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’.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells! " Nope. "Visa Bills, Visa Bills!"

(Copyright 2014, Dawn Weber)
Dashing through the store,
My cart filled to the top,
Tons more gifts to buy,
But I'm about to drop.

Bells outside the doors,
Red kettles want my stash,
But they are out of luck because,
I never carry cash.


Visa bills, Visa bills,
Visa all the way,
Oh what fun it is to sign,
My whole damn life away - hey!
Visa bills, Visa bills,
Visa all the way,
Oh what fun it is to sign,
My whole damn life away.

A store or two ago,
I thought I'd write some checks,
But soon I had no dough,
In debt up to my neck.

The cashier frowned at me,
My checks they were declined,
The rent-a-cop was sent my way,
I left him far behind.

Visa bills, Visa bills,
Visa all the way,
Oh what fun it is to sign,
My whole damn life away - hey!
Visa bills, Visa bills,
Visa all the way,
Oh what fun it is to sign,
My whole damn life away!

But wait, there's more! Since Christmas is about tradition and the (Green!) Andy Williams Christmas album, here's a little something I wrote three years ago (already - yikes!)

You Spin Me Right Round. Like a 60s Crooner, Baby

Arguing with my best friend - a tradition since 1976.

Yeah, she's entitled to her opinion.

Too bad for her it's wrong.

"Green!" I say.
"Red!" she says.

She is a stellar mother, wife, daughter, church council member and director of food services for an entire state university. She has been my very best friend for nearly 30 years. Still, she is...


And frankly, I don't mind telling her so.

"No way, Amber! You know green is better. Come on!" I say.
"Uh-uh. Sorry. The red one is the best." she says.

She and I like to debate Very Important Issues. Such as politics, child rearing, religion and the Andy Williams Christmas albums.

Shut up. We're old. And, apparently, nerds.

In the 70s, over on Garfield Road, she grew up listening to the red-covered "Andy Williams Christmas Album" - the Red One - during the holidays.

Clearly Inferior

While a mile away, on Woodworth Road, I spent my holidays listening to the Green One -"Merry Christmas" Andy Williams.

Obviously the right choice
Yep. From age four, the Green One was always the first Christmas record I loaded onto our ridiculously large wooden console stereo.

"Jing-a-ling! Jing-jing-a-ling!"

That's how it starts out, with "Sleigh Ride." Then, I'd begin my seasonal hobby of spinning in circles in front of the Christmas tree. The music, all those colors - they were everything. They brought magic, and I made it my mission to spin fast enough that my eyeballs would register the lights as one continuous blur.

Goals: Even as a preschooler, I had them. Obviously, I was destined for greatness. And possibly autistic.

We didn't own the Red One, but lots of other folks did. So I tried spinning in circles as they played it on their ridiculously large console stereos. The first song?

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas..."

Zzzzz. Lame. Try to spin fast enough to blur the lights with that one. I stopped spinning, plunked down and listened to the rest of it. Yeah, Andy still sang, but aside from "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," the record stunk. Lacked a certain Je Ne Sais What. 

It was clear that the Red One was for losers.

I told this to my best friend. Then, we argued.

We argued about it in the 70s, wearing polyester.
"Green!" I said.

We argued about it in the 80s, with spiral perms.
"Red!" she said.

We argued about it in the 90s, with our toddlers in tow.
"Green!" I said.

We argued this in her Buick. We argued in my Ford. We have argued this in our high school, our kitchens, on cruise ships, on the phone and on Facebook. The other day, I received this text from her:



Sorry about your luck, my BFF. Because I now have proof positive that the Green Andy Williams album is better. I found the following information about your Red One on, therefore it must be true.

See that, Amber? Wade here says that "Andy's consummate artistry was better in the 'Green Album'"... and that "I will go to play the "Green Album before the 'Red Album.'"

And it's not just Wade, Amber. No. Rodney also prefers the green:

"Christmas man" Rodney says that the Green One "has a little more christmas spark in it..."

What's that, BFF? Still not convinced? O.K.

As you can see, "Joshua" feels strongly about this.

So go ahead, Amber, play your loser Red One.

I'll be spinning and dancing in front of the tree, playing the Green One, along with Wade, Rodney, Joshua, the rest of "Mankin" and this cool cat:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ten Things to Hide When Your Parents Visit for the Holidays

(post copyright 2014, Dawn Weber)

It's that time of year again, and all around the U.S., Americans are roasting the turkeys, decking the halls, and shouting the age-old cry:

"Mom and Dad are on the way - hide the booze!"

Yes, the folks are coming to spend time with you for the holidays. Aren't you glad? This means you need to get rid of the many items in your house that they disapprove of: alcohol, prescriptions, stacks of cash - you know, all the things that make life worth living.

To that end, we here at the Center for Holiday Happiness have come up with Ten Things to Hide When Your Parents Visit for the Holidays, a definitive list to use at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or just any time the folks come to town.

10. Booze
Grab the beer from the fridge, the vodka from the freezer, the wine from the pantry - there is no merriment when parents visit, no. Silent judgment. That's the order of the day.

The best place to stash the hooch? Way back in the closet or under the bed. Far enough away from prying eyes, but still close enough to take a swig if you need it.

And you will need it.

Now, you may have folks who are cool enough to chill out and have a drink with you. If so, you should know two things: 1) You are a lucky bastard; and 2) The rest of us hate you.

9. Prescriptions
Your antidepressants, your sleep aids, your anti-anxiety pills, all the drugs that keep you from jumping off a bridge or strangling someone - yeah. Stash those suckers pronto. But take it from us here at the Center for Holiday Happiness: Remember where you put them. We hid a box of scripts in 2007 that we still haven't found, and we miss it.


8. Pictures
Your mother is a kind, sweet, loving woman. She is also a raging kleptomaniac, at least when it comes to photographs of the grandchildren. Though you give her plenty of photos, she cannot restrain herself from raiding the albums when you're not looking, and when she goes home, you're left with page after page of empty slots where the kids' images used to be.

But if you try to take your own baby pictures from her house?

She will cut you. No questions asked.

7. Stuff you stole from them
People of a certain age end up with a lot of crap, so most older parents have three of everything. Except in the case of baby pictures, mothers and fathers are a generous lot, and anyway, will they really miss what you took? The cordless drill, the record player, the 2005 Buick LeSabre? We think not, but best to tuck these things away until they leave.

6. Credit card bills/Past-due notices/All your mail
Your mom and dad warned you not to get those credit cards. Your mom and dad warned you not to buy that sports car. Your mom and dad warned you not to . . .

Aw, hell. Where's the booze?

5. Items that may or may not require AA batteries
Here at the Center for Holiday Happiness, we may or may not have an acquaintance whose father was looking for toilet paper in his daughter's bathroom cabinet, only to find - and then accidentally turn on - an item made of medical grade silicone that may or may not have required AA batteries. Whether the gentleman knew what the device was or not is unclear.

He never spoke again.

4. Your browser history
Sure, lots of our folks aren't technically savvy enough to know what "Ctrl H" does. But Dad definitely knows how to hit the "back" button, and you might want to monitor what he sees when he boots up your laptop for his early morning round of Candy Crush. The man does have a heart condition.

3. Modern technology
(Also known as, "Ooh, that's so neat! What is it? I want one!")
iPhones, iPads, Kindles, Nooks - these are amazing things, when one knows what one is doing.

When one doesn't know what one is doing, one buys one anyway, calls their adult offspring at work, and then engages in confusing hour-long phone conversations that cause rage, high blood pressure and unemployment.

So do yourself a favor. Keep your sanity. Keep your job. 

Hide your iPad. Immediately.

2. Pornography
Sure, the extent of your smut collection is one ancient VHS tape someone gave you at your bachelor or bachelorette party. Sure it is.

And you only keep it for nostalgic reasons. Sure you do.

But be advised that this is the very tape Granny will find, after reaching wayyy back into your video cabinet. She'll squint through her bi-focals, say, "Oh! I love this movie!" and shove "Forrest Hump" into the VCR before you can sprint back in from the kitchen.

You were warned.

And the number one thing to hide when your parents visit for the holidays is:

1. Your whereabouts
Seriously. Save yourself the trouble of shielding the folks from your shame, your vices, your "Forrest Hump." That's right. Why hide a few things, when you can lock the front door and hide EVERYTHING.

Hey - Hawaii is lovely this time of year.

Mele Kalikimaka!

And don't forget the booze.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Winter Sucks: A Poem

(Post copyright 2014, Dawn Weber)

Why do I live here?
Aw, hell -- I don't know,
November 18th,
Wind chill eight below.

Forty-five years now,
In this stupid state,
You'd think I'd adjust,
But, no -- I still hate.

Six inches of snow,
Came down overnight,
The whole yard is covered,
In "Acid-Rain White."

I'd call off from work, but
Grown-ups don't have snow days,
I must use vacation,
Or I will get no pay.

Why would I vacation,
In this loser place?
I'll get into work,
Just three hours late.

With cars on my rear,
And sliding around,
And more in the ditch,
All the way into town.

Walking into the building,
My eyes freeze all shut,
Can't see a dang thing, so
I fall on my butt.

I lie on the cold ground,
Contemplating this life,
Of five months of winter,
And six of gray skies.

Yeah. Why do I live here?
The fuck if I know.
One thing in its favor:
It's not Buffalo.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Kitten Heels and Football Fields

(post copyright 2014, Dawn Weber)

Do not cry . . . do not trip . . . do not cry . . . do not trip . . .

That's what I'm thinking, here at the edge of the high school football field with my daughter, husband, and the other fall athletes, band-members and parents. We're getting ready to walk to the 50-yard-line, our names announced as honorees for Senior Night.

I've watched this spectacle many times, but never thought it would be here so soon for us - it seemed light years, millenniums into the future. Even the date sounded far away. I mean, 2014. That is some space-age shit right there. Where's my hover-car?

The line moves, and I toddle forward with the group on one-inch kitten heels, trying to remain upright and heartily regretting my footwear choice. I wore these shoes specifically for the traditional senior night photo, hoping to look taller and thinner, though I know I won't - God did not make me tall and thin. But I never let reality stop me. No sir. 

The unfortunate shoes have one bonus: They help distract from the pressure building behind my eyes. Nothing new, I'm always blinking back waterworks lately, because the knowledge that our kid will soon leave for college is forever in the back of my mind. Oh, how I used to snicker at the weepy moms, bemoaning senior year and graduation. But karma, as they say, is a bitch. A bitch who slaps. 

A bitch who slaps hard.

My daughter's voice pulls me back to the sidelines.  "Are you going to cry?" she asks, her face horrified. "God, Mom. Do not cry."

"I'm not crying! My feet hurt, that's all."

"Well don't cry!" she hisses. "I mean, jeez!"

We step to the photographer's station in the end zone, and I put on my best smile. The one that says I'm not crying dammit!

Even in its early stage, this senior year thing has been a frazzled whirlwind of photos, college visits, applications and meetings, along with the usual cheerleading and school functions, and as I recently told my friend Wise Marj, I don't dare forget or overlook even one event.

"We are so busy lately, with the senior stuff," I said. "And I feel like I can't miss anything."

Marj, whose youngest child graduated last year, gave me her smug grin. This grin normally comes when she relays the many symptoms of old age and menopause I'll soon experience. But she took a break from her usual message of doom to be even more depressing. 

"Yep. That's 'The Lasts,'" she said. 

Sometimes, Wise Marj can be Vague Marj. 

"What are you talking about?"

"It's the last homecoming, the last football game, the last prom - all of it," she said. "And you go to everything because it's the last time it will happen. Ever."

Yeah. Thanks a lot, Wise Marj.

“Welcome to the 2014 Sheridan Generals Senior Night . . .”

The loudspeaker blares with each family's introduction, and we head further into the end zone as the groups make their way onto the turf. Some of the couples are married, some aren't anymore, but everyone is here tonight, walking three-by-three in the red stadium surrounded by acres and acres of farmers' crops.  Rivals call our students "Children of the Corn," but the kids don't have any problem with it, cheerfully posing for yearbook pictures with giant International Harvesters and corn stalks.

I stare into the brown fields and blue sky, trying not to do anything embarrassing for my daughter, such as breathing, but she fusses with her uniform, giving me an excuse to sneak a sideways glance. Fair skin, brown eyes, tiny stature - to see her is to see me, albeit a younger, smoother, better me, and definitely a smarter model, as she takes classes like "Advanced Calculus." I'm not even sure what "Advanced Calculus" is. It sounds suspiciously like "Really Hard Math."

But the whiz-kid by my side is only one version of her, and there were many over the years, though I don't recall them all. All I can seem to remember are snippets of baby talk, screen-shots of days, and a chattering blur in little pink clothes.

Back then, old women - complete strangers - would coo at my daughter as we pushed past them in the grocery store aisles. "The years fly by!" they said, bent with age over their carts of coupons and wheat bread. "It goes so fast - enjoy it!" And I smiled and nodded and disregarded them, in a hurry to get the baby home for a nap, so I could have some time alone.

They were right, of course. It flew. There was so much to do, always, and the years went by like grocery bags in the wind, like the old women themselves: barely noticeable, and gone when I looked again. 

And faster than I could say "financial aid," I'm on a football field wearing regrettable shoes, looking for my hover-car and wondering how to let go.

"Mom - it's time."

"And next we have Laura Weber, escorted by her parents . . . "

Do not cry . . . do not trip . . . do not cry . . . do not trip . . . do not cry . . . do not trip . . .

Do not blink.


I'll miss all the children of the corn next year
but particularly the tiny one at the harvester's top left.