Thursday, October 31, 2013

One year ago

Hello amigos!

I've been slackin' on the bloggin' lately.  Sorry.  Mama's been out livin' life--you know how it goes. 

I can't believe that today is Halloween.  On Saturday night I was at a Halloween party (dressed up as a hella hot pin up sailor chick) and I was trying to remember what I had done for Halloween last year.  It took me a moment, but then I was like, "oh yeah, my roommates and I were holed up in our apartment dropping deuces in buckets because it was Hurricane Sandy."  We didn't actually drop deuces in buckets (which is more than I can say for pals I know who live in southern Manhattan) but we did go completely stir crazy and nearly kill each other. 

The subways closed down on Sunday evening before Sandy hit last year.  My apartment was pretty full because it was me and my 2 roommates, my roommate's devil cat Black Pussy, plus my roommate's friend who was visiting from Texas and got stranded in our apartment THE ENTIRE WEEK.  She was a super nice gal, but having ANYONE take up residence in your living room for a full week during which you are also trapped in your apartment is a lot to take.  

We were lucky and the whole time we had electricity, cable TV, running water and plenty of food.  What did we do all day Sunday through Thursday morning?  Watched a ton of TV, took a lot of naps, drank a bunch (I had a rule that I wouldn't permit myself to start drinking wine before 3pm), and putzed around in sweats.  I knew that I'd be housebound for a few days, so I had gone out just before the storm to buy paint for my bedroom.  I've never been more hated than I was in the pre-Sandy days at my local hardware store--it was hilarious.  While people were stocking up on batteries and plywood, I was checking out paint samples and asking about matte versus gloss.  Hey, I knew I'd have some time on my hands, so I bought everything I'd need to paint a wall in my bedroom.  It came out quite nice! 

One night, my roommate and I crossed the street to visit our local cop/fireman bar for the first time EVER and have some beers.  We had a nice chat with the bartender and drank crappy domestic beer out of styrofoam cups.  

Finally, on Thursday Bloomberg announced (in English AND Spanglish) that some of the subways would start running again and a LOT of shuttle busses would be moving people around.  I was going nuts in my apartment (again, my living room had become a bedroom to a visiting woman), so I was determined to try and get myself to my office in midtown.  It would be an adventure!  I woke up Thursday and dressed in comfortable clothes: sneakers, jeans, a tank top, a Poison baseball shirt (because if you can't wear a Poison shirt into the office during a natural disaster, when CAN you wear a Poison shirt into the office?  A question for the ages, truly), and my Farrah Fawcett-style vest.  I threw on my iPod and backpack and hit the streets.  I walked through my Brooklyn neighborhood to the Barclay's Center, where hundreds of people and about 5 busses were assembled.  It was a shit show and I can't be around large crowds without having an anxiety attack, so I just kept walking down Flatbush Avenue.  I had my music, it was a sunny day, and I was enjoying the start of this adventure.  I walked to the Manhattan Bridge and as I attempted to locate the pedestrian entrance (it's harder to find than you'd think--seriously)and thought about sticking out my thumb to hitch, a black woman drove up to me in a sedan and asked if I'd like a ride over the bridge.  There was a passenger minimum (3 people) and she had chatted with a cop who was willing to let her drive over with just 2.  I looked in her backseat and there was an empty car seat, plus an empty Dora the Explorer DVD case and I thought, "This lady CAN'T be an axe murderer."  So I hopped in.  I closed the door and put my backpack on the floor in front of me just as she remarked that I didn't look like an axe murderer.  We laughed and cruised easily over the Manhattan Bridge, chatting about what we had been through during the storm.  She pulled over on 3rd Avenue and 42nd Street and we wished each other well.  

I went into work for a few hours and ran into a co-worker who lived down on Wall Street.  She was in the 20th floor of a high rise and had had no electricity, no running water, no toilets or showers, and no cell service.  Needless to say, her few days out of work had been a nightmare, especially compared to mine ("I saw that movie 9-5 for the first time the other night and we made popcorn").

At 4:30, I started walking home because I didn't want to be walking alone in the darkness too late.  In Manhattan, south of 30th Street (or so), there was simply no power.  No street lights, no stop lights, no lights inside bars or stores.  So I wanted to walk while before sunset.  I made my way downtown and it was exciting.  Cops and army patrol guys (at least I think that's what they are?) were at almost every corner directing traffic and making sure nothing got crazy.  I really appreciated that and felt safe, despite the bizarre circumstances.  I walked by my friend Kevin's bar, McSwiggan's (2nd Ave and 23rd Street) and they were open--serving beer by flashlights and playing music from a battery operated speaker system.  I kept hustling, though.  Some restaurants were selling food and drinks out of their front doors, since their  dining rooms were too dark to actually seat anyone.  Chinatown and Little Italy were absolutely bizarre.  I walked down Mulberry Street (the heart of Little Italy) and it was empty and silent.  Same with Chinatown.  I wanted to stop and take photos, but I was scared that I was losing light so I just kept on walking.  I made it to the Brooklyn Bridge and walked over among what felt like a large crowd.  I got to the other side and walked to a restaurant in Cobble Hill where a bunch of Brooklyn-based coworkers had planned a dinner.  It was quite a scene: I shared my story of hitchhiking into the office and others shared tales of 5 days of straight solitude.    

It was a really strange week overall and I loved how much everyone remained calm and worked together.  The day that the lights came on in lower Manhattan was like a wonderful Christmas.  People were gleeful at just seeing streetlights--it was very sweet.

Happy Halloween!