Friday, March 27, 2015

Ode to a Cubicle

They say the sky is bright and clear,
They say it's nice -- just beautiful,
I wouldn't know if that is true,
Since I'm stuck inside my cubicle.

I bet the birds are belting out,
Tunes so bright and musical,
But noise and joy are not allowed,
Here in my dang cubicle.

Fluorescent lights, computer screen,
Word, Power Point and email,
Printer, chair and hopelessness,
That's what makes a cubicle.

At lunch, some people dine outside,
Getting a big belly full,
But all I have's a Lean Cuisine,
And gray walls of a cubicle.

I nuke my food in the kitchenette,
It smells like fish and pizza rolls,
I head back to eat all by myself,
In my sad, pathetic cubicle.

There's the pictures in their frames,
The husband, kids -- all typical,
I don't see them much because,
I'm always in a cubicle.

I'd rather be somewhere with them,
Instead of this here prison cell,
I'd like to see the sun again,
And get out of my cubicle.

It could be worse, I could be broke,
And hooked on pharmaceuticals,
I'd have no job, no home, no cash,
If I didn't have a cubicle.

So here I sit inside cloth walls,
Vigilant, and so dutiful,
I'm on the clock, I do my job,
In my depressing cubicle.

I'm not alone, I know for fact,
My plight is not unusual,
Countless others spend their days,
In motherfucking cubicles.

Friday, February 27, 2015

My Damn Boat

(Post copyright 2015, Dawn Weber)

Like many Midwesterners, I get through winter with a combination of Netflix, foods made of cream cheese, and sporadic bouts of sobbing.

Ah yes, February in Ohio. Why go on, really? With its 28-day length, this soul-killing bucket of suck is the shortest -- yet somehow longest -- month of the year. It's endless, repeating Groundhog Days of school cancellations, icy roads, and wondering why I voluntarily live in a place where my nostrils freeze shut. I feel gray and cold. I feel hopeless and tired. I don't feel funny at all.

I feel February.

In these dark times, it helps to remember that at least the end is near. Not the end of life, no, although death sometimes seems preferable to February, but rather the end of the season. The end of the suck.

In addition to crying and cream cheese, I get through winter with shopping. Lots and lots of online shopping. And while searching for a reason to live on my laptop the other day, I remembered:

Oh yeah! I need a boat!

Yeah, I said need. I need a boat so I can learn something new. I need a boat so that I can be on the water.

I need a boat so I have something to look forward to.

True, it will be a couple months before I can use it, but the idea of getting out on any of our several local lakes and rivers come spring makes me positively giddy.

Although I've been trying, I haven't been able to convince the husband of our obvious need for a boat. Just think, I tell him, of the days on the cool lake in the hot sun. The fun we could have! The beers we could drink! The melanoma we could acquire!  

I began my campaign a few years ago, when I asked for a boat for my birthday.

"Nope," said the husband.

Not a new one, I said. A simple $6,000-$10,000 used pontoon would do.

"Nope," said the husband.

Sensing some resistance, I told him it could double as an anniversary present. I am reasonable like that.

"Nope," said the husband.

I repeated this request in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

"Nope." "Nope!" and "NOPE!!" he said.

"But why?" I asked eventually. "Why are you so against buying a boat?"

"Because they constantly break down," he said. "My brother had one. Ask him; ask anybody. The best two days of a boat owner's life are the day they buy the boat, and the day they sell the boat."

I doubted him, so I called a couple of our seafaring friends to ask about this. Neither one could help -- the first had just sold his boat, and the second was in the middle of Buckeye Lake waiting for a tow.

But, as you longtime readers know, I never let reality stop me. No sir. And while drooling over the boats section of Columbus Craigslist the other day, I remembered all the nopes, and right there I decided . . .

Fine. I will buy my own damn boat then.

Sadly, even the oldest, most pathetic, most mouse-ridden of the Craigslist boats cost too much for me, since I am footing the bill solely out of my own laughable paycheck. Indeed, my personal price range rests somewhere below "Rusted-Out Canoe" and "1974 Row Boat. Leaks. Make offer."

Feeling very tragic, I sighed and clicked out of Craigslist, figuring I'd go find solace in the nearest brick of cream cheese. It wasn't until I was knuckle deep in a month-old brick of Philly that I realized:

Oh yeah!,, My holy triumvirate of online shopping. Between the three of them, you can pretty much locate anything. I mean, some of these sites sell caskets, for nut's sake. Surely I could find some cheap floating fun.

I ran back to the computer, opened up Chrome, and after a just a few minutes of clicking, I found my dreamboat.

She is small, like me. She is compact, like me. She is colored yellow, like . . .

. . . my hair.

Mostly, she is affordable.

And now she will be mine. I mean, sure, she is technically a kayak; sure she is probably made of recycled 2-liter bottles, but so what? Two-liter bottles float, last I checked.

Eventually, I plan to buy another one, so the husband can accompany me and see how much fun a day on the water on top of melted Mountain Dew containers can be, especially with the twee sailing kit.

We will sail our boats on the lake, we will sail our boats on the river, we will sail our boats on the creek, we will sail our boats forever.

So ladies, if you're feeling February, itching for something new, hearing the Nopes! and getting nowhere fast, just think back to your internet friend and her little yellow soda-bottle boat. Pull out your your purse, your debit card and your laptop, but for the love of fat pants, put down the cream cheese.

And buy your own damn boat.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fifty Shades of *Gag*: A Book Review

(Post copyright 2012, Dawn Weber)
In honor (in horror?) of the fact that the "Fifty Shades of Grey" movie opens today, I'm posting my review of the book, since - as you can probably tell - I won't be seeing it. For those of you who do go, I hope this is the first time in history that the movie is better than the book.

All my friends were doing it.

And if there's one thing I learned in high school, it's that doing what my friends do is stupid dangerous usually pretty fun.

But I really didn't understand the fuss over "Fifty Shades of Grey" by E.L. James, the book that's sent panties flying all across the U.S.A. There are tens of thousands of pages of  "erotica" right out there on the web.

I don't know this personally - it's just what I hear.

Yes, porn: apparently it's why Al Gore invented the internet. Statistics from Wikipedia (so they must be true!) state that every second, more than 28,000 people watch pornography on the computer, and 372 people type the word "adult" into search engines. Daily, about 2.5 billion emails sent or received worldwide contain X-rated material. Approximately 2.3 billion of those emails come to me.

They call the 50 Shades sensation "mommy porn," which seems to soften the smut a bit. For me, the idea of mommy porn isn't new, because like many sneaky, rotten 80s teens, I swiped and read all my mommy's "porn" back in the groovy day. The D.H. Lawrence. . . the Erica Jong . . . the Harold Robbins - I am familiar with the erotica genre, although I don't read these kinds of books much anymore, on account of being very busy working, parenting and perpetually loading the dishwasher.

My friends piqued my interest though, because the 50 Shades opinions ran rampant.

They loved it! They hated it! They loathed it but they purchased the entire trilogy!
  • "Personally, I am enjoying them - and so is my husband."
  • "They're O.K. - if you like smut."
  • "They're awful books. A total waste of time. I read all three of them."
Well! In the interest of, um, journalism and stuff, I decided to do it. You know, read "Fifty Shades of Grey." Purely for research purposes.

No, no. Don't thank me. Here at the Lighten Up! Center for Smutty Research, I'm a giver. I just give and give. So that other women didn't have to, I went ahead and paid ten bucks for the Kindle version of Fifty Shades.

And now? All those bitches owe me. They owe me ten bucks. Each.

I waded through 380 pages of the most ridiculous, awful, typo-ridden text I've ever read. But, like a train wreck, I couldn't look away; I kept reading, because I simply could not believe this book had been published.

The main character, Anastasia Steele (that name! *gag*), is a 21-year-old recent college grad without a computer or email address. This is the first sign that the book is complete bullshit fiction.

She is also a virgin who has never touched herself - second sign that this is complete bullshit fiction.

Within a few weeks of meeting multi-billionaire Christian Grey (more name gag), thanks to his, um, "gifts", she has a laptop, Blackberry and a new car. She also has rapid, intense, multiple and simultaneous orgasms courtesy of Grey - All. The. Time. Aaannnd . . . there's your last sign this book is complete bullshit fiction.

I won't even go into the sick, demeaning, creepy relationship between Christian and Anasatasia. That's enough ranting for a whole 'nother post.

Not only is "50 Shades of Grey" the most badly written book I've ever read, apparently it had no editor. The author uses the same phrases again and again. And then she uses them again.

In fact, these grossly overused words make up most of the book. Here at the Lighten Up! Center for Smutty Research, I have summed up the entire piece of, um, work with them, with the actual Kindle word count of each expression's usage:

"Jeez (75 times). Triple crap (92 times). My inner goddess (57 times) stares into  Christian's gray eyes (31 times) as I clench (35 times) all my muscles down there (7 times) in my sex (15 times). I bite my lip (11 times) and murmur (197 times) his name as I shatter into a delicious, violent, exhausting, intense, all-consuming orgasm (135,587 times)."

*Gag* My inner goddess just barfed.

Yeah, this book sickens me. This book saddens me. Mostly, this book disappoints me.

Fiction is difficult to write. I know it is; I've tried it. And my writing is far from perfect - see phrases "on account of" and "whole 'nother post", above.

But every day, tens of thousands of writers submit work to publishing executives who either completely ignore them, or summarily reject their work after reading two sentences of a painstakingly assembled manuscript package.

Now, to be fair, in interviews E.L. James seems as shocked as anyone at her book's success. She didn't plan to write what turned out to be the fastest-selling paperback in history; the prose was originally written as Twilight internet fan fiction.

Still, this "book" sailed from web to print in the blink of Christian's gray eyes (again - 31 times). Excuse me while I sob quietly in my cubicle. Clearly, I need to write "erotica" instead of humor.

The only good thing about the 50 Shades phenomenon? Another mini sexual revolution. Ladies are reading this pool-side, beach-side, bed-side, and somehow this fad makes it o.k. to read erotica, for women to admit they have a healthy, perfectly natural interest in sex.

But girlfriends, please. If you want to read some smut, some mommy porn, swipe your mommy's porn - the D.H. Lawrence, the Erica Jong, the Harold Robbins. I hear the Anne Rice (pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure) Sleeping Beauty Trilogy is fantastic. I plan to check it out. You know, purely for research purposes.

The bottom line? PLENTY of good erotic fiction - with far better writing - exists, some of it even posted for free right there on Al Gore's internet.

I don't know this personally - it's just what I hear.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

I Married an Amish Dude. Apparently

(post copyright 2015, Dawn Weber)

The husband's phone has broken. I'm beside myself with joy.

This means I can engage in two of my favorite pastimes: 1) shopping; and 2) looking at new phones.

I love cell phones. Actually, love may not be a strong enough word - I fantasize, lust and drool over them. Androids, iPhones, Blackberries, Windows, doesn't matter; I fondle and ogle all of them in equal measure. Over the past five years, I've owned no less than nine handsets because I cannot commit to a single model. There's always one out there with more to offer, and I simply won't be tied down.

I am the Elizabeth Taylor of smartphones.

The husband, however, is not a fan of phones, shopping or modern technology in general. Still, he seems pretty upset at the loss of his device, and he hands it to me in the kitchen with a helpless look in his eye.
“What do you think is wrong with it?” he asks.

I punch around in vain on the flickering display. “Looks like your screen's shorted out, which means it’s breaking,” I tell him. "It’ll be completely dead soon.”

“Oh. Well, where can we get it fixed?”

Aw. ‘Get it fixed.’ He’s so cute.

I’d bought him this, his first smartphone, on clearance for next to nothing not because I'm cheap - though I am - but because it was the only model offered with a slide-out keyboard, which Mr. Amish here wanted instead of a standard touchscreen keyboard. “Ack!” he said one day, punching around in vain on my iPhone. “My fingers are too fat! Where’s my slider?”

So, yes. The thought of getting a $40 phone repaired makes me smile. ”I’ll run to Target and get you a new one,” I tell him, handing him his failing Android.

“Don’t do that,” he says. “I’ll just use my old flip phone.”

Oh, here we go. I forgot how much he loved his crappy Obama phone; I could barely pry that raggedy thing out of his hands.

“No, you can’t use your flip phone,” I tell him. “Your phone company doesn’t support it anymore. Anyway, you have UNLIMITED DATA!”

I pause, so the magnitude of this can sink in. I do not have unlimited data, and my jealousy is palpable. “Do you even know how valuable that is? It’s like a gift from God!”

He looks at me, puzzled. “What do you mean ‘unlimited data’?” he asks. “What is ‘data’?”
Aw. 'What is data?' He's so cute.

“It means ‘internet.’” I tell him. “You have UNLIMITED INTERNET on your phone, unlike the rest of the free world. We’re all paying through the nose for even a few gigs of limited internet every month. You could stream Pandora constantly, if you wanted. I mean, you could watch Netflix! Like, all day long!”

At this, I have to sit down. I’m starting to swoon.

He pockets his failing device, and sits beside me at the kitchen table.

“I don’t have time for that," he says, shrugging. "Don’t get me anything complicated - I don't like all this fancy new stuff. I’m just a regular guy.”

I pat his arm. "That's a nice story, Ezekiel."

"Yep - the same old things are good enough for me." He reaches as if to take my hand, then sees an opportunity and slides around my arm for a quick boob-grab.  "Anyway, you should be glad I don't like change."

And he smiles then, because he knows he's right.

I hate when that happens.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Hey! You! Get Off of My Couch!

(post copyright 2015, Dawn Weber)

Cold outside? Too dang bad. Go to school.

You'll have to excuse me, folks, my inner Archie Bunker has reared his head. The kids have been off school since, oh, 1999 or so, thanks to a combination of Christmas break, snow and these newfangled "cold weather days," wherein school is canceled due to low temperatures.

It's not just my kids missing classes lately because of frigid temps; judging by posts from Facebook friends, the cold-weather cancel is now a statewide, nationwide thing. Still, I'm not sure quite when "It's cold outside" became a valid excuse to stay home. It wasn't when I was young.

In fact, NOTHING was an excuse to stay home when I was young.

"Twelve below zero? How about that. Bundle up and go to school."

"You threw up? Twice? Well, are you done? Then brush your teeth and go to school."

"There's a zombie apocalypse? The whole county is under siege? Here's an ax and a 12-gauge shotgun. Now go the hell to school."

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking That's a nice story, Archie Bunker.

And it's good, I suppose, for children to be warm and safe at home. On the couch.

For weeks on end.

Hey. It's not like my kids are bored or anything. No, they're engaged in several valuable, educational activities, such as snacking, Twittering, and dirtying every cup in the house. Also, they now have time to explore their many and various hobbies. My son in particular has a wide array of interests, ranging all the way from "Call of Duty: Black Ops" to "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare," and he maintains a bustling schedule that includes not only a PlayStation, but also an iPod and laptop. Not to be outdone, my daughter's busy snow-day regimen includes walking - all the way from the couch in the living room . . .

. . . to the couch in the sunroom.

Bah. I guess I'm just jealous. And annoyed. No one seems very concerned that I have to go out in this weather; there's no 5 a.m. robo-call telling me that the office is closed. Also, snow days are nothing but trouble: If I'm working, I have to find babysitting, and if I stay home with them, I have to keep my sanity. Nobody wins.

Except the children.

Oh yes. My kids' reaction to snow days?

"Snacks! Drinks! Video games!"
My reaction to snow days:

Well, I'd love to stay here with my afghan, laptop and coffee and continue grousing about school cancellations, but I have to work - of course I do - and anyway, it's about time for the kids to wake up.

And they'll really need this couch.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I'll Be Broke for Christmas

(Post copyright 2014, Dawn Weber)

I'll be broke for Christmas,
You can plan on that,
Please send cash,
And send it fast,
My wallet has gone flat.

Visa bills will find me,
Though I'll try to run,
I'll be broke for Christmas,
No gifts for my loved ones.

I'll be broke for Christmas,
Just like every year,
Same old thing, no dough to bring,
My kids some Christmas cheer.

Santa Claus, please find me,
I have come undone,
You've got gifts,
I don't have shit,
To give to anyone.

Oh, I'll be broke for Christmas,
Ain't that just a bitch?
Please don't judge - just give me fudge,
Or wine I don't care which.

Christmas Eve will find me,
Sobbing and alone,
Yes, I'll be broke for Christmas,
My money is all gone.


(Here's a little something I wrote four years ago, back when my kids requested something besides $500 Apple products for Christmas:)

'Twas a Night Full of Witch-mas...

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the joint,
My blood pressure had reached its full boiling point,
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
Visions of working toys danced in their heads.

And me with directions, and him with his tool,
Got me thinking "For this? I deserve some new jewels."
Down by the tree there was nothing but work,
Me yelling, "Not that screw, you big, clumsy jerk!"

Then right beside me there was such a clatter,
I said, "For $%* sake what the *#@$ is the matter?"
He tossed the pliers down and said, "Ouch!",
Then threw himself over, kerplunk, on the couch.

The moonlight on top of his sorry sad head,
Made me feel bad for nasty mean words that I'd said.
"C'mon honey," I told him, "let's just hit the hay.
Tomorrow we'll do this. There’s hooch on the way!"

He shook his head no. “We must get this done.
If their toys aren't together, they won't have much fun!"
More rapid than arrows, my cusses then came.
I whispered them loudly and spoke names in vain.

But as parents will do, we wanted to please,
And met with directions writ all in Chinese,
We went on ahead through the night with our mission,
Me trying, but failing, to stop all my bitching.

And then, in a twinkling, we fell fast asleep.
The parts strewn around us, a crazy-quilt heap.
As I slept, I dreamed of the big man in red,
Perched at the foot of my childhood bed.

His eyes, they still twinkled, his dimples, still merry,
And I felt just like I was back in the 70s.
But as I looked down at myself in my dream,
I saw belly and hooters and wrinkles extreme.

I said, "Hey Santa, it’s work, now that I'm older,
It’s crazy, I’m tired, please, rub my shoulders?
These toys, they're messed up, missing parts, bad directions,
Got the sprockets and whats-its all in the wrong sections!"

He spoke a few words, before getting his start,
“You have to stop buying your toys from Walmart!
Cheap junk made in China, we all hate it too,
Those elves end up fighting like they’re from the zoo.”

And laying his old hands on top of my head,
Right there in my dream on my little-girl bed,
He told me, “I know that at your age it’s work,
But you gotta stop calling your old man a jerk.”

He sprang to his feet, disappeared from my sight,
And I drifted and dreamed on through the cold night,
Then came the small footsteps, and I thought, “Oh crap!
Their presents, they are not finished - or wrapped!”

I nudged the old man by my side on the floor,
As the kids’ little footsteps drew close to the door,
And what to our wondering eyes should appear,
But assembled, wrapped toys - and a six-pack of cheer!

What a jolly old elf, that Santa still is!
Christmas is for all, not just for the kids.
What else did I learn, my valuable lessons?
Less Walmart, less witching - cut back on the cussin’.