The power slowly returned. Sporadic and weakened TV and Internet followed just this morning. Almost a week later. We were all in a fog. Radio reports were shoddy at best; political speeches of community and inner strength, company lip service by utility PR reps, and vague descriptions of the devastation. Hurricane Sandy was over but the rebuilding process was just beginning.
We felt violated. Like the innocent victims of a home invasion or a car break in. The crime may be over but the dirty infringement and unsettling vulnerability rises and falls like the ebb and flow of a tide. The feeling is repeated with each new image of destruction, and every new tale of horror and loss. They were all personal. This was our state, our towns, our shore, our people.
Jersey, Staten Island, the Shore...
The Jersey Shore - the playground of our summers and our youth may never be the same.
Going on vacation within the boundaries of your home state may make more sense for citizens of larger states like Texas or California but for many in the Northeast, summer vacations and the Jersey Shore go hand in hand. It is difficult to convey to outsiders just how culturally important the shore is for us and how many of our lives blossomed on the hot sands and crowded boardwalks that line the 200 mile coast, from the nude beaches of Sandy Hook to the tip of the Cape May peninsula. I can assure you the Jersey Shore is not the lampoon MTV blasted to the world. As millions from Maryland to Pennsylvania to New York can attest to, the shore is a place for families and singles alike, with crazy weekly beach house rentals and boutique hotels, wild bars and fun boardwalk games and rides, top notch restaurants, salt water taffy and miles upon miles of clean excellent beach.
The Jersey Shore is unlike any other beach. It's the shore. Each shore town and beach has is own unique personality. Every lover of the shore had their favorite and least favorite beach and that opinion was iron clad and would be defended with every fiber of their being. We knew what was the best approach to get the shore with the least amount of traffic, and how to properly find parking in the unbelievably packed grid of one way streets that line every shore town. We knew which boardwalk is the best for each age and out of town guest, where to get the best pizza, calzone, sausage and peppers and salt water taffy. The Stone Pony and The Boss, Atlantic City and Miss America, week long beach house rentals with extended family who have all vacationed at the shore since they were children themselves.
I remember week long vacations at Wildwood with dozens of bikers and what seemed to me to be the largest boardwalk in the world. I remember going every summer to Belmar and Bradley Beach, the lunacy of Point Pleasant and Sea Side Heights after dark, and riding tandem bikes to the point of boredom in old time Cape May. Seeing Primus at the first Sno-Core tour in Asbury Park, and bumping into RZA, GZA and Deck in their Bobby Digital van during the 4th of July fireworks at Point Pleasant beach.
There is always something special about the Jersey Shore. The amusement park rising over your shoulders while high tide tickles your toes. The nasty sea gulls stealing lunches while parents chase down blown away beach umbrellas. Ten thousand cultures and millions of people huddled together enjoying wave after wave while the sun beats down.
That is my Jersey Shore... and now I can only hope we can rebuild it so my daughter can enjoy it too.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
This was baby Manni's first 4th of July. We drove down to Bradley Beach during the time allotted for her morning nap (Manni naps twice a day. The first starting between 9:30-10:15 and the second around 2:30-3:00). Baby Manni loves sleeping in the car sometimes falling asleep the second the car pulls out of the driveway. This trip despite there being no traffic (No shore traffic? I know, blasphemy!) Manya refused to sleep and spent her time alternating between her patented "do do dooo!" and her unoriginal and desperate screaming. Any chance we could make this stop and get some rest? A/C? Wind through the windows? Perhaps a pacifier or some white noise? None of those tactics abated the issue and Rhianna only made it worse (as it always does).
This is what I see when I check if she's sleeping.
Once we arrived at the shore Manya had slept a maximum of eight minutes and as soon as she caught glimpse of Grandma and Great Aunt Ruth she was too excited to calm down.
Onto the beach!
Holy crap was it hot! A mind sweltering 97 degrees with 160 degree sand. But the baby (who was carried through the lava sand) loved it. Loved the sand, loved the baby pool filled with salt water, loved the hundreds of people waving and smiling at her. Mostly Manni loved the salt. If she could talk Manni would have said, "Wats Dis? Salty! Salty! Salty! I Luv Salty!"
Between the thousand attempts at drinking the Atlantic Ocean, freaking out with excitement over waves splashing her legs, having her eyes pop out of her head every time a sea gull walked by "Doo!" and digging in the sand, Manya fell asleep. At the beach. Sound asleep with forth of July chaos all around her.
When she awoke we watched the sea gulls destroy a poor family's half open cooler filled with cookies and sandwiches. Two dozen gulls wreaked havoc on the impromptu picnic as Manni giggled and skrieked with each hop of a mischievous gull or jittery wing flap. Soon the fat white gluttons took flight and began bombing the beaches from above. Manya had no idea of the stinky danger being dropped on us innocent beach goers but I was quite certain to quickly retreat away from the bombing zone. Grandpa was not so lucky and had to take a rather serious dip in the ocean.
It was a good day.
With the Fourth of July on a Wednesday the scheduling of fireworks varied by town and date. Due to this there seemed to be new fireworks every day of the weekend AND on Wednesday the 4th as well. Pretty cool.
For our 4th Firework display we made the short walk down the boardwalk to Asbury Park. No, we did not see Bruce Springsteen on our jaunt but we did see hundreds of Jersey peoples eager to see some explosions. People watching the Jersey Shore is so good there could be a show about it.... wait for it... wait for it... yep.
The fireworks were scheduled to commence at 9:15 which was after Manni's usual bedtime. We hoped the excitement of the people on the boardwalk would energize her enough to push through and see her first firework display. By the time we made the twenty minute walk down the boardwalk and turned up the Pier to get a nice angle on the Asbury Park beach front, Manya was quite upset and was in no mood for remaining in the Bugaboo stroller.
Under normal circumstances Manni is dressed in cloth diapers but when we go on vacations or long day trips away from the home we tend to use disposables. We love our cloth diapers but when you're a long way from home its easier not to lug around a bag of poopy diapers. The fourth of July was no exception. We did use a cloth swim diaper but opted for disposable regulars.
With Manni growing to full blown hysterics we pulled her out of the Bugaboo only to find a MASSIVE poo tidal wave of horror. Shirt, pants, diaper, stroller, demolished. The diaper was filled to the brim and had overflowed onto everything. The most incredible part was it was totally solid. This wasn't baby poo, it was ordinary grown child poo, just somewhere are 15lbs worth of it.
No wonder she was so upset.
We went into full Jack Bauer mode for the clean up. Hands flipping the baby, tearing away clothes and tossing around wipes. Flipping portable changing pads and scooping up rogue chips of shit. I must admit I was in shock at the amount of waste that came out of this cute little baby.
-One full diaper (and when I mean full I mean you could do curls with it)
-One fully covered shirt
-One pair of pants that held enough that it could be considered a second diaper
-One Bugaboo fleece cover (thank god we had that on top of the Bugaboo canvas) with a full human sized poo on it
-Four to Six pairs of hands that needed full scrub downs
-A chip of shit on the boardwalk
Yes, that's right, a chip of shit.
During the premiere of Cirque de Soleil Asbury Park, a chip of shit had flown off one of the poop covered items and landed on the wood Pier. We all spotted it but in our haste no one had actually cleaned it up. Being that it was 9:12PM by the time the baby was cleaned and changed and there was no light remaining in the sky, the chip of shit disappeared as the sun dipped behind the horizon.
It was there, in the darkness, hiding, stalking us like an assassin.
A chip of shit.
An assassin of poo.
Lying in wait, ready to be stepped on, or sat on by the first family member who forgot about its existence.
Yes, it happened and I'm not proud of it. I left my child's chip of poop on the Pier by Asbury Park.
The fireworks were amazing. Yea remember that we were going to see fireworks for our nations birthday before we were horribly sidetracked by the poo-nami (credit to Josh once again) of the decade? Well the fireworks were great and despite our reservations over a the possibility that the explosions might be scary for a 10 month old, Manni had no fear. On the contrary. She was SOOOOOO excited. With every explosion the clapped and giggled and whipped her head around to smile at everyone. "You see Dis?". "Look at Dat!" She made tons of "Oooooooo" and "Dooohs!"
And just as the finale began she crashed hard. The Ergo got strapped on (as the Bugaboo was a poop zone now) and Manya was out.
The walk home was crowded with sugar crashing children racing around like lunatics. I think children after 9 at night play games where their only goal is to chop block adults by throwing their bodies into the back of your knees as hard as they can.
In other news there were at least 60 Muslim women going to the beach at 10:00 at night. I know the lifeguards are done at 5:30 and the sun went down at 8:45 plus these women are wearing burkas covered everything except their eyes and its all black. If a rip tide gets 'em they're done for.
Sarah made the astute observation that I might be Ramadan and they were cleansing themselves in the pure open water after the sun went down but I looked it up and Ramadan doesn't start until July 20th.
So I have no idea what we stumbled upon but I sure hope they swim as safely as possible in the pitch black of night.