Hoboken:  It's still not all condos.



For a surprise Hannukah gift, the postman dropped off a box of three books at my old apartment.  A neighbor called me to let me know, so I went and picked them up.  Apparently I wrote a Christmas book that I didn't even remember writing!

No, seriously, it turns out that this is Starting from Square Two, my 2004 novel, recently translated into French and marketed as a Christmas book.  I Googled it and found out that it was just released on Dec. 1.  Who knew?  The title in French is:  Christmas, Love, and Other Annoyances.

That's a great title!  Okay, it leaves out that the main character is a young widow, but you can get to that.
Here is a Google translation of the French description of the book:

Who said I need a love coach? I'm 29 and I'm going to spend my first Christmas with single in ten years! Ten years I never went to a bar for a speed dating or that I have not tried to seduce a man . Therefore, it is urgent! My friends, Hallie and Erika, claim that seduction is like riding a bike: it is not forgotten. I have trouble believing them.  How to start a conversation?  How to look sexy without overdoing it? The problem is that I just met Todd . An unexpected gift : big , cute, a false air of Colin Farrell. Say that I have not found anything else like tactical approach than to mention all the replicas of the Untouchables ! That said, it has seemed to work. So maybe I'm not a hopeless case. Maybe quej'ai still entitled to believe in Santa Claus.

Well, it is a pretty good writeup.  I'd read it.  They should have said that Todd's a train conductor, though.  I never thought of Colin Farrell, but hey, if it sells books, good!

Vive la France!!


When the PATH trains are out of commission due to the storm, you get...buses!  
And nifty reflections.


Drum     beat

I bet this drum had a good story before it was tossed out after the floods of Hoboken.


Post script

10 days later....


Storm story

marina, hoboken, tuesday

new york, from hoboken, tuesday

sunday morning

Took the kids to the park. The park was the most full I'd ever seen it. Parents were saying it was their last chance to take the kids out for a while, joking about how they'll be drinking a lot come Wednesday.

It was lucky we enjoyed it when we did, becaue the mayor closed all parks as of 3 p.m. that day.  Police tape was across the entrances by nightfall.

sunday night

Watched the news to see if the storm was going to turn toward the sea instead of making the rare direct hit into Jersey. But...

Little happened on Sunday and Monday except for gusts of wind.


I had to put up breaking news items for work on Sunday and Monday, almost all of them storm updates.  My trusty barometer was steadily dropping. 

The storm was supposed to arrive around 7 p.m. on Monday.  All day, infrequent gusts shook the colorful foliage, but that was it.  I've been in noisier hurricanes (Floyd, Gloria, and when I was a little kid, Belle). Most failed to live up to the hype.

But Sandy was different. The effects were worse after the storm rather than during.

monday night

We were watching the news on TV around 9:30 when everything went dark. It was pleasant to finally be relieved of all the constant noise around us in busy little Hoboken, and just hear the steady wind. We flicked on our flashlights and played with the kids.

At first it felt like camping.  I lay on my back with both kids and looked at the rings of light on the ceiling.  Even at one point was thrilled to remember that had a battery pack for my breastmilk pump (TMI, sorry.)

That night, my trusty barometer, which has its own blog doncha know, got to its lowest reading ever:  28.85 inches.  It stayed there for a few hours, then started going back up, which I guess meant the eye had passed.  Cool!

Monday night, without light or noise, I slept well and had vivid dreams. 

tuesday morning

We were relatively ok.  We ate nonperishable food, listened to the radio.  Except for some realizations:

-We no longer had internet, even on our phones. 

-iPad couldn't work because the wifi router required power.

-The lack of hot water meant I couldn't clean stuff well. 

-Our phones were losing their charge and there was no way to recharge them.  And:

-Phone service was out anyway, except for brief moments when a bunch of backed-up texts squeezed through at once, then stopped again.


The curfew was supposed to be lifted by 1 p.m. Tuesday, and the storm was gone.  So...

tuesday afternoon

We walked uptown in Hoboken and saw some waterfront detritus in the streets.  Most stores were closed.  We saw lots of police cars, few lights.  A couple of stores were open with long lines.

Town was quiet.

We had no idea that just a few blocks from us, the streets were full of water and people could not leave their homes.

We had no idea, in fact, that other communities were destroyed, homes were leveled, and people were hearing things about Hoboken on the news and worrying about us.  We had no TV, no internet, so no idea.

I entertained the kids with books and songs.  It got dark early.  We had plenty of flashlights, but it was getting colder at night.

wednesday morning

We got word that relatives had their power back.  Yay!  We were going to pack up and go.  The cold water and lack of heat were getting bothersome.

Walking toward the car, we saw that there were a few blocks with power.  The houses had signs in front saying "Recharge here, free!" and "Happy Halloween.  Recharge your phone."  Neighbors had threaded extention cords out of their windows so that other people in town could come recharge their phones for free.  How delightful!

For some reason, there were more police cars around than the day before.  NBC and CBS news vans were prowling around.  Why?  We weren't sure.

Before we could leave town, we had to stop by my office, where my boss had told me by text we were going to meet at 11.  We met, made some plans.  A few of my co-workers said they had trouble getting into Hoboken because police were turning most non-residents away or making them go to a different entrance.  Town had seemed so quiet the day before.  What was going on? 

wednesday night

We finally got to unpack, watch the news, and get our phone messages and e-mails. 

People were very worried that they weren't able to reach us.

Someone called us and said that the national news reported that 20,000 people in Hoboken were trapped in their homes.

Huh?  There are only 50,000 people in Hoboken.  I thought the person had misheard.

Then we started watching the news.

National Guard

Long story short, we were very lucky.  Many people WERE trapped, some for days, some with newborn babies.  Even if the water was only a few feet high, it contained gas and wasn't something people could wade through.  There may be people who live alone who are still trapped.

Starbucks gets the word out 

Poles around town

In our family, everyone was fine.  Other people lost homes, some lost family members.  We are very lucky. 

I hope you and your family are safe tonight, wherever you are. 


A perfect writing day

The week before the storm, I took several days up to finally pound out parts of a novel that I've worked on here and there for a long time.  There were too many ideas rolling around in my head, but no blocks of time to concentrate on it. 

The first day off, Tuesday, I set right to work that morning, not wanting to wait any longer.

I had a perfect writing day.  I revised and shaped the first 47 pages, and enjoyed a nice, warm black and white cookie on a cloudy day.

There were no distractions, and I got done what I needed to.  I felt a lot better after I had organized the foundation for the rest of the novel. 

The rest of that week, I did more writing, article fact-checking, and a few tasks around the house.  The reports of an oncoming storm got more dire, so I kept making quick trips to the supermarket.  Luckily, I was off and had time to prepare.


The day after - Hoboken, NJ. 

Much more later when I have more service.



The sun won't come out tomorrow. Instead, we just get Sandy.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the oncoming hurricane/nor'easter/whatever.  We may lose power, but if I get decent photos, I'll post them...someday.

Here are pre-storm photos from Sunday.


Can you spot the floppy-eared hound snoozing on a couch on a rainy Sunday?  I should have pointed the camera down a bit more so you could see how his right ear was draped across the couch, its furry white inner side facing up.  Cute!

Entries I have been meaning to get to:

My manuscript graveyard
Acting your age
Movies my parents stuck my brother and me in because there was nothing out for kids.
Thoughts on turning 40 (I have this written somewhere and still haven't posted it.)

Stay tuned.


Here Comes Honey Boo Boo

A few weeks ago, I was flipping through channels and came upon a TV show called "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." There was a little girl on the screen with a cute pet pig, so I watched. I pressed "information" to find out what this show was all about. It didn't tell me that; just what the particular episode was about, so the mystery remained. But the piggy was cute so I kept watching.

 The girl talked in a Southern accent, and various family members flitted around. When the gang went outside, the girl's very large mom asked for a tarp and said they were going to wet it down to use as a "Redneck slip and slide."

 Then they were at the dinner table and the pig was on the table. The pig, whose name was Glitzy, decided to poo on the table. This is where it gets interesting.

The next few scenes were various people's reactions to the pig pooing. 

Yes, that's how desperate reality show producers are for something to happen. Every moment is magnified.  They turned a pig pooing into various reaction shots.

One of the kids on the show said that the mom wanted to eat the poo because "It looked like a hot dog."

 The little girl's only comment was this: "Glitzy ooo-ed herself."

 Anyway, a few days later, I remembered to Google this show. Turns out the little girl is from "Toddlers and Tiaras." Well, it all made sense now. The girl's nickname is Honey Boo Boo, and the show's about her family in Georgia. It's on TLC, the Learning Channel, because it's educational, you know.

In the weeks since my first encounter with this show, I have learned that its ratings are through the roof. In fact, South Park intends to parody it tonight. There's also going to be a Thanksgiving special and a Christmas special.  Just more to look forward to during this season of giving!


It's fall.  Time to go to New England.  Especially if lobster rolls can be had....  

Out back...  (Not to be confused with Outback)

In nearby Noank...