Lest you read the previous post and think I’m totally without fault, there is plenty of stuff I’m not good at, besides the aforementioned math.
I have no sense of direction, and despite having lived in Chicago my whole life, I can still get lost eight blocks from home if I’m not careful. I make terrible completely undrinkable coffee. I have a black thumb and cannot grow anything green, my last houseplant was a $300 silk and plastic fichus and all the leaves fell off. I have no idea when to use a semi-colon, or why, and the whole its vs. it’s thing still nails me eight times out of ten. I’m not, as you will be surprised to discover, an athlete. Although at camp I was not only a really good water-skiier, but also a junior-Olympic-qualified archer in two categories, and a ninth bar sharpshooter with a .22 caliber rifle, a fact which gives my friends whiplash when I share it with them in random conversation. None of these really count much as athleticism, since my definition for that is the requirement of sweating, and I tried to avoid camp activities that made me sweat. A habit which continues today. Also not good at practicing moderation when it comes to food, hence the current size of my butt. (I wont give a specific size, but you could safely shelter from a rainstorm underneath it.)
I flunked Introduction to Chinese freshman year of college. I’m an awful bowler, have only broken 100 points once and I was drunk at the time. I can never figure out how to change the clock in my car, and tend to just let it be an hour off for half the year till Daylight Savings Time comes back around and makes it right again.
But I can set up audio equipment like a champ, installed my own television when I bought it, running the system through the cable, Tivo and DVD player all by myself, so I do get some mechanical/technical points.
So despite the long list of things I cannot do, the whole polymath thing still sort of fits. And one of my polymathematical skills, one of the best actually, is that I can cook.
I don’t mean I have a couple decent dishes or that I bake a little. I mean that I am a self-taught gourmet cook who can make just about anything (except, as I said earlier, coffee). I mean that I have good friends who are professionally trained chefs and own restaurants who refer to me as a chef and have invited me into their kitchens and praised my skills.
I have catered for people, cooking multi course sit down dinner parties and buffets for over 60, and I am the Queen of Thanksgiving. I have friends who like to test me by asking me over and making me make dinner out of whatever they have lying around. I write my own recipes. Friends try to get me to enter the Next Food Network Star contest every year.
I’m a really really good cook, and I love that about me.
I love prepping and planning and slicing and dicing, and I love when my friends come over and roll their eyes and make faces and moan in gastronomic delight. I love that people actually take leftovers with them at the end of my dinner parties. I love that everyone asks for my kitchen secrets, and calls me for cooking advice.
Second only to my skills in the kitchen, are my skills as a master procrastinator. Even things I love, like writing, I hate to actually sit down and do. Especially if there is good TV on. So it is a surprise to no one, especially me, that mere weeks before my last book was due, I found myself doing anything but knuckling down and writing. Which is very common for me at deadline time, but the way that my personal form of procrastination manifested itself this time around was something totally new, ridiculously obsessive, and resulted in a nearly 9 month saga that is still not fully concluded.
NEXT: The Polymath’s Writing Process. Or, the Non-Writing Process