Monday, April 06, 2009

COLUMN: Depressed

Well, this'll teach me and my big mouth.

So, a few weeks ago I wrote about Shane's Exciting Valentine's Day Extravaganza. It was a fairly amusing evening, as my attempt to woo the latest lucky bachelorette with an at-home dinner ended with a broken-down car, a near fire in my apartment, a brisk winter jog, second-degree burns on my arm, and a tube of Super Glue exploding in my hands. Yes, it was the stuff of romantic legend.

Sadly, though, what the column DIDN'T mention is that by the time the paper went to press, my fledgling relationship had already gone kaput and I was once again flying solo through life. I would've been impressed with myself -- after all, a two week failure is a pretty legendary achievement -- if it wasn't for the fact that I really quite liked this girl and was fairly distraught at her sudden and abrupt departure from my life.

But don't cry for me, Quad Cities -- after a week apart, we're trying to start things over, move ahead slowly and cautiously, and see where the day takes us. I'm just happy in the moment, and that's good enough for now.

The only problem is that I've just spent the last week mired in a funk of despair, self-loathing, and pathos. This, it turns out, is NOT the ideal mindframe to live in when you're the guy in the newspaper who tries to bring the funny every week. Instead of trying to find the laughable foibles in life, I've been the sole attendee of a raging round-the-clock pity party, population: Shane.

But while it wasn't exactly the most entertaining of weeks, I DID learn a few things in the process:

• The problem with being depressed, I've discovered, is that quite often it can be a bit depressing. Yes, I know that there are brave people out there battling clinical depression on a daily basis who probably want my head on a stick for whining over a week-long broken heart, but hey - you weren't on the pity party guest list, and I'm QUITE good at whining.

In a weird way, I was kind of looking forward to the isolation and solitude of a spendidly foul mood. I thought it might be a cathartic growing experience -- you know, maybe the catalyst for me to isolate myself, write the Great American Novel, and someday cry on Oprah. No dice. Instead, I spent most the week staring at an off-white wall bored silly.

Just because you're in a funk shouldn't mean that you can't be entertained. There should be ways of at least amusingly biding your time through misery. For instance, you could watch "The Notebook" and "Sleepless in Seattle" whilst hurling Nerf balls at your TV and keeping score of how many times you smack perfect love upside its miserable head. You could turn an evening of listening to the morbid sounds of The Cure into a drinking game - just do a shot every time Robert Smith sings about how dark (or, in morose UK goth-rock, "daaahk") his life is. Hrrm. Then again, perhaps providing alcohol and projectile weapons to the distraught is a poor choice. Let's move on.

• Being so forlorn that your exceptional musical integrity becomes compromised is entirely unacceptable. A good portion of my life is governed and dictated by the contents of my iTunes folder, and I'm proudly elitist and holier-than-thou when it comes to my pop culture. (The general rule of thumb: If you've ever heard it on the radio, it probably sucks. If it's a challenging and even perhaps atonal sonic maelstrom while someone in the background sings in a language that's quite possibly Icelandic, I probably love it.)

But those well-manicured tastes go right out the window when you're mopey, I've discovered. Last week, I was futzing around with the mp3 player in my car when the radio kicked on for a second -- to "One" by Three Dog Night. Now, this is a song that I would, under normal circumstances, abhor. But in THAT mindset, suddenly I was caught up. "Y'know, man," said the pathetic voice in my head, "these dudes are right on. One IS the loneliest number that I've ever heard." Mere minutes later, I was channel-flipping and almost brought to tears by New Kids on the Block wailing "Please Don't Go Girrrrrl." Again, unacceptable.

• If one wants an audience for one's pity party, all one has to do is add high drama to one's Facebook status. "Shane gives up." "Shane wonders if anything will ever go his way." "Shane is epic fail." "Shane feels dead inside." And to think, I never followed through with that minor in Theatre. My friends all called and e-mailed with worry, but I'm pretty sure they were rolling their eyes, too. I sure would've.

• All it takes is one bad mood to suddenly make you notice how evil the world really is. Last week, I darted into a gas station for provisions and received a few cents back in change. I thought I'd be a Good Samaritan, so I threw my $.02 into the "take-a-penny-leave-a-penny" tray and walked to the door -- only to catch the clerk sweep up the pennies and put them in the cash register. Normally I'd sigh in complacent defeat, but not in this mood. That guy stole my two cents, and then I gave him my two cents. I think I might be banned from there now.

So, yeah, the best part of last week is clearly that it was LAST week. Or maybe it was yelling at a greedy putz at a gas station, 'coz that was pretty sweet. Either way, here's to new beginnings.

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