I haven’t written here in a long time. Partly that’s because, in the immortal words of the Fresh Prince, our “life got flipped, turned upside down.” Starting in the middle of last October, I was selected to serve on my church‘s leadership table (and then had to step down before I was ever “sworn in”), we finished our PADI open-water scuba-diving certification, and then we weathered Hurricane Sandy. That involved late-game evacuation, a week without power and water, 16 days without hot water, and 20 days without heat. In the middle of all that, my magazine folded and I lost my job (RIP, Everyday Food). Then we celebrated Thanksgiving with our largest table of friends yet, my best pal Ivo came to visit from the Netherlands to celebrate the ordination of our friend and pastor Emily Scott, I turned 33 on 12/12/12 and we went to Medieval Times, we got Nitrox certified (more diving stuff), we celebrated Christmas in Hawaii with my parents, we moved across the friggin’ country, and now we’re firmly ensconced in a beautiful (rental) home in Seattle, establishing a very good life there. Yesterday was the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy’s arrival in New York City, so I spent the evening reading through my Facebook updates from a year back. It made me realize that they already tell the story better than I could rewrite it, so I collected them here, along with links to additional illustrative photos from the Flickr set I made after the fact.
October 26, 2012
8:15pm: Let’s just be very clear about one thing: If this storm (Sandy) is totally blown out of proportion and manages to do no damage and the only thing that interrupts your day is maybe a few train delays, THAT IS GREAT.
October 28, 2012
8:57pm: Since we were diving all weekend, we had to do our weekly grocery shop in a hurry, picking up a few necessities from the storm-prep-ravaged aisles.
Mike: “Sorry, the bread aisle was completely wiped out.”
Me: “That’s okay. I’ll just bake a loaf tonight.”
I AM LIVING MY BEST LIFE, YOU GUYS.
October 29, 2012
11:15am: We are holed up in our little 12th-floor apartment here in Manhattan. With two cats, our choices are smaller, and we feel confident at this point that we’ve made the right decision (we are one block away from zone B, which is not part of the mandatory evacuation order). Our whole apartment (and its windows) is sheltered in an alcove, and our building is old and sturdy as hell. Yes, there is some flooding in Battery Park City right now, which is several blocks to our west, but it’s not close to us (yet). Even if it reaches our building, which may happen later in the day, we will be fine up here. We have food (in the fridge and in the cupboards both), remarkable amounts of water, flashlights, supplies for the cats, a hand-crank and solar-powered radio/USB charger/flashlight, first aid supplies, toilet paper, friends in the building and a super who’s here (most residents are, actually), charged-up cell phones and other portable devices, books, and smarts. Don’t worry about us, friends, but pray for the poor, the traveling, and the farmers. We’ll keep you posted, but so far so good.
12:24pm: Making chicken stock, introducing Mike to The Great Mouse Detective. 12:24 and all’s well.
3:31pm: Mike enjoyed the movie, chicken stock is finished and delicious, cats are only mildly agitated. The wind gusts are picking up now. Water has receded in the Hudson since this morning’s high tide but tonight’s high tide at 8:50 or so is supposed to be when the legit flooding will happen. Still have power, but got a robocall it may be shut off as a preventative measure. Living next to the financial center of the US means outages here are typically restored pronto, so we’re not worried. 3:30 and all’s well.
6:49pm: Wind has been very quiet for the last two hours. Nothing to report but this supper of chicken noodle soup (homemade stock bragginess is tempered by frozen mixed vegetables–thanks, hurricane shopping) and toast points made with my last night’s loaf of whole-wheat bread. 7:50pm and all’s well. [Added as a comment: By which I mean 6:50pm, of course. Heather, eat your soup, dear, you're overtired.]
8:27pm: Power just went out. Waited for us to finish watching The Walking Dead! now it time to hang out and read by candlelight. Scrabble maybe? 8:27pm and all is dark but still well.
10:42pm: Power still out and will likely be out till the morning at least. They’ve even finally turned the lights out in the new WTC towers. We went upstairs to our neighbors’ apartment and could see the scope of the flooding (they are not in the alcove that we’re in, so they can see to the street). The streets on both sides of our building are flooded–enough to submerge bench seats. Remarkably, one block east, which is zone B, the road is dry. Over the last hour, we watched the water recede a little. The surge of water at this evening’s high tide is now past us and we await tomorrow morning’s high tide to see if any more flood waters come in. Our concierge came upstairs to tell us that our lobby has water in it, up to the front desk (which is about six steps up from street level). We are still glad to be where we are. There’s very little wind or rain at this point. We have plenty of nonperishable food (good, since we won’t open that fridge), water for days, and lots of light. Now…we wait! But first, we sleep. No more updates tonight. 10:37pm and all is very very wet and still dark, but we are totally fine. Hope the same (or better) can be said for you all! Preserving phone power now. Goodnight!
October 30, 2012
6:43am: 6:40am, all is quiet. Power still out. Going to bed for a while longer, but so far so good. I know folks who’ve been forced to evac their apartments (not near here) due to electrical fires in nearby buildings and such. Not us, we are fine. More sleep now please!
10:46am: Gas still works–had to light the stove with a flaming bamboo skewer–so we’re having hot oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins. It’ll be a fun game to see what we can cook without the fridge. We’re going to have to toss so much food when the power finally comes back on (not because we stocked up on perishables, btw, but because we are people who cook and keep a well-stocked larder), but if that’s the greatest of our worries, I guess I’ll take it. Water is still running but pressure is starting to taper. Glad we filled the bathtub with flushing water! 10:46 and it’s daytime, which is nice because we can see without flashlights. All’s mostly well.
10:56am: Just found out the water has totally receded, even right along the Hudson. Our super is the one who shut our power off last night, after an electrical explosion at Trinity nearby. Now he’s waiting for a pump for the basement, but we still don’t know if ConEd has restored power here even if the super turns us back on. And that’s my power story.
12:25pm: Brooklyn Battery Tunnel entrance just south of our apartment. Wow. There’s power two blocks from us and ConEd trucks in a huge row, working hard.
1:11pm: Our cell/3G service is spotty now. Don’t panic, will continue to update when we can. All is well. We’re on a walk. Weather is like Seattle–a tiny bit drizzly.
October 31, 2012
3:52am: Our cell/3G service has been out all day, but I just woke up to find its on, at least for now. We’re still awesome, though power and water are still out for us. We now live in a twelfth-floor walk-up, so our two trips outside today were for fun as well as fitness. The west side of lower Manhattan was hit SO much worse than us, it’s incredible. We witnessed some remarkable flood damage at the South Street Seaport area. Where we live, there’s power in Battery Park City (don’t believe everything you see on the news–they never even lost power once!), two blocks from us. We also shopped at a market that had no power today. Everyone was wandering the aisles quietly, standing in a long line to pay, as if nothing was odd. We saw no evidence of looting, even at the Seaport where many businesses had broken windows. This made me so proud of New York. We’ve eaten very well, as our stove still functions: oatmeal for breakfast, open-face meatball sandos for lunch, bean and cheese burritos for dinner. We played Scrabble as the sun went down. Tonight we took turns reading one another Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark by the light of a single candle. We’re going to walk a few miles uptown today, where there’s power, to grab a shower at my gym. 3:49am and all is a little stinky and a little stir-crazy, but well. We’re still SO glad we stayed, as all this is is inconvenient, not life-threatening or scary. This would’ve been so much harder with the cats had we evacuated, given we never could’ve carried all the supplies we needed for them for this long. thanks for all your well-wishing. Keep it coming, and please help the storm-ravaged coast in any way you can. Hope the cell service stays…we missed you guys!
4:48am: High water line at the South Street Seaport.
7:36am: We’re now going to walk 4.2 miles to Rockefeller Center to shower at the Equinox Gym near Mike’s office. Adventure!
9:12am: Walking up Broadway, power turned on at 26th St.
11:04am: MSLO closed again today but BBDO is open so Mike had to head in. I walked with him uptown and asked his boss if he needed any pinch hitters. And that’s how I find myself freelancing at the world’s largest ad agency! Still out of W&P at home, but above 26th Street in Manhattan it as if nothing happened.
4:23pm: When you haven’t had access to a legitimate computer for a couple days, it’s REALLY hard to force yourself to do copyediting for your church when THERE IS ALL THAT INTERNET TO BE READING. Focus, Heather, focus.
(In other words, almost done kickin’ it in the BBDO office today, it’s possible our power is back on at home, and no word yet if I have to go into MSLO tomorrow. Still doing fine, still not much to report. You can bet that Mike and I are enjoying the HELL out of these toilets that flush here at the office, though.)
5:32pm: Here we go, on our walk back home. It’s light for now, but will be dark soon. We have flashlights and warm coats. Let’s hope the power’s on when we return! 5:32pm and all is well. It’s remarkable what a shower and a day in front of a computer will do for your spirits.
8:27pm: Things are not as rosy as they seemed. Still no power, Gordon was cowering under the bed when we got home, and word from the landlord is that we could have power in a day or two…or a week or two. Flood water in the basement, about two or three feet high, has to be pumped before they can assess the damage and decide to get our lights running. We’re having some serious conversations tonight…after we eat these grilled cheese sammies and tomato soup. Continued prayers, y’all.
9:41pm: On a lighter note, we snapped this on our walk home, in a pitch-black Union Square area, to wish you a Happy Halloween.
9:54pm: We’ve got some feelers out to petless friends who might accommodate us and two cats (one of which becomes a royal asshole the moment she’s in a new situation, do I need to remind you guys about our Irene evac?), and a lead on a hotel in BPC that has power and will take us with pets. We’re waiting to see what the morning brings, as the pumps are running in the basement all night and it seem the water is the only impediment to power, as our neighboring streets have it. We’ll get some sleep now, so no more updates tonight. We’re fine, a little disheartened and tired, but eager for a new morning. If we can get running water, that’s all we need (the bathroom is getting grim), so cross your fingers for that much. 21:52pm and we’re well-fed, warm, safe, and together. That’s about the best we can say, and it’s not bad.
November 1, 2012
8:13am: Is there an appropriate gift that says, “Neighbor, thanks for asking us to take care of your cat when you evacuated because it allowed us to use your two-bathroom apartment as our pooping annex. Sorry for the stink when you return”? Or even a Hallmark card?
8:24am: I woke up this morning to a remarkable number of people offering to house Mike, me, and the kitties. From people sharing their studios an one-bedrooms to empty apartments that haven’t sold yet to sublets to a palatial rectory, the gamut has been run and it makes me weak with gratitude. I know the best people, there is no doubt. Some of these folks are old coworkers. Some I’ve only even met once. Some are close friends. Some are churchgoers with me. Know this: The generosity and care of New Yorkers is second to none. You are all amazing. I’m 99% sure we’re set for a place with L&L (only variable is transportation) if we decide to evac today after talking to the guys about how the basement pumping went, but you are all amazing and you’ve touched me deeply. Sorry to leave anyone off the list, but huge thanks to Burke Gerstenschlager, Laurel Morley, Michele Whitney, Sophie Harris, Mandy Kain, Lisa Goldschmidt, Nora Smith, Andrew Martin Ross, Luke Burrows, Laura Gomez, Tanya Munroe, Samantha Seneviratne, Sarah Moore, Jon Shannon, Ross McKillop, Celeste Young, Cliff Young, Joyce Farnsworth, Erica Jo Gilles, Amy Plitt, Kelly Tanner…
12:11am: Gettin some Shake Shack for lunch. Love BPC so hard right now.
6:31pm: Two big points: Mike and I are now in Brooklyn at the home of our incredible friends Luke and Lisa; Commissioner Gordon ad Astoria are with us. Our departure was delayed because I was on a conference call that told me and my entire team that we were terminated, effective immediately, as our magazine just folded. Details in two more status updates. Fingers slow on phone, have patience.
6:50pm: Details about relocation: Our power was shut off on Monday night, before the flooding began, and as such, our water is out. The pump that brings the water to the 12th floor is electric. We’ve been getting by, happily, but one shower in three days ain’t great and it is impossible to gravity-flush our toilet with water from the tub (we confirmed this by calling the manufacturer). We spoke to the super this morning and, while power has been restored to our area by ConEd, the flooding of the basement is making it impossible to give our apartment the juice it can access. The boiler was completely submerged, the water was head-high, and the teeny pump they ran for the last 24 hours has almost cleared all the water. However, then the switches and electronics and such have to dry out, and THEN an inspector from the city has to come and give the go-ahead to flip everything on. Our building has been branded by the city as uninhabitable (there’s a big yellow sticker!) and we don’t take that lightly.
Given there are no guarantees when the power will return (super says probably by Sunday), and the toilet conditions are verging on medieval, it was time get out. We stopped at our vet and got a prescription for kitty xanax (really just small doses of people xanax), which I’m sure you will be unsurprised to learn has rendered Gordon delirious with cuddles and has had no effect on the hissing, growling ball of frightened fury that is Astoria, poor girl. We packed up, hauled our stuff down 12 flights, and stood on a cold corner till I could convince a cabbie to take us to Brooklyn. Gas is critically low in the city now, so drivers are riding around with their off-duty lights on, taking fares for quoted rates rather than metered (which is illegal), and pocketing the money. We were in no place to quibble and my silver tongue convinced the driver to take us for $40 plus tip. We paid $55 for what usually would be a $20 ride. I don’t care. Does it suck that they’re price gouging? Yes. But we have the means and we needed to go. Hearing about the gas made me glad we decided not to wait another day. We got here remarkably quickly and are settling in fine (aside from Astoria, who hates everything and everyone). And hey, we can shower! How blessed we are to have such generous friends.
6:54pm: Details about losing my job: In the middle of packing, I got a voicemail saying I needed to confirm that I could make the conference call. Say what? I checked my work email and told Mike I had to call in while we waited for the kitty Xanax to take effect. I rang in, along with the rest of my Everyday Food coworkers, and we were told by the CEO that our magazine was being shuttered, effective immediately, and we are out of jobs as of Monday (building still closed tomorrow, so one more day of “hurricane vacation” before I’m on severance). Obviously no one wanted to have to tell us this way, but likewise we needed to know before it hit the papers. Still, oof.
The good news: I loved my job and my superiors liked me, so getting references will be easy. Also, I have severance through the end of January as well as health insurance (not COBRA, regular old insurance). Really, this is incredible. I feel very fortunate. Magazines are always unstable. No magazine is safe in this economy. I’m so lucky to have worked for my idols for almost a year, and glad they’re doing well by us on our way out. I will be okay. WE will be okay. But it’s quite a blow to get when you’re already jumbled up. I hung up, cried in a real ugly way, and then pulled my shit together because I’m a fucking grand-master at pulling my shit together and we got out of dodge.And so begins a new adventure.
November 2, 2012
1:55am: Astoria took about an hour to launch her first attack against Gordon (who was happily sleeping in Mike’s arms), and now it’s a freakin blitzkrieg. She hasn’t stopped growling incredibly loudly, she lunged at my face while I had my eyes closed, and now she’s commandeered the bed, where she sits on our pillows, growling and hissing and basically scaring the shit out of us. Mike has gashes on his hands and feet, I’m crying because she’s so scared and scary. When L&L wake up, we’ll be separating them entirely to see if that helps. I think it’s safe to say the Xanax didn’t work for her.
5:05pm: This is why we relocated.
6:51pm: Anyone in NYC able to foster these displaced furry friends? I can’t even look at the link because tears are welling in my eyes. This–THIS–is why Mike and I put our dumb cats at such a high priority. I still think of my old first boss in NYC who adopted a Katrina dog and named him Batman. So loved, he was, but he had to come such a long way to find a new home. Please help if you can.
November 3, 2012
1:25pm: Our apartment is still without power/water, so we’re still ensconced in Brooklyn at our saviors’ apartment. Astoria and Gordon were both introduced to the concept of stairs yesterday. Unfortunately, this allowed Astoria to show her displeasure with this recent move by shitting on the couch, which she has never done before. Poor girl is so scared and still not eating/drinking much, but the constant growling has stopped. She slept in a bathtub for a while and then under a bed, where she seems the most soothed. We got more sleep last night (which is to say “any”), but are still worn out by this whole thing. I’ll make chicken tikka masala for dinner, which will make me feel more normal. We are very ready for this to be over. Apologies to all our friends in the neighborhood, we have not been in a social aspect since we arrived. This is not vacationy, it’s just hard, you know? But we’re pullin through.
10:24pm: Want to know how to donate supplies to victims of Sandy? NYCares hooks you right up.
11:12pm: I’m feeling better after a slow start this morning. Both cats are getting closer to normal (Astoria even let Mike pet her in his lap! And Lisa pet her!), Astoria is eating a little bit again, I spoke to my former HR department to get the details of my termination sorted out and I continue to be blown away by how awesome my severance package is, Mike and I took a long walk in the neighborhood, and I spent half the day cooking a monster Indian feast for dinner. When I need to feel normal, getting into the kitchen always helps. It’s work, but it’s my FAVORITE work. (Also, this kitchen is ridiculously gorgeous.) Our last update from the building said that ConEd estimated we’d be able to restore power tonight around 11 or midnight, but we’re not holding our breath. Sure would be nice, though. In related news, we’re going to have so much cleaning to do when we’re able to get home…
November 4, 2012
5:56am: I’m sitting on the bathroom floor because Astoria has been mewling for attention from the hallway. She’s now alternating gobbling down food, rubbing her face all over me and begging for cuddles, and growling warily; sometimes she combines two at once. It’s like she’s experiencing all the emotions at once and isn’t sure which one to express. Won’t it be fun when we do this again at our own home? (And it WILL happen again there, if history means anything.) Speaking of which, no word on that, which is making exactly no one happy. At least I’ve gotten enough sleep that I find Astoria’s antics amusingly sad instead of heartbreaking and upsetting. She’s improving.
10:47am: Has anyone taken the 4/5 from Brooklyn into Manhattan since service has been restored? How frequent are the trains? We’re weighing our options now in advance so we can make the best decision for getting back with these cats. (Still no all-clear, but it looks like now we’re just waiting on water.)
11:03pm: Short form: We have power and running (cold) water, so we returned to our home (God bless Arecibo and their $17 trip). We have no heat or hot water and won’t for a few days, but gas works and our place is actually a really comfy temp, so we’re fine with having to boil water for baths for a few days. We’re cleaning like mad. Astoria is hissing a little but more out of habit than actual distress, as she clearly knows she’s home and is relieved. Gordon is a total chillbro. And we have Led Zeppelin blasting as we clean, so things feel a lot better. More to the story to come later, but first: more scrubbing. PS – We usually use natural cleaning products, but you bet your ass we just bleached the holy hell out of that toilet. Yiiiiiiikes.
November 5, 2012
3:19pm: On Tuesday morning (Oct 30), Mike and I went on a walk after the flood waters had receded into the Hudson (or, you know, the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel). While we didn’t get flooding as high as they did at the South Street Seaport, this is how high the waters were in the building next door to ours (again, Mike for scale). This is how much water came into our building at street level, so you can imagine how much was in our basement.
5:05pm: Water went back out around noon and we’re still without four hours later. It’s chilly in here. Mike’s buying a space heater on his way home from work tonight. Off to get dinner groceries, but I’m too nervous about utilities going in and then out again to fully restock our totally decimated fridge/freezer, so just getting a few items. Tonight: Franks and beans (from scratch). Because we need coziness.
6:50pm: Post-Hurricane Knowledge
Learned behaviors that are impossible to unlearn: Flipping on the light switch when you walk into a bathroom, even though you haven’t had power for days. (Blessedly, this bit of doltishness is no longer an issue.)
New behaviors that are learned in a matter of hours: Checking to make sure the water hasn’t mysteriously been shut off again before you use the toilet.
November 6, 2012
12:23am: Apparently the only way to get me to workout is to cut off my hot water because being an unemployed person who goes to the gym and showers without working out first is too sad even for me. Yay?
4:24pm: I want you to know it took every single scrap of my professionalism to avoid commenting on Everyday Food’s recent Facebook post about the “changes” ahead for the magazine with, “Wow, you think you readers feel bad that the magazine kicked the bucket, imagine how it is for all the employees they just fired!”
Heather Quiet Dignity Young, that’s what they call me.
November 7, 2012
12:16pm: I haven’t done a hurricane-style status update in a while, so here you go: Mike procured a space heater (the space heater of his dreeeeeeeams!) on Monday, so our apartment, while occasionally chilly, isn’t by any means unlivable. The joint holds heat in pretty well, and we’ve been keeping the curtains drawn like invalids. I move the heater from the bedroom to the living room depending on where I’m going to be. The cats sometimes follow (Astoria, in particular, likes to sit right in front of it, because she is a heat hog). Speaking of the cats, they’re largely back to normal. Commissioner Gordon seems to be under the weather with a kitty cold and Astoria is mostly fine but occasionally hisses at Gordon if he gets too close to her (or if she gets too close to him). It’s dissipating though, and is par for the course with her (this also happens when either or both of them go to the vet). All shall be completely back to normal, behaviorwise, in a couple days.
We still have no hot water. Mike has been bravely taking “camp showers” at night, which means in about two minutes he soaps himself up, rinses himself off with frigid water, and then leaps out to come hug me while he shivers. It’s very cute. Because I’m a bigger baby, I went to my gym (corporate membership hasn’t been canceled yet — small blessings?) to shower yesterday. I probably spent 30 minutes in there. It’d been a week since I last shaved. You guys have seen my brother. In a week, I was bordering on Full Yeti. Today, as on every alternate day, I will place a metal bowl in my bathroom sink (the stopper for which is largely ineffective, rendering the lavabo the only real way to do a whore’s bath) and boil a pot of water on the stove so I can wipe myself clean in discrete portions without shivering too much. It’s very methodical. At this point, I’m relatively confident the power is stable, so I should probably do my grocery shopping for the rest of the week. Oh, and we’ve got heavy rains all day and rain/snow mixed tomorrow, which is exactly what this region needs. (We should make it through that stuff fine, but if you ever had any doubt I’d update you about every little problem during a weather event in NYC, I hope I’ve reassured you I’m a blabbermouth. If there’s “news,” I’ll tell ya.)It’s really, really strange to stay behind while Mike goes to work. I started a big list of the kinds of things I can be doing to keep myself sharp and useful. I also just really want to knit something. There are some big changes brewing and it’s time to get ducks in rows. More news when we have it to share! As of today we’ve been without hot water for 8 days. We had no power or running water for 6. I’ve NEVER dealt with after-effects of a storm like this. How blessed I’ve been, and how lucky I am that it wasn’t worse for us here in our little part of Manhattan.
3:12pm: It’s snowing in Manhattan right now. Praying for those who are without heat or shelter.
6:15pm: Everyone knows I love snow, but damn, this is a MEAN snowfall. The wind is blowing hard and basically any way you turn you’ve got chunks of ice being thrown in your face. I bailed on Whole Foods and went to the crappy Gristedes down the block instead. But now: cranberry-bean curry! And maybe I’mo bake some cookies for those doormen of ours who have all been working so hard!
6:15pm: PS – The holdup on the heat/hot water is that the boiler requires some new parts after it was completely submerged. Estimate: MAYBE ANOTHER WEEK. We’re so fortunate that we weren’t harder hit, but yiiiiiiikes.
11:45pm: A couple months ago, I asked Frost Valley YMCA if they’d be open this Thanksgiving and they said they’re always closed due to general lack of interest. Today, they announced they’ll open for several weekends (including Thanksgiving) and will host families affected by Hurricane Sandy. For free. Because they’re just that good. I mean, seriously, there may need to be room for two camps in my will because though my heart belongs to Huston Camp and Conference Center, Frost Valley just keeps endearing itself to me. I’m so glad Mike and I began our marriage there.
November 8, 2012
12:06am: A heap of triple-ginger molasses cookies: DELIVERED! Those fellas have been working so hard. Did you know the Marriott next door is still out of power? Ours was restored when it was is due to the quick thinking of our super who shut it off before the flood. It’s cold in our apartment, but the lobby is significantly worse off, what with the snow outside and everyone coming in and out; the concierges are all bundled up like mad. Cookies don’t make anything better, but I hope they convey one small portion of the appreciation we feel. Mike and I benefit from a lot of privilege and when I’m whinging about not having hot water, it’s important for me to remember how freakin’ great we have it.Also, the apartment is totally warm now that I’ve been running the oven for two hours.
November 9, 2012
10:53am: Well, off to MSLO to kind of get canned again (for the first time, in a way, since this time I’m actually getting my severance agreement!). It’s gonna be a weird day, folks.
2:53pm: It was great while it lasted. Now on…to adventure!
3:07pm: PS – They offered to burn all my personal files to CD for me. I laughed and just started uploading stuff to the cloud.
November 10, 2012
1:41am: Had my severance meeting, cleaned out my desk, said goodbye to too many lovely people, took a meeting at BBDO with the inimitable Jd, rode the train home with Jeremy, got dinner with Burke and Michelle, and then saw Skyfall with them and Tim and Whit. But why am I so TIRED?
5:45pm: How is it possible that I know all the best people? How did I ever get this lucky? So blessed. Yes, heat and hot water are still off. Doesn’t matter, because I’m warmed right up by the kindness and generosity and thoughtfulness of all of you. Really. You people are freakin amazing. My cup runneth over.
November 12, 2012
11:59am: Well, it’s time for another pitcher “shower.”
12:30pm: For the first time in 16 days, I took a hot shower in my own home. Hot water’s back!(Still no word on heat, but we’re fine.)
November 17, 2012
10:51pm: On this, the 20th day since the hurricane, we have just been informed that heat has been restored to the building. We’re still out two elevators and the phones don’t work (which means the door buzzer at one entrance and the laundry-card-refilling-machine in the laundry room are both hosed), but I believe our apartment has now been restored to “livable conditions” according to the city. Frabjous day!
November 18, 2012
3:05pm: Just found out that, while we have heat in the apartments in my building, the lobby still has no heat, so there’s no respite for our poor doormen and concierges. Further, one of our guys (Augustine) lives over on the east side of Manhattan and still has no heat, hot water, or gas at his home, so he just travels from a cold home to a cold job. It’s still rough all over, folks.
November 20, 2012
1:59pm: I’m the wild-eyed hunchback sautéing onions at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn for a Thanksgiving dinner that will be taken out to hurricane victims in the Rockaways!
November 22, 2012
1:56pm: Some of you really enjoyed my extensive updates during the hurricane here in NYC. Know this: Mike and I got off remarkably easy. This year, we’re thankful we didn’t lose our homes, our community, our businesses. Not everyone here was so lucky. Please consider expressing your thanks for your many blessings by giving those who recently lost much and are still struggling.
November 27, 2012
1:57pm: Well, it’s official. Mike and I are moving to Seattle at the end of January!If any of you have leads on work (I’m a copy editor, Mike’s a graphic designer) or housing (we’re looking to rent a cat-friendly house in Seattle, under $2K/mo), please hit me up with a message or email. We don’t have much time to get our ducks in a row. A new adventure awaits! And I hope a nice place and good jobs are part of that adventure.
There will be no apple cider as good as the cider my family and friends pressed every autumn when I was growing up, which has more to do with what went into it than the actual taste. My godparents, Dick and Margaret, lived in a farmhouse in Alderwood, a small town 30 minutes north of Seattle now known for its mall. Dick and Margaret, two artists, loved the land and the modest-but-roomy house. They ended up with a small apple orchard, which yielded far more apples than they could ever eat, so they’d invite a bunch of folks over for a day of apple picking. We’d dress in our flannels and our boots, climb ladders, scour the grass below, and use pole pickers to collect every single ripe fruit, which we’d haul over to Ray and Nancy’s house. Ray and Nancy were consummate hosts…and owned an antique cider press. For weeks, everyone had been rinsing out their plastic milk jugs, stockpiling them, waiting for the day they’d be able to fill them with fresh-pressed apple cider. It was a full day of sticky work and everyone was tired by the end, but what a triumphant moment when the last bushel of apples was dumped into that press and the last drops of cider poured out. We looked forward to it every year, and that delicious cider never lasted as long as I would’ve liked.
The other day, I posted this on Facebook: Fact: Taco salad is the best salad. Not a single person dissented; many agreed quite vocally. Seriously, what’s not to love? Taco salad can feel somewhat virtuous (though frequently it’s far from it), it’s a little more kicky than your usual garden greens, and it’s fairly customizable. One complaint I often hear about eating salad for lunch is that you wind up hungry by 3pm. Not so with a taco salad! There’s so much happening in there, so many good, filling ingredients, that you’ll be satisfied till supper. When I was growing up, we’d often have taco salad for dinner. Matthew and I loved this meal and happily ate it out of an enormous salad bowl in which Papa tossed everything together, but if you have fussy little ones, it’s easy to do individual plates of taco salad, omitting the undesirable ingredients as needed. Feeding a crowd? For heaven’s sake, make a taco salad! I’ve yet to meet a person who was not delighted by the appearance of a bowl of these Mexi-ish greens.
Cosplaying Finn and Fionna from Adventure Time!
This is a recipe I knew before I met Heather and, had she not been a strict vegetarian at the time, one that I no doubt would have made to woo her. It’s delicious, impressive, and very easy to prepare. If you make this for the lady or gentleman of your fancy, it could very well result in after dinner sexytimes. I make no promises, but your odds are definitely improved.
Confession: Hot dogs are directly responsible for me quitting vegetarianism after more than 15 years. You guys, I love hot dogs. My brother, Matthew, and I used to split a package of Lit’l Smokies when we came home from school (for the record, that’s four servings each; it’s a miracle we’re not dead). I like a hot dog off the grill, I like a boiled dog, I like a dog charred in the flames of a campfire, I like sliced dogs stirred into stovetop mac and cheese, I like pigs in a blanket…I even like tofu dogs, but when I was faced with a hot dog at my first Mets game in Shea Stadium, I folded like a cheap suit. Folks at my old magazine caught wind and asked if I’d eat meat for a week and write about it. The rest is history. Sweet sweet sustainably-and-humanely raised animal-eating history.
So, listen. Heather will probably post some recipes on this site that require dedication, skill, and a certain amount of culinary prowess. Hers will be the recipes of a woman who practically grew up in the kitchen. One who, taught by a master cook, constantly challenges her palate and her skill set, always combining fresh and exotic ingredients into uniquely nutritious, flavorful, unforgettable dishes.
The recipes I post will be the recipes of a man who has to fend for himself while that woman is out.
In my childhood home, there were always three sodas: caffeine-free Coke, root beer, and ginger ale (preferable Canada Dry). My Papa and my brother were the real soda drinkers, but given those options, I usually gravitated toward the ginger ale. As I got older, I learned that most canned ginger ale is a lot tamer than many bottled varieties, and my allegiance lay with Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew. I like the burn, friends. I like a ginger ale that doesn’t just politely ring your doorbell but instead bashes in your front door, shakes the rain off its coat, and leaves muddy footprints in the entryway. That’s a soda I know I can bro down with—not just a delicately flavored vehicle for sugar and empty calories, but a soda that feels like a full-bodied treat, loaded with nuance and spice.
Two years ago today, Heather and Mike became Heather+Mike! Here’s to many wonderful moments together and many more anniversaries to come!
Last year, I asked my food-loving friend Lauren if she’d like to undertake a culinary project with me. When I was small, my family made big-batch gifts all the time—jars and jars of homemade pickles or jam, preserved bounty from our garden, etc.—and often my Papa and Dede make ambitious trios for Christmas presents. One year: chili oil, Worcestershire sauce, raspberry vinegar. Another year: chili powder (Papa smoked the chiles), Herbes de Provence (Dede picked and dried the lavender), curry powder (Papa toasted and ground all the spices). Clearly, this is in my blood, but I live in New York City. Storage space is tight and I live far from at least half the intended recipients. A food gift seemed unmanageable. READ MORE