1. Get a roommate. Make sure your roommate comes with a loveseat, a kitchen table, a coffee table, and one chair that she found in a dumpster.
2. Have a friend who’s about to get married. Take her soon-to-be husband’s old twin bed. He doesn’t need it anymore.
3. Find a reasonably priced dresser on Craigslist. Find out too late that the owner had to be out of the apartment by noon and left it on the back staircase for you. Look everywhere for it; finally ask a man in a blue jumpsuit eating a sandwich in the courtyard if he’s seen it. He appears to be some kind of waste management worker. “A white dresser?” he asks in heavily accented English. “We smashed it.” He points to the dumpster. Do not pay the owner.
4. See on Facebook that an acquaintance is selling two bookcases for $10. When you go to collect them, her roommate says she’s already moved. Wracked with guilt, email her asking for an address so you can mail her the $10. Turns out she just moved elsewhere in the city; she says you can just buy her a beer sometime and call it even. Never see her again.
5. Inadvertently break one of the bookcases while loading your U-Haul. Drag it into an alley to abandon it. Find a dresser and a wooden chair back there and appropriate them.
6. Only ever work on your bed, so you don’t need a desk. Your bedroom is now complete.
7. Acquire other essentials from your roommate’s relatives: a TV and an overly firm green polka-dotted couch that you name, “The Great Stone Dragon.”
8. Live contently for a couple months.
9. Become embarrassed that your guests’ only seating options in your kitchen are the dumpster chair, the alley chair and a large Tupperware bin.
10. Make a New Year’s resolution to buy kitchen chairs.
11. Do not follow through.
12. Eventually one of your friends will move away, perhaps to become a professor at the University of Nebraska, and you will acquire a free set of kitchen chairs and a bookcase upon his departure. This will be entirely your roommate’s doing.
Previously: Scenes from a Pizza Parlor