I was watching The Voice recently, and I found myself imagining what life would be like for someone with that kind of talent. These people were amazing, and I imagined that the world must be like a nonstop birthday party for the lucky few that could belt out a heart-wrenching rendition of “Endless Love” and turn it into a million-dollar recording contract.
But I’m not unaware (I do read Star Magazine regularly) that even the most gifted among us don’t automatically “have it all.” It seems that the universe likes a level playing field. We’re each given certain talents, passions, or personality traits to share with the world, but lest we become too prideful, other abilities are taken away. (I love to write, but sing like a frog stuck under a bucket.)
I got to thinking about my gifts, which quickly segued into a mental list of my failings, which was humbling in its diversity.
1. I can’t cook. At all. Recipes read like ancient hieroglyphics to me, and for some reason, all seem to assume that one is born with a at least a rudimentary knowledge of measurements and raw food ingredients. I’ve never figured out what “a pinch” of something is, why rack placement is relevant to the outcome of your cookies, and who the hell would spend $12 on a tiny jar of something called “Cardamom.”
Over the years, I’ve set fire to five kitchens, burnt a couple dozen tubes of cookie dough into cinders, exploded three batches of bread dough (two onto the floor and countertops, and one into the ceiling fan), blew the door off an antique stove, made a cheesecake that required a Sawzall to cut, and accidentally torched the family cat trying to light a gas oven.
The universe (and my family) seems determined to keep me from further attempts to master this failing. Hubs is more to the point with a simple “For the love of God, woman, stay out of the kitchen.”
2. I can’t stay on a diet. I’ve been on them all. I’ve done Jenny, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, and Atkins. I’ve tried HCG drops, metabolism boosting supplements, juice fasts, and cabbage soup plans. Hubs says my average diet lasts until I get hungry, which is usually about two hours after breakfast. One if it was anything other than bacon, eggs, and toast.
Diets are like budgets. Both are based on deprivation. Weight loss experts tell you to write down all your favorite foods, thus producing a list of things you’re never allowed to eat again. Ever. Then they hand you a new list of crap you’re expected to eat instead for the rest of your cranky, deprived life. If I liked broccoli, I’d eat broccoli. Since I hate broccoli and I love chocolate, we’ll forever remain at an impasse.
3. I can’t single-task. I have an internal need to be doing a minimum of three things at any given time. Single-tasking makes me anxious. My life is governed by the all pervasive To-Do list, and accomplishment comes from seeing tasks crossed off like a 6-year-old getting stars on his homework.
Hubs and I love movies, but we haven’t been in an actual theater for 10+ years because I can’t sit still and watch the screen for two hours without getting up to check my messages, get another glass of wine, fold the clothes, unload the dishwasher, paint my nails, or clean out the refrigerator because I got up to get a Diet Coke and noticed some expired produce in the crisper. After the first two years together, Hubs just accepted that this is my way of enjoying a movie and he stopped asking if he should put it on pause until I came back.
4. I suck at delayed gratification. I tend to be an impatient person, and Hubs repeatedly states that I’m congenitally incapable of waiting for things I want. My basic philosophy is that if I can be happy while I wait for it, I can probably be happy without it, so then I must not really want it. If I truly want it and it’s a quality of life issue, it makes sense that I need it now.
Needless to say, this has caused a few bumps in the marital road between Hubs and me. Unless he’s prepared to move forward immediately, he’s learned to respond to my requests involving large expenditures with a monosyllabic “No.” “Let’s wait” or “Let’s talk about it” are not optional responses because everything that isn’t an emphatic “No” will interpreted as a “Great idea! Here’s the checkbook.”
5. I’m not a duck. Criticism or rejection doesn’t just roll off my back with Ghandi-like grace. I tend to take it to heart, getting all hurt and self-absorbed, wailing “Why don’t they like me??” until Hubs finally throws his hands up and turns on the Big Game. With headphones.
Criticism is painful, but rejection kills me. Yeah, interesting, given that I choose to be a writer. Gee, no rejection in that endeavor. Agent rejections, blog unsubscribes, Facebook defriending, all immediately catapult me to the nearest Safeway for a half-gallon of Ben & Jerry’s Schweddy Balls and a tube of Pillsbury Slice-n-Bake cookie dough. (Yes, together.) My worst nightmare is that someone will read my funniest post, look up and solemnly state, “I don’t get it,” at which point, I’ll start searching the want ads for job openings as a sex tester at the local organic chicken ranch. (Yep, that’s a real job. Somebody’s got to figure out if those baby furballs have a willy or not.)
But now, at 58, I’ve learned that even with my wealth of shortcomings, I’m good. And instead of constantly trying to overcome my flaws, I’m learning to work around them. Besides, for those rare days when the bad outweighs the good, I can still sing in the shower.
And there’s always more wine.