At the Warehouse of Madness.

Sarah, the new IKEA catalog is waiting for you.

The new IKEA catalog is waiting, just beyond your line of sight — hovering beyond the pleasures and pursuits of this world, somewhere else, somewhere bathed in Stygian darkness, somewhere beyond. Sarah, the new IKEA catalog is waiting. It is waiting for you to speak the forbidden words within its glossy pages, those unholy words, indecipherable except in their cosmic, Scandanavian horror. The new IKEA catalog is waiting for you to unleash the chthonic beasts hidden within the cheerful depths of its Småland ball pit. Give your children to the pit. Give them willingly, and perhaps you will be spared. The new IKEA catalog makes no promises.

The new IKEA catalog is waiting — and watching. You must traverse the ceremonial maze, you must gaze into the empty, haggard eyes of your fellow travelers and the acolytes who assist them, robed in the colors of cosmic rays and acidic, poisoned waters. Their rictus smiles and jittery digits serve as signposts along the path. You must trudge along at the pace of the slowest, the ones surely to be culled first, and you must not allow the decadent temptations glimmering beyond the safety of the twisting path to dazzle you with the effulgence of their clean lines and minimal padding.

You will not reach the center of the maze, for its non-Euclidean confines have no true center, but you may reach a place of respite where you will find malign offerings to tempt the weary pilgrim. Alongside gelatinous mounds of unknown and unknowable berries, balls of ground and roasted flesh sit and wait for consumption. Turn aside, traveler. These unwholesome delights are not what you seek. You must go on, for the new IKEA catalog is waiting.

Down now, down the treacherous stairs that twist in the middle and spill you into the next phase of the labyrinth. More goods gleam and seduce and dazzle in your peripheral vision. Fluorescent tubes cast a sickly glow along the path, their collective hum a rasping prayer to gods you can never know. You continue. Your new catalog is waiting.

Abruptly, the path ends. You pass from the ghastly iridescence of noisome candles and sickly plants into a darker place. The odor of unstable mock-planks of shredded wood assaults you and a mechanical whine startles you into motion. It is within these depths that the new IKEA catalog awaits.

Despite the fatigue and distress, you must push on.

Loathsome and hideous, stacked boxes reach into the heights where once you saw blue skies. It is possible that they still exist out there, somewhere within the cosmos, but you despair at ever seeing them again. The new IKEA catalog waits for you, and time grows short.

Near the last hurdle is an unspeakable room where the dregs collect, the broken and soiled cast-offs which dwell in bins and stacks and sometimes overflow into each other, the larger pieces leaning against one another as though in a drunken stupor, the smaller shivering together at the bottoms of fetid heaps. Some pilgrims dare to enter this place, but upon exit, one can see that they have altered in some fundamental way and only gibbering madness remains where once there was equilibrium.

Now the pilgrims who wandered from the path pay. They queue for the pleasure of but a few chosen acolytes, those trusted to count the signed chits and rare coins the pilgrims leave in exchange for the eldritch objects that will now grace their dank and accursed homes.

But where is the new IKEA catalog, that tome for which you have sweated and persevered amongst conditions beyond comprehension? It was to divulge all of its most hideous secrets, all of the forbidden decor-based knowledge you craved.

In desperation, you accost an acolyte. “Where are the catalogs?” you cry.

“They are no more, shunned mortal,” the acolyte intones gravely. “We expect additional volumes in a week or so.”

Empty-handed and bereft, sanity departed, you fall to your knees, keening.

Sarah, the new IKEA catalog is waiting — as are you.

On arrogance and ruination.

A few quick notes for people who write in library books:

  1. If you’re going to write in a library book, use a red pen for maximum impact.
  2. If you’re going to alter punctuation in a library book, use the correct proofreading symbols to do so.
  3. If you’re going to proofread a traditionally published, copy-edited, and previously proofread book be sure that you have an intimate understanding of grammar and punctuation. Be very sure that the changes you’re making are absolutely correct.
  4. DO NOT WRITE IN LIBRARY BOOKS, YOU FUCKING MONSTER. NEVER DO THAT.

It takes a certain kind of person to write in a library book. It takes another kind of person to alter punctuation throughout an entire library book — incorrectly alter punctuation, in every single instance. I gave up reading the book in question (excerpt pictured above) because the added commas were so glaringly incorrect that it made my skin crawl. I wanted to find the inarticulate comma monster who defaced this perfectly innocent murder mystery and slap them in the face with a glove and demand satisfaction.

Let me explain something. I understand arrogance very well because I am inflicted with that particular malady. Have you ever heard of a psychological condition called Imposter Syndrome? I definitely don’t have that. I sort of have the opposite of that. When I walk into a new room, I’m not secretly worried that I don’t belong there or that I’m a fraud. Very often I walk into a room and think: Oh, come on. I am so much better than these people.

Part of the problem (and at least I do see that there is a problem) is that, as a kid genius and a long time stage performer with a truckload of training, I have often been the best/smartest/most talented person in a room. Not every time, of course. But just often enough that the feeling was sometimes justified. I have been — many times — an arrogant little shit.

I refer to myself these days as a recovering asshole. (“Hi, my name is Sarah, and I’m an arrogant asshole.” / “Hi, Sarah!”) I’m not as awful as I once was, but I still have my arrogant moments.

And even I would never deface a library book with incorrect punctuation. Never. Even if the punctuation was truly incorrect and I was in the right.

Think about the sheer moxie that would take — the pure, unadulterated hot-shitness of it all. What makes a person pick up a ballpoint pen and say to themselves, “I took an English class once, and I can clearly see that this book is missing all of the important commas. I must correct this injustice if it’s the last thing I do! BY GOD AS MY WITNESS, THIS SHALL NOT STAND!” And then, tongue tucked in the corner of their mouth in concentration, said person, in deep concentration, proceeded to add and subtract commas at will. “There,” the person must have whispered triumphantly into the night, “now everyone will see the depth of my genius and understand that only I — and I alone — can command the comma perfectly. I do not need any trained proofreader or sly copy-editor to pollute my unblemished efforts. Bow before me, library readers, and see how I have bested them all!”

I expect they devolved into paroxysms of maniacal laughter at that point.

You see, the kind of arrogance exhibited by the person who defaced this book isn’t like my on-again-off-again overabundance of (occasionally unwarranted) self-confidence. This is the kind of arrogance that ruins things for everyone who comes after them. My arrogance tends to injure me socially — no one loves a braggart — but this kind of arrogance hurts other people. In this case, it hurt me — and I’m just arrogant enough in my own right to make an issue of it.

To make a long story short, do not deface library books. Especially if your punctuation “corrections” are wrong.

I give quality Sarah, I guess.

Someone believing me to be a different Sarah Crowder followed me on Instagram a while back. I know because I have gotten misdirected e-mail from the same person. And here’s the thing: I post selfies. She knows I’m a different Sarah Crowder.

But she hasn’t unfollowed me, and occasionally “hearts” my photos.

I guess because I’m just that awesome?

That’s right, other Sarahs. I’m in ur Instagrams, stealing ur friends.

Help me choose…

…what movie I’ll use to torment my long-suffering life partner this Halloween.

We have a little tradition in our household: Every Halloween I choose a horror movie to watch, and Lennox actually watches it. He doesn’t care for the horror genre, and never really gets anything out of it, but he’s an excellent sport and gives me 1 1/2 to 2 hours of his life every year just to please me. Nice chap, that one.

Anyway, I have no idea what to watch this year. Previous selections have included The Ring (US version), The Exorcist (original theatrical cut), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), The Evil Dead (1981), and oddly enough, Pumpkinhead (because I love it, love it, love it).

Some possibilities for this year include: Halloween, Fright Night (2011), or The Others. I really loved The Conjuring, too, and it’s out on DVD just in time to be another possibility.

The problem is that I know I’m missing obvious choices, and need some help. I prefer our Halloween movie to have some sort of redeeming quality — great acting or script, for instance — and I also prefer to keep the sexual violence to a minimum. (Oh, also: No zombies this year. Just not in the mood.) New movies, old movies — anything is cool, as long as it’s scary. I have no problem with gore (as long as it’s not straight up torture porn), and although I personally prefer supernatural horror, I like a lot of different scary things.

Any suggestions?

Web peeping.

There’s a crafter’s personal blog I really like because the photos are amazing. But they’re so intimate — cooking family dinners, pets, her daughter & partner — that they sometimes make me feel like a spy.

I mean, I know she puts this stuff out there on purpose, but sometimes I click away from her blog feeling like a straight up web-peeper.

It’s a weird feeling.

Gratitude.

So glad I’m not a “trophy wife,” or I’d have to figure out what sort of tortured and demented contest Lennox won that would have me as a prize. Unless I was a participant trophy?

That makes more sense.