Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hurricane Sandy, gratitude, weekend morning running... And a side of everything else.

Hey there, blogosphere.

As some of you living in America (and Kitty Kat) may or may not know, we here in New York just weathered a hurricane. My neighborhood was UNBELIEVABLY fortunate - Hell's Kitchen suffered now power outages, no flooding, no downed trees, no damage of any kind.

I have to be honest - in the wake of what I remain referring to as Fauxrricane Irene, I didn't prepare for Sandy AT ALL. I battoned down the hatches, taped the windows, filled the tupperware, stocked the dry goods, watched the news and waited through Irene, which in New York city turned out to be a glorified heavy rainstorm that passed by 10 am the following day.

Sandy, on the other hand, turned out to be decidedly NOT that kind of hurricane.

What in the wee hours of the morning would become the most iconic Manhattan image of Hurricane Sandy.

This photo was taken at Avenue C and 8th Street, in lower Manhattan, on Monday night. Shown this photo before last week, I would have assumed it was taken circa several years ago somewhere in Louisiana or Florida. I could share countless more, but you, like me, have the internet and can find the images just as easily as I can. I'd show you a picture of my neighborhood but if you look at this last post
you'll find a picture of Hell's Kitchen and it looks EXACTLY like that post-Sandy.

My hurricane consisted of a very ordinary Monday at work - actually, a very BUSY Monday at work for people looking for an open spot to drink, concocting a DIY Hurricane Cocktail, and partying through the storm with friends. Looking back, this was irresponsible at best and downright dangerous and disrespectful at worst.
I still find this image HILARIOUS, but in the wake of what turned out to not be bullshit the way Irene was, it's also a little embarrassing how much and how closely I identified with this as I did literally all of those things except the cigarettes.

Throughout the week I've heard more and more stories of the devastation of this hurricane of a scale I frankly couldn't have ever expected here in the Northeast. Many of my friends were without power for the last 6 days, most could not work nor get into Manhattan, and I talked to DOZENS of people at the bar whose lives were COMPLETELY changed by Sandy, including an older couple who lives in the building I pictured above. Even friends lucky enough to live in neighborhoods untouched were stuck without being able to go to work and earn paychecks this week because their offices or restaurants were at best powerless, at worst flooded and beyond repair. I watched the news this week with a blank horror I rarely feel, and a powerlessness I have never really known in the face of nature.

Previously, the term "hurricane" hit closer to home for me than many other natural disasters as I had relatives live through Hurricane Andrew in Florida and Katrina in Louisiana. Those relatives checked in early and often, both last year for Irene and this year for Sandy, and their concern made me feel guilty for my own lack of preparation. And made me realize how naive I was to be so cavalier about something like this. It's NOTHING but lucky that I live in midtown instead of the East Village or Battery Park City and that I work in a neighborhood that also never lost power. I didn't deserve to get this lucky and my earlier cavalier attitude is coming back to bite me in the ass with a sense of proverbial Catholic guilt I never knew I possessed.

I grew up in reasonably idyllic California in the 2000s and didn't live in New York for 9/11 or any of its ensuing crises. At the risk of sounding cliché, this was my first real wake-up that things like this REALLY DO happen where I live, to people I know, to people I care about, and maybe probably someday, to me. There are dozens of ways to help and I will be finding them - this is too big a lesson to not act on.

The reason I say this is because yesterday morning and today, I went for runs that took me down the Hudson River to the west village, and it was AMAZING the difference between yesterday morning and Wednesday (my last outdoor run, when the power was still out). And the spirit of New Yorkers hell bent and determined to return to their routine was awe inspiring. This is a RESILIENT fucking city. That's something I hadn't exactly hoped to experience first hand, but it's been pretty amazing to see.

This morning in particular, I ran with what must have been dozens of folks here for the marathon, which was cancelled in the wake of widespread controversy about going on with it in spite of the hurricane. Though the marathon's cancellation is something with which I agreed wholeheartedly, the amount of people out and about to make the best of it was pretty great. I've heard many ran the distance today in Central Park anyway, a lot of whom did so to fundraise for relief efforts. OBVIOUSLY I'm not a marathoner (hi the two miles I did Wednesday, yesterday, and today were killer enough for me so 26.2 is not in the cards for this girl anytime soon) but it's still something I can respect.

I have spent the week telling people that my hurricane was "uneventful" and reiterating how lucky I have been, but it's only recently been sinking in how much worse it could have - and by rights maybe should have - been. I live two blocks from a river and ON AN ISLAND, for fuck's sake. It doesn't get much luckier than having no damage in that situation. To be frank, I've never felt more blessed.

In other news, life goes on, both in New York on the whole and in my life. Pre-Sandy, my beloved San Francisco Giants WON THE WORLD SERIES!

Just after striking out the alleged best player in baseball for the final out for the win. Storming the field. Picture me in a bar screaming and jumping up and down and maaaaaybe crying a little.

Me and one of my best friends JUST after the win and we both called to gush with our moms. This shit-eating grin stayed plastered to my face alllllll night and I'm pretty positive I woke up with it in the morning.

The hurricane hit the following day, and if you want my recap there scroll up or read the goddamn news.

In audition-land, everything was (unsurprisingly) cancelled owing to the hurricane and rescheduled for this week. Tomorrow I have Hong Kong Disney on tap before work, with In the Heights and an appointment for a new musical appropriately about New York Thursday. Back to Backstage, back to Actors Access, back to Playbill... back to life, back to reality.

I also have a real idea for a creative project... it involves Shakespeare, the High Line, site-specific theatre, and me actually really doing some work for the good of my own career. I'm excited and kind of terrified and we'll see what happens. More details to come when I have them. If I can pull this off it's going to be awesome... and if I can't, I will at the very least know I tried.

In fitness land, as I said, I went on three outdoor runs today. I have no idea if my gym was even open, because I was determined to be outdoors... and also because it's time to stop fucking around and getting my body used to how much harder that is than the treadmill (and because it's gotten really cold, and I signed up for a December race like an idiot). In my C25K training, I ran my first 20 minutes without stopping this week! It's not that much, I know... but my cardiovascular fitness has always been more dance oriented. And for someone who still remembers being made fun of for not being able to run one mile without stopping in middle school, it feels pretty damn good to look back at the fact that this week alone I have run six. I WILL get a series card at BDC this week and I WILL be dancing.

I also have to be honest - this post almost didn't happen because I woke up feeling shitty and cranky and angry today after going to bed feeling shitty and cranky and angry last night. Not all of it is resolved, but a lot was a much simpler fix than I thought... and it feels good, at the very least, to know that. Some of it probably stems from bigger issues, but I'm working on it. It also feels really good to know that whatever my (many) flaws, I've come a long way from where I was even this July where I would have bottled this up and lashed out inappropriately rather than accept how I felt and motivate myself to feel better and deal with it. Baby steps towards maturity, baby steps towards gratitude, baby steps towards a better me.

Where I've been running. New York's pretty fucking gorgeous sometimes, right? Here's to rebuilding, and here's to inspiration.

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