NYC, Determined to make your out of borough commute a nightmare Pt. 2

25 minutes later, we got in our Uber and inched downtown on 5th Avenue towards Union square.

We caught every light, and almost collided with a speeding car when the driver ran a red light.

It would’ve gone right through us if our driver didn’t have that automatic break feature.

We cared for about two minutes.

It was nice to see all the high end department stores lit up with mannequins dripping in jewels and couture right off the runway.

We got to our destination, said goodnight, and I headed down to the Q train.

3 minutes later, the train came. Unheard of for early AM Sunday morning.

Everything’s coming up roses!

“This train…..on the bridge…..not Brighton beach.”

I did what every New Yorker does when there’s an announcement in the subway.

I looked around to see if anyone looked like they understood what the fuck it was he was mumbling about.

One short spikey haired bleach blonde woman did.

We all looked at her. She did her job.

“It’s going across the bridge but it’s not going on the Q line.”

“What the fuck!”

“Jesus Christ!”

“Of course!”

We all went into New York City underground crisis mode.

We were no longer strangers. We were now a squadron. Car 63, Stillwell avenue bound Q.

“Is it going to Atlantic Barclays!?” A guy asked our leader.

“It has too. It’s probably switching to the R, but the R stops there.”

She was good. Much better than me scaring the shit out of my Jersey bound co worker.

“…..water on the tracks….. not Dekalb…”

“He said there’s water on the tracks, so we’re skipping Dekalb Avenue.”

The squadron commiserated.

“Awwww, is thewe watew on the twacks!?”

“Fucking BULLSHIT!”

“This shit wouldn’t happen in Manhattan!”

This ride was turning into a shit show but actually kind of nice now that we had all United.

We got to Atlantic Barclays and broke formation.

I stayed behind hoping it was a mistake and the conductor would say he was kidding and the next stop would be mine.

I stepped out to see what was going on on the platform.

There was a pre pandemic rush hour amount of people, looking around, disoriented, some had formed there own squads, studying subway maps and looking things up on there phones.

I found the only remainder of mine, maskless but I didn’t care, I just wanted to go home.

“They’re saying the Q is on another track!”

I looked around and realized we were in fact on the R track, and the Q was across the terminal.

I pointed him toward the stairs and we made our way there with countless others.

About 7 minutes later, we got to the Q platform. There was an announcement.

“The Q train is running on the D line due to water on the tracks”

I couldn’t take it anymore so I walked toward the Long Island Railroad platform/Exit.

Now, 2AM, I climbed three staircases, alone.

I got to the deserted Long Island railroad platform . Deserted except for the man passed out on the floor.

I moved quickly past him, sure he would wake up any second and push me onto the track.

He didn’t and I followed the many exit signs until I finally came across the actual exit.

That was about 5 or 10 minutes of sheer panic.

When I got outside it was of course raining.

I couldn’t make out any street signs. Unlike Manhattan, Brooklyn is not a grid. It’s many short or colliding streets. This one becomes that with no warning.

I called an Uber. $44.00, normally $17.00 or less, but fuck it!

My GPS said I was on Felix and Hanson. Never heard of them. Had no idea what was up or down.

I had no idea if my GPS was correct.

My Uber was 5 minutes away. The wind was picking up, so was the rain.

I got a message that he had arrived. Where? No idea. They’ll only wait a few minutes if that.

My phone was at 33%. Hopefully enough to call him.

“Hi, where are you?”

“Atlantic Terminal.”

I looked across the street. Atlantic Terminal. I looked down the street. Atlantic Terminal. I looked up the street. Atlantic Terminal Barclays Center.

“I’m in front of, Buffalo Bills Wild Wings and Men’s warehouse?”

“Ummm.. I’m at Atlantic Terminal.”

I heard horns honking. He must’ve been blocking traffic.

“Do you hear me honking?”

“I hear it through my phone.”

I moved toward Atlantic Barclays and stopped in front of Citibank and Chucky Cheese.

“I’m at Citibank and Chucky Cheese.”

“Citibank? I’m at Citibank. Do you see me?”

I looked around, nothing.

“Oh God! There’s multiple Citibank’s!”

“Atlantic Barclays?”

“Yes! YES! I’m going toward Atlantic Barclays!”

I was actually running toward it.

“Do you see me? I’m flashing the lights.”

I saw him! I started flailing my arms.

“Do you see me? I’m waving! I’m by a big truck!”

“I see.”

“Thank you! Thank you!!!”

I got in and on we went, deeper into sheets and sheets of rain water, multiple flashing lights, and cop cars blocking the entrance to the Verrazano bridge to Staten Island.

I thought of the woman at 96th in her $200 Uber only to find the best way home for was blocked.

30 minutes later of a normally 10 minute ride, I made it home.

I MADE IT HOME!!!

And I’m never leaving again!

NYC, determined to make your outer borough commute home a nightmare

New York City has seen a few hurricanes and tropical storms. Nothing like the southern coastal states but maybe that’s the problem. We’re not always prepared.

This past Saturday, we were visited by Tropical Storm Henry. That horrible bitch. It came quickly and wreaked local temporary havoc.

When you happen to be on an out of town job at the same time the governor calls a state of emergency, you’re particularly fucked.

I was managing a wedding in Tarrrytown NY, what the natives call “up state”. Really, it’s the outer suburbs but anything north of the Bronx, even just outside, is considered way too far.

I was in Tarrrytown, or if you’re into regional folklore, Sleepy Hollow of headless horseman fame.

It was a typical wedding, nothing out of the ordinary except that some guests made a point of leaving early. Like, before last call at an open bar. That’s strange.

I didn’t think anything of it until one of the waiters asked for takeaways for his table.

“They want to take dessert home so they don’t get stuck in the hurricane.”

I had no idea there was a hurricane coming. I don’t have TV anymore so any news I get is through yahoo and based on my searches.

“There’s a hurricane coming!?”

“No, it’s already here.”

That’s when I looked outside and noticed the sky lighting up like dessert storm.

I went outside and heard rolling thunder that was drowned out by the 90’s boy band hits the couple requested for their after dinner dance set.

Nothing I could do but forget about it. Weddings can only be stopped by pre vaccine Covid. I’d worked through many.

As if on cue, 11pm on the dot, it started to rain in Tarrrytown just as we were walking to the shock less bus that transported us from 96th & Westend in Manhattan in a mere 30 minutes, and there to take us back… or try.

The further south we got, the more it rained.

We must’ve been traveling directly under it.

By the time we got to Yonkers, the Westchester county city just above the Bronx, the bus was going way too fast in at least two feet of water.

All our phones were getting ominous warnings about flash flooding that could cause “loss of life”.

I looked back at my co workers. Normally they’d be sleeping or fixed on their phones, Facebooking, texting, what have you.

Now they were wide eyed and sitting straight up looking at the sheets of water hoping the driver could actually see where he was going.

I felt I had to say something.

“Don’t worry, these warnings are for Bergen county in Jersey.” Good leadership tactics on my part.

“Yeah, that’s where I’m going.”

My co worker I forgot lived there was sitting behind me.

We were all thinking the same thing.

It would really suck to die on the way home from a fucking catering job.

1 hour and a half later, we were back at 96th & West End.

Thankfully, it wasn’t raining there, and the streets were not flooded.

The streets weren’t flooded.

I got out with every intention of calling an Uber and done with this whole thing.

When I got a block east to Broadway, I should’ve known something was wrong.

Way too many people hugging the walls of the buildings or standing by the curb looking from their phones to the street.

I called my Uber to Brooklyn. It was going to cost $129.00.

I caught the eye of a woman next to me with the same look of disbelief and held my phone up. She held hers up, $250.00, going to Staten Island.

She was fucked.

I accepted the price and after a few seconds of “Connecting you to a driver”, I got a message saying there were no cars available.

I decided to just take the subway, on a good night that would take up to two hours, but what the fuck else could I do?

I saw my co workers standing outside the turnstile.

It turns out, there was no water in the streets, but ALL the water was underground. On the tracks of all the 1/2/3 trains.

Nothing either way.

We paired off based on residence, east, west, north, south.

I found my partner, south east Ron. We decided to walk toward the crosstown bus and try to catch a cab along the way.

There were of course none and an abnormal amount of desperate people waiting for the bus.

I convinced him to Uber with me to his address then I could get the Q, a mere 20 minutes to my stop in Brooklyn.

A mere $75.00. 😳 It was brilliant and nothing could go wrong….

Part 2 available now!

The Pure Love of a Familiar

A familiar is a companion. Whether it’s a positive good thing is up for debate, historically speaking.

According to Wikipedia: In European folklore of the medieval and early modern periods, familiars (sometimes referred to as familiar spirits) were believed to be supernatural entities that would assist witches and cunning folk in their practice of magic.

A.K.A. Women who expressed intellectual ideas and both men and women who were free thinkers.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, it’s a demon supposedly attending and obeying a witch, often said to assume the form of an animal.”her familiars were her two little griffons that nested in her skirts”, a close friend or associate, or, (in the Roman Catholic Church) a person rendering certain services in a pope’s or bishop’s household

A.K.A…. See above.

I think of a familiar as one that loves and takes care of you but not like a parent, spouse or friend.

I think of it like my Cats.

Always happy to see me, even if I’ve been a bad human and was gone for a feeding time or two. In my defense, if I know I’m working a 12-15 hour day, I always make sure to leave something for them like a couple bowls of dry food, I’m not a monster.

Always there to comfort me when I need it, cats are incredibly empathetic.

And most of all, they allow me to pet them even when they don’t necessarily want to be.

Petting an animal is scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and I can personally attest to that.

Here’s a video my cat Harry is patiently allowing me to make, he even faked liking it for my benefit. I know because I made a few from different angles and he put up with it every time.

Enjoy and feel the love!

Operation Use What’s in the Fridge and Pantry to Make a Delicious Meal….

Basmati Rice with Marinated Chickpeas and Pepperoni

I’m just coming off a brutal and busy couple of weeks and really need to relax and remember not everything’s about work and money.

For me, that means creating something, anything. A story, a blog post, a yoga routine or in this case a meal that I don’t have to spend money on.

I woke up today not wanting to see the outside world and not feeling confident enough for the outside world to see me.

Should really be doing the mountains of laundry I have piled up but can’t even entertain the idea of going to the laundromat.

Am I wearing a bathing suit as underwear? Sure am!

Don’t want to spend money on take out I may or may not even like, so it’s time to trust my pantry staple stocking skills I may or may not have. Here we go…

The pantry

Okay, I see chickpeas, not my favorite so that’s probably why they’ve been there for at least a year.

Smoked paprika I bought for one recipe and never touched again…. Mmmm…. Paprika….

Now on to my incredibly disorganized fridge…

Don’t judge!

Basmati rice.

I can always do something with rice if only I didn’t suck so bad at making it.

Today will be the day I don’t suck at rice! It’s decided!

Some sliced pepperoni. Always delicious.

The freezer….

I hate the way this looks. You’d think I’d do something about it.

Frozen broccoli is never a bad idea but meh.

JUST plant based egg substitute! I’m allergic to eggs but JUST, works well as a…. a binding agent!

And breadcrumbs!

I’ll have to move those ones aside to find my gluten-free seasoned panko flakes, allergic to wheat but not an asshole about it when visiting friends or at a restaurant.

And there it is!

Rice cakes!

Back to those chickpeas….. they might be tolerable if marinated. Smoked paprika! Fresh garlic! Dried onion flakes!

A perfect meal

That red onion you see had unfortunately died in my fridge, pretend it’s not there.

Thinking of seasoning.

I have the smoked paprika, fresh garlic and dried onion flakes to marinate the chickpeas, my healthy protein to go along with my not healthy protein (pepperoni), but what about the rice?

I have Sazon and Adobo. Anyone with a Puerto Rican grandmother (me) has these things on hand and buys them automatically.

Perfect!

That’s one packet of Sazon and a sprinkle of Adobo, enough to cover the top of the rice. 2 tblsp of butter optional.

Will not fuck up the rice! Will not fuck up the rice!

The marinade

The sliced pepperoni is photo bombing. They don’t go in the marinade.

I rinse the chickpeas, transfer to a Tupperware container that I’m going to shake and cover the top with a sprinkle of smoked paprika.

Smoked paprika is strong, you don’t want to add too much.

I do the same with the dried onion flakes, cover the top, and I add 3 cloves of chopped garlic.

Shake it up and let it sit while NOT fucking up the rice for about an hour.

Put it all together!

I just eyeball the egg substitute slowly pouring it in as well as panko flakes while mixing waiting for it to become more paste like.

As I’m mixing I realize it’s not becoming the texture I want like a meatloaf would, chickpeas keep popping out, so I make the decision to….

Change the way I’m going to cook them!

From this….
To this….

Instead of individual cakes, I put two pats of butter, some olive oil, enough to cover the bottom of the pot, and two more cloves of chopped garlic, underneath my rice/chickpea/sliced pepperoni mixture and flatten it like hamburger.

After 7 minutes of cooking this way…..

Ba Bam!!! See that crust? Delicious!! Fresh celery is the perfect side.

Recipe

1 15 oz can of chickpeas

Sliced pepperoni, approximately 20 slices, julienned like this….

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

Smoked Paprika, approximately one teaspoon, go easy, you can always add it to the mixture later.

Dried Onions, same as Paprika

– Rinse chickpeas in a strainer. Place rinsed chickpeas in a small, preferably round Tupperware bowl you can cover. Cover the top of the chickpeas with smoked paprika and dried onion flakes.

– Cover the bowl and shake. Leave for however long it takes to cook rice.

Basmati rice, 2 servings, prepare as directed on the package. Butter is optional and avoid using broth. Only water. These seasonings are enough.

Adobo, approximately 1.5 teaspoons or enough to cover the top of the rice.

1 packet of Sazon, 1/2 a packet if you don’t like things too salty, you can always add more later if you want.

2 more cloves of garlic, chopped for cooking the rice cake.

Two pats of butter for cooking the rice cake.

Olive Oil, approximately 1.5 tablespoons, enough to cover the bottom of your pan.

P.S., I fucked up the rice.

Had to make another batch. Seriously delicious though!

Hit me up for any advice or any suggestions on what you would have done!

If you made this, let me know what you thought in the comments!!

Post pandemic anxiety

There’s something called “floating anxiety”. I’ve experienced it before as a teen in the throws of PTSD.

I had recovered memories, age 14, that threw me for a loop.

I dealt with it in my 20’s and beyond. These recovered memories. Was triggered by a touch, or the idea of a touch.

I grew to be able to avoid those situations. I kept to myself, physically.

I had it down. I was comfortable in shielding myself in that regard. I had built an insurmountable wall.

I had a sense of calm. Calm that was contagious. It helped me as a manager.

Early on in this pandemic, I relied on this. It was the calming force that told me, “you’re okay, if you’re not, we’ll deal with it then. Calmly.”

Now, we’re back.

I’m in the business of large events. It’s unclear what is safe. That makes me anxious.

Recently I was on the subway in NYC. I didn’t realize we were back to shoulder to shoulder seating regardless of whether or not you’re wearing a mask.

It was terrifying! I sat down, and put my bags next to me in an attempt to discourage anyone to sit right next to me.

People were glaring at me as if I was un necessarily taking up seating.

I didn’t know we were there yet. I guess we are.

I felt that floating anxiety, as I kept my bags next to me.

I feel that floating anxiety in my every day, again.

There was a time early on in the pandemic when I tried to sign up for a zoom yoga class with a friend and I couldn’t navigate the website.

My whole body shut down and I started to shake. It was as if I had been punched in the gut then grabbed by the neck.

It was devastating.

I haven’t experienced anything that debilitating since then, but I can feel this anxiety bubbling under the surface in all instances of stress.

The question is, do I ignore it and act like it’s not there? (Very effective BTW), or, Do I address it and deal with it.

Do I have the time? Do I invest in my mental health at the expense of my financial future?

I don’t know.

This floating anxiety extends to my friends.

Do they even like me anymore? Am I ever saying the right thing? Are they involved with each other and I’m not?

It’s like all the social confidence I ever had has disappeared.

Did I ever have social confidence?

I feel so insecure at the moment. Normally I would just shake that off, but now…..All bets are off.

What is normal? I’ve forgotten. I don’t know how to act anymore.

I guess I’ll figure it out?

How Do You Deal With A Customer Now?

Remember about two years ago when the customer was always right and no matter what you had to swallow your anger and apologize to them or risk losing your job?

Is that still true? Was it ever really?

In quarantine, I for one have become brutally honest with myself and as a result, with others in my life. I find them to be brutally honest in return. I like it! It’s a fresh take on life!

However, anyone who’s job depends on pleasing people knows you can’t ever really be honest.

In my job, we have this idea that you can’t use the word “No”.

Example: “I’ll take a half caff cappuccino with a chocolate drizzle.”

We’re at an event in the middle of a fucking open field in butt fuck county, you preordered your entire meal and have an itinerary that clearly says coffee or tea right there in front of you, you’ve been coming to this same event for years now, when have we ever had any kind of machine that will make anything other than shit coffee or hot water!?’

That’s what I would like to say but it ends up being, “We don’t have an espresso machine but I’d be happy to bring you some fresh brewed coffee or a wide assortment of teas?”

I can’t stomach the thought of doing this now that I know what actually matters to me. I will have to though if I want to be gainfully employed.

Anyone else in this boat? How are you even coping with the thought?

Pandemic, Then and Now

California 1918. Notice that one asshole with the mask under her nose?

I often wonder if we ever really learn anything as a global society. Or even a local one for that matter. I’d like to think we do but researching past pandemics it seems like we don’t or it takes hundreds even thousands of years.

Of all the things capable of killing massive amounts of people, wars, regular old age, human negligence nothing is as scary as a worldwide pandemic. It can’t be stopped without everyone working together for a common goal before it gets overwhelmingly devastating. History and basic human nature leads me to believe that just won’t happen (I still have the tiniest sliver of hope that it actually can).

I found a list of pandemics, because I’ve unfortunately had the time. I expected Covid 19 to be at the top. Maybe that’s my very human shortsightedness showing. It’s actually number nine. NINE!

I won’t bore you or myself with my assessment of how this got to be so out of control here in the U.S. Like, not disclosing how bad this thing was so people wouldn’t go and do something crazy like cancel expensive travel plans, sell stocks or anything else that would harm the economy.

February 2020

Let’s look at two other pandemics higher on the most morbid list of all time and you can draw conclusions on any similarities you find. I found a lot.

The “Spanish” Flu 1918 – 1920 #2

Should we call it that? Killed 17-100 million people worldwide. Most have settled on 50 million deaths.

The Mayor of Farmington Charles Henry Giessing made this decision but recinded it a month later asking people to be cautious but make their own decisions as to whether or not they should gather.

Wikipedia says: The Spanish flu, also known as the 1918 influenzapandemic, was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic caused by the H1N1 influenza A virus. Lasting from February 1918 to April 1920, it infected 500 million people – about a third of the world’s population at the time – in four successive waves.

Four waves? Which one are we on now? This gives COVID 19 hope of climbing the death toll ladder. COVID 19 would like to thank a lack of hindsight!

You might think this virus began in Spain. There’s actually no evidence of that. It’s called that because the US censored news publications from reporting on the gravity of the illness in a misguided attempt to maintain national morale in a post World War I America. They did not however, prohibit news publications from reporting on a deadly virus running rampant in neutral Spain.

There were cases there as well as Germany, France and the U.K. all of which had cases, a month after the U.S. Not surprisingly, the Spanish press dubbed this virus as the “French” flu. It’s easier to bury your head in the sand when you can blame someone else. We can live safely there.

Well, not for long.

Many believe the virus came from soldiers returning from the war and the virus effected mostly young thought to be healthy people and the elderly. The first wave was similar to the seasonal flu and infected people more than killed them. Fever, chills, nausea, diarrhea….

The second wave was often coupled with bacterial pneumonia which proved to be quick and deadly. Symptoms such as skin discoloration. It’s described as two mahogany patches above the cheek bones which makes me wonder if medical journals at the time bothered to record symptoms in black people. It ends with bleeding from the mouth, nose and ears. If that happened, you were dead within a matter of days.

This pandemic lasted two years. As you can see from the picture at the top of this post, there were anti maskers, people who just refused to believe this was a reality which I’m sure prolonged this thing longer than it should’ve. Not to mention wishy washy public policy and a particularly cold and wet climate that year.

The Justinian Plague #3 541AD – 549AD

The Justinian plague, or as the locals called it plague of Justinian, was named after Byzantine ruler Justinian I. It killed somewhere in the ballpark of 15-100 million. It’s not given the prestigious world wide pandemic title, it’s thought to have devastated only Europe and Asia. It wiped out 25-60% of that population. Nothing to sneeze at.

St. Sebastian begs Jesus for the life of a gravedigger dying from Justinian plague in this painting by Jose Lieferinxe 1497-1499

Wikipedia says: The Plague of Justinian or Justinianic Plague was the beginning of the first plague pandemic, the first Old World pandemic of plague, the contagious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis.

This was the OG bubonic.

A characteristic is Yersinia pestis. Necrosis of the hand.

Well, you have to start somewhere and what better place than the Byzantine empire. King Justinian dealt with the staggering amount of deaths by raising taxes. Why? Because the workers that were building his many buildings and statues kept dying. He was like, fuck if I’m not building that monument in my honor! Nero played the violin while Rome burned, Justinian threw a financial temper tantrum and made everything worse. He even held family members accountable for any debt left behind by plague victims. Then those people died, other family members owed both debts, then those people died, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Justinian couldn’t catch a break!

This fuckin’ guy! Justinian I

There isn’t much recorded about this plague but there are some writings from historian Procopius. He wrote that as many as 10,000 people a day were dying in Constantinople. Funeral rites couldn’t be kept up with and there was no room to store the dead. According to him, bodies were just piled in the streets giving the city a deathly stench.

All the while, Justinian sat in his castle, shaking his fist.

Procopius described neurological symptoms of the disease. Delirium, hallucinations as well as the death of limbs.

Procopius was so dissolutions with Justinian that in his writing, Secret History, he claimed that someone had seen Justinian in demon form late at night.

He wrote:

And some of those who have been with Justinian at the palace late at night, men who were pure of spirit, have thought they saw a strange demoniac form taking his place.

Contemporary scholars have decided that the disease came from Egyptian rats that stowed away on trade ships and feasted in granaries, which Constantinople had plenty of. It’s Egypt’s fault.

Number one is given to The Black Death, 1346 – 1353 AD. Bubonic plague the sequel. The one everyone talks about. The one with the horrifying masks?

I won’t get into that here because I don’t have the stomach for it.

There’s a strange comfort in looking into these past tragedies if for nothing more than getting myself out of the “this is the worst thing that’s ever happened” mindset I’ve sat alone with since March 2020.

Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your assessment of this situation as it relates to history!

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