A simple plan, foiled.

Without reason or cause, this has been one of the worst weeks of my life. Just because things have been building for a while. You want to know what depression is like? Here’s a quick (not really) sample.

We’re not a Barcalounger family. We have a beautiful old craftsman house built in 1908, so we try and keep the mood of the place by staying away from the typical. When my wife was pregnant with our first, we bought a gliding rocking chair. It’s really quite nice. It’s stained wood and beautiful textiles, and really fits in with the hardwood floors quite nicely. Honestly, that’s where the snobbery ends with us – the house is dusty and lived in, not beautiful and clean. But we’re ok with that.

Somehow I ended up in the glider. After the babies were long grown and we settled into watching TV in the living room, it was just where I sat. I never intended for it to be “my chair” but it did. There’s a little table next to it, with my essentials. A phone charging stand, a coaster that looks like a tiny pallet I got at a horrible convention in Vegas, a few other things, and the most important pieces of art I own. A snow globe with the Edmund Fitzgerald, a small rock painted with a dog’s face on one side, and “Harvey” on the other. And finally, the most important and valuable thing I own: A small ceramic dog (named Harvey) with a small heart on the bottom of the right front foot. My daughter made it and it’s exquisite. She has a real talent for ceramics, and the fact that she made it from my drawing and did so well makes my heart swell and burst with love.

There’s often a set of earbuds, a mouse, maybe a facemask and some other stuff, but that’s about it. The arms of the chair are wide and long, so perfect for either a mouse or a drink. They’re worn but not too much. The cushions are flattening with age, and the chair itself it showing it’s age. It’s over 20 years old and well used. But it’s still beautiful. While there’s no overt rule, nobody usually sits in my chair besides the cats, and while I try and share it with them, they usually vacate when I sit on them.

Before depression cost me my job, I spend COVID on video meetings in that chair, trying not to rock, but sometimes just rocking anyway so the Zoom meeting participants could get motion sickness watching my background coming and going to and fro. It was my work place, but also my happy place.

It’s a comfortable chair, and I like the gliding part. it rocks every so slightly without making my seasick. Last year we cleaned the porch well enough to really organize it nicely, and my favorite spot became a rocking chair in the corner looking out on the street. I sat there and watched families walk by during the COVID lockdown, I sat there and watched unknown creepy cars glide slowly down the street during the days after the Minneapolis uprising. I sit there still and watch the world go by while I’m in my mental health purgatory. So I like to rock, maybe that’s my age or just some sort of comforting technique.

I told you it wasn’t a quick sample.

Last night and tonight I’ve been left to my own devices as everyone else in the family lives their lives. Yesterday I watched my favorite Luc Besson French action movies and escaped to being first a female assassin (Nikita) and then a quirky old man assassin (Leon / the Professional) and didn’t do my laundry.

Tonight somehow I managed to get my laundry in (it’s still there, waiting for the dryer. Let’s lower our expectations, folks, okay?) and settled in on the couch to watch a movie or three. Another Luc Besson, but this time with Robert DeNiro in a comedy that was kinda fun but stupid and a waste of time, which was perfect. When you’re depressed, wasting time is essential. Either a bad/good movie or doing yet another “paint by numbers” on your phone, which consists of tapping a lot and not thinking — or playing a video game. (My flavor? Terraria. Except instead of playing it I dig endless tunnels in a fantasy world. Just digging. Tunnels. Obsessively.)

I ended up defaulting back to one of my favorite “depression porn” movies: Girl, Interrupted. Other faves in the category? One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Donnie Darko, It’s Actually a Funny Story, The Bridge, What Dreams May Come (shudderingly wonderful), Silver Lining’s Playbook, Cake (Rachel was never hotter) Melancholia, Requiem for a Dream – I could go on. I’ve seen Girl Interrupted a million times, and to be honest it’s my fantasy: You go a bit crazy, get sent to a sanitorium, are paired with an astonishingly compatible roommate in an institution which takes some getting used to. You spend time coming to terms with your issues while bonding with a zany collection of folks who are crazy yet really relatable. There’s a compassionate and genius therapist who really cuts through the nonsense and helps you come to terms with your shit. And of course there’s a really obnoxious yet charismatic character who you find to be a connected soul and you learn not just about them but about your self in the process. Sadly, someone dies, but in the end everyone learns their lessons about life, and move on. In the end you knew how to heal yourself all along, and you get the bravery to start over on the “outside” and everyone wishes you well. You walk or drive into the unknown distance and the credits roll. Happy Ending. Yeah. I know it’s not like that.

Except somewhere in there the chair began to squonk. It’s actually been doing this for a few weeks now, but I just haven’t been able to do anything about it. As a result, I’ve not been rocking, and that’s kinda been bothering me.

So nobody else was home and I had a moment (just a moment mind you) of inspiration and decided it was time to end the squonk . Here’s where the really hard part starts. Forget the crippling depression, the electro shock therapy, the beaming of magnetic rays into my head, the shaking hands and the going to sleep hoping to (there is no) God that you have a mysterious brain aneurism in the night and your family is rid of you and gets the insurance money. No, much harder than that.

A trip to the garage.

I checked the utility shelf in the kitchen hoping the WD-40 was in there, but it wasn’t. I knew it wouldn’t be. So I had to find some keys and head to the garage. Fine. I took the scooter keys, reminding myself that I wasn’t riding it enough and the obligations connected. I thought about going for a ride but I’d already settled into sad for the night and didn’t have the inspiration. I thought about how I wouldn’t ride it with my friends this weekend because it would be too much effort. But maybe next weekend.

Stepping outside I wondered if any of the neighbors could see me, and if they would wonder what I was doing. I didn’t really have any reason to be going anywhere. But nobody else was around. Turns out the garage was unlocked, but no matter. The WD-40 was right where I expected it and I grabbed it, turning back to the house. It was over 90 degrees and swampy hot. This morning when I went to the hospital (per diem) for my treatments it was swampy by I still wore a hoody like some kind of emo high schooler – the universal shield.

So I’m back in the house now and I have everything I need. So I go to the glider, carefully turn it on it’s back, and look for the squeaky bits. The axles, I guess you would call them, were covered in cat hair. I don’t think this chair has every been on it’s back, much less cleaned like this. So I went to the kitchen to find something to clear the cat hair. A kebob stick would do it. Couldn’t be bothered to find the wooden ones that I could throw away, so I grabbed a metal one. This brings with it a world of issues, of course. It’ll need washing, and someone may end up asking what I was using it for. And it wasn’t very good at the task. But eventually I cleaned everything out. Time for the WD-40. Happily it wasn’t empty (had it been, it would have been par for the course) and I sprayed the rocking bits, both at the point of rocking, and the connection points. I oiled the shit out of that chair. Of course, now we have oil leaking on the floor and on the chair. So I had to go get some kleenex, try and clean the floor and the chair as much as possible., and that’s that. Throw out all the kleenex and thank (there is no, still) God the trash bag isn’t full, so I don’t have to deal with that whole nightmare guilt. Finally, turn the chair back over and put the WD-40 in the kitchen – getting back out to the garage and everything involved is way too much for one day – and coming back to the chair.

So finally I can watch TV (and even later with the family) and get back to rocking in my chair. So I hit play on the movie and relax back into the evening.

Squeak. Squeak.


And there you have it. With more lubricant than a Texas whore the chair still makes noise. Everything I’ve done is for naught. Exhausting and frustrating and annoying, all to change the noise of the chair from a squonk to a squeak. A simple task, maybe 15 minutes, a non-optimal outcome. But the depression brain in my head told me a whole different story, and this simple failure was about as bad as it could get. After a week of Everything, this one little failure was just enough. It didn’t put me over the edge, it just reminded me. Reminded me that no matter the effort, it’s all just effort. And none of it is worth it. But it was one of the worse fails of my life. Just because it was this week – and this week sucked.

That’s depression. Rinse, repeat, enjoy.

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