Assembly required: Alexander Technique helps crisis management and creativity dovetail to solve a problem.


In May of 2017, I had a flood and ceiling collapse in my bedroom. After torrential rainfall in NYC, where 3 inches of rain fell within a few hours, a roof terrace on my building filled with water (the landlord AND tenant failed to unblock the drain.) First came the flood waters, pouring down through my ceiling fixture and saturating my queen size mattress and wall to wall carpeting. The next day, water sitting in the ceiling saturated the plaster and a section 5 feet by 9 feet collapsed.

The bed and carpet were unsalvageable, and as I cleaned up, I discovered my stereo, VCR, DVD player and TV were also destroyed.

Insurance doesn’t cover the damage, so it is incumbent upon me to refurnish my bedroom.

After cleaning up plaster, arranging for the carpet to be taken up and the bed to be carried away, I was faced with creating a new room for myself.

My Alexander skills came in very handy right about here. While I am not particularly gifted at interior design, and I needed to be thrifty with the replacement items, I am able to slow down enough to take in the big picture and make a plan, thanks to “inhibition*.

I was not totally displaced, I had a place to sleep, which helped. My first step was to start looking online at options for area rugs and beds. Did I want to have a queen size bed take up most of the space, or did I want to consider a murphy bed or trundle bed, which would make to space more open?

The landlord repaired the ceiling within days, but refused to refinish the floors or replace the ceiling fixture, which had been filled with water.

I had to choose my battles, and decided to focus on making my bedroom a pleasant and cozy place to live again.

It took me about three weeks to settle on which carpet and bed to order, and in the meantime, I researched options for refinishing the floor myself, painting it, or giving it a good cleaning. I opted to clean it with a murphy soap and use a finishing treatment that would seal some of the places that had no sealant. Area rugs cover most of the floor.

I treated myself to new curtains, and then considered what to do for a bed. I decided to buy a daybed with a trundle below, and a memory foam mattress for each.

When the bed arrived, it was time to assemble. I decided to be systematic and read over the instructions, and then cross check that I had all the parts before I started. Perhaps that goes without saying for some people, but as a lifelong improviser, I have been known to dive in before making a plan, whether it comes to going out, taking a trip or assembling mail order furniture. Fortunately, all the pieces were there and the instructions were clear enough for me to fill in the blanks. One aspect of the assembly (snapping plastic guides/weight distributers onto metal rods) was a bit physically demanding and made my palms sore, so I didn’t do them all at once, and got a friend to help me with some of that part of the assembly.

My biggest challenges were:

1)    tolerate the time it took to look at enough options to be sure I balanced economy and aesthetics so I would be happy with the outcome in the long run.
2)    Pace myself getting all the elements of the room together. I didn’t want to over work and end up sore or having compromised and having to live with a damaged item, a poorly assembled item and long term regrets.

It took me about 6 weeks to pull everything together, but in the end, I was able to find the balance between aesthetics, economy and pace.