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.