The Good Ole’ Garden State

New Jersey shaped who and what I am. Growing up in Jersey gave you all the advantages of New York, but you were in its shadow. Anyone who’s come from here will tell you that same story. – Jon Bon Jovi

For some, this entry may be a little late, but as the cliche goes, “better late than never.” I was born and raised in New Jersey, so you may think I am biased while you read this, and if you do, good. I will happily be called biased in this regard.

It is common knowledge that New Jersey suffered tremendous destruction during last weeks hurricane. Hurricane Sandy. For many, this would have been it. Time to pack up the bags and go somewhere else. Let’s call it quits.

The effects of Hurricane Sandy are still being felt throughout New Jersey. Some people are still finding themselves without power. The remnants of downed trees and downed power lines are still evident. Houses are damaged and some personal property may be damaged beyond repair. Along with this the boardwalks, the symbol of New Jersey, have been torn apart, leaving nothing but pillars and a few planks in the place where tourists once walked.

The boardwalk is a devastating loss. It is where I have had all my memories of going “down the shore.” It is where I spent the weekend after my junior and senior proms. The place that I traveled to with close friends on warm summer days. I cannot help but feel that the boardwalk will never be the same after it has been destroyed. The tireless heralding of vendors attempting to sell their over-priced, over-rigged games to the boyfriends of girls who would like nothing more than to leave the boardwalk with a stuffed animal that was won by her sweetheart won’t feel right. The worn-out planks will never be the same to me because the memories that I have made on the New Jersey boardwalk are broken, battered and lost somewhere out at sea.

The boardwalk will be back though.

If there is one thing I have become damn sure of, that is the kind of attitude that you will find in anybody from New Jersey. Maybe we are stubborn, and some may even call us stupid, but when it comes down to it, our stubbornness is solely from the ideal that the way people in New Jersey do things is the way that things should be done. It is frustrating to some, and sometimes may be downright irritating, but it is who we are. We are steadfast in the beliefs that we have been exposed to since birth. We don’t role with the punches, and when push comes to shove, we shove back. Mother nature will never be able to ruin the New Jersey state of mind or be able to crush the New Jersey spirit.

We are not “guidos” like the cast of MTV’s reality show “Jersey Shore.” I have also still yet to hear any New Jersian refer to “New Jersey” as “New Joisey.” People from New Jersey are on the same playing field as any other person throughout America. We work hard, enjoy our free time and are much more courteous than we are made out to be. We live in the most densely populated state in America in a peaceful, sufficient manor. There may be times when the hustle and bustle of everyday life makes us come off the wrong way, but it is never personal. We live, we love and we laugh just like anybody else. We call this state home and value and cherish it just as any other person would value the place that they come home.

At the end of the day, New Jersey will recover. It is what we do and will continue to do.

I live in New Jersey now, which always gets a bad rap here and there, but I must say, I enjoy living here too. – Paul Muldoon





Hello, Fall

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.”

-Stanley Horowitz

There is something unmistakably remarkable about fall. There is an indescribable feeling in the air. The way that days can be dreadfully warm, but nights are crisp and cool. The feeling of frigid air being sucked into your lungs is a drastic change from the heavy, humid air of summer. The way the air feels lighter. Fall is a time of change. Fall says goodbye to summer, but with the promise that summer will be back again next year. Fall is a kind change. A gentle transition from the dog-days of summer into the leaf-cluttered streets of fall. There is a unique change in the human senses upon the arrival of fall. There is a certain smell of nippy fall mornings. The characteristic crunch of leaves under your feet. Leaves scattered across the street like a collage created from the heavens. The yellow, red and orange leaves that linger over the horizon, presenting an entirely new palate of color to an otherwise colorless world. Comfort in fall is nothing more than a cozy sweatshirt and a cup of tea. Whatever it may be, fall welcomes change, it says goodbye to what was. For some it is a welcomed entity, offering a new spin on life and a new beginning. For others, fall is not welcomed. Fall can present nostalgia for what used to be. Whatever it may be, change in fall is inevitable, and for many freshmen in college, as well as many other students, I would whole-heartily believe that fall has presented an enormous change.

Coming into college I was someone who I would now see as being ignorant. I might call it immature, or maybe I was just like any other 17 or 18 year-old boy who was going away from home for the first time. I thought that I knew what it was like to be responsible. I was a legal adult. I knew everything, and because of a sheer unwillingness to accept anything other than my own beliefs, I convinced myself that I had already grown into adulthood.

I was dead wrong. I soon realized what it meant to live without my parents. It may not have been that it was what I wanted to do, but based on the circumstances, it was what I had to do. I began to make my own decisions, and early on, I often made the wrong decision. It was blatantly obvious that I had to regroup and make changes within myself, a task that many freshman find themselves doing.

It began with my study habits. Although I did an above average job of skating-by in high school, I noticed early on that it would no longer work. As the first few weeks of school passed, I saw a dramatic change in my study habits. I no longer waited until the night before an assignment was due to begin working on it. I put pride into each paper that I submitted. For the first time in my life, I decided that school work came before anything else. It could have been the realization that my parents are spending so much money on my education that caused me to become motivated. Then again, it could also have been that I was just comprehending that the work I was being given was for my own benefit. My study habits changed like the warm breeze of early fall changes to the stinging bitterness of a cold gust of wind in late fall.

I have seen a change in my friends as well. The people whom I thought would become my most loyal companions have slowly vanished into a sea of unfamiliar faces. Those who I thought I would never know became the people who I look to in times of need, the moments at college when I was at my weakest. With much remorse I have had to slowly pull away from people who were leading me in an undesirable direction, and subsequently surround myself with people who I could more easily relate with. Just as the leaves of summer vanish from the branches that once held them by late fall, so did many of my early friends. It may be saddening to some, but with each goodbye there awaits a new opportunity.

I would like to think that I have matured after the first 10 weeks of college. I would like to believe that I am the adult that I thought I was when I left for college. Maybe I have changed for the better and done some growing up, but maybe growing up a little is realizing that you still have a lot of growing to do as an individual. The person that believes that they have grown into the perfect version of themselves are those who have grown the least. It can be inferred that the wisest and most knowledgable mind is the mind that never stops listening; it never stops growing. Fall may have changed me, and it may have changed me for the better. It could have caused me to grow, but if there is anything that I can take away from this fall, it is the idea that just as fall continues to change, I will continue to change. I will never again believe that what I currently am is all that I should forever be. So like the fall breeze and the fall leaves, I will change.

What goes for me does not go for all. Maybe some of you out there have watched yourself change in much different ways. Maybe you have become more cynical. Have you become more trusting in the world? Some may have seen their normally stellar grades slip into disrepair. For some their choices may have become impaired by the longing to be a part of something that they could have found in so many different places. So before I say goodbye, I would like to ask just one simple question; how have you changed throughout fall?

Nothing is more fleeting than external form, which withers and alters like the flowers of the field at the appearance of autumn.

-Umberto Eco