The Last Estate

January Blues – The Last Estate

January Blues

I spend most of my endless mornings arranging to crawl out of the bed I sleep in.  It’s a bed where there are probably more bed bugs than breadcrumbs for tiny mouthparts to feast on, and there are definitely more breadcrumbs than thread count on the rough sheets I wrap myself in when I’m using sheets and not just sleeping on the mattress itself, which is almost never.  


It’s a new year, and all the little trackers inside brains that count joy, thankfulness, and blessings have reset for the season, like the honor ratings in League of Legends.  I’m back at zero, blaring “Zero” by Smashing Pumpkins in my phone’s earbuds while mice do urbex inside the empty walls. 


What I can see, what I have seen, of 2023 looks identical to 2022 in my dusty eyes, although asking someone with depression to compare the years always seems penal, akin to asking a victim to identify their assailant in a lineup.  When talking about the years, “worse than” and “better than,” to me, all sound like measures on some scale of retributive justice, and there’s no justice, and the retribution usually brings more pain than peace of mind.  


“Wait, Rudy, maybe it’s just you,” I tell myself, “Maybe you just need some perspective, or another Psychology Today ad keyword.”


But as I make my way towards my morning shower—this vague goal that’s sliding farther and farther back in my priorities list (a fact that the Estate’s non-euclidean geometry acknowledges by pushing the end of the hallway back infinitely)—I peer into the rooms of my housemates.


It turns out that the Goddess of Depression’s cup overfloweth (like seriously, way more than half full) and everyone is laid low by some malaise that’s either seasonal, regional, or indeterminable-but-still-really-shitty.  


I want to have a conversation.  I want to ask people how they stave off these long, distended days, these January blues, but goddamn, I’m a social recluse and it’s like 1 PM and the meds are not hitting the right way yet.  So instead, I keep walking towards that far away bathroom while typing out a question in the Discord we all share:


“What’s your ‘depression grinding’ media that you use to chew through the hours where you just can’t move?”


The responses are timeless.  I mean that as a statement about how time seems when you’re depressed—asynchronous, bleeding—and also a statement about the unconquerable nature of depression, I guess.  


As I trudge on, I read through my friends’ musings as they come in and feel some measure of calm wash over me.  I feel lucid.  I feel at least lukewarm.  Finally, I feel the solid oak door of the bathroom collide with my forehead as I crash into it, my attention divided by “Zero” and the chat notifications.  


I stand looking at the door blankly, my brain caught in an error loop.





Sabrina Small


What I want is painless annihilation. What I want is to slip into a gentle ballet of self punishment. I’ll paint yesterday’s picture: I am nervous about never working again, disappointing everyone to the point of social exile, and grieving the expected but always abrupt departure of my kids, who have gone to their dad for the week. The apartment is silent. Outside it’s raining, handing me a big fat justification to wallow. It is 10:30 and I make spaghetti puttanesca. I bring the oily red mess of noodles onto the couch and cover myself with a blanket, which I will use as a napkin, bib, and possibly snot rag. It will be dark in 5 hours but for now, I have to draw the curtain. I shove noodles into my mouth hole and find something starring Ryan Reynolds. I don’t think he’s attractive. It’s not about desire. I don’t think he’s a bad or good actor. He just is. His brand is dependable.


I watch Free Guy. The title is so bad. The title sounds like it was written by ESL students. The movie is also bad. It’s so stupid and obvious that the funny parts seem like an accident, some version of, “if 100 monkeys typed all day for eternity, eventually they’d write Hamlet.” Jody Comer is in Free Guy and I pay close attention to her shark eyes, the fetal alcohol beauty of her face. I notice the little things, the freckles on her back as she hunches before her computer. Did she hate every second of this or did she treat it like a job and enjoy the perks? I pause often. I make an appointment with my gynecologist. I fill the sodastream and press until I hear the satisfying carbonation fart. I  eat the rest of a pint of cookie-dough ice cream. I piss 12 times. I check twitter and discord. I long for death’s embrace. The whole time, I’m thinking about the minutes ticking down. The plot will find its tidy ending and I’ll be left behind, searching for another way to fill the void. Movies are for amateurs. I know this. It’s better to pick something with multiple seasons. Double digit seasons. I can’t return to the comfort of Bob’s Burgers or The Office. I’ve dipped into those wells too often. I start Broadchurch, three seasons will get me to the point of passing out from exhaustion. Oh and look! A dead kid. I fart loud enough to scare the cat and settle in for the night.


Derek Maine


The clack of the cue ball striking a red. The long run up the soft cushioned green baize. The sound of English commentators talking in hushed wry tones. A century break. A maximum break. Ronnie O’Sullivan is potting everything tonight, ladies and gentlemen. Not writing. Worrying. A drunken fan yells out mid-shot. The referee issues a stern warning. Ball in hand. I am forty years old, my children are young, happy, and healthy. I am in love with my wife. I am financially secure. Some nights I lie in total darkness and shake uncontrollably. Some nights I lie naked on the tile floor in the bathroom. I am terrified and lonely, and have no reason to be. Best of eleven frames. The words are trapped in my throat. I need to find New York again, but where? Certainly not Chicago, not this year. The 2023 Masters Snooker tournament took place at the Ally Pally in London, and was ultimately won by Judd Trump, the thirty-one year old from Whitchurch, Bristol. I watched every second between deep breaths and sometimes tears


Forrest Muelrath


I must always be working, I told myself while failing high school algebra. I must always be working on the things I was meant to work on so I can show the world my true purpose for being alive. But I can’t always be working. Some days I have none of the energy to do the things I believe I am meant to do. So, I learned to trick myself into feeling like I was working.


It started when I fell asleep with a popsicle on my laptop keyboard. After I ruined my laptop with popsicle juice, my girlfriend gave me her old laptop and said, Maybe you can make this one work? I installed open-source software on my girlfriend’s laptop. It took me a long time to get the laptop working with open-source software, but once I did I was fascinated. Everything was so open. I could see everything the computer was doing. The computer would write out everything it was doing in .log files. I found the .log files and started reading them. Reading is part of the work I am supposedly meant to do, so reading the .log files felt like working.


Even though my computer was working well enough to do my work, I was not satisfied. I wanted my computer screen to look a certain way so I would not be distracted from doing my work. I read the .log files and I figured out how to change all the colorful icons on my computer screen so that they would look like the stains on my shirt. 


I am not a computer programmer. I know people who program computers and they can remember complex codes and long strings of numbers after seeing them just once. I am lucky if can remember the code #FBF1C7 after typing it dozens of times — the code I use to change everything on my computer to a color that matches my mood when I don’t feel like working — the color tan.


Once I have changed everything on my computer so it is a tan color, I have supposedly created a distraction-free environment on my screen so that I can do my work. Then I figure out how to install something like Tetris on my tan screen. After a while I grow tired of Tetris, and I start messing with the Tetris code to see if I can change the color of the blocks in the game. Soon enough, I have jostled the computer code in a way that makes my screen go black. After the screen is black, I start all over, installing the software, changing all of the icons and colors so they match my mood to create a perfect work environment, and so on.


Gianluca Cameron


In terms of depression media, nothing really fits such a description for me more than the two to three hour long Family Guy/American Dad compilations by 7 Rong Entertainment. When one is feeling empty, one goes to YouTube. One doesn’t feel as if there is enough time for a movie and yet a feature length television compilation doesn’t feel like a major waste of time. The content farm avoids being struck for stitching together episodes of the aforementioned adult cartoons by randomly zooming in, cutting scenes and placing music over muted dialogue. While the choice of episodes and the implementation of the first two effects seem arbitrary, the third effect usually occurs during a scene where music is playing. This is interesting not only because it suggests an uncharacteristic degree of intentionality – it also creates an amusing effect (one is not initially aware that the soundtrack is different and also, the obscured dialogue gives the scene a degree of mystique). It’s telling that Family Guy and American Dad were the shows that became the basis of a low-effort content farm. Considering that such videos reach tens of thousands of views, the fanbase of such shows are clearly not alienated by the presentation. One can easily fall asleep to the stream of gags that may as well be contextless but the videos often reward close attention through moments of incoherence that don’t seem attributable to conscious intent. It’s akin to observing an AI-generated work but here, human-created episodes are the raw material through which this construction comes into being. Through watching several of these episodes, switching between compilations at will, I began to form more of an appreciation for Family Guy. How Peter was simultaneously a manifestation of pure will and a great satire of the infantilisation that can come with being the ‘man of the house’. How he is both bisexual and perhaps a closet transgender woman. How Peter and Brian both embody the spineless and conformist spirit of the modern man. Some episodes struck me – I felt they deserved an in-depth analysis. But there were no accompanying titles. Instead, the works were scrambled together – specificity lost in a great remix. In a sense, such compilations embody the essence of Family Guy. The kind of thing to turn on when you feel nothing and want to continue to feel nothing. Just funny enough to keep one distracted but not engrossing enough to provoke thought. A nice emotional flatline so as to maintain pure deadness. The 7 Rong Entertainment Family Guy compilations are perfect depression media because when one sees no future and no value in the self, they are very much the only kind of thing one wants to watch. Something to distract oneself from being. However, by abstracting itself from any one coherent creator and progressing even more into the form of content slurry, 7 Rong are actually more honest than the Family Guy team (intentionally or not). They have developed upon the intention of their forefathers by creating compilations that can deaden the soul for extended periods of time and aid the transition of the property into pure irony. Not even the facsimile-narrative of the Family Guy episode is free from distortion. When one feels inhuman, one must resort to inhuman entertainment.


D’Urban Moffer


For comfort—when the dog bites or the nanobots take up stinging because they’re replacing the fucking bees—I can always turn to the era of my crystallization or modern, facsimile representations.  No, that epoch wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be and rightfully should be ridiculed, but the decades of my childhood were undeniably a time of solid, low-fi gold.  These were days when ultraphony slow-mo and low-impact action sequences flew with your average audience, especially in TV (once considered the lowest of all filmic forms).  Good examples of this can be found in 70’s iterations of The Tomorrow People, The Hulk, or The Rockford Files.  Men and women in shorty shorts turning to foam dummies when exposed to car crashes or falling out high-rise windows.  I loathe commercials much past the 1980’s- smash the mute button and avert my eyes every time I watch a show or movie that incorporates them in 2023.  Advertising feels dirtier, more manipulative, more ‘deep state’ than ever. Vintage, vintage commercials can give me a serotonin boost for hours after viewing.  Subliminal advertising was well underway but it had decades of tweaking to go before it hit its current stride, and the rules were oddly both looser and stricter about what could be said/done during what was coined ‘prime time.’  Public Television from that era is another mood booster.  Mr. Rogers will always be there, pixelated and drawling, when I really need to smelt my brain to a sludge so I can hammer it into a vastly more appealing configuration.  The rumor that he was a military sniper is a myth.  It’s true, however, that he was a vegetarian; some people don’t want to eat children.  How can you be a Gloomy Gus when you catch his act?  You can’t unless you’re an awful, rotten person.  As you may know, for me The Home Shopping Network can certainly fill the emotional gaps between irl cringe-inducing interactions and solitary, in-the-corner brooding.  QVC triggers a sopor so deep I’m utterly lost in the rubbery folds of the unnecessary, superfluous, or downright ridiculous until I’m teetering at the very edges of the toxic consumer spectrum.  It makes me feel dizzy and dumb.  I love it.  Nothing tickles my funnybone more than people acting like a set of four multicultural garden gnomes is the answer to everything that was ever missing or wrong in their lives.  Who knows.  When the air-raid sirens blare and the green gas rolls, maybe I’ll crawl into my corpse-sized LocknLock ® container and be spared by spare parts.  Need more of the gizmos and gaskets that prepare us for or forestall our caskets.  This is also a throwback to the second wave of specialized cable channel roll-outs, the cusp of the analog and digital eras.  The days of yesteryear are forever repackaged, resold, and after enough time’s gone by retro always seems cool to kids.  Music that imitates certain beloved genres from my past, categories like mall or signalwave, any type of original MUZAK ® (before it became just another form of lousy TOP 40 radio) will lull me into a nostalgic candyland that only the smell and sound of fecal matter being violently expelled by some drunken soul on the the bus can knock me out of.  I wouldn’t mention it if it hadn’t happened just last week.  But, see, even that was a mood elevator because I’ve got a wide-open mind and a terrible sense of smell.  Pardon my unnecessary and stomach-churning digression.  Here’s one: give me Catholic radio for a good time and lotsa laughs any day.  I particularly like when their apologetics turn to apoplectics.  They’re experts at the good dog, bad dog act. Lastly, let me say that ‘Orgy of the Dead’ or ‘Bride of the Monster’ by Ed Wood fire and inspire when a certain type of blue mood hits. Bela Lugosi was in the nadir of his career in BOTM, and it shows.  Poor guy.  He’s a riot in this.  Perfection in art is overrated.  Perfection in life is non-existent.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a craft lover, snobbybob too, but I have to tell you, I appreciate the complete lack of these components.  The absence of them in times of mental unease delights me to no end.


Jesse Hilson


To get through the grind of depression requires distraction and keeping some kind of insight into your true mental state and a struggle against the “retrospective falsification” that would tell you that this mood is going to last forever and has lasted forever. That way lies suicide. I don’t like making a fetish out of depression or suicidal ideation or trying to publicly prove my own mood disorder bona fides. But lately I’ve had my share of black moods and to do DBT distress tolerance I’ve distracted myself by listening to drifting music on YouTube and just let it run and select music for me. I’ve discovered William Basinski, Susumu Yokata, Daniel Avery & Alessandro Cortini, Floating Points, as well as classics like Material’s “Cucumber Slumber (Fluxus Mix),” We(TM)’s “3/10ths of the Population,” Kilowatthours’ “Jignauseum,” Marshall Tucker Band’s “Heard It In a Love Song,” and Cocteau Twins’ works with Harold Budd — but the real discovery for me this year, the band that has most often helped me cut across four lanes of emotional traffic to avoid getting sucked into the Final Exit which mysteriously keeps popping up has been Finnish singer Cucina Povera and her collab with Ben Vince called “There I See Everything.” 


William Duryea


When you’ve been clinically depressed for years—for decades, for your entire adult life really—all media eventually becomes depression media. There are no longer separate categories for “art I consume when I’m depressed” and “art I consume when I’m feeling good,” but instead there are gradients of despair, and each gradient has its own tolerances and demands vis-à-vis media consumption. It’s like one of those iceberg memes that have spawned countless YouTube1 explainer videos, where the entries become more depraved and bizarre as you move farther from the light. In fact, it’s so much like that, and I hate writing so much, that I made an iceberg meme in lieu of providing a thoughtful response to Rudy’s prompt. I’m sorry, man.


Rudy Johnson


Unfortunately, I’ve always taken to sedating myself with doomscrolling when I’m really depressed.  For my New Year’s resolution (or mockery of one), I’ve decided to practice healthier social media habits.  That means that when I get real sad—when I’m such a shade of myself that I start to fall through the world—I tune my birdsite dial to one of the many WorldStar-imitation fight video accounts, and tune out the toxic shitheap I normally look at.  


My favorite is @FightHaven.  There are many videos on FightHaven that are good.  I’ll improvise some titles here to show the type of things that bait me in:


Cop throws gun and badge down and throws hands with a kid 👊

Bro decks a girl harassing him.  Too far or equal rights / lefts?  

Girl goes Hulk on bullies.  Warranted?  


I love all of them.  


There is also the occasional masterpiece like this one here:


I’ve probably watched that video for 30-40 loops, just because it’s a piece of art encapsulating social media, a Fluxus score for the attention economy denizen.  Somebody records a fight, somebody else senses the recording-in-progress and tries to get their own 15 minutes of flame in the Eye of Sauron’s warm light.  Accurately, algorithmically, the cameraman remains faithfully fixated on the fisticuffs.


The teen film director, in their infinite wisdom, chooses the slapfest over the dance.  BOOYAH.


There’s a country song called “I Hope You Dance” that has nothing to do with big, predominantly black dudes punching each other out, but the chorus goes “If you get a chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.”  My advice for anyone navigating the social media channels during a depressive episode is the opposite of that song: sit it out.  Go scroll through something insane, something awful, something furry.  Who cares?  Just don’t try to fucking dance.


During my worst periods, I need the mind killer—even when it’s unsettling in some ways—not the spice.  I need to watch some ultraviolence (or at least some mediumviolence) as opposed to watching crabs doing obscene cheer-triangles where they pull the top member of the pyramid down and rip them apart for the self-actualization of clout.


FightHaven is my new goto for “at least that isn’t me” media.  Call it thankfulness if you want.


Depressed NEET talks about his voyeuristic nihilism: too far or not far enough?




  1. This is an apt comparison, since the more depressed I am, the more completely YouTube secures a monopoly on my media consumption. There’s a point beyond which the rays of real artistic expression cannot penetrate, where “content” thrives.
The Last Estate

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