Zen and the Art of Cabinet Making



It’s the rattle of the specks of medicine in the pill that bother me.  Like miniature packing peanuts, they take up space in the capsule, but don’t add to the heft or bulk, and the pill grazes whatever inner moving parts my esophagus has.  I imagine little hairs being lightly touched all the way down to my stomach.  Is there any sensation more disconcerting?  When I swallow I imagine I can hear the plastic-like shell squeezing in on the Effexor specks like one of those stress bean bag things on a cubicle desk.

Sometimes I pack it in a bite of food, like we do for the dogs.  Unlike Bruno and Greta, though, I’m aware of the creepily rattling bubble in the center of the bite.  My throat and chest gets that really awful tickle when I even think of taking the anti-depressant.  I salivate and sweat before I even open the bottle.

“I’m a horrible medicine taker,” I say, and it’s true.  I forget to take all kinds of medicine.  Antibiotics inevitably sit, one or two chalky pills untouched in the bottom of the bottle by my bed.  Pain meds?  Forget it.  Even my testosterone, which isn’t even a damned pill – forgotten until Kris starts her Nurse Ratched routine and practically chases me down with the syringe singing, “Bevel up to the bar!” (injection humor)

I would make a horrible drug addict.

Instead, I rely on other obsessions to trigger that all important serotonin bump of which my brain is so fond.  For a while my obsession was puzzles.  Giant, monotonous puzzles with small pieces.  Kris wasn’t a fan of the dining room table space that compulsion required, and I eventually migrated to leather tooling, sewing, long games of Mahjong, Sudoku and Words with Friends and then the mother of all obsessions – my woodworking shop.

If you know me or have followed my blog for any length of time, you know about my weakness for sawdust, my poetic relationship with mitered edges, my affair with my table saw.  My garage is my happy place.

It’s where I went this past weekend when, so profoundly burned out at work, so exhausted from struggling with my body issues, so anxious about, well, everything, I had to take some time off and regroup.  The loose doorknob, the unattached threshold at my feet, the Rube Goldberg electrical setup and layers of spiderwebs greeted me.  The scent of humid sawdust triggered that feel good switch that’s reserved for chocolate and drill bits.  The mosquitoes sharpened their dinner knives and tied their napkins around their necks.

I started slow, cleaning and arranging, fondling the last eight of my favorite 1 inch finishing nails, straight and true – gleaming in their glass jar, then worked my way into the project – a cabinet for the refrigerator.

Kris says I need a radio in my garage, but I think silence is an underrated antidepressant.  Sure, I need the musical  stylings of Rage Against the Machine on the elliptical machine to push me through that last mile – who am I kidding, the last 3 miles –  of my workout, but blissful solitude soothes the troubled soul.

And then there’s Lowe’s.

I went to the store with the flimsy excuse that I needed shims for the kitchen base cabinets and left with a giant piece of MDF balanced in the back of my truck.  (side note – When purchasing gigantic pieces of plywood, use the cart that carries it vertically, not horizontally, so as to avoid running headlong into the JawHorse display, knocking part of it down and propelling other shoppers down side aisles to avoid you.  Not that I’ve had any experience with this.)

Back to my sanctuary.

I cut the MDF into pieces and used salvaged doors, wood from old bookstore shelves, screws and glue to construct my gift to Kris.

I take back every bad thing I’ve ever said about my router.  And there have been many bad things said about my router.

I’ve left out the part where I electrocuted myself trying to turn off my light while perched one footed on my thinking chair.  (side note – When unplugging a shop light from a power strip suspended by an extension cord from the rafters of a garage, use both hands.  Not that I have any experience with this type of thing.)  Also omitted was the giant fit I threw after spending 5 hours trying to anchor this to the plaster over lath kitchen wall with no apparent stud in the ENTIRE room.

Today, I’m sitting in a coffee shop typing this blog post instead of going to work.  In all honesty, I was headed there, computer in hand.  But I wasn’t ready to transform myself back into the bill payer at a small bookstore just yet.  Instead, I ordered a large coffee and swallowed my Effexor with a bite of bagel and cream cheese.

The bills will still be there tomorrow.