Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New York And Hurricane Sandy, Part Two: We Are Hit

“Unless you own a submarine, there is no way you are getting out of New York City,” a frantic reporter stated on television.  

My roommate and I looked at each other, slightly wide-eyed. It seemed as though the island of Manhattan was on its own tonight.

Hurricane Sandy officially made landfall in New Jersey around 8pm on October 29, 2012. Wind gusts reached 90 mph, as a 13-foot storm surge encompassed lower Manhattan. By 9:30pm, news anchors announced that nearly every building located under 39th street was without power.

So why did the glistening lights of our city flicker out? Some of the blame can be attributed to the explosion that occurred at a Con Edison power plant on East 14th and FDR. The video footage is shown below:

New York’s subway tunnels (not all that surprisingly) were also damaged, but the murky water rose higher than expected. Our 108-year-old underground system has never before "faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night," MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota recently told several news sources. And air traffic isn’t looking much better, with over 15,000 flights cancelled throughout the last several days.

I thought the subway would flood but... 
Source: ninjapito

So, in essence, everyone is stuck.
This also means, by the time you’ve read this post, I will be uncontrollably stir crazy.

Still, where I reside in Queens, we were relatively untouched. Sometime around 5pm yesterday, when storm winds were just picking up, the largest tree on our block snapped and took several power lines down with it. Lucky, the sporadic electricity lasted us through the night. (Because let’s face it: Without the local news mishaps, sensationalism, and awesome accents, Hurricane Sandy just wouldn’t have been as fun. And was anyone watching Ali Velshi of CNN!?)

Entertainment aside, what transpired in Breezy Point, Queens (located here) was pretty petrifying. A massive 6-alarm fire reportedly wiped out 80 to 100 houses in one flooded neighborhood, with some pockets continuing to burn through morning. The unexpected, ashy pictures were pretty unnerving.

I also received a short message from Ivy, Harlem resident extraordinaire, during the middle of our epic storm. Apparently, one of her windows was flung open from the gusts, shattering a nearby vase. But not to worry -- after exclaiming that Sandy “better not mess with this Floridian!” Ivy covered her window with two chairs and a vintage boat propeller (phew).

And me? Well, the internet and cable have been off the majority of the day so I did what I do best.

I went and bought bagels.
Because you KNOW New York didn’t run out of those.

For some legit pics, check out The Atlantic or The Huffington Post's coverage of the storm. Here's what we Queens kids have been up to...

Our street in Queens, with multiple trees down. 

Internet = Out. 

Steinway Street storefronts had some damage.

Hanging out the window during the storm. 

RIP "Big Tree." The neighborhood shall miss you. 

Two of the trees down on our street. 

The dark city skyline from my rooftop. 


Sunday, October 28, 2012

New York And Hurricane Sandy, Part One: We Wait

“No bread. We don’t have any bread. No buns, no biscuits, no bread!” the manager of Key Foods was shouting to a group of unlucky customers on Astoria’s 30th Ave. Lines at the grocery store were invading the produce aisles, while queues at Duane Reade wrapped toward the rear of the building.

Such Sunday hubbub could only mean one thing: It’s hurricane time.

New York is an odd place to inhabit when one of these gales unexpectedly blows through the East Coast. Our fluidity of the city is interrupted by a new excitement. The 8.5 million people of NYC spastically shop for supplies, grab last minute “hurricane survival kits,” and then, quite suddenly, disappear.

Never will you feel more like the apocalypse occurred -- and you were infuriatingly left behind -- than when you’re standing in front of a shining, glistening, completely empty Time Square. It’s an eerie sensation to see one center of the universe so vacant of human life. 

At 2pm this afternoon...

But people love storms too. That same energy New York grasps on a daily basis is bundled into a shared excitement that spreads faster than the flu in February. News anchors become superstars, meteorologists become gods, and we common folk? Those of us not living under a rock quickly ban together against what might as well be dubbed the “impending doom.”

As I ran down Steinway to pick up two more bottles of wine before the liquor store closed, I saw a few old women jumping up and down in the street about their “sleepover,” a rolling office chair fly down the sidewalk and smack into an SUV, as well as a group of guys who wanted to know if me and my roommate would attend their “hurricane party of the century.”

I think it’s safe to say we take ourselves seriously in times of distress… but not that seriously. And that's probably best.

If Hurricane Sandy’s current trajectory pans out, storm force winds are expected to occur around lunchtime tomorrow in the New York City area. Already the subway, busses, and other forms of public transportation have been shut down and evacuations of “Zone A” ordered. The majority of businesses (including Wall Street) are closed for tomorrow, and schools were cancelled early this morning.

So what will the supposed “Frankenstorm” inflict? Maybe Hurricane Sandy will bring a whole lot of nothing… or maybe the worst weather to have swept this area in decades will stubbornly commence.

Either way, I’m staying (safely) in the city. And I’m a little excited to see what tomorrow will bring. Let's hope I don’t eat my words...

Be careful out there kiddos. 


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

So You Want A Birthday Post, Grace?

It's my little sister's birthday. 
And she, in jest, asked for a blog post. 

"im not begging but like if you need to inform your blogger followers then feel free to do so," she stated on my Facebook wall. 

Inform them I shall. 

First, let us celebrate G-race (pronounced gee-race in sister talk) by showing off this gem from 2006. Believe it or not, this photo has lingered on Facebook all these years. It's also one of the oldest digital pictures we have together. 

Aren't you glad you asked for a post, Gracie? 
Alright, alright... 
I'll add few more favorable (and ridiculous) pictures too.

Happy Birthday little sis!

When we were just tourist in NY. (2008)

 Who says we don't look alike? Grace's 16th birthday. (2009)

Oh, those girls. (2012)

Something is weird about this. (2012)

To reiterate... we were tourist in NY. (2008)

Downtown Richmond with the Spicer clan. (2007)

Oh, the beginning of jumping pictures. (2009)

 We get really excited in our family. (2010)

With Kathryn on Tour. (2011)

Such a doll. Halloween? Spirit week in high school? You decide. (2010)

The classic college kid pic. (2012)

With both sisters, at Passport Camp. (2008) 

 Easter at Uncle and Aunt's place. (2009)

 When you were just visiting CNU, G-race. (2008)

 Kathryn's graduation from CNU. (2012)

I mean... I have to throw one more in there. 
We look about the same ;)
High school graduation. (2006)


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Um, "That's Mine"

We were sitting at an elevated table toward the western side of Bryant Park, a few quiet blocks over from Times Square.

Ivy and I wore casual clothes and discussed casual topics, because on Sunday, one can afford the time to be casual.

A random rainstorm had cleared the park of its many weekend inhabitants, but the decidedly stubborn sun had just made its second appearance of the day. We relaxed amongst the rays of lucky light, taking in a quintessential New York autumn afternoon. 

“What are you doing the 20th?” Ivy asked. Her belongings were scattered on our green metal table; she fidgeted with her phone.
“I donno,” I said. “Let me look.” I reached for my own mobile, and flipped open an omnipresent force in my life: the iCal. Meanwhile, my bag rested an arms length away, propped in another chair. 

In the midst of our weekend planning, a slow moving woman passed near our table. She wasn’t old, but probably older than us, wearing orange flips-flops and a blue hoodie. I might have pegged her as homeless, but then it’s truly impossible to tell at times.

Either way, she slowly (very slowly) walked over to the chair where my bag lay. Immediately my senses were heightened, and I considered what this woman was contemplating. Was she about to say something? People talk to you all the time in parks. But no… she tilted her head a tiny bit, and slowly grasped the top of my bag.

It was almost as if she were asking permission. 
“May I…?” her eyes questioned.
No. You may not.

“That’s mine,” I replied matter-of-factly. Then I angled my head to match her own and snatched the bag away from her hands. She gave a subtle nod, and then looked calculatingly at my friend.

Things seemed as if they were about to get a whole lot less casual.

Ivy had a moral dilemma: If she reached for her items sitting on the table, it would obviously be an offensive gesture and the woman’s prerogative was not yet solidified. Maybe she was confused? Ivy stared at the woman, but didn’t make any moves to relocate her phone, credit card, keys, etc.

Then BAM
The woman’s hand jutted forth at a pace much faster than her previous attempt in grabbing my backpack. Her fingers stretched across the table, clutching for Ivy’s possessions.

“JESUS CHRI--!!” Ivy yelped, scrambling toward her coveted items. She scooped up everything in one quick move, and then glared at the woman.

Nope. Not casual.

In the midst of their scuffle, a Louis Vuitton wallet had flown from the woman’s sleeve and landed unceremoniously on the table. Our uninvited visitor suddenly forgot about future spoils, and reclaimed what was hers. (Although, let’s be honest… that wallet wasn't hers.)

And now it was awkward. She stared at us, particularly at Ivy, as if waiting for something to happen. I had not a dollar on me, or even a piece of gum. Only my computer, empty wallet, cell phone, and personal space were hers for the taking.

“We don’t have anything,” I said, not with anger but with certainty. Ivy looked at me with the “I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening” face, her eyes bulging out of their sockets.

The woman accepted our words with another subtle nod. She and I? We had come to a mutual understanding: Neither of us had much.

So she walked away.

While of course I had sympathy for this odd woman, I was also struck by the sheer irony of nearly being robbed. And of all places! After every possible dangerous spot I’ve inhabited, freaking Times Square is always the worst! (That’s your lesson for the day, folks.)

“It's so funny to almost get robbed in broad daylight at the speed of a snail,” Ivy said as she stuffed her items away.  We laughed and laughed at the sheer oddity of it all.

But then, this is New York. Everything is slightly ironic, a wee bit contrite, and certainly absurd. Yet even here, sometimes all we need are a few words from a stranger to ensure that we’re still alive.

So I wish I’d said a little something more.

[Editor’s note: Despite my conflicting inner thoughts, this "attempted robbery" was pretty awesomely hilarious. If only you could have seen our stunned faces... ]


Monday, October 1, 2012

10 Best Quotes About New York City

Ah, New York. The city of all cities -- a playground for the rich, famous, and utterly destitute.

In honor of our mighty urban epicenter, here’s a list of some choice New York City quotes by the literary geniuses who’ve previously inhabited these very streets. They too have tasted that ubiquitous juxtaposition of complete satisfaction and constant unrest… which, by the way, just so happens to keep this city thrilling.


“And New York is the most beautiful city in the world? It is not far from it. No urban night is like the night there... Squares after squares of flame, set up and cut into the aether. Here is our poetry, for we have pulled down the stars to our will.”
-- Ezra Pound

“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”
-- Tom Wolfe

“When you leave New York, you are astonished at how clean the rest of the world is. Clean is not enough.”
-- Fran Lebowitz

“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something.
...Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion. ”
-- E.B. White, Here Is New York

“The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.”
-- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance.” 
-- Nora Ephron

“There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless.”
-- Simone De Beauvoi

“New York walking isn’t exercise: it’s a continually showing make-your-own movie.” 
-- Roy Blount Jr.  

“New York is an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal. Its politics are used to frighten children. Its traffic is madness. Its competition is murderous. But there is one thing about it - once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no other place is good enough.”
-- John Steinbeck

"I can't believe it now, that the city opened before us like some land of dreams, but it did."
-- Mary Cantwell, Manhattan, When I Was Young

Happy Monday!