me in the piazza

I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) This blog is a record of random and less-random thoughts, including the Saturday haiku, which I've been doing for many years now. I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us! If you want to know more about me, check my website.
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Frankenstorm fades out

All right. Heat's back, lights are back. In my joint and in my hood. I do, after four days of disorienting wierdness, have some deep thoughts to share, but I'll save that stuff for a day or two. Right now I want to give you some remaining snapshots -- verbal ones I didn't have a chance to get on line and offer you, and one final visual one.

1. First, a huge shout-out to all the people who helped strangers, neighbors and friends. A man I know went door to door in his seven story building, making sure every one of his neighbors was okay. Nurses hand-pumped respirators as they carried sick newborns down 20 flights of stairs. Traffic cops stood in the middle of lightless intersections with glowsticks for hour after cold hour. Cops, firefighters, Con Ed workers, Verizon workers -- well done, all! A personal huge thanks to James for the Korean-deli inside baseball and the coffee; to Jonathan and Joy for the tea, the charge-ups, the talks, and the showers; and to Bob for the dinner and the movie.

2. I'm not sure everyone knows this, and I think you all should: the NYC shelters, for the first time in any crisis/evacuation, welcomed pets. It occurred to someone that many people don't leave if they can't take their pets -- I mean, I wouldn't, would you? -- and why, really, should they have to make that choice? So the shelters supplied themselves with cages. It worked -- people evacuated, brought Rover and Fluffy, and lives were likely saved.

3. I never thought I'd be so happy to see a traffic light. While the traffic lights were out down here, crossing the street became a competitive sport. Those of you I was with in Ulan Baatar, you know exactly what I mean. Only here, there were no Mongolian old men or ladies with babies to use as bodyguards. (The theory being, any driver might mow down an able-bodied Westerner, but even the meanest were less likely to hit a lady with a baby.)

4. Speaking of Mongolia, it was so cold in here last night I slept under four blankets in my Mongolian long underwear/pajamas. The good news was, when I had to take care of business in the middle of the night (referred to in Mongolia as "checking on your horse") I could go a few feet to the toilet, instead of fifty yards to hide behind the nearest rock.

5. Starting Tuesday afternoon the confectionary down the street here was open, cash only, lit by candles, with signs in the window announcing "emergency chocolate."

6. This afternoon I was up in the Bronx. The longest waiting line I saw, besides the ten-block gas line (I know, New Jersey, yours are much worse, but this is the Bronx, who even has a car?) was the one at the barber's. Guys who get their hair cut every week, or every two weeks and last week was supposed to be the week, were in all the chairs, all the waiting chairs, and sitting on the windowsill.

7. In my hood there was no looting. Four days without power, no looting. I understand this wasn't true everywhere, and I'm very sorry for the people who got caught behind that awfulness. But here, nothing. Good job, West Village!

8. You will probably never hear this from me again, and you know you've never heard it before, so listen well: I think the MTA has done a fantastic job. Starting the buses running by Tuesday night and restoring 60% of subway service by Thursday, and running the whole system free until Friday at midnight, was astounding. Fabulous. Super-de-dooper-de-booper. I still think the MTA Board is a confederacy of thieves and fools, but the guys on the ground outdid themselves, and the whoever on the Board was in charge of emergency planning, my hat is off to you, sir.

9. And finally, this, from my trip to the Bronx today. I know a good omen when I see one.

on the no. 1 train to the bronx



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