Sunday, August 31, 2008

Lost in the Bronx

Left home this morning at 11:00. Took three trains to Washington Heights to visit my cousin Alex and his lovely lady Rachael and their new baby Isaiah. Decided not to take the A train to Washington Heights, took the number 2 train instead. After a several minutes (and a couple of announcements telling us our train was making local stops only), we realized we were in the Bronx. Got off the train at Prospect; took another train back to 96th street. Stood on the wrong side of the tracks for many minutes…missed the number 1 train going to Washington Heights. Crossed to the other side of the tracks and finally got on the right train. Had a lovely visit with family. Isaiah is so handsome and laid back. I don’t know how he slept through my little squeal box running around his house. Ate homemade brownies, fruit pie and organic ice cream. Took the A train to Penn Station. Seamus was coming down from his ice cream high on the way back and had a twenty minute melt down on the train. We calmed him by telling him there were pigeons under our seats. He spent the rest of the ride looking for them. Took the PATH to Hoboken Terminal, then the Light Rail back to Bayonne. Got home at 7:30 this evening. I’d been hoping to be home before 5:00. I feel like I’ve spent the entire day on a train.

We lived and learned today. Always take the A train to Washington Heights.

Before we got on the Subway, we went to FIT, and T showed me his regular hangouts.

FIT is on Fashion Avenue:

We also saw our first New York City Cock Roach:

Verizon is sending our wireless modem. It should be here Wednesday, but at this point I don’t believe we’ll ever have internet. Who knew being without the internet for so long could be so depressing? I’m having a terrible time finding a job without it. I usually break down, go to McDonald’s and pay to use their wi-fi. Then I spend the next two hours trying to compose cover letters over the noise of lunch conversations and disgruntled employees. Last week I applied for a library job at FIT (T thinks it would be nice if we could have lunch together every day. Me too!). I also applied for a copy-editing position at Soap Opera Digest. How fun that would be! The next day I spoke with the dean of the English department at the University of Phoenix. He’s trying to put together some courses for October. He told me to send him my resume the first week of September. It doesn’t pay a lot, but it would probably make a nice Christmas fund for the Gwyns. Next week I may go to a temp agency closer to the city. My aunt tells me this may be a good way to get a job on Wall Street and that Wall Street companies often hire library people. Let’s hope something turns up soon. It’s expensive here.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saturday in the Park

Biked to the Bayonne Park today. This is our fair city’s biggest, baddest park. Saw ducks. Ate ice cream. Swung on the swings.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Still having internet problems. At McDonald's now and paying for wi-fi! Time is almost up, but just wanted to let you all know we should be posting info soon. We hope.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bayonne has a community television channel. T and I call it the Prom Channel because since we’ve been here the only thing we’ve seen broadcast is interviews with Bayonne High School prom-goers. I can only surmise these were interviews taken last May or whenever prom season is around here. The interviewer is a student himself, and he catches the kids in all their finery as they’re walking into the prom. I’m addicted to this channel, could watch it all day. Most of the interviews involve “shout-outs” to favorite teachers, and then the students talk about their after high school plans. Most of the boys are going to Lincoln Tech to become mechanics, but a lot of students are going to Rutgers as well. Sometimes the students are too embarrassed to speak on camera and all they can do is look at their dates and laugh. I keep wondering how many of these couples are still dating.

T’s first day of class was a cake walk. That’s because he had anatomy for toy designers which is pretty much just like a basic figure drawing class. T was very lucky to have a drill instructor drawing teacher at ETSU, and so figure drawing is his forte. Today, however, he’s not so lucky. He has three classes pretty much back to back. He left on the light rail at 7:30 this morning and won’t be home until 9:30 tonight. Seamus and I will be by ourselves today. So I’m making him a fancy lentil/split pea lunch with a baked sweet potato on the side. Then we’re walking down to the bigger park in our neighborhood. I’ve yet to find it; so it should be an adventure.

Gave my CV to my landlord. He’s taking it to the English Department of the University of Phoenix tomorrow. Since classes have already begun, I doubt I’ll have a job with them (if at all) until Spring or Fall of next year. I’m kind of excited. I really miss teaching composition. I don’t care what college or school, students are students.

Tomorrow we should have wireless, and I can begin my job search in earnest with my new local address on my CV. On Thursday, I’m headed down to the two Bayonne temp agencies. Seamus is wait-listed at the Prodigy Learning Center. Their director said October 1st would most likely be his start date. However, he did tell me to call him if I find a job before then, and he would see what he could do. I hope I find something before then. It’s very scary to see our money going out and nothing coming back in. In all of my working life (since I was 16), I’ve only been jobless for two weeks. That was after my bachelor’s degree. I don’t quite know what to do with myself. Sounds like a good time to start working on a novel.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Rangs and Thangs

Seamus is still a Tennessee boy. There are a couple of men’s rings T lets him put on his fingers, and he calls them rangs. I hope this doesn’t change. The accent here is harsh, and everyone has it. I’m slowly getting used to it. Maybe by the time we leave here I’ll have grown to love it. Who knows what Seamus’s voice will sound like once he starts talking all the time, especially being around all those Jersey kids in day care. We keep running into girls in the park who want to play with him and they’re all so bossy. Even at the tender age of three they have that typical Jersey girl attitude and the accent to boot. The other day he was playing with a little girl named Amber who kept trying to get him to say her name. Say Amb-a, she kept saying.

Seamus thinks everything is a cell phone. The remote control, the stud finder, T’s MP3 Player. He’ll hold these things up to his ear and start talking in what we refer to as Shamanese. He’ll carry on an imaginary conversation for a minute or two and then start laughing into the phone at some imaginary joke. Sometimes he says he’s talking to a baby.

T starts class tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to it. I’m sure once I find a job we’ll fall into a routine. My landlord is an engineer and also teaches part-time at the University of Phoenix. He’s asked for my resume. Says he may be able to get me a job teaching English on their Jersey City campus or online. The snooty me used to make fun of the University of Phoenix and their commercials, but that was before I was jobless. T says, It’s a job and you don’t have time to be picky. He’s right. I think the University of Phoenix is at least accredited.

Yesterday we ventured into the city. It took about 45 minutes and two trains. We took the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail from Bayonne to Hoboken Terminal. From there we took the PATH to 33rd Street in Manhattan. I sat outside the NY Public Library and applied for insurance online for me and Seamus (it’s sad that I have to go all the way to NYC to find free wi-fi. Even the Bayonne McDonald‘s charges by the hour), and then we hung around Bryant Park where Seamus and I rode a beautiful old carousel.

T and I shared a couple of beers last night and finished off the rest of our Mocha Silk ice cream. We watched The Magnificent Seven until I fell asleep.

Tomorrow day care registration and then it’s off to the temp agency for me.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

New York, New York

Someone has pulled the fire alarm at the middle school again, and now there’s a fire truck blocking my street. Did I mention we live right across the street from a middle school? It’s Saturday and school doesn’t start until next week. Don’t know who could be in the building besides maintenance workers. This is the second time the middle school fire alarm has gone off since we’ve been here. The first time I heard it, I was reminded of the tornado sirens in Mississippi.

Yesterday there was another domestic dispute from the same neighbors as before. This would be the fourth or fifth one this week. Our landlord gave us the lowdown. Apparently, the landlord who owns the building next to us allows her niece and niece’s boyfriend to live there. Their apartment is no more than a car length away from (and completely parallel to) our apartment. The niece and her boyfriend get in screaming fights all the time. Mostly it’s the landlord’s niece doing all the screaming. I’ve never once heard the boyfriend speak. The police have been called on several occasions, but the niece’s uncle is a police officer; so it’s doubtful that anything will be done. Their fights never last long, but I swear this girl screams so loud the whole neighborhood can hear their argument.

Today we’re going to the city, just to check email and conduct other electronic business. (We STILL do not have internet. Verizon says we’ll have it Wednesday.) Also, I wanted to get the hang of the train system before T goes back to class. I think we’re going to the NY Public Library! I’ll post lots of photos.


On the Light Rail to Hoboken Terminal:

Hoboken Terminal:

The Empire State Building:

The New York Public Library:

Bryant Park (where Fashion Week is held):

A Carousel in Bryant Park:

On the way home, we stopped to feed the seagulls at Hoboken Terminal:

We're Here

I'm at the New York Public Library right now. Just wanted to let everyone know we're all well. Just haven't had access to the internet since we've moved to New Jersey. We should be wireless by Wednesday. We miss you all!

Friday, August 22, 2008

So far my best friend in Bayonne is Bob from Bayonne Furniture and Go-Cart. Every time I walk down Broadway (which is daily), I see Bob sitting outside his store front on one of the solid wood dining room chairs he has on sale. He always remembers me and T, and he always stops us to ask how our bookcase is holding up and how we’re liking Bayonne so far. For the most part, people here are very friendly. They seem to really care about their community. They pick up their litter, hold doors open for each other, stop to let their dogs sniff each other. I have to keep reminding myself of this fact whenever I start to feel like I’m living on another planet, which is increasingly the predominating feeling. T and I have each had our various melt-downs. We feel very much like we’re living in the Twilight Zone.

If the NYC metro area were the state of Tennessee, Bayonne, NJ would be some little Carter County town. Lots of charm, but no wi-fi, no Target, no exceptional public library. I’ve been looking for internet access a couple of times and have found nothing. The Bayonne library doesn’t have wi-fi. Even the Networking Computer CafĂ© doesn’t have free wi-fi. They charge $5 an hour to use one of their computers. Lucky for us, after a mix-up with Verizon and UPS, our broadband is arriving today! I’m hoping to find good news in my inbox. And lots of high-paying, insurance-providing jobs in the Hoboken or Weehawken area.

Monday I’m registering Seamus for day care. He will be attending the Prodigy Learning Center. Their wait-list is about three weeks, as soon as a couple of the toddlers are potty-trained and can move up to the next class, Seamus is in. Of all the child care centers we looked at and spoke with, Prodigy is the best. Their director seems to LOVE his job and the children there seem so happy. The teacher student ratio is great and the facilities are nice. Best of all, Seamus loves it there. When we went on our tour he was able to play with the other toddlers. Immediately, he was surrounded by a group of girls who took turns petting his hair and holding his hand. He loved this of course. He had a huge smile on his face the whole time we were there. All the children loved seeing new visitors. At one point, I was rolling a ball back and forth to four other toddlers, and Seamus was sitting in my lap staking his claim over Mama. We had a great time, and Seamus didn’t want to leave. It was clear to me then, that day care was not going to be this depressing, guilt-ridden thing in our lives. I’m sure I’ll still feel like staying home with my boy, but knowing that he’s laughing, learning, making friends and having fun makes me feel so much better about working full-time. Their director reminded me that being in day care would be like being in the miniature world for Seamus. He won’t be the center of the universe any more, and he’ll have to take other children’s feelings into account and learn to interact with them. This is something that’s definitely been missing from his life. The director also said that his day care center wasn’t a parking space for children and that it was his job to ensure that Seamus is a great 15 year old, not just a great toddler. I thought this was a nice way of looking at things.

The Shop Rite Rider:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It’s been five days with no internet. This combined with the fact that I don’t yet have a key for my mailbox leaves me feeling disconnected from the world. It’s hard to search for jobs without internet access. It’s hard to keep in touch with far away friends and family. I’ve been calling my mom a lot. I’ve been writing little bits and pieces in my blog as well. Once I find wi-fi, or establish an internet connection (whichever comes first), I’ll post all of these entries at once. T had orientation today. Came home with a phone book sized manual from the Toy Design Department. His schedule is brutal. Some nights he won’t be home until 10 p.m., and his only day off is Sunday. That’s right, class on Saturday. Poor T.

I walked all over Bayonne today. Running errands. Seamus and I transferred the power to my name. There was almost a problem with this transaction because I forgot my lease, but then when I showed the teller my Tennessee ID she became instantly friendly and winked me on through. This has happened a couple of times now. Bayonnians seem thrilled to have someone from so far away move into their town. After the power board, Seamus and I played in the park. There were a couple of bratty little girls on the swings next to us. Seamus watched their interactions and ultimate meltdowns intensely. (I worry about what type of bad behavior he’ll see in day care.) This park, like many of the parks in Bayonne, has a little water park. I think tomorrow we might run around in it. Even though the weather has been quite pleasant, it gets terribly hot walking around all day. I’m starting to miss my car. However, I’ll probably be in great shape by Fall.

By the way, I really miss everyone.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bayonne has some interesting businesses. We bought a book case from the Bayonne Furniture and Go-Cart store. (The owner gave us a deal because we were “a nice couple.”) On the way to the furniture store we passed the Wok n’Roll which serves Chinese and Mexican cuisine. And today I saw the Fresh Taco which also serves that same combination. There’s also the Maidenform factory, a Schwinn store, a doll house and model store and about 17 nail salons.

A little gentleman’s clothing store (they sell big gentleman‘s clothing too):

The Barney Stock (nothing but ladies undergarments):

Sights around town:

The bridge Tony drives over during the opening credits of the Sopranos. This bridge connects Newark to Jersey City. We have a great view of it from the Veteran’s Park which is a couple of blocks from our apartment.

Russian Orthodox Church:

Catholic Church:

This day a wedding was taking place inside. There were limos and a horse drawn carriage waiting in the street.

The Public Library (beautiful on the outside, sad and in need of more and newer books on the inside):

Typical Bayonne Houses:

Our Apartment:

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Gwyns Take New Jersey

We’re here! I’m writing this in Word. Not sure when I’ll be able to post it to the blog as we don’t yet have our wireless set up. If you’ve emailed me, I’m sorry I’ve not responded. Just haven’t had the opportunity to get online.

We spent all day Thursday and Friday driving from Clinton, TN to Bayonne, NJ. We waited too long to purchase plane tickets, and so Seamus and my parents had to make the long car trip with us. My parents were so helpful taking care of Seamus while T and I unpacked. It was a 12 hour drive, but with a baby, dog, cat and four adults somebody always had to pee or eat or stretch their legs. Despite the many miles, it was a beautiful drive. I had forgotten how gorgeous the Shenandoah Valley was and how much I love the whole state of Virginia. Pennsylvania was a sight to be seen as well. Lots of corn fields, barns and old stone houses.

The weather was nice too…

Until we reached Bayonne and began to unload the U-Haul. This is when our neighbors told us about the tornado warning in Manhattan and the hail storm there. This type of weather is very unusual for the NYC area. However, this is the second tornado warning for Manhattan in as many years. In about an hour, the storm reached Bayonne. It was short and intense. Thomas, my father, my cousin Jesse and I were drenched from pulling furniture in from the street during the downpour. Luckily the rain waited until we had only a futon and dresser to move.

Today is our third day here. I have to say, I love our apartment. It’s just as beautiful as T said it was, maybe the prettiest apartment we’ve ever had. I’ll post pictures once everything is out of boxes. I love our neighbors too. There’s the nice Russian couple I mentioned in an earlier post; they live above us. They have a white poodle. A single woman named Jan lives above us as well. She’s my favorite person so far. She is the mother of 41 year old twin boys. She has bangs cut straight across her forehead and glasses. She’s lived in Jersey all her life and has a cat who spends most of his time outside. I find that odd for a little city, but I guess pets here are fairly street smart. Our landlords live behind us. They are fabulous. This morning they left on our doorstep a bottle of wine and a letter full of Bayonne info. They have a beautiful sheep dog named Marley. Everyone in our building is so helpful and friendly, and everyone has a pet. I told T it feels like living in a sit-com. We even have to buzz people in like Seinfeld.

We’ve eaten at two Bayonne restaurants so far. The Broadway Diner is our absolute favorite. We’ve actually been there two days in a row. They have the best pancakes (mine came full of golden raisins and walnuts) and hot chocolate and the gooiest grilled cheeses. Their menu is the size War and Peace.

We’ve also ordered pizza and salad from Nino’s. The pizza was incredible, but the salad was even better. Lots of marinated red peppers and big green olives. Bayonne is a diverse community and has every type of food you could imagine. There’s a Polish Bakery close to my house, an Italian deli with baskets of fresh bread on the street, lots and lots of fresh produce stores and natural food markets. If I didn’t have to walk everywhere, I could get really fat.

We are surrounded by water here. There’s Newark Bay on one side and the Hudson Bay on the other. In some ways this feels like a southern coastal town. Lots of row houses and waterfront access.

But it definitely does not feel like a vacation. We’re all bruised and sore from moving, and we still have so much to do. The animals need their shots. I need a job. Seamus needs a day care (sigh). T and I need a family practitioner. Seamus needs a pediatrician. We still have lots of odds and ends to purchase for our apartment, but we need to save our money until I find a job. There’s so much to think about; it’s overwhelming.

This morning I awoke to a domestic dispute. It was 5:30 and a woman was screaming and cursing and slamming the screen door to her apartment. The whole thing might have lasted 5 minutes but every dog in the neighborhood started barking. It’s strange living so close to other people, not having a yard to separate neighbors. Sometimes, if our windows are open, I can hear the conversation of the neighbors in the building next to us. Yesterday Seamus was crying and I could hear the woman in the building next door ask her husband if their daughter was crying. I guess we’ll get used to all the different sounds over time.

Today we’re going to buy a Sunday paper and walk to the Bayonne Park. It’s a long walk, but it’ll be nice to see more of the city and get my bearings about me.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Norris Lake

On Friday, Seamus, Grandie, Grandpa and I hiked the song bird trail at Norris Lake State Park. We saw lots of fauna, including these guys:

The temperatures finally dropped, and by the time we arrived at the park, temperatures were in the 70s and there was a cool breeze by the river. Seamus loved the water and the trees. He especially loved listening to the song birds sing. We mostly heard doves, cardinals and mocking birds. Georgia and I had a blast jogging up and down the trail.

Friday, August 8, 2008


The Gwyns are now official residents of the city of Bayonne! As most of our friends and family know, after our apartment fell through at the last minute, Thomas travelled up to Bayonne, NJ and has been there for the past week looking for a new place to live. After a couple of let downs, including a beautiful condo by the bay that another couple beat us to, he finally found the perfect apartment for us. Our new apartment is also close to the bay and a couple of parks. It's very big (something we didn't think was in our budget for an apartment in the NYC metro area) with two bedrooms, a dining room, living room and huge kitchen. I've always wanted a huge kitchen! It has hardwood floors and a little yard with two trees shading our living room. Our apartment is on the first floor of a four family home. Our upstairs neighbors are an elderly Russian couple and our landlords also live in the buidling. Thomas says the landlords are a charming, sweet couple.

We are so in-love with this town. It's quaint and beautiful and full of cute local businesses...nary a Wal-Mart in sight.

Fun facts about Bayonne:
There are 15 parks in Bayonne alone.

Chuck Wepner, otherwise known as the Bayonne Bleeder and the inspiration for Rocky, was from Bayonne.
Bayonne highschool was the location for such music videos as Mariah Carey's Someday and Pearl Jam's Jeremy.
Bayonne Bridge connects the town to Staten Island and thus NYC.
Some scenes from Pete and Pete were filmed in Bayonne.
Zakk Wylde was born and raised in Bayonne.
Bayonne is home to such birds as: falcons, egrets, pheasants and partridges.
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