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What do you eat after you smash subatomic particles together? Apparently, you eat matzos, chips and pizza…

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Why isn’t the Greatest American Hero in syndicated reruns? Just asking.

My posts of late have been somewhat reflective and introspective, so you may be expecting this post to be about the signs the universe is sending me to direct me to my purpose…blah blah blah. No, I wanted to write about plain ordinary signs – the boards with words and pictures that tell you where to go – or not.

I stick up for New Jersey all of the time. Armpit of the United States? How dare you! Have you been to Baltimore? Or Central Florida? That place may not have state income tax, but it also has no soul. New Jersey is a cool place. We let people across the country think bad things about New Jersey. We invite visitors to come to New Jersey and be greeted by the industrial sludge surrounding Newark Airport. We do this because New Jersey is already too damned crowded –we don’t need people up and moving here from out of state and making it worse. In actuality, New Jersey is a great place to live: we have beautiful beaches, amazing state parks where you can hike in seclusion for hours, local farms with fresh-picked produce, and all of this only a short distance from the best city in the world (I am referring to New York City, not Philly, lest there be any confusion). So what if virtually every municipal government in our state is corrupt? That just adds to the local flavor. There are a lot of things to love about New Jersey (pork roll, the Giants, Bruce) and the majority of people I know who grew up here want to stay.

So as a big fan of New Jersey, I feel that I have a right to point this out: What in the hell is up with the signage in this state?! If you don’t know where you are going, then you are shit out of luck because there are no signs that will help you. Most road signs in New Jersey are too small, too sparse, unclear (such as an arrow that points to the wrong place), or just plain confusing. 

For example, last week I had a business meeting in West Orange on Prospect Ave, just off Route 280. As I was leaving the meeting and heading south on Prospect, I was trying to remember if the entrance for 280 East was on the left or the right. Unlike some states, there is no standard for the location of highway entrances – sometimes they are on the left and sometimes they are on the right. I will give the benefit of the doubt and assume that a lot of the on-ramps were built after the houses and businesses, thus leading to a certain degree of randomness. Nonetheless, if there is no consistency to how the entrances to highways are designed, at least we should make sure they are clearly marked, right? Wrong. This is how it went:

About 200 feet before the highway, there was a small sign (about the size of a stop sign) for 280 East with an arrow pointing up to indicate that the highway was straight ahead. There was no indication as to whether the entrance for 280 East would be on the right or the left. This is problematic because Prospect has two lanes going each way and everyone in this area drives at least 50 miles per hour on these types of roads, so there isn’t a lot of time to change lanes once you realize you are in the wrong one for the highway entrance. Perhaps a bit of suspense and excitement is a good thing. The photo below from Google Maps shows the sign for Route 280 with a Garden State Parkway sign directly below it. It is a bit hard to see in the sun (a lot like when you are driving at certain times of the day), but it is directly to the right of the car. Please note how small the sign is, keeping in mind that this is a pretty major highway.

Signage 1 

Now, the entrance for 280 East ended up being on the left, which fortunately I remembered from when I lived in the area. Directly above the left entrance was a large sign indicating that 280 East was “this way”  as you can see in the photo below. That would typically be a good thing, even though it would still require a quick lane-change if you were on the right. However, the other day when I was on that road the entire sign for 280 East was covered by tree branches. Sigh.

 Signage 2

Overgrown foliage covering signs on or to major highways is not an isolated incident – I see it all of the time. Who is in charge here? How can no one notice that a sign is completely covered by trees?! How could someone notice and not feel compelled to trim them back?! I have seen signs completely covered by trees and tall grasses on highways like Route 287 where the average speed is 80 miles per hour in the right lane. The message: If you want to drive on our highways, you better already know where you need to go, dammit. It’s every man, woman and child for themselves.

Then there are the Garden State Parkway signs. The Parkway is pretty much the major thoroughfare for intra-state travel. Yet, on several occasions I have been in a New Jersey town that I know is near a Parkway entrance, like Springfield, but I can’t find the Parkway because the signs point you in the direction but never actually lead you there. You see a small Parkway sign on the side of the road that points to the right. You make the next available right even though there isn’t another sign confirming that this is the right turn that the other sign referred to. Then you drive for two miles without seeing another sign. Are you supposed to take it on faith as you tour some suburb in Northern New Jersey that if you continue going in the approximate direction suggested by the last Parkway sign you will eventually hit the highway? From my experience, a safer bet to play the 22 to 1 long-shot at Monmouth Park Racetrack.

This all became obvious to me for the first time a few years ago following a move out of state. Being new to Texas, I depended on the clear and prominent signs on the roads to find my way around. Upon my move back to New Jersey, the lack of signage became very apparent. No wonder people hate New Jersey: not only are the signs useless, but when out-of-state drivers slow down to try to figure out where they’re going, the typical New Jersey driver reacts by riding their tail and flashing the high-beams. Welcome to the Garden State.

On second thought, maybe the poor signage isn’t due to a lack of attention to detail or someone dropping the ball. Maybe it’s a conspiracy to prevent more people from moving to our already-crowded state. It’s just a thought. No matter how hard I try, I can’t stop defending New Jersey.

I decided last night to change the last line to my previous blog, entitled “Rude,” and I would love to know what you think.  Once you have had a chance to review the change, feel free to express yourself below…

I call this "Disturbing Portait of a Working Mother"

I call this "Disturbing Portait of a Working Mother"

I wish that I could honestly say this photo was posed.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t.  I guess the term “balance” takes on a whole new meaning when it is referring to balancing a computer and a child on your lap at one time while trying to make a phone call.  Isn’t that what laps are for?

If Max’s first words are “profit margin” or “cash flow”, I will shoot myself!

I was in a desperate place last week.  I was about to turn 40.  We were having a party to celebrate.  I was still in the process of losing weight from my pregnancy.  It was going to be warm out after months of cold weather, so I knew I would have to wear something that showed my legs and/or my arms. 

What would any woman do in that situation?  Go to the tanning salon.  Duh.

All weekend, I couldn’t figure out why it was hurting to nurse the baby.  My nipples were so sore.  Then I put it together.  All of you breastfeeding mothers heed my advice:  don’t go to a tanning salon while you are nursing.  Or, if you go to a tanning salon, put something over your nipples!

It’s taken me five years, but I finally have started my blog.  There’s a saying you may be familiar with, and it goes like this:  better late than never.  So here I am being a complete latecomer when I like to see myself as a trend-setter.  What can you do?

What was the hold-up?  (She asks, as if you were all patiently waiting.)  After all, a blog seems to be the perfect marriage of two things I truly enjoy: 

  1. Telling people what’s on my mind.
  2. Attention. 

In fairness to myself, the latter comes and goes – sometimes I do like to retreat into my cave to rejuvenate and regroup.  And I love to listen to people too.  However, as my husband will attest, there is never a time when I am not willing to share what’s on my mind.  Poor guy.

So back to the burning question – what was the hold up?  Well, there were a couple of things:

  • I didn’t feel like I had the time.
  • I didn’t know if anyone would care.
  • I didn’t want to get my feelings hurt when someone posted a comment like “You are a moron and you should curl up in a hole and die.”  I’ve seen the things that some people are willing to post when they have even a little bit of anonymity!

So the other burning question – what changed?  Here is the answer:

I just don’t care anymore. 

I am making the time because I need an outlet for the things that fly through my head.  I don’t care if anyone else cares because I am doing this for me.  If people don’t like it, so be it.  I feel really liberated now!  And this can only make my husband’s life easier because if I get a lot of the stuff in my head out onto the blog, there will be fewer times when I get on a roll and talk his ear off.  But I am not making any promises.

By the way, it’s sad that in my first post I have a numbered list AND a bulleted list.  You can take the girl out of corporate, but….you know the rest.  More on that in a later post.  I have to stop now because I really should go attend to the child.  More on THAT in a later post.

Have a good one!

About Me

The purpose of this blog is purely self-expression - being creative for the sake of being creative. It has evolved into a collection of non-fiction essays.

All of the anecdotes and incidents you read in this blog are completely true and not exaggerated, no matter how sad, pathetic or unbelievable they may seem.

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© Operation Peace and Serenity, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Operation Peace and Serenity with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.