Tag Archives: time

Happy New Year: The Polar Bear Swim

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I figured the best way to kick off the new calendar year, hobby style, would be to head out to Coney Island for the annual Polar Bear Swim. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t more nervous about polar bear swimming than I was about sky diving. If followers might remember, I admitted to being terrified of the ocean in my surfing post a couple months back. While I overcame my fear that day, I suddenly felt an anxiety about jumping into waters that were no more than 38 degrees Fahrenheit.

In fact, I had nearly talked myself out of it as I paced back and forth across my apartment. “You can’t back out. It’s the first day of the new year.  You can’t back out. This is a game changer” In reality, it probably wasn’t, as I have a couple other hobbies also planned for later in the week, but I’d heard the encouraging phrase enough in television and film that it seemed appropriate–and it in fact was, as it got me out the door and into the cold.

“It’s not THAT bad out,” I tried to tell myself and I made my way to the subway. “At least it’s the warmest day of the week?” I giggled, and began to talk to myself again, “Oh Libs, it’s cold, get over it. You’ll be in your batman gear–and it’ll be fun…frigid…but fun.”

The good news is, I wasn’t doing the Polar Bear Swim alone. A producer that I have worked with in the past–who I also consider a good friend–had promised her son, Lucas, that he could do the Polar Bear Swim with me, after he came along to watch and help video my shark dive back in October. And I knew in the back of my head that he was much more excited about this than I was–so it was another encouraging reason to get my butt down to Coney Island and all my other body parts in the water.

I arrived at Stillwell Ave. around 12:15PM–just in time to meet up with my friend, her son, Lucas, and the rest of their family. While Lucas got dressed, his dad turned to me and told me how proud he was of me for what I had done this year. He then told me that Lucas had said he wanted to be like me and go on adventures. I couldn’t help but to smile. It was one of the greatest compliments I had received this year. It was in that moment that I began to let my anxiety about the cold water dissolve.

—That is until of course we were all on the beach slowly de-layering in unison with over a thousand of other individuals. “Brrrrrrrr.” I could feel even the lowest blowing winds running through my batman boxer briefs and cape.

I laughed out loud to myself. “What would Batman do?”

Suddenly, people started running past us. And then a burst of energy rushed through Lucas and myself as we both began to run toward the water. Before I even had a chance to look back, the cold water struck my ankles and my calves and my thighs and finally my waist.

“Holy crap, Holy crap, Holy Crap, Holy Crap-It’s cold.” I tried to censor my language around the 8 year old as I shivered through a number of virgin swears.

And then after about twenty seconds, I proclaimed that I was “All set,” and began running back toward the shore.

My brave companion followed, but the Atlantic Ocean beckoned to him and he made his way back out two more times before finally calling it a day. I watched as his dad continued to video with a giant smile on his face. I could see the pride in each of the family member’s faces as my polar bear teammate wrapped himself up in a towel. It warmed my heart–enough to take the focus off my endless shivers.

After changing into some warm clothes, Lucas turned to me and said, “Can we do more adventures this year?”

“Why…yes…yes we can, as long as your mom and dad say yes” I responded. And then I thought to myself, ‘And…as long as it doesn’t involve jumping into the ocean when it’s below 70 degrees outside, sans wet suit.’

His mom then told me that Lucas would be doing the shark tank at the aquarium, as I had done, for his 12th birthday. That’s about three years away, but there’s nothing wrong with planning hobbies in advance–at least in my opinion.

Cheers to another year!

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Special Thanks:
Abby, Jason, Lucas, & Natasha
Happy New Year!
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Donate! Volunteer! Help!

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A special message from The Hobby Hoarder during these tough times:

I can see the Empire State Building from the front door of my apartment building in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The lights are shining bright. Whether the lights to the south or the north of it are on–on any given night–I wouldn’t be able to tell you. But this past week I know that for a good portion of time, most of the lights south of the Empire State Building were off. And even still, now, many of the lights in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, the state of New Jersey, and across the Harbor in Staten Island are off.

My family and friends in Pennsylvania spent days in hotels, office buildings, and at bars huddling for phone charges and heat. My professors and friends in Rhode Island watched as the Atlantic Ocean hurdled over the Narragansett Wall creating rivers on main roads, knocking out power to many, and destroying one of the city’s most popular restaurants–the Coast Guard House. Kids were off from schools–hospitals were evacuated–subway tunnels were flooded– the coast of Jersey was completely destroyed, and worse of all–lives were taken.

As we all know, Hurricane Sandy ripped through the East Coast leaving many states powerless and many residents homeless.

Up until today, all the devastation I knew was what I saw in photos–through Tweets, Instagram, and Facebook.

I spent the week working from home, feeling selfish that I wasn’t on the front line helping people–that I wasn’t there putting together recovery packages for strangers–that I wasn’t helping. I realized very quickly that even if I wanted to be on the front line–my help would be exhausted shortly as my strength is not in my arms, but rather in my voice.

When the power went out, for most, on Monday evening, all they saw was darkness. They lost the ability to watch thew news–to follow Tweets–or to get Facebook updates. I kept power–and instead of sleeping, I stayed connected. I followed Twitter until my eyes dimmed, and then early in the morning, I texted my friends who I knew had lost power to see if they were alright. By the middle of the day I had heard from many New Yorkers, and several hometown friends in Pennsylvania. “Can you just update me–I have no idea what happened after it went dark.” “Are the trains going to be able to run?” “What happened?” “When will my power come back?” “How bad was it?” My strength was now my ability to accurately relay messages to them from various news sources including New York Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Morning Call, and the Daily News.

I found myself Tweeting updates–Facebooking the latest breaking news–and realizing that even if I couldn’t be out there in the Far Rockaways where homes had burned down–even if I couldn’t be in Staten Island–even if I couldn’t be in the basement of someone’s home emptying out water–I could be making a difference . I could be informing people.

So I continued informing people, looked for more ways to help, donated food and supplies to the Far Rockaways via friends with cars, and woke up this morning with one mission: Find a way to get out there.

I read through my email of countless volunteer opportunities to see which one I could get to by bike, foot, or limited public transit. Staten Island had a call for helpers in several areas, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to reach many of them without a car–and that I likely wasn’t strong enough for many of the things people needed. And then one popped out to me:

10:30AM: NORTH SHORE. Go door-to-door distributing helpful information about warming centers, power stations and recovery to North Shore neighborhoods still without power. Spanish speaking a plus. LOCATION: State Senator Diane Savino’s office, 36 Richmond Terrace right across from the Staten Island Ferry. RSVP tokmotley@pubadvocate.nyc.gov

I re-read the post. “Go door-to-door distributing helpful information.”

‘I can do that,’ I thought, and so I RSVP’ed right away. Soon after, Piers Morgan ReTweeted a photo by Stephanie Gosk from NBC of herds of New York Marathoners making their way onto the Staten Island Ferry–not to run their race, but to run to places that needed help. If these people were going to run 5-7 miles to the underside of the Island–I could sure as hell get myself, somehow, someway to the Staten Island Ferry and walk across the street, to do what I do best–Give information. A walk, a cab, a train, a cab, and a ferry ride later I was sitting in an office at 36 Richmond Terrace preparing to head out to neighborhoods that had been without power for days.

I realized in this moment–that a little help–goes a long way. As the temperature dips to close to freezing tonight, many people not only in Staten Island, but around the tri-state area, and points further north will continue to live without power–without heat. The information we passed around today informed members of the Staten Island community where they could go for shelter or warming centers. The information we passed along today–could save someone’s life.

I don’t like to preach. I’m more of “an inspire by doing” type person. But in this case. I don’t mind preaching a bit: A dollar you give–a minute you give–an hour you give- a day that you give–blood that you give–could save someone’s life.  Many shelters in New York City are turning away volunteers BECAUSE THERE ARE TOO MANY. This is a GOOD–no–GREAT thing. It means plenty of hands are on deck to help.  Maybe you aren’t into knocking on people’s doors and distributing info, maybe all the shelters are filled to capacity with volunteers, and maybe you don’t have the strength to carry packages of bottled water–but there is always a way to help–and always someone in need.

Oh and P.S. Cause I am a bit of a hippie. Don’t forget about Love. Keep Loving.

To my friends in New York City–My friends in New Jersey–My family and friends in Pennsylvania–and my Professors and friends in Rhode Island–and all those along the East Coast–This one’s for you. 
Check out these places for more opportunities to aid in Hurricane Sandy Relief
 Red Cross
 WNYC
 Brokelyn 
 Life Vest Inside
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“The Resilient Ones”:

“New Yorkers are resilient. They’ve seen the lights go out on Broadway. They’ve experienced bombs rumble under ground. They’ve watched their iconic buildings collapsed. And each time they’ve risen to the occasion to come back—to reassemble—to regain their composure—to help a neighbor—or a friend—or the elderly—or a child. New York is filled with people who fight battles every day to survive metaphorical storms. And today, with this very real aftermath of a devastating storm—New York is still filled with those people—those same resilient people. And I know we’ll all get through this, together. New York City is our home–and it’s not going anywhere–and neither are we.”
-The Resilient Ones
Publishes on Libs on the Reel and One for the Table

The Hobby Hoarder Feels the Rhythm & the Rhyme: Steel Pan Drumming

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“Why do you want to play the steel pan drums?” Freddie Harris II asks me.

I look at him, and I think to myself, “Why not?” Then I take a moment, and I say, “Because I want to culturally diversify myself–I want to take a stab at something new–and well because I was asked to leave the school band in the 4th grade, because I squeaked too loudly on the clarinet.”

::Laughs::

“Good enough for me,” he says.

Freddie Harris II is Freddy Harris III’s father. And he’s an awesome teacher. They both took me–a complete novice to the steel pan drum—and taught me how to play a scale, harmonize, and “march.” Together, we all had a great time.

 

Hmm… Maybe steel pan drumming is my future… or … maybe not–with bloopers like this one:

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Make sure you check out the true professional:

Freddy Harris III 


(From Freddy Harris III’s Youtube site)

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