Welcome to the wilds! New Jersey for me was like crossing the border into Tijuana. Sure, the new lifestyle was crazy, but no one would ever admit to living there. When my husband’s job was relocated here in August 2010, we both were frightened. Now we’re learning about life, love, and marriage in this strange new culture. Feel free to tag along for the adventure.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
My husband and I found ourselves both amazed and entertained for the entire one hour game. It started with a brief overview. The Skyland Rollers and the Derby Dames actually skated in a mock jam while the announcer explained the rules and scoring. I found this video on youtube, and while the music and effects are cheesy, it’s a great introduction.
Now, one of my favorite parts of the game was trying to read everyone’s derby names. There were all sorts: Madame Menace, Doom Hilda, Daisy Duke Nukem, etc. And I began to ponder, if I were a roller girl what my name would be. Mind you that as I mentioned previously I have the killer instincts of a sun flower…
So far my list includes:
Any suggestions? Or have you considered what your derby name would be? If you’ve never been to a game, watch the clip below or rent Whip it and think about what really exemplifies your competitive nature…
And just in case I’ve inspired you to check out a game. Here’s a link to all girls’ roller derbies across the country!
Monday, September 27, 2010
In August, my husband bought me a mountain bike with clips. For all of my readers who have no idea what “clips” mean, it’s a type of pedal where you buy shoes that Velcro to your feet and the shoes clip into the bike. You, supposedly, become a part of the bike when you wear them. But how do you become two-legged again? To unhook, you must turn your ankles outwards, away from the frame.
At first, unclipping is uncomfortable and unnatural. However, more importantly, you often forget when stopping that you need to unclip or you simply fall over. I remember the days when my husband first put the clips on his bike. I would stop. He would stop. He would fall to the ground. It was like watching a cartoon; everything in slow motion. I would howl in laughter. Over the past month, however, karma has nipped me with my own share of standing-still-falls. In the wilds of NJ, there are many hills and I have collided with pavement, grass, and dirt alike. Yet, I never received bruises from it.
I have practiced diligently over the past month, building quads and stamina by biking around our paved community every day. Our neighbors probably believe I am a lunatic, but there is method to my madness. My goal was that I wanted to be on the mountain trails by the time the leaves changed. There are benefits to living in the wilds, and that is one of them.
So on Tuesday, we packed up the bikes for our first afternoon ride. It was beautiful! The leaves had not really changed yet, but the sights were breathtaking. The trees were in shades of green and the trail (supplied to us by jorba.org) lead around a beautiful lake with thousands of lily pads and a bridge to look over them. As we left the site, the sun had started to set over the western mountains and it was a rewarding view. Plus, it was my first mountain-biking excursion and I did not crash once. I only got off my bike for one daunting obstacle.
On Saturday, we endeavored to repeat this adventure with a morning ride. We woke early, but were in no rush to reach the trails. We drove the requisite mile or so to the road, and before we began, our biking ended. My rear de-railer had been bent. Thus, we returned to the car for a little repair. After a half-hour of patience, we were back on the bikes pedaling along the gravel roads. However, after about three miles we came to three people and what can only be described as a pack of dogs. All were well trained, but I found it necessary to de-bike in order to not fall on the beasts. As I started pedaling again, I could not “clip-in” to my bike and soon discovered my clip had lost a screw. My husband furiously biked back the trail to search for it, and luckily we found it and reattached it.
Now, at this point, I thought perhaps we should turn back. We had not arrived at the technical stuff yet, and already we had two near disasters. But, did we stop? Oh no, we did not. We started up the first hill of rocky technicals and I wiped out with a shriek, landing in the underbrush. I have been perfecting my screaming fall, because the first time I wiped out standing still, it sounded like I was dying. I did not want the neighbors to rush outside every time I hit the pavement, or they might as well set up lawn chairs and have a barbecue to watch. Anyways, the real success of that collision was that my shriek sounded fairly nonchalant. Hooray!
I climbed back on the bike with a wary smile. I would not let the hill deter me! I would not decrease my effort. I would increase it! My thought was that fear would hold me back, so I would overcompensate with a better grind up the hill. I clipped into my bike and started hard core biking along the incline. I saw a tree trunk in my path. I watched my husband’s bike hop over it…
I shouted, “You can do it Jess!”
Reality retorted with a sinister laugh, “Oh…ho…ho, no you cannot!”
My handle bars twisted all the way around. I “got air” so to speak flying sideways. I landed palms, right hip, right shoulder, left thigh… into the stones and dirt. I stayed still for a long moment breathing and laughing. It hurt, but the adrenalin had not yet registered the real pain. At this point, we were at the halfway mark on the trail. So what could I possibly do other than walk it off, get back on, and try again.
I reduced the intensity for the rest of the ride and returned home, slightly worse than I left it. My palms still sizzled and my knee had already blackened. By Sunday Morning, I had six golf ball size bruises along my legs as proof of my actions. Call me crazy, but I was proud.
A little biking video for Monday Morning amusement:
P.S. Don't forget the Timid Monster Challenge...it ends October 1st!!!!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
“In order to keep shirts nice,” I said, “anything that needs to be washed in a delicate cycle with cold or warm water goes in the right side of our hamper…where as hot water washes go in the left.”
“Okay,” he agreed.
The passage of one week…
Last night, I had crawled in bed, hunkering down for the cool New Jersey night. My husband was changing into his bedclothes and I heard him saying, “Left…right…left…right…left…right…” over and over again.
I, having forgot the hamper conversation, wondered what in the world had him so perplexed.
When at last he crawled into bed, I asked, “Honey, what were you talking about over there?”
“I couldn’t remember which side was which,” he replied.
“So what’d you pick?”
I nod my head to his engineering ways, he is one inventive man!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
As we read each, I honed in on a quarter page ad that read, “Hackettstown Street Fair, Sunday!”
“Street Fair!” I shrieked.
My husband threw his head into his hands and mumbled, “We’re going…aren’t we?”
If there is one thing that I love, it’s fairs and street markets. Madrid has the Rostro, and I have never seen such a beautiful open air market in my life. Cusco has the Molino with black market goods and all types of Andean art. And while both are incredible in their own right, there is just something special about an American Fair. Call me ethnocentric, but there is nothing quite as fun as eating hot sausage sandwiches, French fries with vinegar, and funnel cake on a sunny day surrounded by unique venders, live music, and farm animals!
Impressively, Hackettstown had most of the required items on our scavenger hunt to make the outing perfect…excluding farm animals. However, I marked that off of our list, because there was a set of boxers, a great dane, and a few Chihuahuas which I considered to be two miniature ponies, a horse, and three bunnies.
Then, the powdered sugar on our adventure was the Roller Derby. Recently, we rented Whip It, an independent film about a girl who joins a roller derby team. It looked dangerous and fun, so when we saw the stand of women with the sign “Skyland Roller Girls,” we were drawn to it like moths to a flame. Apparently, in the wilds, women enjoying skating in a circle and shoving one another. I mean... it sounds better than cow tipping, right? After getting their brochure, we actually talked to one of the tough athletes, who suggested I come to a practice.
I answered without smirking, “Oh…I don’t know about that…I have the killer instincts of a sun flower.”
The roller chick and my husband could barely contain their laughter.
However, while you probably won’t be seeing me at a practice any time soon, my hubby and I are headed to the roller derby on Saturday and perhaps even the after party.
Beyond the awesome Skyland Rollers, we also stopped at every artist’s stand. Having had my brief rendezvous with the real world, I truly appreciate people who have found ways to make their passion their income. I am still trying to master that feat.
Anyways, one of these people is Trish Czech. She has combined writing and art into her collection of Timid Monsters…Her tag line being, “Because not all art should be serious.”
I wanted to share, the hilarity of the monsters with all of you from Elwin who wants to be a spy but is afraid of becoming a pawn in a hostile power struggle over the last donut in the cupboard to Marek who memorizes songs backwards to become immune to subliminal messaging. After reading these stories associated and shamelessly taking pictures of them, I bought one.
Here’s the game… check out the website at www.timidmonsters.com. Post your guess for what timid monster you think that I brought home by October 1st, and the first person to guess it correctly will receive their very own timid monster.
Hint: No, she’s not The Purple People Eater, but she does have one eye.
And feel free to pass the challenge onto your friends!!!! While spreading farts is gross…spreading art isn't.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Like any good woods-woman knows, there is one rule when entering the material jungle. You never go in alone. More eyes equates to both better gathering and protection from threats like being lured to a hideous lime green sweater or poisoning your credit score by signing up for the credit card / 20% off deal that every vender spins. I knew the perfect guide for this outing: my mother. I called her and she called her mother…and soon we had a three generational pack ready to scavenge The Crossings at Tannersville. Grandmother, mother, and daughter were prepared. We fished for online coupons finding that the outlets had excellent ones to improve our bounty. We kissed our men goodbye, promising to return before sun down. And then we hit the trails with the rising sun.
Everyone has rules about catching the perfect deals. I have mine. First, class before trash. This little phrase is two-fold. It can save any woman from heartache both in the workplace and at the bars. Its most obvious meaning is that if you are down to your last pennies go for classy over trashy. We have all been there in the skimpy tank-top and skirt in the grocery store deli. It’s a bold move and a cold one. I guarantee that you will wear the classy outfit most often and will be much more comfortable in the average settings. However, this phrase also means that layering is key: find a skimpy trashy top and layer it with a classy one. People will see class before trash when you’re at work, but one less layer and you’re ready to go bar hopping . That’s called being flexible!
Second, there are certain stores that one must never set foot in. I know that sounds closed minded, but let me explain. There is a store called The Dress Barn. I ask you, “What shops in a barn?” Not a person…No, barns are inhabited by horses and cows. I am no cow. Thus, therein lies their marketing blunder. Yet, as I was walking past that store, I saw a cute, black, long-sleeve t-shirt. I was in love. I drooled staring at it. Despite my better judgment, I went to it. I lifted it from its hanger inspecting and perusing its shape and form. All around me, my pack enclosed. My mother being the fearless leader, made a raucous. Suddenly, from her lips she uttered a guttural, “Moooo!” Again, I repeat, never shop alone. She could not save me from acquiring it. I had to break the rule this once. However, it was worth it just for the memory and the laughter that ensued.
All in all the day proved successful. We ensnared so many deals, the trunk of my car was packed full. I returned home with twelve shirts for my husband, eight shirts for me, and a new pea coat. Then, my husband delighted in everything I had bought for him; except for one little teal shirt that I had to release back into the wild. It was a great day! One I must repeat for pants in the very near future.
Monday, September 13, 2010
|Main Falls on Brochure|
Over the weekend, my husband and I took a day-trip to Bushkill Falls. It involves driving an hour from the Wilds of New Jersey into the Wilds of PA. As we turned onto 209 north, we recognized that we had left civilization behind us as we saw billboards with the words, “Bushkill Falls 9 miles. Left at blinking light.” There were many flashing lights on 209 including those from construction, where entire lanes were blocked by two friendly PennDot workers who started and stopped traffic. It seemed an eternity, but at last we saw the actual blinking light (with a tiny sign directing us toward the falls) and turned left toward “the Niagara of Pennsylvania."
As we climbed and hiked across wooden paths that dropped in and out of gorges overlooking the Main Falls and the Bridal Falls; we laughed and enjoyed the scenic excursion. However, the drought had lessened the majesty of the water some: where usually gallons cascaded over the rocks, tiny streams had replaced them. I mention it not to suggest avoiding The Falls; rather as a precaution before driving there.
|Main Falls in a Drought|
The Shawnee Indian Reservation Visitor Center has a mini-golf course. Most adults presumably those without children would ignore that sign. Not me. Not my husband. While the majority of my friends gush over lying on beaches and being pampered on their honeymoons, I discuss the mini-golf, mini-battle. Everyday for a week in the Canary Islands, we met on the greens in spirited competition that turned into rivalry: male versus female, husband versus wife. Only one of us could rise victorious. I claimed that initial trophy, and won a dinner out... but rematches have often given the manly victor his spoils.
Mentally preparing for another fierce campaign, our eyes roved along 209 south searching for the elusive battle field. We passed a dingy van with two rugs draped over its gaping doors. These were high class floor covers: Betty Boop with a motorcycle and four connected portraits of the Disney princesses. A little sign in front of it read, “Rug Super Sale.” Like the yard sale incidence, I ignored the sign, but before I knew it my husband was doing a u-turn.
“They could have something we want,” He explained, “we really need a rug for our living room.”
“O-okay,” I stuttered as we entered the gravel lot with no cars other than our own.
“If we find something,” he continued, “You gotta help me bargain them down.”
“I can play the frightened, panicked wife; who doesn’t want to be here?” I suggested…and he laughed at me.
As we got out of the car, a man dressed in a stained gray outfit stepped out of the building directly behind the van.
“Lookin to buy a carpet?” He asked. “I’ve got more in the building,” he nodded toward the cement block that looked about as inviting as a serial killers lair, and what I heard was, “Come into this abandoned warehouse, won’t you? No one can hear you scream.”
My eyes shifted nervously back and forth as my husband leaned down and carefully lifted and separated individual carpets.
“You like this one?” He asked. I shook my head, no, in tiny head jerks afraid of attracting attention.
“This one?” His voice had a twinkle to it, and actually, I did like it.
“Mm…hmmm,” I answered another minuscule head movement. We pulled it out, and it truly was perfect for our living room. It brought in the bright colors that we needed to lighten the room.
I pointed to a fray at the end though; unwilling to vocalize that it was a little damaged.
My husband fearlessly inspected the other side and said, “It’s damaged.” Bringing a lighter the man burned and folded the frays back into the carpet, fixing a little stitch, and promising to cut twenty dollars off the price.
Then, my husband found a little cement like dust, and no embellishment included here, the guy actually said, “Did you take my knife?”
“Excuse me?!” I asked.
“Did you take my knife?” He repeated louder and all I could think was ‘We’re gonna be mugged!'
You may be laughing, but I tell you… the caliber of this rug store left something to be desired.
“Okay,” my husband said at last, “we’ll take it! Is there an ATM around here?”
“Just next door in the gas station,” the man delighted already brimming from his sale.
“I’ll be right back,” My husband replied. There is the royal “we” in literature, and there is the royal “I” in marriage. “I” meant “we;” especially in this case. I trailed him matching my pace to his as we hurried toward the gas station.
While I waited for him to procure funds, I perused brochures. It’s a fun past time especially when you’re near strange and backward attractions. For example, if you visit Bushkill Falls you can also go to the World’s Largest General Store. For your enjoyment I scanned in a pieces of the brochure for you. Please note, not only does it have a creamery but a movie theater. It has not just a pet store, but a dog restaurant. And most importantly, dogs are permitted to urinate on the premises. Notice how the Clipart dog appears both on the front cover with his leg lifted as well as the centerfold, filling the fish bowel and surrounding area with his blue pee.
|Front and Middle pieces of pamphlet|
Or if that doesn’t strike your fancy, you can go to the Pocono’s Snake and Animal Farm where you’re children can commune with nature and feed the wildlife.
|*snake included by yours truly to demonstrate exactly how children can nurse mammals and reptiles!|
As soon as we make our return excursion to The Falls, I’ll be checking these places out!
And in the meantime, I have learned a valuable lesson:
“Even sketchy vans sometimes have good deals.” The rug is now in front of our fire place and looks great!
But, always remember if you intend to bargain shop in an abandoned warehouse:
- Never go in alone
- Know your exits
- Ensure your knife is bigger than the merchant's
- And be practiced in the martial arts
Until next time!
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Granted my bathroom is tiny, but I like to think of it as quaint. It’s cozy. Once the door is shut, I can reach all my cabinets, drawers, toilet and shower in one pirouette. To the right of my counter, I have a make-up basket and drawer. Underneath the sink, I have an entire double door home for my hair products, straightener, curling iron, curlers, and hair dryer. It’s glorious! And if by chance, I leave a light dusting of blush or powder on the counter there is no one screaming, “Eeck, there’s dirt all over the bathroom sink!”
In fact, my husband only visits this tiny paradise twice a day: to brush his teeth. He says it’s because we share the toothbrush base and he is being kind by leaving it in my bathroom. However, I know the truth. I have never seen a real rabid animal. I have only heard stories about foaming at the mouth, and my husband’s morning and night routine exemplifies that image. In one three minute session, the mirror, the counter and everything within a three foot radius of his mouth becomes covered in Crest.
I am not shaken by the minty fresh spackling across the wall…that’s why they make Windex and Clorox. However, something that has me shaking in my socks is the leftover band-aid. When he used to shower in my bathroom before he claimed another, he left his used band-aid at the base of my shower. I have not been frugal with my constant reminders that it needs to go with the rest of his “manly things” into his “manly den” at the end of the hall. However, he has not listened, and as the days pass I can only imagine the tiny microbial germs festering inside it.
Yet, I cannot bring myself to throw it out. After all, it is not his bathroom where it resides, but mine. I mean the United States would not let Canada leave their trash in Maine or Vermont. The Canadians might try, but there would be a battle, and the perpetrators would have to claim the stinking refuge that belongs to them. So in the American tradition, I shall not throw it away. Rather I am pitted against him, hunkering down in the trenches, preparing for The Battle of The Band-aid. He left it there thinking I would cave, but I have not. I will not. I raise my fist in competition and shout with the same resilience as John Paul Jones, “I have not yet begun to fight!!!!!!”
Saturday, September 4, 2010
My husband and I adopted two rescue cats from the Humane Society in Northeast D.C. almost two years ago. Beast, the smaller of the two, has always been tiny, agile, and fluffy. He has the characteristic tuxedo with white gloves, and alluring green eyes. He’s just cute and everyone wants to pet him. He’s like the baby of the family. Dante, on the other hand, has always been lazy, hungry, and a little chubby. Since the day we brought him, he’s liked to eat. He’s an orange tabby cat with amber eyes, and no overly distinguishable characteristics. He’s kind of like the suburban teen who is into emo and lounges around complaining how life is unfair.
Six months ago during their routine visit to the animal hospital, the vet had said it was time Dante be put on a diet. He had gotten on the scale, and much to my surprise he was a 17 pound hunk of feline flesh. Beast weighed in at about 11 pounds, and was the perfect weight for his size. He purred as if to say, “I know…I’m perfect.” Dante’s ears, on the other hand, flattened against his head and he crawled back into the carrier refusing to come out again until we were home. Immediately, we switched him to a higher protein diet with less fillers, reduced portion sizes, constantly poked fun at his obesity calling him names like Tubba Lubba and Fatty McPatty to encourage him to eat less…and I thought we were making progress.
Then, this week I took Dante to a New Jersey veterinary clinic, because he had developed an ear infection. Off we went with one unhappy kitty stuffed into his carrier. As I met the cat doctor, I explained Dante’s history with food and his weight problem.
“He was 17 pounds in March,” I said proudly, “But we have been working to get him down to 14.”
“Put him on the scale and let’s see how much farther we have to go,” The vet replied.
I plopped the orange mass of cat on the scale, his fur flying everyone with his frustration at being at the hospital, and he weighed in at a total of 18.4 pounds! He had gained weight! 21% of his body weight should not exist on his bones! Kitty was headed on the unhealthy highway toward heart disease, and it was time to take extreme measures.
Brokenhearted, I packed the fatty back into his carrier, promising the vet by March he would lose some of that mass.
The vet, who judged us like we hadn’t actually been trying to reduce his size said in parting, “It’s important for his health, ‘cause he’s such a nice guy, we want to keep him around.”
That night we adopted a new regiment and reduced his portions further. I quickly discovered how hungry he got just before dinner. Feeding time is nine o’clock, and Dante follows me around the house from about eight o’clock throwing expressive tantrums in each room as if to be a constant reminder that food should be served. I have made this part of his exercise plan though. Now, for a good ten minutes before I actually put food in his bowl I walk around the house, and he trots with me. He runs in front of my legs as I walk away from the bowls, and gallops happily back when I walk toward it. I thought it was working well. However, yesterday he wised up to my game. He actually nipped me on the walk away, as if to say, “Knock it off, I’m hungry!”
I plan to get a scale and keep weighing him to stay on top of this unfortunate weight gain, but for now he's just one fat cat.
|18.4 Pounds of Ferocious Feline Flesh|
Friday, September 3, 2010
Anyways, today's daredevil hails from Pennsylvania, and is one of my most dedicated readers.. He sent this to me yesterday and I just had to post it for everyone to see! He actually jumped out of a plane! Watch the anguish in his face just before the jump; you can see the nerves. My heart actually stopped when he dove into the air. But this story has a happy ending, he did survive!!!!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I’ve always hated interviews, because let’s be honest they are completely judging you from behind their desk by what you’ve written and that heavy piece of paper known as your resume. I expected that of course, I have been in that seat. I once had someone submit a resume that still had [insert address here] in the top right corner…for a job with one requirement: Attention to Detail.
Alas, I was now the lowly interviewee going into the state of New Jersey for a grown-up job. As they had requested, I budgeted extra time, because I had to park in student parking and walk the length of the campus to reach their offices. Then, I added another thirty minutes to my travel time in case I hit traffic forgetting that in the Wilds there is none. Like a complete newbie, I arrived a whole hour early for my interview...
As I sat reading, I heard another potential leave the office, but refused the nagging need to glance up from my book to truly evaluate her. When the door closed, I folded my book shut and met the first of two potential bosses. Both were really nice. One of them liked me for the position, the other gave me the sneaking suspicion that she thought I was too qualified. When I say suspicion, though, I mean she gave me the name and number of another department head and told me to say she referred me with the soft caveat, “But I have an opening, and you’re definitely qualified…we’ll let you know in a week.”
Ah…job interviews you’re either over or under qualified and feel undervalued regardless... But that is not how I became an outlaw. No, oh, no. As I left the interview walking under the terraces back to the parking lot, I heard that annoying beeping that can only be produced from a fire alarm. Out of the dorms, students filed in belly shirts, shorts, sweats and t-shirts. I thought nothing of it. Anyone who has gone to college knows that feeling when some idiot could not ignore the overtly red lever any longer. He could not defy nature. He had to pull it. “Silly Monkey,” I thought. However, I should have evaluated this situation closer.
Avoiding the commotion at the east end of the lot, I headed west expecting to find a road. Instead, it took me into a tangled, unpaved maze of traffic rows. I pictured my recent interviewers watching out their windows at my turmoil. If I could solve the insane enigma, and escape; maybe they would give me the job. Round and round, I drove; until at last I found a campus maintenance man.
I rolled down my window and called with my sweetest, pathetic look, “Excuse me Sir, I’m not from around here. How do you get out of this darn parking lot?”
To which he replied that I had to return to where I had come from and to the right of the one-way entrance there was an exit.
“The one that the fire truck is blocking?” I answered.
“That’s the one!” He returned.
I rolled up my window after yelling a quick thank you. Then, I cursed my poor fortune for getting me trapped in this lot. Thus, I drove; until I made it back to the main cement pavement from whence I came. There was no way to avoid the fire trucks. I drove forward, hoping they had made space on the road for me to pass. To my left, the long winding entrance.To my right, the clogged exit with exactly one fire truck, one yellow truck, and one man in red overhauls blocking my escape.
I stared at him and he stared back. It was a grueling duel with our eyes. He squinted and I squinted back. He put his thumbs in his overhauls and leaned back pushing out his stomach and I revved my engine. Then, another car was behind me. I panicked and lost the battle pulling into a nearby parking spot to watch the events unfold. Meanwhile, I called my mother, who cackled fiendishly at the turn of events.
“Thanks Mom,” I said after a few minutes as the man in red overhauls was getting back into his truck, “I got to go. They’re moving and I’m outta here.”
I carefully backed out of my space and came to a full stop at the stop sign to watch him go. Only he never went anywhere. Suddenly, up the one way entrance three ambulances with flashing lights blared by and went along the dorm off-roading to some location unseen.
“Blasted!” I said aloud. I was not waiting any longer.
After checking to ensure no more vehicles had been called to the scene, I pulled my car up so the nose of it was almost to the man in the red overhauls.
I rolled down my window and said, “Excuse me Sir,” innocently batting my eyelashes, “Did you know this is the only exit?”
He huffed expressively and then pointed to the one way entrance. I bit my lower lip. Surely, a friendly fireman wouldn’t tell me to break the law…but he had, and I had no choice but to obey.
I revved the little four cylinder engine, pushed in the clutch and stepped on the gas. All the while, the song, “Breaking the law…breaking the law” played in my head. I swerved in and out through the winding corners testing the sports suspension of my vehicle and feeling truly like an Indian Outlaw as Tim McGraw put it. Then, I spun my little car onto to Grand Avenue, and away I went, hoping the police couldn’t track me down.
And that was how I became an outlaw…just call me Cell Mate number 57.