Archive for October, 2010

The Dumbest Rocket Scientist I Know

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

There are times that I am utterly stunned stupid by occasional  stunts pulled by my brilliant, real-life rocket scientist (aerospace engineer) husband. Our daughter Kathleen has been on us relentlessly about teaching her to drive.  Michael has been quite resistant while I’m all for it.

So imagine my shock when I look out the window this afternoon only to see my brand new Volvo Cross Country half on the lawn and half on the road. It was surreal. I’m pretty sure I actually rattled my head back and forth in an attempt to clear my vision. “Is that Mich…no…wait a damn minute….blonde hair???!!!!…you have got to be freaking kidding me!!!????? Then I heard the toilet flush. In the house. Five feet from me.

Mama Bear reared up and hollered in her very best Mama Bear voice, “IS THAT CHILD BY HERSELF IN THE CAR??!!” Calm and utterly unflappable, soon-to-be-divorced husband meanders out of the washroom pulling up his fly and replies, “Yep. I told her she could drive the car into the driveway.”

“YOU DID WHAT?????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BY HERSELF??????!!!!!!!!

He blinks at me, utterly perplexed at this rapidly accelerating force of nature exploding in his face. I look out the window again only to see another car come around the corner with Kathleen stranded in the middle of the road. Pyjama-clad and bare foot, I blast out of the front door mastering a calm but VERY authoritarian tone and command,  “STOP KATE!”

Thankfully she does. I turn to said husband with my jaw dropped and eyes wide open in disbelief. He then utters the fateful words husbands around the globe have uttered as their last…”You were the one … that was all in a hurry to get her driving!”

Visitation hours will be posted later.

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Getting My F.O. Papers

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Take out of the equation the effect of 50 years of gravitational  pull on your body parts, there’s many reasons to love being in your 50′s. Your membership to the sage and wise club is pretty much assured if you can stay awake long enough to pay attention. One of  amazing privileges associated with this exclusive club, in the wise words of comedienne Sandra Shamas, is getting your F.O. papers. Many men seem to have had their F.O. papers handed to them at birth. But for many women, including yours truly, receiving them is a “bring-you-to-your-knees-weep-with-joy” kind of event.

Not that it is an “event” exactly.

Getting your F.O. papers is a lovely little process akin to having your entire body wrapped in that awful, uber sticky, white medical tape and having it removed a centimetre at a time. Over a  50-year time span. For those of you with that puzzled furrow over your brow, F.O. is an acronym. For the obvious. You know…that thing you’ve been dying to say to that cretin of a boss, client, partner, so-called friend and, yes, at times…dare I say it…? Your children.

It seems to me that, until you pass over that magical threshold of 50, the ability to tell those who deserve it to metaphorically F.O. is difficult for most women. That’s because we were raised to believe varying degrees of the following drivel:  1.) Put others ahead of yourself at all costs. And for God’s sake, sublimate what you really want to say or do if it isn’t simpatico with the rest of the group.  2.) It’s impolite to brag (read: talk about what you’re good at.) 3.) Your job is to be peacemaker, not stir up shit.  4.)  Disagreeing with the world’s idiots will hurt their feelings 5.) You’ll sound like a shrew, fishwife, nag, virago, yenta, blah, blah, blah if you dare raise your voice in anger to disagree. (Think Sheila Copps.)

Perhaps I exaggerate for the sake of colourful writing, but there are more than mere kernels of truth in what I speak.  I’ve lived it. And it’s exhausting. Living life without complete authenticity is confusing, demoralizing, dishonest and makes for compromised relationships. The problem is that for many women, the courage it takes for us to be our truly authentic self doesn’t seem to anchor until we slip into our 50th decade (give or take a few years). No doubt, certainly on the authenticity front, it’s somewhat the same for men, but your address would have to involve a cave if you thought the expectations and perceptions of men are the same as women.

That’s why a 50-something woman is so powerful. This authenticity and wisdom is hard won. It becomes cellular primarily because many of us know what it’s like not being able to live it.  Getting your F.O. papers is a rite of passage that women cherish and relish. It’s a ticket to transformation, liberation, and lo and behold a good night’s sleep  (until the night sweats kick in).  To be able to tell it like it is in our little corner of the universe, free of the shackles of  public opinion, being “polite” and fear of hurting other’s feelings  is, as one friend puts it, “Far better than sex…well…at least as good as…”

Frankly, the greatest gift I’ve given my daughter is handing her her F.O. papers at birth: “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” “The world needs your brain and heart. Share it.” “Disagree with your teachers, your parents and your friends but be willing and ready to present your business case.”  “Take care of others by taking care of yourself too.”  Why should our girls pass the half century mark to figure this out?

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