Sunday, November 23, 2008

things mechanical

I was raised to be a traditional female. I learned to sew, to clean, to iron, to cook (well, really to bake more than to cook), to play the piano and cello, to be a good student, to be nice . . . all of those girl things. I played with barbies, and collected little miniatures of mice and loved animals and read nancy drew mysteries.
during my early adolescence my parents would occasionally drag me outside to help in the yard or help stain our wood siding, and I do remember visiting my dad's workshop and admiring all of those little baby food jars, each filled with a different size nail or screw with the lid nailed to a shelf above so that all my dad had to do was look for the right jar, then twist the jar free from its lid to grab the item he needed.
all this to explain how far I've come.
that I have made great progress, being able to change my own bike tubes and tires, and having a rudimentary understanding of how the whole darn gearing system works, as well. that as a result of being a single homeowner for over four years, I have learned how to put up electrical fixtures and change parts inside a toilet and clean gutters and patch holes in walls and fix sprinkler heads and about 50 other types of amazingly necessary home repairs.
I have come a long way, and though it has tested me sorely at times, I am proud of my progress and thrilled that I can model for my children a female who is capable of handling whatever gets thrown at her.
until this morning.
a few days back I decided it was time to think about putting some lights up on my house, you know, in the Christmas spirit. the first year I was on my own I put lights up, having to borrow a 12-foot ladder from my neighbor to reach some of my peaked roof lines. I remember freezing fingers and a healthy portion of frustration, and a great sense of satisfaction when I was done.
and then half a strand went out. you know, the strand right in the middle of it all, the one that was most difficult to put up in the first place.
half a strand.
I've never had a season where all of my strands worked all of the time. yet. I know it's coming.
this morning I hauled the bin inside that houses all of my exterior lights. I carefully pulled each bundle out, and started plugging them in to make sure they worked before I hung them outside.
I plugged the first one in, and a third of the strand lit up. I started working my way through the unlit portion, looking and feeling for loose connections or bad bulbs. ha. after about three minutes of that, I put the strand aside and plugged the next one in.
half the bulbs lit up.
next strand: not a single bulb lit up.
next strand: completely dark.
did my outlet just go bad? I actually looked around to see if other things in my home were receiving electricity: had the power just gone out??
I took the strand to the kitchen outlet just in case: dark, dead, nada.
not a single one of my 6 strands worked.
and I know they can be fixed. they're not terribly expensive, but I really don't want to go buy an entire new set of outdoor lights when I have all of these . . . but then again, I only have this sense of how to fix them, and I'm frustrated and I just want to throw them all away.

and have I told you that my bike's still squeaking, still making this noise I can't diagnose? not all the time, and not always under the same circumstances, no, that would make it entirely too easy to go have fixed.

I'm not sure what I want here. I want to be capable, effective, self-sufficient. and then, I don't want to have to do any of that stuff. I learned a little, I've achieved a certain level of competence, but I don't really have the energy and desire to leap to the next plane. do I really have to keep growing? I want to rest here, for a while. I love to learn and be challenged, but I'm tired. I'm like the young adolescent with growing pains: we can only take so much growth and change before we need to rest a little, absorb the changes, and maybe even take some ibuprofen.

it's a gorgeous, sun-filled day out there, and having now spewed all of my frustration, I am going to go lube my bike before my ride, and then settle down on the floor with my 6 strands of malfunctioning lights (yes, they're the icicle kind with all of those confusing strands hanging off the main strand) and look at bulbs, one by one, and see if I can make a difference.

No comments: