Tools of the Trade

swimming to the surface

There is no business that is more “male” then a tool and equipment rental yard. I have no idea what most of the stuff there is used for. It is a very mysterious place. The tools and machines are stacked and scattered everywhere like sleeping mechanical dinosaurs. The other morning I dropped my daughter off at school and drove over to our local mom and pop rental yard to pick up a floor buffer. The guy working there walked me through the piles of equipment to the buffer section. He pulled out a huge machine and began to tell me how to use it.  In passing he mentioned a smaller model and I jumped at the chance to rent it, as the floor I was refinishing was only 8×8.  He supported my decision by telling me that the model I selected was perfect for a lady. I felt insulted. I was certain that I could handle the big machine, no problem. The guy loaded the small lady like buffer into my car and I drove home. When I tried to take it out I could barely lift it. The buffer was on wheels but I had to drag it down a dirt path through leaves and sticks, and up a series of uneven stone steps. It was challenging. I could never have lugged the larger buffer up the steps.  I smile at my irritation over being rented a machine that is just right for a lady.

I have every thing set up to begin buffing an oil finish into the floor of an old playhouse that my daughter and I have remodeled to create a private sanctuary. I have never used this oil finish before and I am very nervous.  I often feel this way now that I do these kinds of projects by myself. I am nervous because I feel out of my element. I see home improvement and construction projects as men’s work. This strikes me as odd as I have refinished floors, laid tile, installed drywall, patched plaster, painted, caulked and done minor plumbing. I did many of these projects by myself but I was not alone when I was doing them. My husband was always around, or close by.  It isn’t that I asked him for that much help it was simply that having him there was comforting and helped me to feel more secure.  If something went wrong I could go to him for support or advise.  I would not be alone in the disaster.

When I am finished the floor looks great. I have put this project off for weeks and I have finished it in less than an hour. It has taken more energy to avoid it then it took to do it.  I wonder about all of the anxiety I felt before I began. I wonder about my feelings of apprehension and fear before leaping into the unknown and trying something new. Is it the unknown that it scary or is it the leap? Is it less frightening to move slowly into the unknown? Does it matter if the unknown is in the men’s realm of tools or the women’s realm of sewing and needlepoint? The truth is that both are equally foreign to me. They are equally intimidating. I feel like a trespasser in both worlds. Before I was married I used to detail my car. It gave me tremendous pleasure to clean all of the surfaces and make sure that the vinyl was conditioned and the exterior hand waxed and polished. When I got married I handed the upkeep of my car over to my husband – men’s work.  My car went to hell pretty quickly. He was not a man who was interested in cars in that way. For years I depended on him to be my guide into and through what I thought of as the male realm. He was not a willing tour guide and like my car, a few of my own interests, that I stopped taking care of myself, were neglected in the process. In the last few months I have been to the tool rental yard and I have watched the NBA finals with my daughter.  It feels damn good to be having my own experiences instead of filtering them or grounding them or seeking approval for them in the world of men.  I am a woman who loves tools and shops at Victoria secret. The entire world is open to me.

8 comments to Tools of the Trade

  • Dear Marlene,
    thank you for sharing your thoughts and your heart’s jurney with us. It is exciting to find oneself in the world of possibilities, known or unkown. life takes on a diffenent hue.Hard at first but then you find something you did not know that you did not know. ways of being that was not available before but now it seems it is. I admire your willingness and desire to keep opening up to all these possibilites ,dimenssions into the self . In grace may you move through to the other side where there is only one thing….presence. sending you heartfel good wishes. Roya

  • Ellen Lane

    Marlene… I enjoyed your insights very much! And your art is whimsical and expressive. Keep it up!

  • Marlene,
    I’ve always admired your writing style. It has a tone and creates a mood. It is personal and yet not overly so. It gets to the heart of the matter but does so without pretense. I look forward to future writings.

    • Marlene

      thanks paul! i am pretty fond of your writing style as well. i am adding a block to my page so that i can post links to other blogs. there will definitely be a link to yours!

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