Friday, May 20, 2016

Long Live Mediocrity. And Turtles

(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

I've recently become a decent person. I'm not quite sure how this happened.

I didn't mean to. My plan was to remain a mediocre person, filling my spare time with such strenuous activities as eating, sleeping and online shopping. I know this sounds lazy and self-involved. I'm OK with that.

But somehow, I've become the type of woman who occasionally volunteers at church, pitches in at school events, and makes meals for older folks. I've become the type of woman who sometimes helps people.

Please understand. I'm not bragging here. I've always stood back -- way back -- staring in wonderment at room mothers, shelter volunteers, soup kitchen workers and such who spend their free time caring for others. I want to tell these people, "Go home! Sit down! Open up a nice box of wine!"

But they're too busy being wonderful to listen.

I have no idea why I've been helping people lately. Aside from my family and friends, I don't even like people.

I blame the interstate and Donald Trump for that.

Animals are another story. Over the years, I've given countless dogs, cats, frogs, baby birds, etc., the benefit of my fumbling assistance, whether they wanted it or not. I have saved so many turtles by carrying them across the road that my husband calls me the Patron Saint of Turtles.

Now, If you're not very concerned about dogs, cats, frogs, baby birds, turtles on the road, etc., know this: you're not alone. And don't worry. I'm concerned enough for all of us.

I guess my new-found benevolence toward humans could be due to impending geezer-hood. It seems to me that as certain women age and move toward retirement, they spend more and more time volunteering. I'm retiring in 52 months and 11 days -- not that I'm keeping track. I have very big napping plans for the year 2020. I need to stop giving a shit real soon.

Perhaps the biggest problem I have with volunteering is exhaustion. Philanthropy -- and getting off the couch in general -- makes me tired, and constantly interferes with my dream of sitting around and sleeping. Also, it seems like helping others just leads to more helping of others. If I'm not careful, I'm going to end up as the ancient volunteer lady in the front lobby of every hospital who nods off and can't work the desk phone. That is not who I want to be.

I want to be the ancient lady who nods off in a hammock and can't work her own phone.

And when I retire on Tuesday, September 29, 2020 (at 5:30 p.m. -- not that I'm keeping track) I plan to go home, sit down, open up a nice box of wine, and only get up to carry the occasional turtle across the road.

It's good to have goals.

__________________________________________________




Friday, April 29, 2016

World's Only Redneck Liberal

(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

Sometimes it's hard to be liberal,
In a wee-tiny rural town,
There's really no doubt about it,
I'm the only tree-hugger around.

Election Day in 2008,
I hit the town polls at dawn,
To cast my vote for the black guy,
Though I dare not tell anyone.

"Too late," I thought as I entered,
A parking lot filled up with trucks,
"My vote was canceled 30-odd times,
Before I even woke up."

Somehow he won it despite this,
Next time he won it again,
And so it's been eight years of,
Ducking from the Republicans.

But I own a Volkswagen Beetle,
Which might as well be a float,
That says, "Shoot me, I'm a liberal!"
As I drive past the cows and the goats.

See me signing all the petitions,
And giving my cash to hobos,
Watch me sobbing my hippie-chick eyes out,
At dead polar bear videos.

This aside, I'm just as rural,
As any-a-one of them,
I like beer and pickups and, Lord help me,
I’m a closeted Luke Bryan fan.

But they don't know what to make of me,
They don't really know what to say,
I'm the world's only redneck liberal,
I think they wish I'd go away.

So I generally keep my big mouth shut,
I try very hard to keep peace,
No one will change their mind anyway,
No one -- but especially me.

Still, this worrisome prospect of Trump,
Really has me scratching my head,
He's a sexist, unqualified, bigot . . .
Oh wait. Never mind. I just got it.

I would not say that to them though,
I hate noise and shouting and drama,
It's sure been a rough eight years though,
And for that I say, Thanks, Obama.






Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My 20-Pound Geriatric Thug Purse



(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

Mom jeans, sensible shoes, giant purse. You probably wouldn't peg me for a drug smuggler. But that's what I've become.

Of course, you'd have to define "drugs" in a geriatric, ibuprofen-and-probiotic sense, and "smuggler" as one who carries around perfectly legal prescriptions and over-the-counter supplements, but still -- you get the point. My purse has become a big bag o' meds.

This realization hit me recently as I walked into work wondering why the hell my handbag was so heavy. As I plunked it down on the counter of my soul-killing cubicle, a bottle of Aleve and pack of multivitamins poked from the interior, and I realized the reason for its heft. Pain relievers. Supplements.

Drugs.

I have pills to make my back feel better. Pills to help me sleep better. Pills to grow my hair. Pills to keep me regular. Pills to improve my joint health.  And more.

So much more.

Now before you call me a pill popper and I hear from all you granola hippies out there about the benefits of good diets and healthy habits and kefir yogurt that smells like ass, let me say this: I do all that. I am something of a granola hippy myself, and regularly manage to annoy my family by making them exercise and eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

(But never kefir yogurt that smells like ass.)

All this medicine is a relatively new development. You see, I've hurt myself. By sitting. In a chair.

Yep, you read that right. I'm having sacroiliac joint problems due largely to the fact that I sit for 12 hours most days a week, thanks to ten-hour workdays and two-hour round-trip commutes. Oh sure, I exercise on my breaks and days off, but that's a lot of sitting.

You know, they say sitting is the new smoking. But still. I can't believe I've reached an age where I've actually injured myself by sitting.

In a damn chair.

As a kid, I remember groaning and rolling my eyes in the back seat of the car as my grandmother rode in the front and complained about how long rides hurt her back. 

"C'mon, Gran!" I thought. "You're just sitting there!"

And now, these days . . .

Ha ha haaaa!

Did you hear that? She's getting a big kick out of this up there. Not funny, Gran.

I see a physical therapist, a chiropractor, and an MD for the back problems. My days off each week have become eight-hour geezer events consisting solely of doctor's appointments. And the back issue isn't even all of what's going on with me. I will spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say it involves the aforementioned probiotics and lots of whole grain foods.

Whoops. Sorry. In typical senior citizen fashion, I can see that I'm oversharing and bemoaning my many and various maladies, as well as forgetting the original point, which was . . . what? Oh yes, my huge, ridiculous, drug-filled purse.

The other evening, as I pawed through its contents looking for the glucosamine pills so I could swallow them down with my evening Metamucil, I realized that not so long ago, things were very different for me. In the 80s and 90s, I owned tiny handbags that contained only a few items. And on most weekends, I didn't even carry a purse -- all I needed was my go-to checklist of money, ID, keys. That's it. I was out the door, and onto the dance floor. 

Not so much anymore.

Now I have a behemoth bag filled with an entirely different, way longer checklist, consisting of (but not limited to) prescriptions. Supplements. Vitamins. Wrinkle cream. Pain relievers. Sunscreen. Fiber chews.

In fact, all my purse really needs is an AARP card, a handful of lightly used tissues, and five or six stale butterscotch candies, fuzzy and forgotten at the bottom.

Geezer level: complete.

Ha ha haaaa!

Yeah. There she goes again. If I squint, I can just about see her. A short, smiling old woman with a cardigan, bright blue eyes, and a perpetually aching back.

Not to mention one giant purse.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Go Home, March. You're Drunk


(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

On Monday, it's sixty-seven,
On Tuesday, it's twenty-one,
I don't like to gripe about weather,
But go home, March. You are drunk.

Look - it's starting to snow now,
Or no. That is freezing rain,
But wait, I think the sun's coming out,
And poof! It is gone again.

Four seasons, one day - just crazy,
I feel like I'm losing my mind,
But March, you're the one who is schizo,
Though my sanity's not far behind.

The birds are back, feeling confused,
They're shaking their feathery heads,
"This is bullshit. Why'd I come home?"
They say as they freeze in their nests.

I leave the house in three layers,
By ten I am down to shirtsleeves,
At two I put on some shorts 'cause,
The temp's up by 30 degrees.

That's how March goes in the Midwest,
That's March in your average town,
Better stay in the house until April,
'Cause March is one scary-ass clown.

With winds that constantly blow me,
And not in any fun way,
I lie awake fearing tornadoes,
Shovel snow the very next day.

March, you're dirty and flirty,
Indeed you're a terrible tease,
You lead us on with the sunshine,
Then merrily knock down our trees.

I'm done with you, March. I mean it,
You've got me in a foul funk,
With your rain-sun-sleet-snow and windstorms,
Yes, go home, March. You are drunk.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Charm Bracelet: Book Review and Giveaway


Books. One of the best ways to cope with winter.

Yes, in typical Midwestern fashion, I'm getting through February with a combination of grim determination, Walking Dead binging, and lots and lots of reading. So much reading, in fact, that I'm running out of books, as well as the money required to buy said books.

Because of this literary poverty, I was pleasantly surprised to be contacted by the publicity team of Viola Shipman to review an advance copy of the author's debut novel, The Charm Bracelet. Viola Shipman is actually the pseudonym of one of my long-time favorite writers, Wade Rouse, who chose the name as well as the book's title as an homage to his late grandmothers, avid fans of charm bracelets. Rouse has authored several great non-fiction books, including It's All Relative and I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship, both of which of I reviewed here.

The Charm Bracelet arrived at my house last week, and the winter air seemed to lift as I opened the package and turned the pages of this warm novel, the multi-generational story of artsy Lauren, driven Arden, and their aging matriarch, the irrepressible Lolly.

As its title suggests, the book tells the tales of the characters' lives and ancestry via the charms of a bracelet. From the hot air balloon charm, ("to a life filled with adventure"), to the tiara charm ("to a life in which you get to feel like a queen, even for a day"), Rouse weaves the three interlocked stories wonderfully, dipping in and out of each woman's life with ease and grace.

The effortless pace of this novel impressed me the most. I found myself midway through *The Charm Bracelet before I realized it, filled with hope that Lauren would find her passion, Arden would find some peace, and Lolly would once again find her family.

I'm always in awe of non-fiction writers who cross over into fiction. It's difficult enough to compose stories from real life, but the writing is made easier simply because the events really happened, and the characters actually existed.

The fiction author's job, however, is to craft a believable story out of thin air, hundreds of pages of plot, setting and characters pulled from the far reaches of the imagination, or in this case, the charms of a bracelet.

Now, I write only non-fiction for specific reasons, and those are: A) I'm lazy; and B) the act of creating fiction -- an entire world from nothing -- seems impossible to me. But Rouse (a.k.a. Shipman) writes his first novel masterfully, with his finger on the pulse of three very different women who reconnect thanks to some links of chain, bits of metal and the tenacity of the buoyant, unforgettable Lolly.

Warm up your spring with this wonderful, utterly charming (see what I did there?) book, on sale March 22.

One reader will win a copy of The Charm Bracelet, courtesy of Thomas Dunne Books, a division of St. Martin's Press. Comment below to enter, then check back in the comments next weekend to see the lucky winner.
Winner: please contact me with your snail mail address at webs672002@gmail.com.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Too Cool for Coats


(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

He's a straight-A student. He took talented and gifted classes. He scores in the 96th percentile or higher on all standardized tests.

Nonetheless, I'm starting to doubt his intelligence, because it is 18 degrees outside, and he's not wearing a coat.

So I ask him, "Hobo, why aren't you wearing a coat?"

But my son, in all his talented and gifted wisdom, informs me that a coat isn't necessary when has a sweatshirt.

"I don't need a coat when I'm wearing a hoodie," he mumbles, shuffling out the door.

This conversation takes place at 6:30 b.c. --before coffee -- and I don't yet have the wherewithal to collar and force outerwear on the boy. It's Friday, my one weekday off, and he's clearly used to me not being there. Monday through Thursday he can amble out the door wearing whatever he wants. Which is apparently close to nothing.

I guess a Hobo cares not what he wears. And I call him that for a reason. He eschews fashion and, up until recently, avoided any sort of personal hygiene. Smart as he is, he sometimes needs direction when it comes to matters of wardrobe.

It's not just him. There's a trend, nay, a downright epidemic of coat-free adolescents all across America. I see them when I drop the boy off at school, walking in hordes, shivering and shaking and hustling frantically into the school building because it's what? Freaking cold outside.

Now, as my loyal readers (all seven of you! I love you guys!) may remember from my post last year, I feel very Get off my lawn! about the new-fangled "cold-weather cancel" in which school is called simply because of chilly temperatures. Like I said, when I grew up, classes were only canceled on account of snowy, icy roads - never cold weather alone. I spent many a sub-zero morning cursing this fact in our driveway, as my hair froze solid under the hood of a wonderful invention called -- you guessed it -- a coat.

However, after last year's post, a few of my teacher friends informed me that the reason for the cold-weather cancel isn't part of the rampant wussification of American kids, as I'd guessed. It's because of unfortunate children, many of whom don't have -- or aren't wearing -- coats or warm clothing.

Now, my heart goes out to any child who truly doesn't own appropriate outer-ware. In fact, send those kids to our house. We have several unused coats available.

But after five years of fighting with my own kids to wear jackets, I'd be willing to bet good money that many of the children who don't wear coats aren't doing so because of a lack of money. They're doing it to follow the crowd. To look cool. 

And they look cool, alright. Downright frozen.

They are just too cool for coats.

But as the Hobo informed me, when one has a hoodie, one need not be concerned with vagaries such as "wind chill,"  "frost bite" and "certain death," no sir. One can just march out the door, ride to school and shuffle inside, unless it's canceled on account of cold weather and kids without coats and . . .

. . . Wait a minute. Wait just a minute.

Fact one: School gets canceled because kids aren't wearing coats.

Fact two: My kid refuses to wear a coat.

Mystery: solved.

That boy is smarter than I thought.

Friday, January 29, 2016

He Texts, She Texts

(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

Recently, I bought my son a cell phone so that I could communicate with him.

Ha ha ha! I know. I crack myself up sometimes.

I can all hear you parents laughing along with me, because as many of you know, giving your son a cell phone practically guarantees that you will hear from him even less than before, and possibly never again. Oh, sure, your son's friends will hear from him, but the only time your boy will actually communicate with you is to walk into the room and let you know he's lost or broken his cell phone.

His $400 cell phone.

Still, it was his 13th birthday, and as he grows older and participates in more sports, it's become ever harder to get messages to and from him at various practices and games. I figured he should have a phone of his own so I could get a hold of him.

Like I said, I crack myself up sometimes.

Take, for instance, this series of recent texts, each sent several hours apart, in which I ask him whether he had his basketball warm-up jersey for that evening's game.

It looks like I was talking to myself up there. That's because I was talking to myself up there. Yes, those of you familiar with the sweaty adolescent male of the species can predict when I got a response from him, which was namely, never. You are no doubt on the edge of your seat, wondering if the Hobo had his shirt, and the answer is yes, which I finally discovered when I saw him wearing it during the pre-game warm-up.

Later that evening on the car ride home, I asked him why he didn't respond to my texts earlier that day.

"We're not supposed to have our phones out during school," he said.

"I understand that," I replied, "but I sent two of those after school. Anyway, why aren't you checking your phone before the game? The whole point of you having a phone is so I can tell you important things before practices and games and stuff. Why don't you text me back? Can't you at least give me a 'K'?"

"I don't like to write 'K' - that's just rude," he said. "Anyway my battery was dead."

I looked at him in the passenger seat, where he was -- you guessed it -- texting his friends on his phone. With a battery that was clearly not dead.

Choosing to pick my battles, I continued driving home and thought about the verbal differences between males and females. I know exactly where my son gets his (lack of) communication skills - his dad. I could spend two hours composing the guy a 150 word text sharing emotions, recalling old memories, and detailing all the reasons I love him. His response?

"K"

That's just rude.

But getting back to my son's and daughter's texting habits. They are different. Very, very different.

Although there is an occasional non-response from the Princess, she generally replies to my texts. Several times. Several dozen times.

Sometimes I think she has psychic powers, because often I'm not even done typing my message to her before I see the ". . ." telling me she's responding. In fact, if you want to text my daughter, you better be sure that you're fully hydrated, your phone's 100 percent charged, and that you have a few hours -- perhaps an entire evening -- to converse. Because that girl will write you back.

All night long.

Yes, males and females have different communications styles. Consider the following examples of boy vs. girl responses.

Boys:

Girls: 


You know, studies show that females communicate more often than males. Girls' verbal skills develop at a young age, they speak their first words earlier than boys . . .


. . . and have larger vocabularies and use a wider variety of sentences and . . .


. . . these same experts say that females use 13,000 more words a day than males. I think all 13,000 of those are texted by my daughter -- to me.


Hey, would you look at that. I think my battery is dead.

Ha ha ha! I crack myself up sometimes.