Yesterday started out bumpy for me because I feel increasingly frustrated by the problems with the lawn mower. Every mower I touch this summer dies. I don’t know how to fix an ailing mower and EJ is too busy (or tired) from hours of working to have to keep working on them. Meanwhile, the grass keeps growing but I am powerless to mow it. I feel frustrated and angry with the whole situation. I have never had such a struggle with a mower. I can’t sleep well at night because I am trying to figure out how to defeat evil lawn mowers and get the stupid grass mowed.
I explained all this to JJ as we drove to find some fireworks to set off in the evening. He exclaimed, “I get it. You feel Tears of Impotent Rage!” Impotent, for those who might not know, is primarily defined as “Unable to take effective action; helpless or powerless.” That described exactly how I feel this summer in my battle with the lawn mower. As soon as JJ and I got home, I dramatically declared to EJ, “I feel Tears of Impotent Rage!” Identifying what I felt in such a descriptive way helped reduce it. Somewhat. I love my family. We all love to read, watch movies, and research. We all love stories and words and quotes. Therefore, we can come up with poetic descriptions like “Tears of Impotent Rage.”
For a few years, when JJ was young, we went to firework displays in nearby towns for the 4th of July (USA’s Independence Day) celebrations. When JJ got old enough, he preferred to stay home and light our own fireworks. We set them off in the street in front of our house as soon as it was dark enough. Our street is very short. There are only three houses on it, and there’s not a lot of traffic. We usually buy our fireworks from a one-armed man who sells them from his house a few miles outside of our village at this time of year. The man is nice. He sells fireworks very cheaply so we can buy quite a few for not much money. JJ has always carefully considered what to buy, keeping track of the total in his head until he reached the total that he could spend. When he has approached the man to pay for his “loot,” the man always asked, “How much did you calculate this will cost?” And JJ says $15 (or $20). The man says, “How about you give me $5?” JJ always thinks that’s too low so he says, “How about $10?” The man responds with “How about $7?” and JJ agrees and hands over his money. Then we enjoy JJ’s evening presentation.
Yesterday morning, there was no “Fireworks for sale” signs at the end of the man’s driveway. Apparently he isn’t selling them this year. So JJ and I went to “Plan B.” We drove to a fireworks tent temporarily set up in the parking lot of a grocery store called Meijers. We went inside the tent and almost died of heart failure: The number of fireworks we bought from the one-armed man for less than $10 cost $50, $90, or more in the tent. JJ said, “This is too much. Let’s not buy any.” I agreed. So we decided to go with Plan C and drive to a small grocery store in the small town where EJ works and get some “picnic foods.” They had a fireworks display in the store, which we looked at (Plan D), but they also cost much too much. So we selected and purchased our food items. As we left the store, I said, “We could always go with Plan X….” JJ said, “No, we can’t label our Plans with letters anymore because they are now too numerous. We have to label them with numbers.” So I said, “Ok. So Plan 56 is that we can find a local town’s celebration tonight and watch their fireworks from a nearby parking lot away from all the crowds…”
EJ has recently re-connected with a friend he had known in high school. This friend invited us to do something together with his family for the 4th of July. But EJ is “on call” for work this weekend, which means that if there are any problems, he has to go in to work and fix them. Also, JJ is feeling very “agoraphopic” since his cancer treatments. Large crowds make him anxious and he says he “freaks out” when he sees the bald head of someone obviously undergoing chemo. After a winter of running to medical appointments, encouraging JJ, and interacting with medical people, I feel burned out. I can’t find the energy to be “entertaining.” And EJ also is very tired. I don’t know if other people feel this terrible lack of energy, lack of motivation, and agoraphobia that we are feeling after cancer treatment. It could be we feel it in this way because we are introverts who are exhausted by too many people and activities, but after our busy winter we are craving quietness and slowness.
About mid-afternoon, JJ went upstairs to nap. EJ got called in to work and since the problem was small and wouldn’t take long to fix, I went with him. We also took Danny with us. Not very many people were working so the parking lot had very few cars in it. After EJ disappeared into his factory, I sat in the car with the door open and read. I had Danny’s retractable leash on him so he roamed around for a bit and then settled in the grass. The early evening was beautiful. It was quiet and very pleasant.
JJ woke up and came downstairs when we returned home. We weren’t home for more than 10 minutes when EJ’s company called about another problem. EJ had to turn around and go back to work. This problem was more major and would take longer to fix, so I couldn’t go with him. With EJ gone, JJ and I had no transportation, so we couldn’t go anywhere. JJ began to feel bad about our lack of fireworks, even though he said that he doesn’t regret not paying too much for them. I think he was divided by his desire for fun and his desire for quiet. Finally, just before 10 p.m., I told him to get his shoes on because we were going for a walk. JJ chose to follow the route I always take when I walk Danny–but we didn’t bring Danny because we didn’t want him to be scared by booms. We watched fireworks in various yards and chatted while we walked. Many of the fireworks were bigger than the ones we always buy and reached high into the sky. At one point, the origin of some fireworks wasn’t too far away–just behind the houses we were passing–and we walked pretty much under the colorful explosions. It was rather neat, although I did hope we wouldn’t get hurt.
A couple of minutes after we got home, EJ walked in. Although most of the towns’ celebrations would be over, we decided to go for a drive. We encountered quite a few deer crossing the country roads here and there. We love seeing the deer, but JJ and I were a bit nervous because we didn’t want any to unexpectedly jump in front of us and cause an accident. There are a lot of deer in our area and every now and then car-deer accidents. EJ wasn’t nervous because he was confident of his ability to see and avoid them. We drove through the nearby town and got caught in the traffic of people driving and walking home after the firework celebrations. I didn’t mind because I think it’s fun to people watch.
We didn’t know at first where to go, but after considering different options (Plans 6,303 through 6,489), we decided to head back to Meijers for ice cream and toppings. We had fun walking through the almost deserted store and discussing which ice cream and toppings to buy. JJ said the bright lights and colors hurt his eyes–another effect of chemo? We got home around midnight, had a bowl of ice cream, and–eventually–all went to bed.
With a few sort of rocky times, our day had ended well.