The Route to Higher Ground: Hurricane Irene, Saturday Continued

[Update 11:24 a.m. Saturday]  Nervous that I am not going to make the trains before Mayor Bloomberg’s mandatory shutdown of the entire transportation system, I walk briskly to the ever-unreliable G train.  People walk towards me with more grocery bags, back towards the water.  Oh, you poor, unfortunate souls.  I wave goodbye to my favorite ancient Polish man, still sitting on his stoop in his nylon chair.  I have a premonition of him sitting in his living room while water overtakes his apartment (more visuals largely inspired by Titanic).

[Update 11:28 a.m. Saturday]  Miraculously, the G train arrives just as I swipe my MetroCard at the turnstile.  I run towards the middle of the platform (where it stops because the G train utilizes only half the normal number of cars), praying that the conductor will have mercy on me and hold the train.  She does.  “Thank you,” I say, imagining that this could be the turning moment in my life.  That fateful moment.  The train is filled with other like-minded people: the hyper-prepared and the paranoid, mandatory evacuees and voluntary flee-ers.

[Update 11:54 a.m. Saturday]  The 5th Avenue 53rd Street Station is eerily quiet, the platform filled with no one.  I take footage with my FlipCam and imagine myself to be quite the filmmaker, capturing moments never before seen.

[Update 12:07 p.m. Saturday]  I arrive into the lobby of the St. Regis, the door pushed open for me by a white-gloved man in a hunter green suit meant to infer subservience.  I take the gilded elevator with the chandelier inside to the 4th floor.  Oh, Decadence, grant me safety.  My hallway looks like something from The Shining, only like rich and shit and without the creepy girls.

[Update 12:11 p.m. Saturday]  My friend gives me the tour of the suite, which is bigger than most New York City apartments.  Our fourth floor windows shall be a fine place in which to view the end of the world.  Oh, yeah, about the weather.  I guess it’s sort of kind of maybe starting to sprinkle.  A little. Sometimes.

[Update 1:02 p.m. Saturday]  We dine in the luxurious opulence of the most awkwardly silent, disastrously boring, terrifyingly uptight dining room, surely looking like two misplaced, blonde and leather-clad prostitutes, as indicated by the way the two girls next to us insist on stopping their own conversation after each sentence uttered from both me and my friend.  Our menu selections consist of the usual crisis-on-the-horizon fare: tuna tartar with grilled calamari and fennel salad, white and green asparagus paired with goat cheese, warm gnocchi, lobster gazpacho, and two iced coffees to fortify us for the long, arduous journey ahead.  My friend pays for the bill with no expectation of sleeping with me.  Life is good.

[Update 2:45 p.m. Saturday]  We have a few more hours before the hurricane begins to unleash its ferocious torrents of icy Atlantic rain.  Logically – with everyone trapped in the safety of their homes – we fancy this to be the most opportune time to window shop.  We bemoan the closure of Bergdorf’s (“Uggghhhh, I’d totally go in there right now if it were open.”) while whipping up rather brilliant marketing schemes for them upon the next NYC natural disaster (“They should like, have a Hurricane Sale, where the first person who spends five or ten thousand dollars gets a hotel room with catering.”).  We check out Yves Saint Laurent (“God, that bag is good.”).  Note the state of Mui Mui (“Wow, they’ve moved everything away from the windows.  Crazy.”  Finally, the rain is beginning to fall more aggressively.  Being sensible girls, we head back towards the hotel, if not to run for safety, then to ensure my friend’s new Alexander Wang booties don’t get destroyed.

[Update 3:51 p.m. Saturday]  Reinforcements come in the form of a male friend, who will surely provide the protection we need when our hotel becomes attacked from people wielding pitchforks and torches, desiring refuge within these warm, wallpapered hallways.

[Update 4:08 p.m. Saturday]  It rains.  Like, a little bit.

[Update 4:32 p.m. Saturday]  Mayor Bloomberg is on the television giving his I’m-The-Fucking-Mayor speech and I’m buying it.  I say something like, “He’s really doing a great job,” because I’m still thinking that this hurricane is going to take this city by storm and he will be the reason millions of lives were saved.  His campaign team is rooting for the apocalypse.  His campaign team is praying for reelection.

[Update 4:44 p.m. Saturday]  Someone orders Something Borrowed on TV.  We have an intellectual debate on the cause of Kate Hudson’s unattractive, bloated face: beer or baby…beer…or baby?  This movie fucking sucks worse than the worst hurricane on earth.  Oh, I think it’s raining outside.  I’m not sure.

[Update 5:20 p.m. Saturday]  I cannot take one more minute of Something Borrowed without causing myself some bodily harm to release the frustration.  I put on my gym clothes and pretend to work out for an hour.  I do ab work (ah hahahaha) on an overly padded floor mat that makes doing sit ups feel like I’m doing them in bed, or maybe I’m just out of shape.  I lie there watching a TV show about miners who work 6,500 feet underground for 10 hours a day.  I think about how similar we all are: me, one floor below the lobby of the St. Regis; them, 10,000 leagues under the surface of the earth.  I feel an unspoken connection to these strangers.

[Update 6:32 p.m. Saturday]  I take a shower under a beautifully generous golden showerhead, which is kind of like being stuck in a hurricane.

[Update 7:01 p.m. Saturday]  It’s finally raining harder outside and the wind has picked up.  I decide to throw myself into the fray, dangerously facing gales of wind and sheets of rain.  Okay, it’s not that bad.  My umbrella doesn’t even turn inside out, but I attribute this feat to the fine manufacturing of my St. Regis umbrella, obviously made with the demands of the rich person in mind.  I do, however, manage to sustain temporarily blindness after witnessing a homeless man jerking himself off while half-asleep on the stairs of the local church.

[Update 8:16 p.m. Saturday]  Tired of sitting our asses on the plush, beautifully upholstered sofa watching the same doomsday prophecies on loop (Water could rise 20 feet…Subways could be underwater…not sure when things will get back to normal), we decide it’s time for dinner.  Provisions are still high, though we are regrettably working on a limited menu, having to choose from the same things we ordered at lunch.  This whole hurricane thing is starting to be a really trying experience.

[Update 9:34 p.m. Saturday]  We’re all vaguely drunk on a bottle of red wine.  We make a toast to traveling to Tokyo and then say something like, “To a life filled with suites.”  When I wander to the bathroom to, you know, go pee, I notice that water is starting to pool in the streets.  Here it comes…

[Update 10:29 p.m. Saturday]  The adjacent bar is supposedly where they invited the Bloody Mary.  I call bullshit.

[Update 11:03 p.m. Saturday]  I’m full off of a dinner followed by an excessive number of bar nuts and so I suggest we go upstairs and watch something but I’m really just going to go upstairs and crawl into bed.  Before I do, I will set my alarm (rather ambitiously) to 8 a.m. in the hopes that I might catch the tail end of the storm that will have ravaged our great city all through the night.  I fall asleep and dream of the aftermath.


On the Eve of Our Doom: Hurricane Irene, Friday

A minute-to-minute, in-depth account of Hurricane Irene.

[Update 3:04 p.m. Friday]  Being as I do not have cable and I find news to be a generally frivolous assault on my easily rattled nerves and an already abysmal confidence in the human race, I have gone the better part of the day ignorant to the severity of the impending doom apparent.  That is until I get a few phone calls from my parents asking me if I have candles and flashlights.  I best look into this whole weather thingy.

[Update 4:01 p.m. Friday]  Having now’d the shit out of this Hurricane Irene business, I decide it might be wise to take a trip to my local organic market and stock up.  I purchase provisions for the duration of my anticipated lockdown – which, according to the news, could be up to five days.  Said provisions include: pomegranate Greek yogurt, Fuji apples, kale, two kinds of hummus, and coconut water.  When I remember that I might be without power as of tomorrow, I randomly select canned soup, refried beans, and Nayonnaise for the tuna I think I already have in my pantry.  I anticipate the next three days will be spent dining on cold legumes beside the warmth of my IKEA tea candles, romancing myself with movies from a pirated Netflix account.  That is until some fallen tree knocks out my WiFi.

[Update 4:27 p.m. Friday]  I subject myself to an additional supermarket trip to procure two rounds of Laughing Cow cheese, which I’m fairly sure, despite suggesting it be refrigerated by its manufacturer, could withstand being left at room temperature for the better part of a decade.  Laughing Cow, as we all know, is not really cheese as much as it is a nuclear, Swiss-flavored paste.  I take note of the palpable nervousness amongst the Brooklyners waiting in line – an electrical human energy that rests on the outer banks of widespread panic’s precipice.

[Update 4:36 p.m. Friday]  I walk down to the hardware store to purchase a flashlight per my father’s orders.  “Sorry, we’re out,” the black-polo-shirt-wearing man says, his arms straddling the counter.  When he says it, I swear I see a smirk cross his lips, an unspoken chastisement for my unpreparedness.  I walk down the street and immediately find an alternative purveyor of a finely shitty Made in China flashlight.  Take that, black-polo-shirt-wearing asshole.  I’m going to make it out of this thing alive, no thanks to you.

[Update 5:06 p.m. Friday]  A friend who lives nearby tells me that we are included in Bloomberg’s Area A and will be required to evacuate tomorrow morning.  After a frantic search for a street-by-street map that lasts the better part of forty minutes, I discover that I am actually in Area B, just a street away from the where the East River will come up and swallow us whole.

[Update 5:22 p.m. Friday]  A friend informs me that she will be staying at the St. Regis hotel starting that evening.  I contemplate the idea of free room service, a generator, and a 5th Avenue location that puts me smack in the middle of the East River and Hudson, upping my chances for survival.

[Update 6:09 p.m. Friday]  Another buddy is hosting a little get-together this evening.  I am torn between staying in and obliging my ramping nervousness or partying like it’s the end of the world.  An hour later, I will commit to going out after my friend points out that we will be trapped indoors for a long time coming and we may as well being around humans as long as possible before disaster strikes.

[Update 7:18 p.m. Friday]  I walk down to my beloved pier, afraid that it might be swept to sea at some point this weekend.  I stand on its synthetic surface and say a little prayer, hoping to come back to find it all in one piece so that it and I may share many more sunsets together.  “I love you, Pier,” I whisper, and I swear – beneath the sound of the crashing tide – I hear it say something back.

[Update 9:08 p.m. Friday]  Sarah and I walk through the still streets of Manhattan, the stagnant humidity ravaging our sweat glands with no breeze to provide relief.  “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” says Sarah.  I look at her with wide eyes and the uncanny feeling that we are both tapping into some underutilized 6th sense.  “Me, too,” I say.  “Me, too.”

[Update 11:46 p.m. Friday]  Our End of the World hurricane party has turned into the typical Hey It’s Friday Night Let’s All Do Cocaine party.  People keep disappearing into the back bedroom to “secretly” snort chemicals out of a twenty-dollar bill, as if their constant disappearance and red-nosed reemergence isn’t telling enough.  I am forced to drink or die of boredom.

[Update 11:48 p.m. Friday]  The aforementioned friend who is currently getting settled into the St. Regis informs me that she has been upgraded to a suite and that we have a butler named Charles who claims he can bring tea up to the room in 3 minutes.  “See you tomorrow morning!” I say.

[Update 2:03 a.m. Saturday] Sarah and I walk back north towards our respective destinations.  The journey up 3rd Avenue is fraught with obstacles, namely the Bridge & Tunnel crowd here for one last hoorah before all hell breaks loose.  The Jersey boys yell things to each other, moving in feverish packs.  The girls totter drunkenly in cheap plastic heels while they chew on gum like teething cows.  The boozed-up drug crowd emerges from the Bowery Hotel, eyeliner propping their drooping eyelids with a false appearance of alertness.  I turn to Sarah.  “I feel like this is the neo-tale of Noah’s Ark, and these are all the awful heathens who are about to be drowned en masse.”  If only.

[Update 2:11 p.m. Saturday]  Sarah and I part ways at 1st Avenue.  We hold each other in what might be our last embrace.  See you next week…if we make it.