March 31, 2010

The unfortunate limits to my powers

I have a recurring problem that you may have noticed, Blog: I’m forever discovering things I want to do and am perfectly willing to attempt them in an untrained, unskilled manner on the off chance I can do them anyway. This approach to life has worked pretty well for me.

The results are not always worthy of ovations; see the response to my attempt at doing a cartoon—or lack thereof. Similarly, back in the 80’s I taught myself a couple of years of piano and composed a theme and variations for pipe organ that I was personally unable to play. It was performed at our church because (a) my husband at the time was the pastor and (b) the organist was my best friend. The piece was good enough to not embarrass me, but not a soul came up to me after the service with kudos either.

Still, I get a certain satisfaction from doing these things whether other people are impressed or not, which I think is as it should be, Blog. I’ve made beer (decent) and mead (awful), so I tell myself I have something in common with the cool people who produce spirits from scratch. I’ve been in a few musicals, which of course is huge in my world. I’ve spoken French (feebly) in two interviews on Quebec TV and radio, which made me feel I was a true Francophone albeit briefly. Even my horrendously bad attempt to learn to rollerblade made me feel like I could relate to hockey players.

All that said, there are some things I know I really can’t do. Or at least, my being able to do them pathetically only frustrates me because I really want to be able to do them well. And here are a few examples of the ones that bug me the most, and the Lame Substitutions I must do instead.

Sing in a rock band. I can sing decently as referenced above, and I have even played guitar a tiny bit, but even if I was 24 again there isn’t a garage band in the country that would have me. One time I borrowed a friend’s bass and he showed me how to play the bass line from The Police song “Walking on the Moon.” I thought that would help, Blog, but it only made me more bummed that I will go to my grave without ever being Linda Ronstadt in her Stone Poneys days.

Lame Substitution: I guess instead of playing guitar I could sew one, like this admittedly cool one from The Grateful Thread. They make and sell softie guitars as well as “Monsters of Rock” soft toys.

Do 3D Illustration with DAZ software. My illustrator friend CC Rogers does this and is an absolute pro. Problem is, not only does it take mad artistic skilz, which I can muster to a modest level, but you also need to understand all the complexities of the software that are used in posing, lighting, etc. In short, you kind of have to be an engineer. Which I am so not.

Lame Substitution: I did have good time creating portraits of most of the characters in my books and stories. I used a much simpler software program called FaceGen in conjunction with Photoshop. I thought the results were good enough to merit my using them in the fortune telling cards I published (Diana’s Deck). But to be honest, Blog, being able to do decent character heads is a far cry from the stuff CC does. Sigh.

Be a gourmet chef. I’m a decent enough cook, and in fact not too long ago I thought gourmet cooking was a hobby of mine. That was until my younger daughter, Amanda aka Manzi, grew up. The girl who survived on Hot Pockets until she was 20 suddenly became obsessed with the Food Network and now she’s all about cooking stuff like Shrimp Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce. For my 50th birthday, 24-year-old Manzi (with sister Katie as sous chef/food photographer/scrapbook chronicler) catered a six-course food and wine pairings dinner for ten that would have impressed Tom Colicchio. I just can’t compete with that.  Oh, and I can’t scrapbook either.

Lame Substitution: I do try to cook in a tasty fashion anyway, Blog. It may not be frequent, but I’ve been known to make stuff like grilled lime tequila shrimp now and again. And I certainly do make Alton Brown-style turkey every Thanksgiving.

Be a fantasy sculptor. OMG, Blog, a couple days ago I discovered the most amazing polymer clay sculptor, Nicole West. Her dolls absolutely blow my mind. I mean, how does she make eyes like that? And how do they come out looking like perfect porcelain? She even gives them details like fingernails and tiny teeth and stuff. Oy vay, you have to go to her site and look at them, I’m serious, they define the laws of everything. Nicole’s work is so gorgeous that of course, I fall back on my usual reaction of “is there any possible way I could do something even remotely like this?” In this case I’m sure you will join in my enthusiastic chorus of “NO POSSIBLE WAY.”

Lame Substitution: There’s no substitution for something as fabulous as Nicole West’s dolls, Blog, so give up now.

Well, there are more examples but I’m bummed enough already, Blog. I don’t know where I got the “That-Looks-Cool-I’m-Gonna-Do-It-Too” gene, but there it is, all day-glo pink and unignorable in my DNA.

[And yes, I’m going to try sculpting some faces in polymer clay. Do I hear the strains of “What Kind of Fool Am I?”]


  1. Aw, I wish you lived closer so I could help you play with DAZ Studio! I still think you'd have fun with it if you could get past the (admittedly steep) initial learning curve.

    I think it's amazingly cool that you try your hand at so many different things, never knowing when you're going to find something new to love. And you're really good at many of them, so I don't want to hear any lamenting at not being the world's best at everything! You can't hog all the glory, you know. :-)

  2. I wish you did too, CC! I might be able to figure it out with that kind of help! "...all the glory..."--you're funny! Thanks for the compliment, though! :-)