Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mechanical devices and such

Once upon a time, I sought to be completely independent, competent and simply not-dumb around cars, stereos, drills, woodworking equipment, etc., I'm still ok with hand-sanders, drills and hammers (not to mention duck tape). I can set up a stereo, put up a make-do antenna... and perhaps there it ends. Oh yes, I'm fine with IKEA furniture, but that's not saying much.

In any case, I was going to be one of those women who could manage easily by herself and not have to have a man around to do things. Or, at the very least, I'd work along side him. But, then along came my marriage to a traditional man who was handy in all sorts of ways, and just a wee bit macho to boot. So, I made children and cared for them. Being the only one of the two of us who could manage a computer and type, not to mention with a couple of graduate degrees, I did all the marketing, the web site, the search engine optimization, the recipe writing, the communication, the calculating, the designing of programs... etc., I filled my days with the 'soft' stuff. And, hey, as there was a man in the house who knew how to do all those physical things, and, who had stone and plaster walls rather than wood, I let him hang the pictures, fix the plumbing, put in the light fixtures, manage the car, pay our taxes, parking tickets, etc., with more relief than oversight.

Yes, I fell into a traditional couple dynamic. I cooked, cleaned, raised and educated the kids, bought everyone's clothes, sorted out the house and got rid of all the old stuff every year, etc., He took care of all the physical manly stuff. And I was mostly okay with this. I wanted more help with the kids (and in the end got an au pair), the dishes and meal preparation (he was the chef after all). But mostly, I accepted the situation and simply got on with it.

When I met JP he seemed to want to be in that role of older male (something he'd never done before). I enjoy learning from (and occasionally leaning on) someone, and at the time, I was more than a bit fragile and out of sorts from my divorce and newly single state. Plus, here was a skilled mechanic, an outdoor's man, someone who knew how to do lots of things, or at the very least knew when they should be done and who to call and how much it should cost.

With such a person present, the urge to truly learn to cope on my own didn't need to be developped.

Ah, but now it does. And so to work.

At long last I've made the acquaintance of the mechanic around the corner. And at a timely moment. In the last two days I've replaced the battery, the back wheels, the spark plugs, every item linked to the brakes, and ... in two weeks he'll do a more complete diagnostic to see if there's more to do.

So, there I was relying on men to help me (still leaning just a bit on the ex-husband) and I was driving a car most definitely not in the best of shape. Guess what? I was no longer the responsibility of my ex-husband, and JP wasn't really into the idea of helping me out in this way. Lovely weekends? yes. Pay for dinner? yes. Take me dancing? yes. Take care of my car? no.

So, just in the nick of time I coped. And most of what I earned during my lovely month of outings in October? Now in the hands of the mechanic.

I admit it. I'm a humanist. I take care of people, children, guests, clients. I nourish, clean, write, market, pay bills, & keep my banker happy (the one who has my mortgage). However, I'm a home-owner and a car-owner, and I've got to learn to manage all of this. It's scary though. I'm pretty good at the first list, but these mechanical devices are rather frightening to me. There are days it is all simply overwhelming and over much. Thank goodness, at least the hot water heater should work for the winter. It seems to have a small leak... but it is functioning. And, my plumber is nearby and super-helpful. A man I can count on.

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