Sorry, Bruce Springsteen.

NYC skyline

Hey, so, in case you didn’t know, I am temporarily residing in New Jersey for the next several months for complicated reasons, having mainly to do with: finally being employed! In the legal, filling-out-a-W-4, actually-getting-paid-money sense! For the first time in, like, six months!?!

Recession, y’all. Desperate times.

But BONUS: I’m living in the New York City Metropolitan Area! How swanky is that shit!? Telling your friends and family, “Hey, I’m going to be living in the New York City Metropolitan Area for the next four to six months!” sounds so much cooler than, “Uh, I’m going to be living in New Jersey for the next four to six months. . .” Until, that is, your friends and family are like, “What do you mean? Like, Brooklyn?” And you have to be like, “Uh, no, not exactly,” and hedge around it until they eventually corner you into confessing that you’re living in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Waa waa waa. (Cartoon trombone let-down noise.)

Except, BONUS on that: Piper Perabo’s character in Coyote Ugly  was from… well… South Amboy. But that’s right next to Perth Amboy! Woop woop! Shots are on the house!

OH! And having just consulted Perth Amboy’s Wikipedia page, Jon Bon Jovi was born here! (But not raised here. . .)

Ah, well.

I’ve been here for a month now, and I’m beginning to understand that the best thing about New Jersey is, well, New York City. And, you know, when the best thing about your state is not even in the state, that’s saying something.

Sorry, New Jersians. (Jerseyites? Jerseyers?) There’s a point in time when you have to reconcile yourself with the fact that your home state just isn’t that great. As a native Alabamian, I came to grips with this at about the same time I drew my first breath after having recently exited my mother’s womb. I don’t mean to offend, New Jerseyers, and this is not a reflection on you as a people, especially since your character has already been defamed enough by that bronzed and bump-it-ed trainwreck Jersey Shore, none of the cast members of which were actually from New Jersey at all. I know. I feel your pain, and your national scorn. (*AHEM* Hart of Dixie, MTV’s Buckwild, and anything else ever made that was set in the South. (Except confession: I TOTALLY LOVE Hart of Dixie. It’s so bad and incorrect, but WADE, you guys. That man. That body. That country boy charm. THE HELL with George Tucker, Rachel Bilson! Wade is your man! Wade is the love of your life! What are you thinking!? I LOVE YOU WADE!))

Anyway. Here’s the part where I should admit that, really, all I’ve done so far in New Jersey is go to:

1) Wegman’s, which is organized by some strange logic that I cannot comprehend (there is milk in TWO DIFFERENT SECTIONS) and is full of elderly people aggressively steering their shopping carts like it’s Black Friday,

2) Some diners, which, sorry, I know New Jersey is all about its diners, but REALLY? When has diner food ever been good, outside of maybe Happy Days? And then it was only good because you got to flirt with The Fonz while you sucked seductively on your milkshake and didn’t really eat any of the solid food at all.

3) The Rainforest Cafe in the Menlo Park Mall, because how can you NOT go to a theme restaurant usually found exclusively at Disney World when you’re in the mall Christmas shopping and you look up and LO AND BEHOLD it’s the Rainforest Cafe, like, right there by the Radio Shack and the Bubble Tea place, just hanging out!?!! It has animatronic animals, you guys! ANIMATRONIC ANIMALS! Gorillas and elephants and stuff, and they come alive every twenty minutes! Hellz yes, you better believe my grown-ass husband and I went to that.

And 4) Wonder Bagels. Like, every day for three weeks until we got a microwave in our office. And GOD BLESS Wonder Bagels, y’all. Because, a) CARBS, and b) This is the only place I could find to acquire sustenance in Jersey City (where I work) that wasn’t a diner (see #2), a fast food joint, a pizza place, or the restaurant where White Castle supposedly originated. And I’m not a strict vegetarian at all, but dear god, give me the option of consuming something not primarily composed of meat or cheese once in a while. And Wonder Bagels has things with vegetables! Wonder Bagels, I love you! I’m not just saying that. I actually do. I love you. Although I do think the weird pluralization of your name is awkward and troublesome. What do you do when referring to multiple Wonder Bagels(es)? But I’m willing to overlook that.

So, the moral of the story is, I have not really gotten to know New Jersey in any comprehensive way. Please, if you can point me toward any cool/fun/redeeming things to do or places to see in Jersey, let me know. I’d love to experience the non-Abandoned Industrial Wasteland/Decrepit Strip Mall Hell side of New Jersey. I would.

OH GOD! And wtf is up with the not being able to pump your own gas thing? I know Oregon does it too, and it does create more jobs, but I’m always worried the gas pumper guy is going to accidentally give my debit card to another driver while I’m sitting there in my car, twiddling my thumbs, feeling helpless as I wait for my gas tank to fill.

But anyway. My main qualm with Jersey is this:


(If I could have used some gruesome, drippy blood font just there, I would have. But I’m not that blog-savvy and I don’t see a Word Art button on my dashboard.)

1. What is with the two separate sides going to the same exact place thing? I realize one is for cars only and one is for cars and trucks and buses, but I have a serious crisis going to work every morning when the split is imminent and I’m sitting there going WHICH ONE DO I CHOOSE!? WHICH HAS LESS TRAFFIC!? WHY CAN’T I SEE THE FUTURE!? AM I MAKING A HORRIBLE MISTAKE!?!?! I mean, I’m not great at making decisions on what to eat for dinner, much less which side of the turnpike to take to work. This causes great anxiety in me which I really don’t need every weekday morning. And then when I’m sitting in stopped traffic and the other side is whizzing by nicely, I have ample time to curse my stupidity and horrible luck and wonder where I went wrong in life.

2. SUDDENLY DISAPPEARING LANES. This is not just on the turnpike, but all over New Jersey. You’ll be driving along in your own lane, minding your own business, when suddenly THE DIVIDING LINES DISAPPEAR. Not turn into the smaller dotted lines that in civilized states all over the country signals, “you need to merge, kind driver.” No. The lines just disappear altogether. This is apparently how the New Jersey road system alerts you that you need to merge. By suddenly, without warning, disappearing your lane. I’m sure there’s signage somewhere, but it’s obviously not big enough because every single time this happens, I am unprepared. Cue frantic braking.

3. The part where you enter or exit the turnpike and are suddenly in this huge non-lined desert of asphalt, across which vehicles are zooming diagonally with abandon and NO TURN SIGNALS like very, very large and deadly bullets.

4. The part where you exit the turnpike and on the other side of the toll booths there are five lanes of traffic trying to fit themselves into the ONE FUCKING LANE that takes you where you need to go. People get nasty, you guys, pulling bullshit like wedging the nose of their vehicle one inch in front of your bumper so you either have to let them in or HIT THEM, or just kind of continually drifting toward your car sideways until they are almost in contact with your side mirror, and you know that if you don’t allow yourself to be pushed out of your own goddamn lane, they’ll just keep on coming because THEY HAVE DENTS ALL OVER THE SIDE OF THEIR CAR AND OBVIOUSLY DO NOT GIVE A FUCK. On the turnpike, civilization breaks down. It’s Lord of the Flies out there, guys. It’s survival of the most aggressive driver.

5. All the honking. Although I see now that it is a necessary stress relief outlet when you’re mired in this insanity, somewhat like screaming and screaming and screaming into a pillow.

Once, I was a relaxed, kind driver. I would let people merge in front of me. I did the “Thank you!” wave when someone would let me in front of them. But now, New Jersey, you have made me into an angry, honking, cussing, finger-flipping banshee of the roadway. You have made me into an over-aggressive font of road rage, who, actually, one morning, literally screamed “MY CAR IS A WEAPON” as I force-merged my way to work. You have made me a monster. You have made me into one of you.


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