Soooo... how was your weekend?
I should back track a little and explain that the reason why I disappeared is that I went home to Arizona last week to surprise my mom for her birthday. To fully appreciate this, you have to know that my mom is IMPOSSIBLE to surprise. She's the person that watches a movie and can guess, twenty minutes in, exactly how the thing is going to end. She's always one step ahead of you when it comes to plotting things. I like to believe this is because she was an angel-faced-devil-child when she was younger and that helped her hone her skills, but I digress.
I made her think I had a work even late on Tuesday night, and waited until my brother had picked me up from the airport to pretend like I was in a cab, heading back to my apartment. She must have bought it, because when I popped out and screamed "SURPRISE!" at her when she walked through the door, she actually yelled "WTF?!"
On her actual birthday, which was last Wednesday, we decided to be different and go up to Verde Valley to Out of Africa. It's about an hour and a half outside of Scottsdale, but in a really beautiful area that most people only know as the place you stop for food and gas between Phoenix and Flagstaff. The zoo has, admittedly, seen some better days, but we got to go on a "safari" bus tour and feed Pilgrim the giraffe.
The zebras were basically little monsters. The park guide/bus driver has these things he calls "cookies" that he throws out to the animals to get them to come over (I'm pretty sure they're made with soy and protein?). Well, the zebras have pretty much figured out how to work the system. They will physically block the bus to prevent the driver from leaving, so he has to keep throwing cookies out to them. One of the males also "smiles" aka bares his teeth to get cookies and all of the girls have started doing it, too.
While I was in Arizona, I kept hearing these rumblings of some kind of "super storm" in New York that was supposed to happen the weekend I was flying home. Luckily (or not luckily, since I wouldn't have minded being stranded in Arizona with my family for a few more days), I had a red-eye on Saturday and beat Sandy in. The whole weekend leading up to the storm was like something out of a crazy dream. It felt calmer than preparing for Irene did last year, but everyone in the city apparently decided to wait until that Sunday to buy food and supplies. You would NOT believe the lines I encountered at the grocery store (I didn't even buy food at the big grocery store by us--Fairway--I literally walked in and out when I saw the line), at the little bodega next to us, and even Duane Reade. The line at DR practically wrapped around the store:
I don't know that many NYCers were taking the storm seriously until they started getting emails from their offices about how they'd be closed on Monday, possibly Tuesday. There was a bit of guesswork involved in when the storm would actually hit, but, more importantly, all of public transportation was shut down to try to prepare for possible flooding.
I'm sure you guys have seen the news reports--it ended up being pretty damn bad, especially for lower Manhattan. My roommate and I used to live in a big apartment complex called Stuyvesant Town, right on Avenue C and 16th street. And, well, this is what Stuy Town looks like right now. Our old building was right across the street from the Con Ed power plant where the transformer exploded--basically, it was a flood zone (how horrifying is that blue light?). All of lower Manhattan is still without power, but we fared much, much better on the Upper East Side. My roommate and I were joking that this was probably the first time it was cool to live uptown, because it really does seem like there are two different cities at the moment.
Yesterday was the first day I went into work this week, and... it took us an hour and a half by cab to go across town and 20 blocks south. We ended up getting out and walking the rest of the way. The traffic was SO awful. The MTA and city got the buses mostly up and running, but everyone else was trying to drive and it just wasn't happening. I wasn't even going to drive to hail a cab or squeezing onto one of the SUPER packed buses. Even though Central Park (all of the parks, actually) are closed, I decided to walk home. Unfortunately, it was freezing and I wasn't wearing the right coat, so I had to stop in a store and buy a hat and gloves for the 40 block trek home. It was so, so, so strange to see just hordes of people out trying to do the same thing.
Midtown is also a bit of a challenge right now, because the police have enforced a mandatory evacuation zone around the partially collapsed crane we've all taken to calling "the dangler."
I wish I had snapped a picture that better showed how A) massive this building is and B) how massive the crane itself is. They've blocked off everything between 59th and 56th street between 6th Avenue and Broadway. For a while, my office was completely blocked off and employees were having to show their ID to the police guarding the barricades to get in, but they finally moved the blocks back a ways. We're really not in any kind of danger unless some rogue wind snaps the thing off and it bounces off of five different buildings to get here. The immediate concern is that thing falling onto the ground below, but I think they've managed to mostly secure it.
I keep thinking I want to go downtown and see what it's like, but it's honestly such a hassle to get below 34th street. You can see what I mean about there being an actual line between Power/No Power here on the subway map they released yesterday to show what lines would be open. I left my apartment at 7:50 this morning to try to avoid the big crowds they were expecting. I also took a different route than usual because the N wasn't running to the stop by my office due to the evacuation zone. So it was... different, to say the least. But guys, it's such a mess for anyone that lives in Brooklyn and downtown right now. Look at this snap of the line to get on the shuttle bus between Brooklyn and Manhattan:
That goes down the block and around the corner! (The reason Brooklyn travel is messed up is because the East River is between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and the East River decided to flood into every single subway tunnel running under it.) To drive a personal vehicle across any of the bridges, you have to have at least three people in the car to help with the flow of traffic, too, which caused some headaches for people who got to the bridges and were turned away. The best part of this situation is that fares are free today and tomorrow, so I don't have to buy my $104 monthly card just yet.
We have some downtown friends staying with us in our little place, but I do feel bad about our inability to do much more at the moment. We were really, really lucky--the only problems we've experienced have to do with the lousy cellphone reception in the city. It really is just bizarro world out there.
Aside from Hurricane Sandy merging with the cold front, we also had Penguin and Random House merge (which, OMG), and Disney and Lucasfilm join forces. I have a lot of feelings on both of those happenings; the opinions for the former I have to keep to myself, but I'm sort of... not excited about the prospect of more Star Wars films? I'm just not sure what direction they're going to take, and seeing what Disney did to John Carter of Mars makes me super, super nervous. But that's a post for tomorrow.
For now, here's your Teaser Thursday: