Well, first I've got to show ya'll what I accomplished today! See that? With those windows being trimmed out, all the exterior trim is done!!! Yay!! I'm so happy. I got that finished and then proceeded to get the siding started on the clerestory face. What a pain in the butt. I got into a wasp's nest (didn't get stung), I accidentally drilled a hole in my leg (don't ask; I'm not even sure how I did that) and I messed up 6 feet of siding before I got the first piece to fit BUT I did finally get the first run started and going. I cursed so fluidly and with such veracity as to make proud the heart of any construction worker, young or old. Ol' Dominecker would have saluted me.
Of course, as soon as I finish the clerestory I've got to top out this piece of a gable. It shouldn't be too bad though.
Now, back to our discussion. Thanks so much for your answers and they did shed some light for me. I think Deb, who is only a year older than me, had a good point about our generation. I think ours was the first generation that the principles of equality for women were actively applied to public schools. The 60's and 70's had fought for equal rights and pay etc. but it didn't really come into effect until about the 80's. I remember in junior high the boys and girls took turns with Home Ec. and Shop. Each gender got half a year of both. I don't remember my older sister getting to take Shop so I think this was a new policy. It pissed me because, although we could take shop and use tools, they still wouldn't let the girls weld. I have often wanted to go back and shove my welding certificate in their face. Pfffftt! Take that, you bastards! heehee, just kidding. Then in high school there wasn't much talk of getting married and kids. The girls were encouraged and given the same options as the guys. College or join the military. ROTC was popular and many of the girls joined. In fact, several of my friends joined the regular military after high school. I think there were so many options available to us girls that many of us did 'wander' a little and there is nothing wrong with that. I went on to college because it was expected in my family but proceeded to wander after that and I am glad I did really.
As I've said, I don't have a problem with being 'abnormal', if indeed I am, but the extent to which I have taken self-sufficiency does sometimes get in the way of things. A lot of it is the social conditioning of the South. Melody, you are right. To me, women here get a real mixed message. You are supposed to be feminine and love dresses and tea parties and then at the same time, if you can't put the fear of God into some man if he dares to treat you unkindly, well, they just aren't going to respect you. Kinda that 'tomboy hiding behind high heels kinda thing'. Chicory is very correct in that it will take a very secure man to stay around me. (and I can't wait to see your studio too!) In fact, I had one carpenter sit me down and explain to me that I was too self-reliant. I give the men no opportunity to "come to my rescue" and apparently many Southern men need this in order to feel manly. As one 'ex' told me, "there's nothing I can do for you (that I can't do myself) and nothing that I can say to you (that some other man hasn't already told me)." I can assure any man however, that I will gladly let him be Bug Squasher Supreme, build all stuff he wants and take care of my truck if that makes him happy. Even the glorious Switchman told me one time at the end of that job, "I thought it was really cool when I first saw that a woman was out here doing this kind of work but after I saw the kind of work you actually have to do, it makes me feel bad. I don't like to see you work like that". Well, honey, I would gladly give it up if a decent man were to come along and want me to hold a more 'genteel' job, as my heart doctor keeps lecturing me to do. Driving 100 stakes in packed gravel in 100 degree weather lost it's adventurous appeal long ago. I'll stay my ass in the kitchen and bake pies!
I think what it boils down to, is that I simply turned out to be the perfect, horrid combination of faulty genetics, an unbridled mind and a crappy attitude. You see, I was born with not only a heart defect, but a reproductive one as well. An imbalance of the estrogen and testosterone did not allow my organs to develop and keeps me from carrying a pregnancy. As best I can tell, this imbalance also provided a stronger upper body than most women, larger and stronger hands and an attitude closer to a man's when it comes to life. But yet, I like men. You know, I like men. Heehee.
FloridaCracker asked if I was encouraged to 'step outside the box' when I was growing up. Well, I wasn't actually encouraged to do much of anything but I wasn't discouraged either. My parents were told frequently that there was something wrong with me, that I was mentally handicapped but instead of trying to take extra time with me I think they just said, the hell with it and just kinda let me do my own thing. Maybe not the best way to go about it, but it worked. Because I was not guided a certain way I grew up with no preconceived notions of how things were 'supposed' to be for a girl. Now, socially this can be a problem but educationally this was great I guess. If I wanted to learn anything I just tried it. They could tell I was different and if it kept me quiet to give me a hammer to play with, then that was fine. My mom did buy me a little tool set when I was about 5 or 6 and any kind of crafty things to make stuff with. I do remember being tested often in elementary school. They would take me out of class and ask me crazy questions like, "what is the main ingredient in making glass?" I was six but I knew the answer. It's sand or silica. I used to read encyclopedias when I was little, that's all. I don't remember telling my parents about the tests. So, my mind was just free to wander and no one tried to guide me a certain way. Now, initially this might sound pretty good but at a very young age I also realized that I was basically on my own. I remember once when I was about 7 or 8, I woke up one night after a very bad storm when my sister came back in the room. A tornado had come very close to our house and my parents had gathered up all the others but me. I was left alone during the storm, and many other times also, and this kinda became the pattern for my life. I taught myself to tie my shoes, to swim and ride a bike. I taught myself to drive and got my license on my own. When a friend's mother took her to take the test, I just went along for the ride. Her Mom asked me if I wanted to take my test while we were there so I said 'why not' and passed. None of my family asked me about such things and I'm not saying this to sound pitiful; it's just the way it was. I did learn a bit in school besides the academic stuff. They taught me how to keep a check book and cooking and a few other things and if I ever had trouble in school I worked it out myself. I told my parents about some stuff but they didn't seem concerned, so I learned early that my life was basically up to me. I had the good fortune of having some very nice teachers and guidance counselors that helped me, so I learned who to ask for help. I became very proficient at watching other people to see how they did things. Now with the Internet, I can see how different my upbringing was when I read other's blogs about their life and see how they interact with their kids. I mean, I think it was about 2 weeks before my father realized I had moved off to college. I'm not kidding. Sometimes I look back now and think I did pretty darn good to get this far.
And yes, sometimes I have a crappy attitude. I get very impatient with men. Just let me do it my damn self. I know what I want, just get out of my way. I'm trying to work real hard on changing that. I realize most other women my age are married and simply don't have to do the things I do. And, as Beatrice suggested, maybe they underestimate their ability to do such or are discouraged by men. That's why they don't learn to weld or drive a trackhoe. Hell, I wouldn't do some of it myself if I had someone else willing to do it. I'd still want to weld though!
So, the combination of all these things is what made me. Good or bad. But, I figure if I've learned all this maybe I can learn that when a man tells me I look nice, to smile sweetly and simply say "thank you", rather than "what the f**k do you want?" Maybe?
To answer some of the other comments: Hayley, you CAN learn carpentry or anything else. Most all states, maybe even Alaska, have technical colleges where you can go to take courses in welding, carpentry or any of the trades. I realize where you are now may limit you to what schooling you can get however. When I was an apprentice, Bessemer Tech in Birmingham was where we went but the courses are open to anyone and you don't have to be actively employed in the trades at the same time. The YWCA in Birmingham also offers trade schooling for women only, at little or no cost, and most union halls offer schooling to anyone interested, so there are lots of ways for women to get training in any of the trades. If any of you women are truly interested in learning more, check out your local resources. Call some local construction companies and simply ask where their craftsmen get their training. You can usually audit courses from colleges also. You don't get hourly credits for the course, like if you were getting a degree, but you get to take the entire class for a greatly reduced price.
FloridaCracker, you can look here and here to see what circumstances directed me into the construction industry.