IKEA (from The Batmom January 2013)

Lacking a theological system into which I can shove the universe, I drive south to IKEA seeking an organizational system into which I can shove my stuff.

The move stinks desperate, the final bead in a devil’s rosary of a string that began in November and includes deaths, diagnoses, disgust, dissatisfaction, and disorder. 

While conveniently onomatopoeiac, the mysteries overwhelm and signal chaos. I pay heed only to the winding road leading past the chapels of lesser deities to the ugly top-heavy rectangular we pilgrims access via well-marked rotary.

I’m not neat I’m not clean I found Cheetos behind my grandmother’s writing desk, the desk wedged between our bed and the wall, the Cheetos wedged between the desk and the baseboard heater. I found them and I left them, inviting mice and signaling sloth. I saw them and I gave them my middle finger and I walked away.

Die another day, shitty delectables.

This is me, Mz Topsy-Turvy, impotent housemistress, domestic fail, the unlikeliest and neediest of supplicants at the Temple of Order, the Big Box promising little boxes within which we can insert our lives, placing each worry and every last LEGO into its own compartment. After we box we will be clean again, like the innocent suburban babies resting in their Hensvik cribs.

I’m hopeful as I park in row E1 between a CR-V and a cement pillar; expectant as I plow through a crowd of thick, spend-ready Marys great with child and dragging Josephs, well-versed in web architecture but useless with a hammer.

I ride up on the escalator and push down on the panic that resembles the heartburn that necessitates the plastic antacid bottles I hear rattling from the depths of every third Mary's wipeable satchel.

I can’t think for the storage.

Tall shelves with small bins or stair shelves with red bins or moveable bins with removable shelves or bunk beds that transform into rentable storage units with separate compartments for lost teeth, single socks, lost minds, and single earrings.

Which suits? My needs? Which are?

Order. Ontological clarification. An affordable and generically attractive despository for my comic books.

I walk and I watch the Confident with their decisive golf pencils and under my breath I chant my catalogue of needs and I wonder how the Confident moved from their lists to salvation, because I can’t even locate the Living Room Storage.

Jittery and near-frenzied with indecision I call my husband (the Frog), but no matter how descriptive my descriptives, he’s no more able than I to discern a hierarchy among the contents of a half-floor-full of the false rooms of imaginary families who own nothing but invisible books, figmental tchotchkes, and endless solid shelves named after Scandinavian luminaries.

With no stars to guide and the Yellow Shirts hovering around Mary, my tentative golf pencil desperately scribbles coordinates for the BjornBorgvik in brown-black and a handsome Skarsgård in blonde.

Faith sparks as I carry, unassisted, packaged slabs from Aisle 7 Bin 15 to E1 Mazda 5, but exiting the rotary I feel as empty and heavier than I did turning in. Back home I unload my new unwieldies, placing their bottoms in my kitchen fireplace in front of the cat food, leaning their tops against my kitchen mantel littered with fragrant candles, preschool artwork, and spare change.

The boxes stand ready for days, until my felt-tipped children have covered them with unfathomable scrawls.