Thursday, November 15, 2012

Movember Madness

Can you believe we're halfway through November? This month is also known as Movember or "No Shave November", and if you've noticed more men than usual sporting moustaches as of late, here's why. Starting November 1, many dudes donate their face and vow to grow a mo for the whole month to raise awareness and money for prostate cancer.

Last year, Twilight hottie Kellan Lutz, Kevin Connolly and even Justin Bieber participated:

Biebs' attempt at growing a mo
Ladies can get involved, too. My dad is a prostate cancer survivor and one of my best friends used to work for the campaign, so we do a yearly fundraising team called Mo Babes where we raise money together and throw a super fun party. Here's a shot from last year, held at the Tribeca Grand:
Our fiesta this year is going down at the legendary venue Southside, and if you live in NYC, you should join the party on November 29! Southside + open bar + moustaches = guaranteed good times. You can get your tickets here. Glowstick mos are highly encouraged.

And if you can't come to the extravaganza, feel free to donate to our team here. Even a dollar or two helps. Thanks for your support and hope to see you at our moustache bash!
Get all the action in real time on Twitter @cristinagibson and Instagram @cristinablairgibson

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

No Power & Picking Up the Pieces

As I type this, I'm sitting inside my warm, well-lit apartment as it snows ferociously outside. A little more than a week ago, I (along with the lower half of Manhattan) lost power due to Hurricane Sandy. After Hurricane Irene was so weak last year, New Yorkers didn't take Sandy all that seriously and like most things, saw it as an excuse to party. Until a transformer exploded, the waters rose and the entire lower half of the city went dark...for days.
Photo Credit: NY Magazine
The darkness wasn't even the worst part to me. ATT wireless customers like myself who lived downtown suddenly had no signal, no texts in or out, no calls. Luckily, my friend staying with me had Verizon so I was able to keep in touch with what was happening in the outside world, but it's very disconcerting to wake up the morning after a hurricane with no power, no cell service and no real idea if the world is coming to an end.
Once we ventured outside and headed north on foot, we found that there was life, power and cell service above 39th Street. When we first hit the powered up part of the city, it was sort of surreal to see. People were sprawled out in ATM lobbies, crowded around surge strips. The first open Starbucks was packed with people glued to their iPhones and laptops. For a few days, it was kind of fun adapting to the new lifestyle, which included sleeping until noon at home, showering and drying our hair at Equinox uptown, going to dinners at midtown restaurants, checking out typical Upper East Side nightlife staples (Dorian's, anyone?) before finally coming back to the blacked out side of the city and going straight to bed. On Halloween, day 3 of no power downtown, some of our friends saw the humor in the situation and dressed as power outlets.

But a few days into it, I was over the candelight living and decamped to my aunt's in Battery Park (which ironically never lost power). On Friday night, I bought an air bed (that I had to go to three other stores to find D batteries to blow up) and was packing a bag in the dark to go stay with a friend for the weekend when my power suddenly, miraculously returned. After days in the dark, I can't even describe how happy I was to finally have lights again and be able to take a warm shower and sleep in my own bed and wake up and make coffee the next morning. Not having power, hot water and heat for days (or a home) really reminded me to not take anything for granted. Despite the daily grind and life's trials and tribulations, we are all pretty lucky.

That's why on Sunday, I felt compelled to head to Staten Island with a group of friends to volunteer for hurricane relief efforts there. We spent the day cleaning out flooded basements and houses, digging and clearing remainders of people's histories and lives.

Courtesy Katie Thiele
Some houses were competely ruined, their residents long gone, only their roof or foundations remaining.
Photos courtesy Dan Fredinburg / #operationsandcastle
We also walked around and distributed hot meals, water, food and supplies to residents still living in their damaged and flooded houses, with no power, heat or water. For an area that lost so much, residents seemed to be in relatively good spirits, like one neighbor who had power at their house and made a makeshift charging station on the sidewalk.
But tonight, as I sit comfortably, in my cozy and cheerfully lit apartment, the snow continues to fall outside. And I continue to think of the people still out there without power in the cold, who have lost cars, homes and maybe even loved ones. Recovering from this disaster will take time and effort for areas that were already struggling. I encourage you to help out any way you can, whether it's donating your time, money or resources to assist those in need.
And speaking of another kind of power, we had an election last night. No matter what your political affiliation or beliefs, the outcome is now decided. We've got four more years with Obama, so let's all come together and try to support our nation's leader, shall we? Forward...together.
Get all the action in real time on Twitter @cristinagibson and Instagram @cristinablairgibson