Thursday, June 11, 2015

Leave Your iPhone Alone

Summer's here, you're finally free now,
To have some time of your own,
It's gorgeous and sunny and warm out,
Still you won't leave your iPhone alone.

Birds sing, flowers bloom, oak trees swaying,
The dog's in the yard chewing bones,
She'd like to go walking with you, love,
If you'd just leave your iPhone alone.

It sure looks magical out there,
Like there's unicorns in the ozone,
Or maybe some fairies and wood nymphs,
But you won't leave your iPhone alone.

Your room, dear, is utterly filthy,
Your chores are completely undone,
The laundry piled high in the corner,
'Cause you won't leave your iPhone alone.

Grandma would love to hear from you,
You could dial her with the house phone,
That way you could talk and scroll Twitter,
Since you can't leave your iPhone alone.

Finally, you rise from the sofa,
Hallelujah! You shower and go,
To the car for a night with your girlfriends,
Honey, please - leave your iPhone alone.

You pick up the crew and head downtown,
But end up sitting still as stones,
All of you hunched over wee little screens,
You guys can't leave your iPhones alone.

They're like crack, I know it, I feel ya,
I have a smartphone of my own,
But you are becoming an addict,
You just won't leave the iPhone alone.

And that is why I get so crabby,
I grumble. I complain. I groan,
You're letting an amazing life pass you by,
For God's sake - leave your iPhone alone!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Some (More) Damn Assembly Required

"So," he says. "What tools do we need?"

I flip through the bulky 63-page multilingual assembly manual. "It just says 'one screwdriver.'"

I'm on the cold cement floor of the sunroom with a book, carton, packaging, boards and several thousand screws belonging to our new piece of furniture. The husband stands over me, a skeptical frown on his face.

"Really?" he asks. "Just a screwdriver?"

"That's what it says -- a Phillips head," I look up at him with a smirk. "It also says 'Assembly time: one hour.'"

At this, we double over in laughter. It ain't our first rodeo of assembling cheap furniture from a big box store. And he and I don't argue much, except when faced with some damn assembly required.

Still chuckling, he fetches a Phillips head from the junk drawer, and I begin attempting to screw shelf LL into B2 using screw J38. I twist and twist and get nowhere.

Screwing: Sometimes, it's completely futile.

"This isn't the right size screwdriver," I tell him. "I need a bigger one."

He hoists himself from the pile of particleboard and gestures dramatically at his swimsuit area.  “Well, I got a big one for ya! Heh heh!"

Oh, how that man amuses himself.

As he heads back to the kitchen to root around, I realize that I haven't eaten anything yet today, which is very bad news for him. Because I don't get hungry, I get fungry: fucking hungry.

You wouldn't like me when I'm fungry.

"Hurry it up," I yell. "I'm starving!"

"I'm coming, dear," he says. "Why don't you just have a cheese stick?"

Ah. Behold the power of the cheese stick. It's the disappointing solution for a snack at our place. In fact, it's often the solution for breakfast. Also lunch. Sometimes dinner.

In fact, are you hungry? Well have a freakin' cheese stick.

But I can't have one now -- we are out of them. My stomach growls. My head hurts.  My mouth waters. Years pass, and the husband returns with a big screwdriver, a different, even bigger screwdriver, and no cheese sticks whatsoever.

The mid-size Phillips-head does the trick, and we make some headway on our project -- for a while. Until Step 7: Screw side piece CC into shelf LL using screw B11-a. I push and wrestle with B-11-a, but try as I might, I can't get it to bite into shelf LL.

"You know," I tell him, "I think the cordless drill might work for this."

He grabs the manual and flips back through the pages. "I thought the instructions said we'd only need a screwdriver?"

I stare at him with eyes as empty as my stomach. "It does say that. Now go get the cordless drill and the Phillips bit."

He slouches his way back through the rubble. "Yes, dear."

While waiting for him, I think back to the groovy day, to the 70s and 80s, a time when furniture -- made of actual wood, mind you, by actual Americans and carried by actual delivery men -- arrived already put together. True, compared to our income, this furniture was so prohibitively expensive that my mother could only afford one piece every decade or so, but by God, it was worth it, because it was what?

Fully assembled.

I snap back to the present and glance around the room, filled to the brim with some damn assembly required items, all of it clumsily put together by my husband and I. It is a strong marriage that can survive cheap furniture.  We have been married 20 years now. That's a lot of IKEA. From the tables to the kids' beds to several large shelves, our home is chock full of "wood" fabricated in faraway countries, probably by small, hungry children.

And speaking of hungry, that reminds me . . .

"Hurry IT UP!" I yell.

Glaring, he re-enters the room with the cordless drill case in hand. He opens it up, pushes in the battery, pulls the trigger, and . . .


Nothing. As usual, the battery is dead.

"I'm not sure why we even have that thing," I say. "It's never charged."

He studies the dead drill in his hands. "I'll go get the electric one."

"Hurry . . ."

"Yes," he hisses. "I will hurry it up!"

I wait for him again, growing ever older, ever angrier, ever fungrier, and study the diagram in the the instruction book. If it gets assembled, this particular piece will be a snazzy-looking television stand with a built-in electric fireplace. It was my idea to buy it.

Obviously I have had better ideas.

But this is no comfort, as I sit in a mountain of MDF, tool boxes, several thousand screws, a half dozen screwdrivers, one dead cordless drill, and exactly zero freakin' cheese sticks.

"Assembly time: one hour."

Yeah. Sure. One hour.

"Tools needed: one screwdriver. "

And one screwdriver indeed.

With double vodka.

Friday, May 1, 2015

One-Eyed Jack and the Kayak

Cloudy. Cold. Seventy percent chance of rain.

"Great day for kayaking," he said. "You'll fall in and freeze to death."

This from the Voice of Reason, better known as my husband. He was concerned about me, the water temperature being 49 degrees and all.

But I make it a point not to listen to the Voice of Reason.

"Nah," I said. "It's time."

He shrugged and helped me load the gear into the truck.  

You might remember the kayak, a.k.a. My Damn Boat. Made of recycled two-liter bottles, purchased online from a big-box store, it is the only vessel the VOR would agree to, and so I bought it my damn self. It's small and inexpensive and shockingly, aggressively yellow. But it floats. Like a good two-liter bottle should.

I'd been waiting weeks -- WEEKS, I tell you -- to use it. Nothing was going to stop me, up to and including hypothermia, so I chose to sail for the first time at a friend's pond, figuring that if I fell in, it would be easier to swim to shore in a smaller body of water, before I drowned or froze to death.

Positive thinking: I gots it in spades.

Arriving at my friend's place, I pulled the kayak from the truck, then paused to glance across the pond. It looked choppy. It looked muddy. Most of all, it looked cold.

Great day for kayaking, he said. You'll fall in and freeze to death.

I pushed the boat into the water.

Hopping in, I paddled to the center with ease. I'd only kayaked a handful of times, but it was pretty much like riding a bike, and I felt happy to be out of the house, happy to be out of my cubicle, and most of all, happy to be alone.

Except, as I soon figured out, I wasn't. Alone, that is.

Because I felt eyes on me. Dozens of pairs of eyes. And I heard something.

"Peep-peep!" they said. "Peep!"

I headed to the far shore, drawing as close to the noise as I could.  There in the marshy weeds, I saw them, and they saw me.

"Peep-peep!" they said. "Peep!"

Frogs. Frogs for days, frogs galore, peeping away in pairs. And oh, were they busy, dozens upon dozens of them, "upon" as in on top of each other, "upon" as in cheerfully mating and supplying the better part of Ohio's frog needs for the next year.

I'd floated into the world's largest frog orgy.

They didn't seem to mind, though. Usually frogs will dive right underwater upon seeing a human, however these guys and gals weren't the least bit worried about me, engaged, um, as they were.

I made my way around the shores, noting the amorous couples and naming them according to their appearance. Here were Mike and Molly, a couple of middle-aged fatties going at it on the north shore. On the west side, you had a lithe young Brittany and Kevin swimming in angry circles, their arguments turning into splashy make-up sex. Things were really swinging in the weeds of the south shore with tons of randy couples: Angelina and Brad, Will and Jada, Miranda and Blake . . . and many more, all of them getting it on in close proximity, everybody having a grand old time.

Except for One-Eyed Jack.

As his name suggests, he was a frog of one eye. There was a bump where the other eye should have been, but the eyeball itself was curiously absent, not plucked out so much as just not there -- a birth defect.

And, like so many of his one-eyed brethren in the animal kingdom, Jack wasn't having any luck in the love department. He squatted in a little cove, all by himself. Bereft. Forlorn.


"Peep-peep!" he cried. "Peep!"

Ah, but there was nothing I could do for him. So I kept going around, marveling at the ease of kayaking, and the fact that I'd made it into and around the water without getting even one foot wet.  As long as I kept my body in the vessel's middle and made no sudden moves, the boat remained stable and true.

Huh. Stay centered and still, and everything will be OK. What a concept.

Before long, the sun came out, tentatively at first, but soon hot enough to burn away the clouds. I circled the shore several more times, visiting Mike and Molly, Blake and Miranda, Angelina and Brad, etc., all of them in the same spots and busily engaged in frog-producing activities. I stayed out for two solid hours watching celebrity frog porn, and I am proud to report I neither fell in nor froze to death.

I had a great day, paddling My Damn Boat by my damn self. In fact, despite the weather forecast and the dire predictions from the Voice of Reason, it had turned into a fantastic day at the pond for all of us.

Except for One-Eyed Jack. You'd think Jada, Miranda, Angelina, Molly -- hell, even Mike -- would take pity on him. You'd think some frog somewhere would give him some froggy love.

I mean, really. Those fucking frogs.

But no. It was not to be. Poor, poor One-Eyed Jack.

"Peep-peep!" he cried. "Peep!"

That guy got nothin'.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Cross-Dressing Hobo

There's "mom jeans."

And then there's mom's jeans.

They can be the same thing, or two different things. But in my house, they're both mine.

Also belonging to me is one Hobo, a.k.a. my son, nicknamed as such because he mostly dresses himself like a homeless crackhead -- and that's when he bothers to wear clothes. He's a stranger to fashion, an avoider of shirts, and an avid fan of farts.

But recently he's made some strides -- at least in the personal hygiene department. Why, just a few weeks ago, I caught him showering voluntarily. With Axe products, no less. He's growing up and becoming a teenager, and I thought we were easing our way out of the abyss of pre-teen awkwardness.

I thought so, that is, until the husband texted me at work the other day.

"Why is your son wearing Jordache jeans?"

Well. That's not a text you get every day. What the hell was he talking about?  The kid doesn't have Jordache jeans -- what boy does? -- he only wears Old Navy and Levi's. I am very familiar with his bottoms, as he grows about three inches a week these days. I constantly have to buy him new pants.

The only Jordache jeans I knew of in the house were a throwback 80s pair I bought for myself a few years ago. They are snug and have the signature orange stitching and super cute retro horse on the pocket and . . .

Oh. No. Say it ain't so.

What in the name of Gloria Vanderbilt was that boy thinking? How did he make it through the school-day in one piece? Middle-schoolers are not known for their tolerance and kindness, especially to those who wear mom's slacks to school.

I knew immediately what happened; none of it his fault. His sister, a.k.a. the Princess, folds the laundry and puts it away each week. This is the only chore she has to do in order for us to pay her iPhone bill every month.

She has one job.

In typical teenage fashion, she cares not at all about doing it right, and stuffs any old clothes into any old drawers. Today, for example, I am sporting my husband's socks. I can't tell you the number of times I've reached in my underwear drawer for panties, only to produce a pair of raggedy size 36-38 Jockey shorts.

So the scene went like this: the boy rolled out of bed at 6:20 a.m., opened his pants drawer, and cluelessly pulled out my designer jeans, thrown in there by my daughter. He put them on, and then he wore them. All day long.

I wanted to see how the Hobo looked in my sweet threads, but my husband wouldn't take a picture, figuring -- and rightfully so -- that I'd post it on Facebook and/or the Twitter. I had an hour commute, and there was no way he'd still have them on when I got home. Surely, I thought, he was mortified, and he'd take them off and put on his evening crackhead attire of ratty pajama bottoms and no shirt.

But, lo -- I was wrong.

I walked in the door and found him lounging in his usual spot, playing his usual video games, and wearing his mama's clothes.

"Son," I said, "are you aware that you are still wearing my pants?"

He didn't even glance up from his laptop. "Yep."

I stood staring at my size 6P mom jeans, puffing out around his waist and riding up the calves of his long, lanky frame.

"Those are way too short for you," I said. "Didn't you notice? Didn't your friends make fun of you?"

"Nope," he replied, still tapping at  his keyboard. "Or if they did, they didn't say anything."

I regarded my son, the accidental cross-dresser.

"Listen," I said. "I just want to thank you. I have had nothing to blog about lately. But this will pretty much write itself."

He swiveled toward me in the desk chair. "That's why I'm here, Mom," he shrugged, "to give you stuff to write about."

And with that, nattily dressed in my pants, he wheeled back around to the computer.

You know, I thought, that's exactly what I love about this kid.

It doesn't matter to him if I write about him.

It doesn't matter to him if he screws up.

It doesn't matter if he walked around 600 middle-schoolers all day in his mom's designer jeans.

Absolutely zero fucks given.

Really, why should it bother him? He'll be back to his regularly scheduled Levi's tomorrow. Anyway, pants is pants.

And a hobo cares not what he wears.

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.