We Need To Discuss Your Summer Plans

“Summer plans,” or – as I like to call them – “just another group of months with the same old shit only hotter” are steadfastly approaching, and I feel like we need to discuss them.

We were at the doctor the other day, my 15 year old was having her yearly physical. The doctor asked what our summer plans are and the crickets chirped. Summer plans? The concept is lost on me.

It’s been in conversation for about two months now.

It’s a woefully tiresome topic, because – inevitably – it becomes one of those instances in which I feel like I have to explain myself to people. Twenty minutes into it, I’ve gotten nowhere. Usually this is evidenced by whomever I am talking with clearly not understanding what I’m saying, and changing the subject with something like “well there’s always room for spontaneous summer plans!”

And herein lies the first problem I have any time people ask me questions: I can never just give simple answers. Somewhere along the line, I conditioned myself to always justify what I am saying. In reality, I don’t have to explain my or my family’s reasons behind what we do, or in this case don’t do, to anyone.

We don’t have summer plans. Why not? Because we don’t want to.

Because we homeschool, we might be a little unique. My kids are around all the time during the school year, so I can’t exactly identify with the whole you-people-are-driving-Mom-crazy-for-these-two-months-every-year thing.

My kids drive me crazy all year long.

So in terms of camps or classes, or special outings: there’s really no need for it. Why would I put my children in a day camp that is the older-kid-equivalent to daycare when there is literally no need for me to do so whatsoever? It isn’t like they’re getting bored and need to be kept entertained. Or they are driving me batty and I need them out of the house. Summer for other people is our lives, every day of the year (except there’s schoolwork in there).

This is the second problem, although I wouldn’t call it a “problem,” so much as a circumstance. Our circumstance, because we homeschool, is that my kids are around all the time. I don’t need to keep them entertained, or do all kinds of extra activities because they are driving me crazy in the house. These things (the stuff we do, including the fun stuff) is peppered here and there through the entire year, because we aren’t beholden to a school district calendar.

That’s just the way it is, and yet no one (and I mean no one) can seem to grasp that concept.

The third thing worth mentioning is my husband’s work schedule. One of the reasons we homeschool is to accommodate his career in film. It’s hectic, it’s unpredictable, and it’s overnight. Anyone that’s ever worked in the film industry knows that summer and holidays are the busiest times for them, so vacations around then are not always in the cards.

If I’m being entirely honest, vacation isn’t really something we normally do at any time of the year, either. He’s just usually too busy, and when he’s not busy he’s catching up on sleep. What kind of a vacation involves Dad sleeping half the day, and keeping everyone up all night because he can’t (and shouldn’t) change his sleep schedule for the couple of days?

(And also, if we’re being REALLY HONEST… film work doesn’t exactly cover the cost of exotic cruises and trips to Hawaii for 5 + my dad.)

At a tennis match the other day, the mother of a couple kids my kids play with told me that she’s decided since her husband is working a lot this summer, she’s going to maybe just do the craziest thing ever and take the kids somewhere on her own! Can you imagine?

I take my kids places on our own all the time. If we waited for my husband to be available, we would be waiting years behind our graves.

This, I think, is a suburban thing: that families should do it all together, and if they don’t there’s something crazy or exotic or weird about it. The reality of it is that there is absolutely nothing unique about our situation at all. So many people have so many different circumstances to their jobs/homes/lives, it just is what it is.

And yet… this is the fourth thing. I waffle back and forth between wanting to live my life and let my kids live theirs; and feeling the guilting and the pressures that our culture has me conditioned to believe, which is that we should all be patiently waiting to live our own lives with our hands folded neatly in our laps for my husband to be available.

Except that he’s living his life by working in his dream career. This is literally what he dreamed about in childhood, went to college for, and has worked all these years to achieve. So we should not live while he… lives?

Why do we worry so much about summer plans anyway? Maybe this is just some weird stage of life I am in, where your plans end up largely dictated by your children’s plans, forcing everyone into these specific time frames to create family memories and – oh I don’t know – live life.

Or maybe it’s something bigger. Like a status thing. I remember a movie once where the guy says in a snooty voice: “where do you summer… I SAID WHERE do you summer?” The concept is lost on me.

My summer plans are the same as my every day plans. My kids do schoolwork. They do chores. They play tennis. The baby and I watch Story Bots and play with blocks. I cook. I clean. Sometimes we go to museums and libraries, some days we binge watch Supernatural.

And I think I’m much happier and more content than a lot of people. We don’t save life’s moments for special occasions or the summer months, when conditions are perfect. We live them every day.

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7 Ways I Know I’m Married To A Californian

My husband was born and raised in California. I know, puke. He went to college in California. He works in California’s biggest industry. Except for a couple of family vacations and bro-rific Vegas trips (double puke), he’s hardly been anywhere else.

On a daily basis, I am reminded just how much of a Californian he is. From his superior sense of self, all the way down to the way he talks. So at the risk of eliciting anonymous comments from his family and friends about how my husband needs to ditch me because I clearly don’t love him (which couldn’t be any further from the truth), allow me to share with you the seven most damning ways I know this…

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1. My Husband Is Too Cool For Everything

Cute family photos while we’re out to eat? They deserve a smirk. Expressing condolences to a loved one that recently got divorced or experienced a death in the family? Pft, I don’t want to deal with that shit. You need me to help out around the house by watering the plants? Err, umm… I guess I can, but you know I’ve got a lot on my plate, what with the last season of Breaking Bad being added to Netflix and apps to update on my smartphone. There’s a new Oxygen Bar in town, did you hear? Oxygen bar? Oh… I was going to Oxygen Bars way before they were cool. You don’t even know…

On all sides of life, my husband, as well as many of the other California natives I know, carries himself with a sense of superiority, a sense of trying way too hard to be cool. It’s why we are known for our tofu-grilling hipsters, and our milk and cereal bars down in Venice.

You just wouldn’t understand.

2. My Husband Uses The Word “Like” At Least Five Times a Sentence

That’s an understatement. Sometimes I can’t even understand what my husband is talking about because he uses the term “like” so frequently.

I used to think it was that he was nervous, or awkward. Or that he just didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about, so instead decided to riddle his sentences with nonsensical words so that no one caught on. (God knows I ramble when I’m wielding bullshit.)

Then I realized it happens more frequently when he’s been at the office and a lot of people have been there. Because they, like many in the film industry, are native Californians who love their Valley Girl Speak.

Like, oh my God, whatever…

3. My Husband Wears a Sweater and Flip Flops When It’s Cold Out

There are two ways that Californians dress in the winter: warm clothes with flip flops, or skank shorts with Uggs.

My husband wears flip flops frequently when it’s cold out. Then when it’s about 110 degrees, he’ll wear some heavy socks with tennis shoes and shorts. It’s quite the dress code he’s got going on, much like the rest of this state of weirdos that cannot tolerate anything less than 40 degrees.

Unless, of course, they are going to the mountains to ski in the artificial snow. Then they are truly embracing the cold. Because Californians are hardcore like that.

4. My Husband Thinks His Shit Don’t Stink

Have you ever heard the saying “oh, he thinks his shit don’t stink”? It’s poor English, to say the least, but it applies to Californians everywhere. Though different than the saying (which means he thinks he can do no wrong), I mean it literally. My husband literally thinks his shit don’t stink.

What I mean to say is that they (Californians) are unapologetic about their bowel movements. The most popular book in every Urban Outfitters around here is “What Does Your Poop Say About You.” My husband, as with many people I know from this area, may as well drop his drawers and take a shit right in front of me, continuing on about his business as though it’s standard protocol – that is how unrelentingly unapologetic he is about his ass and everything that comes out of it.

But everyone does it! It’s natural! Sure, that’s great. Everyone picks their nose too, but that doesn’t mean they do it in front of others and write books about what the colors, shapes, and sizes of their boogers mean about them.

5. My Husband Has Little To No Knowledge Of Mike Ditka

If you are from anywhere but the Los Angeles area or the planet Mars, you understand the importance of professional football and Mike Ditka.

I’m pretty sure my husband knows of Mike Ditka, but he certainly doesn’t understand the seriousness and infallibility – the essence, if you will – of Ditka the former Bears coach.

When we were watching Silverlining Playbook, my husband had his first encounter with tailgating outside of an NFL football game. I use the term “encounter” very loosely (I mean it was just on the television screen, and we were sitting in the living room), but I think the word is appropriate because of the shock and horror on my husband’s face as he saw how intense football as a sport can be to fans.

That’s what happens when you went to a school without a football team, and live in a city where the closest thing to football is that the Cowboys practice for two weeks in the field outside the local Residence Inn every summer. Big whoop to that noise.

6. His Job Is In ‘The Industry’ and His Entire Life Revolves Around It

Does anyone outside of California even know what ‘The Industry’ is? I mean there are a lot of industries that do a lot more important shit than the one Californians refer to it as – medical industry, government industry, computer industry…

In California, it’s movies.

Out here, it is not uncommon to know someone that works in The Industry. Sometimes that means that the person waits tables at the local Denny’s by day, and tries out for bit extra parts on weekends. In the case of my husband, it’s actually working for a company that does film-type stuff.

And as with the majority of film industry people, or even just generally Californians engrained in the work-is-life culture, the job eats up my husband’s entire life. If things are slow at work, my husband is slow at home. If things are busy at work, it’s an excuse to shirk off other responsibilities. At parties, we talk about his job. In bed, we answer calls at all hours.

7. My Husband Likes His Hint Of Asiago Cheese

When I was growing up in the Midwest, if people had a party they threw some hot dogs on the grill, some potato chips in a bowl, some mostacholli in the oven, and then called it good. And it was good – nothing needed to be special. Nothing needed a side of cream sauce or a hint of asiago cheese. Shit didn’t need to be smothered in whatever the hipster flavor of the month was. And no one put out little placards that gave the entire description of what was in the food.

A few weeks ago we were out to eat and got ready to order our food. When it came to my husband’s turn, he ordered “the roasted peach and braised quinoa salad with tofu dill mustard dressing … yes, I’ll have a hint of asiago.” I couldn’t even control myself and said (probably louder than I should have): “are you fucking kidding me?” Order a goddamned garden salad with ranch and move on with your life!

The waitress looked at me from behind her attitude glasses, snubbed her head in the air and asked through her nose if that was all. Then she sauntered off to turn in our order and stand by the bar, texting on her iPhone in her Cheap Trick t-shirt (as if she even knows who Cheap Trick is).

Some of these are vaguely reminiscent of knowing I’m married to a man (especially the stuff about the bowels); but in California, it’s so much harsher. It’s more noticeable. Are you married to a Californian? Maybe you’re married to a Californian and you aren’t even there…

The Worst Part About California

Don’t believe anything the tourist ads, or the hipsters with their million dollar trust funds, tell you. California has a lot of downsides.

Sure, the weather is typically pretty nice; although, there are even some bad parts to that. For one, you no longer have much change to the seasons, which is sort of depressing. There is something very beautiful about the fall of leaves; about the first snowfall; and, about the beginning of spring and of summer. You don’t get that in California. But it also rains a lot here during the winter, and California is entirely ill-prepared for it. We don’t have proper drainage, no matter how many floods there are. Despite all the landslides of mud and water, which kill people every year, we do nothing to put up proper drainage walls. And don’t get me started on the lack of fire protection.

The bad things about California go well beyond that, though. There’s the cost of living, which is exponentially higher than most of the country. The $27 cake at Whole Foods down the street from our apartment is only $8 at the Whole Foods just outside Chicago. Our electric bills are higher. Our water bills are through the roof (despite the fact that we live right along a body of water). And our rents are almost double what they would be in other, equally as nice, areas of the country.

The hipsters are overruling California, making the environment a terribly narcissistic and pretentious place to live. Every weekend there are local, hippy fests wreaking havoc on traffic and the peace and quiet some of us enjoy – crappy music festivals, art walks where people sell paintings of local scenery, farmer’s markets with absolutely no health standards at all. The last time we went to the farmer’s market, I bought strawberries and the guy put down his macaroni salad and licked his fingers, then grabbed my bushel of strawberries and got macaroni and mayonnaise all over the bag.

Then there is the overwhelming hillbilly population, leftover from all the Okies that came over during the Great Depression to pick fruit. They have racetracks in almost every city it seems. Every county has a fair, and it isn’t a classy fair; it’s an “eat fried butter and wrestle with pigs” kind of event. The streets are lined with trucks covered in mud from their most recent four-bying excursion. Guns are big. Overalls are big. Beating you wife is huge.

Everyone is trying to break into the film industry, which is an awful industry (to say the least). It uses people for everything it can, and then spits them out quicker than you can say “this was a mistake.” The people that actually keep a job for a while are expected to sacrifice everything. My husband is one of them, who sacrifices lunch breaks, weekends with his family, and night after night after night of just a little bit of quality time to satisfy his bosses. He doesn’t even know how many personal days he gets every year, it’s been so long since he took them. And when confronted with the low wages and high demands, the only response is: “most people in the film industry don’t have families.”

The lifestyle in California – even if you are not in the film industry – is so ridiculously fast-paced and high stress, everyone is always rushing. Everyone is always on the go. No one has time to be nice, or to say “hello” to a stranger. That’s considered rude. People cut you off, flip you off, and feel entitled to take your place in line because they are in a hurry. At the grocery store the other day, a woman cut in line in front of us at the deli because she said her daughter was waiting for her. Really bitch? The grocery workers just let it happen, because in California it isn’t what is fair or what is common courtesy, it’s who has the biggest voice.

It isn’t just all this, though, that is the worst part about California. And there are other miscellaneous nuances that make the place miserable. The traffic. The cost of doing anything besides breathe. The horrible public transportation. The jobs. The education. The public schools. The corrupt politicians. The union stranglehold. The homeless. The way people treat the homeless. The beaches with warnings that hypodermic needles could be buried in the sand.

All this and more is not, and never will be, the worst part about California.

No, faihtful blog followers. No there is a much different thing that is the worst part about California. None of this will ever top it, either. “What in God’s name could be so awful, so heinous, to top all of that?” I’m sure you are asking yourself.

Simple answer: the ghetto trash.

Yesterday I went to pick up some soup, because we’re all sick and I wanted something spicy to clear out my sinuses. I parked my car, went in to get my soup, and came out to find that a car had been parked next to mine, and it was completely blocking me from getting into my car.

The drivers of said car were standing outside of it, two of them making out and one of them smoking a cigarette. Clearly a gang bang was about to happen.

For a brief second I thought about trying to squeeze in, but when I saw that their mirror had been smashed down by my driver’s side door, I decided to just politely ask them to move the car.

I was very nice. They were kids – clearly teenagers, driving their parent’s car. I was very, very nice.

“Is this your car?”

The girl making out put her gum back into her mouth, looked me up and down and said “yeah, what’s it to you?”

Really?

“Ok, well I can’t get into my car without scratching up yours … do you think you could move your car just a little?”

The guy smoking said “sure, sorry about that ma’am.” Then the girl piped up again, “you don’t have to be such a bitch about it.”

The guy had already moved his car by then. I got in my car and drove off.

This is the worst part of California. It’s the medical assistant who acts like you’ve morally offended her because you called to schedule an appointment with your doctor. It’s the cashier at Starbucks who gives you attitude because you point out that she gave you the wrong change. It’s the waitress that acts like she’s doing you a favor to let you pay to eat in her establishment. It’s the girls in the bathroom at Target that tell you you’d better “watch your back” wearing clothing that people don’t like. It’s the trashy kids sitting on cars in the parking lot, making out and dressing like total skanks. It’s the people that are constantly on guard, totally abrassive, and ready to call people out for something they have not even done.

California is filled with it. It’s in even the nicest of communities – which ours is fabled to be. This ghetto trash, these bottom-feeders, are what make California intolerable. Because while the weather issues are annoying, the cost of living sucks, and the hipsters and film industry get under your skin, they don’t get in your face like ghetto trash does.