The suburban Chicago house where I lived for 8 years, so I should just shut up.




Dudes. Oh, dudes.


It’s pretty official.


We’re moving to the ‘burbs.


I know I say this like I’m some elitist hipster who can’t deign herself to live in two-story houses next to greenbelts, but no. Rather, I’m saying this like WHY IS IT SO QUIET IN THE SUBURBS?


It’s creepy, no? Where are the sirens? The bums rustling through your garbage? The pot smokers dropping their bongs? Not to mention, there’s not a peep from the homeless guy you almost run over in your driveway.


I make it sound like we live with Snoop Dogg. Not true, it’s just that our little neighborhood is very colorful and eclectic and dynamic and full of homeless people. Also, there’s a wonderful music scene and involved civic organization and the beach, the beach! And maze-y alleys and freaky nooks and dusty crannies and WHAT ARE WE DOING?


Deep breaths. Deep breaths.


Also, are there non-Starbucks in the suburbs? Because that would be good. My little community fought the encroachment of Starbucks for years. Still, it is here. That DAMN mermaid. I’d love to see Ariel and the Starbucks mermaid in a celebrity death match.


Will I be able to say those things in the suburbs?


Still, The Rock and I visited what-may-be-our-house this afternoon and endured the preternatural silence and wondered, “Is this what it is like to relax? Because, weird. It feels foreign and cumbersome.”


Then we went to the park around the corner to discuss our next move and while doing so, felt itchy under the collective collar. No one was yelling. Speaking out of turn even. We had no idea what to do with ourselves.


In addition, things were very green and lush. Landscaped, I dare say. Also, no cigarette butts lining the curbs! No used Trojans. WHAT ARE WE DOING?


I sound like such a holier-than-thou. For years, I’ve countered stereotypes and misconceptions about my awesome ass community. People thinking my neighborhood was full of stoners, aimless twenty-somethings and serial surfers. And it is. But it’s also one of the most family-oriented, close-knit places where you could hope to live. And interesting. Every day, The Rock breakfasts on the boulevard with writers and artists and designers and the like.


So when I stereotype the suburbs, I’m guilty of labeling too. It’s just that it’s very quiet. And like I said: disconcerting. There will be energy, right? And a thrum?


I feel like I’m being pulled out of a socket.


So why are we moving, you may ask?


It’s about seasons. Life phases. Cycles.


BIG Room, Part Deux


The Rock and I now are parents to two young children and they are confined to our freaking cool modern house unless we take them outside. Where “outside” is the alley. Our home has no yard. No sidewalk. In fact, we are situated behind another home and next to apartments on the west side and endlessly-moving-in-and-out tenants on the east. It’s time to think of what’s best for the kids at this point in their lives. And what we think will most benefit the kids are the suburbs.


For now.


The house we most likely will move into is on a cul-de-sac, within walking distance to a highly-rated elementary school, and has Christmas light hooks already affixed to the roof. I don’t know, this is probably the wet dream of parents who have no imagination, but we want to give that to our girls for awhile, you know?


Believe me, I asked God to guide me. And my mom in heaven. I said, “Just tell me what to do. Am I being an idiot? Is it better to raise more urban kids? Those accustomed to no sidewalks and alleys and dumpster divers? Because if you give me a lightning bolt sign that, yes it is, then I will comply.
So, God? Mom? Anyone in heaven who wants to weigh in


And in the end, I guess it came down to The Rock and I. Perhaps that’s how God intended it. All I know is we went to that quiet park and Toots and Booger made quick friends with another girl and romped and gallivanted in open spaces and I imagined Christmas lights on the roof and if I’m being an idiot, then so be it.


P.S. The Rock and I are giving it a year.


P.P.S. A dad of a young son in a nearby kindergarten class just died from cancer, and I bet that family would love their most pressing issue to be whether they should move to the suburbs or not.




New possible-maybe-probably house. Does it look like a Teletubby? Or a freakishly jolly robot?


28 Responses to “123 WHATHEHELLAREWEDOING Lane”

  1. Sugar Jones says:

    We lived in a house at the end of a cul-de-sac with Christmas light hooks. We had the coolest neighbors for just about a year. They were from your neighborhood. Eventually, the silence got to them. As they left the neighborhood, I was waving to them… running alongside their car… yelling, TAKE ME WITH YOU! But then, they were young hipsters with no kids. They didn’t belong there.

    Neither did I. That’s why we sold.


  2. I lived in a the ‘burbs near those ‘burbs, and my next-door neighbor was always leaving his bong on the patio table in his backyard in between uses.

    It will be okay.

  3. I know that park and I may even know that street. Did you sit on a bench dedicated to a little girl named Olivia? After she died suddenly at age 13 that park was packed full of families celebrating her life and holding her parents and brother up–it might not be the kind of community you’re used to, but it is a community.

  4. PAPA says:

    We live in Hollywood, actually, Franklin Village and, yes, we could have more space in the Valley, but who wants to live in the Valley?
    It’s listless and supermarketfreakish.
    For now we make do in our small space, but we have 1 and not 2 little ones. ;)

  5. I promise that it isn’t necessarily as boring as all make it sound. Occasionally there will be helicopters flying over (checking the canyons for shanty-towns), Weeds-esque mommies in the local Trader Joe’s picking up their daily supply of munchies and the monthly community events like street fairs & school-sanctioned events.

    And don’t forget the eateries! For your wine bar needs: Olive Garden has a bar with a fabu house wine they let you buy by the carafe. The local mexican restaurant: Rubios is just down the block. Don’t forget TGI Fridays for some nouveau American tasties!

    As for entertainment? There is always Nickel City! Don’t forget your theatrical needs can be administered via Ultra Star!

    All kidding aside – I love my burb! Like I said before – urban is how you live not where!

    Welcome to the cul de sac!

  6. My god. You may be moving into our old neighborhood. You must call me with details, my dear!

  7. I mourned leaving your neighborhood. I thought we were selling out, giving up and might as well order our motorized scooters. It’s an adjustment. Now, when we go back, we’re annoyed with the all night parties and shitty parking.

    At least when you want to visit your old stomping grounds you don’t have to sit on the freeway as long as I do (does that help?).

  8. Theresa says:


    (Bloom where you are planted, Debbie-San.)

    Go make some new “mom”ories with the girls in your new home!

  9. Laughing here. You will be FINE. We have been FINE in the suburbs, even though I grew up in Manhattan.

  10. mary says:

    well, we too lived in the neighborhood you live in now. when the kids got old enough to ride bikes in the street, I realized this was not the place to raise kids. The homless and the nefarious are not the playmates I had in mind…
    While it was NOT what my husband and I had envisioned for our lives, kids change everything.
    We moved to the burbs on a quiet street….and one afternoon, not too much later, my boys yelled- ‘going fishing at the pond’ and left…and two hours later I realized they hadn’t chekced back in- and I wasn’t worried in the slightest.
    It was worth everything.

  11. robyn says:

    I grew up in the suburbs and LOVED it! Also, growing up in a house with six kids, if the suburbs were unnaturally quiet, there was no way *we* could tell!

  12. I’ve lived in the suburbs all my life, even before they became this big, sprawling, ‘this side of the road belongs to one city, the other side is the domain of the other’ entities. It’s all I’ve known and I am pretty sure I’d be at a loss to do anything else. Trust me, I live on a cul-de-sac and my present, thank GOD their house is for sale now why don’t they just leave already gaggle of renters next door means every day is a new day. It’ll all be good, and one day, when the kids are grown, you can move back to something more urban…if it’s not been absorbed by a suburb by then!

  13. Kizz says:

    I was just talking to someone about John Irving. Now I’ve got plenty of issues with John Irving (know when to END THE BOOK ALREADY you big perv!) but he wrote the SHIT out of the suburbs. Feed on the suburbs! This will be great.

  14. Glynn says:

    Uh-oh, I think we used to live next door to Cheri. Sorry about that!
    And hey, there are burb-tastic people who you’ll want to give a wide berth, and there are people like us who sit in the back row at PTA meetings and wear “Obama – Yes we can, Biatch!” tshirts to the park and big, leopard-print sunglasses all day Sundays to hide the pink hangover eyes.
    There are ways to spot the “we’re-giving-it-another-year”s from the crowd. And if we can find each other, we’ll be just fine.

  15. Danielle says:

    We did the same thing after we had kids. We lived in a cool old historic home in a historic district of Nashville. It was awesome, and that house was haunted. Then we packed up and moved to the burbs. I didn’t mind it. I did however call the police a few times just to see them drive by. It was comforting. I didn’t miss the ghetto birds flying overhead though.

  16. you do not sound holier-than-thou in your reasoning. i dislike the burbs for all of the reasons that you list… at least you will still be living among those with the laid-back, socal mindset. the surfers, stoners and weird artist-types (sorry) live in the ‘burbs, too. they’re just a leetle harder to find… ;)

  17. Leslie says:

    The suburbs are good and bad all rolled up into one. As long as you keep your kids busy they will stay out of trouble. Will you still be in SD?

  18. MommyTime says:

    The neighbors, the grass, the quiet streets for biking, these are all good. You will miss the hubub, but you will gain so much in return. Though I pine sometimes for city life, I am really happy in the burbs because of the kids. I hope you love it. The quiet means you can sleep with the windows open and hear the crickets. Bliss.

  19. Blognut says:

    You’ll find that the burbs have their own personality, too. It’s not the same as the happening city, but it’s there nevertheless.

    If it’s meant to be, it’ll be fine. If not? Sell the house and move back ‘home’.

  20. Trust me, the neighborhood will only seem quiet until you meet your neighbors–then you so much as start your grill and they’re in your yard cracking open a beer.

  21. Danielle says:

    My haunted story is up, thanks for the inspiration. :)

  22. Yo is Me says:

    I lived in PB for about a year. The neighbors were loud, they had parties until 2, 3 am during the week. Cops were called, fights were had, but I could ride my bike to Henry’s.

    I moved to the burbs (no kids, just closer to work) and it was SO hard getting used to the quiet! But man… the sleep. Oh, the heavenly sleep. Did you know that you can get 8 hours of sleep on a Tuesday in the ‘burbs?

    I miss PB, but I don’t miss the noise of it. You’ll be fine. Get a fan for some white noise.

    And drink heavily :D

  23. Mama Mary says:

    Peets & It’s a Grind are as close as you’ll come to non-Mermaid coffee shops. But you’ll do fine. The pros out way the cons, especially when you have kids. Good luck!!!!

  24. she says:

    First of all, I love your living room with the red couches. It’s awesome.

    Keep breathing. You’ll be okay. Home is where your family is, right?

    And a year goes fast.

    Saying a prayer on your behalf, Sweetie. I hear that it’s a big decision.

  25. mommypie says:

    I grew up in the Bay Area Burbs and loved it — so many happy memories of playing in the street with the neighborhood boys, staying out past dark … (See, there’s still the “danger” element outside of the urban hood.)

    The house is adorable — and change is GOOD! I’m totally excited for you. :)

  26. Da Goddess says:

    It looks to me like a brand new chapter in your life replete with all the lovely characters you know joining you for this new adventure. And if you happen to be within walking distance of (here), might I just rejoice a bit?

    Wherever it is, though, I am happy that you’re making this move. It is good. Your mom is cheering you on. Not because it’s “safer and more presentable or even more grown up”, because that’s not what she’s thinking about. No, she’s thinking it’s “Deb and Rock’s really big choice to do something they feel they should do and I’m behind them all the way”. As we all are.

  27. Your new neighbors will no doubt be folks a lot like you.

  28. tinsenpup says:

    That house looks great and your reasons are right and it doesn’t have to be forever. It’s an adventure you’re all going on together; an experience that you’ll talk and laugh about forever, regardless of where your journeys ultimately take you.

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