Sunday, July 02, 2006

No Good For Nothing

My career choice doesn’t say a lot about me. I’m a writer/editor and I majored in English, which doesn’t lend itself to what you’d consider a well-rounded education. In college, while others around me were building model bridges out of popsicle sticks, hacking apart small animals in biology or planning new modern buildings, I was reading books written by long dead and much troubled authors, writing papers (also much troubled) about what I had read and giving what amounts to book reports in class, offering nothing new, no original thoughts and only slightly interesting insights on the literature I read (or didn’t depending on the subject…who can stomach Yeats anyway?) As a result, when I tell someone what I do for a living, two thoughts probably come to mind: 1) They think I’m a starving author, considering they don’t recognize my name, heard of anything I’ve ever written or have one of my books on their coffee table at home. Anyone who isn’t on the NY Times bestseller is automatically labeled “struggling;” or 2) They think I don’t have any abilities beyond knowing how to type. You know what they say, “Those that don’t know how, write.”

Well, I’ve got skills, mad skills, as they say. The only problem, my talents lie in the obscure, the unusual and the strange. I can’t rebuild an engine, design a bridge or remove an appendix (so the patient lives anyway), but I do have a bevy of abilities in my mental tackle box that has come in handy over the years and has served me well. Sure, I can type really fast (nearly 80 wpm on a good day), and I'm very mechanical when it comes to fixing things, but those skills aren't interesting at all. However, thanks to my main skill (yes, this blathering is considered a skill; ask Yeats), I can tell you all about some less obvious skills in the gory detail I so love. Here are some of my more transparent abilities:

1. Organization. From early childhood, I decided that everything must have a place, and that those things need to be there. My room, though sometimes a pig sty by any degree of definition, was impeccably organized, everything where it should be. A result is that I rarely ever lost anything, and when I needed something, it was immediately at my fingertips. I always enjoyed taking clutter and making it clean, as there is no greater satisfaction than opening up the linen closet to find all the towels folded exactly the same way, lined up by color and then size, big ones on the bottom, smaller ones on the top. Ah, so comforting.

2. Size and Spatial Relationships. I am the RainMan of shapes and sizes, I think, as I can tell, rather instantly, that something will fit into something else, exactly. Take leftovers, for example (no, please take them). If you’ve got a pot of leftover spaghetti, and who doesn’t, I can pick from a pile of a hundred plastic storage vessels under the kitchen sink the exact one the leftover spaghetti will fit in. Now, I don’t mean “fit” as in you have a spot of spaghetti so pick the three gallon Tupperware; I mean “fit” as in optimal, no wasted space in the container, no leftover leftovers. I get it spot on every time. Unsung talent, that is.

3. Tedium. It is a rare thing for me to get bored. It takes a chess game played by narcoleptics to put me under, and how often do you see one of those? For a client I’m currently doing work for, I am involved in creating thousands of tables of minute bits of information, and a lot of that work can only be described as monotonous tedium that I can tolerate for hours and hours on end. Perhaps it is my mild disposition, as I consider myself a very patient person… especially when I’m being paid to be, of course.

4. Domestic Duties. Surprisingly enough, I enjoy vacuuming. It’s methodical, as you have to cover all of the carpet and do it in a pleasing pattern (I prefer the basketweave over the rosetta pattern, but I’m one to change it up with a herringbone from time to time). I take pride in my vacuum (a Dyson…oooohh), and I don’t like it when other people use it. Dusting is pretty fun sometimes too, because it involves organization. You take all of the stuff off of the table, dust it, and put it all back in a nicer arrangement. I don’t do bathrooms, however. Apparently Kara doesn’t either, and the crime scene that’s developing in our shower will soon have to be dealt with by someone with a HAZMAT suit. The other day, Natalie said I should be the one that has to clean it, and I’ll bet she’ll end up being right. Kara’s tolerance for clutter and disorganization is much higher than mine, and my slight touch of OCD will undoubtedly get the better of me (at least, that’s what Kara’s probably counting on, sly devil).

5. Research. Have you ever received an email from someone that told of some outlandishly incredible tale so awesome in its scope and magnitude or so blatant in its shock value, that you were speechless and so amazed by the story, that you forwarded it along to 30 of your closest friends? Yeah, they stop with me, because I’m the one that does a little research to find out that 90 percent of all “viral” emails (those incredible stories that make their way around the world like a virus) are bogus stories, completely made up or so altered from their original that they’ve lost their original meaning. I can spot them every time, and I so enjoy busting each and every myth email with a little research.

So, for those that don’t know me well (or at all), now you know a little more about me. I’m a freak. That’s right. It’s okay. I don’t mind. I’ve got odd interests, strange talents, misguided ideas and peculiar pastimes. At least I don’t collect business cards. Oh wait, yes I do.

Okay, enough of this and get back to work. I've got two articles due on Friday. Well, what are you good at?

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