Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Things Pretty Unrelated to Phebe, But If You Squint a Bit, Maybe It Can Somehow Relate

1. Phebe's grave is still ok
They're doing construction on the street that Phebe's graveyard is off of and they've blockaded the street. It makes me nervous if I can't go by at least once a week to check on her. But they took a day off on Tuesday and I went and checked and she's fine. As fine as a 300 year old dead woman can be. I'm going to stop, as I'm raising a point that is a very good counter-argument to my stance that her grave must not be disturbed. Good job, me.

2. Worst mother ever (least Phebe related thing here, except for maybe 4)

My daughter said to me, while she was in the bath (and while she was feverish, mind you) "Nobody likes me!" Then she started crying. I couldn't hug her so well as she was in the bath, but I did my best to comfort her and get to what was going on. But that has to be, hands down, the worst thing I've ever heard. Ever. Until...

I'd just given my 2 year old son eye drops outside the pharmacy, while he was in the car seat. Turns out (and I didn't know this) they burn like hell. So he's crying and crying and crying as we drive home. I lose my patience a bit and kind of yell "No more crying! You have to stop crying, honey, we're almost home!" It may not seem like it, but I'm usually good at comforting. But his eye illness came on the heels of his sister's week long fever and I was on edge. Anyway, we got home, I did end up comforting him and he was ok. Not ok, though, was the next time we got into the car, he made his hands into fists and kind of shook them and said, "No crying! No crying!" to kind of talk himself out of crying or something. I don't know. But then that immediately became the worst thing I've ever heard.

Did Phebe ever deal with this? And there it is.

3. How I'm preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse

Last March, we lost power for five days. We had hot water, but that was it. It was still pretty cold outside (mid 50's) and while, to someone like Phebe (there it is), that's mild, for us it was cold inside. We used our fireplace constantly and slept under lots of blankets. We shared beds, too. My husband and daughter snuggled up in her room and, because I was still nursing my son, he slept with me. So that placated one worry of mine - that of them being cold in the night.

We also had to monitor our sump pump, as it was raining constantly (the reason for the power outage in the first place) and, with no electricity, our sump pump was running on a back-up battery that we kept charging at a friend's house or that my husband charged at work. No phone, either. Well, except cell phones, that we generally charged in the car. So I guess we had phones. Duh.

The whole thing was kind of fun in retrospect. And Jeezbus Christie, this is starting to sound like a mommy blog, which I hate. Almost as much as I hate Oprah. Stop telling me what to do, Oprah. It's patronizing and annoying. Anyway, not my intention. Number 2 was all mommy blog too and for that I apologize.

Here's my intention: we could do it. In an emergency, we could do it. I worried a lot about them, but we cobbled through. And that leads me to the Zombie Apocalypse. For instance, in the movie Zombieland (full disclosure: I have a crush on Jesse Eisenberg, seriously, about this photo, wasn't this scene awesome?), I kept wondering, "Who's running the electric companies?" "Who's refilling the gas tanks at the gas stations?" "Why are there lights on?" etc etc. All of that would eventually stop, right? I mean, unless, magically the survivors always include the exact engineer responsible for running each utility.

So there's another dimension for the Zombie Apocalypse for you. Not only do you have to fend off the brain-eaters, but you have to just worry about survival. This is not something I've thought about alone. That new AMC miniseries, "The Walking Dead," also focuses on this issue.

I don't know, but it helps me to remember that until very very recently, human beings survived pretty well (with periods of great sophistication too) with no electricity. Without TV, without computers, without forced heat or electric ovens or telephones. Good to remember. As a reassuring thought during the Zombie Apocalypse. While you're fending off the person who wants to rip your head off. Well, not just a person, but an undead person. OK.

2. Why I love Sherlock Holmes (almost any incarnation)

So they just began playing the new Masterpiece Theater (which is public television for British production) version of Sherlock Holmes and it was wonderful. I'm a big fan, should just get that out there. This time, the setting was contemporary London and the actors were: blah blah (I should look that up), otherwise known as the rapist in Atonement, as Sherlock Holmes; also blah blah (again) from the original British the Office, who is adorbs, btw; and Rupert Graves, whose name I know very well from twenty-five years ago when he played Freddy in A Room with a View and effin stole my little teenage heart and hoo-haa, as Lestrade. I will learn those other two's names. The whole show was perfect and wonderful and I wish my son had been asleep so I could've heard everything. I may even give pbs $80 to get the DVD set. Or just go on Amazon and pay $30 or whatever. Undecided.

Anyway, it got me thinking about why I love Sherlock so much. And not just any Sherlock interpretation, but canon Sherlock, which this recent production was (I didn't even bother with the recent Guy Ritchie one, while I like Robert Downey Jr. a lot, because it seemed too far off). Here goes. Reasons are two-fold: 1. I want to be Sherlock. 2. I want to be noticed by Sherlock.

Reason 1: I want to be Sherlock. I want to be that smart, first of all. But more importantly, I think, is that I want to not care. I want to be so consumed by what I'm doing that it really doesn't matter to me how other people see me. I want to have the self-confidence to dismiss people. Wouldn't that be great? I know the character has a flip side, a morose side (which I got down, thank you very much) and I guess that's just part of that package, but overall, I want to be him.

Reason 2: I want to be noticed by Sherlock. And this has been true since I first read the stories. Mostly because I was largely an invisible child, even in my family. Left at the gas station accidentally, for instance. I wanted someone to look at me and know all my secrets. To be interested in my secrets. Maybe I just liked the idea that I had secrets. That there was something interesting about me, something to study. That I was worthy of attention.

OK. That is now the worst thing I've ever heard. Maybe not worse than the other two, on second thought, but third for sure.

And I cannot for the life of me think of how Phebe relates. Ummmmm. No.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I found this website and am in love. The first post by this former professor/blogger that I'll link has wonderful little biographical details about the painter John Wollaston. He travelled between New York, Philadelphia and Maryland, so he would've passed through New Jersey, presumably. Wouldn't it be something if he'd have stopped in Middletown along the way?

Unfortunately his portraits don't strike me as particularly pretty, but that's probably just me and my more modern perspective. A more recent post by the same blogger, though, has these wonderful, gorgeous portraits of Colonial women in blue silk gowns by John Singleton Copley. Oh, those dresses. I particularly like the portrait of Mary Turner (Mrs. Daniel Sargent), shown above. This is how Phebe looks in my imagination, or close to it.

Until later...

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Did Not Actually See It for Myself, As It Turns Out


I missed it. But the good news is that I went on PC Richard's website and found their store locator and now have an exact location. So I'll drive past it next Monday or Wednesday.

I should take this time, too, to apologize for ranting. I don't like doing that. Plus rants are kind of boring to read, I think. Plus, things are razed down all the time, for roads or new developments or whatever. How things go. I just don't like how they went about marking where they razed and what used to be there. If you're going to do that, then just move on.

In any case, historical markers make little to no sense to me. But, you know what else? Almost everything makes very little sense to me. What the hell do I know, is kind of my mantra now. Mantras are maybe supposed to be affirming, but, for me, this mantra reminds me that it's important, when you don't understand something, to just be quiet because it could possibly be that it's you that's being the dumb-ass. Happens a lot.

So I'm kind of constantly befuddled. Alright. Off to shower and grade and then enjoy this blustery fall day. I've already been on a field trip with my daughter's class and had an apple donut and told some kids to stop touching each other and met a nice mom and was told by another mom, who I saw almost every day last year when I brought Mary to preschool, but who never seemed to recognize me, "Oh, I didn't even know your daughter went to our school. I never saw her." Oh yea? Huh.

What the hell do I know.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Have to See It for Myself

Just a quick post to let you know that I'm totally going to the Somerset Traffic Circle tonight (see previous rant-y, NJ-sucks post). It turns out I drive that way twice a week to teach my night course. Every Monday and Wednesday I've been so very close to history and didn't even know it. Well, actually kind of like how I lived down the street from Phebe's former house, Marlpit Hall, for eight months and didn't know even know that that was a historic house. I thought it was a meeting hall or something.

Huh. Maybe I suck.

I still say that this is horrible. I stand by that. Even if I do suck.

So I get to cross off number 6 from the list. Next up? The Pulaski Skyway. Or maybe "Rutger's Food Vendor Vans" or something. That was in there. Also, Port Newark. I don't know if anyone's ever noticed, as you go to Newark Airport, Port Newark, but, yea, it's a modern port.

I'll let you know how it goes! Can you stand the excitement? I didn't think so! Maybe take some deep breaths or something. Maybe later have a glass of wine or beer to wind down. Seriously, you're freaking me out. I'm worried. I can't enjoy the pile of stones and plaque next to PC Richards if I'm worried, you know. OK then.

Until later...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Exactly Like in "Same Time, Next Year"

Hey there.

So.... because I'm a nice person and I really don't want to hate where I live (and sometimes, it's way more general than even a state and it includes in general how Americans are complete dumb-asses about history), I thought I'd give a counter-point to the last post.

Monmouth County is awesome. They have a great historical society here (societies, I guess I should say). They are aggressive in fighting overdevelopment and in preserving not just historic sites, but open spaces. All this farmland. Case in point - an article in the Independent News about the County trying to get a grant to keep the 183.5 acre Freneau Farm as an open space. This county, is, in fact, extraordinary in that this is regular policy. I love it. It's my favorite part of living in Middletown - all this open space and all these beautiful parks.

You know what? Somerset County sucks.

You know what else? I'm becoming like my mother in this. That's a down-side. But, that's because I'm extremely childish. My mom is big into historic house preservation. Big.

So anyway, as I was thinking about all this, I realized that what I've just done is exactly like what Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn did in "Same Time, Next Year" which came out in 1978 and I know it's lame I know about this movie, because I was six at the time and the fact that I know this movie so well means that I've watched sooo much tv that not only have I seen this movie before, but I've seen it multiple times. Whew. Anyway, they were both married to other people, and they came together for one weekend every year to basically "bone". Or "get it on". Your choice.

(Side note: Phebe, I'm sorry for the crassness, but, well, I can't help it. I love you, though. Forgive.)

So anyway, the movie spans decades. What I mean is that each scene takes place during one weekend of their tryst, so that the whole movie is just these two in a room, every five years or ten years or so. So it's also a commentary on American history as seen through their clothing and the things they talk about and blah blah.

And before I tell you how this movie relates at all to New Jersey's sucky appreciation of history, I'll tell you my one big problem with the movie. Well, I have a few, but I'll stick with my biggest problem. One decade, Ellen Burstyn is this fierce, cougar-y, Gloria Steinam feminist-y career woman who just started her own catering business after decades of being a stay at home mom. (That was in the earlier scenes.) So she's in her forties, I guess. Then THE VERY NEXT SCENE, she's a grandma! Quiet and tired with a church lady hairdo. Gone is the fierceness. Now she's just accepting. Of what, I don't know. Death? It's the last scene and I won't reveal anything, but by that time, she's completely sexless, so it's always amazed me that Alan Alda would want to bone her at all at that point. He's still pretty sexy. (Don't get me started.)

Alright. So their characters, in every scene (meaning every decade or so - seriously, for the life of me I can't remember if it's every five years or every ten - needs another viewing), do this thing where they offer up something they hate about their spouse and then have to say something they love about their spouse. Excuse me for saying this, writer of "Same Time, Next Year," but if they were regularly fucking another person, isn't this kind of weird? I mean, if they really loved their spouse, wouldn't they STOP doing something that would be so hurtful if it was found out?

So, I've just done that with New Jersey - I hate you because you tear down an estate for a PC Richards and then have the balls to leave a pile of stones and a plaque; I like you (I can't even write the word love there) because you, in some places, aggressively work to preserve your history and beautiful countryside. But I'd still leave you in a fucking heartbeat if I could. To shag Alan Alda full time. WTF, you know?

Until later...

Update: I was trying to make this blog more interesting by adding a photo and this is all I found:
How effin lame is that? Why do I remember this movie so well? Because clearly, no one else does. A copy of the dvd cover. (This shows the hair of the fierce cougar-y career woman Ellen Burstyn, btw.) The only other picture was of an old folded up movie poster. Sad.

BTW also? I totally feel like a blogger now. Yeee-hawww!

OK. Update of update: I may be insane and I apologize for that and for this post in general. But I went a little further into Google Images and found some dude's write up of Ellen's performance in this movie. And there are screen-caps! So I get to show you the grandma hair! Yay! And look! She's wearing a beige cardigan! I'll stop now.

Really, New Jersey?

So in the Today section of the Star Ledger today (redundant, yes?), the big article was by Peter Genovese. Nothing against this guy, for real, but... really?

He starts off generically enough. "This is the opening installment of a series we're calling Jersey State of Mind. The stories will take you all over Jersey, celebrating the state in all its variety and diversity, illuminating corners you never visited, or knew existed. The real Jersey, not the cliched, stereotypical or rose-tinted one."


Then number 2 is The Pulaski Skyway. Kid you not. A highway.

And then! Then! Number 6 is The Somerville Traffic Circle. Kid you not again. But this one's even better, because there's a plaque. And a PC Richards (which is kind of like Circuit City).

"Not because I hold the world's record for most consecutive trips around the circle (55), but because World War I ended here. Really. On July 2, 1921, at what was then the country estate of former Sen. Joseph Frelinghuysen, President Warren Harding signed a joint congressional resolution declaring an end to the war against Germany and Austria. There's a plaque marking the occasion in front of the P.C. Richards & Son store in Raritan."

Turns out it's between the PC Richards and a Burger King. I kind of couldn't believe it and just googled it and found this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sheenachi/4558493535/ .

OK. I'm going to steal from the Bloggess and say, New Jersey, you're being an asshole.

There are twenty-five things, and those two I picked are the lamest, but, actually the other twenty-three aren't that great either. Cannot wait for the rest of the series.

I'm seriously depressed now and... end of rant. Sorry. Had to do it, though.

PS I just looked at that flickr photo even more carefully and it's gotten me even more depressed than before. That's some goddamned plaque. And those horrible evergreen shrubs. Why bother, really? What kind of horrible negotiator was working for the historical society right before it was demolished - one who accepted, who said, "Yea, I guess a plaque and one pile of stones would be just fine." OK, I think I need to go to Marlpit Hall or the Holmes Hendricks house again soon. Purge my system.

PPS OK, I can't stop. Now I'm fucking furious. Cursing, sorry. World War I was apocalyptic to the people of Europe. Apocalyptic. A whole generation of men wiped out. The carnage is unimaginable today. And then this stupid plaque. I know it's not a direct connection, but in my head it is. I'm weird that way, though. Just disrespectful, you know? Don't fucking bother. Take that shit down. For real. Let's just let it be strip-mall central. There are other, more appropriate ways to show our appreciation of our history.

New Jersey? This is beneath even you.

The end. I'm going outside.