I was born in what used to be Paterson Army Hospital, on what used to be Ft. Monmouth, N.J. Fort Monmouth was closed on Sept. 15, 2011, as a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure round. My dad, who was born in Rochester, N.Y., was in the Army, he retired when I was 12. Yes, that makes me an Army Brat. There’s more to that than just two words would imply. For a better understanding of the children of those who serve in the military, visit militarybrat.com.
Most of my mom’s relatives lived in her native Long Branch, a shore city that was pretty famous at one time. Like it’s southern neighbor, Asbury Park, Long Branch was a casualty of the civil unrest in the late 1960s and early 1970s and still hasn’t fully recovered, although there are redevelopment efforts underway now.
Unlike my friends who were Army Brats, I didn’t travel the world. My dad was sent to places like Vietnam and South Korea where he couldn’t take his family.
After my Dad retired, he and my Mom bought a house in Oceanport, home of Monmouth Park Race Track. I could stand on our lawn and listen to the races. We lived there for six years, until I graduated from high school. My dad had some health problems, so my folks decided to use that milestone as a reason to pack up and move to Florida. Their first home was in the small town of Cooper City, a suburb of Ft. Lauderdale. My dad never got the military habit of relocating out of him, so they moved every few years. Their last home was in Vero Beach; it was the second time they lived in that town.
My Mom passed away on Dec. 13, 2008. My Dad died on July 22, 2010. “Missing them” is way too weak to describe how I feel.
I graduated from Livingston College, Rutgers University with a BA in Journalism. I got my first job seven months later at The Reviews, weekly newspapers based in Piscataway and owned by the Somerville-based Somerset Press. Several years later, the company made me the editor of its paper in South Plainfield, the Reporter.
That was a lot for a 20-something to handle. I decided to leave the business, freelanced for a while, then took two quick jobs at a credit card newsletter and a financial newsletter geared to medical professionals.
After that, I spent nearly nine years working in the media services department at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark before returning to journalism. While I was at NJIT, this “new” thing called the Internet, and its graphic portion, the World Wide Web, caught on in academia. After designing my own Web site, more for fun than anything else, the then-President of the university saw it and asked an aide why mine was better looking than the university’s. It wasn’t long before I was tasked with redesigning the entire NJIT Web site, which took about the entire summer of 1995.
I returned to journalism in 1997, working for a mid-sized daily newspaper. In 2004 I transferred to another, larger paper within the company that had the added benefit of being close to my extended family at the Shore.
While I was at the weekly paper, I met a wonderful woman named PJ. Well, at first I didn’t think she was so wonderful, and the feeling was mutual with her. PJ was the paper’s advertising director, and I was in editorial, and the two never mixed (although we did clash several times). But one night I walked into this funky jazz club in New Brunswick called J. August’s Cafe and who do I see on stage singing but PJ! And she was great! So I sent her a glass of wine when her set was done, we started talking and here we are, married since 1988. Time flies.
We chose to not have children, but we do have two of the cutest furballs you’ll ever see. They are Tao Shen and MuShi, our Shih Tzus.
We also had two living angels, Shih Tzus named Tashi and Sashi and a rescued cat named Niven. We lost Tashi to liver cancer in May, 1995, and Sashi from kidney failure on Jan. 1, 2009, just a couple weeks after my Mom died. Niven left us in early December 2011, after a long fight against kidney failure. Tao Shen comes from the same blood line as Tashi, hence his name. Loosely translated from Chinese, it means “Way of the Spirit.”
Tao Shen is still with us, as is his new sister, MuShi, who was rescued from a puppy mill.
That’s the history up till now. Not terribly exciting, but I’ve had my moments.