Hot girls have problems too, ya know…

I get told pretty frequently that my life must be awesome because hot girls have it easy.

To which I usually flip my perfectly coiffed hair over my shoulder, flash a brilliantly white smile, and say thanks.

Except I secretly want to stab people who say that.

Because I’m about to let you in on a well-kept secret: hot girls have problems too.

Now I know you’re reading this and thinking, Sure. Uh huh. Hot girl problems are tragic. Right.

Well we do. Because NO ONE rolls out of bed in the morning looking like this, despite what movies and tv shows will have you believe. Not even supermodels.

In fact, supermodels have a whole team of people who make sure they look that good whenever there could be a camera around. Which is why it’s so crazily amusing to Google pictures of celebrities without makeup. Seriously. Miranda Kerr looks like Gollum when she’s not wearing makeup. Which I guess makes sense, since her husband, Orlando Bloom was IN those movies. But still.

No, it takes work to look like this. Let’s start with the hair. Everyone knows that long hair is super sexy. But do you know how much work long hair takes to maintain? I, for example, have a jewfro. But you wouldn’t know that without me telling you because I’ve spent countless hours and huge sums of money taming it. On average, it takes me over two hours to blowdry and flatiron my hair to get it to be perfectly straight but with JUST the right amount of volume as well.  That’s two hours that I could be spending sleeping, writing my next novel, learning a new language, or just generally having a life.

But no. Instead, I’m making sure that my hair fits through doors. Hot girl problems.

And sticking on the subject of pesky follicles: body hair. Hot girls can’t have any. So I shave my legs every single day.  Yes, even in winter.  That’s another 15 minutes earlier that I have to get up in the morning. And I don’t care what anyone tells you, waxing sucks. Men, unless you have had all of the hair ripped out of your nether regions by a small Asian woman wielding hot wax on a tongue depressor, don’t even start with me. I know how much you whine when your girlfriend plucks your unibrow, but trust me, that’s nothing compared to the pain that the Brazilians have inflicted upon women.

And no one likes their women to be too pale, so tanning is necessary. But tanning causes cancer. And, in extreme cases, Jersey-Shore-ism, a horrible disease where you turn completely orange and your entire face peels off, Pauly-D style. So we come upon yet another hot girl problem—avoiding being too pale without looking like you work for Willy Wonka or getting cancer. Marilyn was wrong—diamonds aren’t a girl’s best friend. Bronzer is.

On second thought, no.

Diamonds are still a girl’s best friend. Bronzer just helps her make those friends.

Which brings us to makeup. Yes, I love makeup. But I’m pretty sure I spend more annually at Sephora and Ulta than the running budget of a moderately-sized first world country. I wouldn’t quite go as big as France, but definitely significantly more than it takes to run Portugal or England.

But Sara, that’s crazy!

No, it’s just another hot girl problem.

The trick, however, is to use enough makeup to make it look like you’re not wearing any. So in addition to being master depilators, hot girls have to be artists, and in some cases, magicians. Because we’re also hiding the fact that we get MUCH less sleep than the average-looking members of the population due to all the time it takes to look as good as we do. But, if you use too much makeup, the hotness factor is negated. That’s why they gave all the Jersey Shore girls (except Deena, whom no one anywhere would EVER confuse with a hot girl, even with the thickest beer goggles on the planet) make-UNDERS.

But making sure that we look our best at all times isn’t the only source of hot girl problems.

Oh no.

There are also huge misconceptions about hot girls that we have to fight each and every day.

For example, contrary to popular belief, a woman’s intelligence cannot be calculated as inversely proportional to her breast size. If that formula worked, you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now because I would be too busy running around with a pot on my head, letting my teeny, tiny pea-sized brain rattle all around in the big empty wasteland above my shoulders to write it. Sorry fellas.

And a lot of people think that if a girl is hot, she’s automatically a bitch—well—oh okay, that one is usually true.

But the one about how we never have to buy ourselves a drink, that one is totally—hmm… well I guess that’s true too.

Come to think of it, I guess I should stop complaining. Being a hot girl does have plenty of advantages that just about outweigh the amount of time and energy that it takes to look this good.

And I’m sure the rest of the population has their problems too.

Like earning enough money to pay for all of our drinks.


(And for anyone who didn’t figure it out, this entire post was satirical and I’m really not a stuck up, horrible person who goes around telling everyone how hot I am. But my hair DOES take two hours to dry and straighten. So please go buy my books so I can afford to get it Brazilian straightened again and fight the ‘fro when the weather gets warmer! Otherwise, you might just be its next victim!*)

*Not a threat because I have zero control over who the jewfro attacks. It could be you. It could be someone in Paraguay. It could be anyone. But if my books sell well enough, I’ll earn enough money to keep it tame for a few more months and humanity will be safe again.

Come on, Irene… no, really. Was that all you had???

So apparently it’s natural disaster week here on the east coast, but unlike with the freak earthquake, at least we had warning for Hurricane Irene.

Which of course, meant that the DC area went into apocalypse-style panic mode.

Not that this surprised anyone, because the DC area does that at least twice a week whenever rain, snow, ice, hurricanes, tsunamis, elections, or Glenn Beck rallies are predicted. (Which is understandable in the case of Glenn Beck rallies. Whenever one of those is in the forecast, I tend to start hoarding toilet paper, canned goods, Stila cosmetics, Harry Potter books, and shotgun shells in anticipation of the impending insanity. I strongly urge you to do the same.)

I actually got a notice from my apartment complex on Friday warning all residents to bring in any balcony furniture, put masking tape across windows and glass doors, don an aluminum foil hat to prevent the government from reading your thoughts, and stock up on canned goods, bottled water and flashlights in anticipation of Irene.


Oh, and it also said that the pool would be closed Saturday and Sunday.

Which really pissed me off because yesterday was gorgeous and what better workout is there than swimming in a pool full of hurricane-wind induced waves?

For the record, I did none of the things recommended by my apartment complex. Mostly because I pictured myself as a badass who wasn’t phased by the hurricane, a la Lieutenant Dan. And guess what? My balcony furniture is EXACTLY where it was before the storm started: smashed to pieces five stories below my balcony.

Crap.

But I did stock up on the essentials that I knew I would need when the power inevitably went out.

How did I know the power would go out? Easy, Pepco called and told me it would. On Friday. You see, our power system is so inept that they literally called and told hundreds of thousands of people to expect widespread outages due to the storm BEFORE IT WAS EVEN DEFINITE THAT THE STORM WOULD HIT US. How thoughtful of you, Pepco. Of course, SOME people might argue that the time and energy spent on warning us of the impending outages could have been better spent preparing for the storm. But those people are just silly.

So I went to the store to make sure I’d have everything I would need to survive the storm. And I was really surprised because everything that I planned to buy was in stock. Apparently most people buy all the milk, bread, toilet paper and C batteries in a store when they’re getting ready for a hurricane. Amateurs.

Who wants all that junk? As long as you have a gas stove, the only things you need to survive any natural disaster are marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate.

Yup, when the power goes out, I, like any rational and sane individual, make s’mores.

In fact, when my old roommate and I lost power during Isabel for about a week, we survived solely on s’mores and Pop Tarts that we heated on the gas stove by skewering them with fondue forks. (Little known fact: Pop Tarts, as long as you get the frosted strawberry kind, count as your daily servings of fruit and vegetables for a full day. The unfrosted ones count as nothing. You’d get more nutrition from eating a piece of cardboard. I don’t even know why they make unfrosted Pop Tarts except to punish people whose moms don’t love them enough to buy the frosted ones.)

I also bought the store’s entire supply of AA batteries so that I could power my portable ipod speakers, Kindle booklight, mini LED lantern, Rosie’s anti-bark collar, and my talking Pauly D bobblehead doll. You know, the absolute necessities.

Then I made sure that my kindle, ipod, cell phone, and new iPad were loaded with music, books, and movies and were all fully charged.

I was ready for the storm.

Which was the most boring hurricane ever because not only did my balcony furniture not even budge, but my power didn’t even flicker. So I now own the world’s largest supply of AA batteries for nothing. Seriously, they’re all going to go bad and explode before I can use this many.

Granted, Pepco will probably utterly fail for no apparent reason in about ten minutes and I’ll get to use them then, but still. I’m not a big fan of Irene.

So instead of using all that time to play on my new iPad (because really, the only scenario that I can come up with for an iPad being a necessity is when the power is out during a hurricane. Otherwise, it seems to be a gadget whose sole purpose is to entertain people who have so much money that they don’t know what else to spend it on. And I’m not one of those people. It was a birthday gift. And its utter uselessness will probably be the subject of an upcoming blog) figuring out why we, in the same week, had an earthquake and a hurricane.

And I came up with two reasons for the natural disasters (OTHER than the upcoming, Mayan-predicted end of the world).

Reason #1 Mother Nature is a Racist Bitch.

Yeah. I said it.

We were all thinking it. But I said it.

Why? Think about it. Yesterday was a BEAUTIFUL, albeit a little windy, day. Gorgeous. Sunny. Not too hot. Not too freakishly humid. Gorgeous out.

Would have been a perfect day for that whole MLK dedication thing, wouldn’t it?

But oh wait, that had to be cancelled because of the hurricane.

See, I think Mother Nature TRIED to undo that with the earthquake, but when that didn’t work, it was hurricane time.

Not buying it?

Okay, that leads us to the second reason.

Reason #2 God is trying to wipe out the plague that is Jersey Shore.

Irene hit at Little Egg Harbor, just south of Atlantic City and spun up the Jersey Shore wreaking havoc in her path. Washington was spared the brunt of her wrath. She had mostly burned out by the time she reached New York. This one was all new Jersey.

Now okay, MAYBE it was really an attempt to inspire Bruce Springsteen to put out another album, but it seemed to be trying to destroy New Jersey.

And for once, I can’t say that I blame the universe for wanting to destroy the state that spawned Jersey Shore.

Because if I have to sit through another season of Ronnie and Sam fighting, I too am going to lose it and pummel New Jersey with hurricane force.

Better stock up on s’mores ingredients now. Hurricane season is upon us.

Gaddafi: crazy like a fox, but funnier than Somali pirates

So as I was looking for a topic to write today’s blog on, I noticed that the biggest news stories of the day were the murder of four American’s by Somali pirates, the New Zealand earthquake, and the Libyan protests of Moammar Gaddafi.

I immediately dismissed the pirate story, as it’s hard to make murder funny. Well, okay, that’s not ENTIRELY true. It’s hard to make murder funny when it’s innocent people. Even when they’re killed by pirates. I mean, South Park made the pirates funny. But they can be as inappropriate as they want because they don’t have a teaching job to worry about keeping. I also dismissed the Libya situation for the same reason. Which left me with the New Zealand earthquake. Unfortunately, the New Zealand thing wasn’t that funny either. I mean, there’s only so many Middle Earth jokes you can make. Besides, hobbits are pretty steady in an earthquake because of those big hairy feet. Orcs? They go down like a Kardashian on a pro athlete. But hobbits are fine.

And I’m not too worried about New Zealand. Apparently Australia and New Zealand are the only two nations that would survive a nuclear holocaust. It’s true. Wikipedia said it. Therefore, it’s unequivocally true. If Wikipedia says evolution didn’t happen, then it didn’t. But since Wikipedia said the people of New Zealand are going to be the ones repopulating the earth eventually, I feel like they’ll be fine.  Even if the Shire does need some rebuilding.

(I’m kidding.  The people of New Zealand are in my thoughts through this whole catastrophe.)

Which brought me back to Libya. Initially, I figured Libya wasn’t funny because it lacked the elements that made the Egypt story funny. I mean, you can’t make ten plagues jokes about Libya. Or mummy jokes.

In fact, I knew pretty much nothing about Libya.

To the point where I got very confused when I read that it was in the Middle East because I thought it was in Africa and had to look it up on a map.

Then I felt REALLY dumb, because Libya IS in Africa, but apparently northern Africa counts as the Middle East. Which seems a little off to me. I mean, if Libya is the Middle East, shouldn’t Greece and Italy be the Middle East too? They’re right across the Mediterranean from Libya. They’re closer to each other than Alaska and Russia, and Sarah Palin can see Russia from her house.

Then I read a few news stories on what’s going on in Libya and realized that I was dead wrong. (Look mom, I’m admitting that I was wrong about something!) Moammar Gaddafi is actually hilarious.

Well okay, I guess not TECHNICALLY hilarious. I mean, he’s nuts. Like certifiably crazy. And his militant supporters are killing the protesters left and right. And he’s threatening to basically blow himself and his entire country up before he’ll step down. But he’s much more funny in a psycho, not-remotely trying to be funny kind of way than Hosni Mubarak could ever be.

I mean, Mubarak may have had dictatorial tendencies, but Gaddafi is the real deal. Unlike Sarah Palin, however, who’s crazy and stupid, Gaddafi is crazy and smart.  Like a fox.

What am I basing that on?

Easy. His argument for why he can’t step down as leader of Libya.

Are you ready for this?

He can’t step down because he has no official title.

Utter genius.

Think about it. He’s been in charge of Libya since the late 1960s when he overthrew the monarchy. But he’s not the dictator. He’s not the emperor. He’s not the king. He’s not the president. He’s not the owner. He’s not even the Dude.

And if you aren’t OFFICIALLY any of those things, he’s right. You can’t actually retire from a job you don’t have.

Well played sir, well played.

So I did a little research on Gaddafi to find out more about this “Mad dog of the Middle East.” Apparently Ronald Reagan gave him that nickname. Which I don’t think strikes quite the amount of fear into people’s hearts as Reagan intended. I mean, I’d get it if the British called him a mad dog. They’re psycho about keeping rabies out of the country there because they don’t have it. Sort of like Australia with frogs. Like I wish the US had been with those creepy Frankenfish, stink bugs, and Sarah Palin. But here, rabies is totally preventable with a shot. And curable in people. Not all that scary.

Gaddafi took over Libya at 27 years old and saw himself as being the next Che Guevara. Which seems to mean that he dressed eccentrically and wore sunglasses all the time. But I don’t know how successful this plan was, because I’m pretty sure they’re not selling t-shirts at Urban Outfitters with his picture on them.

And in order to describe the kind of government that he started in Libya, he made up a word, “Jamahiriya,” which is supposed to mean something along the lines of a direct democracy. Which I think he misspelled and meant to describe as a direct demoCRAZY. Because in an actual direct demoCRACY, if the people don’t want him in charge, he’s no longer in charge. But I’m not going to argue semantics here. It’s hard enough to figure out how to pronounce “Jamahiriya.” In my head, it sounds like when Newman said “jambalaya” in the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld.

So let’s recap here. Gaddafi rose to fame in his mid-late twenties as a self-described cultural icon. He dressed bizarrely and wore sunglasses whenever possible. He has a nickname that makes no sense in relation to anything about him. And he makes up words to describe situations that he finds himself in. And he’s completely and utterly insane.

Sound like anyone we know and love today?

Yes, my friends. If they did a tv show called “Libya Shore,” it’d be starring Moammar “Mad Dog” Gaddafi and following his adventures as he sets a horrible trainwreck of an example for his country and the whole world.

He even fist pumps.

And the double fist pump.

Although, if he starts talking about grenades, I’d duck and cover, not just hide from the ugly chicks.

But who knows? Maybe he’ll eventually take a page out of Mubarak’s book and leave peacefully.

I mean, Angelina did it. And I have a hard time believing that Gaddafi is crazier than she is. Smarter? Yes. Crazier? No.

But I would like to wish the people of Libya good luck. And the people of New Jersey as well. It’s going to take both groups a long time to win this war. And like the people of New Zealand, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

When the universe is against you, only New Jersey can fix the situation

Every once in awhile, I have a day when I realize that the universe just hates me.

Like it’s not even one thing that goes wrong. It’s everything. And in some cosmic alignment that baffles me every time even though I now expect it, the universe always launches the epic life-ruining attacks on me in the week between Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day.

I suggested yesterday that next year, I should spend this week in Disney World, because nothing could go wrong in Disney World. But that plan was met with pleas for me to stay home because apparently my friends don’t want Disney World to burn down.

Love you guys too.

But this year, I have a secret weapon. The one and only thing that can thwart the evil plans that the universe concocts to remind me that my life sucks.

No, not Bruce Springsteen. He’s not touring this year. Because the universe hates me.

I’m talking about my second favorite thing to come out of the Garden State.

Yes. Once again, last night was T-shirt time.

And no one, not the universe, not Angelina, not Sammi, and not a grenade can ruin T-shirt time.

Because if nothing else, Jersey Shore reminds me that even though the universe hates me and my life sucks, it could ALWAYS be worse.

Actually though, I saw on Twitter that Angelina got engaged the other day.

I mean, honestly, I can’t imagine a worse excuse for a human being out there. And someone wants to marry HER? Oh God, it’s official. My life IS worse than Jersey Shore.

FML.

But it still makes me feel better for an hour a week no matter what else is going on.

Of course, last night’s episode made me want to tear someone’s extensions out when the previews for next week show Sammi back on the scene, because I was so happy when she left the show last week that I threw myself a one-person dance party and went to bed with a satisfied smile on my face, which doesn’t happen to this insomniac all that often.

But (cue ominous music) she’s baaaaaack. I’m starting to think that the only way to separate her and Ronnie is going to involve surgery and/or a chainsaw wielding axe-murderer. (Yes, I know that sounds odd. But honestly, I don’t think a regular axe murderer or chainsaw murderer would be enough to keep them apart. They’re like the world’s worst magnets.) 

The universe noticed how happy I was at Sammi leaving and retaliated by making it super obvious on Twitter that Sammi and Ronnie are still together now. Which put a damper on my dance party buzz the next morning when I realized that this separation was going to last less time than it took Deena to get naked in front of Mike. Which was approximately 0.6 nanoseconds. But I mean, crying in the bathroom at work Ronnie?  REALLY?  Come on man.  You’re killing me here!

But then Jersey Shore won won out in the end with the prank war.  Vinny talking about how smart he is, then failing with a water balloon absolutely made me feel better about life.  Thanks Vinny.  I needed that laugh last night!

However, the universe is trying to destroy my one weapon against it. There are horrible, horrible, ungodly, and emotionally shattering rumors flying around the internet that the Situation is going to LEAVE JERSEY SHORE after the fourth season to pursue a career as a film actor.

I know. I laughed too.

And I assumed it was an early April Fools joke. I mean, the freaky DC area weather DOES feel like spring right now. Maybe it actually IS April.

But no. He’s serious.

God help us all.

Mike, I love you. I do. Not as much as I love Pauly D (who I now have a talking bobblehead doll of—thank you Ary, I love it!!!!), but love is love. And honey, stick to what you’re good at: being an Ed Hardy-wearing, Sunday dinner-making, grenade-fighting, trouble-stirring-up, GTLing, prank war-spoiling jerk. It made you famous. You’re a household name. And the quickest way for a reality star to go from Pauly D to Flava Flav or (shudder) Jon Gosselin is by taking himself and his—um—talent—too seriously. (No, I couldn’t even type the word talent in the same sentence as those names with a straight face. Sorry Mike.)

But with that said, the folks at MTV pulled out a good plan to keep season four from covering the same ground as the first three seasons. No, they didn’t take my advice to crash their plane in the Andes or add Samuel L. Jackson as a cast member (it’s not too late, MTV! I’m telling you, he’d be ratings gold!), but this plan to shoot season four in Italy has potential.

Of course, in ancient times, the Romans would never have tolerated the Jersey Shore-style shenanigans. If you were causing a disturbance back then, the Seaside Heights police didn’t arrest you and send you home a few hours later. Oh no. If you caused trouble in ancient Rome, if they didn’t like you, they either nailed you to a cross (no, contrary to popular belief and Mel Gibson, the Jews didn’t do that) or feed you to the lions and tigers in the Colosseum.

Not that that plan would have worked. I’m pretty sure silicone and excessive amounts of hair gel are toxic to lions. And tigers would assume that, based on her healthy orange glow, Snooki was one of them. They’d totally adopt her and raise her as one of their own cubs.

Then again, she does wear a lot of leopard-print. Her oompa-loompa-eque skin color might not be enough to save her after all.

Yet even without the lions and tigers (and bears, oh my!), Italy is going to be an interesting change of pace for my favorite guidos and guidettes. Even if it IS the last season before everyone leaves to fail at acting careers.

But if the show DOES fall apart before next February, Bruce, I’m going to need you to tour. Otherwise the universe wins. And it doesn’t fight fair (just like a roid-rage filled Ronnie). One way or another, I’m counting on you New Jersey to fight the February curse. Because without you, all I can do is sound my grenade whistle and hide in bed with my Pauly D bobblehead, hoping that everything will be okay and that someday, somehow, it’ll be T-shirt time again.

What time is it? It’s T-SHIRT TIME!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

What? You don’t think the time between New Year’s and Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the best time of the year?

Then clearly you don’t know that it’s…

T-SHIRT TIME!

Oh yeah! Jersey Shore, yeah! (To be said in a Pauly D voice of course.)

Okay, I know what you’re thinking (because I’m psychic, remember?). You’re thinking that Mark Twain is rolling over in his grave even more than he was over the news of the last few days at the idea that my last blog was about Huckleberry Finn and this one is about the trashiest people/place on earth.

But I would make the argument that just as the “n” word is necessary to show the extreme racism and intolerance of the antebellum south, Jersey Shore is necessary to show future generations the idiocy of our current society. Because really, how else will people be able to justify things like Twilight, Snuggies, Scientology, the war in Iraq, Mel Gibson, the Shake Weight, and Pajama Jeans in 150 years if they can’t see the cast of Jersey Shore?

That’s right. I’m saying Jersey Shore is our generation’s Huck Finn.

No, not really. I’m just trying to justify how much I love it. Because I do love it. A lot.

With that said, I think this season is going to be worse than Ronnie and Sammi’s relationship. Which puts it on the Dyson level of sucking, because like Ronnie and Sammi, a Dyson NEVER loses its suction power. (Yes, I watched the Jersey Shore marathon when I was sick over winter break. Yes, it lowered my IQ, hence the vacuum cleaner joke. Sorry. I’ll go read some Shakespeare this weekend to restore some of my mental abilities.)

Not that I think it’ll be the last season. Oh no. MTV is going to milk this goose that lays the golden eggs for as long as they can. Wait. That’s not right. Milk this money tree? Stupid Jersey Shore! Me were not dumb before yous.

I am excited to see what this season brings, but I think they already covered everything that they could in the first two seasons. Every possible heterosexual hookup combination in the house has happened. All of the girls have gotten into hair-pulling fights with each other (resulting in hair extensions and broken acrylic nails everywhere. Oh the humanity. Although Ronnie’s description of Snooki as fighting like a T-Rex with the tiny little arms qualifies as one of the funniest moments in all of television history).

All of the guys have gotten into screaming matches with each of the girls and then been punched/slapped by each of the girls. Angelina has left the show early. Twice. We’ve seen J-Woww’s boobs (sorry honey, I love you, but pasties don’t count as a shirt. Even at the strip club), we’ve seen Snooki’s crotch, we know about Pauly’s special piercing, and we’ve heard Snooki’s description of Vinny’s—um—appendage, and if the Situation ever robbed a liquor store and people were looking for him, everyone in America could describe his abs well enough to a sketch artist that he’d be caught within about 30 seconds.

I mean, honestly, unless they get into same-sex hookups, start shooting up heroin on camera, or go on a massive killing spree, I can’t imagine this season providing us with anything new.

But don’t worry MTV, I have ideas that can make sure this trainwreck keeps jumping the rails.

For example, season four shouldn’t be in Seaside Heights or Miami. Been there, done that. I want to drop the cast off in the Andes in winter and see who survives. Okay, it’s a little predictable, because clearly they’ll kill and eat Snooki first. Unless Angelina was there. They’d kill her first–not for food, because I’m pretty sure she’d be poisonous, but because she’s awful. And I’m pretty sure that Pauly D is indestructible because his hair serves as a permanent helmet, and J-Woww is more plastic than human, so I’m not sure she CAN die. But I think people would tune in to watch that.

Or make them be homeless for a season. I’m not going to lie, I’d absolutely tune in every week to see how they’d get by living in a cardboard box under a bridge. And Snooki wouldn’t have to complain about the tax on tanning if she lived outdoors. Have you ever taken a good look at homeless people? They’re the only ones with a darker tan than the Jersey Shore cast.

Wait, scratch that one. Homeless people have it hard enough without dropping that kind of drama bomb on them.

They’ve got the right idea with adding a new cast member, but I don’t think Deena is going to work out. Because after just one episode, I already think deserves the death penalty. Literally. I didn’t think it was possible to get worse than Angelina. Thank you, MTV, for providing me with proof that humanity is doomed.  Although I’d still take her over Sammi any day… what is WRONG with that girl?

I want to see Samuel L. Jackson living in the house with them next season. Think about how mad he got about those m#$*%#$@#&ing snakes on that m#$*%#$@#&ing plane. I would pay good money to see how he handles the current cast members when they get drunk and start fighting.

Of course, at most, there are only going to be another two or three seasons. Not because MTV will ever cancel the show, but because all of the cast members currently have book deals and I still don’t. Which is indisputable evidence that the Mayan prophecy WAS, in fact, correct, and the world will be ending in December 2012.

Repent now, my friends. The end is near.

But until then, the cabs are here and it’s T-SHIRT TIME!

Greetings From Asbury Park, New Jersey–the REAL Jersey Shore

A couple of times a year, I hop in the car and take the three-and-a-half hour drive to my own personal Mecca.

No, I don’t mean the DSW headquarters or the Stila cosmetics factory (both of which I would LOVE to go to though… road trip anyone?). I mean Asbury Park, New Jersey.

Now I know that when I say any destination on the Jersey Shore is my version of Mecca, you’re immediately picturing steroid-filled, spiky-haired, Ed Hardy-wearing, drunken guidos and their silicone-filled, hair extentioned, whore-y female counterparts. But none of those stereotypes are actually FROM the Jersey Shore. They just migrate there in the summer like really obnoxious birds that you can’t dislodge from your trees no matter how hard you try.

So Saturday night, I took “that drive, cross the river to the Jersey side” to see Jesse Malin perform at the Stone Pony. I’d seen him Wednesday night in the DC area and when I talked to him after, he told me that I should try to make it to the Asbury show. He did tell me that Bruce wasn’t a definite, but that didn’t matter, nor did it matter that in the end, Bruce didn’t show up. Because that’s not why I wanted to go. The truth is that you don’t have to work very hard to convince me to go to a concert (especially when it’s Bruce, the Gaslight Anthem, or Jesse Malin, who are my three favorite live performers), and it takes even less convincing to get me to Asbury Park.

Before you misunderstand me, I feel the need to point out that Asbury Park is still pretty shady. It’s kind of the polar opposite of my other Jersey Shore destination (my uncle’s shore house in Avalon), which is like the Disney version of the Jersey Shore (very clean, very safe, a pain in the ass to get to, and WAY overpriced in every possible way). In fact, if Avalon is Disney World, Asbury Park is Chuck E. Cheese. (Which would make Seaside Heights, where Jersey Shore is filmed the equivalent of the old Wild World Water Park in Prince Georges County, before it became the Six Flags, when it was dirty and disgusting and always had an alarming vomit-to-water ratio in all of the water rides.) It’s gritty, and you’re far more likely to encounter a giant rat than Mickey Mouse (because I don’t care what anyone says, Chuck E. Cheese is a rat).

But to a diehard Springsteen fan, it’s home.

Asbury Park, in fact, despite being a little scary at night (and sometimes during the day), is the ONLY place (other than my uncle’s house), where I can feel like I’m NOT a freak for how much I love Bruce. In Asbury, even on a non-concert day, I’m a lightweight. So part of why I love it is probably because it makes me feel more normal than any place in the DC area ever could.

But that’s not why I go there so often.

And no, it’s not because there’s always the off-chance that Bruce could pop up wherever you are there (which has only happened to me once in the six years that I’ve been going there. I have terrible Bruce-spotting luck. Although he DID stop his car and say hi to me the one time he WAS there at the same time as me—because he CLEARLY loves me too). It’s because everywhere you look, everything you see is straight out of one of his songs.

Granted, it was a little more fun from that perspective back before they started revitalizing the town, but even with many of the major landmarks gone, Asbury Park still holds a special place in the heart of all of the “tramps like us” who were “born to run.”

The funny thing for me is that Asbury Park’s “Glory Days” were long over by the time I was born (nevermind when that was. It was decades after Asbury Park’s heyday, let’s leave it at that). I never got to see the Palace when it was open (although I was there the week before they tore it down, which is when I got the photos that would later become the front and back covers of my first novel, Beyond the Palace).

The Palace, after the back was already demolished, May 2004

By the time I got to the Circuit, the northern end of it had already been closed off by the water plant. Madam Marie was no longer telling fortunes in her shack on the boardwalk (although a year ago, her granddaughter DID do a tarot card reading for me there, which was ridiculously cool, even though I don’t believe in that stuff).

Kids busking outside Madam Marie’s, May 2004

There was no joint underneath the boardwalk where girls could promise to unsnap their jeans (although before the town turned around in the last couple of years, there WAS an abundance of prostitutes who would probably have been willing to act out any Bruce-related fantasy for the right price). And that “giant Exxon sign that brings this fair city light” was a poorly paved asphalt lot by the time I got there.

The Casino, May 2004

I described the scene that first greeted me in Asbury Park in a chapter of Beyond the Palace, through the eyes of my two main characters:

Asbury Avenue brought us into the city itself. I had taken over driving after we stopped at a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike, but Laura told me to pull over as soon as we saw the Palace Amusement complex looming on the horizon, its cracked and peeling green façade rising abruptly out of the flat seaside landscape. Commanded is a little closer to what she actually did. I thought she wanted to get out and walk around, so I looked for a parking lot, but she told me that the side of the road was fine. We had only seen a couple of cars on the road since coming into town, so I obliged. Laura hopped out of the car practically before I brought it to a complete stop. She ran around to the driver’s side and opened my door before I could open it. “I want to drive the circuit,” she said, excitement showing in every curve of her body. The circuit was no longer really a circuit by the time we got there in 2003, as the water purification plant at 8th Avenue effectively closed that end of it, but we had heard Bruce’s stories from concert bootlegs. In the 1970s, four one-way streets formed a sort of hangout/racetrack through town, where girls would “comb their hair in rearview mirrors” and the boys tried “to look so hard.” The Palace was a crumbling landmark from Bruce’s songs, a testament to his city of ruins. But the circuit was where you could still find the Bruce from Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town. Driving it was something that we knew he had done. And I knew that Laura would want to give me a chance to drive it too, so I had no problem letting her take her turn first.

She pulled the car into drive and took us slowly down Asbury to Ocean Avenue, where we passed the Casino. She had timed her mix almost perfectly. The next song was “Sandy,” which was about the attractions on the circuit and the beach. We made our way past the rotting hulk of the Casino, which had been an arcade with an arm that jutted out onto a pier in better days, but that part had long since washed away. We could see the boardwalk to our right, and the legendary Stone Pony to our left. Past a bizarre, rusted, half-finished high-rise, past Lance and Debbie’s Wonder Bar, which Clarence once owned, past the Howard Johnson’s, orange and space-age looking in its un-maintained 1960s splendor. Convention Hall rose up on our right, by far the nicest building in town, which wasn’t saying much. Facing the end of the circuit, we turned down 7th Avenue to Kingsley Avenue, and again Laura’s mix proved perfect, as the opening line of the next song was about driving down Kingsley and deciding to stop for a drink. Laura looked around in wide-eyed wonder. She drove us down to where we had started and then we switched seats and went back around the same course, this time with me driving. After a full lap, I looped back to park near the Stone Pony so that we could walk around and explore the town.

Laura usually left the top of her car down with the windows up on nice days, and this certainly qualified. Her car had a strong alarm system, and no one could really reach anything with the windows up. But Laura started putting the top up before I could even suggest it. This didn’t look like the kind of town where it was smart to leave anything remotely accessible if you ever wanted to see it again. Not that there was anyone around to steal anything. We got out of the car and I walked immediately around to Laura’s side. It was creepy. We hadn’t seen a living soul yet. It looked like no one had lived there for about twenty years. The only signs of life were a few old, dilapidated cars parked near the Pony.

Laura dug into her purse for quarters to feed the meter and I fished two out of my pockets. Laura inserted one with a dull clink, then peered at it.

“Shit,” she said idly. “Broken.” She looked at me and shrugged. “I’ll move the car.” I looked around. There was a sea of empty spaces and the meters looked older than us. No flashing red lights to show which had expired here. Laura started to climb back into the car, but I stopped her.

“Let’s find a working meter first,” I said. I went to the one next to the one Laura had tried. It was expired. I put a quarter in, but nothing happened. I tried the one next to that, and again, nothing. Laura started to look amused. She tried the one on the other side of the car. Looked at it curiously. Then tried one more.

“They’re all broken!” she exclaimed. “Does that mean we can just park here?” I looked around. Even the asphalt of the parking lot looked older than dirt. Stringy grass sprouted up in large clumps all around and a rainbow of brown and green broken bottles glittered in the sunlight.

“Yeah,” I said finally. “If we get a ticket, I feel like this place needs the money more than we do.” Laura smiled weakly and nodded. I don’t think she had expected it to be quite this bad. We knew it would be fairly rundown, or else Bruce couldn’t have written a song about it that would later be used to describe New York after September 11. But we hadn’t imagined the level of devastation that we actually found there. We didn’t know how dead a place could feel.

I felt disappointed too, but I wanted Laura happy again. “Let’s go exploring.” She nodded again and hooked her camera strap across her body as we set off toward the Palace of “Born to Run” fame. An exceptionally seedy-looking motel stood on the corner of Kingsley and 2nd Avenue. Laura stopped and stared at it. I turned and looked at her while she worked out whatever she was thinking. Finally, a huge smile spread across her face. I turned and looked where she was looking. A battered sign read “The Flamingo Motel.”

“Do you see it?” Laura asked. I looked more carefully. It looked like the sign had fluorescent lights along the looping words once, but if they had been there, they were long gone now. Pink, fluorescent lights, I would assume, to go with the Flamingo part. She watched me expectantly, but I shrugged. I didn’t know what she wanted me to see.

“What if I said ‘Flamingo Lane’?” she asked, hinting. Flamingo Lane? A line from “Jungleland.” Off Born to Run. The two lovers “take a stab at romance” and vanish “down Flamingo Lane.”

“Oh!” I said as I realized what she was getting at. Flamingo Lane wasn’t a street. Disappearing there meant getting a room at this motel. It was one of the many things that both of us loved about Bruce. His songs were poetry. If you didn’t look deeper, Flamingo Lane could be a street somewhere. If you did, the story became a love affair, with the sax solo acting as the un-vocalized verse that represents the culmination of that passion in this little dive motel. But it doesn’t matter that it’s a dump, because to them, it’s beautiful; it’s not a motel anymore, it’s a whole world that they can disappear into.

Laura beamed at me. “That is just the coolest thing ever.” She took my hand and pulled me across the street. “We have to check this out!” But the Flamingo, like just about everything else in town, was closed. Laura’s smile faded quickly.

I did have an ace up my sleeve, even though I hadn’t expected to have to play it that soon. I leaned down to whisper into her ear. “We’re less than a couple hundred feet from where Bruce will probably be tonight.” She smiled again and turned back to face me. She looked at me for just a second too long, her face a little too close to mine. I hesitated. She pulled back, kissed me noisily on the cheek, then turned away to walk down Kingsley toward the Palace. If she had stayed a second longer, would I have had the nerve to kiss her? Would she have let me? Doubtful, but I couldn’t help but wonder. She was halfway down the block before I realized I had better catch up. Maybe she would have let me kiss her. But there were still no guarantees that she would wait for me when anything involving Bruce was at stake.

The Palace, once one of the largest arcades in the country, was hardly more inviting than the Flamingo had been, as it was closed down in 1988. It was hard to believe, but it had gone way downhill since Bruce shot his video for “Tunnel of Love” there. A chain link fence surrounded the building, keeping vandals and teenagers out. There was barely even any graffiti on the peeling, faded paint; almost as if Asbury Park was so deserted that there weren’t even enough people there to vandalize an abandoned building. Instead, only the weather desecrated this once unmistakable landmark of the Jersey shore. Even the words on the street sign at the corner were faded and missing a letter. We walked around the side of the long-since empty building, reading the attractions advertised on the side in reverent silence. Laura stood in the middle of the road to take pictures without even needing to worry about traffic. The only moving car that we saw since arriving in town passed us as we walked down Kingsley toward the lake that separated Asbury Park from Ocean Grove, which was an entirely different universe. Ocean Grove was populated. Booming. Rich. Alive. Yet one block away, Asbury Park was as decimated as if a bomb had been dropped on it. We both turned to look at the car as it passed. It was the first sign of life that we had seen.

I personally thought that would have to be the worst of it. But the Casino had trees growing inside of it. Literally. Trees. The roof was torn off in some storm in the 1980s and never replaced. The carousel, which had once been world-famous, was sold off piece by piece and the space around it turned into a skate park before the entire building was shut down. By the time we got there, it was completely boarded up, and the only windows that weren’t broken were too high to reach with rocks or even BB guns. The remains of the pier hung perilously over the edge of the beach, guarded by a lone “No Trespassing” sign, which I doubted would have been enforced if people who wanted to trespass ever showed up. Nearer to the edge of the pier, only the frame of the roof remained, with big patches of blue sky visible through the broken windows. Plant life was clearly thriving in that end of the building, but the windows were higher there and there wasn’t a chance of getting a peek inside without a tall ladder.

An empty paint bucket stood near some of the lower windows and I turned it over. “What are you doing?” Laura asked. I climbed onto the bucket.

“Seeing if there’s anything inside.” I grabbed the ledge and pulled myself up enough to see inside. She watched me expectantly as I looked in. But there wasn’t anything exciting to report back. I climbed down and shrugged at her. “Do you want to see?”

She nodded and climbed up onto the bucket, but wasn’t quite tall enough to see, so I picked her up. I held her while she snapped a few shots of the inside through the broken window, and when I put her down, we wandered around to the boardwalk side, where an entire panel of windows was missing and the foliage inside was clearly visible.

Turning away from the Casino on the boardwalk, a ramp to our left led up to nowhere. It just ended about ten feet off the ground. I looked from there to the beach and touched Laura’s arm to get her attention. “There are some people, at least,” I said, pointing toward the beach. Laura looked relieved. The beach was pretty deserted, but a handful of people had also played hooky from work (or maybe in a town like this, they didn’t have jobs to skip out of) and were scattered along the shore, enjoying the beautiful day.

Laura had started down the boardwalk and when I looked at her, her jaw dropped open. “Look! It’s really there!” she almost shouted, pointing toward the Convention Center. She was pointing at a tiny white shack, which was barely noticeable, but a serious attraction for a Bruce fan. It was Madame Marie’s Temple of Knowledge. Madame Marie was a fortune teller who supposedly told Bruce that he was going to become famous. Although, according to Bruce, all musicians in Asbury Park received the same fortune, just not always with the same level of accuracy. She was mentioned in “Sandy” as being arrested for telling fortunes better than the police. Her shack, of course, was not open, nor was there any trace of Madame Marie herself, other than the faded lettering on the white walls of the building, which couldn’t have been more than about eight feet by eight feet. But we had once seen a picture of Bruce standing right in front of that spot. Laura traced a finger over the lettering on the side. She looked disappointed. I think she had expected Madame Marie to be sitting inside, waiting to tell our fortunes.

Today, it’s infinitely better. For starters, there’s a working parking system (wait, that’s not actually a better thing for me on a teacher’s salary!). It’s safer, it’s cleaner, there are cute little stores, and it no longer looks like a third-world country by the sea.

And even though the Palace and most of the Casino are now long gone, and Madam Marie has finally gone to a better place, where the cops can’t bust her for telling fortunes better than they do, Asbury Park remains one of the few places that I’ve ever been to where there still IS “magic in the night.” Whether it’s catching a show at the legendary Stone Pony (which I’ve done often enough at this point that some of the bouncers know me—I feel like that’s NOT a good thing when I live three-and-a-half hours away!), spending a summer day down the shore, or even just “driving down Kingsley, figuring [you’ll] get a drink,” it’s a special town. And even if Bruce never DOES show up while you’re there, he doesn’t need to. Because to anyone who’s ever felt a strong connection to his lyrics, just being there provides you with that “moment when the world seems right.”

Which is why I’m going back in a month for the annual Light of Day show. If I find a ticket. (Hint hint, if you’ve got extras!)

Me after Madam Marie’s granddaughter Sabrina read my tarot carts, just before the 2010 Light of Day show.

New Jersey may smell like Old Jersey… but I secretly love it anyway!

I have a secret crush on the state of New Jersey.

I hide my love for the armpit of America well. I joke about the state and the people who live there often, but I’m secretly jealous of New Jerseyites and wish that I lived there too.

You may ask why I would love a state like New Jersey. It’s one of the smelliest states in America (drive through Elizabeth, New Jersey with your windows open if you don’t believe me), you can’t make a left turn anywhere in the entire state, the accents are ridiculously annoying, a lot of the shore towns are beyond trashy, and every summer hoards of horrible “bennies” descend and manage to make the cast of Jersey Shore look classy.

I’m not even going to try to dispute any of the negatives. They’re all true. And not in a charming way. In fact, the unofficial state song, “Born to Run,” is about getting the hell OUT of there.

Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run (Official Music Video)

But New Jersey has a lot going for it that no other state can boast.

For example, it’s hard to hate a state with so many beaches. I love the beach and hate that all Maryland has is Ocean City. For anyone who hasn’t been to Maryland’s Eastern shore, it’s kind of like Seaside Heights from season one of Jersey Shore, but with WAY less hot people. In fact, most of the people in Ocean City, Maryland look like Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers movies. 

Only instead of eating a baby, they’re shoving funnel cake and french fries down their throats so fast that you can actually watch their fat expanding. Jersey beaches have their share of fat, ugly people, but with so much more coastline to spread them out along, the ratio of fat people to attractive people is much lower and therefore makes going to the beach a far more pleasant experience.

One of my favorite things about Jersey is that the music scene there is ONLY topped by the music scene in New York City. And it’s close enough to NYC that you can get there easily for other concerts too. I don’t know exactly what it is that makes Jersey bands so good. Maybe it’s something in the water (although even suggesting that jokingly makes me think of Blinky, the three-eyed fish created by the pollution from the nuclear power plant on The Simpsons).

Or maybe it’s because New Jersey is mocked on such a widespread level that bands coming from there feel that they have more to prove to the world. But whatever it is, it works.

Two of my New Jersey favorites: The Gaslight Anthem and Bruce Springsteen

 The New Jersey Turnpike often sucks, especially as you get closer to New York City, but I have to say, New Jersey drivers are WAY better than drivers in most of the rest of the country. 

The reason for this is that New Jersey drivers understand that you’re supposed to drive on the right and pass on the left. DC, Maryland, and Virginia drivers don’t get this concept. In Maryland, it’s completely normal to see people driving ten miles per hour under the speed limit in the far left lane. In New Jersey, no one does that unless they’re from out of state. I’d trade our left turns for drivers who know what they’re doing any day. 

In fact, if people in Maryland knew which lane they belonged in, I might be able to be on time more often! (Okay, probably not. But it’s possible.)

People in New Jersey may pump their fists, but they DON’T have to pump their own gas. 

They’re actually not ALLOWED to. When I started college and met my first New Jersey natives, I found it hilarious that they didn’t know how to pump their own gas. 

But once I’d driven to New Jersey and experienced this myself, I started wondering why the rest of the world isn’t as awesome as New Jersey is. I’m not exactly Miss Feminism; I like it when people open doors for me and are extra nice to me because I’m a girl. So do I want a nice man to pump my gas for me? Why yes, I do indeed. And gas prices are even LOWER in New Jersey. On road trips, I tend to coast into the state on fumes, just to experience the joys of New Jersey gas stations. It’s not that I MIND pumping my own gas. It’s just so much nicer when I don’t have to. A gas jockey at a New Jersey station even killed a spider in my car for me one time. That just doesn’t happen in other states.

So New Jersey, I know everyone makes fun of you, but some of us are just jealous. And the rest of the haters just don’t know what they’re missing. 

And to everyone who has been reading this whole post expecting me to talk about how my favorite person in the whole world is a New Jersey native, give me a little credit here.

Dr. House is just the icing on the cake. 😉