Crazy? Why, yes, I am.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved Mustangs and Jeeps.

The first new car I purchased when I graduated from college and got a job was a dark green 1991 Mustang Coupe. I was driving a Mercury Tracer that my Dad bought for me.

TRACER

Mine was a two-door but it was dark blue and missing the quaint European-inspired landscape. Dad taught me how to drive stick in this car and this vehicle got me through college.

I had my eye on a sports car and the Mustang had my name all over it.

 

MUSTANG

Unlike this photo, it wasn’t a 5.0, but as this photo shows, the salesman thought the driver should be male. When I told him I wanted standard transmission instead of automatic, the conversation started getting awkward. For him.

“I don’t think you want a standard,” he said, with a knowing tone in his voice. Patronization was the order of the day.

“Actually I do.” I responded. “I’m driving a stick now.”

He’s not listening to me.

“You know, when you bring that car back to me, I’m going to have to sell it as a second car, you know the second car of the household, and that’s usually the wife driving that car, and women just don’t drive standards.”

Crickets.

I give that statement a moment to settle and then I state the obvious.

“Last time I checked, I was a girl. I’m looking at buying this car, not selling it, and I want it to be a standard.”

I loved that car. We called it The Ditch Pig because it was rear wheel drive and it loved the sides of the roadway. When First Born Son came along, we knew we couldn’t keep The Ditch Pig for long. The little bucket seat was barely fitting in the back seat and when the time came for FBS to be front facing, the car was going to have to go. We traded my car for my Dad’s 1990 Lumina.

LUMINA

What I lost in a model year, I gained in a proper back seat. We kept it for a couple of years then moved into a couple of other vehicles. When my Dad was done with The Ditch Pig, Little Sister traded him for it. It was fun to drive and lasted forever.

After the Lumina we had a number of family-friendly vehicles. We even took FBS’s goalie bag to shop for an SUV so we knew it was big enough to handle the oversized bag. Many a weekend we had FBS and Second Born Son’s hockey bags stacked in the back. Vehicles were merely modes of transportation. It had been a long time since I was as excited about driving as I was when I bought my first car.

Then it happened. FBS bought his truck and while he was finalizing the deal, I found myself stepping into a Jeep for a test drive. SBS came with me because was getting sick of all the truck talk. We loved it. Only problem was, it was a two-door and as long as we have a 6’2 kid at home, he needs to fit in our vehicle! The timing wasn’t right and as much as I loved the Jeep, it just wasn’t time.

The reminders were all around us. The Big Guy kept pointing out every. single. time he saw a Jeep. Then we saw THE Jeep.

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It was in a parking lot at Wasaga Beach. I turned to TBG and I said, “THAT’S the Jeep I want.” It was big, it was aggressive looking and had attitude. I was in love. I think I scared TBG, but he was secretly pleased at the same time.

With a little research, I find out it’s a special edition – the 75th Anniversary Edition Unlimited to be exact. A limited number of 2016 and 2017 Wranglers have some custom features that made for a pretty impressive ride.

But, we did already have a vehicle and again, the timing wasn’t right.

Then this happened.

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Perhaps it’s difficult to see, but this was my latest vehicle. It is exactly one car width too far to the right. It’s almost in the flower bed. This is not good. I was trying to back up to gain some moment for a drift ahead of me, when the granular snow pulled me off the driveway. This has never. happened. before. To me, it was a sign.

In January, with some inspired timing, I noticed a new 75th Edition was being discounted at the same dealership FBS had purchased his truck. A couple of phone calls and we had ourselves a deal.

Truthfully, I wasn’t sure we actually had a deal until we were leaving the dealership and were driving the new vehicle home. I gotta say, there was a little bit of shock settling in.

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Yes, it’s black. Three out of the last four vehicles have been black. Yes, TBG likes to wash cars. It has features I didn’t know I’d want and a couple I’m pretty sure I don’t need. Regardless, I’m thrilled with it and love driving again. TBG loves driving it, and while SBS was a little hesitant at first, he’s enjoying it as well. The only draw-back is we had to postpone his driving test so he can have a couple of months to get used to the new wheels.

For the most part, people are usually pleased to hear that someone has a new vehicle. The odd one (emphasis on odd) looks at this beast and thinks I’m going through a mid-life crisis. I would suggest that this is actually what all grown ups aspire to – having the things they can enjoy while they are still young enough to enjoy them. God! That sounds like I’m really getting up there! I just feel that you shouldn’t have to wait until you are retired, or until the kids are married, or until….whenever, before you enjoy some fun things in life. I’ve told TBG that this vehicle is going to last me a long, long time. We’ll enjoy driving with the top down in the summer, and I’ve already put the 4-wheel drive to good use this winter.

So I’m ok with people saying I’m crazy for wanting this vehicle. They don’t have to like it, and they don’t have to pay for it. I’m doing both, gladly.

They probably couldn’t get up into it anyway.

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Ch Ch Ch Changes

Overnight a day changes. A month changes. A year changes.

I’ve encountered two kinds of people – those who reject change or find it difficult, and those who embrace it. For some, even changing a new hairstyle is too much. For others, they thrive on the difference that change brings to their lives. There is some easy change, like a new purse, and then there’s more difficult change, like losing a job.

This past year has brought some of the more challenging types of change. I do enjoy change, and like to have goals I’m working toward because I like the feeling of moving forward, progress, evolution. I haven’t liked all the changes this past year has brought. I lost sight of the evolution that happens to all of us and it’s not always timed the way we want it to be. Some people leave our lives and we struggle to see things the same way without them. Some people come into our lives and because they are new, it can be difficult to fit them into our world. Status quo is comfortable. It doesn’t challenge us. We are lulled by our comfort.

Christmas is a time that brings changes to the fore. Changes that don’t matter in July are overwhelming in December. We need our traditions to give us a sense of continuity over time, starting when we are children. Change at this time can be especially difficult. It’s been remarkable how many times change has come up during this recent holiday season. Anything different is painful and hard to accept. If we don’t  have Grandma’s china on the table, is it still Christmas? If we don’t gather on the 25th of December, can we still celebrate?

Change, even the hard change, is good. You can’t flip through any family photo album and not see the changes. Children grow, new family members join the photos, older members leave seats around the table, which are then filled with new children. Do we not want things to change? No, we want the good stuff, but it’s the uncomfortable change that we’d rather do without. Unfortunately, we don’t get to pick our change a la carte. It’s ordered for us, delivered to our door and there is no returning it to the kitchen.

So what’s the answer to adapting to the shitty change? Flexibility and perspective. I look back at my own life and can see the times that the times that I was part of change may have been difficult to people around me. Some of them were gracious and accepting. Some of there were not. Some of them were downright cruel. I am not going to be one of those people.

I am going to look at all change as a challenge in flexibility; witnessing my family and friends evolve and grow. Someone new coming for dinner? BRING IT! Changing a tradition we’ve had for 40 years? Guess it’s time for something new.

I’m looking at 2018 as a year of growth and success. The past several years have had their fair share of challenges. Last year felt like pushing Jell-O over sandpaper. It’s time for change, either brought to me or created by me.

I’m looking forward to that change, very much.  Happy New Year to all of you!

I Now Pronounce You…

It’s been many moons since The Big Guy and I vowed to fight over blankets and morning routines. Sometimes I look back and shake my head over the things that were deemed important and necessary to have a wedding in the early 90s.

Although there was some small movement away from traditions, (we didn’t have a traditional receiving line – GASP THE HORROR!)  we were pretty conventional. Except, when it came to my name.

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I was drawn back to a conversation I had with my future in-laws about 25 years ago, after reading this article. It seems crazy to me that a quarter of a century after I hyphenated my name, there is still a debate about women taking their husbands’ surnames.

It never occurred to me NOT to take TBG’s name. I just didn’t want to have to give up MY name. For some men, the issue of a woman refraining from linking last names is too big a picture. They need to look at the root of the matter; you are asking someone to change what they call themselves. I was Sarah B for the first 21 years of my life. I was actually called that in classrooms when there was more than one Sarah and we had to tack on the first letter of the last name to distinguish between me and Sarah K. It was a small school and it we knew it was going to be a long year whenever we realized we were in the same class – the only two Sarahs.

I don’t recall a specific moment when I decided I was going to keep my name. I do remember thinking for a while before getting engaged, that there were no males to carry on the family name. It was important to me to carry that on, and to preserve my identity. I had also done some research into the family I was joining and learned that there were not one, but two previous Sarahs. I’d be Sarah The Third with this last name. I didn’t really think about my future kids, but figured we’d sort that out down the line. I know when I told my father of my plan, he was quietly pleased.

But the aforementioned conversation with my soon to be in-laws took place about six months before the wedding. There was a discussion about the service and how we would be introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Big Guy. My oh-so helpful future brother-in-law, who knew of my plan, said, “That’s if Sarah takes TBG’s name.” Two pairs of eyes were on me.

“You AREN’T taking our name?” asked my future MIL with a look of disbelief on her face. My FIL didn’t speak but had an equally perplexed expression.

“No, it’s not that,” I tried to explain, “I’m actually going to hyphenate my name.”

Silence.

“Did you tell TBG this?!” demanded his mother. I stated that we had talked about it, and that he was in complete support. Conveniently, TBG was not in the room for this charming exchange.

This was more than shocking to my future parents-in-law. I don’t think they personally knew of any other woman who had done this, and it was outside their understanding. I’m sure for them it was an insult, but they could have chosen to see it as a young woman who had a more independent mindset, wanting to demonstrate her commitment to her husband, while still being autonomous. It had nothing to do with how much I cared for my fiancé. In fact, the idea that he was supportive of this, and wasn’t threatened by it, made him all the more attractive to me. Gotta love an open-minded man!

On the day of our wedding we were introduced as “Mr. Big Guy and Mrs. Maiden Name – Big Guy.” An easy way to let our family and friends know how I was addressing myself.

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When it was time to have children, the agreement was that they would only have their father’s surname. If they decided they wanted to have a hyphenated name, we would pay to change it. TBG agreed.

Traditionally, women were considered the property of men – that’s why her father would hand her off to her husband on her wedding day; a transfer of ownership – and with that was a name change. Times have changed and the issues surround the surname have become somewhat complicated. When a woman divorces, the dilemma is there – do I change my name back to my maiden name? Do I want to have the same name as my children?

In this era of women fighting for, and being recognized equally in most modern relationships, it seems a little dated to argue over what she calls herself. And a little archaic to insist she have the same moniker as her spouse. Welcome to the 21st Century!

 

 

 

 

Clean up in Aisle Five!

One of the more mundane life jobs that I really don’t mind, is doing laundry. I love the feeling of accomplishment when the piles of clean, folded laundry are before me.

The same cannot be said for grocery shopping. Trying to figure out what we need for the coming week. Trying to figure out what I’m going to feel like cooking four days from now. Trying to spend less than $300 a week, which is only possible while First Born Son is away at work. LOVE YOU SON!

Then there is the experience of acquiring the groceries. There’s the hauling of the empty bins and bags so that I’m environmentally responsible. Next, I have to make my way through a sea of humanity to vie for the same bundle of green onions as the person beside me. I shop at two stores; one that packs my groceries for me – and I only go to trusted cashiers who won’t demolish my bananas, and another where you are forced through like cattle in a chute and need to bag your own groceries with speed and dexterity that is best demonstrated on Survivor.

Grocery shopping brings out the worst in people, myself included.  Thoughtless individuals leave their carts unattended in front of a display of discounted canned soup, while doubling back 20 feet to find the crackers they passed by.  I’ve witnessed kids trying to shoplift, couples have full-blown domestics and countless meltdowns – and they weren’t all from children.

The checkout process is just as painful. Customers who ring through all their purchases and then realize they forgot their wallets at home are the BEST. A close second are those who clip coupons. There’s a special place in hell for them.

One of my part time jobs as teen was working in a grocery store, so perhaps I’ve carried over some latent issues from the 80s. Forgive me.

But by far, my favourite grocery store tale was just a couple of weeks ago. There I was, minding my own business, about half done the weekly torture session that is grocery shopping. As I approached the end of the aisle, I noticed a staff member chatting with a customer who has a small child in a grocery cart. They appeared to know each other, and immediately I constructed a plan to get around them without hitting them.

The customer turned toward me as she sensed me drawing near.

“HOLY FUCK!”  she yells. YELLS.

<PAUSE> For those of you with delicate constitutions, this blog post features the word “fuck”, which is not part of my personal vocabulary because I don’t like saying it, but apparently I have no issuing writing it. Conduct yourself accordingly. <PLAY>

In the nanosecond that she yells this, I engage the Fight or Flight reflex. I must be a heartbeat away from a tragic canned fruit stoning. Perhaps there’s a tsunami of 2% milk bearing down on me?! I actually flinch and glance over my shoulder.

“YOUR HAIR IS FUCKING AWESOME!”

<PAUSE> Knowing that I don’t use this word with any kind of regularity, I do find it interesting to see how it is employed by those who do. On the very rare occasion that I have used this word, it has been during extreme duress with the utmost urgency. Not that that’s an excuse, Mom.<PLAY>

I’m in shock that this woman is offering this kind of language a) in the public place, b) with a child within earshot, c) about something as innocuous as HAIR.

I do what I do best when faced with public embarrassment; pretend like everything is normal.

“Oh, thanks!” I offer, trying to negotiate between her hind end and the industrial shelving that offers every kind of cake mix known to man.

“No, really! I love the colour! And it looks so…” she gestures wildly around her head. “I wish I could wear my hair like that. FUCKING AWESOME!”

I smile and squeeze through the narrow channel, pointing my cart to freedom. The customer turns back to her employee friend and continues to extol the virtue of my truly exceptional coiffure.

For the record, this is what the fuss was all about…

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…and I can give you the name of my hairdresser so you can have FUCKING AWESOME hair too.

BTW – I now wear a peaked cap to the grocery store.

If You Don’t Laugh, You Cry

So apparently that last post got some people worked up!

Good.

To be fair, within half an hour, I heard from two male friends who expressed, a) horror that this had happened to me, b) support. Within a week I had much more support from both male and female readers. I completely understand why commenting on the post itself was not something they were comfortable with. It’s an uncomfortable topic, and for some, it was triggering. I feel for anyone who has gone through this as well. It’s not a fun club to be part of.

However, anyone who knows me knows I don’t do “victim” well. Never have. That doesn’t mean that I was born as a jaded little scrapper, it means that when faced with adversity/negativity, I tend to look for solutions or positivity. I have coworkers who are annoyed with my “glass half full” outlook. It means when life tees up my order of lemons, I’m looking how to deal with all that lemonade. Didn’t get the job? Wasn’t meant for me. Don’t have an overflowing bank account? I’ve got a great marriage, family and solid health. Think that’s schmaltzy? Ask someone who is sick how awesome being healthy is. “Getting through” is a powerful life skill.

I have also been reassured by some readers that there are still “good guys” out there. Yup. There are. Now those good guys need to get their back up when they see this happening. Don’t just be embarrassed for the woman. Don’t feel ashamed because a member of your gender has made it tough for the rest of you by looking like an asshole. Stand up and speak up. You have mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives, daughters, granddaughters – again, I would suggest at some point in their lives, they too have had to deal with this. They just don’t post it on a blog. Ask them. Support them. Don’t question their actions, reactions or even their desire not to talk about it. That’s their Right. It doesn’t make them less brave for not sharing. They are brave for enduring it and continuing to live their lives as broken, glued together women. Sometimes it makes you stronger. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I have two mottos for my life: The Best Revenge Is To Live Well; and If You Don’t Laugh You’ll Cry. I’m still the same person I was two weeks ago. I don’t live this in my day to day existence. I will continue to have a bent sense of humor, and say things that might be painful in their truth, but I’m not going to a victim and I’m not to look the other way.

If my last post bothered you, then I hope you’ll do the same.

…and I promise the next post will be a little lighter…

The Best Kept Worst Secret

It’s been radio silence lately because the only thing that has motivated me to write is the 10th rate frat movie/soap opera that is the United States of America. But really, we all have the same opinion, so I can’t offer anything to this discussion.

It wasn’t until the shit-show that is Harvey Weinstein came to the fore that felt the need to formulate more than thoughts, and write. You might think I’m a little late to this “party” but the fact of the matter is, the only good to come out of this scandal is that the biggest Club in the world has finally lifted it collective head and said, “We’re not gonna take it any more.”

I’ve had more conversations with women about our shared experience of assault, abuse and embarrassment in the past two weeks than you can imagine. Social media is flooded with #metoo, which, when I posted it, felt empowering, and yet each time I saw a friend posting it, somehow it made me feel worse. There are too many of us.

Here’s heads up – I’m going to use language that may make you uncomfortable. I’m sorry if that’s the case. But I ask you to question why it makes you uncomfortable. If it’s because these types of things shouldn’t be discussed, I would suggest that thinking is part of the problem.

***

The first time I was exposed to this type of conduct was when I was a child. I can’t bring myself to write about that experience, but suffice it to say, it wasn’t dealt with properly and to this day, the emphasis has been on the “poor” offender.

***

Uglyness of Men reared it’s head when I was in Grade 9, and a Grade 12 student took a shine to me. He made it his mission to stalk me in hallways. For some reason my friends only thought it was creepy because he wasn’t ‘cute’. Apparently stalking is more palatable when you are attractive. He elevated his game to calling my home and not talking when I answered the phone. It wasn’t until I flat out told him he was a freak show  for his inappropriate conduct that he stopped his unsettling behaviour.

***

It continued when I was in Grade 12,  when a male guidance counsellor suggested, with a rather inappropriate look on his face, that I was “selling (myself) short by not going to university. (I’m) far too pretty to go to college.” I left his office immediately after.

<PAUSE> Please know that I am well aware of my outward appearance. I don’t take myself for a raging beauty, nor do I think I’ve been hit with an “ugly stick”. I float somewhere around the middle – acceptable. Which is likely why I felt so uncomfortable that he commented on my appearance. I was never evaluated in such a way before. It’s also likely why I’m not comfortable with comments on my appearance in general. <PLAY>

***

Ironically, my issues where always with males who were older than me. Boys my age; I didn’t exist to them. Perhaps that was a blessing.

Now I’m dating someone a bit older than me, and we are going out for New Year’s Eve. His friend, a mutual acquaintance, corners me during Auld Lang Syne and kisses me after inappropriately asking if my date has kissed me yet during the course of our relationship. I try to defer the conversation in an attempt to seek out the guy I came with, and would like to be embracing. Just before he plants it on me, I see my date across the floor, looking for me. I’m treated to an alcohol flavored slobber. He thinks it’s funny.

***

Next, I’m a married woman around 23 years old, who is attending a Stag and Doe for a family member. I’m dressed for the summer evening wearing an A-line dress with a V neckline. Another relative slides up beside me and has a rather uncomfortable grip on my midsection. He then angles his head so it is directly beside mine and looks down.

“I can’t believe you just looked down my dress,” I exclaim loudly. This is enough for his head to snap back and the arm to retract. I continue, “I saw you do that! Who looks down his (family relation’s) dress?!” He now adopts a stance where it appears as thought I’m bat-shit crazy and he’s protecting himself from an unwarranted barrage from a hormonal female.

Three other people saw him do it, and heard me call him out, and said nothing, but shot daggers at him. While one individual thought the exchange was “embarrassing”, it was worth it given that the offender stayed as far away from me as the room would allow.

***

Now I work for an organization where part of my role is to mingle and develop relationships with patrons. There is a free bar and I have comfortable relationships with a number of the individual at this reception. One individual, who is obviously putting on a show for his friends, puts his arm around my waist as he introduces me to his group. While I’m not a fan of such physical contact at work, this is common practice by both male and female patrons and is largely interpreted by employees as gesture of friendship. This individual completes his praise of the evening, then pulls me in and gives me an open mouth kiss, which – in and of itself was disgusting, and was further traumatizing because of the food that was not completely masticated in his mouth. I pull away, make a gracious exit (because remember, I don’t want to embarrass HIM!) and advised my supervisor. He brushes it off and suggests I don’t go back to that party’s table for the rest of the evening.

As we drive home, my supervisor in the front passenger seat, and his supervisor driving the mini van. I attempt to block the evening’s events from my mind by reclining in the middle row of the van. Suddenly I’m drawn to the conversation in the front seat.

“Sarah had a problem tonight with (name has been removed to protect the guilty).” said Supervisor 1.

“What was it?” asked Supervisor 2, not at all concerned in his tone or word choice.

“(Name has been removed to protect the guilty) kissed her. On the mouth.” said S1.

S2 laughs. I am @#%*ING awake now!

“I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as she’s letting on,” he replies.

“Actually, it was worse because he had a mouth full of food,” I stated. The van jerks on the roadway as S2 didn’t think I was listen to him make a grade A chauvinistic asshole of himself. He then tried to downplay what he said, and generally smooth over the incident, saying sometimes people just drink too much and these things just “happen.”

“I didn’t think prostitution was part of the job description.” I finished. Apparently I was hormonal again, because the two of them stopped talking. Although two supervisors are aware of this incident, it is never brought up again, and the perpetrator is never spoken to.

Don’t worry – I left this position shortly thereafter, as I had applied for a promotion that was all but assured. Honestly, I had co-workers and patrons telling me I was going to get the promotion, how hard I’d worked for it, and how amazing I’d be in the new role. I did not, in fact, get the promotion. Apparently I had commitments at home that would prevent me from doing the job. He was referring to my kids. I should note that I had put in as many hours or more during my eight years with that organization as any other employee. When I left, they replaced me with two men. One, who is now in the role that I applied for, has children…..sorry, I forgot we were talking about straight sexual harassment, not gender prejudice in the workplace – that’s another post.

***

As recently as this year, my 46th on this planet, I’ve had inappropriate comments made to me. One of my favorites, “I know which window is for your bedroom”. Another, “I listen to you on the radio and loooove hearing your voice.” – please imagine a very creepy facial expression to that last one. Oh, and these are from the same person. I point out to him that these comments are rather uncalled for, and he’s going to get in trouble for saying them. He responds, “Oh you know what I mean.”

Yes, I’m afraid I do. That’s the point.

I don’t hold back now. I haven’t for a while – as this post attests. I own these incidents, not because – as the offenders would think – because it makes me look desirable and is flattering, but because this is how I learned how to draw my line in the sand. Now, after these many conversations, I’m going to be even more vocal about improper conduct. I am the mother of two sons. I have taught them that a woman will give it back to you if you try to mess with her. I have taught them that it is not a compliment to a woman or to a man to treat a woman like an object. Woman are not objects to be owned or mauled. We are not stupid. We’ve been putting up with bullshit for decades. If prostitution is the second oldest profession for women, then sexual predator is the oldest crime for men.

Saying nothing hasn’t helped. Silence is the key the offender uses to open the door to this crime, and it’s what he uses to lock it behind him when he’s done. She won’t say anything. She never has. If she does, she will be portrayed as emotional, hormonal, crazy, a slut, disgruntled, manipulating. There’s less of a chance she will say anything because history has proven that society won’t believe her, or worse, re-victimize her over and over again.

No more. If you think you are going to “grab ’em by the pussy” be prepared to get kicked in the balls.

 

 

 

Helicopter Vs Public Transit Parents

Were you as shocked as I was to learn a BC father had to be told his four children could not take public transit without him until the eldest child was 12?

Were you as shocked as I was to learn they have been doing this for a year? That math means that he was preparing a 9 year old to ride a city bus while supervising siblings. What. The. Hell.

The father’s position is that he rode the bus with his children for two years to prepare them for this transition to independence. He feels the government, who made this decision, is “infantizing citizens” and reinforcing Helicopter Parents.

<PAUSE> Helicopter Parents – parents who create an environment of fear or anxiety based on real or perceived dangers to their child. Can also be a parent who cannot respect boundaries within the parent/child relationship and insists on being present for all aspects of the child’s physical, emotional and psychological development. As a result the child often feels incapable of functioning with the presence of said parent. <PLAY>

Apparently he has enough support that a GoFundMe page has been started to help him with his legal costs. No. I’m not linking it here.

In an age when people are bemoaning the fact that kids are growing up too quickly, why would anyone support a parent who is putting such a load of responsibility on their child? I’m sure I’ll be inundated with tales of readers who had a great deal of responsibility at young ages. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of accountably and responsibility. I’m just not sure making an elementary school child responsible for younger siblings on a public mode of transportation in the 8th largest city in Canada is the way to go about it.

The other side of this story would be that if something happened to these children, voices would be raised in outrage that NOONE did ANYTHING about these vulnerable children who were in an inappropriate situation. Let’s hope at some point this father realizes that at best, he’s been saved from an embarrassing situation, and at worst, a dangerous one.