skill set

June 23, 2009 at 3:29 pm (thinking, this and that)

I just turned in my final grades for the last class I will ever teach at FSU, and I have three more plays/reading responses due before I finish my last DIS. The only academic work I plan on doing afterwards directly relates to my new writing project that I am super-excited about, but that is still super-secret. 

The handmaiden of such changes has been a mild existential crisis wherein I have realized that most of my skill set is completely useless outside of graduate school. I know I will use my research skills (which are, after three years, pretty boss) and ancient Greek (which is OK considering) for personal writing projects, but in terms of the auxiliary personal goals I’m working towards I am the proverbial babe in the woods.

Thus I am embarking on a project of trying to learn how to “do stuff.” Mechanical things, like taking care of a bike or fixing shit that breaks, or just work better with my hands. Right now I tally my practical skills, as they stand, at:

1. Making Food: I am an awesome cook no doubt. I can pretty much cook or bake anything I set my mind do. I can cook traditional vegan fare and I can veganize omni dishes like a champ. I can cook under a variety of conditions, from crappy, ill-equipped kitchens to kitchens with gadgets, fancy pans, and doodads, to cooking pancakes or stew or whatever on a grill over a coal pit in the middle of the fucking woods. 

2. Knitting: I am a reasonably OK knitter. I can do hats and scarves and mittens and I could probably make a sweater I just get bored by big projects or anything with tiny needles. I have provided warm garments for a number of people I love and plan to keep doing so. 

3. Taking Care of Cats: I have amassed a body of knowledge on this subject, from geriatrics to the tiniest of kittens.

4. Making Kombucha: I gave my mother to a dear friend because I didn’t know if she’d make it out Colorado but once we get up there I plan to get brewing again. 

5. Identifying Birds: In the Southeast I am pretty good at knowing what kind of bird I am looking at.

6. Making Fire: I can do that on camping trips or in fireplaces.

7. Taking Care of Cast Iron: Currently as I am typing this I am re-seasoning my cast iron. The serious kind of re-seasoning, where you scrape it down with steel wool and then coat it in vegetable shortening and bake the fuck out of it. Right now my house smells like pancakes.

8. Make Art Or Possibly Craft Depending on Who You Ask: I’m not sure if this counts but I can do printmaking and painting and I can draw stuff OK. I can also do stuff like re-cover seat cushions and hot glue stuff and sew minor things like Halloween costumes.

As far as I can tell that’s it. So the reason I’m thinking about this is that today I took my bike to my friend’s house (same friend to whom I gave the kombucha) to see if there was anything wrong with it. Basically five years ago I bought a bike so I could bike to campus, and then after I graduated I’ve not used it. Now we’re moving to Boulder, so I know I will want to bike, so I figured I would start biking around Tally to get back into it. My friend, who bikes a ton and worked in a bike shop and is probably opening a bike shop, went over my whole bike, checked everything out, and declared it sound after fiddling with things and putting air in the tires. 

Then came the moment of truth, when he told me to put the front wheel back on my bike. I froze. He showed me how to do it but my fingers fumbled on it and I couldn’t get it to work. I was completely embarrassed because this is a skill I should have, but my friend was very patient, laughed at me for thinking I should be good at everything, and walked me through it enough times so that I could do it. Then he showed me a few little things I could do to take care of the bike myself, with the promise of more lessons later.

So my Greek teacher would accuse me again of the sin of pride– that I think I “should” be able to do things perfectly because I’m smart and competent– and I would accuse me of the sin of being a pampered little girl who needs to be more independent from the men in my life and the world as a whole. I want to be able to work with my hands, to be more self-sufficient.

We’ll see how that goes. Right now I am just excited that today I “fixed” my bike after my friend messed it up on purpose to teach me, and my house smells like hot shortening because I’m re-seasoning a piece of cast iron that got all rusty after it wasn’t cleaned properly after a camping trip.



  1. Raechel said,

    The bike fixin’ knowledge will come in handy! Teach me what Trevor taught you when I get home, please! I’m super excited about getting a bike to ride around Boulder.

  2. molly said,

    I will! If I remember. I’ll probably have him go over everything again with me.

    I was kind of sad, though, when I went over– Trevor said my bike won’t do what I want it to (carry a pull-cart behind it). He said it’s essentially just a day-cruiser and not built to be a workhorse. So I came home and tried to see if John’s bike– which is steel-framed and built to carry a cart– was too big for me and it certainly is. Boo! I guess I’ll have to go bike shopping after we move, since I want something I can ride around for fun AND pull a cart for groceries, farmers’ market, etc.

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