Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I Can Do It!

I'm no Joanne Liebler or any of those other home improvement mascu-women who like to build houses or do other heavy construction, but I do my fair share (and probably more) of the maintenance around the house. I begrudgingly do some of it, like installing a new two-line phone jack to replace the one that was destroyed when the husband got mad and ripped the phone off the wall. Now, I'm not married to a violent man. I wouldn't marry one of those. But he is human and in the course of our marriage he has had a handfull of incidents where he destroyed some object out of anger and frustration. (I don't think I've ever actually done it, but I sure have wanted to at times. ;-) )

The phone in the laundry room was the one I used most because it was convenient since I'm in the laundry room so much anyway. And also it is near the kitchen where I also am often working. I don't even know why he got mad at the phone or whoever he was talking to because it happened many months ago and I forgot the details. He even got me a new phone for my birthday, way back in January. Well, it sat on the bar for months and months. (I don't nag anymore because it's a waste of energy.) And because the most convenient phone wasn't there anymore many times the phone never got answered before the machine picked up.

Well, yesterday I finally decided that I'd try to install the new jack myself. Here are the empty hole and bare wires:

If it was only a one-line jack that would be very straight-forward, but no, we have to have a two-line phone for business purposes. And it would be really nice if there was a very uniform coloring of the wires, but no, they have to make them all different so that the blue wires on the jack don't have matching blue wires in the phone lines, and so on. So I had to go to the box outside where the wires come into the house to see what colors the lines were and then figure out which ones corresponded on the jack. It didn't help that the only multiline jack at the store was a three-line jack. Well, it took me about an hour to do what it would have taken the husband about 15 minutes to do because of my inexperience with this obscure wire matching procedure. Here is the properly installed jack:

I have to confess that the entire time I was struggling with this man's work I was cursing men and feminism for putting me in the position of having to do a man's job. Is it not enough that I do all the laundry and other housework, as well as much of the outside work? And now I'm expected to install a phone jack too? How much money do men get paid for doing this job all day long? And here I am having to figure it out for free and take time away from my regular jobs to do it. Grumble, grumble, grumble. Man, I'm gonna see how long it takes for the man to even notice I did his job. I'm gonna make him feel guilty for this, or maybe even cut him off for a few days... Grumble, grumble, blah, blah, blah.

I had convinced myself that I would not feel accomplished for doing this thing and that it would be just as satisfying, or more so, if he had done it for me himself. Here is the phone completely installed and working:

So what happened when he got home from work? Did I make him feel guilty for not installing the jack and my birthday present from months ago? Well, of course not. I'm such a wuss. When he came in I felt myself grinning from ear to ear and heard myself ask, "Did you see what I did?!"

He looked bewildered and when I pointed at the phone he smiled with surprise and said, "You did that all by yourself?" (He knew I could all along, of course, and just wanted me to learn how to do it.) And I told him all about how long it took and how I grumbled through the whole process and how yes, I do feel accomplished about it even though I didn't want to do it and feel accomplished about it.

So, Rosie Rivetter, here's to you and doing what we women don't necessarily want to do but sometimes have to.


bg said...

Rae, this is a weird post. But, if you ever find yourself in the San Francisco area, you might like to spend a few minutes visiting the Rosie the Riveter Memorial. It's in Marina Park in Richmond, California, once the site of the Kaiser shipyards where they built the Liberty ships which helped us win WW2. Richmond is on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, a little north of Oakland and Berkeley.

I used to walk through the memorial every day. There's a kind of abstract steel structure meant to resemble the superstructure of a Liberty ship; there are some old photographs; and there are paving stones engraved with some things the women said, stones which make up a symbolic 'ways,' like what they rolled the ships down to get them into the water. At least there WERE these thing as of four years ago; Richmond is a pretty raw place.

And at the end of the ways there's a little platform over the water, with a stainless steel plaque that says, "Tell them that without us, without women, there would've been no Spring in 1945."

It's a trip to see little children playing in the cool California sunshine among these relics of a time of almost unimaginable violence and sacrifice. Climbing on the structure they're not supposed to climb on. Gives you that feeling of swords into plowshares, though I suppose we're a long way from that...

Joan Wyatt said...

Hi! Came across your blog while surfing and really enjoyed it. I'm just learning home repair myself and teach other women. Isn't it empowering to know you did it yourself? Joan Wyatt,

Rae Ann said...

Hi bg! Thanks for stopping by and for that interesting comment. Haven't seen you around the Reference Frame lately. I hope everything is okay. I'm not really a big Rosie the Rivetter fan, but I do appreciate her symbolism.

My dad has told me lots of stories about that "time of almost unimaginable violence and sacrifice" and it surely makes me wonder if our citizens of today would be willing to do the things required of people back then. I really can't imagine that rations and "victory gardens" and all of that would be tolerated by all the spoiled rotten suburbanites and urbanites.

But then, maybe the Al Gores are trying to relive some of that with their AGW hysteria? That "Greatest Generation" had such real and terrifying monsters to fight, and maybe their children are now trying to "one-up" them by trying to save the planet from themselves. ;-)

And maybe it's a Star Wars kind of syndrome too? Al Gore as the evil Emperor and Anti-Christ. ;-) Sorry, imagination's a little active today. Have a nice weekend and don't be a stranger! :-)

Rae Ann said...

Hi Joan, thanks for your comment! It's funny that you did because I've recently been wanting a pink hammer and other tools so that the hubby and sons don't steal them anymore. My tools always seem to disappear, but I'm pretty sure they wouldn't steal them if they were pink!