16 July 2009


The Press of Atlantic City published my letter (edited to death): http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/opinion/letters/article_9bac705d-5b2f-5a0c-b6a3-d4488d14c2e6.html

14 July 2009

True That!

You know where the real South Jersey is.. Its the island, and you know you are from there if:
1. You live on Absecon Island.
2. You know that summer is not a season, it is a process.
3. You know what a shoobie is, you can point them out, and you hate them and wish they would go home.
4. You’ve been shit on by a seagull.
5. You've called some dumbass shoobie an asshole to their face for feeding the seagulls.
6. You don't, for any reason whatsoever, feed the seagulls.
7. You know which beach is ‘your beach’ and you know which spot is ‘your spot’ and you get angry when someone takes your spot.
8. When you were in high school, you didn’t see anything wrong with going through metal detectors and bag checks every morning.
9. In high school, you skipped class and wandered the halls, talking to the security guards without them questioning why you weren’t in class.
10. You know that Atlantic City High School marching band can lay down some phat beats.
11. You know what a Wawa is and know the location of at least 15 of them.
12. You go to Wawa almost every day.
13. You’ve been out of the area and missed Wawa.
14. You know that there is only one road out of Brigantine and that if you ever happen to be there when there is a catastrophic storm, you are fucked.
15. You don’t think the casinos are anything to get excited about.
16. You rarely go to the casinos and if you do, it is usually when people that you know from out of town are visiting.
17. You know what became of the 13th Leeds child.
18. It is the BEACH and NOT the SHORE.
19. You hate the phrase ‘watch the tram car please’ and are upset that they don’t slow down when you stand in front of them.
20. You’ve had arguments over cheesesteak quality.
21. You’ve also had arguments over whether Tony’s Batiimore Grille or Mac and Manco’s makes better pizza and are a diehard fan of one of the two.
22. You know how to properly navigate a traffic circle
.23. You know that just because someone has Jersey tags doesn’t mean they are not a shoobie. 24. You think South Jersey should secede from North Jersey and create its own state.
25. You say water weird.
26. ‘Jeet yet?’ makes sense to you.
27. You know that any snowfall of more than three inches is considered a blizzard and all schools will shut down immediately.
28. You have ‘beach feet.’
29. You've never actually bought a beach badge and if you see a beach badge checker who looks like she is going to bother you, you just go into the water.
30. You have an EZ PASS but just hold it up.
31. You know that you need to get the hell out of Camden before dark.
32. Your car is covered in yellow-green dust in April and May.
33. You can smell and know when it is low tide.
34. You don’t go to the Ocean City boardwalk because there are too many shoobies.
35. You know that Salt Water Taffy is not made from salt water and can name most, if not all of the flavors.
36. The Eagles/Giants rivalry has started fights in your school and/or bar.
37. During the air show in August your house shakes and car alarms go off is your neighborhood.
38. There is a specific ice cream man that you always buy ice cream from on the beach, and do not like to buy it from anyone else, even if they have the same stuff.
39. You have eaten at restaurants with locations I II, III, IV, and V.
40. You get excited when you see Chopper 6 and hum the Action News song.
41. You’ve had sex on the beach, and I’m not talking about the beverage.
42. Honesty, sincerity, and courtesy are things you once saw happen in Ohio.
43. You know that you don’t put ketchup on boardwalk fries.
44. You think Olive Garden is a bunch of crap and should not open restaurants around here.
45. In the summer you do not go to the store for tomatoes, you go to your backyard.
46. You know that we have the best tomatoes in the world (seriously).
47. You’ve counted the number of strip clubs and Cash for Gold stores in Atlantic City.
48. You know which Cash for Gold stores you can get a ‘fake ID’ at.
49. You always went to the Franklin Institute when you were a kid.
50. You know where to get the best bagel, and know that a bagel is much more than just a roll with a hole in the middle.
51. Donald Trump is mentioned daily in the newspaper.
52. You’ve called someone an asshole to their face at the Philly airport.
53. You say ‘yo’ and ‘dude’ and say it often.
54. You’ve lived through hurricanes, nor’easters, and fires, but have never experienced a tornado, earthquake or volcano.
55. You get excited when the hurricane season names come out and your name is one of them.
56. You get sad if ‘your’ hurricane doesn’t do anything or, worse yet, they don’t get to your name that year.
57. You know that Acme is an actual store, and not just a Warner Bros. creation.
58. You know what a Whippoorwill is and know the sound of them.
59. You have mandatory recycling, enforced by law.
60. You are still pissed off that they had the audacity to move the Miss America Pageant to flippin’ Las Vegas.
61. You think Atlantic City’s slogan ‘always turned on’ is stupid, and possibly a reference to strip clubs and prostitution. And you miss the old slogan of ‘America’s favorite playground.’
62. You know all of the police in your town, and possibly surrounding towns as well.
63. You remember DARE with Lt. Biagi when he was a bike cop.
64. You don’t have to go to Red Lobster to get fresh seafood and feel the same way about that restaurant as you do Olive Garden.
65. You know how to pronounce Buena on route 40.
66. You know New Year’s is all about Mummers and the Polar Bear club.
67. You’ve waited for the goddamn drawbridge for more than ten minutes, and then had the operator come out and tell everyone that it is stuck, and then had to turn around and go ALL THE WAY back and through Atlantic City to get to where you are going.
68. You know that only people from North Jersey say it ‘Joisey.’
69. You don’t like the people from North Jersey.
70. You know it can be 70 degrees in January.
71. “Anyone who makes bad pizza can go to hell” is your attitude.
72. Somewhere along the line, someone really screwed you in a business transaction.
73. You know that you are the only group of people who really know how to drive properly.
74. You know that 65mph on the expressway is merely a suggestion.
75. You don’t take any shit from anyone.
76. You don’t think you have an accent.
77. You know that no one really lives in Longport.
78. One time, when you were drunk, you dropped your phone in the ocean.
79. You remember when Rowan was Glassboro State and TCNJ was Trenton State.
80. You can count the number of people in your graduating class who did not go to Rutgers, Stockton or ACCC on one hand.
81. You remember when there was a fire in ACHS and the principle turned off the fire alarm system.
82. In high school, while eating lunch, you were always completely aware of your surroundings, just in case..
83. You know who Mrs. Arsenis is, and your biggest fear sophomore year of high school was getting her for chemistry.
84. In high school, you wrapped things in aluminum foil and put it in your lunch bag so it wouldn’t get confiscated when you got your backpack checked in the morning.
85. Clear backpacks are a bunch of crap.
86. You’ve driven to school, walked in, said hi to your homeroom teacher and then left through the gym doors and still gotten credit for the day.
87. You saw at least one fight almost every day in high school.
88. You were a lifeguard.
89. You complain about South Jersey all the time, but when you leave you miss it.
90. Taylor Pork Roll.
91. You have a bucket of Johnson’s Carmel Popcorn in your house, somewhere.
92. You don’t think ‘what exit?’ is funny.
93. You’ve had to mail relocated friends Tastykakes.
94. You know what scrapple is, but eat it anyway.
95. You’ve gone surf fishing.
96. You know that the game Monopoly is based on Atlantic City (except for Marven Gardens).
97. You don’t pump your own gas.
98. Your junior and senior proms were at the casinos.

99. When you graduated high school you had to walk through a casino in your cap and gown to get to where you were graduating.
100. You know what ‘jimmies’ are and refuse to call them anything else.
101. You’ve been drunk on the jitney.
102. You know who Lucy the Elephant is and where she is located.
103. You’re female, not gay, and not a stripper, but you have been to strip clubs.
104. Many of the people from your high school are in prison now.
105. You go offshore to get gas because everyone knows its too expensive on the island.
106. You know that if you go 2+ mph above the speed limit in Longport, you will get pulled over, because the cops have nothing better to do.
107. You refer to the Black Horse Pike as ‘the pike’ and assume that whoever you are talking to will know you mean the Black Horse Pike and not the White Horse Pike.
108. You use the monument as a landmark/reference point for everything in Atlantic City, but you just refer to it as 'the monument' and not what it is actually a monument of.
109. When you were a kid you would play the dollar trick under the boardwalk and thought it was absolutely hilarious, but now when you see little kids doing it you want to strangle them because you think they are obnoxious.
110. Empty Wawa coffee cups litter your car floor.
111. When someone asks you where you are from you say South Jersey and not New Jersey.
112. You've gone kayaking down your flooded street during a hurricane or nor'easter or, if you haven't, you've always wanted to.
113. There is NEVER parking anywhere near your house in the summer.
114. You do not consider the 'shore mall' an actual mall.
115. You don't have a basement.
116. You went to Storybook Land as a kid and thought it was the coolest place ever.
117. You've been to Maynards more times before you turned 21 than after.
118. You have to cross over water to get to the rest of the state.
119. You think Wawa gift cards are fantastic and one of the best gifts you could receive from someone.
120. At least one person in your family works at a casino.
121. You went to Mino's bakery when you were a kid.
122. Formica bread.
123. You've sat down on an empty beach only to have some idiot sit smack dab next to you and wanted to kill them.
124. You remember, or at least are aware of the fact that the the casinos unsed to close at 4/6AM and reopen at 10AM.
125. You worked at, or knew someone who worked at the Ocean One mall.
126. When you drive down Pacific Ave at night you always point out the prostitutes that you see.
127. Bloodsucking is a way of life here, mosquitos, ticks, leeches, greenheads, lawyers....
128. You know what Top Gun sauce is.
129. You know that Charlie's makes the best hot wings.
130. Taco Tuesdays at Gregory's.
131. You know where chicken bone beach is, and why it is called that.
132. Holy Spirit and Atlantic City rival games are major holidays and not just high school sporting events.
133. You remember when Atlantis was Playboy and some of the hottest fashions were anything with a Playboy bunny on them.
134. You remember when Ventnor had an ice skating rink and a gas station.
135. You remember when the Margate Bridge Toll was only .50 cents.
136. You've been to Birch Grove Park.
137. You remember when we used to actually get significant snowfall.
138. You know the names of all the casinos, old and new, still there and no longer in existence.
139. You think New York is over-rated.
140. You remember Maloney's.
141. You know that the White House is not just where the US president lives but also a famous sub shop.
142. You think that whatever city you live in/grew up in, A.C., Ventnor, Margate, Brig, etc, is better than the other cities in the area.
143. You used to get hot dogs from Lenny's at 6AM after leaving the bars.
144. You've blocked off your parking spots with things like beach chairs or children.
145. You know that before it was The Pier it was Ocean One Mall and before that it was Million Dollar Pier.
146. You pronounce Arkansas Ave in AC 'R-KANSAS'
147. You know that "Night in Venice" is not any evening in a historic Italian city, but does involve Ocean City, lots of boats, decorations and costumes, and not a small amount of alcoholic beverages.
148. You know that you do not want to be anywhere near Ocean City on "Night in Venice" weekend.
149. You remember Brownie's.
150. You remember 7 beers for a buck and kamikaze night at Anchorage and/or 10 beers for a buck at Merels.
151. You know that there are no bars in Ventnor and think that there should be.
152. You prefer our cheesesteaks to philly cheesesteaks.
153. And for God’s sake, it is a SUB and NOT a HOAGIE.

11 July 2009

Shoobie In Reverse

I had decided to go to Philadelphia on Thursday and I am so glad I made that decision.

The morning was spent getting my act together, showering, deciding what to wear, what I needed in my little shoulder bag. I did my workout and then waited around for my unemployment check to arrive. I planned on taking the twelve forty-one train and my check came just in time. I walked down to Dover Check Cashing and got my money and then walked across the street to the little shop where I get my mobile minutes and once that was done, I stood on the Jitney stop for three seconds and caught the number four to the train station. That was serendipity and it looked like the day was going to go my way!

Until I got on the train. That's when the conductor explained that we will be disembarking in Hammonton to take a bus to Philadelphia because of track repairs. Just ducky. I nap a little and then get off the train and find out which bus I'm supposed to get on. There's general confusion between the passengers and NJ Transit crew. Neither knew what the hell we were doing and to top it off, there were wheelchair passengers so they had to accommodate them. More time wasted. Once everything got sorted out, we were off and I was texting Miss Patti pissy little messages about everything. Then I realized that the bus was brand-spanking new and quite comfortable and before I knew it, I fell asleep and woke up as we were pulling into Philadelphia. We made great time, actually better than if we were still on the train. My mood brightened considerably, that is until we had to do a rather lengthy jaunt around the damn train station, stopping at every light and negotiating the dense traffic surrounding the building. I didn't let it bother me and patiently waited until we stopped and I could get off the bus and into the city!

First things first, though and I bee-lined for the bathroom in 30th St. Station.

Once nature was taken care of, I exited that beautiful cathedral of transportation and began my adventure in the city of brotherly love.

First, I began ringing up everyone I knew in the city to see where my day might take me as I wandered down towards center city (pronounced: cennercity). Gary was working a double so I was miffed that I wouldn't be able to see him. After a brief conversation with my mom (she was busy cleaning and organizing the garage, of course) I found myself near my friend Charlies hair salon but I couldn't find him. I wandered through Rittenhouse Square and then began trekking down to old city and South Street. I got near my old address so I zigzagged through the streets until I hit Ninth and Pine and took a photo of my former residence. A flood of memories came back (I fell in love with Joe in my living room there) and the ghosts of times past followed me down South Street until I hit Manny Browns where I ducked in, bellied up to the bar and ordered a margarita! The cute, tattooed, pierced bartender made me a delicious beverage and I had a hankering to ring up my sister. Surprisingly, she answered the phone and even more surprisingly, she was also in Philadelphia, working at the preschool! I quickly downed my cock...tial and off I went back to Rittenhouse Square where I was going to meet here. I took a different route, one through Washington Park, a favourite place of mine for years. Revolutionary soldiers are buried under the flagstones and I remember their sacrifice every time I walk through that hallowed ground. I took Walnut Street all the way down to meet her. She and the teachers were taking the kids to Rittenhouse to play. When I got there and looked around I couldn't find them so I sat for a bit and listened to the jazz trio that was playing near one of the entrances. They were quite good and very, very young! I was impressed and I enjoyed sitting out on the benches and taking in the spectacular day. The park was crowded and my sister finally arrived, with all the little ankle-biters walking hand-in-hand down Locust Street. They were so damned cute! I re-met the teachers my sister works with and we stood by watching the kids play and making sure none of them wandered away. One of the little boys, Cooper, has a crush on my sister and was NOT happy seeing some guy chatting with her. He kept giving me the evil eye (well, as evil as a five year old can give) and I did my best to befriend him. Danielle and I caught up with the family gossip and I told her that our mom was thinking of coming to Atlantic City so maybe they could come together and we'd do the town. I walked them back to the school because I decided to visit my friend Shannon who lived a few blocks South from there.

I said good-bye to the kiddles, gave Danielle a peck on the cheek (much to Cooper's dismay) and wandered down to Catherine to see my girl. I haven't seen Shannon for a while so I couldn't wait to spend a little time with her. Even though she was a bit under the weather, she looked stunning, she is one of the most beautiful women I know and I just love her to pieces! We lounged around on her bed and talked and gossiped and hugged. I played with her cats and they played back, cats love me for some strange reason. I had, by now, made plans to meet up with some other people at Bump down in the gayborhood so, regretfully, I had to say goodbye to Shannon and we hugged and kissed and said farewell.

I was running late so I power walked straight down South Street to 12th Street and up to Locust to the bar and met Mark for the first time, even though we had chatted on Facebook and text messaged for a while now. He was very sweet and cute but he couldn't stay long because he had had a very busy morning and was feeling a bit tired. After a nice conversation, he and I said our goodbyes and I wandered across the street to see Sandy Beach at Camac. It was great to see my old friend and we chatted and gossiped about everyone in Atlantic City and I ordered and ate a pizza and fries, both tasty and delicious! While I was there, my mobile buzzed and it was a text from Gary. He was on his way to see me!!! That made me so happy! He got there and we had a martini (by now, I was feeling no pain) and off we went to Bob and Barbara's for their weekly drag show. Normally it's a college bar but they do shows there on Thursdays. I've performed there back when it was half the size. I got to see everyone, Lisa, Brittany and many others and Gary and I had a blast flirting with all the cute boys. By now (and three mojhitos and some other drinks I can't recall) I was too twisted and we staggered over to another place (insert name here 'cause I don't fucking remember) and had more martinis and flirted with the hunk of a bartender. I only did it because I was WAY plastered and he was WAY outta my league. I was finally done and we hailed a taxi and stumbled into Gary's place in University City where I promptly passed out on the couch.

I woke up to an enormous hangover and hunger. Because Gary's getting into some serious bodybuilding (he looks AMAZING, I am so jealous) there was nothing bad (but oh so good when you're hung) in his flat. I chomped down a peach and some celery and got myself looking fairly human and left his place in search of better (and badder) hangover medicine. I was passing a cute little outdoor cafe and was admiring the cute waiter when I realized it was GARY! After that little shock (I hate cruising my friends, it's so embarrassing) I said hullo to him and continued my trek, he was way busy. Of all the great restaurants in Philadelphia, the only thing I wanted was the one guaranteed hangover food, McDonald's! Since there's one at the train station, I though I'd kill two birds with one stone and eat there and then get on the next train for Atlantic City.

The food was manna from heaven and did the trick, I felt better immediately. Although my mood was quickly tested because I had to take the bus back to Hammonton and get on the train again. Ugh! This time, the NJ Transit people were totally clueless and it took forever to get us loaded and underway. When we finally did, things were better and I slept on the bus and then the train, only waking up now and again to look at the cute boy sitting near me.

Once back in the city I got home to Ventnor, having had the BEST time ever!

Later in the day, Helene came in the room and began to holler at me. She was not happy with me because I didn't call her to tell her I wasn't going to be home. My mobile had died and I couldn't ring her even if I wanted to, I hadn't planned on being up there overnight. I apologized and went on my merry way.

Then it hit me. That was the sweetest thing; someone was worried about me.

It was a great day.

08 July 2009

Beach Dunes

The following was sent to The Press of Atlantic City:

Once again an issue in this city has prompted me to write and weigh in with my opinion. Why do we constantly spend money on services and infrastructure only to spend even more money on the same services and infrastructure. Case in point: the newest cause celebre, the Atlantic City beach dunes. Now we have people complaining that they are too high and they can't see the ocean. The engineers determined the height in order to insure that the dunes will do their job properly, which is to keep said ocean from washing away the beaches. Since the ocean has been stealing the beaches for years, and we have spent countless millions replenishing the sand, a final solution was agreed upon and enacted rather successfully, so far, since it seems the beaches are still here. Now, a few malcontents are lamenting their loss of an ocean view when they stroll down the boardwalk. Maybe they'll be happy when the ocean is once again breaking waves underneath the boardwalk like it had for years. I worked on the boardwalk at (formerly) Illinois Avenue. I watched the water creep closer and closer each year until it finally reached the boardwalk and I think the dunes are a wonderful idea
and have saved the beaches through many storms since they were erected.

To recap the events; we paid for
constant beach replenishment and then we paid for the current dune project and now we are being asked to pay for their reduction and then we'll have to pay for beach replenishment once again when the beaches wash away. Please don't let the dunes become a money pit like the bus terminal was. As many may recall, the city repaired the old bus station for several million dollars even when they knew it was to be torn down, only to move it to one location and then have to move it YET AGAIN to another location. That was another case of our city fathers spending good money after good money after good money all at the expense of the taxpayers of New Jersey. Can someone, ANYONE, say the buck, literally and finally, stops here?

I can't afford another dollar!

Keep the dunes and keep the beaches!

Mortimer Spreng

Atlantic City, New Jersey.

07 July 2009

I See The Future And It's Horrifying.

ABC's World News Tonight just spent nearly half their broadcast on the death of Michael Jackson.

I find the above statement offensive.

Yes, the man was a talented entertainer. Yes, he had his problems. Yes, there will be questions concerning his death.

Does this sound familiar?


My problem is: Elvis is STILL being talked about/referenced/impersonated. He died in 19fucking77! That's thirty-two bloody years of having to deal with everything Elvis. And it's still going on.

That's my problem. Now Michael is NEVER going to go away.


Toss And Turn

The past two days have seen me once again in the grips of insomnia. I can't seem to sleep and my dreams are vivid, coming complete with a soundtrack! That's a new thing, having music play in my head behind the images I see in my dream state. The dreams were good, though, not the usual nightmares that haunt me time and again.

Today is the Michael Jackson memorial that will be broadcast all over the telly. I find this outrageous. Whilst he was a phenomenal entertainer, this outpouring of media and spectacle is horrifying to anyone of sense, scruple and good taste.

Time to workout and then plan my day although I still only have on wrinkled dollar bill in my wallet.


And my unemployment does not come until Thursday.

06 July 2009

To Finish My Story (Quickly And Without Fanfare)

I was wandering the boardwalk, one rather chilly night, ducking in and out of the casinos for warmth. I had just finished work and it was slow so I didn't make all that much money. I had no where to go. Joe finally called me and told me to just go to his mom's place in Ventnor. He said she was waiting for me.

I walked to her place and there she was, with a couch, a pillow and a blanket.

I am forever grateful for that.

So here I am, and have been since my brief and scary foray into homelessness ended. I have lived with Joe's mom before and we get along famously. I only hope that I can repay her for her kindness and generosity for taking me in and giving me a roof over my head (and Internet access, lol).

Now, to find gainful (and more secure) employment.

Outcast And Cast Out

No place to live. That's a scary prospect. I had counted on the kindness of friends and found that in a clinch, there's few people you can count on. What's the line from that blues song, "nobody loves you when you're down and out"? Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of help and good intentions but that don't put a warm bed underneath your ass when you're homeless.

I also didn't want people to know just how desperate I was. Pride is a double-edged sword.

The day finally came and thankfully, Joe went above and beyond the call of duty and helped me move. Unfortunately, my move date coincided with Mother's Day weekend and both he and I had to work through the weekend delivering flowers as well as move my things. It was a grueling weekend and it was made even more hateful when my psycho-mate took off the entire week to be there and hover over me as I packed and moved. I also can't end this entry without mentioning two friends of mine who came and helped enormously during my move. Jenn and Jeff were a godsend!

I was amazed, though, at just how much stuff I actually had packed away in my little room. Thankfully, Becky offered her shop so I could store my stuff in the back workroom. It's huge back there, you can park five cars in the area and there's still enough room for a hotel. The move up and down my steps to the penthouse was torturous and I vowed to NEVER live in a walk-up again.

Once the weekend was over and everything was moved (to a point, there's a few items left in the attic that I have to make arrangements to get) I handed over the keys and I officially had no where to live.

A week later, I was still, literally, wandering the streets and boardwalk of Atlantic City.

More to come...

Falling Farther In

I freaked, of course.

And did nothing. I folded up the white, green and goldenrod copies and put them in my little shoulder bag and continued on with my life, a life now getting more and more desperate.

I wandered around in a fog, immobile, not knowing what to do and not having a way out of my rock and hard place. About a week later, another tri-copied eviction notice was left on the front entryway to my building, informing everyone in my little neighborhood of my current woes. This time, I actually took the paperwork up to my crypt and actually read the thing, detailing when and where I needed to be in order to be thrown out of my home. So precise, so surgical, so impersonal.

This is where my
I finally decided to see if I could get some relief from the great state of New Jersey and logged online to their unemployment site. I answered all the questions and I had to wait for the determination, which would be sent by mail (although they ask for your email so they could have sent it that way). The day before my court date, I got the determination. YES! Although my weekly allowance was a pittance, at least it was something.

I told no one about the eviction and continued on with my life up to the appointed day. I go up and got dressed, wearing a nice white shirt and tie and got to the flower shop where I finally informed everyone there as to my predicament.
Here's where another heroine came to my rescue. My good friend, Jenn, met me at the courthouse and was my rock. She had done this particular thing innumerable times (she had worked for a rental agency and had to go to court for deadbeats like me time and again) and I don't think I could have gotten through it without her help. After the roll call and the "So You're Getting Evicted" video presentation, there was a chance to talk between the opposing parties. Jenn counseled me beforehand and we approached my landlord. Things were going well, he was very nice about the whole thing, repeating how much he liked me and, aside from my deepening rent debt, he didn't want to throw me out. Then my psycho-mate came in, out of nowhere, and starts ranting and raving how he "wants me thrown out" and "he's tired of it all" and I "need to be gone", it was embarrassing (more for him than me). Once he stormed out (lucky for him he left before gaining the attention of the authorities there, his actions are considered an act of contempt to the court), Jenn grabbed me aside and told me that I should cut a deal and get the fuck out of there. I was inclined to agree. If the psycho-mate was so insane as to get up at nine in the morning, get dressed in his early-eighties sweater set and come to the courthouse to scream at me, I didn't need to be living with this man.

And, let's face it, he had the upper hand since he was actually paying his rent.

We went back to my landlord with our new proposal and, once the court clerk called my name, we went up, signed the papers and off I went.

Basically, I was to vacate the premises in two weeks and I would not have to pay the back rent. (Here's a point of dispute: My landlord said I owed FAR more than I had reckoned. I had long suspected that my psycho-mate took several of my rent payments, which were taped in an envelope to the landlord's door, and threw them out. I plan on doing a search of the money orders to see if they've all been cashed.) Jenn pretty much steamrolled my landlord into agreeing to the conditions and for that, I am SUPREMELY GRATEFUL!

I went back to the shop and told them the outcome and then I...did nothing.

I was still looking for work. There was still no work to be found.

I took boxes from the shop and began the long process of packing. I asked around trying to find a place to live but, when you have no money, no job and no savings, it's kind of hard to come up with first month, last month, security deposit and a credit check that those pesky rental agencies require. Things were getting closer and closer to the bone and I needed to come up with an alternate plan. My actual move would be easy, or so I thought. Most of my stuff fitted into one room so I figured there'd be no problem getting it all packed and ready by the two weeks time.

Moving day came and I still had no place to live.

More to come...

The Decline And Fall Of Mortimer

So, I haven't written in quite a while. It's rather complicated and, since I have you held captive, I can explain it all over a few entries and catch you all up on my exciting and painful life.

First things first. I no longer live in the penthouse. There are various reasons why and most of them cascaded like dominoes leading up to my having to move, fast. Rest assured, I have ended up, if not on my feet, exactly, at least not on my hands and knees and homeless (or worse).

Getting fired from my job at the Westside Lounge was not the beginning but it precipitated the eventual outcome. I was making decent money there but not enough to catch up on my rent and bills, the winter and the recession (which we saw coming for a year before) made it harder and harder to make the money I was used to making and living the lifestyle I was used to living. I had been getting deeper and deeper in a hole and things weren't getting any better. Getting fired didn't help matters and having my former manager badmouthing me all over town wasn't exactly conducive to getting another job any time soon. I was also fired at the worst time possible. Not only was there a worldwide recession/depression going on, it was February in Atlantic City, a tourist town notorious for rolling up the sidewalks in September and not pulling it's head out of the sea until April or May. Each day the papers were detailing the layoffs in the casinos, a hundred and fifty from one, three hundred from another, the slowdown of construction on a third. This coupled with the traditional off-season, I was, in a word, fucked.

My home life with the psycho-mate in the penthouse had not improved at all. That was working on my psyche in ways I didn't realize until recently, now that I am out of there. I am naturally very social, I get along with most people rather easily and my relationship with my former roommate, one that spanned nearly twenty years, to have degenerated so completely affected me profoundly and in many unseen ways. I felt I was living with someone I never knew, someone I grew to fear and felt betrayed by. If there was some specific reason for his hatred of me, I have yet to find it. And those who know me personally and through my journals know that I am the first one to blame myself for my problems. I would rather admit blame, make the appropriate apologies and face the music and hopefully work it through and find forgiveness (or not, which is why I am still grieving the loss of two of my friendships that I know I detonated). Facing his relentless derision, day after day with no sign of ending made my home life a particular kind of hell.

With my lack of funds, and since I had been paid under the table for over a year at the Westside, I was also hamstrung in my attempts to get financial compensation from unemployment. My former manager would have blocked any attempt and I wasn't sure I could even collect if I tried.

A month before my dismissal, I had become reacquainted with my former boyfriend and he was generous in his support once I had been discharged, at least for a time. I didn't tell him the extent of my financial woes, but he could tell I was in dire straights and he helped when he could (for which I will be forever grateful). Of course, by this time, things weren't going all that well at his job and he was working less and less and he had his own bills to pay, as well as deal with his current boyfriend and the troubles they were encountering in their relationship (of which I know nothing about and don't want to know, it's their business).

My rent was getting paid piecemeal. I paid six hundred dollars a month and I would pay a hundred here, two hundred there when I could but I was getting farther and farther behind. I did all I could to make sure I could pay my share of the electric bill, even though I was hardly ever there and usually slept and showered and was out once again when I was home. Only the gods know what my flatmate would have done if I was late in paying it. Interestingly, I was basically paying to keep my psycho-mate's dogs warm and comfortable as well as entertained since he left his telly on for them to watch whilst he was at work. The irony is, as some of you may remember, that he disconnected my cable and told me to pay for my own instead of sharing the bill between us because I didn't put the pillows back on the couch the way he likes them. So, I still ended up paying for cable for two dogs to watch that I was denied access to.

Go ahead and laugh. I do.

My landlord was leaving sealed envelopes on my door, which I never opened. I knew what they said, "I need your rent money!", so there was no need to read them. I searched for a job, day after day, in a tourist town in it's off season, in a recession, looking for a service industry position in a town that was laying off and firing all their service industry employees. There was no money to be had and none I could give him. Joe was able to take me out for a meal now and again but things just kept getting worse. I couldn't go to my parents and ask for help, I still owe my mother a tidy sum from her support over a year ago and my father had recently undergone major surgery and was in no condition, financial or health-wise, to help me out. My pride also kept me from asking.

And the size of my mounting debts.

My mobile was kept on by hopes and wishes and the occasional borrowed buck from Becky (of the Art of Flowers, whom I also owe a big debt for all the help she has given me). I needed my phone in order to get a job and luckily Becky allowed me unlimited
computer access so I could keep up with people through the Internet. I wandered the city for hours and hours at a time, wearing a trail down the middle of the boardwalk and wearing the tread off the soles of my shoes.

Finally, one day, I arrived home to see a multi-copied letter attached to my door with my name on it.

An eviction notice.

Now what was I going to do?

More to come...

Open Letter

The following was sent to The Press of Atlantic City:

"I work in one of the businesses on the north side of Ventnor Avenue in Atlantic City, just past the Dairy Queen. The alleyway behind these businesses have been a plague on our city for quite some time. The trash piles up and, although some of the businesses pay for regular pick-ups, there are a few who don't and the kids who play in the two block alleyway, the homeless who rummage through the odds-and-ends and the birds who pull apart the trash have made it a horrendous eyesore, not to mention a serious health hazard. While we try to keep the area clean, it's nearly impossible to fight this blight day after day.

And then came Atlantic City Clerk Rosemary Adams to the rescue.
After contacting several city offices, including our district councilman, we were at a loss and couldn't find anyone to help with our problem. But today (Monday, 6 July 2009) we reached Ms. Adams who referred us to Fredrick Parker, who works in the Sanitation Department (Note: I'm not sure of his title or the spelling of his name). Shortly after explaining our plight, work crews were in the back alley with shovels, rakes, brooms, plastic bags and a can-do spirit and started cleaning from the beginning of the alley behind the Dairy Queen and continuing on for two blocks. The work crew also needs to be commended, they were courteous, hard working and efficient, saying "hello" to us and asking how we were during their efforts.
In a city who's services have been lackluster as of late (anyone else notice the Albany Avenue lighthouses that are torn apart and have been so for months), it's nice to know that some of our city officials are doing an excellent job helping to make our city a clean and safe environment in which to conduct business and provide jobs for it's citizens.
Once again, a huge THANK YOU to Rosemary Adams and Fredrick Parker.


Holiday Malaise.

Yesterday was the fifth of July and I did absolutely nothing of consequence. I think our founding fathers did enough, two hundred and thirty-three years ago, and the country didn't need me to add to their little rebellion, revolution...whatever. Actually, all I had was one Geo. Washington in my wallet and on this little island of love, that don't get you far at all. Christ, Jitney bus fares are now two dollars and twenty-five cents. I sat in the house and watched telly, I sat on the porch and read a book, I sat in the backyard and looked at the bugs and shoobies doing their thing. Both were disturbing and annoying. I weeded the little flower garden that lines the back fence, watered said flowers, grass, bushes, front yard. It was a very relaxing and a very boring way to spend the holiday.

I was hankering for a walk but the sun was out in it's full glory. Luckily it wasn't hot, just bright and I really didn't feel like slathering sunblock three-thousand all over me just to take a little constitutional. It's sticky, smelly and uncomfortable. The stuff works (and I definitely need it) but I try to avoid using it when I can. So I waited through the day for the beginning of sunset (which is around eight or nine at night) to take a nice, long healthy walk.

I also figured that waiting until later on the Sunday of a holiday weekend would also help me avoid the mass of shoobies that infest my city each year.

Boy was I dead wrong.

A bit of dumb luck was on my side for the first part of my walk. I started off in Ventnor (a block from the Wawa for those who know the area) and strolled down Atlantic Avenue, looking at the clouds in the sky, the people on their porches and dodging the cars that tried to kill me when I crossed the streets. I made it to Atlantic City in one piece and found myself on Pacific Avenue, wandering by The Knife and Fork, peering in to see if Becky from the Art of Flowers was there. It's one of her favourite haunts. She wasn't and I continued along Pacific, noting the lack of Eastern European kids in the city this year. Usually by now, you can't walk ten feet without hearing Russian or Ukrainian or Estonian or some other Slavic language. Now, there are so few in the area and I've heard it's because there weren't enough jobs so they issued far fewer work visas. Before I knew it, I was down by Caesars and I decided to cut through to the boardwalk to see how things were there.

My first clue should have been the mass of people in the casino itself. Just trying to get past the zombie slot players was a chore and I took the steps (the gods know these well fed Americans weren't going to use the stairs!) and made my way to the boards. Insane! It was like those Fifties movies where you see so many people on the beach, no one can move! I was astounded that the city was still so bloody busy! I zigged and zagged through the crowd, my years of training by working in a casino really helped and before I knew it, I was down by Resorts. That's where the insane shoobie woman was running around, screaming something about "NOOO! The fleas!!!!" and jumping up and down in a circle and ducking her friends. She was truly Ancora crazy and I somehow ended up in the middle of the crowd that began to surround her (as they always do for some strange reason). I found the nearest exit through these really cute surfer boys and ran up the three outside levels of steps and into Tramp Touch My Hole...err...I mean...Trump Taj Mahal. I wandered down the enormous hallway to Plate, the restaurant where my friend Carlos works but I couldn't find him. It was surprisingly slow in the casino but I figured everyone was outside on the boards. I took the steps down through the main atrium and made my exit out the front door, ducking the army of Asians and dashing past the little Indian lady in full sari and smoking like a fiend.

I took Pacific Avenue again, this time facing West but by now, the sun had made it's way low on the horizon and I was safe from it's evil rays. Strangely, the traffic was light along the avenue, in harsh counter-point to the crush of humanity on the boardwalk, a block away. I kept my pace brisk and sailed down the street until, once again, I was at Caesars.

Here's where I had my own moment of madness and went BACK into Caesars to the boardwalk to once again attempt walking through the masses.

I gave up rather quickly. I ducked into the Boardwalk Hall underpass that exits from the boards to Pacific because no one goes through there because it's scary and dark. I finished my walk down Pacific and finally made it back home.

Where I sat and did nothing.


I'm BACK!!!

After a long, self-imposed hiatus, I've decided to continue blogging here. The death of J-Land tore my heart out and I lost EVERYTHING. I was without Internet access during the time period that they gave us the option to move our journals to Blogger and I have tried to contact AOL to no avail to see if there is anyway to retrieve my journal. I had a lot of really personal entries over there and it killed me to log on one day and find they were gone. The AOL Overlords should die, horribly.

So, lets see what we can do here. I'm back, people. Hope I can find those of you who still blog.

I miss everyone, terribly.