Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Year of Skills: Part 1

January: Yoga

I started out with a small cheat, since I had tried yoga before. When I was in grad school, I very occasionally did Bikram Yoga with a friend, but stopped going when my friend's bring-a-guest-free coupons ran out. When a Groupon deal for a yoga place near my apartment came up, I snapped it up.  I went a few times, sweat copiously, got ever-so-slightly more flexible, and stopped going when my Groupon visits ran out. I sense a theme.

(As an aside, I find the idea of "hot yoga" as a specialized brand hilarious: in India, they just call that yoga.)

I have no pictures here. You wouldn't want to see them even if I did.

February: Quilting

I've never been a big crafter, or at least not in the cutesy-things-on-Pinterest or craft-activities-at-church senses, but when I was in middle school I spent many happy hours in my room knitting, cross-stitching, and needlepointing, usually while listening to oldies radio, and one summer when I was in high school I spent many happy hours in my room making colorful collages out of pictures I cut from magazines. (Yes, I was a loser, but such a happy one.) In February I wanted a new skill that could take me back to that childhood tranquility, and when my aunt presented us with a beautiful quilt she had made for her wedding the answer was obvious. My aunt very graciously agreed to teach me the basics, and I launched into working on a baby quilt for my cousin, who, luckily, was not even pregnant at the time. (I don't need extra deadlines in my life.)

I think this was my favorite skill for the year, and one of only a few that I've kept doing into 2012.  I was right that quilting brings the meditative, time-slows-down sense I craved, and I love thinking about matching and contrasting fabrics; it's also a good outlet for the batiks I've been collecting since I lived in Indonesia. Any day I can find a few minutes to cut or sew or even just browse quilting blogs is a good one. I've got three or four quilts in progress at the moment, and now I just need to learn to actually finish my quilts, as I'm still working on the baby quilt I started last February. (This taught me another important lesson: don't hand-quilt. If you're a sub-par seamstress like me, it takes forever.)

Sometimes I take over our entire living room with a quilt.

March: Shooting a Gun

Yoga is so Bay Area, and quilting is so feminine, that I decided March was time for something completely different, and luckily, the universe cooperated. The team I had worked for half-time was invited to spend an afternoon at a private shooting range used by...a government agency, let's say, with a shooting instructor there to help us explore the guns. (I forget what I'm allowed to say to say here so I'll just be vague. Sorry)

I am not that badass. I am mostly just terrified.

I had shot a gun once or twice before--usually at shooting ranges in Idaho with my grandpa, an avid hunter--but this still counted as new, because I had never gotten any actual gun training, not to mention from a government instructor, and I had never shot an original 1920s Tommy gun. (They are surprisingly heavy. I now know why 20s criminals shot from the hip.)

This is not a Tommy gun. I know that.

My job situation ended up changing in early March (adding another newish skill, resume crafting and interviewing), but since I stupidly never abandon a goal (see that bit about still reading every article in every issue of The New Yorker), I stuck with the Year of Skills. To be continued!


claire said...

you're the spitting image of your grandmother.

Kathryn said...

Yay! I love hearing about the Year of Skills. And I love the picture of Mike cornered by the quilt blocks almost as much as the one of you at the shooting range. Can't wait to read about the rest of the year.

Diane said...

She does look like Jackie often but then sometimes she looks like me which is strange since Jackie and I not, not being related by blood, look nothing alike.

grauntbetsy said...

Can't wait for all of the parts. such a great idea but only for someone with your energy level.

Petra said...

I agree that I look like Jackie sometimes, but I don't see it in that picture. Funny.

ejhern said...

Great article--keep evolving! I made my first quilt early last year for my sister's wedding! It's a new skill I've continued to develop (because it's addicting). These are a few examples of what I've done.!/pages/Made-or-Remade/132908823429855