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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My Husband’s Movie Lover Mannerisms

So living and being married to someone that works in the film industry is …an interesting place to be. There are all these subtle nuances I am supposed to adhere to. To respect.

In other words: to tolerate.

I can appreciate that my husband is proud of the work he does. And I can appreciate being a lover of an aesthetic art such as film. I myself swoon often over the philosophical writings of the greats I adored in graduate school. And I do love the acquisition of a new book. I get it – he takes pride in his interests.

I think my husband goes way over the line sometimes to a point that is just absurd, though.

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#1 Film Narration

The first movie I went to see with my husband was The Reader. Great film, and based on one of my all-time favorite works of fiction. While we were there, I bought myself a Diet Coke. A typical purchase for a movie outing, yes; what wasn’t typical was that Nick whisper-yelled at me during the movie because my straw squeaked when I took a sip of my soda.

Are you all with me on this? My straw made the slightest squeak – of all the noises in the movie theater outside of the film, itself – and I got whisper-yelled at.

Watching movies at home is an entirely different ballgame, though. That’s my husband’s time to shine, and by that I mean talk through the entire goddamned thing. I get narration: “deep in the forest lived a town of little blue men.” I get commentary: “you know what’s missing here is the backstory to that photograph…” I get voiceover: “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” And I constantly get the story about the guy that knew the guy that worked with the girl that was friends with the friend of my husband’s boss, who knew a guy that worked on that film. It never ends. Ever.

As with all things, love is a two-way engagement. If I’m going to listen to my husband’s incessant talking about all this film stuff, he should be willing to listen to me talk about a book I read, or engage in – gasp – an actual conversation with me about it. That’s sadly not the case, though. I think we’re too busy watching crap movies, which leads me to #2.

#2 A Lot of Crap Movies

We have a lot of movies and of those movies, I think close to half are total crap. I cannot tell you all how many times my husband has said a movie is “good” just because it grossed a lot of money or was popular with a lot of people. Even having not seen it. Even not really liking it himself.

So we own a lot of crap movies. Some of them my husband has never even watched – that’s how much they are crap. When I ask why he bought it he says “it did really well in theaters, seemed like it was a good movie to own.” Huh? And I cannot even count at this point how many movies are such garbage that he bought them, watched them once, then never watched them again knowing they are crap, but still argued they are good because of the fanfare they received. He calls those ones “an acquired taste.”

Acquired taste, my ass.

Sure, I have a very picky taste in movies. I don’t enjoy a lot that truly are good. I’m not talking about those here, though – I’m talking about movies that objectively speaking belong in the trash can.

We have seen a lot of bad movies in the theaters and on Netflix too, simply because someone at my husband’s work said we just had to see it. One I can think of off the top of my head was The Trip. It was about two and a half hours of listening to these two guys’ supposedly-witty back-patting, while they shoved food down their throats, that was no more funny than it was insightful. You just have to watch it, it’s brilliant. Similarly, there have been countless times that we have planned on going to see a movie and never gone because my husband heard or read that it wasn’t good. But it isn’t just taking people’s advice, it’s that he actually takes the position that the movie wasn’t good. “That’s a bad movie” he’ll say, and then something I’ve been waiting to see for months is off the list for date night. How the fuck do you know it’s a good or bad movie if you don’t watch it yourself?

#3 A Completely Illogical Rating System

I get really upset when I see that my husband has rated something on Netflix way lower than he should have. The only thing that is worse than that (which he does as well) is after I rate a movie, he’ll go in later and re-rate it to what he thinks it should be rated at.

So the way I see it: a five star rating system is across the board for movies, music, hotels, restaurants, and so on. That’s why one-stop-shop sites like Yelp exist to begin with – so you can rate everything in one place, and know what the ratings mean. How can a person be expected to know that a a certain star is acceptable for movies, but not hotels? And definitely not restaurants, but it’s OK with music. That doesn’t make any sense at all – a star is a star and it means the same thing across the board. Not for my husband, though. He will really enjoy a movie and still give it only three stars. He does it all the time – he gave Sleepless in Seattle (an all-time classic film) only three stars and then argued that this was a great movie, deserved of only three stars. Huh? Would you eat at a restaurant that gets only three stars on Yelp? Would you stay at a hotel that has only three stars on Hotels.com? Would you buy a motherfucking book that you were unsure of that only gets three stars on Amazon? No. No you wouldn’t.

#4 Movie Organization

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As with any avid movie collectors, we have a lot of movies. I’d say we’re getting close to about 600, but if you take out all the crap movies maybe it’s closer to 300 or 400 quality films. We have them in a DVD organizer – it’s a spinning thing that sits in our living room as the biggest and most ugly eyesore you could imagine.

My husband was tasked with organizing the movies and rather than ask me what would be easy for me – I being a novice to all-things-film – he just assumed that his psychotic organization from his single days would be best. You’re probably thinking to yourselves alphabetic or by genre for sure, as if organizing 600 DVDs by genre isn’t abnormal of its own right. (If it were just me, we’d just throw them all in there in no particular order.) This is coming from the guy who saw I added a lot of films to the Instant Que on Netflix over the weekend, though; so promptly spent his day yesterday reorganizing the list by genre on our Netflix account. Anyone who organized their Netflix account by genre is not going to merely put their own DVD collection by something logically simple, such as that.

Nope. They are organized by production studio. As in, the company that made the film. The number of hours I have spent looking for a particular movie because I couldn’t simply go to the section for movies that start with an A is staggering.

So what started as a hobby has turned into a profession, sure. Do what you love, and all that crap. But some of this extra-curricular shit has got to be a little out there. When I was in high school I worked at Wendy’s, and when I got home the Burger Bitch didn’t hang up her apron. I told stories from work. I gave anecdotes from the burger station. I made complaints about the customers. It’s all I ever talked about, until eventually no one wanted to talk to me anymore. You’ve got to have a separation between your job and your home life. If movies are your passion, fine; but at least take a break from the ins-and-outs of the industry long enough to just enjoy life once in a while too. Even if enjoying life is just watching a movie without all the back story and the strict organization and the attention to reviews. Just watching.