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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween...

Today, I biked to work.  It was a choice I made last night when I decided I didn't want to take another cab and wait to be reimbursed nor did I want to brave the limited bus service.  It took Katrina 4 hours to get in to work using the bus system.  No, I'd rather snake my way in between the cars on my bike than sit through that kind of ordeal.

Unfortunately, my bike was really in no condition to take such a commute.  But I was determined and, anticipating possibly having to use the bike a few more times before the subway comes back up, I decided to splurge and get a few things I knew I'd need: a bell, a light and, after the ride to yoga made my hands feel like ice cubes: gloves.  Yes, I worked yoga into the mix.  Because yoga was exactly what this stressful ordeal was missing.  A teacher that I most often take classes with posted to my Facebook page that she was definitely teaching in Brooklyn Heights this morning.  So, since I haven't been to class since last Friday, I knew I had to make that part of my day.  And it was the best class ever!  It felt like it anyway.   Just to have a moment of calm in the midst of all of this.

After yoga, I got some advice from my yoga teacher about where to go for a bike tune up and all those accessories I needed.  She's an avid cyclist and bikes everywhere so I knew she'd have the scoop on where to go.  First I hit a shop on Smith and Bergen for the light, bell and gloves and then, since she'd told me I could probably still get a free tune up here, I went to Bicycle Habitat on Lafayette St. in Soho.  The tune ups were not still free but the shop was at least open and, though there was a crowd, I got in pretty quick.  They had no lights but they had a lot of people on staff and bike stands set up, outside the shop even, giving people tune ups.  They were, of course, only taking cash and walking about the darkened store with flashlights to fetch things.  The guy who tuned up my bike, greased my chain and adjusted it for me, had a thick New York lifer accent and sported 3 foot long dreadlocks.  He was animated and seemed like he was having a ton of fun just helping people out who had no other way of getting around but their bikes.  He fixed me up, rather enthusiastically, in just minutes while we chatted about my bike.  Apparently, one of the first kinds of bikes he ever worked on.  $10 and I was out of there on the smoothest ride I'd had on that bike in, well, ever.

I skirted from there over to the West Side with little difficulty.   Only trick was there were no traffic lights so you had to be on alert and wait to cross avenues.  Most cars would stop, especially if they saw a crowd trying to push across.  Then, since I've never taken the Manhattan Bridge to work (beautiful ride, by the way), I sort of had to figure out as I went what the best route was going to be.  The trick?  Follow other bikers.  There were, after all, a ton of them out. Almost as many as the cars.  In fact, Mayor Bloomberg issued a carpool rule for all the bridges into the city to cut down on traffic in the city, especially since there are still no traffic lights below 39th Street.

Work was okay.   The most excitement happened when the news came in that they were evacuating Bellevue Hospital after losing generator power.  The newsroom was all a buzz with everyone running around trying to make sure we could get one of our reporters there ASAP. 

Biking home was probably the coolest thing today.  I stopped and took a ton of pictures along the route, to the extent that it took me an hour and 15 minutes to get home (30 extra minutes than it normally would have on my bike).  As soon as I stepped out into the night, I realized how spooky it was going to be.  Fitting that it's Halloween.  I had my light, which, as the guy who sold it to me said, would not illuminate my path but it would let people know I was coming.  As such, I could barely see the bumps in the road coming and cursed myself once for turning down a cobblestone road in pursuit of some other bikers who I thought might know the way to the Manhattan Bridge.  My bum really hurts right now.

When I crossed back over the West Side Highway after zipping down the Greenway to Tribeca, it became suddenly dark in between the narrow cross streets of that area.  I had the glow of a near full moon and the occasional passing taxi or other cyclist but beyond that I was straining my eyes to see a lot of the time.  Pedestrians would come up out of nowhere, often in Halloween costumes.  Bleeker Street was the darkest but the spookiest was turning onto the bike path on the Manhattan Bridge right where the mouth of the subway tunnel is for the N and Q trains.  I could feel an eerie warmth coming up from the tunnel, and tried to keep from looking down it as I climbed past it on my bike.  In the middle of the bridge, I had to stop and snap a wide photo encompassing both the darkened Manhattan side and the fully lit Brooklyn side, along with the almost full moon and Jupiter floating nearby.

Scary Commute, Halloween Best Shots


I reached a point on the bridge later on where the street lights suddenly came on and looked back a few times to see the sharp contrast, the line between electrified and powerless.  I had to refrain from taking another picture.  I had already wasted so much time and was fatigued.  The rest of the commute home was a breeze compared to all the turns I had to take in Manhattan and the busy streets I had to cross (Houston, Delancy, Bowery, all the avenues, Chrystie St.) and the cobblestones and the darkness and the distractions.  There was one funny moment on 5th Avenue in Park Slope when a woman dressed as a nurse/zombie was lurking in the street near a cab that had pulled over in the bike lane.  She turned to look at me and began to come towards me, fully in character, hungry for brains.  I shrieked and swerved.  Laughter erupted from the sidewalk from the rest of her friends.

Thankful for that final hill, up my street, being short but annoyed at the obstacle of trash cans blocking the gate to the back yard where I lock my bike, I was finally home.  Now, I'm exhausted and have to sleep then literally turn right back around and go into work again tomorrow.  This time, I'm carpooling with a co worker who lives nearby though I have get up much earlier than I normally would need to and will be waiting around for my shift when I get there.  Should be a much easier day, though, as I'll probably take a cab home on the company's dime.  With that, who knows what tomorrow will hold. See ya soon!


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