Thursday, July 01, 2010

It Never Entered My Mind

So, I try to be pretty informative on this blog and do a good many 'how-to's' and such but now, I have a request of you all. I want to know something. I had a new reader ask a while back, "what made me the way I am?" Now, heh, that's a loaded question for sure but I have thought about this for some time and have formulated a theory for my current state of being, which I'll explain later. I realize truly that I am not like 98% of women. I know I'm very different. Hell, even among female construction workers I'm different. Thru the networking of Facebook, good or bad, I have 'met' quite a number of women carpenters, welders, pipefitters and so on. I have come to the conclusion that I am one of maybe three straight, female construction workers on the earth. Of course, I'm exaggerating (a little) but the vast majority are gay. I'm very straight. And I know there are tons of women that do physical things around their house; taking care of animals, gardening, even building a little shed or such. But how many you know that formed and poured the foundation for their house and welded the structure?
When I was interviewed for the newspaper article, the lady asked me what made me consider building my own house? Or something to that effect. I thought, well, why wouldn't I? It never occurred to me not to. Now, I've said many times I had lots of help, so it's not like I did it all by myself, but I have done it basically all, since blacking it in. So, my question is: why would a woman not consider doing some of the things I do? When I talk to many other women it's like it never occurs to them that they could, when it's just the opposite for me. Why is that? Women? Is it a question of physical strength? social conditioning? just not interested in such stuff? like to just see men work? lol!
Men? Do you prefer your wife not do such work?
Now, I don't really wish I were not like this but I feel many times it has made me into a bit of a social outcast and I'll explain more on this later. And everybody says, well, be proud you're different and all that, and I am, but that's easy for you to say, you know. I'm here alone for all my life and after so many years I begin to wonder, maybe I shouldn't have gone down certain paths. Maybe things would be different for me if I knew how to be more 'normal'. Now, whether that is something to be desired or not is open for debate, but I often wonder why I don't meet many other women on this path. I get a lot of women who say they wish they could do what I do, but hardly any that actually want to try. Anybody want to explain this to me?


Deb said...

Arrgghh... Blogger ate my comment! Anyway, I was trying to say I can relate to this. It never entered my mind to not go into fisheries management, a field dominated by hook 'n bullet type males, many of whom I hardly get along with. It never entered my mind to not try out for sophomore cheerleading (which, unfortunately, I was successful at!) I just didn't have any clear direction. I think that's common with women of our generation. (I'm assuming a lot here; you may be too young to be in my generation! :) )

chickory said...

well, in a way i am on this path. Not on your level -but if i could i would/ or, if i had the equipment i might give it a shot. I cant wait to show you my finished studio. i did use salvage when i could. i just finished painting it and soon will move on. then -to the shed which i DO want to try and do myself.

you will need a very secure and competent mate. i think he is somewhere in a field having very little to do with construction - a counter point to your strengths. a guy that would be impressed and delighted in your unique skill set.

Richard said...

I find it kind of funny that you think of yourself as not "normal". I'm setting here thinking that I wish I knew more "normal" women like you.

People should do things in life that they have an interest in and something that gives them personal satisfaction.

I believe that you just have never let anything stand in your way. Most people just give up before they obviously have not and that's what puts you far and above the "normal" woman.

Frugal Canadian Hermit said...

Annie, you ARE abnormal. Abnormal is good. I am abnormal also, and I love it. Being abnormal is kinda like having a mind of your own and also using it. To me, most normal people don't have a mind of their own, they do what everyone else does and that's what makes them so normal. Most normal people get married, they have children, they get a big mortage and buy or get someone to build them a home. Any major purchase is usually with borrowed moola. "Most" people I know are like this, and I guess thats what makes them so normal. This is my opinion anyway, and I am definately not running down normal people either. I sure don't know if I answered any questions for ya, but I sure feel good getting that off my chest.

Allen said...

Many years back when I first met Annie she spent her time working on huge pipe organs in Churches~~another"not normal" occupation~~~~

Mouse said...

Still think its a wonderful ,WOW,that you set your mind to do anything and go for it with very little or no hesitation ,Being that I was raised in a country family where everybody did everything it still seems normal to me .After all mom worked some when dad built houses . My younger sisters can still do a break job
on a car faster than me .When as a family we opened cabinet business everybody works .Ma builds a big portion of cabinets ,Dad works wherever in shop.Little brother does build and most installations .Sister builds just about every door and panel we send out .I supply the countertops . So seeing women work in construction and meeting a few that build houses is a normal occurrence for me .Just like seeing a man that is house keeper ,or other female dominated professions is odd only due to society in general .

Hayley said...

Well for me, I'd say my Dad and guided me away from a trade. My Dad is a welder and a pipe fitter so obviously you know he has worked all his life in rough conditions. That is something he definitely didn't want for his daughters. If I would have chosen to pick up welding or construction as a trade, he would have slapped me bald headed. He'd probably be impressed if I were to change my my own oil or something, but he'd wonder deep down why my husband wasn't doing for me.

And for my sister and I, it was about college too. My parents wanted us to go to college so we didn't have to manually labor our whole lives. But at the same time, they taught us to handle things that most girls don't handle themselves.

Also, it is easier to just follow the path that the crowd is taking. As you said, the "crowd" of girls don't normally take shop. They take home-economics. I always regretted that.

As far as now, as an adult, I'd say the reason I don't lay my own foundation is because
#1 Banks don't like it when you serve as your own contractor and if you need their money you have to play by their rules.
#2 The idea of building our own house scares my husband.
#3 BECAUSE I NEVER LEARNED HOW! I can't go carpentry school now. It just doesn't make sense for us. Who is going to teach me?

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

What's normal, Annie? There is no clear-cut path as I see it. What works for some women, even if the majority, is not what works for all. I'm a relative newcomer to this blog, but amazed at the work you do - both on the job and building your own home. Granted it's hard, physical labor but something you are proud of for having done I'm sure.

I don't have any "answers" for the questions you posed here. Maybe it's just that women as a whole underestimate their own abilities?

Thanks for an insightful and though-provoking post this morning. Now I need another cup of coffee!

Ed said...

When I met my wife, the reasons I fell in love with her are many but not among them was her profession. Had she been a construction worker, it would have mattered not. I don't require my wife to not do certain jobs. My only requirement is that she does was makes her happy.

P.S. You aren't even close to being abnormal in my opinion.

mountainmelody said...

I think part of this is because of the narrow, stereotypical gender roles traditionally considered appropriate--especially in the South. You probably don't want to get me started on this. :) But I applaud you for doing so many amazing things!!

Anonymous said...

I see you as a fantastic role model for straight women everywhere.

Go you!

Anonymous said...

First, NORMAL is just a setting on the dryer. At least that is what the sign says that Beatrice hung on the wall. We both enjoy the things we do and support each other in them. One of the things that impressed me when i met baeatrice was she had a really well stocked tool box and knew who to use them. WOW. Since then we have tackled lots of construction projects like building our barn, green house, growing lots of our own food, laying patios. She is still deeply into her photo art (can't call her work picture taking) and i still have trouble passing up a nice piece of wood.
Bottom line is do what makes you happy and to hell with the naysayers. They are probably frustrated losers anyhow and just want company whining. Oh yea, did you think about the shelf supports i mentioned?

Floridacracker said...

I raised two smart strong young women and I always made it a point to "point" out to them that they were not locked in to "girly" stuff.
Neither became tradeswomen, but that would have been okay with me if it made them happy.
They are adventurous, athletic, good boat handlers, not squeamish about critters, and one of them is a better pistol shot than 99.9% of the American male population.

I'm told they clean up real good and are kinda pretty too.

I think anyone with your professional skills who DID not consider building their own house would be totally out of character. I wanted to do that 21 years ago, but did not have the skills, so I'm pretty much in awe of yours.
Today, I think I could do most of it and would if I were starting over and I'm just an amateur remodeler/handyman.

None of us, "know" each other, but if feels like we do ...
From a distance, you seem smart, feminine, pretty, artistic, and yes, skilled in the construction trades.

If I were meddlin' in your affairs I would propose that you have all the skills needed to start a custom home remodeling company when you get tired of the construction work you do now.
Lots of people have construction skills, but not many have an artist's eye and the construction skills to make things happen.
You do.

I love that you take us in and share everything from how to build a pretty bathroom counter out of concrete to "why are men such ...?" posts.

It's why I come back daily.

So two questions ... How did you get into construction? What fork in the road made you take that first construction job?

and ...
Did you get encouragement to step outside the box when you were growing up?

This may be my longest comment ever. Sorry if I rambled.

Anonymous said...

You aren't abnormal, just very independent and self sufficient is what I call it. I am too. While not a carpenter, my Dad couldn't do much but was a mechanic, there fore I ended up the mechanical type, no brothers just a sister, but yeah, we can change oil, drop transmissions, do brake and even engine work, some plumbing, replace wax seals on toilets, sharpen blades on lawnmowers etc, throttle bodys on cars and dryer belts....and yes, I am over 50 and never married. Yes, guys do have to be secure, but they like it when you mow the grass. I was in the medical profession and now own my own business. Sometimes it is just hard to find a guy. I think that it would be strange not building your own place. Wish I knew more about carpentry.
I'm happy being single. Guess I am lazy,just too easy. Tammy in LA

Beau said...

I've had to weigh and consider this one for a few days. Not sure I can really say what I'd like here anyway based on my current situation... but I would never view your inclinations/aptitude as "abnormal" in any way. Maybe different than a lot of folks... women and men included.

I have always admired and cheered on people who are strong in terms of their spirit and personal work ethic. Self Reliance by Emerson was one of my favorites as a youngster... and I don't think it matters who you are, or what gender, to be able to walk with strength of purpose and confidence in daily life.

It doesn't necessarily matter what one can do, but just having the spirit to get up and try, learn, grow and keep going. I'm trying like hell to teach my son many of the values I share. Let's just say not everyone sees those values the same way, which makes it a challenge. And yet that's what life is all about.

From a male perspective, there are just as many degrees of ability or aptitude, but I understand your point. But what does it matter anyway? Aside from the fact that we have to deal with the expectations and assumptions of others... Seems like I've done so many different things, and I love ignoring stereotypes and doing what you love. I loved flying jets off carriers for years, and have always loved the outdoors. Always tested myself in so many ways. And yet now I spend most of my time gardening and taking care of everything. If I have time today I'd like to bake a blackberry pie. Some folks think that's weird. Who cares.

edifice rex said...

Hey Beau! thanks for your kind words. I always enjoy your comments because they are always so well thought out. I guess 'different' is a better word than abnormal but either way I am happy the way I am, just curious as to what made me this way and wish I could understand why more women don't try to be more self reliant. I guess it has it's good and bad points, as I have mentioned. Of course, you make a good point that fewer and fewer men these days seem to be self sufficient also. Not just women. I love ignoring stereotypes too! In fact, I like to go against them on purpose! :D
I don't think it's weird that you like to bake pies either and I bet they are darn good!!

Amy said...

Annie, I know this is a really old post, but I am just sort of coming out of a bit of a hibernation, I think you know what I mean. So I am going back through and reading the posts in my favorite blogs that I missed. I also know my comments are always really long, blame it on the English teacher in me. I think that the reason most women don't even consider some things is because they are socially conditioned not to do so. I don't want to get into a whole bunch of politico, but just watch the commercials on T.V. and see who does what, and then think how many hours a day American kids spend in front of the television. In addition, I saw a report once that said we (as a culture) do it from birth: #1 compliment for baby girls is a tie-either cute or beautiful, boys have a tie too-either big or strong-WHY DO WE DO THIS TO OUR KIDS? Personally I love the feel of a chainsaw/chopsaw/nailer (not so much a skilsaw b/c I suck at making straight cuts) in my hand. It makes me feel like I am DOING something. And like you I also like the feel of a man against me. I have dated men who were threatened by this, they don't know what their place is if it is not to do the heavy work-I always wondered why we couldn't just do all the work, heavy and light, together. Thank goodness Josh had been with to many women he had to take care of, by the time we got together he was ready for someone who could stand beside him. As my brother says "your alright, it's just the world that is all wrong."