August 28, 2011

Speaking of Disaster...

Hurricane Irene was not nice to us.  Actually, I can't even blame the hurricane.  I never saw the winds get over 24mph, which DS and I experienced while walking around today.  24mph is not that big a deal as far as winds are concerned.  It rained fairly consistently, but it didn't flood; at least it didn't in my neighborhood.  I blame our little disaster on the guy upstairs and the maintenance people who told my landlord everything was fine.  The hurricane was just an inconvenience.

So here's what happened.  DS and I started getting rain from Irene early, around 1 in the afternoon.  We thought it would be a good idea to take photos of the view periodically.  That would give our families some  idea of how things progressed based visible distance and tree movement.  We took some videos.  We laughed at the balcony door (which is 10ft tall mind you) being hard to shut.  We remarked on the whistling noise around the door.  But most of the excitement felt had more to do with the idea that this was the start of a hurricane, and not because the storm was particularly exciting.  We've seen a lot worse from the thunderstorms that roll through here.

When we moved into this apartment, we had noticed evidence of water damage over the balcony door.  We alerted the landlord (who conveniently lives below us), he called the building manager, and masons were sent out to check on things.  I remember laughing because I had used my master degree training to hypothesize on the cause, and DS "pff"-ing me, and then the mason explaining the problem to me using my exact wording.  That was the last we heard about it.  Apparently these same people told our landlord the problem was fixed.

I tell you this so you understand why we did not immediately freak out when our ceiling started leaking. We texted our landlord, but didn't really expect a response since we could hear him having his own hurricane party downstairs.  We had been partaking of DS's latest batch of sangria ourselves.  I took some photos since we were documenting stuff anyway, threw a bucket and towel down, and went back to my video game.

Not long after that, DS went to bed.  As he does.  I continued to loosely monitor the leak and play said video game.  To avoid Leak 2 from exploding all over the floor as the paint broke, as Leak 1 had done, at some point I pricked it with a pin and drained it.  Leaks kept appearing, all over the balcony door, and I kept rearranging the buckets so our wood floor wouldn't be totally ruined.

This is what I was doing around 11:45pm when the ceiling collapsed on my head.  I remember kneeling on the floor, moving buckets, and then hearing loud noise.  There was a sensation of being covered, like a bucket of water had been dropped on me, and also kind of like a sheet the way it clouded my vision.  Except it hurt.  And I screamed.  Not an "oh shit, you started me" kind of scream.  An "i'mdyingohgoddon'tkillmeMURDERER" scream.  I felt my glasses get knocked off my face.  I felt like someone dropped a book on my head.

My eyes were full of grit, and burned, and I was afraid to open them.  I'm not sure I could open them.  I held my arms out away from me, like you do on instinct when someone drops a can of soda at your feet for example, and I stood there and screamed.  At this point, I wasn't entirely sure what all had happened. It was really fast and I couldn't see almost immediately.  I was barefoot, in pajamas, and I could feel that I was covered in something and standing in rubble.  I was terrified.  My adrenaline hit so hard I honestly didn't feel any pain from that first book feeling until at least a 1/2 hour later.

I heard DS stumble out of the bedroom, yelling for me.  I couldn't stop screaming.  He's not very coherent when he gets woken up that soon after falling asleep, no matter what the circumstances, and the screaming doesn't help.  I know this from past spider experiences.  So looking back, I'm sure a lot of the noise I heard after that was him running into walls trying to run to me.  He kept telling me to shut up, to tell him what happened.  I remember thinking he should tell me and that it was probably obvious based on what my feet were feeling.  He can see without glasses after all.

I must have gotten out that I couldn't see, and I guess he realized I needed to rinse my eyes out, because somehow we made it to the bathroom.  He turned the water on for me, and I spent some time rinsing out my eyes while I sobbed uncontrollably.  Not even tears, just loud noises that sounded like sobs.  It was like my body could not help crying out in some way; pure panic noises.  I calmed down a lot when I could finally open my eyes.  I tried to get some of the grit out of my hair, but it was hopeless.

We went back out to survey the damage and were floored.  White fluff was everywhere.  There was a 2.5'x4' piece of sheetrock broken in half on the floor.  What looked like mud was covering everything within six feet of the door.  I immediately grabbed the camera and started taking pictures, because I didn't want to take any chances of later being told we had exaggerated something.  The apartment has a way of not getting fixed...  DS was on the phone, trying to get the landlord, even though I was sure he had heard the noise.  I found out that pieces of the outer brick wall had come with the ceiling, which explained why I felt like I'd been hit with them.

The landlord came upstairs right away, and his face held the same shocked expression I'm sure ours had moments earlier.  He asked if we were alright.  We said we were.  This is when I found out I was bleeding.  There was an inch long gash on my forehead and I didn't even feel it.  My landlord said, "You should probably put some ice on that.  You're bleeding."

Over the next hour, I attempted to clean myself up some more, administered some first aid, took a bunch of ibuprofen to fend off the pain I figured would come when the adrenaline wore off.  DS and the landlord worked on cleaning up the living room and attempting to tarp off the upstairs balcony to help minimize further damage.  We asked why the masonry problem hadn't been fixed, and the whole "it is/it isn't" thing mentioned at the beginning came out.  While tarping off the upper balcony, the landlord found out there's actually a hole in the outer wall of the upstairs unit and the dude never did anything about it.  So a lot of rain, 150 year old bricks, and a hole in the wall meant a leaky ceiling for me.  My landlord is super mad at that dude (this is a condo building, and the landlord only owns our unit and his own) and the maintenance people for basically lying to him.  I think he's afraid we'll sue too, but we won't.

Today we tried to clean up as much as possible and covered the hole since insulation (the white fluffy stuff) kept falling out.  I feel like you'd probably expect after having a ceiling and bricks fall on my head.  Thankfully, the cut is pretty minor all things considered.  Right now is the first time I've let the ibuprofen wear off, and I can tell it was a mistake.  There are a lot of sore spots on my head and shoulders.  I wish I had a photo of how I looked when DS found me.  Apparently he had a moment where he honestly thought I'd been tarred and feathered.  That image would probably provide some comedic relief about now.

The rain stopped earlier, but not the wind.  We chanced it anyway and walked around a bit outside with camera.  My neighborhood seems to have been really lucky.  We didn't find any real flooding, or downed trees or anything.  The last of the clouds should be gone by 7pm, and the winds will drop under 20mph then as well.  We're supposed to hear on Monday when the masons and contractors will come fix the ceiling.  Thankfully, the 10 day forecast is rain free, so more leaking shouldn't be a problem.

I'm going to take some more painkillers and chill the rest of the day.  I hope your hurricane experience was better, and that my story will be the only scary thing you hear about.

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August 26, 2011

It's a "2 for 1" Kind of Week

Have I ever told you that before I decided to major in Art History in college, my ideal career was Storm Chaser?  I was hampered by not having the proper curriculum offered in my home state combined with a fear of leaving said state for school.  Which is kind of funny looking back on how far away I've traveled since then.  At any rate, I am not a storm chaser, but am still enamored of crazy weather.  I look forward to all major weather events and natural disasters with a childish glee that scares my husband.  He worries for my sanity.  It's not that I want to be in the middle of something that will kill me.  I have no death wish.  But the raw power of Earth is a beautiful thing, and as long as I can experience it in a way that keeps me alive, I will.

The whole time I lived in California, I kept expecting to experience an earthquake.  It's not like I wanted to the ground to rip open beneath my feet or anything; having some glasses rattle and my bed shake is plenty fine.  It never happened, though there were a few that were near enough to me that my family freaked out for me.  I didn't even know about them until I found I had a bunch of frantic messages on my phone.  So the fact that my first earthquake experience was in Philadelphia on Tuesday was disorienting.  I think if it had happened in CA, I would have been like, "whoa! this is an earthquake" and went with it. Instead, I woke up to my bed shaking, the whole building swaying, and thought maybe it was being torn down and no one had checked to make sure everyone was out.  Look, your brain does not function quite right when you first wake up.  Shut it.  The only casualty was my cuckoo clock, which fell and busted.  I think I can fix it, but all things considered, this was probably the best I could hope for in terms of experiencing an earthquake.  I'll go ahead and cross that off my list.

An electronic billboard on my way home from taking Bri to the train station today.

Just when I thought that was my excitement for the month, I find out there's a hurricane coming.  DS keeps telling me it's no big deal, and in hurricane terms, he's totally right.  As of this moment, Philly is still in Irene's path.  It's projected to be somewhere between a CAT1 and a Tropical Storm by the time it gets here.  Either one would be a first for me, and neither are likely to cause my building to fall down, so I'm excited.  To be on the safe side, we brought all my plants in tonight while it's still dry out.

This room will probably be infested with spiders now...

My tomato is still growing.  It's insane.  The netting is to keep the birds from eating the ripening tomatoes.  Bastards.
We live downtown on the 4th floor of a building, so flooding isn't an immediate worry as far as our stuff is concerned.  I suppose there's an off chance our building could float away, by which I mean like 0.05%.  However, both rivers surrounding us are expected to flood, and they're only 2.3 mi apart where we are.  The Delaware River is 2 blocks from me; I can see it out my window.  It's kind of weird, because we're not on the coast, but we're very close to the mouth of the Delaware, and it has tides up here.  So flooding in my area is entirely possible.  My weather app on my phone is also telling me loss of power is a possibility, so we've gathered the candles and charged all our spare batteries again.  The main thing I worry about with loss of power is losing the internet.  That should tell you something about our worry levels.  And probably something about how much I use the internet.

My plan is to read Game of Thrones, quilt, and take photos.  Maybe I'll even get inspired to write another song.

August 23, 2011

Song Writing

Bri helps us with a beat while we work on some polymeter.
I think I mentioned this before, but it bears repeating.  DS and I have officially joined the band Designer, which is based in Philly.  I'd describe the music for you, but honestly, I don't know how.  I recommend you check out the website to learn more.  DS plays bass, and I mostly play flute, though there are plans to add my mandolin and hammered dulcimer to the mix.  The other instruments are piano, drums, cello, trumpet, and guitar.

It is so much fun writing music with these guys.  So far we have one full song nearly done, and we're working on a second.  I'm excited to say that the second is based of something I wrote, which is probably the best complement anyone has given me.  That's sort of how the band does things.  Someone will bring in a little something they were playing around with, and then everyone sort of jams until magic happens.  I say magic, because that's what it feels like to me, but honestly, it's more like a lot of talent and a really well rounded group.

The band had written one album already when DS and I came along.  We didn't really want to change the overall sound of those songs, since they're already released and awesome, so we've been writing some parts that fit in.  Otherwise we'd just be sitting on stage waiting for the new songs to be played, which is no fun.  We played a show on August 10 at a place called The Fire.  We hadn't really been expecting to be doing anything other than the helping out we'd been doing on the song Thundersnow, but when we got there they already had a mic set up for my flute.  So DS ran home quickly to get it, and I played my first real show as a band member.

This is a band that, the first time my friends told me about it, I heard "we're in a band" and just nodded and smiled, assuming they were crap like most basement bands; but when we heard them the first time at their Christmas show last year we were blown away.  I remember DS and I looking at each other with our mouths open and being like, "shit, these guys are seriously awesome."  So the fact that they've asked us to join them is nothing less than an honor.  What I'm trying to say is, I'm so excited.

The really wonderful thing about this is that I've been spending a lot more time on my music.  I've had a hammered dulcimer for ages, but I only really started learning to play it this year.  I actually took my flute in to the music shop to have it serviced, which is something that had never been done in its 15 year existence.  DS and I look forward to our weekly practice like a breath of fresh air.  Not only that, but it's a lot of fun hanging with these people, and we finally feel like we have a group of "Philly friends," which helps it feel like home here.

Anyway, if you're in the area when we're playing, you should come check us out.  The show schedule is up on the website.  Until then, feel free to listen to the tracks we have posted online.

August 18, 2011

Lightning Storm

There have been a lot of thunderstorms rolling through lately.  Tonight DS and I had the presence of mind to go out on the balcony and enjoy the show.  I attempted to take photos of the lightning, but most of the time I missed.  However, sometimes those misses resulted in some really interesting color studies.  Enjoy.

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August 15, 2011

A Conversation with DS

me: what's with all these cops out tonight?
  ds: not sure.. maybe it's a response to all these flash mobs that have been roaming the streets?
  me: what?!? we had flash mobs and i missed it???
  ds: yeah, it's kind of nuts
  me: man, that's awesome. i'd love to see that!  why would the cops care about that? were they disrupting traffic or something?
 ds: what? no man, it's scary. they're like twenty 16 year old running around and knifing people
  me: oh. yeah, i don't think you know what a flash mob is
  me: a flash mob is where people show up like it's random and then do a dance routine
 ds: oh.  what kind of mob is this?
  me: that'd just be a regular mob.
I'm not posting this to make fun of DS, though I did laugh a lot at the time.  Mostly, I think it really illustrates how different our brains are.  And it's funny.