Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ode to a Shoe - Fetish

(post copyright 2014, Dawn Weber)

I don't have a problem,
I can quit if I want to,
These shoes are like friends,
And who the hell asked you?


The closet floor's covered,
But I don't really care,
Green rug like the bedroom,
Not much under there.


It's true that their numbers
Rise into the hundreds,
They're all necessary,
Hey - "Hoarders" ain't called yet.


I've pumps, mules and flip-flops,  
Slides, sneakers and Mocks,
And, heaven help me,
One pair of red Crocs.


I've boots made for walking,
And shoes made to run,
No jogging these days though,
Fuck that. I am done.


The husband dislikes it,
When I go to the store,
There's no room for his shoes,
Mine take the whole floor.


"You bought shoes?" he asks me.
"Really? Can't you abstain?"
But they were on sale.
And he protests in vain.


I don't see the issue,
I don't let it phase me,
He knows he can't fight it,
If he wants to touch me.


See, shoes make me happy,
Shoes make me dance,
'Cause shoes always fit,
Unlike my pants.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Dear Car Beside Me: I Know Who You Are


(post copyright 2014, Dawn Weber)

Hippy. Soccer mom. Redneck. Entitled a-hole. Really small penis.

Don't mind me. I'm just heading down the interstate, judging people based on the cars they drive. I have plenty of time for this. My commute to the office is, on a good day, one hour each way. I've worked at the same job for, oh, nine years/108 months/3,285 days. But who's counting?

Point is, I spend a lot of time in my car. There's lots of places I'd rather be. Bed comes to mind. Hell - prison comes to mind. But I must go to work. You know, to be able to afford gas and a car. So I can go to work.

Great. Now I'm depressed. I had a point here. What was it? Oh yeah. Judging people based on their material possessions. I feel better.

Anyway, over these nine years/108 months/3,285-but-who's-counting-days, I've noticed some reoccurring characteristics amongst my fellow drivers. You know, I don't like to stereotype. So let me just throw down some broad, baseless generalizations. Read on.

Economy/electric car: "Co-exist!" "Recycle!" "Change!" You're a bumper sticker billboard, maxed out in the right lane at a puttering, earth-friendly 60 m.p.h. You've likely been to a pride parade, and you're all about equal rights, world peace, legalized pot. You voted for Obama. One of your bumper stickers indicates this, but you don't need it.

We know.

Minivan: You're on the way to school and/or practice in a vehicle full of car seats and petrified french fries. You're exhausted, crabby, and flailing an arm around in the back seat, hoping to make contact with one of your wayward offspring. You gave up form for function long ago, and sold your soul for a built-in DVD player and a third-row seat. You used to be cool. But now?

You're too tired to care.

SUV  - You are also on the way to school and/or practice in a vessel full of car seats and petrified french fries, though you'd very much like us to believe otherwise, what with your off-road package and four-wheel drive - features you've never used.

SUVs: At least they aren't minivans.  

Pickup truck - Gun rack, tool box, probable concealed weapon . . . you're ready for anything, up to and including the zombie apocalypse. You get 15 m.p.g. highway, but petty things like gas mileage and pollution do not concern you: Global warming is just a big conspiracy started by that liberal who invented the internet. You did NOT vote for Obama. Your bumper sticker indicates this, but you don't need it.

We know.

Sedan - Sure, your Accord/Camry/Chevy Cobalt is non-descript and boring, but you don't care. You don't care about anything, really, except getting from point A to point B, albeit with premium cup-holders and functioning airbags. You're a regular guy, just trying to get by, driving at a sensible speed in your sensible car, with your sensible shoes to your sensible . . .

Zzzzzzzzz.   

Sports car/convertible - You. You're zipping in and out of lanes at 85 m.p.h., tailgating, swerving, driving with one hand and texting with the other. You're passing on the right, cutting off on the left . . . but you can do what you want, right? You've earned it - you're a wealthy, middle-aged white person.

With a really small penis.
__________________________

So we see here that just by looking around on the freeway, we can tell what kind of people we're dealing with, judge them accordingly, and really give them a piece of our . . .

Crap. Wait a minute.

Reading through this, I just realized that for one reason or another, our family of three licensed drivers owns five vehicles. Do not be jealous of this; they're all about ten years old with over 100,000 miles.

But there's no getting around it. On any given day, depending on the weather, which vehicle is in the shop (and one is always in the shop), or what I'm doing after work, you could find me driving: an economy car, a pickup truck, a sedan, an SUV, or a convertible.

Which of course - go ahead, say it - makes me a hippy/redneck/boring soccer mom/entitled a-hole.

With a really small penis.

Well, hey. What can I say? If the cars fit.

And at least they aren't minivans.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sh*t My Co-worker Says

"I think my skin's melting off!"

Holy crap! you say. Where are you? What's going on? Industrial accident? Ebola outbreak? Zombie apocalypse?

Nope. Do not be alarmed. It's just Monday. And that's just Tim.

I sit right next to him at work, and we've been side-by-side for so long that I can usually tell what he's doing just by the noises he makes. I can hear everything: I can hear him breathe, I can hear his stomach growl, and I spend more time with him than I do my family, which is a sorry state of affairs indeed. You've heard the terms "work family" and "work spouse," but it isn't like that at all with us. Anyway, one spouse is quite enough, thanks. I don't need anyone else pestering me for dinner, or poking around at my swimsuit areas. Tim asks for nothing - except the occasional Tums or ibuprofen.

Although I can't see him because we're behind one-inch-thick cubicle walls, I know that he's over there squinting worriedly into a little mirror he keeps at his desk to assess his many imagined ailments and conditions.

"These lights make me look all spotty!"

I grab my pencil and tablet. For amusement, I like to keep a record of Tim's pseudo-symptoms. Here is the actual list from my desk, along with - for some reason - a doodle of a pine tree.



I know. I have the penmanship of a mentally challenged first-grader, don’t I? The only legible thing on that paper is the pine tree.

So allow me to transcribe for you. Below are some of Tim's Imaginary Zombie Ailments, along with handy-dandy Regular Person Translations:

IZA: "I think my brain stem just snapped!"
RPT: He has a crick in his neck.

IZA: "There's liquid lung juice dripping on my liver!"
RPT: He has gas.

IZA: "I feel like I have a nail in my hand!"
RPT: He's having a minor muscle spasm.

IZA: "Something is moving up through my neck!"
RPT: He has gas.

IZA: "I can hear this dripping in my head!"
RPT: His allergies are acting up.

IZA: "My eyes feel like they're going to shrivel up!"
RPT: He's tired.

IZA: "I think my esophagus just separated from my stomach!"
RPT: Still gas.

You might doubt the veracity of my claims. You might think I'm exaggerating about Tim, that no one could make up such whack-a-doo maladies. But I assure you: It's all true. The list doesn't lie.

I put down the tablet, rise from my chair and walk over to stand in his doorway, where I watch him frown into his Worry Mirror.

"Were you always like this?" I ask. "I mean, when you were a kid, did you sit in classrooms narrating your body's rapid and disturbing disintegration?"

"No, no," he says, shaking his head. "It's only since I've been here. This building is killing me." 

He looks up from his mirror, brows raised. 

"I'm gonna bring in my Radon detector!"

You know, he may have something there. I've always said that cubicles are just glorified coffins.

And really, Tim is a very smart, apparently sane person in other ways. Plus he's super nice - always saying good morning, giving me coupons for my brand of Greek yogurt . . . I once convinced him to put a bowl of water out for some stray cats that he'd told me about, a litter of kittens living under his porch.

So yeah. He's a really good guy.

I mean, as far as zombies go.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Get Your Butt Outside


(Post copyright 2014, Dawn Weber)

The sun shines bright on the sidewalk,
Your bike's in the garage, cast aside,
While you sit, transfixed to an iPod,
Please - get your butt outside.

A pool shimmers blue in the backyard, 
The bank-loan for it made us cry, 
But I'm not sure you know that it's there, son,
Since you won't take your heinie outside.

The grass sure could stand a good cutting,
Though I don't think you'll really comply,
As mowers don't feature PlayStations,
And we don't have a TV outside.

The dog waits in vain by the side door,
A real worried look in her eye,
She knows she can't count on you, boy,
There's no way that you'll take her outside.

A trampoline rusts by the driveway,
It misses your feet, that's no lie,
But COD won't play itself, you know,
Hell no, you ain't going outside.

Things sure were different for me, kid,
Back in nineteen seventy-nine,
"Don't come back in this house till the streetlights come on!"
Had no choice. Put on shoes. Went outside.

Anyway, I was glad to go out there,
Especially in June and July,
No A/C makes houses infernos,
And I much preferred frying outside.

There are woods that you should be exploring,
Mitts that could catch a pop-fly,
But Minecraft is what you're adoring,
And it's hard to see laptops outside.

I sure wish I was there now, son,
I'm at work to pay bills for wifi,
But this weekend I'll change up the password,
You can bet - your ass WILL BE outside. 


Friday, July 11, 2014

Chocolate. And Other Reasons to Live

(post copyright 2014, Dawn Weber)

There I sat, in the grocery store parking lot, feeling confused and very tragic.

I'd just finished my first day of work after a week's vacation at the beach, and I stared straight ahead, watching the heat boil up from the asphalt. What happened to the ocean? I wondered. Where is the rum? What do you mean I have to wear pants all day?

Reality: such a disappointment.

And I knew not this thing they called "Monday." Just minutes ago, it seemed, the time had blended into a pleasant blue haze of laughter and friends, waves and great food and complete relaxation, wherein someone would occasionally ask, "Does anybody know what day it is?" only to receive the same replies: 

"Who knows?"

"Who cares?"

"Pass me another drink!"

Yet, there I was, back in the work-week with all the other dummies, forced to wear pants. It had been a day like so many others before it, and so many that will be after it: ten hours of email, canned soup for lunch, and no rum at all. 

I mean, why go on, really? 

At least I could fix the rum problem. I got out of the car, locked it, and headed through the sliding doors. 

Inside, I continued my depressive internal monologue, muttering like a crackhead all through the produce and frozen goods. I had just grumbled my way past the hamburger buns when I stopped short.

Because just then, I saw it. A post-vacation reason to live. In aisle three:


That's right. Just when you thought your clothes might fit again, holy insulin, Batman, here it is: Chocolate! Melted! In a jar!

It was displayed beside the peanut butter, and the ever-popular Nutella, which I've never tried, because I don't like hazelnut flavor. Also, most of the people I've heard gushing in the media about Nutella appear to be rich, or granola-hippies, or rich granola-hippies - Gwyneth Paltrow types - none of whom I like, all of whom I wish to slap. Upside the head. 

With a big ol' pack of Walmart bacon. 

I sound all stubborn and judgmental and misinformed up there, like a member of Congress, don't I? That is what granola-hippies do to me.

But this Hershey's business was a whole different story. I grabbed the jar off the shelf and gobbled up the label with hungry eyes. It looked like heaven. It looked like trouble. It looked like diabetes and bigger pants and bad decisions. 

I bought it immediately. 

Then, I rushed home so that I could dip into my new love. And let me tell you, friends - the stuff lived up to its promise. It tasted wonderful, the way you'd imagine, the way chocolate should: like fun and childhood and Jesus kisses. You can put it on strawberries, pretzels, fingers - doesn't really matter, because they're all just a vehicle, a utensil, if you will, to get the chocolate in the mouth. 

I know. I sound like someone is paying me to promote their business or do something for them. I sound like a member of Congress again, don't I? 

Sadly, no one is paying me to do anything. (That's what she said!) No, I am just giving you my thoughts on Chocolate! Melted! In a jar! Hey. Everyone's entitled to my valuable opinion. 

So the next time it's your first day back to work after vacation, you're forced to wear pants, and you're feeling sad and confused and like there's no reason to go on, know this:

You're right.

But if you're ever experiencing these emotions, may I recommend heading to the grocery store after work, to pick up some Chocolate! Melted! In a jar!, or your own particular brand of diabetes (even if it's Nutella, you granola-hippie.) Oh, and don't forget the rum.

Because, remember: Depression hurts. Bad decisions can help. 

________________________________________

Book update: The manuscript is still finished, and I spent the spring writing a 22,000-word book proposal, which is basically a comprehensive business plan for a book, a very left-brained task for a very right-brained person, but I made it through. From here, I will begin querying literary agents. This process can take years, and I won't even tell you how much rejection I'll likely endure, but, hey, that's how it is. I've had a few writer friends read the book, and they gave suggestions, along with some rave reviews, so there's that, right? Send me good wishes, please - and maybe chocolate! Melted! In a jar!


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Adventures with Ikea. And POS Pickups


(post copyright 2014, Dawn Weber)

Drive to Ikea in your husband's jacked-up pickup truck and buy a couch! I said.


It will be fun! I said.


Ha ha ha!


*Sob*


Let's see. Piece-of-shit Chevy - check.  Six hours round-trip - check. Self-serve furniture store - check. Two hundred pound sofa - check.


All by myself - check.


These sound like a bunch of bad ideas, and lo, they were indeed bad ideas. Yes friends, they were.


Oh, the things I will do for some cheap Scandinavian furniture.


I can't help it. Like so many Americans, whenever I get my grubby hands on the tax-refund check each spring, I start thinking thoughts that involve heavy lifting and rampant spending. That's how I found myself one recent Saturday, driving, sweating, cussing and wondering if I'd make it to Cincinnati in the husband's POS Silverado.  


That truck. Four-wheel drive, relatively new (for us), nice interior, white with silver trim - great-looking, yes, but it runs terribly. I call it the supermodel of pickup trucks: easy on the eyes, but otherwise, pretty much worthless.


It's been in the shop at least nine times in the 1.5 years we've owned it, for various reasons ranging from ignition troubles to transmission problems to vague sensor issues that have left our mechanic scratching his head, saying, "Hell, I don't know what's wrong with it!" then handing us a $650 invoice for 28 hours of labor.


The husband bought the pickup on his own. He did not have my helpful guidance and vast mechanical expertise when he made this purchase, and we ended up with a piece of shit. In case he forgets, I like to periodically remind him:


"This truck is a piece of shit!"


"I know, dear. You've mentioned it."


We just had an alignment and some new tires installed, but one of the truck's latest major problems is some kind of issue that leaves you bopping down the road as if driving on four basketballs - only bouncier - and it was in this state that I spent that particular Saturday thumping south on I-71 to the Ikea store.  Anything above 65 m.p.h. made the shimmying unmanageable. So I rattled along in the slow lane at 62, glaring at the campers, the Buicks, the box-turtles on the side of the road as they passed me.


I drove. I sweated. I cussed.


Around noon, I became incredibly hungry. I also had to pee, which was no surprise: If I'm breathing, I have to pee. But I wouldn't stop for any of this, as I knew that if I did so, I might not start again.


You do not tarry with basic needs when driving the POS Chevy.  


The husband had stayed behind to watch the kids and take our son to ball practice. Since he wasn't around for the joy of this trip, I decided to call him up and give him my valuable opinion.


"Hello?" he said.


"This truck is a piece of shit!"


"I know, dear. You've mentioned it."


"That is all."  


*Click*


I hung up on him, so that I could better focus on seething, bouncing and glaring.


After many days, hours, years, it seemed, my basketballs and I thumped thankfully into the Cincinnati Ikea parking lot, right along with what appeared to be the entire state of Ohio. And Indiana.


And most of Kentucky.


Apparently, the people of the Midwest - and part of the south - had also received their federal income tax refunds that week, and decided on a fun day of seething humanity and cheap Scandinavian furniture.


I grabbed one of the last available parking spots and rushed inside. Sprinting to the restroom, I gratefully emptied, washed up and headed to the sales floor, where I joined the tri-state area as they trudged, like dead-eyed zombies, through the giant super-mega-store.


Thanks to my harrowing trip down the interstate, I didn't have energy to deal with the throngs of people crowding every inch of available space. Babies crying, children whining, elderly folks stopping in the middle of the aisles . . . Ikea is set up like a giant maze, constantly clogged with human traffic, and there are really not many shortcuts. If you don't know where you're going or what you want for sure - which I didn't - you have to snake through the entire store with all the other dummies to your eventual goal: the warehouse section and cheap Scandinavian furniture in boxes.


Big boxes.


Very big boxes.


I arrived at my destination and stared open-mouthed at Ektorp, the sofa I'd chosen, inside its mammoth carton. The physics alone were frightening: I am 5'2" and weigh, well, none of your business, but the box looked to be roughly twice my size on both counts, and I wondered how in the world I was supposed to get it from the shelf to the cart without flattening myself like an ant. In true self-serve Ikea fashion, personnel were nowhere around, and as I stood and contemplated the box 'o sofa, an old, stooped woman paused beside me.


"You need some help with that, honey?"


I turned and eyed my fellow customer: white-haired, frail, a couple inches shorter than me - I doubted her couch-lifting abilities.  "Well, yeah, but are you sure?"


I should not have doubted.


She whipped my buggy to the front of the box, wedged it underneath, stood aside and pushed the sofa down with a flick of her wrinkly wrist. The carton landed with a confident whump!, stable and ready to roll.


"Wow! Thanks! That was just . . . amazing."


"I come here all the time," she said. "That's how you do it. Just flip it down."


Couch on cart, I thanked her again and re-joined the populations of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky at the registers, where we waited oh, four, five hours to check out? I don't know.


Time has no meaning at Ikea.


I should have taken a nap. By the time a rare stock-boy and I wrestled the gargantuan box into the pickup, I was once again exhausted.


And I had a bigger issue.


The carton, too long for the bed of the truck, tilted up and rested on the closed tailgate, which would be no problem except that our particular tailgate latch is - you guessed it - broken, and given to popping open at the slightest pressure. I had no rope, and no help again, as the elusive Ikea stock-boy had vanished into the ether, so I shrugged, started the engine and shimmied onto the freeway, anticipating the worst.


Driving, thumping, driving, 62 m.p.h., my eyes flipped maniacally between road and rearview mirror. I fully expected the shuddering tailgate to collapse at any time, my hard-won cheap couch crushing cars Godzilla-like as it bounced to the side of the road.
I drove. I sweated. I cussed.  


Hours went by, and I grew hungry again. I had to pee, again. And turtles and Buicks passed me. Again.


It was time once more to give my valuable opinion. I dialed the husband, who picked up the phone without saying hello.


"I know, dear. You've mentioned it."


*Click*


Huh. He hung up on me. I can't imagine why.


Eventually, finally, amazingly, the decades passed, and I made it, shuddering up the driveway at 8 p.m., angry and spent. I rushed in the house, shouted "Never again!" and pushed the children down on the way to the bathroom.


Never again indeed. I had been to Ikea before, but not alone, not for a large couch, and definitely not in a POS Chevy. It was a harrowing, epic journey in three or four parts, a terrifying odyssey I will not repeat.


Ladies, ladies, by all means: Learn from my mistakes, and mark my words. A trip to Ikea requires strategy, patience, fortitude and preferably, Xanax. Before you go, make sure that you rest up. Eat something. Pee often. Bring along some sort of willing male - or an old, stooped woman - then, ride shotgun and get drunk. 

All the better.


And for the love of God and cheap Scandinavian furniture, please, I beseech you: Take a functioning pickup. Do not borrow ours.


Because I don't know if I've mentioned it, but that truck is a piece of shit.