Hurricane Hygiene

November 3, 2012 § 2 Comments


Damn, you knew you should’ve taken a shower this afternoon before the power went out. You were too busy reading hurricane updates to actually prepare for the hurricane. Before going to bed (much earlier today than usual), you wash your feet by flashlight because you still have some dignity. Being in the bathroom in the dark is scary. Bloody Mary bloody Mary…


You don’t bother to apply makeup because you know for sure you’re not going outside today. Also, hair is up in a bun because you were supposed to wash it yesterday and now it’s been three days and it’s getting kind of icky. If you’re lucky enough to still have running water, you can at leaset wash your hands and face. Otherwise, there’s always hand sanitizer! There’s no point in washing any other part of your body because you’ve been completely sedentary the whole day.


What? That’s not dandruff…it’s…kindling…for the fire you’re building in the middle of the living room to keep warm! Rub some coconut oil on your head; it’ll help.

Today you put on some makeup because you’re heading to a friend’s place uptown. If you’re one of those people who won’t go out in public without a little eyeliner or mascara, you’d better hope you’re applying something semi-permanent because you, in your rushed naiveté, assume that you’ll be back home by nightfall and thus neglect to pack anything. Even a toothbrush.

Now would be a really nice time to own some comfy sweatpants, but you only have jeans because this is New York, where your closet (if you have one) doesn’t have enough room to store extraneous clothing items. Sigh.

After hiking five miles to your friend’s apartment (still faster than a bus!) without breaking a sweat (because it’s cold outside), you are rewarded with a shower. Now you really wish you had brought a change of clothes or toiletries, but you bum a toothbrush, towel and some gym shorts off your friend. You don’t bother washing your hair (still wound tightly in a bun) because it’s long and plentiful and you’re just too tired to deal with it. Without your Clarisonic brush and the daily 5-product regimen you use on your face, your skin also gets dryyy. But considering how oily your face usually is, perhaps it’s an improvement.

You sleep in the shirt you’ve been wearing all day. Don’t worry; it’s okay to do that if you didn’t sweat. No shame.


Your friend kindly lends you a shirt, and you don your pants, socks and hoodie from yesterday and journey to another friend’s casa. By now, your hair (still in a bun) is a certified mess. When hair is in need of washing, some people’s scalps are oily enough to start a grease fire, while others’ are dry enough to start a forest fire. You finally let down your hair and give it a thorough washing. How did people deal before showers were invented?

None of your friends had floss. Who needs floss anyway? You’ve never heard of anyone actually getting gingivitis. You use your old t-shirt to wrap your wet hair and wear your friend’s shirt, the one you’ve been wearing all day, to sleep. You realize that you haven’t shaved your legs in two weeks (it is fall, after all) and hope the extra fuzz will keep your legs warmer. In any case, it’s November now, so you have a valid excuse not to shave all month.


You don’t bother changing after waking up — your friend’s clothes are actually pretty comfortable, and besides, you’re just spending the day bumming around her apartment while she’s at work. Amazingly, your eye makeup has managed to stay on, which means you haven’t rubbed your eyes for 60 hours. What self-control!

After hearing that electricity is back in your apartment, you gleefully return home to find your kitchen only faintly smelling of the rotting garbage and perishable food you left behind. Forget taking a shower; the water is still blisteringly cold. The thing you’re most excited about doing? Changing out of the underwear you’ve been wearing for the past three days.


Not The End Of The World

November 1, 2012 § 3 Comments

I started hearing about the impending hurricane on Friday afternoon, when my editor warned that we might not be able to come into work the next week. I was intrigued, but not worried. On the map, my apartment was located in Zone C, making it unlikely that we would be forced to evacuate.

On Sunday, my roommate Catherine went out to stock up on food in preparation for the Frankenstorm. It took her two hours because the checkout lines extended from the front of the store all the way to the back. When I went out later, I saw that Trader Joe’s had a line to go inside the store, like it was Black Friday. Crazy. I stopped by the nearby Asian grocery store instead to buy some vegetables and cookies. The wind was already whipping down the street as runners squeezed in one last jog.

We spent Monday relaxing at home; I had some articles to work on but applied to jobs instead, which I suppose is better(?). I quickly ran out of cookies. Hurricane Sandy had landed, and I got tired of reading about it after the first three hours. Around 8PM, our lights started flickering. Then they went out. I was somewhat worried, but my laptop and phone were at full power, and I didn’t expect the blackout to last for more than a day or so. What I didn’t know at the time was that we lost electricity not due to a controlled outage, but to a massive explosion at Con Ed that would take way longer than a day to fix.

That night, I went to bed early and watched What To Expect When You’re Expecting (surprisingly funny, but I watched it solely for Chace Crawford, whose storyline was excruciatingly unrealistic and unentertaining) and Disney’s African Cats (cheesy narration/music but incredible footage), figuring that using up my laptop’s battery was fine since I couldn’t do anything else in the dark anyway.

The next morning, I woke up to the sounds of Catherine rushing around the living room while talking on the phone, and I learned that they now expected the power outage to last a week(!!!), and she was planning to head uptown to stay with a friend. I started getting alarmed and texted a few friends who live in New York to see how they were doing. I also called my aunt with hopes of staying with them for a while, but I couldn’t get through and concluded that they must’ve lost power in New Jersey as well.

Catherine cleared out with her daughter early Tuesday afternoon, kindly leaving me with some flashlights and a box of tea lights. All afternoon, I saw people walking around outside, and wondered what they were doing and where they were going. I, on the other hand, spent the whole day eating, reading and sleeping. Seriously, I took two naps and ate three meals in the span of nine hours. It was partly due to the fact that it was really cold in my apartment, and the only warm places were in my bed or by the stove. Fortunately, we still had running (cold) water and gas, so I could try to use up the perishables languishing in the dark fridge. I was incredibly bored and wished I had my GameBoy (an attempted solo game of Scrabble did not pan out as well as expected).

When the sunlight started fading, I lit 11 candles in my room (more matches than I’ve ever used in my entire life) and started reading some of Catherine’s daughter’s picture books because I had finished October’s Vanity Fair. One of the picture books, about a cat living a fabulous New York life, had the word “sexy” in it, as in her neighbor’s male cat had a “sexy smile.” I was really disturbed by the use of that word in a children’s book — I don’t think any child could or should understand the meaning of that word until they learn what sex actually is!

I was trying to conserve my phone’s power, but I briefly called B to have him check my school email for me and found out that class was canceled for the rest of the week. Things were getting serious, and I decided to relocate the next day. I had tired of reading my journalism books, so I picked out a book of short stories from Catherine’s extensive collection to read in bed: Zhang Jie‘s Love Must Not Be Forgotten (1979). The two stories I read were about lost love and kind of depressed me, so I went to sleep a little past midnight.

Despite having slept early and extra amounts the previous day, I woke up at noon on Wednesday. My cell phone signal had been iffy but viable for the past few days, but it was totally gone by the time I got out of bed. I planned to hang out at Esther’s for the day to recharge (and maybe shower…), so after eating a big lunch, I packed up my laptop and charger and headed out. It was 1:30PM.

Five hours later, I finally arrived at Esther’s apartment on 145th Street. Did it really take me that long to travel uptown from East Village to Harlem, a distance of merely 9 miles? (I could’ve driven from Chicago to Des Moines in that time!!) Yes. Yes, it did.

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