Closing up shop
- Wednesday, Aug. 02, 2006

It may be time for a change
- Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Entry in the air
- Friday, April 21, 2006

Still here
- Thursday, April 20, 2006

Music of the moment
- Wednesday, March 1, 2006



101 in 1001
American Road Trip, 1998


Dancing Brave
Fugging It Up
Kitty Sandwich
Mister Zero
Sideways Rain


My crew
Our host

2001-05-08 - 12:53 a.m.

Feeling strangely fine

I didn't feel like myself today. But I didn't want to either.

I realized I'm letting work bother me too much. I shouldn't let it, but it is. I should leave rather than put myself through this, but I'm going to stick to the plan, finish out the summer and move on in September. Molzo is just the opposite. She would've quit the minute she felt underappreciated, which is admirable, but not something I can bring myself to do. The problem is that I still have a decent job, one where I get my days free to enjoy the outdoors, and one where I get to cover a lot of baseball games, spending many nights of "work" watching young players trying to get to the majors, and then writing about it � two passions thrown together. But I'm letting the miserable aspects � being forced to work in the office and all � affect the good parts. I'm not as ambitious, not as creative and enterprising as I want to be. I should've written three or four features by now, had informative, interesting, in-depth Sunday notebooks, but I skipped last Sunday. This has got to change.

So after lunch I grabbed my camera and a backpack full of magazines � my intention was to go and sit on the beach and read through all the magazines that are piling up, but I left later than I'd anticipated � and put on a new CD that hasn't yet formed an association with anything in my mind: Poe. (And, for the record, "Hey Pretty," the Drive By 2001 mix, will make my compilation CD of sexy songs whenever I decide to make one).

I drove south on the Garden State Parkway until the three lanes narrowed to two and the roadside foliage went from oak and maple on the roadside lawn to pitch pine and scrub grass in the sandy soil. I went from Exit 109 to Exit 63 and took Route 72 East over the bridge and Barnegat Bay onto Long Beach Island. I turned north and passed through towns like Surf City, Loveladies and Harvey Cedars. I looked east down the side roads, each ending within 100 yards in a barrier, with a path leading over the sand dune onto the beach beyond. I passed the Blue Claw seafood restaurant, Mustache Bill's Diner, the Coffee Shack, the Islanders' Paradise (which knew where to put the apostrophe), countless real estate offices and all the summer homes and Shore houses that they try to sell.

At the northern end of the island, I came to my destination: Barnegat Light State Park, home of one of New Jersey's many lighthouses, the one on our special Shore preservation license plates, the kind that are on my car. It was sunny but windy there today, the sounds of wind in the pines, waves breaking on the jetties beneath the lighthouse, seagulls circling overhead. A dozen or so cars were in the parking lot, and a lot of others who didn't have to work were there, fishing in the waters of Barnegat Inlet or walking the dune trails. Three young women drove in in an old Celica with Vermont plates and set up their blanket on one of the trails through the trees, beneath the warmth of the sun by blocked from the chilling wind.

I reached the lighthouse � affectionately known as Old Barney � and saw that it was open until 3:30. I looked at my watch: 3:45. But the doors were open and the park employee was out on a break or something, so I walked in and began the climb up the 217 steps of the traffic-light yellow spiral staircase inside the red-brick cylinder of Barnegat Light. The climb up was not hard; I was hardly out of breath upon reaching the light. But the view took it away.

I stepped out onto the terrace and walked around the top of the light. There I was, standing above Barnegat Inlet, looking out over the bay, the Atlantic, south at the clustered buildings on LBI. I had the top to myself. I shot the rest of a roll of film that began at the bottom, and looked down at the dune trail through the trees, where I spotted the three women on the blanket in the middle of the trail. I looked at my car in the parking lot, and at the people walking along the jetty by the inlet. I stood facing the wind and watched the waves, the currents out on the water. I tried to pick out the towns and roads far in the distance, and imagined what the landscape might have looked like when the lighthouse was (re)built in 1859.

The descent was harder than the ascent: Going down (a spiral staircase), you get dizzy (maybe the other thing too) if trying to watch your step. I wavered more, held the hand rails more for balance, than I needed when I climbed up. At the bottom, the door was closed, the lighthouse keeper of the 21st Century having closed the tower to visitors for the day. When he came out to unlock it and let me into the light again, he asked how many people were still up in the tower. I told him it was just the couple I saw heading up while I was coming down.

I spent some time on the trails, blocked from the wind and able to enjoy the warmth of the sun. But walking among the pitch pines and bayberry and beach plum, my allergies acted up again and I shot off a round of sneezes on the way back to the car.

Forced to have the night off because I'm needed in the office later this week, I went to the ballpark anyway. I decided to take in a game for fun, to walk around the stands, the outfield grass seating area, the tiki bar beyond the right-center field wall. I said hello in the press box, got a "There he is," greeting from Erin, one of the front office workers to whom I may becoming drawn, and went down to the field to stand in front of the dugout and talk with Dave, the photographer, for the pregame happenings. Seated near the dugout was Bruce, a childhood friend of the manager. We got to talking and parted ways nine innings later, after he used some of his Atlantic City winnings to buy me a burger and a beer out at the tiki bar.

After the game, Dave and I stopped at the Boathouse in Belmar for a beer, but both tired, we left early. I was home by 11 p.m., and ready for bed. But I felt lured to the internet and my tape containing last night's Simpsons, and here I am, three hours later, still chatting with Casey as well. Going to bed early would've been nice, but this is too, and I can always sleep in.

Then I'll start feeling like myself again.

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