Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Certified esthetician

I was asked to write a blog post for the public school where I studied for a year and graduated in esthetics.

Three passions unite: writing, skin care and makeup.

Full article on the school's blog here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

More on driving

When I was 18 years old, the guy I dated drove a white Honda Prelude which, like he, was fragranced with Calvin Klein Eternity.  The car had a manual transmission and had an 8 ball in lieu of the traditional stick shift.  He was patient enough to let me have my first try out at driving standard.  I wasn't really good at it, but I liked the feeling.  It gave me an even better sensation of control and, for a person who loves to drive, it involved me even more.  The clutch survived and our friendship did too, but we stopped dating.

In 2000, my deareast first car, Chouchoune, was slowly falling apart from rust damage.  I had to travel for work and ended up having approximately 10 days to buy a new car.  My options were, for the same amount, a 1996 Nissan Maxima, standard, or a Ford Contour 1998, automatic.  Because I hadn't practiced much and would spend a lot of time on the road, I hesitated to get the Maxima with manual transmission and decided to take the Ford Contour instead.  Now I loved my Contour while she was good but HATED her when I changed the timing belt for the second time in 6 months.  What a mistake! 

My best friend bought her new car, standard of course, and I had the chance to drive it on a few occasions and I was hooked.  I figured the next MissIPP Mobile would just have to be standard.  When the time came, I went to the car dealer and decided on the model, colour and everything.  I went to pick up my new vehicle on a Friday night and I was handed the keys shortly before closing time.  I was hanging around the dealership doors, waiting, when the saleswoman came to see me.  "Is there something we can help you with?", she asked.  "Oh no, thank you.  I'm just waiting for my sister and her boyfriend to come meet me.  He's going to take the car across the street in the parking lot to teach me how to drive" is what I answered.  I would have paid $20 to get a picture of the look on her face.  "You don't know how to drive standard?", she blurted out.  "Well, yes, I know how to drive standard!  I just need to practice".  I'm convinced she was genuinely preoccupied about the car she had just leased me.

My sister and her boyfriend did arrive.  He drove the car across the street for me and we switched seats.  He would make me stop and go; the most important "how to" when learning to drive standard.  The they followed me home to make sure not too many cars would hit the horn behind me if I stalled at a stop sign or red light.  I discovered how quickly the right arm and its middle finger can be raised to signal the driver in the car behind you that you'll only be one second, hence the one and only finger.

I avoided hills at all cost at first and then eventually got the hang of it.  I learned that high heels are much easier to drive in versus platform shoes that won't let you feel the clutch.  I realized that some men (Hello, Bodyguard!) are still prejudiced and assume that women don't drive standard.  Perhaps it's the way I handle the stick that impressed him?  No pun intended ;o)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Addictions - Part 4: driving

When I turned 16, all I could think of (besides boys) was to put money aside so I could go back to Rio de Janeiro as soon as I could.  I had spent a month there 2 years prior and only wanted to go back as soon as I could (finally went back 15 years after - story to be told in a different blog post).  I was working part-time making $6 an hour in a kids' clothing store with no commission and baby-sitting a lot as well for even less money.  Saving up was hard to do.  (What do you know?  History repeats itself because it's still hard to do!)  My dad, on the other hand, had other plans for me.  He wanted me to take my driver's license classes.

Yuk.  I could not care less.  My mom was driving me everywhere I wanted to! :o)  Of course, Papa a raison, I ended up taking my classes.  We had theory classes for nearly 20 hours  which led to an official written exam in governmental offices.  Then, with my apprentice's permit in hand, I was authorized to take the actual driving lessons and/or drive with someone who had their driver's license.  I succeeded at the written exam the first time around.

My dad would take me driving in the industrial park on week-ends so that I would be able to practice without fearing traffic.  I think he was always comfortable with my driving because I took after him.  Except for parallel parking.  People laugh when I talk about how stressed out I am when I have to parallel park and I have a passenger in my car.  These people have obviously never tried to park with my dad in the car.  It's a story so famous that it's even a running gag.  My dad loves his white walls.  He used to shine them every Friday afternoon during the summertime and these fine white lines could not be scratched.  Try to picture adolescent me, learning how to drive, with my dad by my side telling me : "Watch the tires.  Careful!  Watch the tires.  Not so close.  STOP!"  When you see danger and you look at it, where do you think you end up?  Boom.  Sidewalk.  "Sorry, dad".

Then came the time to pass my road test.  My dad's friend, a retired cop, had become a road test instructor for the government (SAAQ).  He took me for a three-hour drive one afternoon and took me through all the tough areas where the instructor whom would eventually take me on the road for my test would most likely take me.  "Watch the yellow line when you take this curve.  The road tends to pull you towards it; make sure you stay within your lane.  At a stop sign, stop ON THE LINE.  Not a foot before and not an inch after.  This street is two-ways on this end, but one-way only starting here.  The instructor is going to watch if you see the signs and try to have you go the wrong way into a one-way street.  Watch for it."  I was given all the pointers!  On the day of my exam, the man had been instructed to pass me, unless I literally failed to respect safety laws. But I didn't and hurray for me, I got my driver's license!

I have been driving ever since.  My mom's car at first and then I bought my first (used) car when before I turned 19.  I discovered a passion for driving.  I love to go over the speed limit.  My cruising speed?  145 km/hr.  But that was before April 2009 when, in Quebec, they doubled speeding ticket fees and demerit points.  I am not afraid of driving at 145 km/hr on the highway however; I fear having to cut back on everything in my budget to be able to afford a speeding ticket.  Since then, I have been respecting speed limits very diligently :o(

I don't mind a 6-7 hour drive.  I love it, in fact.  As long as I know I have my cell phone and my iPod, I am good to hit the road!  My name is MissIPP and I am addicted to driving!