In high school, I was quite determined to become a hard rock guitarist for a living. I had the finger dexterity and could mimic difficult licks but lacked certain necessary skills and talents to really be great. My ear was not good. I remember in sixth grade we were taken into the cafeteria to do an ear test to see if we could qualify to be in the school band. I had dreams of being a drummer or playing the saxophone. But the test, which consisted of listening to pairs of recorded notes and marking which note was higher, discounted me from doing that.
I was always bad at taking tests. I always second-guessed my responses or what was really being said in a passage. Tests also would trigger my site-specific a.d.d. Every year my parents would have to plead to let me take certain IQ tests again because my scores would put me in the village idiot category the first time I took them and then off-the-charts genius the second time. I learned many years later that I have some aural dyslexia. If you play a major scale to me, I’ll sing it back as a minor scale and not know the difference. This also has kept me from having a real musical theater career. And makes people smile funny to cover their cringing as I ruin songs during karaoke.
I remember sitting with my damn history textbook and being so frustrated because the television would be on downstairs and people would be laughing while I realized I spent an hour re-reading the same paragraph over and over. I hated that class, mostly because my teacher drove me up the wall. I can’t still hear her saying “laissez-faire, do nothing Presidency” through her extreme overbite and thick accent. There were several teachers who gave me an extreme case of the angers. More because they would teacher what they thought you should take away from something rather than how to think critically about things.
Being short and scrawny, I had a rough time with sports. Being forced to be involved in that only added to my sense of futility and frustration. Plugging in my guitar was the way to let that out. An hour was great. Three was better. I learned certain things during weekly lessons at Grampa’s Music. I could read tablature but not music. I was impetuous and wanted to learn things beyond my abilities, missing certain fundamentals. I was told frequently that I looked like Luke Skywalker and I guess I also resembled him in his lack of patience in learning to use the Force. This became true when I studied acting or anything else. I wanted to get ahead and not be stuck kicking my legs in the kiddie pool.
When I hit plateaus in my life, I usually move on to something else. I keep shifting things out of boredom. I don’t know if there’s a remedy for that. I think the only thing that keeps me from doing that is some sort of deadline or obligation. I don’t like being bad at something but I usually focus on my weaknesses rather than my strengths when working on things. It takes time to get good at something when I do that but eventually I build up to it.
I was brought up thinking you were supposed to have one personality, do one job, have one relationship and live in one house your whole life. That’s kind of what everyone did where I was. Unless–gasp!–someone had a divorce or left the church.
When I put more of a positive spin on things, I think I was meant to live multiple lifetimes in this current one. I hope to keep getting better at whatever I do and take my setbacks in stride. I’m talking out of my ass a bit here but I’m looking around a lot these days and trying to figure out where I am. Trying to stay true to due North on my artistic compass. We’ll see how the next few projects turn out. In the meantime, I’m going back to some basics.