Even The Angels Are Crying, Election 2016

I didn’t post a picture last night, as I have done so for the past 2 ½ years. It didn’t seem right in the midst of one of the biggest election nights in our history. Earlier in the day I voted and then tried to avoid the news media all together. I didn’t want to hear any more negativity and I knew that whatever was to be at that point would be. Instead I spent a lot of time on Pantsuit Nation—an invite-only Facebook page dedicated to supporting Hillary Clinton through hopeful and inspiring messages from real voters.

I didn’t turn on the T.V. until after 8 PM, close to when most polls around the country were closing. It quickly became apparent that Trump was in the lead. I took my sinking feeling with me to a local bar to watch the rest of the election results roll out. It felt good to be among people, as opposed to being glued to my T.V., alone and horrified. Luckily, I am in New York—a blue state, and a liberal neighborhood so I knew I would be among friends. As the results became more and more dire people began to leave, in disgust, but mostly, in shock. I left around midnight, walked home, and went to bed, knowing that Trump would likely be our next president.

Crying Angel, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY  © Grace Cavallo

I woke up this morning and cried, even though I can’t say I was entirely surprised. For months I imagined what it would feel like to wake up to this day. It would feel like the end of the world, I thought…and it does.

I cried for all of the hard work of our forefathers, our grandparents, and our parents—who came to this country to build better lives—that has been undone. I cried that hatred and fear won over love and harmony. I cried for the uncertainty of our future and that of the world.

In part we are to blame. This country has been asleep, and the wily powers of Trump to motivate the masses have been sorely underestimated. This act was an uprising, and it is now painfully clear that the level of hate, bigotry, and ignorance is very real.

I just happened to watch “American History X” (1998) two days ago. I had never seen it before, but I couldn’t help notice how similar the diatribes of the white supremacist, played by Edward Norton, were to modern-day Trump and his supporters. In one scene, Norton gives a rousing speech to his hooligans just before they raid a market and assault the minority owners:

We’re here tonight ‘cause we got immigration problems spiraling out of control. We got Asians up the ass…taking over our land with their fucking Yen. Mexicans…flocking into this place like some giant fucking Piñata was shattered.

…It’s tragic. On the Statue of Liberty it says “Give me your tired, your hungry, your poor, your huddled masses…yearning to be free.” It does not say give me your shiftless, your greedy, your indolent, your criminals, looking for a free ticket.

We’re here tonight to show the government how we feel about minorities taking over our country. They treat us like criminals while they reward them with jobs and fucking welfare checks. And it’s only getting worse…

It is a sad day for this country, and for the world at large. I can only hope that justice will prevail, and the virtues this country was founded upon will eventually triumph. May God bless us all.

#TodayinNY

Quote from

New Yorkers Don’t Quit

<em>Light underground © Grace Cavallo</em>

Light underground © Grace Cavallo

I don’t often come through this subway station but the trains run wonky on weekends and I discovered (too late) that my normal train wasn’t running. It’s a long walk underground to connect with the in-service train, and I was pissed that I had to transfer and that it was making me late. As a New Yorker, subways are a huge part of my day-to-day, for better or worse. I don’t need no stinking Uber when I got an unlimited MetroCard!

I was barreling through, weaving my way in and out of slowpokes and mumbling under my breath about “Sunday drivers” as I came upon this seen. I am a sucker for light streaming in through unusual (or usual) places. I knew I was late, but how long does it really take to get my camera out, turn it on, and snap a picture? As I stood there weighing my options, clock ticking, slowpokes passing me by, I decide an extra 10 seconds is not gonna kill me. However, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, might.

I am not heading to the 23rd and 6th Avenue station today, even though I am almost out of eggs and plantain chips from Trader Joe’s. Besides Trader Joe’s, there is a Home Depot, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Harmon’s, the gym where I take yoga classes, and my camera shop. It is my spot—I am there more often than I care to admit. In fact, my #TodayinNY of the Siegel-Cooper building, which houses Bed, Bath, and Beyond was taken from there just this week. I found a wallet on the corner of 23rd and 7th Avenue a few weeks ago. I was able to return it to the rightful owner who was super-grateful, even though it had no money in it (I kept apologizing and saying, I swear, I am a good person and I found it that way). If I have to choose what street to walk down when I’m there I will always choose 23rd Street—it’s a main thoroughfare and it’s always full of people, no matter the time of day.

No, I’m not headed there today because I can’t—it’s CLOSED because some asshole decided to detonate a bomb there yesterday, and another one a few blocks away (that didn’t go off). Although 29 people were injured, it could have been much worse—as all reports indicate that the bombs “were built for carnage.” I can’t predict there will not be a homemade bomb the next time I do my food shopping, as much as I can’t predict an anvil won’t fall on my head as I’m walking down the street. Life is a crapshoot and I, along with my fellow New Yorkers, will continue to live it to the best of our ability #youlose #onward #TodayinNY

False Alarm

Freedom Tower

Freedom Tower © Grace Cavallo

My carbon monoxide detector started chirping on Friday night. It’s happened before; maybe a few months ago, and I changed the battery so I didn’t think it could be that. The alert is intermittent, but it’s so loud and jarring that it’s hard to ignore (which I guess is the point).

So I did the usual…I checked the stove, the burners, made sure everything was off and seemed copacetic. I opened the windows and doors and aired out the place. It stopped but then started again later on. It was late at night so I finally got up on the ladder and took the battery out. The next day, I bought a new battery and installed it. The chirping started again at once.

Am I slowly being poisoned by carbon monoxide and don’t even know it? 

I decided it was time to call Con Edison. After a 10-minute hold, I get a representative and explain the story.

REP: Do you have any symptoms…a headache…do you feel nauseous…lightheaded?

[Am I lightheaded?]

ME: Um, no, I don’t think so…

REP: Ma’am, you need to call 911 immediately.

ME: What…really?

REP: Yes.

ME: I mean, it’s been going off since last night and I’m still walking around so it’s probably fine…

REP: Ma’am, you need to leave the premises right now and call 911.

I’m a little freaked out now.

ME: Are you sure that’s really necessary?

REP: Yes, I’m sure.

I remembered there was a horrific case of a residential building that blew up in the East Village over a year ago due to a gas main leak…which probably explains why Con Edison is not messing around.

I hang up and call the super of my building. I mean…I’m not really sure what I expect him to do, but I’m feeling like I need a second opinion.

No answer.

I walk down the hall to open my front door. I turn on the light.

No!

No turning on lights…lighting matches…(using cell phones?)…nothing that can trigger a spark.

Okay, deep breath.

No! No deep breaths ‘cause poison!

I dial 911.

911: Yes, what’s your emergency?

ME: Well, I’m not sure it’s an emergency, but…

I recount the story…chirps…loud…batteries…Con Edison.

911: The fire department is on the way.

Minutes later, I hear sirens in the distance. Oh, sweet baby Jesus…really?

The buzzer rings. (Trigger!)

There is a cavalry of good-looking men at my door. In FULL firemen regalia…I’m talking hats, boots, jackets, tanks, axes…WTF?! There are lights and sirens going mental outside my building. I can feel my neighbors at their peepholes.

ME: Thank you guys so much for coming.

CUTE FIREMAN #1: What’s the problem ma’am.

I tell the story for the twelfth time.

CUTE FIREMAN #1: Do you feel nauseous? Lightheaded?

ME: Um, I don’t think so…

Within seconds six strapping guys are piled into my tiny apartment with their abundance of gear and manliness. I point them towards the kitchen.

CUTE FIREMAN #2 forges ahead holding a contraption in the air. He gets to the kitchen and yells back, “Zero.”

Now, I’m no carbon monoxide air specialist, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that means I just called these guys out here for nothin’.

Maybe it’s my imagination but I could almost feel the breeze from the collective eye rolls going on under their hats.

I can’t stop apologizing and tripping over myself.

CUTE FIREMAN #1: It’s okay ma’am, you did the right thing. It could just be a malfunction. You know these should be replaced every 5-7 years.

Which makes sense since I’ve been living here over 6 years and have never thought to replace anything beyond the batteries.

ME: I’ll definitely do that. And thank you. Thank you all again for coming out here. I really appreciate it. And sorry, again…I’m really, really, sorry.

And just like that, they are gone—in and out in 30 seconds (not to be confused with my love life).

The whole thing was surreal. You mean, I don’t need to do anything else? Sign anything? I was half expecting a bill for life-saving-services-rendered.

Personally, I haven’t had a whole lot of experience with cops and firemen in the real world (I suppose that’s a good thing and I’ve been lucky). It just kind of hit home how they just showed up at my door like a bunch of handsome angels and came barreling in my home, not knowing what the heck they were going to encounter inside. What if my apartment was only seconds away from being blown to smithereens?

I know we’ve all heard it a million times…that these guys are brave, that they are heroes, that they have the hardest job in the world and they do it selflessly. From a kitten in a tree, to a malfunctioning carbon monoxide detector, to twin skyscraper infernos—they answer the call.

It’s hard to believe that today marked the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Every year in the weeks leading up to the anniversary there are news stories, recaps, and remembrances of one of the most painful periods in U.S. history. I dread this time of year. It’s difficult not to go back to that day in my mind and relive the heartache that is forever seared in my consciousness, and that of much of the rest of the world.

I am grateful for these men and women who answered the call then, and continue to answer it everyday. I was reminded of the toll it takes to do just that when I passed this makeshift memorial today in front of a firehouse on 19th street.

Thank you for all you do for our great city, FDNY, NYPD. Never forget.

Engine Co. 3, Ladder Co. 12, 7th Battalion

Engine Co. 3, Ladder Co. 12, 7th Battalion © Grace Cavallo

My Friend Corey

I met Corey six years ago at a bus stop. I am not usually one to meet people at bus stops. I am more likely to have my headphones on, some sort of reading material, and my bus stop face, just focused on getting where I’m going and getting the heck out as painlessly as possible (i.e. bus stop face = don’t mess). It was the day after New Year’s. I had recently moved into a new apartment and there were some things I needed to get my place in order. It was a new year, and I resolved to get it done! I discovered there was a Home Goods store just outside Manhattan.

Port Authority bus terminal is a dismal hole of a place, favorited by shady characters milling around asking if you “need help” (I’m good, thanks!) I tried to avoid it if I didn’t absolutely have to but it was the easiest route and only a 15-minute bus ride to the store. So I put my blinders on and power walked through the station to get in line for the bus. I arrived early, and Corey and his friend, Jeff, got in line behind me. They were young and cute and were chatting excitedly about something.

Jeff was dark, good-looking, and the more outgoing of the two. Corey was tall and thin with light blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair. He had an easy smile and was boyishly handsome. I especially remember how he was dressed. He had on a trench coat, black cap, and skinny jeans. Underneath he wore a white button-down shirt with a black tie, cardigan, and a beautiful watch. He looked like a dapper, rock-and-roll pageboy, I thought…it made me smile.

I had my nose in a magazine, trying to mind my business, but then 15 minutes went by, then 20, and then 40. I turned to ask if they knew what was going on with the bus but they were equally perplexed. We commiserated over our absent bus and the crappy terminal that is Port Authority. And when the bus finally did show, an hour late, I’d learned that Corey was in New York on vacation with his family and his bus companion, Jeff. They were from California and were staying in a hotel near the Home Goods. They asked if I’d like to meet up after shopping, perhaps to take the bus back to the city later on. We exchanged information once we arrived, and went our separate ways.  Continue reading

Jonas

Central Park, Winter Storm Jonas

© Grace Cavallo

The first snowfall of 2016 and I am happy to report that after spending most of my life in New York City, I finally shot the lock off my wallet and invested in a proper pair of snow boots—not rigged up rain boot/construction boot/random leather boot concoctions.

Central Park, Winter Storm Jonas

© Grace Cavallo

Central Park, Winter Storm Jonas

© Grace Cavallo

To be honest, my sister bought them for me as a Christmas gift (per my request). This was way back in December, by the way, when temperatures were averaging in the balmy 60s and 70s (!), so my lovely boots sat forgotten in their box at the back of my closet.That is, until news of an impending blizzard started making the rounds on the news. There were conflicting reports about the intensity of the storm, but as it came closer, it was clear that it would hit big.

Central Park, Winter Storm Jonas

© Grace Cavallo

Central Park, Winter Storm Jonas

© Grace Cavallo

By the time Saturday morning rolled around, the wind was howling and it looked like a snow globe outside. And while I have to admit there’s something romantic about being stuck at home with nothing more than reading to catch up on and Netflix to watch while a violent snowstorm rages outside, I knew I needed to get out for my #TodayinNY picture-a-day series.

Central Park, Winter Storm Jonas

© Grace Cavallo

5th Avenue, New York City, Winter Storm Jonas

© Grace Cavallo

5th Avenue, New York City, Winter Storm Jonas

© Grace Cavallo

And even though I love doing it (most of the time) let me tell ya, the shit ain’t easy—rain, sleet, snow, blizzard—the TodayinNY show must go on! Needless to say, I was not looking forward to leaving the comfort of my couch. But the thought of zipping on my new snow boots was also kind of exciting! So I bundled myself up and rallied to get to Central Park for a quick photo shoot.No sooner did I leave the house that I began to regret it. The wind was whipping violently and snow was pelting me in the face. The snow was up to my knees in spots and it felt like walking through quicksand. There weren’t many cars on the road but the few I did see were mostly spinning their wheels and going nowhere.

Central Park, Winter Storm Jonas

© Grace Cavallo

59th Street, New York City, Winter Storm Jonas

© Grace Cavallo

The steps leading down to the subway were slippery and covered in snow and it was a wonder I made it to the park without eating it. I emerged from the N train at the corner of 59th Street and 5th Avenue. The plan was to quickly descend the steps of the park to the pond across from the Plaza Hotel and take a quick picture.

The Plaza Hotel, New York City, Winter Storm Jonas

This guy looked like he knew what he was doing, sort of © Grace Cavallo

The Plaza Hotel, New York City, Winter Storm Jonas

© Grace Cavallo

59th Street, New York City, Winter Storm Jonas

© Grace Cavallo

Easier said than done.It was whiteout conditions and the wind gusts practically knocked me over. The wet snow made its way into every crevice and although I had a cover for my camera, it was a struggle keeping the lens dry long enough to get a decent picture.

Waiting patiently © Grace Cavallo

Queens, New York, Winter Storm Jonas

© Grace Cavallo

Queens, New York, Winter Storm Jonas

© Grace Cavallo

There were a handful of people milling around, mostly tourists eager to see what the big storm was all about. But I think we all soon realized being outdoors was probably not the brightest decision. So I put it in gear, got my pictures, and hightailed it home.

And even though I risked life and limb for these damn pictures during the second biggest snowstorm in New York history, it was kinda fun. And by the way, my feet were toasty and dry and super happy.

Sasquatch

Sasquatch © Grace Cavallo

Sparrows bathing in the snow

Sparrows bathing in the snow © Grace Cavallo

We Are Diamonds

 

Coldplay, Adventure Of A Lifetime ArtworkI can’t quite understand people losing their shit over the release of the new Adele album, yet there’s not been much attention paid to new Coldplay, coming out this week. I mean, you have a lovely voice and all Adele, but HELLO…I am no longer in the mood to cry in my soup over past loves [that was so last year].

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 2.02.05 PM

I’d much prefer to turn my magic on and dance in my living room…because everything I want’s a dream away.

Because under this pressure.

Under this weight.

We are diamonds.

Taking shape.

Toodooloolooloolooloodadadada

 

 

Happy Birthday John Lennon

John Lennon, New York CityToday John Lennon would have been 75 years old. By pure coincidence, I was sitting around a few nights ago listening to Pandora when “(Just Like) Starting Over” came on. I’ve never been a huge John Lennon fan, but I had forgotten how much I love that song. I was seven years old when it came out. It was 1980. I would dance and sing along to it on the radio. It’s kind of hard not to really—it’s a happy song. That was the same year my mother died. I don’t remember much else about that year, but in the same way a smell or a taste can instantly bring you back to a time in your life, this song does it for me.

Before I knew it, it was 2 o’clock in the morning and I was deep down the John-Lennon-discography-rabbit-hole, and remembering just how many excellent songs he had. Here are my top five…

Happy Birthday to you in heaven, John Lennon! I hope you and my mom have bumped into each other.

[Note: I was trying to find videos that were more exciting than static album covers, yet less exciting than sex scenes with Yoko Ono or horrific war scenes…but those proved few and far between (although I did manage to find an okay video for Happy Xmas). Then again no need to watch, really. Just listen…]

 

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