Hi all. Regrets for the silence here on ye olde blog. I had a double whammy with jury duty straight into Hurricane Sandy. I'm fine; we've had heat, power, water all along. My immediate surroundings were so relatively unscathed that the slim pickins on the store shelves and the mass transit chaos were surreal reminders on a daily basis of how awful this storm really was - aside from the daily news updates, of course. Last I checked, about 55,000 New Yorkers are still without power - over two weeks out from the storm. Just one neighborhood over, many people are still without heat, water, and electricity.
I just haven't given a rat's ass about gluten-free things. AT ALL. I quickly started following all the #Sandy news on Twitter and unfollowed a lot of gluten-free peeps. I just couldn't bear to see links to "your best gluten-free scones!" and "gluten-free pie made easy!" when my city was in such chaos, when they were still tallying the body count. Save for trying to help gluten-free victims of the storm, I didn't want to talk about celiac, gluten, any of it. My mind was consumed with Sandy - ways I could help, ways to encourage others to help, and with just reading the ongoing stream of updates across Twitter. I donated gluten-free food to my local distribution center, but the rest of my volunteering had nothing to do with GF things. (Hell, I made regular sandwiches - was up to my elbows in gluten - for a local evacuee shelter.) I just felt so effing lucky. House, job, health - all intact - and needed to help those whose lives were devastated.
I had scheduled an event with the Brooklyn Gluten-Free Meetup well in advance of the storm. Our events usually fill right up and this one was no exception. Sometime last week I considered postponing it, as the Sandy clean-up was taking longer than I think anyone ever expected. It just seemed wrong to go socialize when there was still so much to be done - so much volunteering we could all be doing. Then I noticed that people started filling up the wait list. At one point we had 10 people for dinner and 6 people on the wait list. Unprecedented for our new-ish little group. (We turned a year old around Sandy, thanks. Oy.) We also had a flurry of new members join. Folks wanted to get out and socialize around gluten-free food. Alright then, Meetup on.
And I'm so glad we did meet up! We had a handful of GF newbies - only gluten-free since the summer, as well as one new member who had arrived in the US just hours before and needed safe food and good company upon landing. (Alas, we had one member cancel because the power STILL wasn't on in their 'hood.) It was one of those Meetups where everything just clicked - great food and folks, a wonderful venue - even (cue the angels singing) separate checks! (No one does that in NYC, no one - not for such a large group!) We shared info, I was given more updates from the field (names of places folks had eaten safely) to add to my running list, we helped the newbies and visitor with suggestions, talked about places we'd eaten and gotten sick at, and suddenly it felt ok to talk about gluten again - it felt important enough to spend some energy on.
So, I'm back. Much left unsaid on the Sandy topic; perhaps I'll edit later. Am still in volunteer mode, so things will probably be light around here for a while longer. If you follow me on Twitter, you'll need to endure more Sandy updates mixed in with the gluten-free fare until things are better - much better - around NYC. Or unfollow and come back later. No worries. I understand.
I'll get the updated restaurant list up soon, hopefully later tonight. Please feel free to share your Sandy thoughts in comments (or on the Facebook page). (And if you were impacted by Sandy and need gluten-free food assistance, please contact me so I can put you in touch with the right people!)