Easy Things That Aren’t

There’s some things most people can do very easily, that I struggle with. I’ve given everything a good honest go, actually several good goes, but it just never works out. Not only am I not very good at these things, I’ve accumulated a ball of anxiousness from my failure to learn that makes me avoid them somewhat more than is strictly reasonable.

Sadly, though, I can’t confess to my difficulties. Whenever I do, my confessor just smiles and says “Oh, but I know the trick to that, it’s very easy, just let me tell you!” – and I smile and nod and express appropriate gratitude for such sage advice, but what I really want is some acknowledgment that it’s okay to feel frustrated. We all have our mental blocks, after all, and most of the time we manage to muddle through life anyway.

Here’s a partial list. Comments with “helpful” suggestions are NOT allowed on this post, but if you post your own unaccountable inabilities, I promise to be sympathetic and understanding.

  1. Cooking a winter squash to the correct amount of doneness
  2. Using Green’s functions to solve partial differential equations
  3. Rolling my Rs
  4. Curling my tongue (it’s apparently not genetic after all, but interestingly enough tongue-curling is associated in men with the ability to wiggle one’s ears, which is something I can do, a little. Then again I’m not a man.)


  1. Ruth wrote:

    The curling the tongue thing can be learned- after my cousin came back from medical school with this “skill” on the list of genetic traits, and I at first couldn’t do it, after a time of experimentation and practice, I mastered it. Probably could have been concentrating on doing something to bring peace to mankind instead, but hey…
    I have no clue on #s 2 and 3.

  2. yami wrote:

    As novelty skills go, though, I think I’ll stick to ear-wiggling and maybe learn to whistle with my hands or tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue if I’ve got lots of time on my hands…

  3. Ferro Lad wrote:

    Myself, whenever it was time in high school Spanish class for some R-rolling, was forced to resort to a somewhat-modified gargle-noise from the back of me throat — of course, it just so happens I can’t actually gargle, either…

  4. Michelle wrote:

    1. Swim underwater without holding nose.
    2. Set up a tent alone.
    3. Assist in setting up the tent at all.
    4. Throw the ball straight.
    Boy, I sound like a wimp. Wish everything that occurred to me hadn’t been so physically-oriented.

  5. Rana wrote:

    Grow basil, or even just keep it alive.
    Wear white clothing and keep it stain free.
    Go to bed in a timely fashion.
    Dive without getting water up my nose. (I used to know how to do this, and promptly forgot. I hate diving.)
    Play music by ear.

  6. yami wrote:

    Oh, I hate getting water up my nose! Especially pool water. Yuck. And I get enough of an adrenaline rush wearing light blue and eating lunch at the same time; I haven’t bought a “nice” white shirt (t-shirts/camisoles don’t count) since… ummm… 1998 I think.
    And how’s about doing laundry without getting lint all over black shirts? I can’t do that either.

  7. harvestbird wrote:

    I can’t roll my “r”s either. A few years back when I retained vestigial hopes that I might sing in the opera chorus, my then-singing teacher assured me that “r”-rolling could be learned: one need only practice constantly. As I practised it on the motorway overbridge on the way home that night, I skidded forward on a wet stretch of road and drove my mini into the back of the car in front. That was the end of that plan.

  8. Michelle wrote:

    I *can* play music by ear. (Smugly smiling.) But it’s a long-wasted talent. I can roll my “r”s. But not my tongue.

  9. Rana wrote:

    I can roll my “r”s and my tongue. And wiggle my ears. See, it all works out!
    Now, if I could only figure out how to pick up a cat and not get hair on myself…

  10. yami wrote:

    Playing music by ear can’t always be learned past adolescence or so. At least, it can’t be learned from taking fiddle lessons with my mother on Saturday mornings while I am trying, and failing, to sleep the sleep of a grumpy teenager upstairs; I know that much. Me, I was a Suzuki kid so I can play by ear but can’t sight-read worth a poo.
    Can anyone explain the appeal of hairless cats? I mean, there’s no hair, but the hair is what makes ‘em cute in the first place…

  11. ester wrote:

    or hairless dogs, for that matter.
    anyway, color me sympathetic. i can’t do any of those things either except curl my tongue and there definitely weren’t points for that on the SAT.

  12. Michelle wrote:

    So the Suzuki experience was not satisfying? I thought about looking into Suzuki Guitar once I finish the MA and have more time (and money) to busy my boys. Thus far, they’ve only played sports.

  13. yami wrote:

    Oh, no, quite the contrary! I’m satisfied with it. The value of playing by ear is not to be underestimated – particularly if you’re hoping to have them pick out songs from the radio when they’re 13 and motivation is hard to find.
    I can sight-read easy things (one line only, no chords, which is just fine on the trumpet and only hurts when I get to the piano) and read music as a memory/learning aid; it’s not like I couldn’t have worked on my sight-reading skills a little more if I’d had the inclination. Having a blind piano teacher didn’t help on that front though, as braille music is hard to obtain and impossible to sight-read, so we mostly stuck to the standard repertoire.

  14. Sara wrote:

    Personally, it is frustrating that some people can do things so well and others like myself often cannot. My classmates with good memory and recitation skills often made me jealous. About the rolling rrr’s, I can’t do that either. I read that it is genetic & if you both parents gave you the reccesive allele, then no amount of practice will help.

  15. Blue,,,Galzz wrote:

    Hey..I can curl my tongue into the leaf clover shape, wiggle my ears separately, cross my eye,, raise my eyebrow, and wiggle my scalp, and i can do that at the same time,, that makes my ex and my boyfriends jealous

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