Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bitchin' Ca- Matrix?

I'm not going to accuse Griffin of breaking my car, but even though it was working fine when we embarked on his driving lesson, about half-an-hour later, after leaving the park where he almost hit a tree, and after a whole lot of lurching and stalling, there we were, stranded in the parking lot of a Jehovah's Witness church with a car that wouldn't start. That's all I'm saying.

I know it wasn't his fault, and I'm not at all mad, but let me tell you, the experience was...well, the experience was an experience. A learning experience, I guess I would say.

Even though you'd think that it wouldn't be since I've kind of been here before.

Like in my long-ago post, I'm Just a Girl, I was once again confronted with a situation I'd normally rely on Glenn for help with, and like in that long-ago post, I'm not really in a position to ask him. Or at least I'm in the position of really, really not wanting to.

So I didn't. Instead, Griffin and I sat around wondering what to do and who to call. Luckily for me, the Jehovah's Witness church Griffin and I were stranded in wasn't far from the house of a former student I know really well, so I was able to get her to drive over with jumper cables, and, well, long story short, thanks to her father being gracious enough to come and help both her and me out, Griffin and I were able to get home.

Lesson number 1, a lot of which I already knew and is rolled up with a bunch of sub-lessons: I'm not as capable of doing a lot of things as I should be (although no matter how capable, jumping a car without an accompanying car is pretty much as impossible as it gets), and I'm way too reliant on Glenn. Still, I'm able to keep calm in a "situation," and although I technically didn't get my car started on my own, I did find a way to get it started. So in the end, I can get things done.


I've never really been concerned with material things, and I think nothing demonstrates that more than my attitude toward cars. I've never been one to care about the appearance of my car, and for pretty much ever, I've judged and scorned people who do. When I see somebody in a crazy big SUV, I generally think that someone's a showoff and an idiot; when someone, like my sister, for example, freaks out about a scratch or micro-dent on her car, I think she's shallow and superficial; if I'm driving and see someone with a TV in their car, I immediately think that person's an ass; when I walk out and see my neighbors, youngish boys who think they belong in The Fast and the Furious, washing and buffing their cars almost every single day, I wonder where the hell their mother went wrong. Way more interested on spending money on things I find enriching like food or experiences, I've long deemed people like the ones above inferior and for years have proudly displayed my falling-apart car as an emblem of my moral superiority:

1. when the roof got mildly dented by a falling tree branch during one of the last hurricanes, I ignored my insurance's call for claims;
2. when I somehow got the faint paint impression of a pole on the passenger side, I pretty much didn't care;
3. when, one by one, my hubcaps disappeared as is a problem for most Matrixes, I was like, who cares? It's not like a car needs hubcaps to drive;
4. when I bumped into a gas station median a few months ago and got a pretty significant dent on the passenger side (not far from that paint impression I acquired years earlier), I wasn't exactly thrilled, but seeing as how I was already missing four hubcaps, had a small dent in the roof, and paint that wasn't supposed to be there on the side, I figured it wasn't really such a big deal;
5. when the passenger side door handle cracked in half and came off in Keifer's hand, I have to admit I was horrified for a second or two, but not nearly horrified enough to spend almost $300 to get it fixed;
6. and when the back passenger side door cracked in half in Glenn's hand last weekend, I paused but in truth, barely batted an eye.

I mean, a paid-off car that I bought brand new that takes me on road trips and gets me to work and to pick up my kids and has room for my dogs and is good on gas, and did I mention the car is paid off, meaning I don't have a car payment and haven't for more than three years and if I keep up with the mechanical stuff might not for three years more?

It kind of makes the cosmetic stuff seem like not such a big deal.

Which brings me to

Lesson number 2: I knew my student drove a BMW, but when she pulled up in the shiny damn thing and parked it next to not just my dented-up, hubcapless, no-door-handled, but also filthy, dusty, hasn't-been-washed-in-more-than-six-months-since-the-last-time-I-went-to-the-oil-change-place-that-washes/vacuums-the-car, the-car-wash-part-wasn't-working car, I have to say I didn't feel very good, and when her dad drove up about twenty minutes later in his truck with the spotless, perfect-looking engine and put his jumper cables in the crud-encrusted, leaf-filled hood of my car, I felt, I think the word is, humiliated. Absolutely mortified. And so it would seem I care about appearances a little more than I like to think. And maybe, just maybe, people who like to have nice things aren't as horrific as I've made them out to be. 


My door handles and hubcaps should be arriving from Amazon some time next week.

Friday, September 12, 2014

You Take the Good

"Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."
                                        -Roald Dahl

Today, I wore a star on my face. A little gold star that from far away probably looked like a piece of dirt or maybe a mole. I wore it right smack dab on my left cheekbone.

Like this (try not to focus on the nose):

It wasn't planned. I want to say it ended up on my face by accident but that wouldn't exactly be true because it's not like I bumped into a gold star with my face. What actually happened was this morning when I bent down to pick up my shoes from the hallway right outside my bedroom door, it caught my eye: a single gold star shining on grey carpet, juxtaposed with my matte black shoes.

Where it came from, I have no idea. Neither Griffin nor Keifer has done any recent school work that would entail using tiny, shiny gold stars, and it certainly wasn't there when I put my shoes on the floor last night. Regardless of how it ended up there, though, there it was, and to me--well, to me, it was magical.

A magical gold star.

A magical gold star that appeared out of nowhere.

A magical gold star that appeared out of nowhere meant for no one but me.

Now, I don't know what you would do if you found a magical gold star meant specifically for you, but to me, there was no choice other than the one I made, and so I brought it into the bathroom, looked in the mirror, pressed the tiny, shiny, non-adhesive magical star to my skin, and what do you know? It adhered.

Just like magic.

As you can maybe imagine, the star invited commentary. Miss, you have a star on your face; Miss, there's a sticker on your face; or Miss, do you know there's a star on your face? were repeated throughout the day. Most of the time, a simple I know from me was all anybody needed, but one girl just couldn't understand. After she asked me if I knew I had a star on my face and I said yes, she asked me if I wanted it there (umm...if I didn't want a star on my face, and I knew it was there, would I have a star on my face?). When I assured her I did and walked away, I heard her saying she didn't understand why anybody would want a star on her face.

What I don't understand is why anybody wouldn't.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Imperfect Boys with Imperfect Ploys

As a feminist and someone with an interest in sociology, I've often wondered about men and women's roles not just in our society, but in all societies (or at least all societies I'm aware of. I realize there may be an anomaly or two out there. If there are, they're too few and far between to be relevant to this post).  I've wondered why and how it is that since the beginning of recorded history until now, men have been the one with all the rights and women have not. How is it, I wondered, that no matter where you look and no matter when you look, women couldn't vote...women were property...women had to cover X part of their bodies...women were stoned or covered in acid or their hands were cut off...women weren't allowed to work or go to school...women were ruled by men's decisions about their body? Was it simply that men were physically stronger? It couldn't be. Physical imbalance couldn't possibly explain the dominant role of men in societies everywhere.

Except I actually kinda think it could.

This summer there was an incident. For reasons that I don't agree with AT ALL, I can't reveal the name of one of the people involved, so for the sake of the story, let's call him Bob. Bob is eighteen and someone I know very well; in fact, I've known him pretty much his entire life. I also know his family, and he knows mine. We're like family, I guess you could say. Well, this summer, I was sitting down having a conversation with Bob--a normal, civil conversation with no voices raised--when, out of nowhere (like, literally, out of nowhere. I had witnesses to the conversation who confirmed it came out of nowhere, that nothing bad or antagonistic was said and that Bob is just a fucking lunatic), Bob says, maliciously and in no way at all kidding around, Fucking bitch.

I don't know what I did, but I imagine my mouth dropped open, I was so in shock. I know I didn't say anything. I was too surprised. And a second later when Bob stood up, said, Whore! and walked away, I also kept my mouth shut, just as I did when a minute later, he called me a pig. It wasn't until he called me a pig face (um, hello, have you seen this Greek/Italian/Jewish schnoz? Has Bob ever actually even seen the face of a pig?) that I said anything at all, which was that I didn't have a pig face because I had a big nose, and that it was funny because he was actually the one with the nose that kind of looked like a pig's. And that's when things got really crazy.

Bob, who's 5'7" and weighs about 230 pounds (there's a pig comparison there, but it's so easy, I won't point it out), came at me threateningly and, with the 90 pounds he had on me, shoved me against the wall and wouldn't move. He just held me there with his big belly, and there was nothing I could do. Nothing. And let me tell you, I was scared. Forget scared. I was terrified. Luckily, it was at that point that Griffin, a soon-to-be man who weighs 115 pounds and has never fought in his life, hit Bob in order to get him off of me (can I just say it's a good thing Griffin is the one I had there to defend me because if it were Keifer, I'd probably have been killed while he continued to sip his coffee and build things in Minecraft?). It was also at that point that things got a little crazier, the short version being that I was in between Griffin and Bob while Bob was hitting Griffin inches away from a sliding glass door and it was only because another man came along and was able to restrain Bob that Griffin and I didn't end up in way worse shape than we did.

What you're meant to come away with from that story isn't that Bob is an unstable fucking lunatic nutcase (although you probably did, and that's okay) but that it was all men running the show. From Bob's attack rendering me helpless to the fact that my fifteen-year-old son who I outweigh by twenty-five pounds had to free me to the other man who physically pulled Bob away (not once, but twice, but I'll stop the story there), it was all men.

I was absolutely, positively helpless.

Only two other times in my life have I felt that way, and yes, they both concerned men. One is a story I've already written involving an electrical cord and a rape, so excuse me if I don't go into it all over again. The other occurred when, five years ago, Glenn forcefully took my phone from me and refused to give it back. He came into our bedroom and ripped it from my hand, and no matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get it back. Honestly, Glenn is so much stronger than I am, my trying to physically get anything from him he didn't want me to have would be laughable if it weren't so frustrating, infuriating, and sad. Not only could I not get my phone--my phone, my very own phone, which I bought and paid for, which was MINE--but he also wouldn't let me out of the house. Because things were so insane, I tried to go to my sister's, but every time I did, Glenn blocked the doors. We have a front and a back one in my house, and try as I might, run as hard I could, bolt as abruptly as I did, every time I made a move, Glenn overpowered me and got right in front of the door.

Like this summer with Bob, like December 5, 1988, on that spring night of 2009, I felt completely and utterly helpless, impotent and powerless and entirely at the

--at the what?



(certainly not mercy, for not one of the men involved in these incidents showed any mercy)


(certainly disposal, for all of the men involved in these incidents saw me as an object, merely a thing capable of reinstating their loss of power)

--disposal of men.

Some of you reading out there, especially men, are probably annoyed or perhaps getting angry, thinking all men aren't like this, this blog is a gross generalization, plenty of nice guys abound and plenty of women aren't so nice at all; in fact, plenty of women fight just like men and are strong just like men and dominate people just like men, but I'm happy to point out that this is absolutely not the norm, and on a biological level, men are naturally stronger than women, and on an evolutionary level, they're dominant from their strong jawlines to their prominent brows. My argument is about none of those things. What is my argument then? I guess I'm not entirely sure (just like a woman, huh?). But when I take into account that even Griffin, who's half Bob's weight and one-hundred percent intellectual and therefore, zero percent fighter, hit Bob in my defense, which is something I would never do, resorting to screaming and panicking and freaking out instead, I think what it comes down to is this:

As "evolved" as we've become, as "civilized" as the world now is, as much "progress" as (it seems) women have made, women will be women and men will be men, and we will always--always--be at their mercy, and no amount of so-called equal opportunity or legislation or feminist ideology is going to change that.

And that really, really sucks.