Garden Variety New Yorker





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‘Upstate’ Noun May Be Confusing

I grew up on Long Island.  We often refer to Upstate when talking about anywhere from Buffalo to Plattsburg and in-between.  The southern border varies, as many people don’t consider the counties just north of the Bronx as Upstate.  Geographically, just about every location in New York is upstate from where I grew up on the south shore of Long Island.


I still use the term, but just recently it dawned on me that it’s not quite clear now that I live in New Jersey, and in the north part of the state at that.  Much like referring to Manhattan as “The City” can be confusing depending on location and context, referring to “Upstate” when you’re less than 10 miles from the northern border of your state doesn’t make a lot of sense.  For the first time when referring to the Finger Lakes area of New York, I had to use the phrase “Upstate New York” to clarify.  I was referring to the herd of white deer I used to see occasionally off route 96 between Seneca and Cayuga lake when travelling between Ithaca and Buffalo.


Do people in South Jersey ever refer to the northern parts of the state as Upstate?

March 6th, 2012 by Ceetar in long island, new jersey, new york
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My Internal Google Map

HaledonI spent 26 years on Long Island but the last three in New Jersey.  Someone mentioned Smithtown to me recently and I immediately knew it was on Long Island, but I was drawing a blank as to exactly where on the island.  My internal Google map and sense of direction has faded without regular use.


The problem is my body hasn’t downloaded the New Jersey versions yet.  I’ve started to get a feel for the roads and areas I travel on regularly, but the ways to get from here to there, or where a town I’ve never been to like East Hanover is, still elude me.


While driving around Long Island, if I encountered traffic on the Meadowbrook Parkway I might know where to get off and how to get around it, or cut over to the Wantagh Parkway.   If I’m stuck on route 4 in New Jersey, a road I travel pretty regularly, I’m still sketchy on how best to bypass it.  A couple of weeks ago I tried to get off and head south towards 46/80 knowing that it would lead me to the same George Washington Bridge that I wanted to cross, but I ended up getting crossed up and it took me longer than it would’ve to just sit in the traffic.


I suspect that in time I’ll learn more as I live here longer, but I’ve crossed the threshhold where I can say “Hey, I just moved here give me a break!” when I don’t know where Haledon is even though it lies directly between the town I live in and the town I work in.

July 7th, 2011 by Ceetar in garden state, long island, new jersey, new york
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Gassing up in New Jersey

Gas is cheaper in New Jersey. That’s always a thought whenever a New Yorker takes a trip to or through the state. Another point of interest is that there is no self-serve, so you never have to pump your own gas. However, this loses some of it’s appeal when you’re in a rush.


Sometimes I’d just rather get out and pump it myself. I don’t have to wait for the guy to come over and swipe my card. Especially if it’s crowded. I don’t have to wait while he go takes care of the next car that pulled in while my tank sits full for three minutes. I’ve been very tempted to get up and remove the nossel myself, especially when I’m in a hurry and just want to get out of there.

Another popular annoyance in New Jersey, at least North Jersey, is cash and credit prices. A growing number of gas stations are putting two prices on the big billboards; one for cash, and one for credit. Accustomed as I am to looking for the lowest price, and dismissing the rest as premium gas prices, I’ve been fooled before.

This creativity is getting around though. I saw a sign on Long Island advertising a price 20 cents cheaper in the same manner, with small print saying “with oil change”.

The best thing about self service gas is still that you don’t find an attendant with nothing better to do than squeegee your windshield with dirty water.

June 12th, 2009 by Ceetar in life, travel
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