The scent of a hurricane

October 30, 2012 ~ 3:17 p.m.

ImageThe scent of a hurricane is entirely man made.

Smoke. Oil. Rotten food.

Tuesday after Hurricane Sandy, the residents of Sheepshead Bay creep out of their houses and approach the inlet. Rain sporadically falls on the crowd as they survey the damage, scarves tight over their noses.

A tree uprooted, displacing the sidewalk

The bridge twisted like DNA.

Pungent rainbows rippling in the water.

Cars line the street waiting for a tow truck or a miracle. People sit in their drowned vehicles.  Some stare straight ahead at cracked window shields. Others cry, forehead on the steering wheel. But either way, the cars stay silent.

Residents exclaim in various languages—Russian, Georgian, Turkish, Korean— but their native language is peppered with the American classic: “Oh my God.”

Everything to do and nothing to do. They stare at the destruction and light a cigarette.

An abandoned car sits in a flooded Brooklyn street hours after Hurricane Sandy hit New York. Photo by Kamilla


The contents of a store on Emmons Avenue were overturned when the water hit the building. photo by Kamilla


The popular walking bridge over the inlet is currently impassable. photo by Kamilla.


Residents gawk at the large sycamore outside of an apartment building. photo by Kamilla


A man begins to clean the sludge from the apartment building window in Brighton Beach. According to residents, the water surged through the streets, leaving behind a goopy trail that reached the third story windows. photo by Kamilla

Posted in New York, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

How my mother learned to fly again

A personal essay  on traveling in a post-9/11 world.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Japanese passion of hula, Hawaii continues to grow after nuclear disaster

The Hawaii Travel blog is up! Read about IU’s Hawaiian adventures here.


A violent shudder of the earth jolted Iwalani Tseu from her sleep.

Had the Hula Ambassador for Hawaii been in a western-style bed, and not sleeping on the floor as is typical in Japan, she would have been thrown off the mattress.

The ground had been shaking on and off since a 9.0 earthquake hit Japan earlier that afternoon, triggering a tsunami that rushed the country’s coast, flooding cities, crushing cars and sweeping a bullet train out to sea.

Tseu’s 27-year-old daughter, Arueana Tseu, had a ticket for the missing train. With electricity down and cell phones dead in Nagano, Japan, Tseu was unable to confirm if her daughter was alive or dead.

“That 24 hours was the worst time of my life,” the 61-year-old hula teacher said. “I was crying and people from Hawaii were calling to ask where we were, where was Aureana?”

Continue reading about the Hula Ambassador and her daughter here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Guilty pleasure

My best friend told me there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure. If you like

Me showing my TSwift appreciation in Newark Prudential Center July 23

something, why be ashamed of it? So here it goes:

Last weekend, I went to the Taylor Swift concert. By myself. Because I love her.

“Those past the unicorns ‘n’ hearts stage may roll their eyes — but really, they’re not who Swift is speaking to,” said a review of the concert in Entertainment Weekly. So that leads me to another confession: I’m not over the unicorns ‘n’ hearts stage either. If anyone wants to know what the inside of my mind looks like, go see a Taylor Swift concert.

I had a fabulous time. I befriended a girl from Switzerland (also by herself) and two sisters from Puerto Rico whose parents had gotten them  tickets for making the university honor role. I helped a six-year-old girl high-five Taylor as she walked by our front row seats. I left the Prudential Center in Newark and waited on the platform for my train back into Manhattan, humming all the while:



Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

How to ride the NYC subway

Step 1. Check for deviations online before you leave the house. If you don’t, you might find yourself stranded at 11 p.m. with no idea how to get home. WARNING: There is always the added thrill of wondering whether or not the website has been updated accurately.  Sometimes, NYC transportation gets a sick thrill from canceling the R, M and E lines on the same night without telling you.

Step 1 ½. Have a water bottle handy. If trains are delayed, you might be stuck  on the platform for a while with stale air and 1000+ degree weather. No one wants you to faint and fall onto the tracks. It will make everyone else late to work.

Step 2. Don’t scream when you see a rat waddle by. Get over it.

Step 3. Try to get a seat. If not, kindly do not lean against the pole so no one else can use it to stabilize themselves. And if you are on a bench and there is only one other person, don’t try to sit right next to her. (It is unspoken protocol to sit in the farthest available seat. Don’t be the one to break it.)

Step 4. Pretend no one else is on the train, but subtly watch everyone. This is best accomplished with sunglasses. The whole “You can’t see me but I can see you” works. With glasses,  you can judge the styles in front of you, shudder at the sweaty PDA and checkout the suits without appearing to be a creep. (But in all honesty, sometimes it’s fun to weird out your fellow travelers. It livens the ride to work.) If you forget your shades, practice your “indifferent” look. Relaxed face, no smile, eyes unfocused. Easiest achieved if you have an iPod.

Step 5.  Stay awake. You really don’t want to wake up at Prince Street when you meant to get out two stops earlier at Union Square. Trust me.

Posted in New York | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

It All Ends: The Harry Potter Premiere

“All was well.”

I would venture to guess that the majority of people ages 15 to 30 know these are the last words of the seventh and final Harry Potter novel.

Or maybe not.

I’m a nerd.

I have loved Harry Potter since my mother first read the book to me when I was 10 years old.  I was 12 when I forced my sixth grade class to petition the principal for a field trip to see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in theaters.  I was 17 when the final book was published.

And I continued my nerdiness on July 11 as I sweated with hundreds of other people in the sticky New York summer, waiting for a glimpse of the Potter cast.

It was a sweaty crowd. It was a loud crowd. It was a sentimental crowd.

Vibrant posters proclaimed: “Go Ginger or Go Home!” and “We Love You Emma!”

But the most common sign simply stated:

“Thanks for my Childhood.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

(photos by Emily Healy)

Posted in Tourist | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Make it work”

(Project Runway, Part III)

I meet Tim Gunn, of Project Runway Fame.

As the show ended, the crowed surged after the judges. I stayed behind. While the judges are cool and all, they weren’t the reasons I had gotten up at 5:45. I wanted to meet Tim Gunn.

Finally, Mr. Gunn stood in front of me.

“Hi, I’m Kamilla.”

“It’s very nice to meet you, Kamilla.”

“All my friends ran after the judges, but I really wanted to meet you.”

“Well, you made the right choice!” he laughed.

“My mother loves your show.”

“Thank you! I’ve been up since 3 o’clock this morning, and I’m like ‘COFFEE’,” he said, waving his hands energetically.

We posed for a picture. But the meeting was drawing quickly to an end. Before he walked away, I had something I had to do.

“Mr. Gunn,” I blurted out, “Can I have a hug?”

“Of course!”

And then Tim Gunn pulled me into an embrace. The crowd around us went, “Awww.”

The assistant who snapped our picture broke the mood, “I think your battery is out, I’m not sure if I got the picture.”

“That’s alright.” I turned to Mr. Gunn, “I will take the hug away with me.”

He laughed again and moved on.

But that wasn’t the end.

When my friends finally returned from chasing Heidi, Nina and Michael, they got in line to meet Tim as well. I stood with them and asked to get another picture with Emily’s camera.

“Of course you can! Kamilla, right?”

Tim Gunn remembered my name.

He then saw who was behind me.

“Hello, Thomas.”

Tim Gunn remembered Thomas.

“Thanks for making sure he got here all right. We were worried,” I told Mr. Gunn.

He smiled and then we left Tim Gunn and his gorgeous suit. We were beaming and –at least in my case— slightly giddy.

We had made this day work.

see also: 
“One day you’re in, the next day you’re out”  
“Where’s our little lamb?” 
Posted in New York, Project Runway | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments