What did those kids do to that nice lady?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Sound of Silence

I’m sitting here in my kitchen. It’s quiet. There is nobody here but me. The TV remains black and silent. The Bose speaker remains unplayed. The hum from the fridge, an occasional door slam, a lonely dog bark and the click of the keyboard; these are the only sounds I hear. It is so rare to sit in silence. It is so rare to be alone in my own space. So many days I think I need to be doing something or going somewhere. And, of course, many days I do. And of course there are many things I could be doing right now in my own home; there will always be something to organize or clean, something to be picked up. A list to be made, a dinner to think about. But today at this moment-why be busy just to be…busy? Why not just sit and be alone?

Because, let’s face it, with summer only a short time away for me and my kids, shit is about to go down. So these little tiny moments of silence-I am hoarding them away in the hope that when summer does arrive and the opportunity to sit alone or roam the house without hearing MAMA! 127 times an hour, I will be able to call upon the sense memory of these silent moments and it will carry me through whatever asinine thing The Children are fighting over. (See Mom! That whole Acting School was good for something. I’ll sense memory the SHIT out of this silence.)

While I have a few things lined up here and there and two trips planned back to the Homelands this summer, I have to admit-I do not believe in a packed schedule. Not for them or for me. And while I am not immune to the fact that the Gelato Children will drive me to the brink of insanity with all of our…togetherness…together we will be and together we will be A LOT. It will not be easy to do this I know. We do not live in a world were kids can be so free as I was as a child during the weeks between spring and fall. We live in a world where instead of discovering boredom, kids discover Minecraft. Which is a shame because out of boredom, some pretty great things can happen.

For it was in boredom during those childhood summer months that I discovered the tree in my neighbor’s yard wasn’t a tree-it was a planet I had just fallen from and had to discover this new world I landed in. It was in boredom that I played countless memorable games of HORSE in the back alley with my brothers and sister.  It was in boredom that I found a secret hiding place in the middle of the lilac bush in my back yard. It was in boredom that I read books over and over and over again, forever securing my love for Where The Red Fern Grows. That I found a friend to take a bike ride to nowhere with, all day long. That I hung upside down on a swing until the whole world looked lopsided. It was in boredom that I strapped on those roller-skates and put on a show for whoever happened to be watching. It was in boredom that I discovered my imagination. It was in boredom that I discovered I was…free.

This is the gift I hope to bestow upon The Children this summer; this gift of freedom. Perhaps they won't appreciate it now, but I hope as they grow older they realize how much joy can be found in it's wake. In the middle of all this "boredom,"  I know we will also fight. A lot, I'm sure. We will sometimes watch too much television and I will give in to the pleas for another ice cream cone because...why not? We will get cranky. We will complain. We will have the best time together. I will be filled with gratitude that I never miss a thing…which means I Never.Miss.A.Thing. It will go too fast, even as the days drag on. And before I know it, another school year will have started. And while the beginning of a school year does bring relief to the parent, it also brings the mourning of another milestone marked. For their growth is rapid. My kids are way older than I ever was at their age. And that isn’t going to slow down or change-it will only speed up and continually scare the crap out of me. I enter each new school year unaware of the ways in which they will grow and learn. Unaware of the challenges and the victories that await. Each new school year is entered with a deep breath and a mantra: We got this.

But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. This school year is winding down rapidly and sweet summer is so close we can touch it. So until then, if you need me, I’ll be sitting here, alone in my kitchen. Not cooking. Not cleaning. Just sitting. The click of the keyboard, the hum of the fridge, an occasional door slam the only sounds I hear.

Enjoy your silence.

And good luck. The force is with us. 

And let’s not forget…there is always wine. Front porch open anytime for friends who are...bored.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Parking Wars



Such a heavy word. Such a heavy thought. Sometimes you just need a vacation from thinking about parking.

Like when I go to my home state of Iowa to visit family and we happen to “head into town,” as we like to say, and there, before my eyes, are endless rows of empty spot after…empty spot. Is this some sort of trick, I wonder to myself? You can just roll on into town and…park?  I frantically search for a parking sign…any parking sign. There has to be one! There have to be RULES here, people!  

But there are none.

We park. 

And walk away from the car.

Not a care in the world.

It feels so good. So good.

Oh a whim, I happened to ask my dad what the cost of a parking ticket is  and he said, pausing to think about it, maybe $4? 

And I’m pretty sure I said I WOULD NEVER FEED ANOTHER METER AGAIN. And then laughed an evil cackle that made people stop and stare and then think-Oh, that’s his one visiting from California. 

But we’re not in Iowa anymore, Toto.

We’re in California. In close proximity to the beach where parking is always a bitch. But I have only three words for you:


And when you live in an area where parking spots on your own street are an endangered species-especially during the summer months- it does not take long for you to become an Insane Parking Nazi. So if you find yourself cruising the neighborhood of the Gelato Family looking for that perfect spot this summer, know this:

I am watching you.

I am watching you park your car in front of my house and I am noting the day and time because if your ass is there one second over 72 hours, that bitch is getting towed. I don’t give a shit if you got arrested or went camping or whatever it is that has happened in your life that resulted in your car sitting uselessly in front of my house for days on end-I am not sympathetic towards you. Go pick it up at the tow yard. How would you like if I just parked in your driveway and didn’t move for three days? YOU WOULDN’T.  

And don't be surprised by the presence of Very Official Looking orange city cones on our block; we have a secret stash and we’re not afraid to use them. If we don’t know you-you don’t need that spot. Move the cone and park anyway-well-you do that sort of thing at your own risk.  And, yeah, it’s a free country and I guess there’s technically no law saying you can’t park in that empty spot, but the laws of My Street say if you park like an asshole and take up more than one spot you will be told to get back in your car and try again. Let’s use our brain when we park in a busy, populated area. Even my 8 year old son points out the Terrible Park Jobs, shaking his head and proclaiming-why would they park like that? Which is code for: what a selfish fucking idiot.

(And while we’re it-slow the hell down. My Street is not a Nascar race track, so stop driving like it. Drive like it’s YOUR kids playing outside on the block.)  

I understand that the Parking Wars are simply a result of living someplace where many want to be, especially in the summer months when the mighty Pacific is calling those near and far, and since we are luckily near-we have to sacrifice our street to strangers coming from far. I also understand that there are problems that far outweigh some jerk parking his car on my street and going on a 5 day cycling trip. But, see, I got 99 problems and this is just one of them. We’ll talk about the others another day.

So, you have been warned. Just know that although we may smile at you as you come back up from a long day at the beach, watch you load all your gear into your precious little car that has been baking in the sun all day and give a little wave as you finally abandon that spot-not very deep down our only thought is:

I hate you.

Happy Almost Summer.

Game on.