Saturday, May 28, 2011

Totally Sexist

I had a revelation the other day:

I am sexist.

I have spent the better part of my (extensive) life relishing in my self-sufficiency. I remember telling a boy I dated in high school that I did not need him to open doors for me. I was a big girl, and I certainly had working limbs. At some point I realized that was excessive, and the opening of doors became a selling point for me. 

I'm sure some of it has stemmed from a pretty thick shy streak not everyone knows I have. In college, especially my first year and then when I transferred to WT, I would rather figure out how to do something myself than have to put myself out there enough to ask for help. In most cases, I've grown out of that, but there is still the voice that at times tells me I should just do it instead of bothering someone else. 

When I got married, a lot of that need for assistance dissolved. Tasks that ordinarily would have required asking for help, or solitarily "manning up" to the point of stupidity at times, were now delegated to Roger. My job now was to supportively watch. Over time the list of duties assigned to Roger grew to include not just heavy lifting or balancing on ladders but also the "man jobs": getting oil changed, mowing, changing air filters, taking out the trash on Tuesday mornings, feeding the doglets at ridiculous hours, killing bugs, etc. We, like most couples I would assume, found our rhythm of who did what and everyone was happy.

Re-assuming these rolls has not been easy. 

On Monday as I was driving to school, the sticker on my lower left windshield caught my eye: "4/11". CRAP! Anything car related has been a man job for several years now. The idea that I even have time for those tasks when I rarely leave the band hall is crazy. I, of course, did not leave school until almost 7:30 Monday night, and all inspection places at that point were closed. 

Tuesday afternoon, I just made it to a greasy spot in town advertising 10 minute oil changes and state inspections before it closed. I played on my phone while a guy that looked barely out of high school pulled my car into the garage. Several minutes later he walked out baring an apologetic expression that doesn't usually belong in these situations.

"I'm really sorry, ma'am, but uh.... you kinda failed."
"What? How did I fail?"
"Well, you have a headlight that's out."
"Is that something you can replace?"
"Um... yes.... usually... but no...."
"What does that mean?"
"It means that Volkswagons are crazy. I looked and can't figure out how to get the bulb out."

Okay... These are automobile "professionals"... They look at this stuff every day. Apparently, the establishment even does minor fixes, like said headlight replacement, on site if you fail inspection. Instead, this guy turned an obvious man job back over to me, a single woman, in addition to the failed inspection certificate with which I was presented. What is the point of the certificate anyhow??? To frame and declare my inability to take care of my car or even notice that while driving at night the lighting is a little off?

"My dad just replaced the headlight on the driver's side. Should I call him and ask him how he got to the bulb?"
"There is no way I'm going to try to take the bulb out. Volkswagons are crazy. If your dad was able to get the bulb out, you should probably call him and ask him to fix this one as well. Otherwise, you'll need to take it to a repair shop. In the meantime, you're still out of inspection, but if you bring back this certificate within 15 days we'll inspect it again for free!"

Woohoo. Free.

So I called my dad who told me to go to O'Reilly's and plead ignorance. At this point the frustration was building. I've already been turned down by one place, my dad lives too far away to make a trip up just to change a headlight, and *now* I'm forced to ask for help on a man job which goes against any feminist streak that might still secretly exist. But I persevered... I put on my best smile, marched into that O'Reilly's, and lied.

"I have a headlight out, and I've forgotten how to get to the bulb." Good job, Darcy...
"Well, let's go check it out."

The nice man behind the counter followed me to the parking lot and wasted no time, taking just seconds to say, "Oh... It's a Volkswagon"

I hadn't even popped the hood, which in and of itself took me almost a minute to find the release. 

"Yeah, these Volkswagons are crazy." You are kidding me... Two separate people in one day??? "They're proud of their German engineering, but the problem is all of us Americans are too stupid to figure it out! I see where the release for the bulb casing is on the other side, but it looks like you'd have to flat out remove the air filter to get to it on this side... Yeah, I don't touch these. You're gonna have to take it somewhere."

I was totally deflated. 
I asked for some suggestions as to where to take my car, perhaps a place with an oom-pa band, thanked him for his time, and got back in the car to head home. I backed up, pulled up to the street entrance, and let loose. 


I'm not even sure who or what I was yelling at, but there I was, with a problem on my hands that I obviously was not skilled enough to handle, and the people that probably should have been (without requiring an addition limb or first born) wouldn't even try. Headlights definitely qualify as a "man job", and while headstrong and most often capable, I, for the record, am not a man. 

I was inappropriately offended that this was now a task for which I was responsible, and with every other responsibility, left over from a life built for two to share, now solely up to me, I was overwhelmed. I think my eyes teared up a bit, but in the 2 or 3 minutes it took me to get home my frustration morphed into determination. 

That frickin bulb is getting changed, and it's getting changed tonight.

I ran into the house, fed the girls, and grabbed the packaging from the headlight dad replaced in March. I got right back into the car and drove to O'Reilly's. I marched straight up to the same guy, handed him the packaging, and declared that bulb would be changed... oh, yes... it would be changed...

I got home, dropped my purse in the grass, and popped the hood in record time. 
That's as far as I got.

I realized very quickly this was stupid. I had no idea what I was looking at, what the heck a bulb casing release was, or how in the world I would remove and then remember how to reassemble an air filter just to find the release. Luckily, my two awesome next door neighbors build cars. I sucked up all my lingering self-sufficiency, my pride, perhaps a gnat, and knocked on their door. 

Let me restate that my neighbors are awesome. They instantly followed me over to my driveway, barefoot, dinner now on hold, to fix it right then and there. Let me also restate that they build cars. They looked under the hood and said, "Huh..."

About an hour later, my bulb was changed, the air filter thingy vaccuumed out, it shown to me that my anti-freeze is crazy low (as are probably all of my car fluids), and the task completed. 

The car IS a man job... I'm sure there are good little feminists out there cringing that women's suffrage and that whole 60s and 70s era were all for nothing if even the intelligent, strong, self-supported women out there are still defining our roles as man's or woman's work. But you know, my neighbors left very dirty, and that engine looked hot, and I'm just not interested in that. 

It's a man job. 
I'll just have to be the one in charge of taking it to a man, and while that sucks, it is my new reality.


Here's a picture from another man job I undertook today: trimming the holly in front of the house. I started the task about 2 weeks ago, but I am lucky to have a friend who lent me their electric trimmer to finish.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Where Does the Time Go?

This time of year, there never seems to be enough time. My weekends have been completely and wholly eaten by my job, and it has left me both physically and mentally exhausted. My emotions are up and down and teeter with the slightest of change. It's not my job; it's the not having time for release, for processing, for me.

At my favorite of "nurseries", the Natural Gardener, they sell these neat things that I will call light catchers for lack of a better name. We would often venture down south and make a day of visiting the Natural Gardener, wandering through the labyrinth of native plant-life, pottery, and decor (often with our doglets), and then make a Mangieri's Pizza run (often with the in-laws). The last couple of times, they had decorated this arbor with dozens of these light catchers. A mixture of beads and mirrors, they twirl in the breeze bouncing light in the shaded and dark corners like butterflies or tiny fairies. It's actually quite breath-taking in the quantities they have on display. Roger and I commented on multiple occasions that those would be cool on our back patio, but the $18 price tag for a string of beads always brought out the cheapskate in me.
          We had made a Natural Gardener/family day the Saturday before. We didn't buy anything. I went for inspiration for the upcoming spring. The girls (doglets) were super excited to be out and about... so many things to sniff! It was particularly breezy that Saturday. When we came to the arbor, the light catchers were being tossed about in a way that made these balls of light almost look like fireworks! Surely two intelligent people like us could figure out how to make some of these ourselves for way cheaper than $18. We decided that would be Roger's task that week: go to Hobby Lobby, find the materials we'd need to make our own light catchers, and start cranking 'em out so that our patio could be decorated with light and novelty.

Obviously, our plan never came to fruition, but months later, I still like the idea of hanging several in the back yard. Here are my first two attempts at light catchers... and interestingly, since I didn't own any of the materials to begin with, they cost way more than $18/piece to make. :) I chose jewel tones for the one on the left and cobalt ceramic beads for the one on right - Roger's favorite color.

I'm also in the process of working on a project that we started months ago: paving part of the flower bed in the front entry way. The flower bed is HUGE... and unfortunately the section closest to the front door gets not enough sun for sun-loving plants, like the salvia that currently fills the bed, but also receives too much afternoon heat for shade plants. However, on summer mornings it is cool and protected from the sun (contrary to the back patio), and we always thought if there were just more space in the front it would be great for morning coffee. As you can see, I've managed to lay and level 4 stones... 4 of probably 10. We bought a really cool Texas stone that you can just see a part of in the picture that will be featured in the middle. Between the stones, I'm packing crushed granite that matches the brick. It will be just enough space for a little bistro set.

The great thing about working on my household projects is also one of the things I love about yoga: it gives me a chance to take a break from my thoughts. Never in my life have I wanted so much to just calm the voice inside of me; the voice that worries, that remembers, that wishes, that plans... that REplans... the voice that while steadfast, strong, and true doesn't always pick the best time to present itself. The mindless work that goes into digging in the garden, gluing mirrors, and leveling stone gives me a break from ME and helps the time to tick by a little quicker, which is nice sometimes. I was shocked to realize last Monday that three months have ticked by. That's absurd. But despite the absurdity, life is trucking on, and I have more beads to thread, more stones to lay, more pictures to take, and more life to live one tick at a time.