Dispatch from the (Not Anymore!) Dark
A Sigh of Relief

Days of Darkness -- A Glimpse of Life in SoPo

Despite many kind offers of hospitality, I stayed in my building during the storm. It wasn't that bad, really, and I was certainly in better shape than many.  In preparation for the storm, I had filled the tub partway, located my flashlights and candles, and charged up all of my electronics (helpful hint: you can charge cell phones from a laptop battery). I had a decent amount of food in the freezer, some produce, eggs, milk and cheese in the fridge, and plenty in my pantry (I have some food hoarding tendencies). When the power went out, I was drinking wine with my neighbors (something I ended up doing quite a bit of during the week).

It became clear very quickly that certain things became crucial to my living situation. My apartment is quite dark, even during the day, so my headlamp was probably my most frequently-used item. My grandmother had gotten me a gift of a battery-powered flashlight with a transistor radio built into the handle. I listened to copious amounts of WNYC this week. They are getting a donation from me this year for sure. I had gotten a crank-powered flashlight from the Urban Justice Center at one of their events. I have a gas stove, so I could cook and heat water. Brugal rum had given me some cardboard speakers, designed to use for picnics. Given my charged iPod, I was able to listen to music and podcasts when I wasn't listening to WNYC.

I cooked every day, partially for sustenance, partially for something to do, and partially to ensure that I wouldn't lose the goods in my freezer and fridge. I'll post the run-down on that later. I also checked in with our building staff to see if anyone in the building needed food when I was cooking. When I wasn't cooking or eating, I was out and about, often with Moxie, trying to get a phone or blackberry signal and searching for power (thank you NYU, for letting us use your outlets).

On Wednesday, our office was open and buses were running, so I decided I'd head to work, and perhaps use my gym for a hot shower. On the way, my dog walker cancelled, so as I sat in gridlock on my way to work, I realized that I would have to get back sooner than expected. I got into the office, charged my devices, did some work, and learned that my gym had no hot water. After a few hours, I went back on the bus and back to the dark zone.  Wednesday evening was Halloween and I was getting a little cabin fever, but didn't want to leave Moxie alone in the dark for long. I left her with a glow stick (as candles were clearly not an option), and headed out for a quick drink at Formerly Crows, which was operating by candlelight. Also on Wednesday, our building brought in a generator to get the (cold) water running again, as it had run out. While it was out, I learned how to effectively flush a toilet with a bucket of water -- a good skill to have. They also set up a power strip in the lobby hooked up to a generator so that residents could charge our devices. I think Wednesday was also the day that I got three bags of ice from ConEd; they were distributing it in Union Square. That allowed me to save the contents of my freezer for a bit longer -- I had already moved everything I wanted to save from the fridge into the freezer. I also think it was the night I hung out in the lobby a bunch. It had turned into a nice place to congregate while charging devices.

On Thursday I decided I'd be better off seeking WiFi closer to home than the office and I once again tried to seek out a shower. I walked to the 38th Street branch of NYSC with all of my electronics in tow and took an amazing hot shower. Many of the women there were in the same boat -- not many had come to actually work out. Afterwards I headed to the NoMad where I met fellow dark zone refugee @daisy17  for a swanky lunch, more power, and some WiFi. More drinking wine with neighbors Thursday night.

Friday I went into the office and did some work, went back home to Mox, then returned to work again. It was a long day, but we finished up with dinner at the John Dory. At that point, according to ConEd's twitter feed, the power was coming back on all around my apartment, but not at my apartment. I slowly made my way back down into the dark zone.

At 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning, I was awakened by the power humming back to life. We got heat and hot water Saturday around noon.

I can't thank my friends and neighbors enough for keeping me company through this, especially Richard & Nanette, Karen, Jesse, Anthony, and Kathryn & Dan. I also realize that my social media addiction kept me sane and feeling connected to the outside world -- when I had enough juice and a signal to get online.

Other things I noted: I still have a land line. Stupidly, it's bundled with my cable service so it didn't work. Time to unbundle. If there is a storm in the future, I need to fill the tub all the way, not just partway. If we hadn't gotten water back, I would have had to rely on bottled water. I am so glad I live on the 4th floor. I'm also glad my dog weighs 9 lbs.

It was always fascinating to head uptown -- life was practically normal there -- but those of us living in SoPo started to get antsy as the sun went down each day. Around 4:30 pm it was pretty much time to head home so you wouldn't be walking around in darkness. Every day became a quest for basics -- power, food, ice, water. That said, many are still searching for those things. You can help them through Occupy Sandy.

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