Day 1: Sunday, October 29. 2012, SoHo, New York
There’s an edginess all over the city, as people prepare for the storm. We had plenty of food in the house, but I stopped by Met Foods in NoLita to pick up a few more things and the line was so long, I decided to forget about it. I live with a loftmate, Abigail, and she has her car out, so I imagined that she would pick up whatever extras we needed.
Wrong. She went to Trader Joe’s and the line was so long it met the line for Whole Foods which is a block away in Union Square.
But we have buckets with extra water and they’re in the tub. We have food. We have a gas stove that can be lit with a match. We have plenty of flashlights and my best purchase was headlamps. I think we’ll be fine.
Day 2: Monday, October 29, 2012
A waiting game. We stayed home most of the day, put on some music and exercised. I took a short walk around the neighborhood, the wind was picking up, but no rain most of the day. Spoke to a few friends on the phone, most of them downtown. I know a few people in evacuation zones, but I couldn’t reach them. Most of the day I was on Facebook and Twitter, reading and writing updates. A post I wrote called “Tracks of My Tears” went up on Huff Post, about the healing power of tears.
Monday night we went upstairs to pay a call on my friend Barbara, who is sitting shiva for her father who passed away last Thursday. Her mom is with her too, but she is suffering from some dementia, so it’s a bit challenging. We sat with them in the kitchen and listened to the wind, which was extremely loud and scary. We couldn’t tell how much it was raining, but I came downstairs and called my daughter in Brooklyn and as we spoke, we got disconnected after what Zoe thought was lightening that lit up the sky. She found out later it was the Con Ed transformers blowing up. By around eight pm we lost electricity, but somehow we still had our internet connection. I was able to keep up on Twitter and Facebook and finally went to bed to read. It seemed as if most of the wind had died down from the intensity of a few hours before and we knew that the tide had breached the sea wall – but we thought Con Ed had just turned off the electricity as a precaution at that point.
Day 3: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
I woke up, turned on my iPhone and saw many Facebook comments. I posted “I am going to make a cup of coffee and try to find out the extent of the damage. “It’s bad,” a friend in Brooklyn wrote. One friend from Spain mentioned the explosions of the transformers at the Con Ed plant, and I got a few emails from the previous night and then all internet connection disappeared. There was a brief window at 7 am that was shut fifteen minutes later.
Lucy is my 16 year-old beagle, and she can’t climb stairs and it’s impossible to carry her up and down the four flights, so we put out towels for her in the loft and within one minute, I slipped on a towel and fell flat on my back. I landed on my tailbone and my first thought was, “Oh, no, I’m going to be paralyzed and there will be no hospital to take me to and no ambulance will come.” Fortunately, that only lasted about a minute and a half, but it hurt and I’ve been living on Advil.
Our land line is part of our cable/internet so we had no way to communicate and even the fantastic Crosby Street Hotel across the street, which has a generator for their main floor, was struggling. They had no phone lines and all their guests were being transferred to uptown hotels. We knew that uptown, most of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx were fine – just parts of Manhattan south of 39th, from river to river, most of Staten Island, large areas of New Jersey and 90 percent of Long Island were without power. I couldn’t even reach my daughter to tell her we were okay. The streets were empty (imagine the streets in SoHo without any shoppers?) and very few cars. Abigail and I went for a walk around the neighborhood and saw lots of tree branches down and one small market had a huge line outside. People were escorted around the store, one at a time. Most seemed to be waiting for coffee.
In the afternoon our neighbors returned home from uptown – they had friends who came and picked them up so they could get supplies, take showers, get their phones charged and fortunately they had a landline that worked. I called Zoe to tell her we were safe. She was smart – she chose to remain in Brooklyn for the storm instead of coming into Manhattan. So did Abigail’s son, Nate, who lives in Williamsburg, right near the water. He was fine too.
Last night we cooked Brussels sprouts and heated macaroni and cheese – and honestly, it was one of the rare times we sat down and ate a meal together. We’re both usually running somewhere.
I finished a novel (not memorable, but a good diversion) and am now starting on a book about Hillary and Bill. I don’t miss television and I enjoy listening to the radio, but mostly I miss the Internet. It’s a relief to not have phone calls and emails, quite honestly. I don’t know how that’s going to feel later in the day and by day four, I may be losing my mind, but I do know that at least forty people have lost lives in this terrible storm and the city has suffered serious damage. I love New York City – so whatever we have to deal with, we’ll manage.
It’s very odd to be in downtown Manhattan now, which feels a bit like a ghost town right now.
Day 4: Thursday, November 1, 2012
We drove to Brooklyn yesterday to see our kids. We drove across the Williamsburg Bridge, there wasn’t much traffic. We picked up Nate and went to eat in Zoe’s neighborhood. It was so good to see them and also Zoe’s roommate, Ashley, and to eat a hot meal at David’s Brisket in Bed Stuy – typical NY, Muslim restaurant in African American neighborhood, serving Jewish food. When we drove back, we heard that starting today you can’t drive into Manhattan over the bridge without at least three people in the car, so it’s lucky we went yesterday.
Balthazar had a big barbecue in front of the restaurant to cook all the meat they had that was going bad. I only had three dollars in cash left and that bought me six giant shrimp with cocktail sauce. Not bad!
Last night, on Halloween, our neighbor, Louise, came over and read our Tarot cards. It’s actually been lovely spending time with neighbors and reading.
This morning I turned on my phone and found out I had cell service. Still no power. Will check the news and see what is happening. Today, I’m going uptown to take a shower and eat something healthy. Still have milk for my coffee, grateful for all the small things. Grateful to be alive.
I’m at 88th and CPW, just took a shower, ate a good meal and will head home to Lucy soon. Never had a better shower in my life!
Day 5, Friday, November 2, 2012
Today I feel very depressed. I could barely drag myself out of bed. I listened to the radio last night and heard about people who have lost everything, a mother whose children were swept out of her arms on Staten Island. Family run businesses that are going to have to close, and it just feels like more bad news on top of more bad news. I feel like my interior life is matching the reality of my exterior life: dark.
It’s hard to know that so many people are going on with their lives and work in the rest of the country, and that those of us in lower Manhattan, parts of Brooklyn and Queens, Long Island and so much of New Jersey are suffering. I am just tired. I’m tired of not having a good, hot meal, and I don’t even feel like cooking anything. The high pitched sound we have been hearing for days, coming from the freight elevator at Scholastic Books seems to have finally stopped. It was driving everyone crazy.
Maybe this will be the last day of no more lights. Honestly, I’m having a hard time understanding why it’s taking Con Ed so long to get the power back on. I am tired of listening to the sad stories on the radio. I’m tired of upbeat messages of gratitude. This sucks. We have no healthy food in the loft and I feel angry. It does feel like East and West Berlin.
I guess I need to have some faith. I’ve been praying and meditating this morning, but so far I still feel pretty blue. I feel so bad for those who have lost family members and homes and jobs. I’m grateful that my daughter is safe. I’m grateful to have a roof over my head and that right now I am okay. But if I’ve learned anything in these past few years, it’s okay to feel my feelings, whatever they are. And right now they are sadness, depression, a sense of hopelessness and fear about the election. I need a hug.
I’m lying on the couch napping, when I hear a scream. My first thought is that one of the candles started a fire – but then I realize as I open my eyes that Abigail is whooping it up because the lights came on.
I take back every angry, awful thing I said. This week has been a gift in so many ways….time with neighbors and friends. Quiet, no phone calls, emails, no Internet, urban camping. Now all our efforts must go to helping those who are still suffering, still have no power, who have lost their homes and also to the election. My wish is that President Obama, who has done a great job dealing with this crisis – no one can solve all the problems of a storm of this magnitude – will come out as a strong leader and win the election.
I think we all have to take seriously the reality that we live in a new world and we can’t waste any more time debating global warming. We have to start getting prepared, even as we clean up from the disaster of this storm.