Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I was up again around 9:20.  I imagine there is something about the angle where the sun hits my eyes in my bedroom at that hour which has made it a steady wakeup time.

I found that I was not to be quite so fortunate with the hot water situation as I'd previously thought.  While I'd gotten a hot shower Tuesday morning, the apparent residual hot water from before the power outage was gone by Wednesday.  Living on the sixth floor, it often takes a few minutes for the hot water to reach us after turning the faucet or shower on, but as I went on waiting for close to ten minutes, I realized my luck had run dry in that department too, and I settled for a quick cool soapy rinse.

Having recharged my computer the previous night uptown, I started working in earnest on the blog, racking my brain for all the interesting experiences and sights I'd seen as a consequence of the hurricane.  I felt a need to write down my observations before they faded from my memory, if only for my own cathartic self-expression.  Approaching noon, my computer ran low on battery, bringing my writing session to a conclusion. 

I had cereal again for breakfast, feeling the obligation to drink as much milk as I could before it went bad; however, I soon came up with a new strategy for the fridge.

Seeing as the temperatures outside never reached above 58 degrees or so, I prepared to transfer most of the salvageable food to the fire escape outside my roommate Anna's window.  Whatever wasn't made to last I would cook on the stove and reheat later.  Our gas range was still functional save for the electric ignition, and when Anna arrived early that afternoon, she brought with her a lighter we could use to get our stove back up and running.

Wanting to preserve whatever chill remained in the refrigerator, I only briefly opened the door twice after the power went out: once to get some food, and another time to place bags of ice inside to keep it chilly.  Preparing to make one grand transfer of the food, I set out a few cooler bags and planned a list of dishes I needed to make once the refrigerator was open.  I broke down the strategy to Anna when she arrived, and we got right to it, with Anna organizing any worthwhile food into the cooler bags while I began cooking what would become a grand feast.

First off, I went about frying a bunch of vegetable dumplings, which we mostly devoured while deconstructing the fridge.  Next up, I cooked the soy-ginger cod I'd planned to eat on Monday and worked on a mushroom-marsala farfalle dish, which I'd originally hoped to do later in the week.  There were a few other prepared foods I had in the freezer that I wanted to cook through before they became soggy and inedible, including gnocchi gorgonzola and chicken teriyaki.  There wasn't too much in the fridge that made a stench, and we were able to hang on to most of our food.  As each dish came off the stove, we ate a bit, and packaged the bulk for later, getting dibs and dabs of a great variety of dishes.

Prepping the feast.

Vegetable dumplings.

Sauteeing onions and mushrooms.

Gnocchi gorgonzola.

Chicken teriyaki.

Kitchen post-cooking.

The new refrigerator on the fire escape.

Mushroom marsala farfalle with peas.

After setting up the apartment for its new state of normalcy, I invited Anna to come on another big walk with me.  At first, she wanted to hang around and study a bit, but with no school for nearly a week, I was able to convince her to get outside and see the city in its unique state.  We went straight out Bleecker Street to the East River, and while we saw some downed trees—none directly harming any infrastructure—I think Anna was mostly surprised by the lack of noticeable damage, given how wild some of the pictures from The East Village looked during the storm.  As I'd found through my walks, the greatest damage in Lower Manhattan appeared to come from the failure of the power grid, which left residents struggling to cope after the storm was long passed.

Unlike us near Washington Square, people in the projects on the east side were apparently without water.  This became obvious because a few fire hydrants were left open, with residents swarming to fill up their buckets and bottles.  I think Anna mostly found it surreal to pass by so many places she'd grown up with closed down indefinitely.  There were people around, but the lifeblood of The Village was sapped by the dark.

We continued up the river, past the failed substation at 14th and the FDR Highway, and around Stuyvesant Cove, where the island curves back west and provides a great view of the uptown skyscrapers, Roosevelt Island, and Long Island City (top.)  Hitting the cove around 4:00, we got a particularly wonderful view with the late-day sun shining ever so slightly through the cover of clouds.

Fallen tree branches in The New York Marble Cemetery, the oldest public non-sectarian cemetery in the city.

Anna waits for a break in traffic to walk around this tree, which fell over the cemetery fence.

Another downed tree in the east side projects.

Kids were back playing soccer at East River Park.

Residual flooding on the side of The FDR Highway.

Another decimated tree at East River Park.

The infamous 14th Street substation.  As if to complement my "Dark Side Of The Moon" analogy, the substation reminded me of Pink Floyd's "Animals" cover.

 The gorgeous view at Stuyvesant Cove.

 Row houses along 14th Street.

Cops replace traffic lights at 14th Street and 2nd Avenue.

We headed back home by way of Union Square, which was largely off limits, and each of us settled in for a few hours reading and writing by flashlight.  In the evening, Anna went uptown to see her sister, and I went off to play a board game with friends in The East Village.

Halloween was cancelled in New York.  What I found a fascinating adaptation in my previous years in the city, trick-or-treaters roaming around during the day and stopping mostly at stores instead of houses, was put on hold after the hurricane.  There was a bodega in The East Village giving away the rest of their ice cream, but by that point, the containers appeared to be holding more liquid than solid, so it wasn't worth much of anything to anyone anymore.

On my walk home that evening I noted that The Freedom Tower was relit, but I really stunned to see the stars shining bright over the city.  Perhaps I've seen one or two before, but on this night, I saw whole constellations, something that never happens amidst the light pollution of New York.  With the clouds finally fully broken and electricity at a minimum on the southern end of the island, star-gazing between the breaks in high-rises was actually a possibility.  It was a remarkable sight that took me by pleasant surprise.

The re-lit Freedom Tower, amid the unusual black of Lower Manhattan.

Traffic continues down an otherwise dark 2nd Avenue at night.

NYU remains as bright as ever.

The moon shines over Bobst Library.

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