And I’m in love again—no wait, that’s Fats Domino. Man am I glad he’s ok. But I digress (and you certainly don’t want to get me started on that whole New Orleans fiasco again…)
It’s been a long couple of months getting settled in here in coastal New Jersey, but I’m finally back online and ready to rock. The reasons for the long delay are pretty lame, actually—my DSL wasn’t up and running because I had to upgrade my sissified 1999 Dell from Windows 98 to XP. EEEK. Hate giving money to that man. Hate it so much that that’s the primary reason why I hadn’t already upgraded. So a couple hundred smackers and several trips to Circuit City later, I am now in the lovely world of wi-fi DSL. And I must say, it does rock. You can’t beat being able to write whilst sitting on the couch in your sweats with your laptop in your lap (where it belongs).
What have I been doing with myself all this time? Well, getting situated in a new job for one. I am working at Borders again--the one where Bruce shops--though I haven’t seen him yet. (Scarily enough, I actually saw his assistant Terry in there last week, though, and my husband ran into his old sound man in the grocery store. Ah, the perks of living on the Jersey Shore…) This is not the be-all end-all job by any means—I am merely paying bills whilst attempting to ensconce myself in the local journalism scene. I have a couple of good leads, and with any luck, I will be getting paid to write, at least on a freelance basis.
I have been taking lots of walks—it helps to be 10 minutes from the beach—and this has helped me to clear my head and refocus. It’s pretty hard to be to concerned with much of anything when you are sitting and staring at the waves. Ocean Grove is a quaint, if somewhat claustrophobic, little town—full of antique shops, cute restaurants and overpriced grocery stores. The Victorians range from gorgeous, tasteful and imaginatively decorated to completely run down and scary. I live on the first floor of one that is somewhere in between. The cellar flooded a bit during the rains we had a couple weeks back, not because of leaks, but because it has one of those crazy Wizard of Oz storm doors and it’s falling apart. (Must speak to the landlady about that.) We hear the carillon bells from the Methodist church every night at 6, and it reminds me of the National Cathedral bells from my old ‘hood in DC.
We live on the north side of town, right next to Wesley Lake, which is the southernmost border of Asbury Park. We can walk out behind our house and see and hear the redevelopment transpiring on Cookman and Lake Avenues. (If I look to my left, I can see the painted advertisement for Thom McAn shoes on the back of the building that once housed the famous Upstage club. More on that later.) I wish I could say I was happy about the construction, but as usual, it seems the people with the money are the ones without imagination, without soul. They have, sadly, torn down the storied Palace Amusements building instead of finding a way to incorporate this unique, historic building into their plan, and are at present building generic-looking waterfront condos that are already out of my price range. (I find it interesting that real estate speculators have already convinced people that they have to pay New York-style prices in a town that lacks a decent grocery store, or worse, any sort of a business plan for reviving its struggling economy, especially on “the other side of town.”)
I plan on writing about the troubling racial issues in this area at great length—it is a subject with which I continue to be deeply concerned. And I will write about some of the positive things happening in this area too, especially the resurgent local music scene. There are some great things happening, some exciting bands to watch, including my current favorite, the hard-working Maybe Pete. For now, though, I have a lot of catching up to do. It’s Halloween night, and there are little kids knocking on my door in all sorts of costumes. It’s different here, and it’s going to take some adjustment (as much as I have continued to deride it—I really miss my Washington Post!), but damn, it’s good to be back.