buy a couch together, either the couch or the relationship will break, and the two things will have no correlation.
The couch came, and our old one, a vintage leather Craigslist number, left. We loved our new couch. It was a little uncomfortable, but probably just needed some throw pillows to soften it.
Around when the throw pillows finally arrived, the couch began to disintegrate in small ways. We would scooch across a cushion at the wrong angle, and a button would pop off, leaving a fraying hole behind. We would lean back slightly too far, and all of the cushions would shift forward and over the edge of the couch in unison.
As soon as one button had fallen off of our couch, it was like a spigot had been turned, allowing all of the other buttons to fall off, too.
I emailed customer service and asked if this was normal. They sent me a button-repair kit, indicating that this probably happens a lot. I became obsessed with the extremely banal mistake I had made as a consumer. The same is true of couches. The craziest fucking couch in the world is still not more exciting than the Q train running on the R line because of scheduled track maintenance.
But I was obsessed, and all I could talk about was the couch. The more I talked about the couch, the more I heard from people having the same problem. For many young professionals in their 20s and 30s, the next stop after Craigslist and Ikea is West Elm.
One friend, Scaachi, had bought the couch when she and her boyfriend first moved in together, just like me and Kevin. Another couple we know got the Peggy after moving into the apartment they had bought together. One friend emailed customer service after four buttons went missing, and customer service told her to hire an upholsterer.
Another friend was simply told to buy a crochet needle and fix them herself. She bought the crochet needle and tried to re-thread the buttons but eventually gave up. You have to do better, West Elm. They unanimously agreed that it was a great couch.
In both cases, I asked what the expected lifespan is for a West Elm couch like the Peggy. My partner tried to quell my obsession, suggesting that we buy a new one and forget the whole fiasco. But it was past the window where we could return the couch for a refund, and buying a new couch once a year sounded like the most frivolously boring way to spend money that I could think of.
Twelve minutes before midnight, as a roomful of twenty or so people pounded cheap champagne and listened to the Weeknd, there was a loud crash, and the whole apartment shook.
I ran out of the kitchen and into the living room. The couch had collapsed on the floor, surrounded by startled guests who were miraculously unharmed. A leg had snapped off, and the whole thing had toppled over.
Tipsy friends set about propping the pound piece of garbage up with stacks of books. I went to find Kevin and tell him the good news.The shooting of year-old Michael Brown is an awful tragedy that continues to send shockwaves through the community of Ferguson, Missouri and across the nation.
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In this episode we speak to Neil West another well known journalist from the 90’s. Neil was known for his work on much loved Sega magazines Sega Power and MEGA.