Not even remotely in control.

I wake up feeling refreshed, so I practically jump out of bed when Michael’s alarm goes off.  I have big plans for the day – Christmas decorating, a little baking, starting my shopping.

As soon as Michael leaves for work, I go into the living room to turn on the stereo.  Since we got our new receiver, I’ve kept it tuned to NPR, but now Michael’s favorite blues station comes on.

I hunt down my glasses, get on my knees and peer at the receiver.  WTF!?  There’s no tuning button.  There’s no volume button either.   “What the hell good is a receiver with no volume or tuning button?,” I ask the receiver.    I look at the remote in my hand and punch just about every button I see- arrows, double arrows, plus and minus buttons, but nothing changes.   F***!!   Then I pick up each of the other six remotes and try all those buttons.  F***!! 

(To help you understand the extent of my frustration, I would write out each “F” word I yell, but I can’t ‘cause I try to keep this blog to under 600 words.)

I call Michael, who is driving to work.  His BlueTooth doesn’t pick up, so he has to pull over. I feel bad that I’m interrupting his commute; he’s our only bread winner right now, so my listening to the radio is not nearly as important as him getting to work safely and on time.

But still … I want NPR.  I’m stuck at home a lot these days, and I need NPR’s company.

I start yelling to Michael … OK – yelling at him, but I’m laughing, too, because I know I’m completely overreacting.


Michael starts laughing, too. Then he calmly tells me where to find the tuning button on the small remote.  He emphasizes small.  “Which of the three small remotes is that, exactly?,” I ask, only a little sarcastically.  Turns out it’s the one in my hand, which by the way, has a clearly marked tuning button which I swear was not there before.  I hit it and magically, the station changes.

I thank Michael and quickly get off the phone so he can get to work.  Later, I sheepishly text an apology.  Then I apologize again in person when he gets home.

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong century, as far as technology goes anyways.  The next time I can’t figure out the remote, (because I assure you, and Michael would assure you, that it will happen again), I’ll just pretend I was born in another century, and hum some Christmas carols.

But as a back-up, I add this to my Christmas list:

Small, portable radio, preferably with ability to preset stations, to keep in the kitchen SO I DON’T HAVE TO FIGURE OUT WHICH OF THE 7 REMOTES WORKS THE STEREO RADIO RECEIVER THAT DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A TUNING OR VOLUME BUTTON.

Because that might help me feel remotely in control.


  • Karen DeBonis

    Karen DeBonis writes about motherhood, people-pleasing, and personal growth, the entangled mix told in her memoir "Growth: A Mother, Her Son, and the Brain Tumor They Survived" forthcoming in spring 2023. Subscribe today to receive Chapter 1: A Reckoning.

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No Comments

  1. on December 9, 2016 at 12:32 AM

    Hey flock – A number of followers have reported that they were unable to post a comment to my blogs. I worked tirelessly with the cybergods and I do believe we have it remedied. Please type your comment in the text box first, then click the black POST COMMENT button. If you have any problems, please email me at Thanks.

  2. on December 9, 2016 at 4:58 AM

    Dear Karen,
    Here’s my new technology rant. Just paid $350 for dishwasher repair because the impeller pump broke because it was clogged with crud from the California hard water because I didn’t know I needed to fill the machine with vinegar once a month and run a wash cycle to dissolve the crud. Oh for the good old days – the dishwashing basin in the sink and the drying rack never got clogged. And if they wore out could be replaced for the equivalent of ten bucks of 2016 money. Full disclosure for you who don’t know me, I’m a former nuclear reactor designer – how embarrasing.

    • on December 9, 2016 at 11:53 AM

      Great story. Did you ever have to use vinegar on a nuclear reactor? LOL!

  3. on December 9, 2016 at 5:27 AM

    I have slowly learned that it always helps to read the instructions. It saves a lot of aggravation and money. But what do I know . I am only Don’s wife.

    • on December 9, 2016 at 11:55 AM

      Those damn instructions!! LOL.

  4. on December 9, 2016 at 11:58 AM

    OK – looks like we got some of the commenting problems solved. But I just tried to reply to the comments below on my iPad and got a screen saying I need to have an account in order to comment. I was insulted! How dare you, I thought! This is MY blog! Now I’m on my desktop and it’s working. Oh well, guess I have more work to do …

  5. Karen on December 9, 2016 at 4:13 PM

    BTW- to be clear, I was addressing my iPad when I said "How dare you!" (below) LOL! And I may have another insight to the commenting problem. This one’s a test …

  6. on December 9, 2016 at 7:48 PM

    Can totally relate! Thanks for putting a smile on my face!

  7. on December 9, 2016 at 10:09 PM

    NPR rules!! :)

    Ha, can totally relate to you, Karen!!

    • on December 10, 2016 at 4:34 PM

      Thanks Barbara!!

  8. Janis Clark on December 10, 2016 at 12:02 AM


    Maybe life was telling you not to listen to NPR today and listen to the Blues!! Much more relaxing!!

    Love ya, Janis

    • on December 10, 2016 at 4:38 PM

      You’re so right! NPR has been pretty depressing lately. But now that I have the receiver set back to WAMC, I’d have to go through this whole remote saga again to find the blues station. Maybe I’ll just wait for a morning when Michael’s around and save us both a headache!

  9. Susan DeBonis on December 10, 2016 at 10:47 AM


    I have limited patience for reading the instructions, at best, I’ll skim over, then never be able to locate the manual again. Turning our television on and off has become a complex task. Our microwave, I know which button to push to heat on high for one minute and that’s it. But, when it comes to music, that has my attention! If it is something that is vital to my day, then I will learn its ways! Obviously, television and the microwave are not essential to me!
    Merry Christmas!

    • on December 10, 2016 at 4:44 PM

      Good point, Sue – we have to choose our battles day-to-day! I’m glad music is your "thing." Over the past few years, we’ve accumulated what I call "prima donna" appliances – they have fancy features, but half the time I can’t figure them out, so I just do the basics. LOL. Hey – that might be a blog-worthy topic … I have a few funny stories … Merry Christmas to you too!

  10. Hilary on December 17, 2016 at 8:51 PM

    I think men like remote controls. For everything.

    • Karen DeBonis on December 18, 2016 at 10:10 PM

      I think you’re right! LOL!

  11. Matt on December 27, 2016 at 4:54 AM

    I offered to label all of those remotes once but you said you knew didn’t need me to…

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