Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fifty Shades of Chair

God, my chair, my chair!

This is a chairy tale, but a nasty one, a Grimm with a bad ending.

I hate office equipment. I wish I could type inside my head, make the words float out on to the page or even suspend themselves in mid-air like in Stephen Hall’s Raw Shark Texts. Instead I’m left with typing, which is as awkward now as it was in the class I took in high school. Imagine being a typing teacher all your life, trying to teach a bunch of sullen kids a boring skill on the “qwerty” keyboard which was designed when typewriters were first invented. The whole board was set up to slow typists down, because the only way to correct errors back then was to spit on the page, or cut the piece out with a scabbard.

So. The chair. My office chair always sucks, and I’ve been through a few of them. There is always something seriously wrong with them. For years I played musical chairs with my husband. “This thing is made of vinyl!” I’d complain in the summer, peeling my shorts-clad legs off the seat like Velcro. So I’d get his fabric-covered one for a while, the one with hard plastic arms that bored holes in my elbows. The proportions just weren’t right on this thing, so I ended up with backache and fatigue.

Not to mention eyestrain. Let’s get into eyestrain, shall we? Being an author, I’ve had to edit manuscripts. Back then anyway, we used a marked-up hard copy and a computer copy and sort of fixed one using the other. So I needed some sort of stand to hold my papers, double-wide, and still see my monitor.


I hunched and squinted as I tried to see the damn monitor, jacked up as it was to make it just visible while I shuffled papers.  I got used to agony in my lower back, the price of my art, perhaps. The truth is, I just didn’t know how else to do it.

“This thing is a piece of shit!” I’d cry in the winter, as the cold plastic froze my arms to my sides. So once again we went through the old switcheroo.

This latest chair created more problems. I began to slide down farther and farther on my spine, at the same time hunching forward because I couldn’t see my monitor at all. “Why do you do that?” my husband would ask. “I need my paper stand.” “Why?” “I might need to use it again.” “Why?”, and so on.

Another switch of chair. Finally, when my bizarre posture had actually given me medical problems, I decided I needed a Brand New Chair that would fix everything. Since we’re cheap, and since they had a nice selection at a good price, we went to Costco. Like the Three Bears, I had to sit in each one to see which of them was “just right”.

Amazingly, it was the second one I sat in. Like a first-class airplane seat (and how the hell would I know what THAT felt like? I’m guessing), it just cradled my body, but kept my back straight. The arm rests were lavishly padded and curved to match the curve of forearm and wrist and hand.

I! Loved! That! Chair! I loved it in the morning, I loved it in the evening, I loved it –

Then I got it home.

My keyboard rests on a tray that pulls out. Keeps the dust off n’ stuff (supposedly, but in reality my keyboard is just as filthy as everyone else’s). Every time I pulled up to my keyboard, the deluxe first-class arms of this thing pushed the tray back in.

But it got worse. The new chair wouldn’t go down far enough. I almost felt like a little kid with her feet dangling up off the floor. I could not believe this. “WHY WON’T IT GO DOWN?” I screamed. “It’s as far down as it will go.” “This was designed for a six-foot man.” “Why didn’t you notice that at the store?”

I didn’t notice ANYTHING at the store.

You don’t sit back and lounge in an office chair. You work from it. You keyboard, you mouse, you do stuff. You roll it forward and back. (And that’s another thing. That big plastic mat-thingie underneath the chair just kept sliding all over the place. The casters made dents in it  that the chair kept falling back into, and they were about a mile back from my computer. My wrist was in agony, like a toothache. Everything was wrong.

“So (sarcastically), do you want another chair?”


He had groused and grumped about buying a proper plastic floor mat with those little teeth in it to grip the carpet, refusing to even consider it because it cost something like $40. 00. I kept trying to explain it to him, how the casters were cutting into the rug. “Then pull the plastic mat back,” he said. “I’d need to do it every five minutes.”

I like my chair, I really do, and if I had a circular saw, one of those things with teeth all around it, it would be no more. Right now my tray with my keyboard on it has a shelf sitting on top if it, an old shelf left over from one of those really tacky particle-board book cases. My monitor has one under it too, to jack it up at least an inch to make up for the fact that the chair is too high up and can’t be fixed.

Now I am nagging him to PLEASE let me get a proper mat so the thing won’t slither and slide all over hell’s-half-acre like Bambi on ice. He gets this squinched-up, disapproving look on his face (I can read his mind: “God, what a waste of money”), doesn’t even make eye contact with me because I know he does not understand my needs.

He complains all the time that I spend too much time at the computer. I have this little habit of writing. In my entire life, I have had maybe two people understand what I do, and my husband is not one of them. He thinks I play at it. Everyone thinks I play at it, that I pretend and delude myself that I’m “doing something”. So how can my back hurt, I wonder? If it isn’t even “work”? And why won’t I come out of that room and go to Costco with him to look at bulk sausages and stuff?

To all but those two people, ANYTHING would be better than doing what I do, the waste of time. Even having books out is futile, isn’t it? Some sort of Hemingway fantasy? (And didn’t Hemingway end up shooting himself in the head?). Why do you need a special chair, for God’s sake, and a plastic floor mat with little dit-dots on it so the chair won’t buck and heave under you like a wild horse?

I threw my keyboard at the wall once, so that the underside is secured with masking tape. I have slammed innumerable mice, and thrown a few, which is satisfying because the cover pops off and the battery goes flying across the room. I can’t throw a chair, can’t lift the thing, would like to throw a husband but he is rooted seventeen feet into the ground. Not getting it. While I sit there mousing and hurting. Mousing and hurting.

Postlog. This is something I wrote a long time ago, for That Other Blog, Open Salon, which I didn't really know how to do. I didn't realize you had to "like" people's stuff (usually without reading it) so that they would "like" yours (usually without reading it). It got worse and worse. I didn't need junior high all over again, though it surprises me how often I have to relive it. Then someone dissed me in a high-and-mighty fashion for using a photo of Sylvia Plath without writing to her estate for permission to use it. This photo had been blogged and reblogged hundreds, if not thousands of times, but then these two women, chittidy-chattidy, yatter yatter yatter, we're in and you're not, finally drove me out. When I said I thought the photo was in the public domain, one of the bitches said, "I'm speechless." They simply could not believe what a yokel, what an uneducated idiot they had in their midst.

I set this blog up on a whim and haven't changed it much, though most blogs are sleeker and look more sophisticated. I hate sleek and sophisticated. I like simple blogs with lots of pictures, because part of me never left kindergarten. I was a lot happier then. My happiest time was when I was ten and in a special class and we ran riot and gave our teacher a breakdown. For once in my life, someone called me "smart" and even acknowledged it. It wasn't to last, for the biddies of mediocrity would ultimately close in, as they always do.

I don't even have this font any more, isn't it wild?

Halloween: have some GOO!

How much is that gorilla in the window?

Some lovely '60s stoner music: I can smell the hash