Days like these….

Photo by Michael Gordon.

Mama never told me there would be days like these. She was a nice, gentle person and probably didn’t want to scare me with the perils and pitfalls of adult life. Or maybe days like these were no big deal to her; she did have 8 kids, after all, and never lost her temper, swore, or acted like the big spoiled brat I do when things go south.

My formerly stalwart freezer (a 4th anniversary gift!)

Which they did yesterday, for sure. I was in a great mood (warning sign #1) and contemplating shirking all my responsibilities and going to the movies at noon. But at 9 am, I walked down to the basement to empty the recycling and noticed water on the floor under the freezer. I opened the door and beheld the listless, flabby packages of defrosted vegetables, watery containers of thawed chicken stock, and slimy blue pouches of Freez-R-Bags. My Freez-R was toast.

I mopped up all the water on the floor, transferred all the salvageable food into coolers, and hauled the coolers into my car. Then I walked into the backyard where we’ll be having 50 Young Alumni to dinner tonight, only to feel mud squishing through my toes. Thanks to the aggressive irrigation efforts of the yard guys,  it was a swamp of mud and newborn grass. Why did this day seem to have an endless water theme?


While I was standing there, sinking into the loam, I overheard my bizarre next-door neighbor T, talking to my icy neighbor J, who lives on the other side of me. They were discussing what a jerk I was to ask T to remove the 40-foot tree that had fallen a month ago from her yard across the full width of our yard, taking out both fences with it. T claims the tree’s demise was an “act of God” and she is thus not responsible, and why was I so demanding anyhow? J snottily chimed in, “And it’s not even her house!” Well, technically J has a point. We only get to live in the university’s house because my husband is president, so I guess our six years here qualify us as squatters.


Having called in a refrigerator whisperer and nursed my hurt (okay, super mad) feelings, I went upstairs to get the broken necklace and earrings I was taking in for repair. Collecting all my stuff, I whirled around with my purse and proceeded to knock a candle and its glass base onto the floor. Then as I was sweeping up the pieces of broken glass, I stepped down hard on the beautiful vintage ring that my husband had just bought me for our 15th anniversary and that I’d just repaired and put on the saucer to admire. My heavy shoes crushed the delicate shank I’d just had fixed. And knocked out one of the tiny, rose-cut diamonds on the side. Which I then couldn’t find because it looked exactly like every one of the tiny splinters of glass on the floor… and I know this because I picked up every one & examined it with a magnifying glass (embedding a few in my fingers in the process).

Wow. What a day. And it was only noon. Technically, I could still have made it to the movies, but by then I just wanted to lay low, read, write, and get something tangible accomplished. Like engraving a quote from Robert Frost’s sarcastic poem, “Mending Wall” : Good fences make good neighbors on the side of my garage where T will get to look at it every day.

"Before I built a wall I'd ask to know / What I was walling in or walling out"

But really, I wish I could keep my equilibrium when confronted with this kind of confluence of chaos. I wish that, like my husband the lawyer, I didn’t get so easily enraged by people I’m convinced are not being fair or doing the right thing. I wish my tolerance for annoyance was balanced with a radical understanding of how totally good I actually have it. And I wish I could learn to repay meanness with kindness and break the cycle of anger.

My ring, repaired.

For an antidote to all my histrionics, read my blogging pal’s post about her perfect day on the farm, and feel the peace of listening to someone astonishingly well-balanced wash over you. In fact, I’m thinking of moving to South Dakota as soon as possible. I won’t even need a freezer there.