Writer’s Block: Okay, Irene. You Win.

By Corinne Wnek

This is the week that I might reflect a little on the plight of the American worker. After all, it is Labor Day weekend and what topic could be hotter in this country right now than jobs and work except for the lack of jobs and work. Maybe a hurricane that left a path of destruction largely unseen in recent years could give the labor issue a good run for its money. Right now, Irene wins, at least for those of us in parts of New Jersey that are still submerged in water or waiting for power to be restored.

It’s times like this that people ask you to be patient, or worse, ‘see the glass as half full’. Truthfully, any suggestion of an image with water in it should be blasphemy right now. I’m sure my cousins Mary Lou and Ron, who faced a mandatory evacuation from their home in Cranford, would agree. Their lovely, leafy house was turned into a water park without the fun. How do you recover from this?


Rahway has seen its share of severe flooding from our infamous river. The trees that fell across major roadways and rooftops were also a lovely parting gift from Irene. Although I was luckier than many people in town, it has not been painless as I go into day four of being powerless. Yes, as in no lights, etc.

At first, enduring a power outage might be a godsend to some people. No TV and that chance to reconnect with family again in the lost art of communication. Of course, there’s also no refrigeration, no blow dryers, no computer access, no oven or microwave and so on. Everyone gets to huddle around a candlelit room, staring into nothingness and waiting for something to happen. This gets old by day two. On the fourth day, it’s like fingers screeching on a blackboard.

So, being the teacher that I am at heart, I reflected on my plight and have decided that Irene taught me a valuable lesson. I am always in a state of anticipation about where I need to be and what I need to do. It’s amazing I haven’t had a personal power failure. Sometimes when I’m thinking or planning, I feel as though I’m wasting time. I need to do something that produces results, like write something or cook or weed whack the garden and then move on to the next thing. Relaxed, I’m not.

But until Irene came along taking away all things electrical, I now realize that I was never wasting time. Thinking and planning are not wasting time. Mulling around, not being able to do anything in darkness but just sit there and wait, well, that’s wasting time. Irene reminded me to give myself a break and realize that one can be productive in different ways.

Waiting for the power to be restored is getting harder and harder especially since the neighbors behind me are up and running. Wow! Kitchen lights! TV! For them, life is good. Having been sucker punched by Irene, I concede defeat.

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