Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Moment of adulthood // you get what you pay for

When I moved into my current apartment I resolved to start adultifying my life. I wanted to at least slowly get rid of the crappy old possessions that betrayed how student-living-as-an-adult my life used to be (old towels and t-shirts, sneakers with soles coming off, mismatched silverware, etc.) and how not-quite together I am. That I still possessed those things nine years after college graduation was pathetic.

So I started a dance of ditching (cheap ironing board that had lost its padding) and upgrading (new sofa cover, higher thread count Egyptian cotton sheets). Ideally, I would have purchased a nice (read: non-IKEA) shelving unit, but alas I didn't have the space to fit one in. And I was just too lazy and cheap for the rug.

Another aspect of my upgraded life has been finally hanging stuff on the walls. I was pretty good about it at the place I lived with Scott when I first moved to L.A., but in Culver City I went naked walls again. Since moving to the best apartment I've ever lived in with Andrew and Curtis, I have sworn my concert-going, Rilo Kiley/Stars fandom to the walls. Alas, as sophisticated as my decorating intentions have been, the execution has been just-out-of-college with my Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond frames—Rilo Kiley and Stars were great enablers with their standard-sized 18x24-inch posters fitting Target's black-metal, no-matte, plastic-rather-than-glass frames perfectly.

My latest concert poster acquisition though, presented a challenge or perhaps opportunity to upgrade another station of my life. My Jenny Lewis poster measured 15x24. A quick Google search revealed that if I were lucky I might find a 16x24 cheapo frame, but no way was I getting an off number of inches in a mass-produced black metal frame. With the tanking economy though, I figured before I went "custom-frame" (cue, eerie music) I had to try at Target. After all, I buy soup, CDs, moisturizer, toilet paper and vitamins there, why not an odd-dimensioned frame?

In the frames area, I quickly roll snake eyes. But I decided it would be worth checking the "framed art" (prints of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe abound) section. Perhaps I could find a frame/matte combo that would be tailored to the unusual dimensions of the Jenny Lewis concert poster. Rifling through I have quick luck. There's a B&W Marilyn Monroe print that's 15 inches across between the horizontal dimensions of the matte. I am giddy with excitement that I can get my poster frame at Target (I'll just have to de-Monroe it) rather than the "custom frame job."

Then I do a quick visual inspection and the vertical dimension seems right on at 24. I am feeling elated now, especially when I notice that the Monroe print and frame is only $30! Wanting to verify my measurements I go back to the frame section, pull out an 18x24 frame and compare it with the frame for the Monroe print. Yes, the length of the Monroe frame is exactly 24 inches, just like my Jenny Lewis poster.

I get home excited until I see that I have to do some surgery to rip this thing apart to perform my Monroe-ectomy. It involves a knife, scissors and a procedure that will render this unreturnable. Fifteen minutes after covering my room with shreds of cardboard, wood staples and plastic, I finally am ready to place the Jenny Lewis poster between the matte and into the frame. Here's the part where I'm an idiot takes over.

While the poster fit beautifully into the matte's unusal 15-inch width, the top and bottom 2-3 inches of the poster are covered by the matte. What the fuck? Dumbass drunk on giddiness that I was, I forgot to take into account the matte when measuring the vertical dimension of the frame. Standing their amidst the detritus of the Monroe poster and the Monroe frame I realize that if I want to get this framed then it's "custom framing" time.

When I get to the Frame Store the associate walks me through the selection process: 1. a matte color that will match the poster's highlights and color palette; 2. a frame that will match the colors of the poster and matte, as well as in this case the wood grain appearance of parts of the poster. We experiment with several frames for but agree on a dark brown one, since the darkness will contrast nicely with the brightness of the poster and help the colors pop; 3. Time to choose a glass. The grades are basically museum (best and most expensive. as clear as a Windexed window but blocks 99 percent of damaging UV rays) or preservation (blocks the rays but has a slightly darkish tint).

Jared starts punching buttons on his calculator, then pauses.

"Hmm. OK ..."

I'm a little nervous. Associates pausing when doing routine price calculations are surprised by something. And since this is an adult purchase, I knew it wasn't by the massive discount that was appearing on screen.

"I think we'll do preservation glass, since this a bit more than I expected."

"How much?"

"It's $450, but I'm gonna knock off $50 since this is more than we had talked about price range wise."

"Um, I had a coupon for 50 percent off."

"Oh, yeah, I already took half the price off. This is a more than $800 job. We can take a look at some of the other frames. See, what happened is that the darker frame you chose is actually one of our premium frames. Sorry, I didn't know that when I was showing it to you."

I take a look at the other frames and the lighter shades of brown (think milky coffee), just don't look as good. The bright oranges lose so much of their pop when contrasted with the light brown. I can't change now, no matter the cost. "I'm sticking with the darker frame. It just looks sooo much better."

"OK, so with the coupon and the $50 off, it comes to $442."

I slide my credit card across the glass counter and he runs it, wary of the costs of adulthood but very happy with the frame.

I finally picked it up today. Thankfully, the pros at the Frame Store did me right, at least in terms of quality. They say that when paying for custom framing to think of it as "I'll never need to frame this again." Well, I sure as hell hope not, because I can't afford anymore adulthoods.

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