Archive for the ‘Traskland’ Category

so far away

Posted: September 25, 2021 in Humorous Bits, Traskland
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I walked around the local market and bumped into an old neighbor. He and his wife moved about two years ago, staying in town but upgrading to a single-family house to accommodate their ever-expanding brood. Despite his snug mask, I immediately recognized him.

“Hey! How are you?” I asked with genuine sincerity. He was a good neighbor, familiar without being intrusive, interested without being nosy, caring without being phony.

“Hi, John! It’s so nice to see you,” he replied, eyes smiling.

I tend to handle these types of chance encounters pretty well. I can effortlessly make a few minutes of small talk. It is a minor skill which hopefully helps (more…)

Early Saturday afternoon I was suddenly consumed with a burst of restlessness, an urgent need to get out of the house and do something that did not involve staying in the house. It was a gorgeous day – high clouds, crystal blue skies, mild temperatures with low humidity. There were plenty of local options to burn off the jumpiness. We could shoot down the road into Princeton and wander among the ivy, day trippers, and shops. A short drive in any direction would take us to hiking trails and parks. We could stroll around our familiar streets and blithely comment on minor changes to our neighbor’s outdoor décor. We could do any of these things, things we’ve done 1,000 times before. But on this particular Saturday I wanted more than the usual distractions. I quickly concocted an impromptu plan.

I slipped downstairs. With the subtlety of a diplomat I asked Caryn if there was anything she hoped to get done before the end of the day. She mentioned a few things, but they all had a self-imposed deadline of Sunday night. Seeing an opening, I shot my plan at her. (Figuratively.) “Let’s go spend the night in Philly!” Within minutes we were headed south to the city where Ben Franklin fathered an illegitimate son, where Angelo Bruno was rubbed out Mafia-style in front of his home, and where (more…)

Word came down today that my nephew was admitted to the University of Cambridge. He will begin his studies in the fall. As a statement of fact, he is officially further along than I was at 18. Heck, he is further along than I am now. Okay, I realize his accomplishment is not about me, but I simply want to assuage any uneasiness he may have harbored about a direct comparison to his New Jersey uncle. I imagine this was his predominant concern over the past several months as he awaited news of his acceptance. How could it not be? Well, the results are in and you are on it like a car bonnet. Rest easy, good nephew.

Cambridge is, as you know, one’s of the world’s most British universities. Founded over 550 years before the United States was even a gleam in a suspicious Plantagenet’s eye, they have been in the education biz for a long, long time. Not University of Bologna long. Don’t get carried away. But definitely longer than (more…)

As a child I had a troubling, recurring dream. I was probably 4 the first time I dreamt it and it would regularly return until I was 8 or 9. I hesitate calling it a nightmare since it never reached the point where I felt helpless and doomed. I would end the threat before it got that far, but I am jumping ahead.

In the dream it was the middle of the night. The drawn curtains blocked out the street lights. I was alone on the floor lying on my stomach watching television. My arms were propped up and my head rested in my hands. The television was in my father’s living room. It was a large, very old black and white Zenith, the kind that took a moment to warm up when first turned on. A small dot would appear in the center of the screen and gradually grow larger until the full picture appeared. When it was turned off, the dot (more…)

the hot dog man

Posted: August 22, 2020 in Traskland
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Winter officially ended when Luke materialized with his hot dog cart. He pushed the old wagon down 4th street, staying as close as possible to the parked cars. He paused when a car approached to let it pass. Drivers dramatically swerved and honked their horn in frustration. Every so often he received the one-finger salute. Luke didn’t appear to care. He kept to the street. The sidewalk was too risky, too full of potential mishaps. It was narrow, uneven, and dangerous. One false step, one small crack in the pavement, and the wagon would surely topple over. When it hit the ground, it would burst like a water balloon. A few angry gestures were nothing compared to that.

not Luke

It was easy to understand Luke’s caution. The cart looked incredibly fragile. The wheels screeched like they had never heard of WD-40. The body was heavily dented and disturbingly rusted. Duct tape was everywhere. The chrome finish was matte, no longer shiny. The yellow Sabretts umbrella tilted too much and threatened to ruin the wagon’s delicate balance. If he unexpectedly hit a dip in the road (more…)

Many years ago, I was traveling from Dallas, Texas to Norman, Oklahoma. It was the familiar interstate route, a straight shot north. It was also dull and repetitive, so I decided to hop onto the local roads and find my way across the state border at a new unknown spot, a pioneer in a Plymouth Fury. The Texas blacktop led me through small cow towns where experience told me my New Jersey accent would not be an asset. I double-checked my fuel gauge to ensure I could make it into Oklahoma without (more…)

dear taco bell

Posted: August 7, 2016 in Traskland
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Yesterday I thought about how much I still enjoy Taco Bell, then remembered I wrote something about this almost exactly seven years ago. It remains accurate.

dear taco bell.jpg

Dear Taco Bell,

Thirty years. Can you believe thirty years have passed since I first noticed your bright, bold colors and your exotic, intoxicating fragrance? Can you believe three decades slipped by since I first experienced that taste sensation which is so uniquely you? Can you believe all that has come and gone since our first casual late night encounter, fueled by a desire (more…)

Paul

Posted: December 4, 2014 in Traskland
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We moved the summer I turned ten, leaving midtown for downtown. My parents bought an old, weather-beaten, single family house, two miles to the south. Two miles was no different than two thousand. Downtown was a foreign land, much like Portugal or Brooklyn, one I knew nothing about, with weird stores, (more…)

So if you look to the left…

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…you will notice this nifty badge displayed under the heading “Blurb Store.” See it, that large white rectangular shape with stuff inside its borders? The image looks suspiciously like a book cover, doesn’t it? Then come the words “By J.V. Brennan” which are placed a bit too far underneath it. Below those words and to the right is the Blurb logo, a blue irregular hexagon with (more…)

chickens

For several decades Caryn’s grandparents owned a chicken farm. They stopped raising chickens further back than Caryn’s memories take her and sold the property about 30 years ago when they retired. I have heard stories about the farm, but never had a chance to see it. So on a glorious Saturday afternoon we impulsively (more…)