backseat

when i was little i always had to sit in the backseat because my sister faked being car sick so she could sit in the front seat. since living in new york and taking cabs, i realize i feel most comfortable in the back seat. it’s a great way to ride around.

cab

the fun thing about a cab adventure is the conversation with the cabbie. last night, i asked him how his night was going. slow, because of the jewish holiday he told me. he seemed a little put out that there are so many jewish holidays. personally, i think it’s awesome.

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i don’t find myself in a cab often, but i love the ride back home from park slope, especially the view of manhattan on the BQE. unfortunately, it’s a bumpy road, so at night the photos don’t turn out really well.

nyc

hitchhiking

i attended an alumni social event this evening. my expectations were low, so i wasn’t disappointed. i left early only to find out it was pouring rain, i did not have an umbrella. there’s no duane reade near the plaza hotel. i think the closest one is at 6th and 57th.

i huddled under the scaffolding waiting for the rain to stop until it seemed like it wouldn’t. i decided i would try to hitchhike my way to lex and 63rd. (it’s closer than lex and 53rd from the plaza hotel.) made eye contact with a guy wearing some pretty fly headphones and more importantly carrying an umbrella.

i asked where he was going. he said lexington. i asked if i could walk with him. he said sure.

i told him it’s okay if you want to listen to your headphones. he said, nah.

we walked. under his umbrella. it was still raining.

i asked what he was listening to on his headphones. he told me some house.

i asked him if he’d ever hitchhiked before. he said no. i said me neither. he said but it’s a crazy city ya know.

i had a big smile on my face because it was my first time hitchhiking. he seemed to be enjoying it, too.

he asked me where are you going. i said lex and 63rd. he said i’m going to zara.

he said that was a fun experience. i said thank you so much. we shook hands.

it was only a light drizzle at this point. he crossed the street. i walked to the end of the block and crossed.

i love new york.

don’t worry about it

yesterday morning i was almost to the stairs to go underground when i realized i forgot my wallet. i quickly turned around and jogged all the way down the block back to 41st avenue. i got about halfway back to my apartment where the man sits in the morning on the brick planter in front of his building.

“good morning,” he says every morning when i pass. “have a nice day.”

i always smile and return the sentiment.

i had already passed him on this day i forgot my wallet, and here i was passing him again.

“you forgot something?”

“i forgot my MTA card.”

“oh here, let me give you some cash.”

“oh, no, i can’t.”

“don’t worry about it,” he said pulling out a wad of cash from his pocket.

he handed me a $20. omg.

i thanked him after he wouldn’t let me refuse, told him i’d get him back tomorrow morning, and was quickly on my way back to the subway station.

this morning i left a little earlier and stopped at the ATM to pull out $20 to pay him back. as i approached his building i noticed he wasn’t sitting in his usual spot. i put the 2 10s the ATM dispensed back in my wallet and figured i’ll see him tomorrow, hoping he won’t think i took off with his $20.

halfway down the block almost to the subway stop, i’m somewhere in my head.

“hello, how are you today?” are the words that interrupt wherever i was.

i look up, there he is walking with a newspaper and a brown bag presumably with his breakfast inside of it.

“oh!” i pull out my wallet and start to unzip the compartment holding the cash.

“don’t worry about it, just go to work!” he tells me.

tomorrow morning i’ll try again.

indians and oil spills

i’ve been working downtown lately, which has been nice because it’s given me time to explore a part of the city i don’t go often.  it’s the oldest part of the city.

this beautiful beaux-arts style building is what’s left of the native american presence in manhattan. it sits on what was fort amsterdam, the nucleus of the new amsterdam settlement, at the foot of the wiechquaekeck trail. the algonquins used the dirt path as a trading route. we call it broadway. it runs all the way up the concrete jungle that was once home to turtles and beavers and other abundant wildlife.

indian

speaking of beavers, this makes me really sad. can you imagine, sitting at home minding your own business when suddenly you are doused with diesel oil? how horrific. how irresponsible. there’s nothing okay about this. oil spills are constantly happening and not widely reported. 8,000 gallons in salt lake city last week. 20,000 gallons in east texas last month. way too much oil being spilled. it’s like we’re trying to kill ourselves so that a few people can make a lot of money. and then there’s this blabbering idiot, from texas of course. liberals don’t hate science, but apparently greedy politicians hate responsibility and ecology.

almost garden time

it’s that time of year, we’re on the edge of spring. it looks like we’ll get to the end of march without seeing 50 degrees again. snow is in the forecast today. the only reason this makes me feel a little bummed is because i want to plant my seeds!

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nasturtiums, cucumbers, sage, parsley, rosemary, cosmos, arugula, radish, dill. i have leftover borage seeds from last year, too.

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i’ve been letting these green onions root. they are probably ready to be transferred to a pot. i planted them this way last year, and they thrived. i’ve already installed a screen along the railing of the terrace to protect the plants from the unrelenting summer sun. the pots and organic soil are ready to go, now i just have to be patient.

Rockaway

Today (50 days since Hurricane Sandy graced us with her ferocious presence), I take the Q53 from beginning to end, round trip. Takes about an hour one way. As we get closer, I see a house that is sideways. Like a little kid got angry while playing a game, knocked it over, and just left it there. Right before the last stop, the guy, about 20, sitting next to me stands up.

“Are you getting off here?”

“I don’t think so. Is it the last stop?”

“No. 116th is the last stop.”

He sits back down.

“Do you live out here?”

He does. I tell him about the Second Response work we’re doing and give him the printed overview. He reads it. His demeanor changes a little. He seems relieved, like he was just given hope. It’s the same reaction I am given by everyone I talk to about the work we are doing. He’s interested in coming to the playshop. We pass by what’s left of some buildings where there were shops, presumably people lived above them. They’re gone. It looks like a bomb was dropped on them.

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“My house is ok, it’s right on the beach, it’s made of brick. My buddy’s house burned to the ground in Breezy Point.”

“Did you see that?” He points at what we just passed.

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“Yeah.”

We part ways. I’m trying to find space where we can facilitate a playshop for some children in this area that was decimated by Hurricane Sandy. Finding space has been the big challenge.

I stumble upon the NYCares distribution center. A man comes out and asks what I want. He sends me down the street to a church. They have a massive warming tent. It’s closing January 1. Our playshop is scheduled for January 6. I go to the rectory. The only person there is an overwhelmed man working, moving boxes around. The church is undergoing renovations, they can’t help. I need to head back to meet the person I am out here to see about using the space at the school. I walk to the beach. It’s so peaceful, except for the sound of a jackhammer and a power saw.

I spot this beautiful old house, Hotel Del Mar. It apparently has some history.

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The beach is empty except for sea gulls and a man named Jack who is throwing a soggy well-used tennis ball for his happy black lab mutt. He points out the NYC parks department truck parked with people napping inside. He scoffs at the NY bureaucracy.

I continue on to the school, another distribution center. We’re all set with them. It’s been the only thing that has come together easily during this whole process. The first time we spoke he said, “Just let me know when you want to do it.” The only reason I had to come out to meet him is because he doesn’t use email. I am on my way 5 minutes later.

A couple of blocks over I stop at Small Water, another distribution spot. They’re going to help us get the word out, but they can’t help us out with space. A desperate woman asks us if we have 50 cents.

I get on the Q22 for a half hour ride out to Far Rockaway. When I get off the bus, I see a church in a storefront with a line 20 deep coming out of it. They’re waiting for food or supplies. I arrive at the church where the woman with whom I spoke on the phone told me she could set me up with space. FEMA is there in the sanctuary with rectangular tables set up around the perimeter. The man at the entrance asks me if I’m there to volunteer. No one is in this large room except FEMA people.

I step outside the sanctuary, back into the room I first entered. It’s being used as a large kitchen space. Only volunteers and two men talking. I ask if they know where the woman is. One of the men goes to find her. I start talking to the other man, he turns out to be the pastor of the church. He is interested in the work we’re doing, but tells me we can’t use the space FEMA is occupying because they have an agreement with FEMA. No outside organizations can come in to use the space. Somewhere in the conversation I let him know it has taken me an hour and a half to come out to his church. He offers me the tent outside. It’s not a 4-person tent, but my apartment is bigger. The living room in my apartment is bigger. Hopefully, tomorrow one of the synagogues will offer us space.

A few things were confirmed for me today during my adventure to Rockaway. There is still a shit ton of work to be done there. Organizations run by bureaucracy are not helpful, nor are they efficient. Devastating hurricanes are better timed during warmer months.