Why I Hate My Chair, or My Safe Word Is Ouch.

I’ve read a ton of How To Draw books. I’ve even written one. They tell you how to do things like sharpen a pencil, draw a foot. None of them ever mentioned that, if you were ever lucky enough to draw for a living, you would spend your life sitting on your butt. And I don’t mean the casual sit with a sigh. I mean, in that chair for 25 hours a day, 8 days a week, year after year after year until the EMTs come get you. The first few years go by like a flash. No big deal. Then your hip pops out. Or one morning you put on a sock and your leg shatters. What chapter was this in when they told you about the joys of cartooning?

Every morning I look at the torture chair and hold back tears—because I’m a man—knowing it’s going to hurt but I can’t let it see my fear. My bottom hurts like I was a bad boy and Mistress Veronica gave me what for. My legs are blue from lack of circulation. My feet are swollen up like two cantelopes. Every fiber in my body says, Never sit down again!…Walk!…Jog!…Use your legs or lose them! But I have a deadline and the only way to make it is to draw. And to draw I have to sit down.

Just to make this worse, there’s the occasional article reporting everybody who sits down at work will soon die. Cubicle include treadmills now. I guess you can be a day trader or bill collector while running on a treadmill, but it’s hard to draw a comic book while running a marathon.

So, here’s how this is going to play out… and I tell you this only to warn you—save yourselves. When I’m in my last dying moments in the studio, my legs curled up like a melting witch, I plan to grab this wicked chair in a deathgrip and take it to the grave with me. That will be my revenge—my last laugh—pulling it 6 feet below ground, alive. That part of the plan, I love. But here’s where it goes wrong: Later that night, it will be raining on my new grave. Lightning. The fresh dirt on my gravesite moves. Something emerging. It’s the chair… pushing its way up from the ground like a massive black weed. Finally it sits atop my grave, driving rain rinsing the mud down its polyurethane legs. Thunder shakes the sky. Or is it the chair, laughing at God?

The next day it’s sunny. A family visits a nearby grave. The little boy points to my grave, “Look, daddy, a chair for your office.”

 

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7 thoughts on “Why I Hate My Chair, or My Safe Word Is Ouch.

  1. Duuuude! Get yourself one of those overly hyped Herman Miller Aeron chairs. They are expensive as all git out, I admit, but speaking as someone that has a bad lower back, it is absolute H E A V E N compared to cheaper office chairs. Much more adjustable, too, although making the adjustments is a tad complex. If you like, you can even supplement it with a lumbar support, cushions, or a vibrating back pad (I occasionally use the latter coupled with one of those ThermaCare disposable heating pads).

    However, no matter what chair you have or use, force yourself to get up every 20-30 minutes or so and walk around for 5 minutes or so–if you have to, set a timer to make yourself do this. (And speaking as someone that easily gets lost in my work and hours can pass before I know it, this is a good idea, courtesy of my wife!) Doing so really helps minimize, and even prevent, back pain and “desk butt” syndrome. Five minutes at a pop really won’t hurt you on a deadline as much as you might otherwise fear; at best, it puts you a tiny bit behind (uh, no pun intended).

    And, just out of curiosity, ever thought about a chiropractor? I used to be dead-set against them on principle (as a scientist), but finally capitulated to my wife and went and saw one, and have been getting regular “maintenance” ever since about every 5-6 weeks. Now I have much less back pain and much less often, to boot. I can’t vouch for every chiropractor, but mine seems pretty darned good, and I’m glad for the investment!

  2. My back is fine. What I need—and I’m having a hard time convincing my wife I need—is a butt masseuse. Thanks for the tip on Herman Miller Aeron chairs. I’ll check em out.

  3. Sounds like it’s time to move to a standing desk! Talk to Ryan Stegman, he’s doing pretty well with his setup. I’ve been doing it for over a year, ass and back have never been better.

  4. And here I thought there were stores in the US that actually sell chairs… Apparently I was wrong… ;-)

  5. There’s also thing thing that I heard about years ago and that sounds really rather nifty: http://www.treadmill-desk.com/ . It’s probably not a cure for butt or back pain so much as a weight loss device (and I am by no means saying that you’re in need of such thing!), but it’s an interesting idea that certainly would make it harder to get a sore butt! Not sure about drawing while doing it, though…

    And for whatever it’s worth, I LOVE the idea of a butt masseuse…!

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