I want to be better

I wish I were better at guitar. I’ve been playing since I was in the ninth grade, but my skill level never really developed past decent chord strumming and very basic finger picking. It’s a combination of reasons, really. Lack of natural talent, sure. I’d never describe myself as a natural. But that’s not everything. I’m a firm believer that practice, practice, practice can overcome any built-in limitations. And over the course of my fourteen year history with the instrument, yeah, I’ve picked it up at sometimes regular intervals and worked on stuff, songs and techniques. There’s been some improvement. But I should have been able to learn all of my accumulated skill in a fraction of the time, a year really. I love playing but I get so frustrated whenever I spend too much time making stupid mistakes, not really getting my fingers to do what I know they should be doing.

I wish I could slam-dunk. I’m tall enough where you’d think just by looking at me that I could totally slam-dunk. And I can’t. I can’t even palm a basketball, but my hands are gigantic. Yeah I can jump and get my hands over the rim, but there’s just something missing. I can run. I can jump. I can hold a ball. Why can’t I slam-dunk? A few times in my life I’ve stood right under the basketball and jumped really, really hard, holding the ball in both hands, and sort of touching the rim as the ball went in. Slam-dunk? I’d say yes, but really, no. It gets me nuts when I see people significantly shorter than me fly off the ground and dunk it in.

Snowboarding. I’ve been snowboarding like five times and I could never get the hang of it. Little kids can snowboard. Every fifteen year old can snowboard. Why can’t I get the hang of it? At this point I don’t even try anymore. If I’m going to spend three hours in a car and sixty bucks on a lift ticket, I’m not going to waste my day falling down the mountain. I’ve gotten to the point where I just tell myself that I like skiing better. And I guess I do. But I’m not even that great a skier. I just kind of go, it’s automatic. I’m not doing all of those crazy controlled back-and-forths like all of the real skiers do. And then when I’m going down, a whole group of snowboarders will zoom past and I’m just like, how the hell?

Drawing. Illustration. I’ve been basically drawing the same picture of Spider-Man over and over again since I was in the second grade. Which sucks, because when I’m presented with a pencil and blank sheet of paper, I get a really strong feeling inside, all of the potential, the possibilities for creative expression. But I can never come up with anything interesting to draw. I can do a pretty decent still life, but that’s just pure technique, strictly an ability to replicate what I see in front of me. I’ve taken drawing classes. I’ve gotten pretty good at faces, features. But hands, fingers, proportions. It’s all so hit or miss.

Poker. Every time I try to play poker I make an idiot out of myself. I know the rules. I’m a fairly intelligent guy. Why can’t I develop some sort of winning strategy? Not even a winning strategy. Why can’t I develop some sort of a non-losing strategy?

Pumpkin carving. I hate how, every fall, I go online and see all of these photos of ridiculously intricate pumpkin carvings. One time I tried following a pattern of something that I found online and there was no way. I’d get that knife in and I didn’t even think about the angle at which I was cutting. And then making a sharp point? Or a nice round curve? It looked terrible.

Viennese pastry cooking. Holy shit. I found this cookbook in my mom’s kitchen called The Cooking of Vienna’s Empire. And I know my way around a kitchen. But I picked what I thought looked like the easiest recipe, a sachertorte. It was a disaster. Getting the layers of cake from one pan to another. The raspberry jelly tasted like industrial glue. Why can’t I make a decent cake? These things aren’t outside of the realm of human possibility.

Knife sharpening. There has to be a way to keep your knives sharp without taking them for a professional sharpening every month. I have like two of those stones, one of those long sharpening rods. I think they have to be just for show, just a way to get people to spend money at kitchen-good stores. I’ll sharpen back and forth, slowly and deliberately for like fifteen minutes, and then I’ll go to slice something and the blade slips and cuts my finger.

Wound management. Whenever I cut myself, I never clean it just right. Like I’ll wash it out, but then I won’t let it dry enough, or I’m not putting enough pressure on it, elevating it just right, but it keeps bleeding, and then I add too much Neosporin so the band-aid doesn’t stick, it falls off when I’m at work, and then somebody finds a band-aid in their soup. Or the band-aid sticks too well, like I keep it on for days, and then when I finally peel it off the skin is all white and sickly looking.

Man, I just wish I were better at things.

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