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.

45

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

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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.

relief

it’s freezing cold out tonight while i am standing on the edge of the platform waiting for the F. all i can think about is the people who still don’t have power. something like 116,000 people in new york. i don’t know the numbers for new jersey or connecticut. it’s been 10 minutes and the train still hasn’t come. it’s late. i normally take a car back to queens from park slope this late at night, but tonight i’m taking the train because gas is so expensive. i have a monthly metrocard, so the trip has already been  paid. and it’s only $2.25.

finally on the train, two MTA workers enter. they are venting about how inconsiderate people have been. how unconscious. i believe it, though mostly i’ve seen compassion and cooperation. after listening to them for 5 minutes, i say, “you guys must be exhausted!” the guy looks at me, and i see his whole mood change. he looks relieved. he tells me how they’ve been working 8 hours on/8 hours off which gives him about 4 hours to sleep once he arrives home. other times when he’s not working he’s been going out to his brother’s house on long island to help clean up what’s left of his house. they get off at 34th st. i wonder how much sleep the train operators and bus drivers are getting. two hours after leaving park slope, i am home safely in my warm apartment.

obviously, it’s in the city’s best interest to take care of people who have been displaced. will the $50 billion they estimate it will cost get us to a place where things are better for everyone? or does $50 billion put a bandaid on it? will post hurricane sandy new york be more like the summer of ’77 new york? will new york be gritty again? why if we have the 17th largest economy in the world (if we were our own country), do we not have decent living for everyone? will the population of people living in the streets surge? will crime spike? will the rent go down?

it’s been really amazing to see occupy sandy at work. they are coming out and getting it done despite being derided as dirty lazy hippies. they seem to be doing the most and being the most organized.

i’m very excited that my mentor’s organization, fortunate blessings, will be coming to new york and new jersey after thanksgiving to do trauma relief work for children. taking care of mental health after a disaster is uber important. i guess taking care of mental health in general is important, but especially after traumatic events. there is certainly plenty of work to do.

superstorm frankencane

from my apartment in queens, it was just a big storm. a tree branch at the end of my street fell. it was a large branch, but the soft wood didn’t seem to do any damage. i broke off several pieces, brought them upstairs and put them in water. here are a couple of small pieces.

we never lost power, but it did sound like we had a ghost in the apartment. the wind howled and the walls creaked. sometimes it seemed like the roof might come off, but i never felt scared or unsafe.

millions of people were not so lucky. some lost power for several days. some lost their homes to fire, flooding, or wind. some lost loved ones, children even. total devastation. unfathomable devastation. the kind that leaves people without words to describe it.

some people are still without power a week later. then there’s the gas shortage, lost wages. total crisis. and the election, god. it will never end. there can’t be a single person who isn’t ready for it to be over. and the coming nor’easter. what horrible timing.

i went to a halloween party friday evening. on the train i saw the man with no legs scooting himself across the train car with his coffee can full of change. i held back tears, but it wasn’t easy. it was a painful reminder that things were not so great for many before this disaster.

quite remarkable is how efficient the MTA and NYPD were. and how civilized most people were. but as jon stewart pointed out, they were just functioning the way they were designed or expected to (competently). still, i’m grateful and impressed. it could have been an even bigger disaster. of course, it hasn’t completely unfolded yet. and they are still recovering bodies. more people will probably die of hypothermia. and there are people stuck in powerless buildings who can’t get out. what will happen to them?

here are some useful links for volunteers and donations.

also this video is pretty powerful.