I am aware that it is now Wednesday, but at least I started this post on Tuesday, so that counts, right?
Dean discovered a t-short slogan that cracks us up now, but made me a little nervous before we settled in here: "Welcome to New Jersey - don't worry, we hate you too". Other than assumed feelings of mutual hatred, my only knowledge (and I use the term loosely) of the state came from friends who watch the television show "Jersey Shore" (lots of big hair, curse words and bar fights) and what Bruce Springsteen sings about (lots of economically depressed, run down factory towns).
Well, yesterday marks 10 weeks since our arrival. We've seen our share of those factory towns, mostly on our road trips to the mountains to snowboard. During those legs of the journey, we've sometimes put Bruce on the ipod and sang along as the crumbling concrete buildings and parking lots now overgrown with weeds pass by the truck windows. Bruce, we get it now.
We've seen our share of big hair too, though no bar fights (possibly because we haven't been hanging out in bars). We're made one trip to "the shore" to pick up a bicycle Dean purchased on Craig's List, and it was rather fancy - the seller was renting the farmhouse on a huge estate that was on the market for 17 million. Jon Bon Jovi lived 4 houses down. I do believe it was the swankiest property I have ever been standing on.
Hard to believe that our arrival was 10 weeks ago. As always, the passage of time is a funny thing. At times it seems like forever since we pulled up to our new apartment to get the keys. Other times, it feels like yesterday. Looking back, I know that we've packed a lot into our first 10 weeks here and, I'm happy to report, we haven't been hated or hating on anyone either.
The three of us (myself, Dean and Hunter S Thompson the dog) set out in the truck with an air mattress, a television and some clothes to tide us over until the movers arrived with our things. We had a sunny drive across most of Newfoundland but hit bad weather about an hour before arriving to board the ferry. We had a cabin for the boat's night crossing and no doubt the bed was well worth the money, even though I still felt sick. More weather the next day, though we had driven out of it by the time we hit Fredericton, New Brunswick, where we stopped to get this:
A GPS, which allowed the person with the most hopeless sense of direction on the planet (me) to drive while the one who can navigate without a map by sense alone (Dean) napped, without us getting lost in the Hamptons (which happened the last time Dean feel asleep while I was at the wheel during a long drive). Best. Purchase. Ever.
We spent our second night on the road at a motel in Woodstock, New Brunswick, where we passed our evening playing rock band on the PS3 (best item packed in the truck). The next night we stayed in Connecticut, which meant we only had a couple of hours to go before arriving in New Jersey the following day.
And for the "ten" portion of this post, here's ten things we've been up to since becoming, umm, New Jersians? New Jersites? Well, residents of New Jersey.
1.Settling into our apartment
Our apartment complex is one we initially crossed off our list, because we thought it too far away from campus (not sure how we thought that, as it only takes Dean 30 minutes to ride his bicycle from home to school). We ended up here mostly because we couldn't find another spot that would allow large dogs. Glad we did, as the staff are friendly, the buildings are more "townhouse" style so they feel a bit more private, and the grounds are really pretty. Plus, it has an outdoor pool that will open in the summer.
Well, I've been learning and Dean has been becoming very good. We initially went to Mountain Creek, a hill about 1 1/2 hours from us, and stayed a couple of nights. We were looking to escape the empty apartment when we were still waiting for our stuff (and sleeping on the wake-up-on-the-floor air mattress), and that seemed like a good choice. There is a second hill, Blue Mountain, which is a similar distance from us, and we were going weekly for a while there. Plus, we took a second two night trip in February/March, when we had visitors.
This was the view from our room the first time we went away. It was really pretty. I was really sore, by day two I could barely get out of bed. My skills have improved some since that first trip, and I hope that next season I'll be in much better shape physically and will finally be able to keep up with Dean on some "big girl runs" (as opposed to baby hill runs). Limited photos of any actual boarding, as I fall so much I'd never bring my camera, lest it be crushed.
3. Meeting Nira and Wietse in NYC
Dean's former boss and his wife also drove from Newfoundland, though it was a couple of weeks after us and their final destination was Houston. They did make an overnight stop near us, and we spent a lovely day in New York City, which is an hour train ride from us. We met them at their hotel then headed into the city, ate lunch at a little pub, saw "Momma Mia" on Broadway, walked across both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges and ate supper at a lovely little restaurant overlooking the skating rink at Rockefeller Center. They were our first visitors in our new home.
4. Attending rock shows
We're been into NYC to see two different bands. We saw the first band, the John Butler Trio, at the Bowery Ballroom, which was a great venue to see a show. Dean and I had seen them live once before, in New Orleans, and really enjoyed them this second time around.
We also saw Muse, a relatively new band to us that my step-sister introduced us to, at Madison Square Garden. A totally different venue than the Bowery Ballroom, but still a wonderful spot to see a show. Muse was really good live, and the show was one of the most visually impressive ones that I;ve seen in a long time.
5. Being true Canadians (watching hockey games)
I've been to one hockey game, the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. the New Jersey Devils, at the Prudential Center.
Dean has since been to a second game, the Montreal Canadians vs the New York Rangers at Madison Square Gardens. Honestly, as sports go, I'm much more of a football girl. But any sport is so much more fun when you are watching it live. Plus, there were good snacks.
6. Traveling to New Orleans
Yes, when the New Orleans Saints got into the Superbowl , my first thought was "we must be there". However, new "student budget and student's unemployed wife" restrictions meant we could just not afford to drop all that cash to head to Miami. So we did the next best thing- headed to New Orleans to join in the party. Of course, that meant visits to good friends and meals at favorite restaurants. Coincidentally, it was Mardi Gras season, so we also got to see a couple of parades.
In late February, my step-sisters, Heather and Chelsea, and Chel's roommate Stacy came to visit us. The day of their arrival, New Jersey was hit by a major snowstorm. We ended up having to scramble to change their flights; we had them land in Philadelphia and picked them up on the way to Atlantic City, where we traveled to see the Dropkick Murphys (an Irish punk band they love). We spent the next day in NYC, despite the snow that had fallen. Our apartment all covered in the white stuff.
Here's Chelsea at the Hard Rock Cafe Times Square, where we had our major meal of the day.
We also rode the Staten Island ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, so pretty all lit up at night, before heading home. The next morning, we headed to Mountain Creek for two days of snowboarding and skiing. Here "we" are, from l - r: me, Dean, Heather, Chelsea and Stacy.
8. Entertaining another visitor
Last week, my dear friend Nikki came and spent 3 nights with us. Of course, we headed into NYC, this time for two days, and spent a lot of time just wandering around Times Square, Madison Ave and Central Park. We visited FAO Schwartz and Dylan's Candy Bar to get treats for Nikki to bring home to her three kids, had a few leisurely meals that grew into marathon chat sessions, and went and saw "Wicked" on Broadway. Loved having her here and most enjoyed our time just chatting away.
9. Establishing routines
No doubt, we knew that transitioning from a chemical engineer in the workforce to a full-time student in a Masters program in college would be difficult, but Dean has done great establishing a new routine as a student. Lots of studying going on here.
What I found a bit surprising was how hard it has been for me to transition from an occupational therapist in the workforce to an unemployed student's wife who, because of a combination of difficulty with occupational therapist certification in the state and immigration laws, is having an awful time becoming legally employable. Still, I feel like I've established routines of my own, which include keeping house and doing laundry, Target runs, daily walks with Hunter S. Thompson, taking a yoga class, a commitment to regular time at the gym and better eating habits.
10. Working towards a better life outlook
Honestly, the last couple of years in Newfoundland have been difficult for me. Other than the stress of a major renovation and job demands, especially for Dean in his position at home, there was the overwhelming feelings that came along with infertility and the miscarriage. We left a life we loved in New Orleans and returned home, at least in part, to start a family. When that didn't come to pass as we had hoped, it was disappointing.
I think it's only when we moved to somewhere new that I could look back and realize how difficult that period was. And for me, much of the last 10 weeks has been about moving forward from that, with new goals, new plans and an improved outlook on the future.