Stranger 001

CPJ 23

What’s your full name?

Christopher Parker Jalufka

Were you named after anyone?

My middle name Parker comes from someone on my dad’s side of the family. It’s the middle name of my dad, my eldest cousin, and my cousin’s eldest son. Probably a few more males I’ve never met. A ‘first born son of the first born son’ type of naming scheme.

My son’s middle name is Parker and my sister named her second daughter Parker, so the name lives on, with that adjustment made to the tradition. ‘Christopher’ is just a name as far as I know. My mom always told me that I ‘told’ her my name when in the womb. I don’t remember that.

 What’s your average day like?

During the week, the day starts around 6:30AM. My son (who is a year and a half) wiggles his way on our bed, lounging between my wife and I. Around 7AM my three year-old daughter hops into the bed as well. My wife heads off to work and I get the kids breakfast, showered, dressed, and get my daughter ready for pre-school.

Once I drop her off at 9AM it’s off to the grocery store or other errands, back to the house to do laundry, clean the kitchen, try to answer work emails and get as much writing done while playing with my son. It’s usually 80% playing with him, 10% working, and 10% cleaning up after him. At some point we go to the park or visit my mother in-law, who lives about five miles down the road.

Once lunch hits it’s time to clean again and probably a bath fo him, depending on our play time activities. I start thinking about dinner and we play some more and about 3PM he takes a nap. At 4PM I pick up my daughter. In that hour or so window of time I do my best to work, but home stuff takes a priority.

My wife is home at 5PM and then dinner at 6PM, kid’s bath time at 7PM or so, clean up after dinner, bath time for the kiddos and we read books and try to get the kids down at 8PM. Most likely both won’t be down until 9:30PM or so, and if my wife is still awake we’ll watch TV or just hang out. Once my wife is asleep I’m at the computer until 11PM or midnight working on whatever projects are on my plate.

Weekends vary, but they’re pretty family activity heavy. My wife keeps up busy with parties and traveling to visit friends. In the last few months we’ve been to Disneyland, Portland, Nashville, and to Austin a few times.

How far away do you live from where you were born?

I was born in Roseville, CA , close to Sacramento and I’m in Gilroy, CA now, so about a two-hour drive I think. I don’t have any family in the area and really have no connection to it. Roseville and Sacramento are just an odd memory these days.

What do you consider to be your “home”?

Having a family of my own now I’d say my actual house is my home, wherever my wife and kids are. But for a long time, simply being in a car on the road listening to music made me feel at ‘home.’ I did a lot of driving in my younger days, between mom’s house and dad’s house, then road trips and long distance relationships. The quiet time, alone in a car for hours and hours. The ability to be with my thoughts uninterrupted was a pretty home-like experience.

What items do you always take with you when you leave the house?

Wallet. Keys. Phone. iPod. Chapstick. I hate dry lips. I’ll always buys chapstick at a gas station if I’ve forgotten mine. I have them stashed all over the house and cars.

When you look in the mirror, what do you notice first?

The bags under my eyes and crooked teeth. Tried Invisalign to fix my smile and it wasn’t that much of a success.

If you could change something about your appearance, what would it be?

I’d love to be a bit taller, but probably my jaw. I have a soft jawline like a character from The Simpsons. Having a beard helps disguise that a bit.

What do you first notice in strangers?

Whether or not they smile. I go by that to determine if they’re friendly, and hopefully welcoming. If not, I stiffen up and have to work a bit harder to get to know them. I don’t really feel confident in my social skills, so a smile from someone makes that first meeting a lot easier.

What do think people say about you?

Growing up I was always afraid people talked about how I dressed or wore my hair. Having thick Mexican hair, I used to use a lot of hair product to keep it in check, so that was something I’m sure people said about me. Made fun of my hair or acne. These days I’m guessing they also say that I stand around not saying much, or talk too much about stuff no one cares about or even asked about.

What would you hope they would say?

I’d hope they’d say nothing at all, have no comment about me whatsoever, but if they had to say something it’d be like, “Chris? Yeah, he’s pretty cool.”

What is your proudest moment? Biggest victory?

I was a waiter at a restaurant for a few months in college. I’m pretty proud of that. Anytime I’ve ever spoken up to say exactly what I want is a total victory. I’ve stuttered since I could remember (speech therapy is a waste of money and time), so being brave enough to actually talk to strangers face to face was a big deal to me. Still is.

 What is your biggest regret? Biggest failure?

I moved to LA for a while after college to start my career as a writer and had an internship at a production company. It was a strange and great time in my life, totally alone living on a friend’s couch, but at the first sign that it wasn’t going to work out I left and moved back home. Ugh. Only one of many embarrassments and failures.

If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?

I wish I could show my anger in a healthy way. I tend to shut down and stew, get grumpy and quiet and withdrawn. Totally pointless and I know it when I’m doing it, yet still do it.

What makes life worth living?

Family, friends, and good times. Meeting my wife changed my life. Being so focused on work and success yet only seeing failure, she opened me up in such a positive way. She taught me to enjoy the simplest of things. If you ever saw her have a delicious sandwich or put on a warm coat, you’d know how much she loves every aspect of life. She totally showed me how to find the fun in being alive.

What is the one rule you try to live by? Do you feel successful at following it?

The first thing that comes to mind is, “The world needs its ditch diggers.” It’s a quote from “Caddyshack” that has resonated longer than a quote from “Caddyshack” ever should. If you don’t remember the film, the lead caddy wants to go to law school and tells the judge he’s trying to get a scholarship from that he can’t afford it. The judge tells him, “The world needs its ditch diggers.” If he can’t live his dream of being a lawyer, the world will always need someone to dig ditches. A comment on the fact that not all of us can be exactly what we want, but the world needs us for something. It’s a depressing yet accurate look at everyday life, one that shouldn’t be the motto of anyone, but also one I just can’t let go of.

Have I successfully followed it? I think so. What it’s done is point out that you shouldn’t keep smashing your head against the wall, maybe a try a different wall, or better yet, find what you love about that dream and find a way to do it without needing the approval or acceptance of anyone.

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