I am a smartphone addict and the world is going to hell.

nomophobia-1

  Nomophobia — the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. A drastic change happened in my life this past year. I ditched my trusty old flip phone from the dinosaur age — the one I never texted on and barely used to … Continue reading

Why Tony Bennett Never Calls My Mom

My 80-year-old mother has a very full, active life. She knits. She reads. She waits for the mail.

**crickets**

**crickets**

Oh — and she constantly complains to me about receiving prerecorded scam phone calls.

“He called me again the other day!” she scowls at me over her coffee mug.

“Who? Your boyfriend Tony Bennett?” We both laugh. This joke never gets old for either of us.

He's quite dreamy.

He is quite dreamy.

“No! The ro-but!” she yells.

“Oh! You mean you got another robocall?”

“Yes! The RO-BUT!”

Greetings, earthling! This is not Tony Bennett.

Greetings, earthling! This is not Tony Bennett.

“So did you tell him off?” I giggle because I already know the answer.

“He says to me ‘Good morning Senior Citizen!’ First off — how in the hell does he know I’m a senior citizen?! UP YOURS BUDDY! That’s what I told him too!”

“I’m sure he learned his lesson then.”

“And then he has the gall to say, ‘Congrats! You’ve won an all-expense paid trip to the Bahamas! All you have to do is press number five on your phone!’ And I says to him, ‘Oh yeah? How ’bout you press THIS buddy! Huh? How do you like them apples? Is there a number I can press to tell you to go to hell? Jeezum crow!'”

Phones have always been a source of aggravation for my mom, and not just because Tony Bennett never returns her calls. Yesterday she told us a story about how when she was a child, her family didn’t even have a phone. My stunned kids asked how they communicated without texting and she explained how they had to actually walk to the neighbor’s house to talk. This blew their little minds. People used to talk back then? My little mind was blown as well.  People used to walk back then?

“Imagine! When I was a teen, we didn’t even OWN a phone!” my mom said to my kids, a look of sheer terror spreading across their faces.  “If I wanted to get together with my friend, I had to walk three blocks to her house and hope to God she was home! And heaven forbid if there was an emergency, we’d have to walk all the way over to my aunt’s house on the other side of town because she had the only phone! She was always so smug about it too. Oh how we hated her and her stupid phone!”

Such a bitch.

Such a bitch.

Back in the 1940s, my mom’s father was an accountant for L.L. Bean — the actual man, not just the store itself. My grandparents and my mom lived in a house right next door to the famous hunting store. It was the same old house I grew up in as well. We were so close to the retail floor, I was able to sit at the kitchen table, eat my Cheerios and tell the New York tourist trying on the camouflage flannel long johns she should probably go up another size.

But I’m sure my grandfather didn’t think living so close to his workplace was such a good thing when the poor man didn’t even have a phone to screen calls from his pesky boss.

“And get this!” my mom continued.  “Whenever my dad was home on his days off and L.L. needed him to come in to work? He’d just throw open his office window and holler at my dad across the yard, ‘Hey Daniel! Get over here! I need you!'”

“Wow, that’s just insane,” I said. “You had windows back then?”

“Darla! Yes we had windows back then. We weren’t cavemen for god’s sake.”

“So Mom — why do you still phone me all day long when I live right next door to you?” (We currently live in a side by side duplex house and she calls me approximately 15-200 times a day to tell me her remote’s broken.)  “Why don’t you just yell at me through the window like L.L. Bean did in the good old days of yore?”

“Good point. Makes sense. Well, I’ll have to start doing that. And maybe that gall-darn ro-BUT man will stop bugging me. Then I’d free up my phone in case Tony calls!”

Never give up hope, Mom.

Good plan. Never give up hope, Mom.

___________________________________________________________

 

 

 

Happy Impending Death Day!

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Our culture doesn’t do so well with death. We don’t like to talk about it or even think about it.

Except for people who were born and raised in Maine. We’re more down-to-earth types who treat death like it’s a bad dentist appointment. Yeah it’s gonna happen to you one day so you might as well suck it up, deal with it, and move on.

My 80-year-old mother cheerfully sat down with me last week to go over her old family photo albums again because, “I might not be here tomorrow.” She has told me this every single day for about 15 years.

Anytime I try to plan something with her, she gives the same response.

“Hey, Mom! Want to drive up to Bar Harbor and see the ocean this August?”

“Sure! But I might be dead by then.”

“Hey Mom! Wanna go to L.L. Bean’s with me this weekend?”

“Sure! But I might be dead by then.”

“Hey, Mom! Want to go out to dinner tonight at that Italian place?”

“Sure!”

“What — you’re not planning on dying later today?”

“Well, I’m hoping I die during the meal. Serves them right. They don’t serve Sanka. What kind of a place doesn’t have Sanka?”

So once again last week we sat down to sift through old family pictures because she might die at any second.  Her albums are full of faded sepia toned photos displaying the typically stern, emotionless faces of my relatives from the early 1900s.

I’m convinced the photographer must have yelled out the directions, “Frown! Frown harder! Look miserable! You’re sullen! No, I need more sullen! Dour! Do dour! Great! Hold that pose! Yes! You’re sad! Profoundly sad! Hold it! Hooold it! Perfect!”

Basketball is just so 'meh'. (My grandfather is the particularly ecstatic boy sitting in the front to the left)

(My grandfather is the particularly ecstatic boy sitting in the front to the left)

And most of my relatives died young of a horrible disease.  It’s a miracle I exist at all. My mother points her shaky finger to every person in the photo, tells me his or her name and how they died like she’s rattling off her grocery list.

“This is Charlie, died of tuberculosis. He was 35.”

“This is Charlotte. She died of tuberculosis. She was 15 years old.”

“Oh, and this is Sarah. Died of tuberculosis. She was four.”

“What happened to the dog?” I ask. “Please tell me he made it at least.”

Welcome to the early 20th century when even the dogs looked depressed. (My grandfather is the one holding the dog)

Welcome to the early 20th century when even the dogs looked depressed. (My grandfather is the one holding the dog)

After a few more photo albums filled with tuberculosis, my mom likes to throw in a zinger, probably to see if I’m really listening.

“Oh! And this is your great-great uncle Fred,” she smiles brightly and points to a handsome young man sporting a snappy blazer and smoking a cigarette.  “He was a pilot and flew his plane straight into the side of a mountain, killed instantly.”

“Wait — are you sure it wasn’t tuberculosis that got him?”

“Darla!” she scowls at me. Then she clears her throat. “Well, actually yes. The coughing is what made him crash the plane.”

My eyes bug out.

“I’m kidding! Kidding! Oh no, the poor man just slammed straight into a mountain! Boom! Never had a chance!” my mom yells, throws her head back and cackles.

And they say death isn’t funny.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When God’s Your Facebook Friend

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[It's early morning. I'm folding a mountain of laundry. A bolt of lightning cracks overhead and a blinding light fills the room. I drop my husband's underwear to the floor, shield my eyes and squint at the ceiling.]

Me: What the…?

God: [voice booms] IT IS I!

Me: God? Is that You?

God: [yells] YES! OF COURSE IT’S ME! [mutters] Didn’t I just say that?

Me: Wow, oh wow! You finally show up! I have so much to ask you! Let’s start with the wars and the poverty and the sick and the dying and the pain and the suffering and the–

God: I know, right?

Me: So will humans ever learn to choose love over fear, compassion over hate?

God: Tsk-tsk. Oh no. Oh no, no, no. That shirt doesn’t go with those pants, dear child.

Me: Huh?

God: And your makeup! Please! The color is all wrong! [sighs] Atrocious. Have you not seen my recent Pinterest featuring Rihanna’s latest look?

Me: But back to the pain and the suffering. Why do we have to suffer God? Haven’t we learned enough?

God: By the looks of your hairstyle, no.

Me: Tell me the future. Will humans survive? How many years do we have left? Is this planet toast? Will global warming do us in?

God: George Clooney is getting married.

Me: I…I don’t understand.

God: Yes, I was just as shocked as you.

Me: I….

God: What people don’t realize is he was actually married to actress Talia Balsam from  1989 to 1993.

Me: Huh. Good to know. So anyway, is the world going to end, God? Is it too late? Can you tell me anything about the future at all? Is there hope for the human race?

God: Beyoncé will get a new haircut.

Me: Um…

God: Three of them in the next year. She’ll go from pixie to shag to a very sassy bob.

Me: Forgive me, God, but uh….I don’t really care about that stuff.

God: Oh of course you do, dear child! It’s all you people down here talk about!

Me: You people? Well, not all of us. And if we do, you sorta created us so…

God: Create you? {scoffs] Ha! No, I’m not responsible. Nope. Nuh-uh. Can’t blame me for that one.

Me: You did. All of us. You created everyone. And you gave us all free will.

God: Ooooh. Yeah. I guess I did, didn’t I?

Me: Yep.

God: Well, this certainly is depressing.

Me: It is.

God: Hey! I know what will cheer us up! Selfie time!

Me: No–uh, I really don’t want to–

[God holds up gold iPhone, leans in close. Phone clicks.]

God: [looks down at phone] Ah! Nope, do-over. I look way too fat.

[Holds up iPhone, more clicks.]

God: [frowns] Still awful. No worries!  It’s salvageable. [taps screen] Hmm…go to Instagram…maybe change the color tone here…add some soft focus there…ooh! We look sa-weet in Orton! I’ll post it on your Facebook wall. Because peeps be jealz! Because right?

Me: Right. I guess.

God: I know, right?

Me: Right.

God: I know, right?

Me: R-right, sure whatever–look, we done here? I’ve got some folding to do.

God: [stares intently down at phone, dismisses me with a wave] Yeah, I’m good. Huzzah!  Already 5.5 million likes on our selfie!

Me: Great. So..thanks for dropping in…

God: [taps phone] Huh? Hey, no problemo. [frowns] Gah! So frustrating! Have you gotten past level 352 on Candy Crush yet? I don’t think it’s possible, I mean, seriously?[groans] So can you send me some lives? I’m outta of lives again.

Me: Sure, anything for you God.

God: Oh, and I give it 3 years max.

Me: [gasps] The world will end in 3 years?

God: What? No! George Clooney’s marriage.

[bolt of lightning flashes, God fades into a pinpoint of light and disappears]

 

 

 

Book Giveaway: The Todd Glass Situation

 

image: Simon & Schuster

image: Simon & Schuster

Growing up and trying to navigate your way through this big scary world is tough for any kid.  But what if you’re also challenged with having ADD and dyslexia? And happen to be gay? Veteran comedian Todd Glass understands what it’s like to feel different and experience the pain of hiding a true identity for years.

In his funny, honest and heartfelt memoir, The Todd Glass Situation, he details his quick rise to stand-up comedy fame and the struggle he endured for decades keeping his life as a gay man secret.

It took the recent spike of suicides among young gay people and a close brush with death to give Todd that extra push to finally be true to himself and everyone else. One night he was finishing up the closing set alongside other comedian friends including Sarah Silverman, when he suddenly felt short of breath and nauseous. Soon the medics arrived.

“Sir, I don’t want to alarm you,” the EMT says, “but you’re having a heart attack.”

I don’t want to alarm you? If he didn’t want to alarm me he should have told me I was fine. Telling someone they’re having a heart attack is very goddamn alarming. “We’re going to take you to Cedars,” he continues. “Is there anyone we should call?”

Right. If I’m dying — which is suddenly starting to feel like a real possibility — I should probably tell the person I’ve been sharing a life with for the last fourteen years. I look through the faces around me until I find Sarah’s. “Call Andrea for me, ” I say, trying to wink. At this point it looks more like an involuntary facial tic.

Sarah winks back. “Don’t worry, I’ll call…Andrea.”

We both knew that “Andrea” is actually Chris, my boyfriend. But there’s no way in hell I’m going to say his name in front of everyone.

I mean, that might make people think that I was gay or something.

Here I am, forty-five years old, possibly at death’s door, surrounded by friends–and I still can’t be honest about who I am.

How the fuck did I get here?

Todd’s book successfully explores these serious issues with keen insight and humor. He details his childhood years and how he discovered at an early age he had a knack for making people laugh.  As a teen he was already a professional stand-up, opening for musical acts such as Patti LaBelle and comedians like Jay Leno. I was intrigued to learn how he climbed the stand-up comedian ladder to success, honing his act over the years while picking up valuable advice from other comedians along the way.

Being funny requires allowing yourself to be vulnerable. You must be fearless when putting your true self out there. At its center this book is about one thing: Being yourself no matter what the bastards say.

Other Things I Learned From Todd Glass:

  • Always embrace all aspects of yourself and let them shine.
  • Screw what other people might think of you.
  • If you’re gay and someone asks you, “How did you know you were gay?” ask them how or when they knew they were straight.
  • I sincerely hope one day there will be no “closet” for anyone gay or bisexual to “come out of”. Because it’s dark and stuffy in there, and smells like mothballs and needless repression.
  • Humor is incredibly powerful and the greatest comedians, like Todd’s idol George Carlin, are truth-seekers. As Todd pointed out in the book, Oscar Wilde once said, “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”
  • If you’re having a heart attack, always make sure Sarah Silverman is in the room.
Getting Doug with High

image: Getting Doug with High

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182940_446039868823211_1482428845_nTodd Glass is a stand-up comedian who has performed on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Chelsea Lately, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and The Jimmy Kimmel Show, among many other programs. He’s also the host of The Todd Glass Show, a popular podcast on the Nerdist Network.
–Simon & Schuster

________________________________________________________________

I was given a copy of the book, The Todd Glass Situation, by Simon & Schuster in exchange for writing this review. All opinions in this post are my own and not Todd’s, Simon’s nor even Schuster’s.

BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Dearest Maineiacs — YOU can win a copy of this book simply by responding with a comment below.  Yes, it’s just that easy! Did you ever feel different as a kid? Do you like humor? Do you know what a book is? Are you also good friends with Sarah Silverman? Let me know!

I will pick a winner by random.  All valid entries must reside in the US or Canada (sorry to my one reader from Uzbekistan)

*Deadline to enter is noon EST July 4th*

UPDATE: Congrats to Debbie Harbeson! She was randomly chosen to win this book. Hope you enjoy it, Debbie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unexplained Mysteries of My Universe (Part 3)

∗ Why is it that I can go on errands for the entire morning, spending hours out in public, then later that day as I’m going on my walk I suddenly think,
Holy shit — did I remember to put on my pants today?

Then I look down to check.

So for a split second it’s this insane moment of panic. Like maybe I woke up, took a shower, got dressed, put on makeup, got the kids ready for school and rushed out the door with no pants on. (I always remember my shoes, of course. Because if I didn’t that would just be crazy.)

But if in fact I actually did forget to wear pants that day, wouldn’t the draft tip me off? Or the reactions of horror from all those people at Home Depot?

I fear how senile I’ll be once I’m in my 80s.  That old lady in the power tool aisle wearing only slippers? It’s probably me. You’ve been warned.

∗ Why is the veggie drawer at the bottom of my fridge? Surely I’m not expected to expend the energy required to bend down to get my vegetables. It’s bad enough I have to remember to eat the vile things.

Not worth it.

Not worth it.

And the stuff in the crisper never stays fresh. Do they call it a ‘crisper’ because it shrivels and turns black the second I shove it in there? Let’s cut to the chase and call it “The Drawer of Decay”. I basically have to eat that entire head of arugula while I’m walking from the grocery store to my car or it’s as good as rotted.

This is why I don’t eat enough veggies.  Because I’m not quick enough. And I lack the adequate abdominal strength to bend that far down.

“Oh, really? You want me to cook some of the zucchini? Oh well, you obviously have forgotten I have no ab muscles to speak of.  Yeah, it’s just a big bag of marshmallow fluff between my ribcage and my hips. It’s useless. Hell I can barely reach over to grab that cream cheese and bacon and you expect me to do calisthenics to get to some zucchini?”

I suppose if I have to eat this crap I might as well make it more accessible. I think I’m going to rig it so when I open up the fridge stalks of broccoli instantly shoot into my face from a cannon. Then I might be willing to eat them more.

Probably not.

∗ As every parent knows, when your kids are quiet something’s up and it’s usually not good. I used to panic when it was quiet, but my kids are a bit older now and I wonder why I’m so much lazier with my panicking. I do half-assed panicking: a lot of worrying, but no action.

I think,  Are they okay? Are they still alive? Maybe not, maybe something happened. And here’s the worst part: I wait. I listen. Sometimes for a long long time to see if the silence lasts.

My kids might be in trouble and I actually choose my own selfish craving for quiet over possibly rescuing them from harm. What if they’re up on the roof? What if they took my car for a joy ride? I should be finding out, right? I shouldn’t still be lying here on this couch like a slob. Because that would be wrong.

I really should put this book down.

I really should put this book down.

So after about 20 minutes or an hour or three I get up to find out if they’re okay and always find them listening to music on their headphones in their bedrooms.

Still — I probably should have gotten up off the couch at least by the 30 minute mark. This is when the mommy guilt comes and I end up sticking my face in front of my broccoli cannon for punishment.

∗ Why is it we actually have the ability to replace our body’s entire skeleton every ten years, and renew all of our skin every 28 days, yet my cellulite never goes away?

∗ What is up with my 7-year-old daughter’s hair? It’s got a mind of its own.  I shampoo, condition, comb, brush and prune it. I pull it back in a pony tail, I braid it,  I shellac it with Spackle and various plastic polymers. Yet within seconds it’s back to looking like a big pile of tumble weeds.  And brushing out the tangles? Pure hell. Combing out her hair is like pulling thorns out of a lion’s paw.

Of course, I’ve tried letting her brush it herself and she does a great job. At brushing only the parts she sees in the mirror. So her front is perfect but the back would make a cozy nest for an entire family of rats.

When I tell her this, she shrugs and says, “But I can’t see the back!” So in her mind no one else can, either.

If only I could apply this logic to my gigantic, pantsless, bacon-fed, cellulite-riddled ass.

 

 

 

La la la la! I Can’t Hear You!

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Today at breakfast my 11-year-old son informed me he had good news and bad news. Not only was he finally allowed to bring his recorder home from music class but he was going to take his first puberty class at school.

I’m still trying to figure out which was the good news.

Later that afternoon after he slid into the backseat of the minivan and played a few notes of “Hot Cross Buns”, I immediately began plotting how and when his recorder would meet a tragic fate. As soon as we came to the first stop sign it was clear I wouldn’t have to wait very long for the “when” part.

“Hey Mom!” he yelled, in between rapid huffing and puffing and what sounded like a mockingbird having an asthma attack.  “Guess how puberty went today!”

There was that word again. Instantly, my mind seized up. **DANGER! DANGER! RED ALERT!** Abandon all innocence! Kiss it goodbye! It’s all over now!

I tried a distraction tactic. “Hey, how ’bout you play some more music? You take requests? Know ‘Smoke on the Water’?”

“I SAID guess how puberty went, Mom!”

“Guess how you and Bert went?”

“No! Puberty!”

“Phew, a birdie? Yes.”

“NO! PUBERTY!”

“What? I can’t hear you.”

“PUBERTY! PUBERTY! PU – BER – TY!”

Worst chant ever in the history of the world.

“Oh yeah? So how did that…uh…go?” I asked and held my breath.

“Terrifying,” he sighed from the backseat. “Absolutely terrifying.”

Truer words have never been spoken.

“Okay, ” I said. “That’s okay. It’s good we’re talking about this.  This is what I’m here for. We need to communicate because it’s healthy. Yeah. Very healthy. Sooooo very healthy….” Now it was my turn to sigh.

“So today we found out about uteruses! All girls have one,” he said.

“Riiiiiight….”

“And the uterus gets really big when the baby grows.”

“Yes, it does. Big uterus. Yep, indeedy. Big big uterus.”

Silence.

“So…” I peered into the rearview mirror. “Any other questions that you have for me? Because I would be…” I slowly dragged my hand down my face and took a deep breath. “Because I would be happy to answer any y’know…” I cringed as a few more gray hairs sprouted on my head “…any questions you may have. About where babies come from. They told you right?”

“Huh?”

“The teacher told you how the baby gets inside the uterus?”

“I don’t think so.  I must have blacked that part out. Maybe she’ll tell us tomorrow.”

“Hmm…well, tell you what. You can tell your father all about what you find out in puberty class tomorrow and he’ll answer any questions you might have, and I’ll listen to you play “Hot Cross Buns” as much as you like the rest of the day. Deal?”

“Okay,” he said and the car was once again filled with the Devil’s elevator music.

Sometimes being a mom requires making the tough choices.

Actually, this was an easy one.

I think.

Ask me again tomorrow after my first puberty class is over.