I survived the hurricane.
That’s what I felt like I should start with.
The hurricane, for those of you who were in it, was relatively mild as far as us New York City-ers were concerned. I heard coastal towns and Long Island were hit harder, but we were mostly left with I think 5 felled trees in Manhattan and a couple of days spent in various forms of intoxicated partying.
The strangest thing of all of it were the subways being closed down, something that has never happened in my 24-year history of living in New York City (maybe 21 years because I probably wouldn’t have remembered for the first 3).
I walked around on Saturday before the storm, when things were still closed and Sunday, when stores opened in SoHo (my neighborhood) at around 5pm. It was a hoot to see boutique owners driving in and parking to try to reap the benefits of low-lying non-subway-taking European tourists, mostly amazed they hadn’t been killed.
For me the hardest part wasn’t subsisting. That was something of a joke. The bodega across the street from me stayed over, it would seem, 24/7 even during the hurricane and I know they had their best day ever that Saturday morning as the line snaked around the narrow aisles and people grabbed cheese and packaged meat.
I, for one, was set with Indian curries I had stocked in my refrigerator from a late night excursion Friday night, where I decided, what the fuck, might as well buy something, as I left my friend Alex Hilhorst’s going-away party early to lug curries home, round 11:3opm.
No, the toughest part, as indicated by some of my tweets and Facebook updates, was the loneliness for me of being trapped in my house for 48 hours.
The pat of SoHo I live in is great for me, before West Broadway with all the stores and crazy tourists, on a block with trees and a park and 5 restaurants and a laundromat and an aforementioned bodega.
But the bad part about living there is that, well, no one else does. Which is usually fine, because I’m located conveniently near almost ever subway, except when the subways aren’t running.
As Rob Malone headed over on the last train to Katie Rotondi’s house and Andrew Parrish headed out to PA, I was stuck there in my apartment, with ample Netflix, a DVD collection, a new video game and the electricity never even went out (like it did for my boss who got stranded for 3 days in Vieques when Hurricane Irene hit there).
But the thing is, I’m a social person. Even more than that, I am someone who is not agoraphobic, but rather hates being trapped in my house. I’ve broached the subject before, but not recently, so for those unaware, a reminder:
When I was in middle school and high school, I didn’t have many friends. I mostly slunk around the school in a leather jacket (in the high school days) not talking to people, carrying a backpack with all my books in it, because I didn’t want to deal with the jeers of the locker room. Just trying to survive the hellishness of adolescence.
When I went home for the weekend was arguably even worse, because just as other people were going over to each other’s houses or hanging out, I was at home, calling people up. And if no one wanted to do anything, as no one so often did, I was there at home by myself all weekend, just feeling bad and beating myself up for no one wanting to spend time with me. Sitting in my house, in my room, became time for brooding, time for accepting that no one cared for you, that you were a freak, that you were unloveable.
When I came to college, after surviving that, I met people who seemed to dig me in the social reset of freshman year, I opened up, started talking to people and in the freak-fest of NYU-Film, I managed to seem cool just by virtue of my seeming unrestrained social non-graces, a loquaciousness born our of the ignorance of how to act around people and made tolerable by earnestness and the humor I had acquired from Woody Allen movies and my punny parents.
From then on and to this day, when I sit in my house alone, with nothing to do, nowhere to go, for an unrestricted or long period of time, I feel that same pressure, that same brooding sneaking up on me. The sense that no one wants to see me. That I have no friends. That I’m alone with my self-hatred.
Of course, nowadays, this is disconnected from reality. I have many friends, some of whom, like Rob and Katie, even video-chatted with me those nights giving me at least some virtual company. But I was companion-less and the talk of “babies being born 9 months after a storm” or just someone to cuddle with, gave a new dimension to that feeling, a new loneliness.
It may not seem like much, but 48 hours in your own mind, brooding, can be a long time to not like yourself.
But of course, I did survive the hurricane, as I said earlier.
My dad, like me, gets wanderlust and we went a couple times out to get some coffee, looking around for a place that was open on Saturday and Sunday, at my request entirely (my dad doesn’t even drink coffee).
It felt good to go on a quest for some food, to be out in the world, even though it felt so strange to see New York City dormant and mostly closed, the diners and coffee shops we went to, flooded (with people) and only getting busier.
And my life after?
Well, I’m still the same, seeing my friends a bit more.
My buddy Chadd Harbold just wrapped his first feature and Is aw him yesterday for lunch (though I ditched him when we were supposed to see Our Idiot Brother, which, I rightly predicted, sucked)
I went back on my dating website, encouraged by my friend Ilya, who had some success there and, having moved to New Haven for Yale, now had none of the problems of meeting people that we used to share, other than being awkward Jews, which we still both are.
Life is back to normal in this post-hurricane world.
I had a long-haired cabby rant at me yesterday about how Rick Perry would make a great president and he hadn’t slept for 48 hours (probably normal for a cabbie) before spouting a bunch of stuff about his workout regimen and “the fucking ragheads”.
I’m back to reading scripts and trying to perform enough that I can tell people I’m an improv performer at least instead of just an improv student.
It’s my life.
I’m not sure if I have anything more to say about it than that.
There’s some other stuff going on with an improv-possible-rape confession and the coolest Magic: The Gathering player in the world getting unfairly dissed (the former of which enough has been said and the latter which is an ongoing travesty) which would probably be interesting to talk about.
But right now, there’s a whole-grain sandwich calling my name.
And a chance to get out of my house.
Just as sometimes I like to quest for great restaurants to witness their greatness, sometimes I like to go to places that look like they conceivably cannot be good, to try to be surprised.
The best example of this category, in my mind, are restaurants that are attached to hotel chains.
Simply put, there is no incentive for these places to be good. They need only be adequate and non-offensive in the extreme.
They are there for the tuckered-out New York City tourist who is sore because he thought he could walk down to Ground Zero and back but, wow, that’s really a lot of walking!
So there, instead of another adventure, is the hotel restaurant, a place that caters to his laziness.
After all, if you weren’t exhausted or bewildered by New York City, why would you ever go to the restaurant attached to your hotel, in one of the finest bastions of dining in the world?
So, the hotel restaurant can’t be crazy or super-adventurous or any “weird” cuisine like Indian (“Is that like Chinese food, honey?”) but has to be something that a family can eat, something that has non-spicy options.
Something that serves french fries.
But even based off these necessary restrictions, I’ve been amazed by what I’ve found.
A place attached to a Marriot Express near me was an improbable Japanese/Mexican non-fusion restaurant! And the guacamole was delicious!
And this place I went to, attached to a Hilton near the Holland Tunnel, was great.
I had been recommended to a little Italian place by my boss, whose recommendation had been cut short by his sleepy script partner, who wanted to get the draft finished so he could finally catch Zs.
But I had forgotten I had a TWO HOUR (apparently) conference call and the Italian place didn’t have any whole-wheat pastas and only one chicken dish, in a day I was already near-suicide over my consumption of a white-naan sandwich (FOR SHAME!!!).
So I headed across the street to Pelea Mexicana, seeing a dish it looked like I could eat.
The place was deserted at 6pm and I had a booth all to myself. I spread out my things.
I got three different kinds of salsa to taste, all distinct and spicy. The corn chips (of which I had few) were warm.
My chicken breast came, finely bone-in, served on a delicious bed of fantastic garlic-sautéed spinach,, which was flavored by the jus and the wonderful pepper-tomato salsa the dish was cooked in.
It was under 20 bucks, they dealt with my sign language due to my conference call and I got to relax.
And now, when friends come in and ask me for advice, I can direct them to that Mexican joint attached to the Hilton near the Holland Tunnel.
And look at their faces.
Guajillo Chicken w/Chips+Salsa, Rice+Beans- $18.00
6th Avenue below Canal St.
ACE to Canal St.