Friday, September 2, 2011

Hurricane Irene: Powerless and Yet, Oddly, Empowered

The electricity went off, with a vengeful click at 7:25 last Sunday morning.

I happened to be down here, tapping away furiously for a rare Sunday blog post because I knew we'd lose power and I had a lot of complaining to cram in before my activities would be limited to whining and wailing, interrupted only by bouts of eating everything in the fridge before it went bad.

As the winds grew stronger and the rain became heavier, I became more agitated.

I'd heard dire predictions from the power company about how many days it might take to restore electricity and my beloved television shows and I had never been apart for more than a few days at a time.

Come early evening,the winds died down to reveal a magnificent sky--clouds scudding by in various shades of mauve and grey and suddenly, with no trees having landed on our roof and news that the kids were fine down in DC, life seemed pretty darn good--even with no lights or television.

But how, I wondered, would I fill the hours that loomed ahead?

I tend to read in spurts but it had been a dry spell for several months.
Read me.

I'd foregone my ten year reunion with my all-time favorite book in the whole world, Jane Eyre, in favor of sitting in front of inane crap every evening, a thin thread of spittle dampening my bib.

Instead of striding with Jane through the windswept twilights of the English countryside, I'd been watching helmeted imbeciles sent flying into murky water as giant padded mallets hit them from behind.

But a new routine was quickly established: Seth and I, after peanut butter and jelly dinners, would sit and watch the light fade together.

He'd toddle off to bed after a bit and I would read.

Jane Eyre enchanted me all over again. Once I was done, I moved on to the steep pile of novels I'd accumulated over the past few years and was reminded of why I'd bought them in the first place by how much I enjoyed them now.  My book light, it's cheerful glow reduced to a reedy beam after hours of steady use, would receive fresh batteries before bed for the following day's reading adventures.

Reading wasn't the only thing on the agenda, however.

There is just so much you can do with a baby wipe. By day four I was ripe as a liverwurst sandwich left out in the sun. The cats didn't seem to mind but what do they know? They lick their own asses, after all. 

I stuck close to home and read some more. Laundry couldn't be done (even the laundromats were dark and shuttered), my stove is electric and people of Hungarian descent simply do not grill, so dinners were quick, easy and eaten on paper plates.
Hold on, I showered this morning.

Other than smelling like a lumberjack in July, life wasn't bad at all. Who'd have thunk that, I, Susan Says, could have survived four days of no electricity without totally wigging out.

When the power clicked back on at two in the morning on Thursday, I was very relieved. I have been appreciating both hot water and meals for the past day but, amazingly, did not turn on the TV until late in the evening.

How long can this last? The fall season of "Lock Up" is on the horizon as is "Dancing with the Stars" and "Survivor" but I honestly think I will spend more time holding a book than pointing the clicker at a screen.

I'd genuinely forgotten what pure fun a good book is.

We've let the water we used for flushing out of the tub and scrubbed the empty fridge. Seth, who took fabulous care of me, picked up the sticks and branches from the front yard and we both send nothing but good thoughts and wishes to the less fortunate victims of that total bitch, Hurricane Irene.

And, in case you're interested, here's a list of what I read this week:

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. A timeless classic that encompasses gothic spookiness, pulsating romance, frustrated longing and ultimate redemption. I read it every ten years or so.

2. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. A shockingly (!!!) great story about a young girl sent to live with foster parents during WWII. Told by a very unusual and engaging narrator, I could not put this down and was squinting and sobbing at three am until I'd finished. Please, please read this one.

3. The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok. For some reason, I am fixated by memoirs about insane mothers (hmmmmm) and this was a good one. If you enjoy stories about excruciating childhoods, this is for YOU!

4. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. A Pulitzer Prize winner for literature, this book is a collection of intoxicating short stories about Indians both living in the states, adjusting to the demands of a new culture as well as vivid tales of life in India. Loved this.

5. The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman. A must read for all Alice Hoffman fans out there, this was also a collection of stories but, thistime, about a town in Massachussetts and the generations who inhabited it from its founders to modern day dwellers. Her books are all magical and compelling. I could not put it down.

6. Goldengrove by Francine Prose. Ever so delightfully creepy, this book examined the aftermath of a drowning. Not at all morbid, this was a great read.

I loved them all. And I love you all. Thanks for the messages of concern for our well-being and the many wishes for our safety during the storm.

Have a great Labor Day weekend....see you next week.


  1. I'm so very glad you are back and safe.
    I love the reading list and will go to the library on Monday - and I feel the same about Pride and Prejudice, as you do about Jane Eyre.
    Keep the TV off!
    Find that manuscript XXXOOO

  2. Is that bad, Tom Kat? I can take it....

  3. Thanks, Janet...and yes to both directives! Offly, I am not a huge Austen fan...but there'a arill time. I like the darkness of the Brontes.
    XO to you!

  4. Glad to know things are getting back to normal. Good thing you're a voracious reader.

  5. Thanks, Michele...any rain coming your way from those gulf disturbances?

    I'm semi-obsessed by the lack of rain by you.

  6. Feel free to be completely obsessed Miss Susan. It's a big club around these parts.

    And no, all that great rain is soaking New Orleans and point north.

    It was cloudy here today; but not one drop fell on us.:(