It’s vacation time! Time for me to put work worries behind, for lazy days staring at the surf, and for daydreaming about the day I can actually own one of these beautiful, overpriced monstrosities that sit upon the glorified sandbars just off the Jersey Coast.
…something like this would do…
It also has me thinking about all the wonderful horror movies that use vacation time as a backdrop or a plot element. I thought I’d share some of my favorites, after the break. (Warning, spoilers ahead!)
Read the rest of this entry »
I thought I had 2012 all figured out. After all, The Mayans warned us, and Roland Emmerich was kind enough to provide a road map on how to survive with his excellent documentary, 2012. I’ve spend the last three years since the film’s release building an ark, hording beans, and waiting for the neutrino-enabled polar shifts to send those mega-tsunamis across New Jersey.
which, you know, wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing
Alas, looks like Roland and the Mayans were a little off and my planning was for naught. It also looks like 2013 is going to be a bit stinky in the KnippKnopp household (We’ve got a crapload of beans to eat!) I guess since I’m not fending off hordes of squid-faced Cthullu barbarians, I should have some time to reflect on the things that did happen in 2012, at least before I head to BJs for that crate of air freshener.
By decree, in 2013 the Knipp House Sigil shall be this
I guess of first note is I restarted this blog. After a nearly two year absence, Social Media guru Don Lafferty challenged me to create an editorial schedule and commit towards weekly updates. I haven’t been entirely faithful, especially of late; but it’s been a blast writing this stuff, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading as well.
From the writing perspective, It’s been a coin of two sides (you know, as opposed to those 11-sided coins they use in some countries). While still numbering among the great unwashed (and unpaid), I have posted 25 blog entries. In six months, I have nearly equaled two decades worth of output. I’ve rewritten several old pieces, including the novel start for “The Triumvirate” that won second prize for Young Adult entries at the PWC this year. I created two new short pieces: “No Fun Joe” – which has appeared in our writers group anthology, “Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey” (now available at Amazon) and “Decisions”, pulled together as part of a writing exercise.
On the other side, I continue to receive rejections for my poor, lonely bridesmaids. Both “Change” and “House Sitting” have received multiple responses of “I really like this, but…” I still believe in these stories, and the feedback has been universally positive, I just can’t find them a home. I also decided to rewrite my novella “Jonesing” and turn it into a full-length novel. I had some good movement early, adding nearly 9,000 words, but that has stalled of late and I think I might need to start over my starting over.
and for my 257th draft, “Jonesing: The Musical”
I had the opportunity to travel a little more than usual this year. Kabletown sent me to New Hampshire, to the Walter Kaitz Fundraising dinner in New York, and to visit wonderful and weird Portland, Oregon. The geek-buddies and I drove out to Indianapolis for my second GenCon and we basked in nerdtopia for an excellent (if exhausting) three days.
The KnippKnopp family returned to our favorite shore town in Sea Isle City. I made another sad attempt at a vacation beard, and reflected on the many years we’ve been returning to the best place “downashore”. My memories have taken on special significance as Hurricane Sandy came barreling through in the fall and changed thousands of lives forever. Our thoughts and prayers are with those folks as they rebuild.
I survived zombie training with the awesome guys and ladies at ZSC, and discovered that – should the zombie apocalypse occur — my nickname will most likely be ‘Lunch’. It turns out it’s really hard to fire a crossbow or shoot a gun when you can’t wink, so I better start stocking up on shooter’s patches now. I also survived another Philadelphia Writers Conference, and got to hang with the lovely and talent (and soon to be published) Kathryn Craft, not to mention authors Jonathon Maberry, Maria Lamba, and Caridad Pineiro. I also became a member of the PWC executive board and have taken on new responsibilities as registrar for the 2013 conference.
Welcome to the board, now build that registration site.
This has been a year of milestones for the significant others in my life. My oldest baby turned 18 and graduated High School, my middle turned sweet 16, and my youngest is now officially a teenager. I spent a lot of 2012 weepily looking through baby pictures and remembering them as toddlers. My youngest brother-in-law got married, and that too makes me pause in amazement. Damn kid was six years old when I met his sister, now I’m attending his bachelor party. Said bachelor party, by the way, became the inspiration for “No Fun Joe.”
Other milestones: my Mom and both In-laws became official senior citizens this year. At 83, my Stepmom continues to represent my octogenarian fan base; and my father turned the much-less-fun-than-it-sounds age of 69 and discovered a new career as a computer repair guy
Politics and current events were major influences this year, and I ended up getting caught in the fray of the presidential election. I tried to keep it light, but some folks make it really hard. Hopefully these guys can start working together because the country – really the whole world – needs them. Early returns, however, sure ain’t positive.
The new Senate rules are truly hardcore
As for 2013 goals, well I’ve got a PWC registration site to build and a novel to restart. I’ll continue to submit The Bridesmaids until I finally marry off these gals. I’d like to start a few new stories that have been percolating around the old brainpan for months, including a nifty little tale about a lonely boy and his zombie. And finally, I need to renew my commitment to you. I want to get back on the weekly schedule, which means 52 new posts to contemplate. If anyone has suggestions for any of them, I’m all ears!
seriously, I don’t want to talk about it
Here’s to a safe and wonderful new year.
If you need any more proof that I’m a man married to the places and routines of the past (as if the knowledge that I’m still living in my hometown in my grandparent’s house isn’t evidence enough), it’s the fact that I continue to return to Sea Isle City, this beautiful, often-times overcrowded, overgrown sand bar off the South Jersey coast. I’ve been coming here since I was thirteen. Our rental that year was a tiny bungalow that crammed six into the same square footage of your average one-car garage. That cottage has since disappeared under thirty year years of development and exists only in fogbanks of memory.
Bridge into Sea Isle – every year right before we reached the bridge, the smell of salt marsh would fill the car signalling our arrival ‘downdashore”.
The property I rented this year, up the street from the place we stayed three decades ago, housed a fraternity. I can still remember those mystical looking Greek letters hanging on the old asbestos siding, and the leering, drunken frat-boys who crowded the porch who would hoot and holler at my step-aunt – a young woman who was only two years older than me and the subject of my unknown affection that entire, painful summer. As our vacation progressed, I would quietly seethe at their comments, imagining all manners of revenge against these older boys with their pack confidence and knowing smiles.
This is where we stayed this year. Now imagine it without the new siding, the closed in porch up top, and filled to the brim with drunken douchebags and you can see what it looked like in 1982.
It’s the nature of these memories that most draw me. Because they happened only once a year, they remain frozen in a specific place and time like Polaroid snapshots. Snap. I’m thirteen, small and skinny, have yet to kiss a girl, and pine for love unrequited. Snap. I’m fifteen, older, more mature, not only have I kissed a girl (not my Aunt – don’t worry), I’ve passed one tentative hand across her chest and thought that I had nearly touched divinity itself. Snap. I’m seventeen and know everything about everything and can drive my old Plymouth Valiant down to sit on the rocks and stare at the sea whenever I feel melancholy and want to look like some tragic, romantic poet. Snap. I’m a young father and watching my babies as they joyously leap the waves and dig into the warm sand. Snap, I’m 43 and know now I never actually knew anything; my little girls are teenagers and able to go off and find their own fun, and I’m left with the quiet, constant sound of the ocean a few blocks away.
The Starfish – my stepfather would take me out every year. Caught the biggest fish of my life on this boat – a 21 inch bluefish. Twenty years later, I would take my daughters on the same boat.
The shore has been the backdrop for almost all the key moments in my life. The unceasing sea bore witness the first time Maureen said she loved me. I bent the knee and asked her to be my wife on the rocks in Cape May An old jetty in Sea Isle, winter waves crashing around me, was where I decided to drop out of college and strike out on my own at nineteen; and the never-ending, April beach in Wildwood was the setting when I decided it was time to return to school three years later.
Whenever I would get moody, which was approximately 75% of the time between 17 and 21, I would drive down and sit on these rocks and contemplate my place in the universe. Not sure why I didn’t get beat up more often!
And as much as the shore has provided memories of laughter and light, it’s also a place that harbors some regret. After I graduated High School, I had the opportunity to spend the summer working at my stepfather’s bike shop. An opportunity wasted putting unnecessary miles on my old Valiant visiting a girl I no longer loved, hung up on feelings of guilt and misplaced obligation. The outcome of that summer: hundreds of dollars in phone bills and a blistering case of ringworm from sleeping on the bike shop floor. It’s a huge wayback machine moment, second only to that damn elevator in Westchester.
twenty-five years ago, this was Jim’s Bike and Sport. To this date, the only shore store to be whined out of business. The new place has really good sticky buns though, so I guess it was worth it!
And a more general regret. Regret that I did not think to come down here more as a very young man with all the freedoms and joys that age offers. Regret for not understanding that youth is transient and those years disappear faster than the beach after a winter storm. I wish I had added to those mental snapshots, but hope that my girls will learn from me and be sure to live life to its fullest as they bloom into young adulthood.
Sea Isle Bars – just a few of the dozens of SIC hotspots I apparently forgot existed between the ages of 18 and 23!
Ultimately, the shore is a place of renewal, of change. The sea is timeless and holds no regret. The waves take away old sand and replace it with new just as the duplexes of one era come down to be replaced by the multiplexes of today, which will in turn be replaced by the MultiMegaPlexes of tomorrow. Memories grow softer around the edge like the sea turning glass into gems of wonder glowing in the summer light. It is a place where all times exist at once. I stand on my porch and suddenly it’s 1982 and I’m a frat boy laughing down at the skinny 13 year old protecting the honor of his aunt; I stop at the 7-11 on Landis and it’s 1986 and Mallons across the street becomes Jim’s Bike and Sport and I’m hanging onto the phone with my girlfriend, bemoaning the good fortune of living rent free in a young man’s paradise. I walk through the inlet and it’s 2006 and I’m watching my little ones excitedly gather shells and splash in the surf. It is today, and I’m hugging my oldest as she leaves to start her first day of college; and I hope that we will always come back here, to find renewal , to reflect, to dump the year’s regrets and petty little stresses into the ever-moving waves, and to build those mental snapshots that last a lifetime.
The Promenade in Sea Isle – I spent a good portion of my mid teens trying to meet girls here with the worst wingman ever (my 4 years younger cousin!)
Unfortunately, SuperStorm Sandy killed off this (the second) incarnation of the SIC Funland
The Colonnade Inn…..I plan on buying it with my first multi-million dollar book contract…I guess I should get working on that book!