I do not jest. Just because I was born, raised, and still reside here, you may think I’m a bit prejudiced. But it’s true. So we have high taxes. We get a lot of bang for our buck. We have mountains (well, big hills) we have the best beaches on the East Coast. Gambling. Weed’s legal. We have free community college if you keep your grades above failing. The toughest environmental laws. Tough gun laws, too, still legal but regulated. Medical insurance exchanges, and Medicaid if you qualify. A woman’s right to choose and marriage equality protected. Some of the best colleges in the world. The best diners, the best tomato pies, Pork Roll (don’t give me that Taylor Ham bullshit), frozen custard (NOT “soft serve.”) Crowded metro areas, but also the largest tract of open space on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard. And we’re free to hate our Governor. We always do, no matter what party they’re from.
We’re not prefect. We have flaws. We love to hate ourselves. We love to say we can’t wait to get out of our own state. But we go down the Shore every summer. We have a gazillion restaurants to pick from with every type of food represented. If we see a pizza delivery vehicle from Domino’s we know it’s going to somebody from out-of-state because… why? There’s a real pizza joint on every corner! Blueberries, tomatoes, cranberries, OH MY GOD–THE PEACHES!! There’s a lot of reasons to love living here and I’m sure, just as many reasons to say it’s the worst. But we don’t care. So go pump your own gas. We don’t have to and it’s still cheaper than yours. We’re staying right here.
Yes, it’s been a long time since I posted, and I’m absolutely thrilled you’ve been waiting to hear from me! This heat’s kind of baked my brain, and I’ve really nothing original to offer, so consider yourself lucky you’ve been saved from my blather. But I’m feeling pretty full of myself today, as I just sent my agent the final draft of something I’ve been working on for way, way, WAY too long. I suppose I could tweak it a bit more, but to quote a saying I’ve heard lately, I’m not going to let the perfect get in the way of the good. Or maybe I’m underestimating myself. Maybe it really IS perfect. Time will tell if it ever lands on an editor’s desk. As self-deprecating as I tend to be, you’re never going to hear me overselling myself here. That’s what my agent’s for. So if you happen to be an editor on the lookout for suspense, mystery, snark, and a little sizzle of romance (as well as possessing an underlying respect for the Oxford Comma), forget the rest of this post and go to the top of the page. You know what to click next.
As for the rest of you, I’m catch up with you during sweater weather. It’s gelato time.
Some watch for robins, some for crocuses, some even say marshmallow peeps, but for me the real harbinger of spring are potholes, I’m telling you, those pervasive little asphalt assailants never fail to creep up on us, around every bend and over every hillock, disguised like shimmering little macadam birdbaths until you hit one and bam! there goes the hub cap, spinning away like a frisbee.
I live fifteen miles from work, and on my way home last week I counted no less than 25 of the replicating little suckers. And that didn’t include the ever-widening fissures in the middle of the road, and the winter erosion of the softer shoulders, due to the dig and drag of the snow plows. And then there’s those inevitable frost heaves that pitch up and crack the roads, always on whatever side of the road I’m driving. Which, of course, quickly becomes your side when you swerve into my lane to avoid them.
But if all this isn’t bad enough, the cure isn’t much better. How many of you have driven smack into a fresh pancake of cold patch, that municipal quick-fix of asphalt the town boys tamp down with shovels and their own boots, to shut up the one irate taxpayer that doesn’t quit calling until it’s fixed. Ahh…the lovely ping-ping-ping of loose tar as it plies itself to the undercarriage of your car. You’ll be scrubbing that off until nigh on August. Soon those road patch patties will be as ubiquitous as dandelions, and just as hard to get rid of. Because if you’re betting on highway dollars on high to get them gone, you can just forget it. Cold patch is too much of a bargain.
For the meantime, take your comfort where you can get it. After the mild winter we’ve had here in Jersey, it could have been much worse. Besides, it’s only a matter of time until we’re burning our bare feet crossing it. And that, my dears, could only mean a day at the beach.
It’s that time of year, the holidays, and I’m going to take a break. So have yourself a Merry Little Christmas, a stellar New Year, and I’ll see you sometimes in January!
The following is a reboot of a post from a couple of years ago, but I happen to like it and I’ve been so busy grading end-of-semester essays, my brain’s too mushed to think up anything original. So consider it a Christmas gift–from me to you and visa-versa. (You may thank me now.)
With Hanukkah now behind us, another holiday fest starts imminently, but you would think that it already has, as much as gets done in December. As for me, I simply let the ‘daze rumble past like a runaway train, and if something happens to fall out of the caboose for me, so be it. But if you believe the concept driving the season is peace and not what piece is for you, then here’s a few hints to let you know just how far behind you are:
1. The Great Work Stoppage – As soon as the Thanksgiving turkey comes out of the oven, it’s as if everyone forgets they have a job. Suddenly all meetings become holiday parties, and if you’re expecting that report to get finished, you might as well call back next year. In my particular milieu, I nearly have to hit my students over the head with their final essays to get them to even remember my name.
2. Vanishing Editors – If you were hoping to get your manuscript sold before the end of the year–ha ha, good one! From now until after New Year’s, editors, as well as a fair amount of agents, take a breather and make the rounds of Gotham’s holiday celebrations, where I imagine a fair amount of deal making takes place over the babaganoush. If you’re the writer, think of it as a temporary reprieve from submission angst.
3. Everything’s on Sale – Back in the day, you used to have to wait until after Christmas to get a price cut, but thanks to retail giants like Target and Macy’s, the discounts only get deeper the closer you get to the big day. Which is fine, because if you’re like me, the shopping starts the day before, and I’m all about half-off.
4. The Dread Christmas Sweater – Think about it: if it wasn’t the holidays, would you ever wear that sweater in public? Do you actually like rick-rack, glitter, Rudolph’s battery-operated flashing nose, or cable-knitted Thomas Kinkade reproductions on your chest? So much better to wear the DCS’s less offensive cousins, The Christmas Socks. At least we only have to endure them when you cross your legs.
5. “Oh go ahead – it’s the Holidays.” – Which means, go ahead and eat that brandy cheesecake as big as your head. What the hell – you’re on Lipitor anyway, and your blood test isn’t until January. Which also means you can eat half that Hickory Farm’s beef stick, which is my personal holiday no-denial favorite. No fooling, I’m stocking up!
Only thirteen days left. Get crackin’!
My gift to you this Thanksgiving! My gift to myself is carpal tunnel in my right hand, so I won’t be doing too much writing these next couple of days, all my energy spent in hoisting leftover turkey leftover and its accompaniments. I’ll also be upending the whipped cream over my mouth for a covert squirt after burying a slice of pumpkin pie under it. So yeah, I’ll be kinda busy after all. Happy Thanksgiving!
It’s been a long school year, and it’s still not over for me, as I went from Fall to Winter Interim to Spring, and now smack into the Summer semester. Those who work 9-5 jobs (or whatever that is these days) may not feel a scintilla of sympathy for me when I say this, but the myth of instructors being off in the summer never met an adjunct college professor. Summers without work are summers without money, so we keep working right through, in condensed semesters that during the regular school year would be 14 weeks, now cut down to five, with all the same material to cover, and the grading coming three times as fast. In between all of this, I’m working on an edit of a book while my agent shops my latest (bites nails, cross your fingers). In any event, I’m a bit fried, so I’m taking a few things off my plate while I wind down Summer I before heading into Summer II. As well as taking a couple of quick mental health weekends out of this office where I’ve spent too much time this pandemic year. (Really, really, REALLY sick of these four walls!)
Okay, enough the the bitch and moan. Enjoy the summer, and I’ll see you in August. Just don’t forget, writers write, so get cracking.
To all my LBGTQ friends and to those I’ve yet to meet, Happy Pride Month! So, where’s the party?