John, meet your closet floor

Cheryl made a trip across the bay to visit the Tampa IKEA store a while ago. A visit with the Swedish retailer usually lasts a full day and this one fit the pattern.

Don’t you just love IKEA? Have you hugged a Swede today?

I stayed home and reacquainted myself with regret.

Inner John: Hey John, you remember regret don’t you?

Public John: Yeah, we go way back.

Inner John: Didn’t you two hook up back in fifth grade… something to do with a lesson in politics?

Public John: I lost.

Inner John: Didn’t everyone on your campaign staff vote for the other guy too?

Public John: I hear alcohol kills brain cells. YOU WANNA GO?!? LETS GO!

I spent the afternoon in a funk.

What’s wrong with me? I’m (allegedly) a dude. IKEA should be my blood adversary… Vader vs young Skywalker, Mac vs Microsoft, comma vs period. Instead of counting my lucky stars, pieces of the retail sky are falling awfully close to my peace of mind, threatening my fragile sense of wellbeing.

Maybe I’m overstating the remorse a bit….

A friend of mine at work would say I should be required to turn in my “man card.” I would reply: “I don’t think I was ever issued one, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t missed much.”

Anyway, now you know the set up. I’ll wager you’re so close to the edge of your seat you’d fall off with the slightest breeze or release of gas.

Cheryl came home with a shoe rack… for me!

I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself up off the floor. Lying sprawled down there is unseemly for a person of your station.

This is uncharted territory (for me). Not only is this my first shoe rack, it’s the first time I’ve ever considered the concept of order on my side of the closet. The only evidence of organization is two relatively neat piles: one for tee-shirts I haven’t worn in five (plus) years, and one for my hat collection.

If not for the physical laws of this universe, shirts and hats would live in harmony. It turns out it’s damn near impossible to make a single, narrow, free-standing pile of shirts and hats more than four feet tall.

It’s a shame, I know.

Otherwise, space is used on a first come, first served basis. It’s an under appreciated system. Stuff you use often tends to stay on top or towards the front where its easily found, while older, less desirable stuff goes into a kind of default storage.

But now, sweet Lord above, I’ve gotta find a place for a shoe rack. The system is lost, I tells ya!

Where once there was sweet chaos there’s a little bit of order.

You want some order?!?

No, not really.


I said no. You don’t have to yell.


Sadly, I think you may be right.

I should’ve gone to IKEA and picked out my own little treat.

And so we come full circle.

Got regret?


Stray comment

I was having a good day. Everything was fine until I heard one stray comment. Do you have days like this? Can one or two sentences ruin it for you? I wish I could say I have the self assurance to shrug off what other people think and say, but it’s not me. Not at all. It sticks with me. It burrows and churns through my mind, infecting everything that follows.

“I don’t get it. This guy supposedly can’t work because he’s got bipolar disorder? What kind of bullshit is that?”

This was an opportunity to intervene. I could have spoken up. I could have defended this person – a stranger, circumstances unknown. I could have spoken up for all those who can’t speak up for themselves: people who know the cruel reality of severe mental illness. I could have spoken up for my mother, who can’t be left alone for more than a few moments in the hospital because she may hurt herself, who can no longer communicate rationally with the world outside the confines of her own mind, let alone live independently and earn a living.

My mother has bipolar disorder. That’s no bullshit. I’ll tell you what is though: the way we simultaneously stigmatize and dismiss mental illness. Could we be more cruel?

I shouldn’t ask that. Things can always get worse. Anyone who knows our history knows we’re capable of much worse. I guess I just wish more of us aspired to something better.

We’ve all heard how mental and physical illnesses are perceived and treated differently; from the disparities in insurance coverage to the sympathies of the public. Instead, let’s think about how similar they tend to be. They have biological causes. They have ranges of severity. Some people respond to treatment, while others don’t (many fall somewhere in between). Some treatments poison other parts of the body, causing further complications. Both can lead to the death of spirit, hope, and body.

You could watch a hundred people get thousands of colds over your lifetime, and never see one person develop life threatening pneumonia. Obviously that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Yet someone can know one or two people with mild depression and think psychiatry is a scam?

Some of it has to do with plain old ignorance. That’s why I feel like I can’t sit still when I hear evidence of it – even when it’s just a throw away comment in passing.

And yet, that’s exactly what I did. I sat still. I let the comment go.

I wish I hadn’t. I’ve rationalized it since. It probably wouldn’t have made any difference. I would have sounded like one more fanatic from the fringe. Bringing up my personal experience would only prove my inability to be impartial.

Look ma! More bullshit.