Weird things that make me happy

I recently read the blog post “Embrace Whatever Makes You Happy (Even If It’s Totally Weird)” on Cordelia Calls it Quits. I love this site and how Cordelia/Kelly thinks. This post talks about reveling in the random, weird things you like and owning those likes. More importantly, it reminds the reader that we all have random weird things that give us joy. You aren’t the only one that likes random, weird things and neither am I.

Here are some weird things that make me happy:

Doing errands

This sounds strange, but I really like doing errands. I like making lists of what I need to get done, then figuring out the most efficient plan of attack to get as much done in as little time as possible. Ticking off all the items and seeing a visual representation of what I’ve accomplished feels good. I like doing errands with Flora or Sean (or both, which is rare), but I like it even better when I get to go on my own. I have very few things that I have complete control over so I think this is my way of taking charge of things going on in my life.

Driving with loud rock music playing

When I’m driving alone, I’m a rockstar in my car. I crank up the radio (this my favourite radio station). I sing along. I laugh at the jokes. I tap on the steering wheel. I am that clichΓ© you see out on the road and I’m okay with that. I love pulling into parking lots playing music that doesn’t scream “suburban mom”. I realize that there is no genre of music called “mom” (suburban or otherwise) but there is some sort of irony of Rage Against the Machine blasting on my radio as I pull into Walmart. This happened to me last weekend while I was doing errands. By myself.

Staring at the lake

I’ve lived either on or near lakes all my life. Gazing out into the water makes me feel alive and centered with the universe. Despite living close by, I don’t get down to the lake much these days. It’s good meditation so I think I need to start.

Tell me about the weird things that make you happy.

How I learned to drive

The comment I was writing on Rebecca’s post about learning to drive blew up and turned into its own blog post, so I posted it here instead.

1994-1996: Getting my G1

Growing up rural (I lived in a small town, then moved out into the country in 1996), I got my G1 as soon as I could. I was a nervous driver (even on country roads) and my mother was a nervous teacher so we didn’t drive together till I had some more practice – and lessons – under my belt. If I was going to be able to go anywhere on my own, I needed to be able to drive. I wanted that freedom – and a social life – so I learned to drive.

1997-2000: Not fully licensed, and not caring

When I moved to Oshawa to go to school, I had my G2, but didn’t have a car. My now-husband did and sometimes I rode with him. I always had a bus pass so I could get where I needed to go without relying on him since we were on different schedules.

2000-2003: Had my license, but rarely drove

Once I started commuting into Toronto to work after college, I was willing to let my license lapse – transit got me where I needed to go. The larger city roads and more aggressive drivers (never mind the 401!) scared the crap out of me. My mother insisted I get my license and I signed up for two batches of refresher lessonsΒ  (one in Oshawa, one in Belleville) when I was 20-ish. I got my full G license before my G2 expired, which was a relief – I didn’t have to worry about it anymore. I took my final G test in Belleville and not Oshawa because I was more familiar with those streets, having driven them on my own as a teenager. Those roads didn’t intimidate me. When the tester told me I passed, my first reaction was “ohmygawd, REALLY?’ – I had really messed up the parallel parking (something I’ve never even attempted since).

When we first moved into Toronto proper back in 2000, I didn’t drive. City streets still scared me and everyone was so aggressive! Sean had an ancient vehicle (a 1982 Chevrolet Caprice) that I was intimidated to drive as I had been spoiled by power steering and newer cars. I relied on the TTC and made Sean drive us places when we needed to go somewhere that was transit-unfriendly.

2004-2008: Getting braver

The Caprice was retired and Sean had purchased a 1994 minivan at the end of 2003 – nearly five years before we had our first child (we were lugging a lot of stuff around then I think). We were engaged to be married and had recently purchased our first house in Scarborough. I still relied on transit, but after a few successful trips to the grocery store in the van, I started to drive around my neighbourhood more. Errands got done with less nagging and everyone was happy.

2008-2012: Early Parenthood

When Flora was born in 2008, I stayed home with her for the first nine months. New babies are intimidating to take on public transit when you’re still dragging so much stuff with you (I wrote about my experience with that). We had a newer car by then (the minivan gave up the ghost in 2007) and Sean usually drove to work and I took transit. Once I was off work, I insisted that I get the car at least once a week so I could leave the house with Flora without it being a complete production. My driving radius got a lot bigger during this time. Necessity and boredom create bravery and Flora and I drove to the mall a lot. I drove the 401 more, but mostly heading out of the GTA.

2012-Present: Commuting again

We left Toronto in 2012 and were back to being commuters again. We bought a second car. Even though I commute to work by GO train, I do a lot more driving than I ever have. Short distances mostly, but lots of them. I drive to and from the train station, do my errands and get Flora where she needs to go. I’m not nearly as nervous anymore, but Sean is still the alpha driver at our house. When we can drive together, we do, but it happens rarely outside of visits to our parents. I drive the 401 when I have to, but I don’t enjoy it.

I guess I should thank my mother this Mother’s Day for forcing strongly encouraging me to get my driver’s license. Without it, I wouldn’t have the independence I do now, even though I live in an urban area. Thanks Mom.

No one was hurt

I had a car accident about six weeks ago.

It was minor as far as car accidents go: I was okay, the other guy was okay. Our cars needed some work, but that is long settled and I’m back behind the wheel. I wasn’t sore the next day, but I was exhausted emotionally after spending hours sobbing out of shame, fear and worry. I’m not sure if I’ve ever cried that much all at once.

What if I had hurt the other person?

What if I had been hurt?

What if my kid had been with me?

What if? What if? What if?

I spent a lot of time the day of the accident waiting for someone to yell at me: the other driver, the woman at the body shop, the report taker and cop at the collision centre, Sean, my mom, my colleagues who were waiting for me at the office.

No one yelled – people were almost blasΓ© about it. “Cars get wrecked all the time. No one was hurt and that’s what matters.” This is true and I would say the same thing to someone else, but I had a hard time shaking the shame and the guilt that I. Fucked. Up.

It happened on my way to work so I drive past the spot where it happened twice a day, five days a week. These days, I’m extra vigilant around where it happened, but not overly so. I made sure to get back behind the wheel quickly so I wouldn’t be afraid to when my car was fixed. Two days after the accident, I drove with Sean and Flora to the grocery store. Sean bristled at being a passenger and I got us all there in one piece. This event and the expected reactions to it were a big step to returning back to normal.

And I am back to normal. Mostly.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.