Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)

I’ve always wanted to be the kind of person who plays guitar. Not in an annoying way, where I bring it out at parties and try to impress people but only irk them instead. I want to play the guitar in a badass way, where someone’s like, “I am having a rock and roll emergency and I need an amazing guitar player, STAT!”

And I’m all humble and unassuming. “Uh, I play a little guitar.”

And they’re like, “Well, I don’t know… You’re a girl and you don’t look like much, but I guess you can play me a song just for laughs.” And then I pick up the guitar and play a face-melting riff of my own composition and the other person is totally blown away, and signs me to a record label instantly, and also feels really bad about being so sexist. You know. That kind of thing.

This will no longer be a video game. It will be my nickname.

This will no longer be a video game. It will be my nickname.

So when my dad gave me a guitar that he didn’t want anymore, I was pretty excited. I unzipped the case and only bumped the instrument into a table and my own body parts a couple of times when I put the strap over my head. I’m gonna play this guitar so well that people who hear me practicing will think Jimmy Hendrix and Carlos Santana had the world’s most soulful lovechild, I thought.

“This is a G chord,” my dad said.

“Easy,” I said, and then tried to do what he was doing. But none of the tendons in my hand were on board with this plan, and my fingertips didn’t know what hit them. And when I strummed, nothing good came out. I was somehow simultaneously pressing too hard and not pressing hard enough.

“No, no. Move your hand this way. Your fingers are touching the other strings,” my dad said. I tried to do what he was doing, but I’m 97% sure that no human has ever been able to move their hand that way without selling their soul at a crossroad and/or dislocating a few important joints.

And with that, my rockstar dreams were dead. I wanted to pick up the guitar and instantly be able to school B.B. King. I wanted Clapton-like skill without having ever practiced once. Is that too much to ask?

This attitude is mostly rooted in laziness, but I’m also spoiled. I know a dyslexic physicist whose wife told me that he struggled with every subject in school. She said that when he got to theoretical physics, it wasn’t any more difficult than anything else he’d tried to do up to that point so he wasn’t phased. I’d like to approach challenges that way. But since a few things in life have come easily to me, I get really, really frustrated when I have to put in more effort. And by more effort, I mean any effort at all.

For example, I breezed through reading and writing assignments as a kid, but 15 years ago my parents spent one terrible summer trying to teach me fractions and I still want to throw a temper tantrum when I think about them.

Why would you invert and multiply to DIVIDE? IT MAKES NO SENSE.

Why would you invert and multiply to divide? IT MAKES NO SENSE.

I’ve heard you can’t get to Carnegie Hall without practice, practice, practice. I’ve even heard practice makes perfect and I crave perfection. Intellectually, I understand that it will take thousands upon thousands of hours to really learn a skill. But every time I try to learn something new, I’m convinced that none of this applies to me. Surely the universe will make an exception for me.

Things I’ve Tried at Least Two Whole Times and Yet Have Not Mastered

1. Playing an instrument. One of these days I’m going to sit down at the piano I never play and suddenly be Elton John, but with even better glasses. It’s going to happen, I know it.

2. Playing sports. I’m sure it’s only that I haven’t found my sport yet. I’m probably a curling prodigy.

3. Becoming fluent in another language. I studied Spanish for years and I was pretty good at it! And then I quit! But only because I stopped being interested in it and certainly not because it started to get difficult!

4. Gardening. I really seem like the kind of person who could grow plants, you know?

5. Drawing. You simply put lines down on paper until you have a perfectly recognizable image. So simple!

6. Cooking. You just make it up as you go, right?

That’s only the beginning of a list that could go on and on. There are a million things I wish I could do without really trying. I wish I could identify birds by their calls. I wish I could start conversations with strangers at parties. I wish I could understand theoretical physics — or any physics, for that matter.

I wish I understood physics well enough to know if I just made an inadvertent joke about matter.

I wish I understood physics well enough to know if I just made an inadvertent joke about matter.

It’s totally illogical to believe that everything will be a breeze for me because the list of things I truly have mastered is much shorter.

Things I’ve Mastered or Can Do Correctly at Least 80% of the Time

1. Sleeping.

2. Blinking.

If anything, I should believe that learning new skills will be difficult, time-consuming, and painful, because most of the time it has been. It shouldn’t be a big, hurtful surprise every time I’m not a wunderkind. I should stop making excuses and giving up just because things get a little tricky.

So I’m getting my guitar out and I’m going to try again. I’m going to get so good that people will name guitars after me. I’m going to be on blacklight posters 50 years after my death. And I’m going to start tomorrow because my fingers kind of hurt from typing this, and I haven’t done any hand stretches, and I’m pretty sure it’s out of tune anyway.

Might as Well Be Walking on the Sun

Fun fact: My last name is Summar, which is Scottish for “People whose surname is pronounced just like the season between spring and fall but is spelled so creatively that they are doomed to hear it mispronounced or see it misspelled for all of eternity.” Thank heavens they shortened all of that to two syllables.

Every one of my middle school and high school yearbooks is full of witticisms like, “Have a great summer, Summar!” and “Whoa… it’s your favorite season.” Generations of Summars have put up with this nonsense since the invention of the yearbook, and I accept that it is our cross to bear.

Our yearbooks are bad, but our jawlines are great. It evens out.

Our yearbooks are bad, but our jawlines are great. You win some, you lose some.

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The Fighting Side of Me

Some booger-eating, toilet-licking, unkempt goon whose mother never even thought of them, much less loved them, stole my trash can today.

MISSING: Trash Can. Approximately three feet tall and 33 pounds. Last seen wearing nothing.

MISSING: Trash Can. Approximately three feet tall and 30 pounds. Last seen wearing nothing.

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Everyday People

Today was the first time in four days that I put on makeup. I’m not trying to make a statement by wearing it or not wearing it — I just didn’t bother with it over the holiday weekend and then couldn’t scrounge up enough enthusiasm to put it on when I went back to work on Tuesday morning.

I barely had the drive to put on pants. Makeup never had a chance.

I barely had the drive to put on pants. Makeup never had a chance.

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Nothing from Nothing Leaves Nothing

I’m afraid I won’t be posting anything to this blog today.

I hope no one was looking forward to it or anything, because it’s just not happening. I try to make myself post something once a week because I think it’s good writing practice and because I enjoy it. (I don’t enjoy blogging while I’m doing it, of course. I like it later, when a spambot tries to sell me knockoff purses by commenting “Fantastic publish, very informative. I’m wondering why the other experts of this sector don’t realize this!” on a post I wrote about how drinking water will turn you into a mermaid. Then it’s fun.)

I'd like to become an expert within the mermaid sector, but I'm not really into the idea of grad school right now.

I’d like to become an expert within the mermaid sector, but I’m not really into the idea of grad school right now.

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