Posts Tagged With: Long Beach Island

Handing over the keys to the Purple People Eater

It was the weekend before Memorial Day weekend in 2002. I had joined a beach house on Long Beach Island on the Jersey Shore, and it dawned upon me that I might need some sort of vehicle to transport me to LBI, among other things.

The Purple People Eater, after one last car wash.

The Purple People Eater, after one last car wash.

After what looked to be a fruitless day of car shopping, I stopped at one last lot and, buried behind cars that were way above and beyond my means (BMW, Audi, Mercedes), I spotted a 1997 Honda Accord.

The good news: The car was exactly what I was looking for. Hondas are reliable stalwarts, and I was looking for something 1997 or newer, because insurance was cheaper for cars of that age at the time. And it was within my price range, or, more accurately, at the very top of my price range. The bad news: It was purple (really dark purple, not Grape Ape purple, but still purple), with gold trim.

However, when shopping for used cars, you have to make sacrifices, so, despite the fact that the gold trim made me want to hurl all over the hood, I drove the 1997 Honda Accord home to Hoboken that day, and it remained with me until Martin Luther King Jr. Day of this year, when I finally traded it in.

All relationships have their highlights and lowlights, and my relationship with the Purple People Eater was no exception. So, without further ado:

The good:

  • The Accord got me down to LBI for several summers, where, among other things, I relaxed on the beach, drank until I forgot how much I hated the planet, met several people who are now close friends, and got to know the future Mrs. 9.
  • The Accord was also my primary mode of transportation to Brendan Byrne Arena/Continental Airlines Arena/Izod Center, former home of the New Jersey Nets, during the glorious run with Jason Kidd that included consecutive trips to the NBA Finals.
  • And the Accord got myself and several teammates to many Bar None and Big Easy football games. We won the championship of our league in 1996, before the Accord was even born, but we had a successful and fun run, with multiple playoff victories, and the Purple People Eater carried many of us to Randall’s Island, or Grand Street and the FDR Drive, and to the bar afterward for wings and liquid refreshments (only two for me, thanks, I have to drive, and NO shots!).
  • The Accord was part of many a tailgate in the Giants Stadium parking lot prior to glorious shows by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and other shows at other venues, including my favorite band, Rush, at the PNC Bank Arts Center and Jones Beach (most uncomfortable, hottest show I’ve ever sat through).

The bad:

  • The brakes on the Accord always sucked, no matter how many times I had them adjusted, and how many different mechanics looked at them. Even though I drove the car for 11 years, I never got used to that nervous feeling whenever I had to stop quickly. And I feel bad for people who were passengers in other cars I drove, because years of having to push down as hard as humanly possible on the Accord’s brakes constantly caused me to slam on the brakes of other cars and send everything within those cars spiraling forward.
  • This was obviously not the fault of the car (or of the driver, I might add), but back in 2008, the Accord met Pothole-Zilla, and the Accord lost, badly, to the tune of two new tires, a new radiator, a new radiator cap, two new hoses, and more than $800 of hard-earned Benjamins.
  • The following year, my transmission died, and I have been driving on a rebuilt transmission since. It worked fine, for the most part, except that I was strongly advised to let the oil temperature rise for a few minutes before driving the car, and I have the same patience level as most native New Yorkers, which is basically zero.
  • The gold H. Many have perished in pursuit of it.

    The gold H. Many have perished in pursuit of it.

    Around the same time, I noticed a spot on the roof where the paint had begun to wear away. Over the next few months, this spot began to spread like an STD through a Hoboken bar, to the point where I feared that the roof would rust over and cave in one day. While I love convertibles, this wasn’t quite what I had in mind. So, in the interest of selling or trading in the car somewhere down the line, I spent about $2,000 on a complete repainting and detailing. The only good thing to come out of it was that part of the process included removing the God-forsaken gold trim and replacing it with a traditional chrome trim that made the car much less of an eyesore. I kept the gold H from the grill as a souvenir, and I may mount it on a gold rope chain one day so I can sport my very own hip-hop necklace.

  • The motor that drives the power windows needed replacing. The windows would go down, but I would have to jiggle the switch hundreds of times until something connected and the windows would roll back up.
  • The controls for the air conditioning/heating and defroster only worked if you punched the console Arthur Fonzarelli-style, and even then, only about one-half of the time.
  • And just in case I had any lingering doubts as to whether I was making the right move, when I started the Accord for the final time to drive it to the dealership and turn it in, I noticed that only one headlight was working due to a short.

While it was definitely time to part ways with the Purple People Eater, I had a lot of good memories with the car, and I will definitely miss it. I am now driving a dark grey 2010 Nissan Rogue, and I am sure I will grow to love this car, too. It’s in great condition, and it’s a lot of fun to drive, and I hope the memories I will create with the Rogue match up with those from the Accord, although that’s a pretty tall task.

Farewell, Purple People Eater, and thank you for the companionship and a job well done (for the most part).

Categories: cars, Hoboken, life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nine in the suburbs: Why is it so damn dark out here?

It has been just over four months since we moved from Hoboken to Basking Ridge, and we’ve settled in nicely, for the most part. We really like it out here, and everyone is adjusting well, from yours truly, to Mrs. 9, to 0.9, and even the cats.

9House

The 9 Compound

The positives definitely outweigh the negatives. I mentioned some of these things in a previous post, but that was months ago, and most people online don’t have any attention span, anyway, so here goes:

  • Mrs. 9’s commute has been shortened to about 15-20 minutes, with little to no traffic, from 50 minutes on paper and much longer in real life when we were still in Hoboken.
  • 0.9 loves his daycare and the teachers there.
  • Driving around here in general is a far more pleasant experience. Not only is traffic rarely an issue, but there just seems to be a lot less douchebaggery on the roads.
  • Life in general is a lot less stressful. Things like shopping, or going out for dinner, are much more manageable out here. People just seem to be a lot more relaxed, and it shows.
  • The two fat cats have actually lost weight since we moved here, likely due to having a lot more room to run, as well as the steps. Even 8-Ball, who used to move twice a day, has actually shown signs of being spry. The only bad thing about 8-Ball and Trouble getting into better shape is that one of them might catch Skittles one day, and eat him, because he continues to bait the two of them mercilessly, figuring that he can outrun them.
  • This will not be a factor for another five years or so, but the elementary school 0.9 will eventually attend is picturesque. It looks like something Norman Rockwell would paint. It’s a beautiful building, with so much space around it. I am actually jealous of him, as I feel like when you grow up in Manhattan, classrooms feel more like cells due to the lack of space. The thought of having a vast expense of grass for him to play on, instead of a slab of concrete, is comforting.
  • I have taken advantage of the fact that it is about three-quarters of a mile from our house to the train station and taken New Jersey Transit into Penn Station or Hoboken a few times. It’s pretty easy, and for someone who has been known to enjoy the occasional beer or 12, it’s a great option to have.
  • Being walking distance from the downtown area of Basking Ridge has been a huge plus, as well, and we have taken advantage of it a few times, weather permitting. It’s good to get out, walk, and exercise, rather than having to drive everywhere.
  • I work in the basement, right next to a window that faces our back yard, and I have been fortunate enough to see deer on a number of occasions, and even a red fox, which was larger than I thought, but quite a beautiful animal. It’s nice to see species other than stray cats, PATH rats, squirrels, and pigeons.
  • As I suspected, Cablevision’s Optimum is not even in the same ballpark as Verizon FiOS, especially when you factor in the Internet speed of the latter. Good riddance, Cablevision.
  • I raked leaves for the second time in my life, and shoveled snow for the first. Neither was too tough to pick up. I didn’t rake the entire yard, so sue me. We would eventually like to get a lawn mower, but with all of the expenses related to moving, new furniture, and 0.9, the lawn mower is on the back burner, for now, as is the snow blower, the generator, and the grill, which will likely come first.

There are a few things I’m definitely having trouble adjusting to, however:

  • I simply cannot get over just how fucking dark it is around here at night. I didn’t expect Basking Ridge to be lit up like the Vegas strip, but it is absolutely pitch black. There are very, very few street lights around here, and other sources of light are scant. As soon as the sun goes down, this is what the view from our window looks like:
Our view ...

Our view …

  • Speaking of the dark, when I take the train back to Basking Ridge and arrive after sundown, I have to walk by a cemetery while it’s pitch black outside. Shaggy and Scooby-Doo have the right idea being rattled. It’s definitely creepy.
  • I said earlier that drivers around here seem to be a lot more courteous and less ruthless than those closer to the city, but the one thing I’ve noticed, kind of related to my point above about the darkness, is that a lot of folks out here have a tendency to not bother to switch from brights to dims when other cars are approaching, and some of the newer cars out there, especially some Audi models, have headlights that are completely blinding. One of the first things I was taught when driving at night was to switch off my brights if another car was coming. But for whatever reason, many people out here simply can’t be bothered.
  • Luckily, we haven’t had to deal with anything major yet in terms of household repairs, but I find myself missing the phrase “call the super” more and more. I did have one unfortunate incident that required an emergency plumbing call due to cat litter clogging up the drain to our slop sink. I know enough not to intentionally pour something that is designed to clump when wet down a drain: It was a stupid and costly accident, as I didn’t realize the trash bag I was dumping the litter box into had slipped, and the litter was going into the sink, and not the bag. You learn from your mistakes. But after living in apartments for the first 44-and-a-half years of my life, it’s still scary that there is no safety net. People can make fun of me all they want for some of the things I don’t know how to do, but I have never had to do them. I am more than willing to learn. We’ll see how it goes. I just hope future mistakes or repairs for other reasons aren’t too costly.
  • I never thought I would find a power company that would make PSE&G look like a superstar, but JCP&L can kiss my ass. There is apparently a history of JCP&L neglecting this area, and their response, or lack thereof, to Hurricane Sandy was an utter and complete joke.

Mrs. 9 and I were talking about this the other day: Despite the fact that we’ve been here a little over four months, we both still have the feeling that we’re on vacation, and that we’ll have to pack everything up one day and go back to our apartment in Hoboken. This place is very much like home, but there are times when it feels like the beach house on Long Beach Island that I was part of for years: You feel at home, but it’s still not your home. Obviously, it is, and we will not be returning to our apartment in Hoboken, or any apartment, for that matter. But there are times when this move still doesn’t seem real or permanent.

Overall, I have no regrets: This was a wise and necessary move. Are there things I miss about Hoboken? Sure, but not enough to make me wish we had never moved here. And there are some treats coming up this summer, as we will hopefully join the local pool, and I will try to get a spot in an over-40 (fuck you in advance for what you’re thinking) softball league.

Yeah, Basking Ridge doesn’t suck. But why is it so fucking dark?

Categories: cats, Hoboken, life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Unemployment Nine: What if?

About four years ago, I was very unhappy at my old job. I was moved against my will from a publication where I had spent my first 11-plus years at the company to another title where I just knew it wasn’t a good fit for a number of reasons, having had previous experience working with that magazine. I tried everything I could to fight it, but failed, so I began to consider options. In October 2008, the choice was made for me, as I was one of the victims of the first of what turned out to be several rounds of layoffs. But what if I had followed through with a plan I was seriously considering and left on my own?

Field of Dreams

A lot of things would have had to fall into place for me to actually go through with this plan, but this is what I was giving some very legitimate thought to doing.

As I said, I was unhappy with my job situation, and the entire process of working for a large company had made me quite jaded. I was in a situation where I was locked into a 3% raise no matter what my performance was, which gave me no incentive whatsoever to extend myself beyond my normal duties. This attitude was made worse when a co-worker who routinely showed up to the office around lunchtime (no exaggeration whatsoever) got the same raise I did, despite the fact that I ended up picking up most of the slack in his absence. So, my thinking was: If I’m going to work this hard and get so little reward, rather than working for a company where not giving a shit was mutual — I didn’t give a shit about the company, and it didn’t give a shit about me — why not do something I’m passionate about and try to find a job with a minor-league baseball team?

My plan was to enjoy one last summer on Long Beach Island, and then spend the next year making a very sincere effort to save as much money as I could, in anticipation of a lower salary. And then, when the following baseball season ended, I intended to bombard just about every minor-league and independent-league team in existence with my résumé in the hopes of landing some kind of position that involved a combination of writing, editing and Internet work.

Would I have ever gone through with it? I really don’t know, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

First off, I absolutely, positively suck at saving money. Saying you’re going to do something is different from actually doing it, and I’m not sure that I could have been that disciplined. In fact, the odds are against it.

Second, and most important: I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to pack up and leave the New York area, where most of my friends and family still live. It’s a very, very difficult decision to make. It seems like everyone has one moment during their life when they say, “Fuck this shit, I’m getting the hell out of here,” but again, there’s a big difference between threatening to leave and packing up the car.

Finally, even if I had actually gone through with my plan, would I have been happy? I’ve talked to a lot of people involved in baseball and, not surprisingly, the closer a minor-league team is to a legitimate city, the harder it is to get a job with that team. Teams like the Newark Bears and the Kane County Cougars (located pretty close to Chicago) will get significantly more résumés than, say, the Billings Mustangs or Casper Ghosts. I mean no disrespect to those cities, but they just don’t have the appeal of larger metropolitan areas. So, would I really have been happy living in Montana or Wyoming, after spending my entire life in Manhattan and Hoboken? I guess I’ll never know.

Anyway, as I said, I don’t know if I would have really gone through with this plan, but during what I envisioned as my last big-time summer on LBI, I really clicked with one of the girls in my beach house. She is now my wife. Needless to say, packing up and moving to the middle of nowhere is no longer part of the equation, especially since giving up her salary in this economy would be beyond foolhardy. And I have no regrets: Family should be more of a priority and a concern than career, and I am much, much happier being married in Hoboken than being single in Cedar Rapids.

But it doesn’t keep me from occasionally wondering what would have happened, especially with my frustration boiling over when it comes to my current unemployment situation.

Categories: baseball, business, Hoboken, life, sports, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Unemployment Nine: Summer is my favorite time of the year but, so far, this one truly sucks

I love summer. I really do. It’s by far my favorite time of the year. But I feel like the economy, Mother Nature and some other cruel forces are conspiring to make sure this summer ranks among the worst of my life.

My mood this summer

I knew I was likely in for an emotional come-down following our wedding and honeymoon. I mean, two weeks in Hawaii represented the trip of a lifetime, so I never expected the summer to compete with that. But I also didn’t expect it to suck a big, fat one, like it has thus far.

First off, there’s the lingering unemployment situation. I’ve been on a whopping total of one interview since returning from our honeymoon in mid-May, and I’ve also had one phone interview. In both cases, I knew right away that the respective positions and I were not good fits. So it’s been months since I’ve even sniffed any hopes of a full-time job, and a very sobering anniversary is quickly approaching. Unless something drastic happens between now and Oct. 2, I will have hit the dreaded two-year mark of unemployment. In my absolute worst assessments of my situation, I’d have never predicted coming close to that milestone.

Anyone who has followed this blog knows that I’m not sitting around eating ice cream and watching soap operas. But I’m a little frustrated with both of my freelance jobs, as well.

The one I began recently basically destroys my Thursday and Friday nights, and I hate the fact that the pace is glacial, and I have no control whatsoever over it. There’s absolutely nothing I can do but sit and wait, and wait, and wait. It’s good in one way, because I get paid by the hour, so obviously, the longer I’m there, the more I make. But there are times when the hourly rate isn’t even remotely fair compensation for the activities I’m giving up, just to sit there and listen to people debate over every last clause that will appear in a medium that I am completely over: print. I don’t believe in what I’m doing, which makes it very difficult for me.

And when it comes to the one I’ve had for a little more than one year, I’m frustrated because I don’t get the sense that any improvement in my situation is imminent, whether it’s an increase in the amount of money I get paid per post, or an offer to come on board full-time, although those were mentioned as possibilities when I started. I feel like I’ve been bypassed by other people, albeit many of them worthy and deserving, and it seems like I’m speeding down a dead-end street. And the vibe in general has been far more negative than positive. I’m not a dog, and I don’t need someone to pat me on the head and say, “Good boy,” after every story I post, but receiving e-mail after e-mail of negative feedback without one positive note is not doing wonders for my attitude or my outlook.

The problem is, with my current financial state, I can’t even remotely afford to give up either job, so I have no choice but to solider on, regardless of how unhappy I am and how unrewarded I feel, whether monetarily or just in terms of fulfillment and getting some enjoyment out of my work.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m very happy to have both opportunities. Having something to focus on and being able to contribute at least some money into the household are both valuable commodities. But I’m just not happy doing what I’m doing right now and, as I said, I’m doing what I can to keep both jobs out of necessity, not out of pride in my work, or enjoying what I’m doing.

Summer, however, usually provides the cure-all, as I usually spend it doing some of my favorite things: going to baseball games, playing softball and going to the beach. This summer, however, has not been very good for any of those activities.

My wife and I are finally going down to Long Beach Island for a long weekend in a few days. As much as I’m looking forward to it, I fear that it will only whet my appetite for what I’ve been missing all summer.

And this obviously affects everyone, not just myself, but the weather this summer has been about as miserable as any summer I can remember in my 42 years of existence. It seems like the two weather conditions are high 90s-low 100s with suffocating humidity, or raining, and the latter usually comes up if I have Yankees tickets or a softball game. This weather just makes it nearly impossible to enjoy anything.

Softball is usually one of my best escapes from drudgery, but I just can’t get on track this season. Between having to miss games due to the newer freelance job, or games getting rained out, it seems like every time I start to feel comfortable at the plate, I end up not playing for two weeks, which sends me right back to square one. I’ve been trying to hit the batting cage regularly, but even in slow-pitch softball, there’s a big difference between getting it done in the batting cage and getting it done on the field. And I take it very personally when I don’t play well, often because my game that week was the one activity I’d been looking forward to for days. And naturally, when I don’t play well and my team loses, I feel like I’ve let my teammates down.

The weather has taken its toll on my Yankees experience this season, as well. It’s just that much harder to enjoy a ballgame when you’re coated in sweat and you feel like the sky is pressing down on you. Plus, I’ve had to sell my tickets for a few games I really wanted to attend, thanks to, you guessed it, the newer freelance job. I love Thursday-afternoon ball games, but I can’t afford to give up a day’s pay to go to them.

Look, I know things could be a lot worse. I could still be single. I could have no money coming in at all. I could have jobs that are a lot worse and that don’t even resemble what I’m trying to do. But sometimes it’s difficult to rationalize the fact that just because things could be worse, it doesn’t mean they don’t pretty much suck right now.

I really hope things turn around and I get to at least enjoy the second half of this summer, because Oct. 2 is looming and getting closer and closer, which will not do wonders for my mood or state of mind.

Categories: baseball, business, life, sports, travel, venting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A very non-Nine Fourth of July

After years of being spoiled with the most perfect possible view of a decent fireworks display without leaving the deck of our old beach house on Long Beach Island, I spent this Fourth of July watching an even better fireworks display from the grounds of Cherokee High School in Marlton, N.J., with my wife and her extended family. Some things about it were great, and some were just weird.

July 4 fireworks from Marlton, NJ

At this stage of my life — 42 and grumpy — I am totally over giant crowds. The Marlton fireworks had an ideal number of people — enough to make it seem like an event, and totally worth being there, but a small enough group to allow us to arrive two hours before the fireworks started and find ample space for our beach chairs. And while I would never dream of comparing the show to the Macy’s Spectacular that has spoiled me in New York for most of my life, it was definitely better than the LBI effort.

The weird part: 2010 marked the first Fourth of July since I was about 14 or 15 when I did not indulge in a single sip of beer. Nor did I partake in the American tradition of pigging out on red meat (we did barbecue a little, but it was more for the purposes of eating dinner before heading to the fireworks than for putting on a display of gluttony).

It was still fun, and I’d definitely do it again. With the LBI house no longer an option, there’s no way in hell I’m dealing with the crowds in Hoboken, Manhattan, Philadelphia, or any of the “real” big-city fireworks displays. And spending time with the family is always fun (no, I am NOT just saying that because some of them read this blog!).

But I could have used a cold one, or several.

Categories: alcohol, beer, life, travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

An LBI beach house in the rear-view mirror

As I said in a previous blog post, I don’t do well with goodbyes. And I recently found out that the beach house on Long Beach Island where I spent several summers was added to the goodbye list, permanently.

The beach at 5th St. in Beach Haven

It’s just part of life. A lot of people who were in the house for years are in totally different situations. If you look at the core group that made up the house for years, there are people who got married, people who are engaged (myself and my fiancée obviously included), people who are in serious relationships, people who moved, people who have been tripped up by the economy (again, myself included) and people who just, for lack of a better term, grew out of being in the house.

And over the past couple of years, it became more and more difficult to replace people who left the house, or who downgraded from full shares to half shares. Again, this economy certainly isn’t helping matters.

My fiancée and I weren’t part of the beach house last summer, although we did go down to visit one weekend. And with the wedding coming up, we weren’t intending to rejoin it this coming summer. But when we ran into one of the girls in the house the past couple of years at a restaurant and she told us that our group was pulling the plug, although it wasn’t a shock, it was still weird to hear.

I had so many great experiences in that house that I’m bound to leave some out, and the fact that senility has set in at 41 (almost 42, sigh) isn’t helping.

The obvious highlight was really getting to know my fiancée. I also made a few friends who will more than likely be lifelong friends. And nothing was more relaxing than enjoying a cold beer on the deck, no matter what time of the day it was.

And then there were the individual moments that were pure high comedy. I will never forget the guest who went to the bay instead of the beach and returned to the house in a state of total confusion (even more so than his normal state of total confusion).

My bike on LBI

Of course, a legendary moment in the history of the house was when a dear friend who was part of the original core group but since moved away made her return visit memorable by doing a table dance that culminated with the overhead light falling right off the ceiling with a huge crash.

Another classic was having the police knock on our door during a boisterous game of Pass the Pigs, only to have one of our house members tell an officer, “We were JUST playing PIGS!” Amazingly, none of us was locked up that night.

Of course, we will still be able to enjoy a lot of our favorite things about LBI. The beach will still be there, even if it keeps eroding more and more every summer. The Black Whale, our favorite seafood restaurant, will hopefully make my favorite special part of its everyday menu (bacon-wrapped scallops in maple bourbon sauce). The Chicken and the Egg will continue to be a late-night unhealthy but delicious snack stop. Holiday Snack Bar will continue serving up Slam Burgers and Dune Fries (French fries with Old Bay). Bushwhackers will still be served at The Ketch Sunday nights. Riding our bikes to the lighthouse at Holgate will always be a fun activity. And as one of our good friends recently pointed out on her Facebook page, the God-forsaken shack on Route 72 off the causeway is still standing by some miracle.

But it will be a truly strange and surreal experience driving, biking or walking by the house where we spent so much time and not climbing the steps to grab a beer out of the refrigerator. It will be creepy and unsettling having people we don’t know staring at us from the deck and wondering why in the hell these people are staring at their beach house.

It was a great run, but all good things must come to an end, and our time at the beach house is now history. I feel it now, but I don’t think it will really hit home until what I described in the last paragraph actually occurs. Bypassing that house without going in will just be unnatural.

On to marriage, a honeymoon in Hawaii, starting a family and whatever new adventures await us, but LBI will always be a part of it, and I’m sure we’ll end up spending more time there. Farewell, house.

Our old beach house

Our old beach house

Categories: alcohol, life, travel | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

The last …

I’ve never been good about things that involve “the last,” as in, “the last time I’ll ever go here,” or, “the last time I’ll ever see this.” But I’ve had to deal with quite a few instances of it over the past year-and-a-half or so.

I went to my favorite Hoboken bar, Ted & Jo’s, for the last time at the end of March 2008. The bar unfortunately closed, and the space is still empty and probably will be for quite some time. I still don’t really have a new bar, although Zeppelin Hall, the new beer garden in Jersey City, is quickly becoming a staple. I love The Shannon, but not so much on weekends, when the crowd is much younger.

I went to Yankee Stadium for the last time almost a year ago. Although I’ve started to enjoy the new ballpark more and more, I still miss the old ballpark terribly and wish the team had never moved. The new Stadium is nice, but the old one was home.

I went to my desk at my old job of 13 ½ years for the last time. I didn’t have any time to think about this one, as getting laid off was shocking and completely unexpected. I hadn’t been happy at my old job for quite some time, but I still think there would have been some sadness if I had the opportunity to leave on my own terms. The last year-and-a-half were pretty tough to deal with, as I was forced to leave the publication I had spent 12 years with and move to one where I didn’t fit in at all, but 13 ½ years at one company is still a pretty long time, and there were some nice memories mixed in with the bad ones.

I spent my last day as a single man July 31, but I couldn’t be happier about that and wouldn’t change a thing.

And last weekend, I spent what might have been my last weekend at my old beach house on Long Beach Island. I actually think from talking to the people who are still involved that the house will probably continue next year, but you never know. There’s a lot of change going on. People are taking new jobs, moving, getting involved in serious relationships, and the possibility always exists that I’ve spent my last night in the ugly monstrosity that I loved so much for seven summers.

Saying goodbye to things is tough, even if it’s for the better sometimes.

Long Beach Island

Long Beach Island

Categories: baseball, beer, Hoboken, life, sports, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Summertime blues

Holiday Snack Bar, Beach Haven, NJ

Holiday Snack Bar, Beach Haven, NJ

Something is missing this week, and it’s very weird.

This is the week before Memorial Day. I’m supposed to be getting everything ready to head down to the beach house on LBI Friday morning. But I’m not.

I’m supposed to be buying cases of G2 (low-calorie Gatorade) and good beer, because I refuse to drink Bud, Miller or Coors (Miller Lite is tolerable). I’m supposed to be packing bathing suits, towels, bedding, toiletries, Hawaiian shirts and more good beer. But I’m not.

I’m supposed to constantly check weather.com for the Beach Haven forecast. But I’m not.

I’m supposed to be making arrangements for someone to feed the cats, because God forbid the two pot-bellied pigs miss a meal. But I’m not.

The summer of 2009 will be the first one since the summer of 2000 that I’m not in a beach house. It really bothered me at first, but I started coping with it, accepting it and making other plans, so I was at peace with it for a while. But now, with the Friday before Memorial Day staring me in the face, to put it mildly, it fucking sucks.

There are things I won’t miss. The bar scene down at LBI has become agonizing the past couple of summers, with the exact same bands playing the exact same songs week after week after week. And the two-hour drive each way does tend to get old. But the good outweighs the bad.

I’ll keep busy. I have a lot more weekend Yankees tickets. My girlfriend and I are planning a few trips. But I still feel like something is missing.

This is always one of my favorite weeks of the year. I love the feeling of anticipation that the beginning of summer brings. But as excited as I am to welcome the World Champion Phillies to Yankee Stadium this weekend, it just isn’t the same kind of buzz.

Bah.

Categories: life, travel | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Unemployment Nine: No LBI = summer bummer

Among the many things that absolutely suck ass about not having a job, the fact that (barring a last-minute miracle hire) I will not be a part of the beach house on Long Beach Island for the first time since 2002 royally blows.

5th Street, Beach Haven, Long Beach Island, NJ

5th Street, Beach Haven, Long Beach Island, NJ

LBI has been my summer mainstay for years and, while I know I’ll still visit a couple of times, it’s not the same as being a part of the house, and I hate that.

The only bright spot, as my girlfriend pointed out, is that we’ll get to do some different things that we ordinarily might not have done. When you’re part of a beach house, you almost feel obligated to go down every weekend, because you know in the back of your head that it’s already paid for.

But I’m still having a lot of trouble coming to terms with this. After seven straight summers of being in the same house, with pretty much the same core group of people, many of whom will likely be lifelong friends, the fact that I’m not already thinking about which beers to bring down to the house, or how many cases of G2 to fetch from BJ’s, is very, very strange.

We’ll salvage our summer. Ideas already being tossed around include Newport, R.I.; Reading, Pa., for outlet shopping and minor-league baseball; Philadelphia, to visit my girlfriend’s sister, get my ass kicked by her pit bull mix, eat a Tony Luke’s cheesesteak (or several) and hit Citizens’ Bank Park for a Phillies game; Cape May, N.J., just for the hell of it; and (for me, anyway) lots of softball and Yankees games.

I’ll do my best to prevent my summer from being another casualty of this economy, but all things being equal, I’m really, truly going to miss being a part of that beach house. Change is a part of life, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to bitch about it!

Categories: life, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The musical gods are with me this week

The gods of music have been kind to me all week.

First, I saw three incredible shows by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, with the last one, Thursday night, incredible beyond words.

Then, while out at happy hour at the Shell on Long Beach Island yesterday, a brief rain shower chased Monte and the All-Stars off the stage before they could butcher Rosalita. What they do to that song should be illegal. Two minutes of raindrops saved me from eight minutes of suffering.

Finally, I was way too tired to go out last night, and I missed out on a pretty good band, Laura Lea & Tripp Fabulous. But I’m happy I missed out on their cover of Mr. Jones by Counting Crows. As much as I like Laura Lea’s voice, that song is awful, brutal, hideous, whiny, irritating and foul beyond saving by anyone.

Thank you, gods of music.

Categories: music | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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