Monday, November 24, 2008

Asbury Park & Ania!

Well yesterday was an awesome day. I woke up and decided to drive to Asbury Park, NJ to take some photos. This resulted in me having the old standard "At Long Last Love" stuck in my head the entire day (and again as I write this) because of the line "Is it Granada I see, or only Asbury Park?" I had never been there before, but was somehow drawn to it's history, and the Americana/Kitsch factor is pretty high, so that's always a good thing. Oh, and there's a beach, too, so that can't be too bad. Once I got there I parked near the beach, right across from The Stone Pony and walked up to the boardwalk. All the stores were closed, but there were a few people out for a morning jog or walking the dog. I walked out on the beach and took some photos, and then walked down toward the old convention center and then noticed Wonder Bar across the street, which had a great sign, good colors and some nice peeling paint. I took a few shots with my digital, but I'm looking forward to seeing what comes out from the Holga.

So the thing about Asbury Park is that it's in the process of renewing inself. It has a great beach and a boardwalk, so it shouldn't be too hard to lure folks to town. But currently there is a clear line between the old and the new. There are condemned buildings across the street from brand new, ritzy condos. But I have to say, it's way more fun to photograph the condemned buildings.

The sign says "A Bright Future for Asbury Park," but I think the current economy might have something to say about that:

And on my way home I passed this great sign:

In the afternoon I met up for coffee with a woman I met while volunteering for the Obama campaign and we had a great conversation. We seem to have a lot in common and I hope that we'll actually meet up again at some point.

Then I went home to make risotto and wait for ANIA stop by! She is visiting her mom in PA for Thanksgiving and came out to Princeton to meet half-way with a friend who lives in NYC and then to spend the evening with me! It was SO great to see her and so nice to have someone come and visit my house. It made it feel more like a home to me than just some place I'm hanging out for a while. Ania and I were photo students together at SU, so we took a ton of photos in the short time we were together on Sunday, both in my house with my new mirror from IKEA...

and at the Bent Spoon, where we went to get ice cream even though it was freezing out. I ended up getting a mini cupcake instead of ice cream.

A true sign of the inner photo geek. I love hanging out with Ania because I never feel self-conscious about taking photos in the most random places with her, and we always end of laughing about it.

It was a fabulous day and really put me in a good mindset to think about the things that I'm thankful for (including in no particular order): Old friends, new friends, hugs, a warm home, cameras, and good food (among many, many other things).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Most boring blog post ever

Hey there blog readers. Some folks have been asking about what I've been up to and why the lack of blog posts. Well, I haven't been up to too much that's very exciting or blog-worthy (in my opinion). Last night I got a new winter coat. The day before that I met up with a friend-of-a-friend, she teaches in Princeton on Mondays and Tuesdays so we might get coffee again some other week. I made a quiche on Monday. Did a little IKEA shopping with my Mom on Sunday... That's about it, folks. Looking forward to Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's official - Princeton is not hip.

In case anyone was under the impression that I'm being dramatic about how un-hip Princeton is for young, single people, now they've published an article about it here.

One of my favorite lines: "'They perceive Princeton as not a great place to be as a single,' Mr. Kehrt said, but rather as a town for families."

The "they" he's referring to is me.

I had breakfast with a woman this morning (about joining her book group full of middle-aged moms of teenagers) and she mentioned this article and was actually surprised that I had decided to move here on my own. She confirmed my suspicion that Princeton really isn't a "college town" in the sense that the students don't really effect the downtown and the businesses, they kind of keep to campus and have all of their fun in NYC or Philly (just like everyone else). They don't live off campus, they can't afford to shop or eat downtown so there isn't really a sense of their having a lot of influence in the area. I guess I was hoping for more of a Northampton or Ithaca feel to the place (I knew it wasn't going to be Cambridge), but really it's a wealthy suburb.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Candlepin Bowling at Sacco's Bowl Haven

This past weekend I went up to the Boston area to hang out with friends. On Saturday night a bunch of us met up for candlepin bowling at Sacco's Bowl Haven in Somerville, MA. Candlepin is a little different than regular bowling, the balls are smaller, the pins are skinnier and you get to roll 3 times per turn instead of 2. It was invented in Worcester, MA, so it's definitely a New England thing. It was one of the things on my list of things to do before I left Boston that I didn't get to before I left Boston, so I was glad to be able to check it off, and I'm sure I'll do it again, it was so much fun.

Here's the whole crew: Amy, me, Matt, Nick, Sylvie, Miriam, Lee, Ulysses and Allison.

Sacco's has been around forever and there is nothing electronic about it. The ball return depends on gravity to keep it going and after each turn you have to push a little button to clear the lane. Scoring is all pencil and paper and math in your head. Here's a funny little video from the evening:

Remembrance Day - 10 years ago

It was 10 years ago today that I had the chance to photograph the Queen Mum in London at a Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey. I was doing a story on the significance of the Red Poppy and through a connection at the Royal British Legion I was given a pass to stand with the Royal photographers. It was quite an honor. The moment I'll never forget is when the Queen Mum looked me in the eye and smiled while I curtsied (like I was told to do if she acknowledged me). Then I lifted my camera and captured one of my favorite images from my time in London.

Unfortunately, the CD with this image, and all of my other London stuff, is being stored at my parent's house right now, so I'll have to post the photo sometime next week. Check back later.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I spent the evening at the Princeton Public Library watching CNN with about 100 or so other Princetonians. It was great to have some company while watching the results roll in, but once it was announced that Obama was the winner, I did a little celebrating and then had to head home. I wanted to watch the speeches on my own so I could hear them and react in the comfort of my own home. I have to say, I've never been more happy to hear a concession speech and I'm now waiting to hear Obama's speech. It really is all worth it. January 20th can't come soon enough.

That's not all...

So I got to work and opened my email to see that they still needed volunteers to wave signs at busy intersections during rush hour today. So, I walked into my boss's office and said "I need to leave at 3 to wave signs for Obama." This was more of a statement than a question. She said she had to think about coverage and see if anyone else was able to stay until 5 and that I should have had this approved days ago and why couldn't I go after work, etc, etc... Well, thankfully she let me go (so, yeah, I worked a total of about 2 hours today). So I left work at 3, ran home to put on my Obama gear (t-shirt which is way too big thanks to Move-On sending me an extra large, and a button on my jacket), grabbed a snack, since I didn't eat lunch, grabbed my camera and headed over to the meeting place for sign waving. I got there and there were a bunch of people and 4 of us got assigned to Brunswick Circle on Rt. 206 (it's a pretty busy intersection for those of you who don't know it).

We had fun waving our signs, giving thumbs up to those who honked as they passed by, and yelling "Obama!" when a few brave souls yelled "McCain!" at us. We also got a good response from bus drivers, garbage trucks and Mister Softee even gave us a toot and a wave. It was great to see so many people, we even had one woman stopped at the stop sign lean out her window and yell "I voted for Obama at 6am!". The whole time was really wonderful and we stayed until a cop pulled over and told us that we weren't supposed to be on the inside of the circle and that we were causing traffic issues... Oops. But that's OK, it was getting dark anyway and we were planning on heading out soon. So that was my exciting afternoon and now I'm off to the public library to watch the results come in.

Election day adventures

My adventures in voting:

6:07am - Roll out of bed, throw on some clothes, brush my teeth. Polling places in NJ opened at 6am.

6:13am - Walk to my polling place and get in line. This was the line at my polling place this morning, and it stretched into the building. I heard someone say "There has never been a line here before! This is history right now, folks."

While waiting in line I heard 5 different people say something about not being able to vote. One of them came up to the guy in line behind me and I asked her what happened and she said that they told her she was in the wrong place to vote even though she thought she was in the right place and she said she didn't know because she never got anything in the mail telling her where to go. I told her that if she's not on the list that she can still fight for her right to vote. Another woman was an elderly lady who was walking out with help from a man who might have been her son. She said "Why did I have to write his name in on that piece of paper? I thought I would go into the booth like everyone else." She asked if she had done something wrong and the man said, "No, you just weren't on the list, so that's a different type of ballot, and we're going to make sure that you're on the list next time." So clearly, I'm not the only one with problems today.

I waited in line, even though I knew I wouldn't be on the roll. I was advised by the ACLU voter protection hotline to go to my polling place just to make sure that I didn't magically appear on the rolls. I was also told not to take a provisional ballot. I asked one of the official challengers what my precinct was and explained that I didn't know because I never got anything in the mail, and he said that he had the numbers of lawyers who are working today to get people the right to vote, and to come back and see him if I wasn't on the list.

6:38am - I'm officially not on the roll. So I head back to get the numbers of the lawyers (who are affiliated with the Obama campaign) and head home.

6:46am - Left a message with the Obama lawyer, then hopped in the shower.

7:09am - Spoke to Obama lawyer, who said she was going to make some phone calls and get back to me with a plan.

7:40am - I got dressed, ate breakfast, talked to the lawyer again and now, we have a plan. I need to be at the Trenton courthouse at some point after 8:30am, find the judge I've been assigned to and ask for a specific lawyer who should be in that courtroom.

7:56am - I'm gonna finish getting ready, pack up all the ID I can possibly bring (passport, SS card, license, utility bill to prove that I live in Princeton, work ID, birth certificate), a book (Sarah Vowell's Partly Cloudy Patriot), my camera (that I probably won't be able to use except to take photos of the outside of buildings), some snacks, and a notebook to keep notes on what happens through the day.

9:02am - Arrive at courthouse and get in line. Apparently there are a bunch of people willing to fight for the right to vote in this election. The man in front of me was told he was not on the roll, but he had a voter registration card, and the woman behind me was with her friend who just became a US Citizen and was told that her registration wasn't complete because a birthdate was not filled out on the registration form. All kinds of reasons for people not to be allowed to vote.

9:28am - I meet with Obama lawyer #2. He happy to hear that I filed a complaint last week and we find out that my paperwork is already at the courthouse. This is very helpful in moving my case along. People who just show up have to call the Superintendent of Elections, file a complaint and then wait for that office to fax over an official form saying that they filed a complaint. Depending on the backlog, this could take a while. What they don't really tell you (and thank god there were lawyers there) is that the lawyers representing the state have to argue AGAINST your right to vote. And these state's attorneys will just walk up to you at the courthouse and say "Hi, can I help you?" and if you don't say that you have a lawyer or that you would like a lawyer, they just tell you that they're representing the state and they are not your lawyer and then get all your information and take you before the judge. It can be very intimidating.

10:06am - A state's attorney asks me questions (with my Obama lawyer present) and I tell her what I've told everyone: That I registered at a Voter Registration drive and discovered after the registration deadline that there was no record of my registration.

10:12am - I'm sworn in and we argue the case. The attorney for the state brings up some arguement that I needed to live in the state 30 days before registering (which is false, you have to live in the state 30 days before the election). When the judge went into his chambers, my lawyer told me not to worry, that even if that was the case there was argument that the state needs to inform voters of any mistakes or missteps on their voter registration and that never happened.

10:23am - I am granted the right to vote because I put forth a good faith effort to register on time and due to no fault of my own, that registration was never accounted for!

10:28am - I'm officially handed the piece of paper telling me I can vote at a voting machine and I head out of the courthouse, on my way back to Princeton and my polling place to cast my vote!

After calling the first Obama lawyer from this morning to tell her the good news and then driving back from Trenton, grabbing a quick snack, and calling my mom to reassure her that I am indeed going to vote, I head to my polling place.

11:32am - get in the (shorter than this morning) line.

11:40am - hand my paper to the guy behind the table for District 1. He gets totally confused, reads the whole sheet about 6 times over, apologizes because he doesn't really know what to do, no one told him about these court orders, etc, etc... He finally decides that he does know what to do and gives me my official Voter Authority and I am shown which machine to use.

11:52am - my ballot is cast!! I voted!! On the way out, the guy who gave me the phone numbers for the lawyers is still there and he shakes my hand, congratulates me and quizzes me on how my morning went. I told him everything and that there was a line at the courthouse, so democracy is working at least a little bit.

12:11pm - I'm finally on my way to work. I don't know that I'll be able to concentrate on anything today.

I don't know if I can watch the returns in public tonight or if I just need to stay home. I found myself crying watching the televised Obama rally in Virginia last night. Never have I been so proud of a Presidential Candidate and so inspired to put forth effort to make sure he makes it into office. To say the least, I'm fired up and ready to go!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween with my nephews

I had the chance to hang out with my nephews and John and Jill at their good friend's house in Bloomfield, NJ. It was fun to hand out candy and Nathaniel, who is almost 7, had an awesome time trick-or-treating with his friends from their old neighborhood. I'll try and post some photos soon.