I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses

1 11 2012

I am beyond lucky to be bored.

CUNY reopens tomorrow, but since I teach on a T-Th schedule, I won’t be back until next week, and the office for my other job is closed tomorrow.

Upshot: A week off.

And what have I done this week? Fuck-all.

Dmf suggested this would be good writing time, and he was right! But did I write? Nope. I have a bunch of pants that need to be shortened and skinnied; did I haul out the sewing machine and do this? Nope. Files to go through, the Civil War site to be updated—nothin’. Sat on my ass, my near-but-not-yet-recovered-back  even keeping me out of the gym.

Now, I did think of volunteering, but since my work schedule was day-to-day, I didn’t want to sign up for anything and then have to back out. Thought I might donate blood, but it’s not clear that, as a shrimpy person, I meet the requirements (and I’ve been turned away in the past). I did manage to donate some money to a relief fund, but, really, how hard was that?

This is shitty to admit to feel, but it’s as if my city has gone through this horrendous event and all I’ve done is hang out in the alcove above the Real Action™,  refreshing my browser and wondering if I should do something. To put it more baldly, the Big Bad happened and I feel left out.

I know.

Now, I do immediately remind myself that I am lucky to feel left out, that it’s one thing to pine for a shared experience and another thing actually to, well, experience it. I’ve been in shitty situations and they’re called shitty for a reason: ain’t nothing fun in having the elemental supports of your life washed out from under you.

Anyway, I thought, Do I sit here indulging in self-flagellation, or do I actually get out and do something? Well, when you put it like that. . . .

So, yes, since I know I’ll be off work on Friday, I signed up through NYC Service to volunteer. I don’t know what, if anything, will happen, and of course I’m both kicking myself for not signing up sooner (shoulda played the work odds in the other direction) and fretting over my motives (am I doing this to help or because I want that Real Action™?), but, at least, it’s something.

And in this case, mixed motives or no, something is better than nothing.

Stranded starfish have no place to hide

30 10 2012

Some of us are fine, some of us are not.

My neighborhood was barely hit: a lot of twigs, a fair number of branches, and a few trees down, but as far as I know, no flooding, no fires (Breezy Point!); there is electricity up and down the block.

As a weather nut, I thought of biking over to Red Hook or down to Coney Island to see what I could see, but then I thought, Well, if the police are doing their jobs, they won’t let in looky-loos like me, and besides, I’d only get in the way of work crews. Most importantly, the folks in the washed-out areas didn’t need a dipshit on a bike photographing them in their distress.

So this dipshit went to Prospect Park, instead.

The park got hit, and much worse than during Irene, but for the most part the damage was here-and-there, not overwhelming-and-everywhere.

Still, the clues to the damage were apparent at the Parkside entrance to the park:

Then right inside the entrance, a number of downed trees:

I went less than a mile and shot a bunch of downed trees, but after the fifth or eighth tree, I decided I didn’t need to shoot every sideways tree.

Still, I did take a few more shots. There’s a pavilion near the southeast corner of the park that I really like, so I checked to make it sure it was still standing and found this striking shot:

This tunnel leads to the bridge near the Audubon Center, so I trekked through to see how it fared:

It’s fine, as you can see.

I then made my way back to the road and circled the park. Leaves and needles and twigs  spackled the road, and in a few spots snapped trees blocked a lane, but at no point was the road completely blocked. There were plenty of walkers and runners and a few bikers, and dogs were eagerly pulling their people hither and yon.

Trucks were lined up along the west side of the park and crews were already beginning to chainsaw branches and chip up the mess.

And then, because I’d been sitting on my ass for over a week due to a bent back, I decided to take a few laps around the park in order to remind my body that it did, in fact, still move.

At the top of the second lap I stopped for a shot of the magnificent Grand Army arch and framing columns:

This part of Brooklyn, at least, still stands.

I planned on another lap or two, but the rain spat on that idea, so I headed home. I saw a couple of snapped trees on the way back, but, again, most of the houses and streets seemed to be in good shape.

The major concern for me at this point is how to get to work. The tunnels are flooded, and while I could grab a Q over the East River to Union Square, it’s not clear if any 4 trains would be running in either direction. My office in lower Manhattan and CUNY are both closed, but I don’t know if CUNY will be opening its campuses before the trains are back in service; if so, it’s not clear how I’ll get up to the Bronx.

Eh, I guess I’ll worry about that later; nothing I can do about it now. That maddening phrase makes a certain kind of sense, now: It is what it is.

Of course, it’s easy to say that when one’s home is intact and powered, and all its inhabitants safe.