Friday, September 20, 2013

Bow Hunting skills, Computer Hacking Skills

I’m so amazed with people who have skills.  Turns out most people I know have useful skills.  People can do extraordinary things such as fix bikes, write programs, be doctors, fill out forms, do taxes, be accountants, teach students all day, plan weddings, bake cakes, give CPR, cross-country ski, braid their hair, put on nice outfits, paint pretty pictures, fix broken shit, make toothpaste, write grants, coach soccer, drive buses, make documents look nice, use excel, engineer things, play bizarre instruments, make nice speeches, go to grad school, buy houses,  talk to other adults, sew shit, organize their rooms, put on eyeliner, make pottery… HOLY CRAP!! I am absolutely wide-eyed with wonder at how many skills people have. 
I have very soft skills.  That’s a really nice way to say that I can’t do anything practical.  On the other hand, I excel at things like day-dreaming, making up stories, and generally being kind to people.    I am exceptional in vague qualities such as listening, relating, musing, imagining, and dreaming.  I have no idea how I have gotten through life on these skills alone. I think it’s mostly because the majority of my time up until several years ago has been spent in school.  I am a good student; school is where I shine the most.  I get to spend almost all my time reading, listening, thinking, and then making shit up.  It was great for me.  It was a sanctuary in which I needed very little practical skills.  I feel like a fish out of water now, even in a world that ‘celebrates soft skills.’  As it turns out, today’s most lauded ‘soft skills’ include being able to do all sorts of mysterious stuff to computers and ipads, and these skills I certainly don’t have.  I have the sort of soft skills that would have been recognized in rural England in the 1700s.  It’s to the point where the word ‘soft’ doesn’t even accurately describe what skills I do have.  Perhaps ‘fluffy’ would do the trick.  I honestly have no idea why anyone would ever hire me.  I should probably be arrested for being a generally unhelpful citizen.   

I’m trying, pretty fiercely, these days to acquire some useful skills.  It’s really cool to be able to tell someone that you know how to play the violin, how to do math, or how to bake chocolate chip cookies.  I’m totally perplexed throughout my bike maintenance classes, but still trying.  I have multiple seizures whenever I have to do budgeting stuff for my job .  I can’t get by on my good looks and fluffy skills alone.  When people in my line of work start getting all technical with me, I black out.  I don’t even know how to interact with my people my age.  Technical this, finance that, programulate programualte, and all I can say for myself is that I’m really great at listening to music and taking the bus.  Hey! That actually might be a skill. 

All to say, that I apologize if I drive you nuts over my lack of practical skills.  I may not be able to get from point A to point B easily, and I may not know exactly what you are talking about or how you know the things you do, but I deeply admire your abilities and focus in all these mysterious details and agonizingly complex logistics of life.  And, I’m really trying. 

Napoleon Dynamite had it right.  It's sexy to have skills. Thank you all for your work! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


There are all these articles circulating about the mild panic that descends on a woman in her mid to late twenties.  Regarding? Oh the usual things.  Being single and childless.  Having nothin’ to say for yourself, I guess.  Hogwash, I say!  Utter hogwash.  If you are feeling these twinges, then you will most likely end up hitting these milestones. 

I haven’t felt even the slightest degree of panic about these supposed gaps in my life.  In fact, my panic usually descends when one of these much-lauded milestones seems to move even several millimeters closer to future life reality.  I will go out of my way, at this point, to guarantee that I will not get married and have babies.  I won’t go as far to presume that this will never change about me, but from where I stand now, this is how I feel. 

We are all different, you see.  Some of us aspire to entirely different milestones than the usual cultural or biological ones.  That’s the whole reason why articles about that, while intended to be enlightening, totally irritate me.  It frames everything around the same traditions that I wish to flagrantly disregard.  It’s like a vehement atheist who can only frame his or her belief system around the absence of a god, rather than revealing more meaningful glimpses into their spirituality that have nothing to do with the concept of a god at all.

I don’t really see these oh-I’m so untraditional and 27 and unmarried and without career or children but starting to get nervous when people talk about it and probably want to do these things anyway so I’m not a failure as a woman- articles as feminist at all. They just further validate that our role as women, at the end of the day, really IS to be a mother and a wife.  Or have a successful career.  Basically to have something culturally-validated to say about themselves.

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.  But for the love of Thor and Odin, frame yourself in a context that uniquely fits you. Comparison to others is the most abstract thing a person can do and also the most hurtful.  Reading articles like that simply makes a young woman compare herself to millions of faceless young women, rather than looking within herself to see how much she has grown as an individual over the years, and smile over the infinities of tiny and meaningful moments she has had with herself and others. 

Right, so the fact that I sacrifice a goat to the gods of fortune every morning I wake up and am marvelously unmarried and without small children who belong to me, is perfect for me.  The fact that my milestones are seemingly small, innocuous, or bizarre when compared to tangible things like using my ovaries and paying lots of money to become really territorial with one person, doesn’t matter.  I hope to always celebrate the happiness’s of others, in whatever form they may come in.  Celebrating the marriage of two different couples this summer were the highlights of the season for me, because it was right for them and it made them happy.  What also makes me happy? That these same blissfully-wedded friends appreciate and are also engladdened at the events and things in my life that make me happy. 

We are who we are who we are.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

So much depends upon a red wheel barrow

This last weekend, I reached a personal milestone.  I biked for more than 100 miles!  I spent the weekend on a bike tour with Cycles for Change, in which we all raised at least $200 to support the community programs, and then enjoyed three days of biking through the rolling yellow hills of western Wisconsin, touring farms, and making fresh food.  It was, without a doubt, the most beautiful scenery I have ever experienced on bike.  Both the gateway trail and the farm country of Wisconsin were stunning.  We even came across this red barn with this famous poem written on it....Tis needless to say that I have been bitten by the bike touring bug.  I’m already planning a trip that I had initially wanted to do this last summer but was overall way too soon for me between getting back from Peace Corps, settling in, and all that.  Next summer, I’m going to bike between LA and San Francisco-hopefully in about 2 weeks, and visit my two brothers who live in those respective locations.  I’m going to call it the Big Brother Bike Tour 2014.  It gives me almost a year to figure out all the logistics, and possibly get another bike that’s better for touring.  The first step starts tomorrow, as I begin my month-long basic bike maintenance course at Cycles for Change.  Perhaps a breeze for many, things that involve using my hands in artful and practical ways are nothing short of terrifying for me.  I have atrocious fine motor skills and am flagrantly stupid at anything practical.  It will be a challenge.

There was a teenager on the bike tour who was surprised that I was 26.  She told me that I didn’t seem that old because I was so approachable and didn’t talk about things like business and work and money and houses.  That was about as much validation as I could ever desire.  And, seeking validation is okay, too.  At the end of the day, I feel like we are all just peeking from behind our hands at our peers, our eyes wide and urgent with the question, “Am I okay?  Do you like me?  Am I okay?”  So, thanks for that, Moira.  You are more than okay in my books.

Not entirely related but I’ve been thinking a lot about the values we are indoctrinated in as children and adolescents!  (It is the start of the school year, after all).  It’s amazing.  We find ourselves believing all sorts of negative things about ‘alternative’ lifestyles.  Like, orgies are bad, polyamory is bad, being gay is bad, drugs are bad, homelessness is bad, vulgarity is bad…truly the most gratifying part of ‘growing up’ has been the slow unveiling surrounding these cultural values we have. To reveal?  Nothing is bad.  This was further cemented over a beer with old friends yesterday when we came to the conclusion what life is all about: 
 "It's all about doing weird things and not calling them weird"

As a further extension of a previous blog post where I ranted and raved about beautiful imperfections and quirks, I’d like to say again that what makes you different or unseemly or edgy or crusty or dirty or weird is also probably what makes you excellent and okay.