What it’s Like to be Good at Everything

My parents pushed me to try everything as I was growing up. Martial arts, soccer, “you’re built like a softball player, you know,” saxophone, piano, partiality to poetry? try short stories too, birdwatching stories in my personal 5th grade newspaper, art camps in crayon melting heat, science fair piles of moldy bread building in basement corners – my mind never sat still.

I developed callouses on the inside of my right ring finger, a permanent imprint of ink pens grinding itself into my hands. Saxophonist fingers, whacking on hole-y brass to make something close to music, closer to loud. Angry nubs of bitten away nails, a stressful immersion in academia, an anxiety plagued socialite.

I learned how to appear special. How to play my talents like a full house and push my opponents to fold. My poker face was a stretched smile – i hoarded my chips like pieces of a future success. 18 hands in, it feels like the world is calling my bluff.

“Good at everything, best at nothing” has snapped at my heels since I stepped on a college campus. Flirting with science, I tipped my hat and closed my eyes to consummate the proposal with a kiss – and was boxed cleanly off my feet. Back on the ground in the muddy snow, I change my wording, “average at everything, better at nothing.”

Job markets and lover search for the “well-rounded individual.” Should I list my half-assed searches around the skirts of successes? Watercolor smudged noses, less cream in larger cups of coffee, worn in buttons of a graying calculator, my spread of knowledge seeks to encompass all things useful – “you are the future of America” – dyed hair and packed to the throat with facts on wine drinking and Spencerian sonnets. Culminating in – what?

Fold. My pair of queens is no full house.


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