Fact: NYC subway system will be shut down as of noon tomorrow. That has Never happened before ever in the history of NYC ever, never. Which makes one think: hmmmm. This might be a really Big storm. Or, perhaps Bloomberg doesn't want to see another Katrina in NYC. But for whatever reason, there are evacuations, unprecedented and the mass transit system shut down.
As for me, I am in a non-evacuation zone, on a hill, on the 10th floor. There is some back and forth about the wind 10 floors up and above, but I've decided to pretend that doesn't matter, because there isn't a damn thing I can do about it.
What I do have, as suggested:
Flashlights (Brits: torches) with working batteries plus extra batteries
Radio that works with batteries
Old school phone that can work without electricity (learned that one during 9/11, when I had such a phone and was one of the only people who had a working phone as cell phone masts were destroyed)
Bottled water and water I'm putting in bottles so I don't have to pay for it.
Coffee that I have pre-ground (I learned that from being in SF earthquake in 1989 and electricity went out and all I had was coffee beans...so my then-partner and I were literally hammering beans to attempt to make them into shards we could then put in a filter to drink as coffee. Yes, it was that sad...SO, this time, with warning, I have pre-ground the beans)
Friends coming over tomorrow evening for a hurricane dinner party and probable sleep-over, because if you're gonna have to listen to 80 per mile wind all night, it's more fun with friends.
Food - some perishable, some non-perishable - when shopping for this food, one guy ahead of me was staying with a friend and had bought himself some Fruity Pebbles. His friend commented it was a small box, but he said well I'm not going to be with you for a week but the other guy said, yeah, but you can go through that in one night. I asked him if this was his special hurricane food, and we laughed. They had chips (crisps), Oreos, bottles of water and the aforementioned Fruity Pebbles. These were guys in their 30s, I should add, not kids. I confessed that my 6-pack of Diet Pepsi was 'hurricane food' - something I decided was OK because of bad weather...
Which leads me to the funny mix of fear and excitement that seems to be pervading the city. There are people out of sorts and fighting for no reason (two over-dressed men at Food Emporium who decided to get macho over bumping carts in the aisle - this led me to leave said food store because the vibe was just weird), there is the Whole Foods, who, delightfully took 10% Off their bottled water, instead of jacking up the price. Nice touch guys. I also noticed that in general this store is not more expensive than regular grocery stores and was impressed with that.
I got my batteries and water and such at a dollar store so was not ripped off there either. Also good.
So, we all seem to be like a bunch of kids with a snow day but no one is sure how scared to be or not be, and that includes me. I'm glad to be somewhere that should be safe and out of range of any visible stuff on a terrace. I offered shelter to friends who are in the lower lying areas but everyone has places to stay or has decided to wait it out.
And we'll see. Right now it's hot and as humid as all get out, so am looking forward to the rain, but I'm sure after about say 3 hours of it, I'll be done and it won't stop apparently for about 10-12 more hours. A lot of rain.
Before all this, I met the playwright Ştefan Peca, who wrote the play I raved about on this blog Nils' Fucked Up Day. He is a very smart guy, as I suspected he would be and remarkably young. I was astonished that he was only 29 and had written this play when he was 19. But then again he was 7 when Ceauşescu was executed in Romania in his hometown. He did not witness the execution, but his grandfather brought him to the spot where he was executed a few days later and showed him the blood that was still on the walls.
That must make an impression.
When I was 6, I remember my first step-father George, bringing me to see the remnants of a crashed car, to show me why driving fast was a bad idea. A woman had been killed in the crash and I remember her white high-heel shoe in the car, with blood inside of it. The sky was bright blue and there were seagulls in the air.
I still don't drive a car.
But tragically this did not lead to me writing brilliant plays by the time I was 19.
We discussed, Stefan and me, the various issues surrounding funding for the arts in our various countries, Romania, UK and US, comparing and contrasting the irrational ways in which all these structures work and bureaucracy versus commercialism in terms of which is more deadening to the arts. We also talked about directing and writing and various things about NYC, the US, Romania and the UK. A lovely coffee all round. He will be working in NYC this coming year for the Romanian Cultural Institute, so that is good news for NYC. Keep an eye out for his work, folks. It's really good!
OK, it's time to log off and continue Storm Watch 2011...the excitement, the fear, the fun, the panic, the realization that it will probably All Be OK!
Stay safe everyone on the NE corridor tonight and sweet dreams to everyone else too...