Saturday, September 09, 2006

My Personality

Saw this at En's blog and thought I'd try it. Yup, this is me, all right:

My Personality

Openness To Experience

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Sunday, August 27, 2006


I feel terrible. I got into an arguement with Mom. I'm trying to find a job, but it's not going well. I know Mom's right. I know I should be more aggressive, but...I'm scared. I've never been good at aggressive, and I know that's what everyone wants. I've tried going to people and asking for jobs before, but I've been turned down. I've sent out resumes, but I really need to talk to these people. I was hoping to avoid the "talking" part until I got interviews. I'll just stammer and stutter and look stupid, like always.

First and foremost, I DO NOT WANT TO WORK AT THE CASINOS! I don't care how big they are or how "corporate" they are. I hate them. I don't like what they do. I'd love to be a production assistant, but not in Sleazoid City. I wouldn't want a rat to be a production assistant in Sleazoid City.

Do any of the local radio stations need a production assistant? What about theater groups? Or libraries? Or the Philly TV stations? There has to be a local library who needs a clerk, or a publisher who needs a proofreader.

Why does everyone want "experience?" I have experience! I was the secretary for Stockton's student television network for three years, and I did the school newspaper the whole 4 1/2 years I was at Stockton. I was a receptionist at Stockton's Media Center! And if I don't have the experience, I'm willing to learn!

It's not "brain chemicals," it's just feeling like a loser. I should have gotten somewhere years ago, but I haven't and it's really getting me down. I'm never going to get out of the Acme. I'm going to be trapped as a cashier in a job I loathe for the rest of my life. I don't want to be trapped as a cashier for the rest of my life, but every time I try to build confidence, I just lose it again.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Where There's Smoke...

There was a huge fire down the street from my apartment in Oaklyn this afternoon. I was at work when it started. When my friend (and fellow volunteer) Erica came to pick me up around quarter of 6 PM, there was a giant, thick plume of heavy black smoke coming from Oaklyn's direction. Erica ended up having to drop me off as close to my place as she could get, because West Clinton Avenue was almost entirely blocked off.

The electricity was off when I finally got home. I read for about a half-hour or so before finally deciding to go out to dinner and hope everything would be on when I came back. I changed into regular clothes and headed down the street to find an open, electrified restaraunt.

People were crowded around the many fire trucks on West Clinton. They sat in front of their houses, looking a little shell-shocked. It was like a cross between a barbecue and a natural disaster. Kids rode bikes, played catch, and pestered their parents with questions they couldn't (or wouldn't) answer. I couldn't tell what was burning on West Clinton at first, thanks to all the smoke and fire trucks, at first, until I made out the lines of ladder trucks leaning against the buildings next to the Vending Machine building that houses three local businesses.

Oh God, I thought, it's the Vending Machine building.

The Vending Machine building has to be at least 30s vintage, like a lot of West Clinton Avenue. It's also next to houses and across from Oaklyn High School. I was thankful it was Sunday. Any businesses in the building would be closed, and school is still out for the summer. I was more worried about the houses. This area is fairly densely populated, and a lot of people WOULD be at home on a Sunday in August.

I continued down Manor Avenue, looking for friends and making sure everything else was ok. Never found my friends, but the rest of the street was fine, if also lacking in electricity. I ended up having dinner at the Newton Diner on the White Horse Pike. I got more details from a college-student-age waitress there and a middle-aged couple from Oaklyn who, like me, were eating out because they couldn't cook. According to the waitress, the fire began around 4:30 and explosions were heard shortly after, which is when the fire went out of control. The couple added that they'd heard the explosions were caused by cars in the auto body shop in the Vending Machine building going up in flames.

After stuffing myself with a Monte Cristo (turkey, ham, melted swiss, and pineapple rings on French toast - my favorite open-face sandwich), I headed home. The smoke, which had still been spilling out onto the White Horse Pike around 7, wasn't nearly as bad an hour later. I stopped at the new WaWa across from Newton's and had a Cherry-Berries n' Cream Coke (Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke with raspberry syrup - every convience store should have awesome make-your-own-soda-flavor syurps), and when I came out, the smoke was even less and there were lights on in many buildings, though most people still seemed to be gathered outside.

Yes, the electricity was on when I came home, and there was no damage done, though the block of West Clinton two blocks from me as of 8:30 was still taped off (I had to make my way around it; my eyes are still watering a little) and the smoke was still fairly thick but not nearly as black. I heard someone mention one of the reasons the firemen had a hard time controlling the blaze was the doors were locked so tight due to the businesses being closed on Sundays, they couldn't get in!

Here's more detailed (and likely accurate) information from the Courier-Post, as of 7:30PM...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Haven't Got Time For the Pain

I just want everything to be right again.

I did go see Lauren. We had a wonderful time. We're so compatable. We tied twice the four times we played miniature golf. She won one time and I won the other. We'd walk around all the lovely little cities and towns in the Berkshire area, shopping and exploring, in the morning and early afternoon. By late afternoon, we'd be back at Lauren's parents' house, watching movies or her current obsessions, Knight Rider and Monk. We went to Six Flags Great Escape in upstate New York and did get on some rides. It was so hot, we rode the river rapids ride three times (twice in a row). Lauren hadn't been to an amusement park in years and it's been at least ten years since I've been to any amusement park but the Morey's Piers in Wildwood, so that was a special treat for us. We went to see a Single-A minor league baseball game with Lauren's parents, who were very sweet.

It hasn't been nearly as much fun since I got back. The knee and wrist still hurts. It didn't go away after a week or two. They aren't nearly as bad as they were when I first hurt them, but I still can't bend either all the way. I can't help it. I can't take any more time off of work. I'm sick of my lousy hours at the Acme and customers who can't keep their city attitudes in the city. I'm sick of feeling helpless and worthless and empty. I just can't drum up interest in anything. I start writing and I don't finish, and I need to sell SOMETHING.

(And don't say "go to the doctor." They're not broken and I don't think there's anything anyone can do at this late date but tell me to stay off my feet, which I can't do all the time, and take aspirin or something similar.)

I want my knee and wrist to just go away. I want to be able to ride my bike again. I'm scared to death that if I get back on while it's still sore, I'll damage it permanently and be helpless for the rest of my life. What will happen if I fall off again while it still feels like this? I want to be independant. I'm proud of my independance. Not many people who go through the things I've gone through are as independant as I am.

I want to meet someone who can tell me where to find a job...because it isn't the paper. I pick up the paper and I see some administrative assistant or secretarial jobs. That's about it for me. I don't drive. I'm not an engineer, a teacher, or a saleswoman. I don't have the patience or the aggressiveness or the technical know-how. I don't know anything about finance or medicine, and I'm not interested in finance or medicine. Doesn't anyone in the Camden County area need a proofreader, creative writer, editor, 20th century historian, or just someone to organize their files or even just their junk?

I'm scared and I'm at the end of my rope. I know Mom, Lauren, Uncle Ken, Erica, and Rose all say they support me. Why do I recieve this support but still feel alone? Why can't I enjoy going to work, instead of wishing I were anywhere else? Are you supposed to enjoy work, or do you just do something that pays the bills until you die?

I liked volunteering at the thrift shop where Erica works today. I'd love to volunteer at the local libraries, but the last time I asked, none of them needed volunteers. How could they NOT need volunteers? Don't places ALWAYS need volunteers?

Everyone else has SOMETHING. Rose has Kelsey. Mom has her crafts and health and family. Anny has Skylar. Skylar has his mommy and nana and pop pop. Bill and Bruce have their children and jobs and friends. Uncle Ken has his family and friends and his home and hobbies. Erica has the thrift shop and her friends. Lauren has her job and parents and the many TV shows and movies she's interested in.

What about me? I'm not interested in ANYTHING that strongly. I'm almost afraid to be. I spent half my childhood being jeered at because I was obsessed with some weird movie or TV show. Now I'm afraid to be obsessed with anything, lest I be made fun of for it. I guess I just haven't found anything yet. I don't know how to meet people. Where do people who don't feel strongly for things go? Where do people who are like me go when they're offline? Where are the people like me?

I just want everything to go away.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Holiday Road

I'm feeling much better, at least mentally, than I did on Sunday. With everything that happened at the Acme, Sunday would have been a bad day even without the injuries.

It could have been worse. My left knee is twisted. My right wrist is sprained. My legs and arms are either deeply bruised or just look ugly but move fine. I currently have my knee up, and both knee and wrist will be put in braces when I work tonight and were when I worked Tuesday.

I did take Monday off. I spent it with my sister Rose, her boyfriend Greg, and her puppy Kelsey at Rose's apartment in Audobon Park, about five or so minutes from my apartment. It's probably just as well I took the day off; temperatures in the Philadelphia/Camden area hit 100 Monday (and were only slightly lower on Tuesday, though they've since dropped). I spent Monday napping, watching Nickelodeon cartoons with Rose, and playing with Kelsey, who is way too cute. She licked my face, nibbled my toes, and fell asleep on one foot. : 0 )

I've tried to rest as much as possible the rest of the week, though I did work Tuesday night and am working again late tonight. (I originally had off yesterday.) I really shouldn't have taken Monday off, since I had lousy hours this week, but my knee was really killing me at that point and I was still feeling low after Sunday's myriad disasters. Calling my mom helped, and so did staying with Rose.

I finally got to chat with Lauren last night. My trip to visit her in Massachussettes next week is still on. I'm just going to have to be a little more careful with my knee. My knee is feeling better; the wrist still hurts a bit. I'm still walking slow and can't make any sudden moves on the knee.

I'm glad I decided not to call off the trip. I'd just feel lousier if I did. We've planned this for months. The change of scenery will probably help, and so will that mountain air...and being around my best friend.

Now, off to pack...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Help Me If You Can, I'm Feeling Down

I feel lousy. I feel lousy all over. I have had the worst damn day of my entire life.

I fell off my bike going to the Acme for a marathon 7 and a 1/2-hour shift. I don't remember much about what happened, only that my knee hurt too much to get back ON the bike, and crying and screaming and wailing for help. I was going past a construction site; that must be where the rock the stockboys found in it later came from.

It's a good thing I was a stone's throw (pardon the pun, but I need the humor right now) from work. I was a mess. One knee was badly skinned; I could walk on the other, but it was shaky and couldn't bend in certain places unless I wanted to scream and fall. One hand got slightly skinned (the other had a minor cut but otherwise was fine). My right arm and wrist were very sore.

So what did I do, after cleaning up the cuts and scrapes? I worked the entire 7 and a 1/2 shift.

You must all think I'm off my marbles, but I NEED the work. I got bad hours this week, and I need the money. The Acme needed the help, too. Thanks to a passel of huge 10 for 10 dollar sales this weekend (including things that you don't usually find for a dollar, like 12-pack juice drinks), the place was a zoo all day. We were short on front end help, and the managers had to be everywhere and were stressed to high hell. The baggers were no help - they were a couple of teens who preferred goofing off to doing their jobs, and the managers often ended up cleaning up the many spills the baggers refused to clean themselves. One of the customer accidents were so bad, they had to call an ambulence. I finally corralled one of the managers long enough to get a ride home (though I had to leave the bike, as it wouldn't fit in the trunk - thank you again for that ride, Jackie!).

I put ice on it, but the knee, arm, and wrist still hurt, and the band-aided hand is making typing a bit more difficult than usual. The side of my knee that hurts just touched the toilet a bit...and I ended up sitting on it, screaming and crying about how much it hurt. And no, my feet are fine. Head and neck are fine, too, as far as I can tell.

I'm scared to death. I live ALONE. There's no one here taking care of me. Almost everyone I know is on vacation. I need to use the bike to get around. What will I do if I can't ride? I hate being dependant. Plus, I'm going on vacation next week. I was going to visit my best friend Lauren in northwestern Massachussettes and we've planned this for months, but if I can't move...what am I going to do?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Welcome to the Riverside Rest!

My original stories, fanfiction, and essays have a new home, The Riverside Rest. It's my name for my new apartment in Oaklyn; the name comes from "Waterton's favorite cafe and nightspot" in the Muppets holiday special Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas. The original version of my site at GeoCities, Emma's Home Town , is stil avalible to read, but will not be updated anymore. It was just too elaborate to keep up. This site is entirely for my stories and essays. There will be a few graphics eventually, but nothing fancy, and the only fan sites will be my exisitng one for Remember WENN, which I recently updated, and the PS site when Lauren and I get the time to restart it. Most of the stuff I'm interested in have far better and more extensive sites elsewhere.

Right now, there's only links and a few original stories, fanfiction, and links to my fanfics that already have a home. All of my fanfiction, finished and unfinished, will eventually be posted on this site, including the Perfect Strangers stories that were on mine and Lauren's now-defunct site and an unfinished Sailor Moon holiday epic I began a few years ago. There will eventually be more Monkees fic, Beatles fics, an original fairy tale, and of course, a new Monkees "Dream World" story from me and Lauren each month.

Please read everything and tell me what you think! I'm hoping to publish some of the original stories someday and I could use some more opinions.

Monday, April 10, 2006

You Spin Me 'Round Like a Record

I recieved an early birthday present from my biological father Bruce on Thursday. My CD player/stereo finally gave up the ghost about a month ago, and we'd discussed my getting one of those Victrola-type consoles, with a CD player, tape deck, and record player built into the set. I'd wanted one for years, but never had the money and had heard that the CD players on most old-time sets tended to break easily.

Bruce found a set with a front-loading cassette player and CD player (most have one, the other, or both loading on the sides), and that's the one he surprised me with on Thursday morning. But that was only half of the surprise.

I was even more shocked when he brought out two boxes of records that belonged my late stepmother, Bruce's wife Kaye, and said he was giving them to me. Kaye was a sweet woman and always good to Rose and me when we saw her, and the few memories I have of her are fond ones. Kaye was a huge fan of the 20s, 30s, and 40s, and many of the albums were radio recordings or recordings from the era - especially of Humphery Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Bette Davis, and/or Shirley Temple.

The majority of the albums, though, dated from the mid-60s to the early 80s. The range of Kaye's collecting surprised me. She never struck me as a country girl, but had four John Denver albums (the most of any one artist) along with Neil Young, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Crystal Gale. She also didn't look like a disco type...but more than a quarter of the albums were definately disco, including the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack and albums by Gloria Gaynor, Diana Ross, Donna Summer, and KC and the Sunshine Band.

I was a bit surprised there wasn't more jazz. Maybe those were harder to find in the 70s and 80s. There was nothing made after 1981, either, despite record production continuing for another decade. She was a successful graphic artist when Bruce married her in the mid-80s. Maybe she got too busy for record-collecting after '81, or maybe the music of the MTV era didn't hold the same interest that the music of the previous decades did.

It's a wonderful and facinating collection, though, and even though most of the albums are avalible on CD, I'm glad to have them. I've missed records. Yeah, tapes last longer and CDs run longer...but there's just something about a record. Tapes and CDs don't have that wonderful musky smell that vinyl does, they're not as much fun to set up, and you can't watch most of them go around and around and around, somehow producing the magic of music from a bunch of plastic grooves and a needle. : 0 )

Oh, and Kaye, wherever you are now...thank you. : 0 D

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Suburban Living Ain't So Bad

I came to a realization this afternoon, after I called my mom to say "hi" and ask what was going on for Easter. She said she was going away to visit my aunt for Easter, and that I could stay here, if I wanted. We got to talking about my birthday next week, and my sister Rose, who had her birthday next week, and I told her about a gorgeous sunset I saw yesterday. Mom laughed and said "Em, you just came from the BEACH! You could see more beautiful sunsets there! How could you like it there, in the suburbs?"

You know what, Mom? I don't LIKE the suburbs. I LOVE them. I know it must sound sacriligious, but I do. I love it here. For the first time in years, I feel like I belong somewhere. I don't miss Cape May County. I miss Mom, and Dad, and Keefe, but I don't miss Cape May County.

I HATE living in a resort. I think I always have. In Wildwood, I had to take a bus five minutes over a bridge and a swamp just to get to a decent mall. Here, I just need to take a fifteen-minute bike ride. In Wildwood, my apartment had a view of two condos, a hotel, the back of the apartments I lived in, and the Wildwood High School. Here, I have an unobstructed view of a river and a park.

I am sick of resorts. I'm the opposite of Mom. She spent her childhood moving from suburb to suburb. I spent mine in a resort. And you know what? I don't recommend it anymore. Maybe Cape May was a great place to live when I was a kid, but all it is now is a bunch of fancy old condos owned by snotty New York millionares. That's no way for anyone to live.

I like walking out my front door and into nature. I like being able to just grab my bike and ride to work, to a decent mall, to historic areas. I like hearing planes overhead and trains rumble by. I LIKE having people around. I've felt so isolated my entire life that it's a pleasure knowing there are people downstairs and next door who literally and figureatively speak my language.

The beach is pretty, but it's not enough to keep me in Cape May County. If I want to go to the beach, I can visit Mom in the summer, or finally take that Ocean City trip with Amanda we've discussed for years. I never really went to the beach all that much when I lived in Wildwood, anyway. I hate sitting around on a blanket, letting my brain bake and my back get red while sand gets in unmentionable places. I prefer moving around on the beach. It's nice, but it's no longer something I really NEED.

How can Rose ignore the beauty of this part of Camden County? The parks are lovely. The historical areas are well preserved, with wonderful shops and stores. There's malls and museums and theaters and libraries...and I don't need to take two busses to get to them.

And the transportation! If I can't take my bike to my destination, I can take a bus or the Speedline trains or a ferry if I somehow end up in Camden (which I hope I never do). Folks in Cape May County have yet to understand that not everyone can afford a car, especially in this state, despite half of my neighbors in Wildwood not owning one.

I've wanted to live in a nice, normal town for years, one whose daily life didn't revolve around four months out of the year, one that felt like a community and not a "resort." Mom always told us how terrible the suburbs were, how everyone hated each other and everything was so dull and gray.

You know what, Mom? If this is suburban living...I'll take it!

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Urgh. I recieved my bank statement today...and found three withdrawls with the debit card I didn't make. Two were for an online casino. The other was for...well, I looked it up online, and I'm not sure WHAT it was, since the page was very ambiguous, but it seemed to have something to do with cashiering, so I'm assuming it was also for the online casino and/or gambling. I HATE gambling. I would never go to this site, much less place bets with my card.

How could this have happened? I've never lost my debit card and have only shopped in three places online - a large, well-known New York store that specializes in Broadway cast albums, eBay, and I haven't shopped in the former two in three years and haven't used since last summer.

I called Bank of America and told them what happened. I wish someone could invent a way to get straight to who you need to talk to and make things as simple as possible. Do you really need to talk to a claims person AND a fraud person AND sign something? I just want my money in my account as quickly as possible.

Every time I think of getting a decent, normal job I could actually use my college degree on, I get nervous. How can I find a job? I sent resumes to all the Cape May County and Atlantic County newspapers and many radio stations, and no one ever seemed interested in my work. Only once did anyone ever ask to see my portfolio...and I didn't get the job.

Most of the openings are for medical companies who need techincal writers, or contractors, or financial institutions. Um, hello, my resume says "communications." I'm not interested in finance, and I know nothing about medicine. I didn't study medicine in college. I studied COMMUNICATIONS. I want to WRITE. I want to do something CREATIVE, or at least organize files for a radio station or do copywriting for a small-time paper.

And even if something right comes will I know? I'm scared to death! I hate doing applications. I never remember all the information they want, or have all the identification they need, or have enough references. And don't get me started on interviews. Just the thought of sitting in a room with someone asking me questions like "how do you think you can help us?" and staring at me like I have two heads gives me a nervous stomachache. It's not easy to just "go out and do it" when you don't know anyone, don't know the company, don't know anyone who knows any companies who are willing to hire you...and don't know HOW to get to know anyone.

How do you meet people? Where do people my age (27 next month) congregate when they don't drink? I've seen a few people my age around here, but they're always so busy. Is there some place offline nerds, nutcases, eccentrics, weirdos, and oddballs go? Where are all the people like me?

And I just scratched one of the lovely Monkees photos Lauren sent me. My favorite one, too. : o (

Friday, March 17, 2006

Minty Bliss and Selenite Secrets

I celebrated St. Patrick's Day with a Shamrock Shake from the McDonald's in Westmont. Now, I normally hate McDonald's, but I don't like liquor of any shade, so I figured this was the only green liquid I'd be getting today. It was actually quite good, a nose-clearing vanilla/mint greenish swirl. I drank it (too fast) while riding around a gorgeous park (too slow, so I could catch those river views).

I found a film I haven't seen since I was a kid at the Audubon Acme a few days ago and bought it last night - "Moon Madness." It's an animated version of Baron Munchausen's discovery of a lost civilization living in the center of the moon, the Selenites, and his quest to bring their Talisiman of Eternal Life back to Earth.

That's about all I can tell you, other than, according to the back, it was made in France in 1983 and (not too badly) dubbed into English in 1985, and it used to run frequently on Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel in the 80s, which is how I remember it. In fact, there was a commercial for another 80s Nickelodeon French attraction, the animated series "The Adventures of the Little Prince," after the main feature.

(How nice it is to see the commericals AFTER the film instead of wasting 20 minutes BEFORE it! Why can't they do that now?)

The animation, with it's strange, sketchy moon monsters and round-eyed human (and Selenite) characters, is quite attractive for being an independantly made foreign cartoon from the 80s. Though not nearly as lush as Disney's finest, it feels something like one of the foreign cartoons Nick liked to run in the 80s done as a comedy ("Arcadia of My Youth," "Spartacus").

This movie seems to be completely and utterly forgotten; even the Internet Movie Database has nothing on it, and the few remaining copies cost a small fortune at

(I only paid about $6 for the original Vestron Video copy at the Acme! : O 0 )

The most memorable aspect of "Moon Madness" (or at least, it's English dub) is the theme song. "The Secret of the Selenites" opens and closes the film and may be its most memorable aspect. The 80s rock-synthesizer tune is completely out-of-place in a sci-fi fairy tale set in the 18th Century, but it's nevertheless so catchy, I still recalled some of the lyrics and riffs 20 years after most the rest of the film had faded into the mists of my childhood.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


This article from the Star-Ledger outlines one of the primary reasons I left Wildwood - I simply could not stand the demolition anymore.

It sickened me. By the time I moved, I was avoiding the Crest all together except for the library. How could ANYONE stand to live there? How could anyone live in a place where forty historic buildings are going to be empty lots? Where you live with the constant threat of the possible demolition of your home over your head, even if your landlady and the owner of the hotel next-door says they have no desire to sell? How can you trust them NOT to sell when everyone else is?

I SAW them demolish the Shore Theater. I passed by that on my way home just a few days before I moved. I was so mad when I found out the Nile nightclub down the street from me was demolished to build condos, I threw my DVD player's remote control against the wall of my old place and broke it. Ok, that was stupid, but you see how this angers me.

Hey, Wildwood, wanna get young people and young families and people my age back? Leave our damn hotels ALONE! Build nice, normal, small-sized hotels that resonate with Wildwood's history. You're not Disneyland and you're not the Rivera, so stop trying to be that. You're a family resort in New Jersey on an island that can only stand so much building. Condos are NOT the way to go to bring the young people and their children back. Most people my age can barely afford the basics of living, much less some fancy-shmancy piece of Victorian-esque junk. Build simpler, smaller hotels. Build houses. Nice, normal houses for nice, normal families. Blend them in with the island's architecture. Yeah, it's tacky, but it's OUR tacky. It's the tacky that made Wildwood what it is, and you wouldn't be having a Reneissance without it.

The jerks in charge of Wildwood have no appreciation of it's history or the importance of those hotels. Eliminate them completely, and you'll just have another boring little resort with an oversized beach and a collection of dull, meaningless condos where a bunch of decrepid, snot-nosed matrons from the cities live for a week in June. What will happen when all those snots die? Do you think their children will want to come to an overpriced, meaningless collection of crappy condos?

I hope you like living in ghosts towns...because in a few years, that's all Wildwood's gonna be.
A Bit Of Phildadelphia Kids' History

I found some more information on three of the Philadephia children's shows I mentioned a few years in this TV Party article:

If nothing else, it explains why that computer the boy in "Starstuff" used was so out of date - the show and "Candy Apple News" were both from the EARLY 80s and re-run later in the decade. I must have seen the mid-80s re-runs. I'm just glad to see someone else remembers them, because my sisters don't and most of my friends look at me like I'm completely off my nut when I bring them up.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Moving On Up...And Other Pressing Stories

Ok, first and foremost, I DID finally move. I wasn't kidding when I wrote in October that I was sick and tired of Wildwood. I now live in Oaklyn, NJ, just outside of Philadephia. The location is mostly ideal, as Oaklyn is the kind of nice little town I've always wanted to live in, with a nice little historic main street and library and even trains going by, all situated on a lovely river. I originally looked at the apartment in 2003 but opted not to take it, and I always regretted that. My Uncle Ken, biological father Bruce, and adopted sister Jessa live down the street, and Rose is about five minutes away in the next town over, Audubon. The apartment is gorgeous, too, with a huge living room, a porch the size of my old apartment, a big back storage room, two big closets, and an amazing view of a park and the river...all for only 50 more than my old place (less if you factor in my not paying utilities here). My landlady is a kindly older woman named Eleanor who brought up a real printed lease the second day I was here and fixed the heat right away when it was broken.

I've had more problems with the Acme. I was originally supposed to move on February 1st, but Bruce said he could only get help on the 29th. I had to tell work I was leaving earlier, and then I found out I would be making less money, since I was hired at the shore. I called the Union (and even THEY said Acme treats its employees badly). Long story short ("too late"), due to a number of factors, it took three weeks for my transfer to go through. I didn't start working again until about two weeks ago. I'm making pretty much what I was in North Cape May, though the Union couldn't do anything about my senority, meaning my hours have been terrible.

On the other hand, the folks in the Audubon Acme are nice and far more sensible and laid-back than the strict staff at NCM, and the store is the largest Acme (and one of the best grocery stores) in the area. It's in a brand-new shopping center complex that also includes a FYE, a Staples, a Fashion Bug, an International House of Pancakes, an Applebee's, a Deb Shop, a Quizno's, a Eckards', and a Wal-Mart. And it's within biking distance of my apartment; no more having to take a bus to work everyday. (No more having to take a bus at all unless I want to go to the Cherry Hill Mall or job hunting in Center City Philly.) If the weather is nasty, I work late, or the bike is broken (like it is now - more on that later), I can just call Uncle Ken, Bruce, or (if she's avalible) Rose to pick me up.

I love it here. This is a beautiful area, filled with trees, parks, rivers, and history. People don't VISIT here. They LIVE here. They live in houses built in every era of the 20th century, from stately Edwardian two-family duplexes to small, 50s-and-60s era family homes with an apartment in the back like Miss Eleanor's house. They live over 30s-era shops on the White Horse Pike and in 70s-era apartment buildings. Trains chug past the VFW across from the house; airplanes fly overhead. Children walk to and from school on West Clinton Avenue. The VFW, the churches, and the old restored Ritz Theater are the center of community events. Collingswood has a well-restored historic downtown shopping area so remincisent of Cape May and Ocean City I feel at home there; Westmont is the home of the Super Fresh, Blockbuster, a library, and a couple of really cool dollar stores; Haddonfield has stunning parks that are fun to ride around in.

I am still having problems finding a job and meeting people. I've slightly improved on the latter front; one of Uncle Ken's friends manages a thrift shop in the Collingswood Historic District and I offered to volunteer there whenever I can, as I love thrift shops. Erica is a very sweet and helpful woman, and I've really enjoyed helping her orgainize clothes and price items and dress manniquins and set up displays. What I enjoy most, however, is the customers. They're always so happy and seem to be having so much fun, or are regulars who come to the shop often. I'm glad to see people actually enjoying shopping. I often forget, listening to grumpy customers at the Acme, that people go shopping sometimes just for the pleasure of seeing new merchandise (or new-to-them merchandise) and being around other people.

The lack of job opportunities has been more frustrating. I went to two of the three local libraries my first week here. The Camden County Library System apparently has a hiring freeze until 2007; the Oaklyn Library isn't hiring, either. Staples isn't hiring, FYE isn't hiring, I know nothing about clothes, Blockbuster isn't hiring, the dollar stores are family operations, and I have no desire to work at Wal-Mart, given what I've heard they do to their employees. (Not to mention they aren't that far removed from a grocery store.) This is such a big area, I didn't think I'd have any problems finding a better job than the Acme. I can't believe there isn't a nice, normal little non-fianancial, non-medical office that needs a copy clerk or a secretary or a receptionist. I'm going to start making trips into Philly to look around there once the weather and my bank account improve; I'd also like to take my first ride on the Speedline trains. The only train I've ever ridden on was the subway to Queens and back during my June 2001 trip to New York City.

This week's been up-and-down. I finally got my W-2s and my back paychecks from the North Cape May Acme, got some money in the bank, got my taxes and bills out, and got an idea for what to buy for Mom's 50th birthday next week. Oh, and the weather suddenly turned from a normal-for-March-in-New-Jersey mid-40s to a very spring-like lower 70s. However, on the way back from a quick trip to deposit the back paychecks in the bank, the pedal on my bike broke off, and I ended up on the street in tears. I'm fine. My left elbow is scraped-up and sore to the point where it hurts when I put my arm straight or lean on it, and I have a purple bruise the size of a salad plate on my right thigh, but nothing was broken. I didn't even put a hole in my sweater (thank goodness - I LOVE that sweater; it must have gotten pushed up when I fell on my elbow).

The not in as good a condition. The metal that connects the pedal to the bike snapped clean off. I called Uncle Ken after it happened and he took it to one of his numerous friends to be fixed, hopefully by tomorrow. I NEED that bike; I can't get far quickly without it. Walking is fine if I'm just running to the store for some milk, but it takes too long to go everywhere that way, and I certainly can't grocery shop like that. (Trust me, I tried in Wildwood.)

The CD player on my stereo also died. It just got stuck one day and wouldn't unstuck, no matter how much I shook it or pushed buttons or turned it on and off or unplugged it. Uncle Ken did what he could to get one CD out, but the others are still jammed. Bruce knows more about electronics; he might know what to do when he gets back later this week or know someone who would know. I don't even really care about the CD player (they aren't that expensive to replace). I just want the CDs, three of my most costly, back. Thank goodness I found a great oldies station the second day I moved here that almost makes up for only being able to play my CDs on my computer.

Oooh, and I owe Uncle Ken and his son Mark big-time for their homecoming-present. There's only one phone line in the entire house and it's in the bedroom, so they got me a wireless phone instead of trying to add a second wire through the storage room into the living room. Owe Rose for her homecoming present, too - the computer chair I'm sitting in as I type this. It's a good, simple, tough model from Wal-Mart. The chair I used at the old house for the computer is now in the living room (where it really belongs), and I sat on the floor when I used the computer for the first week I lived here. I don't recommend doing that often; not the most comfortable way to surf the 'Net.

Coming up - Mom's big 50th birthday dinner with all of her and Dad's side of the family on Saturday, Rose's birthday, my 27th birthday, Easter (including an Easter egg hunt at the VFW), getting the bike back on the road, getting a new stereo, and updating my online resumes with my volunteering experience and a new reference.