October 10, 2007

I use Photoshop several times a week but I only know how to do maybe ten specific functions. I operate my camera nearly every day but I almost always leave it on “Auto”, so all I really do is aim and push a button. I watch a lot of movies but I don’t typically know anything about the directors, I don’t have any profound thoughts regarding cinematography or narrative arch, I’m mostly just passively entertained (or not). I like food but I can’t identify specific ingredients unless they are unmistakably present. I listen to music every day but I often don’t know who the band members are or how their music has progressed from past albums or what unusual instruments they might be playing. I wear clothes, but I don’t know shit about fashion. I enjoy the outdoors, but what I know about botany/geology/biology could be rolled into a ball and rammed up a flea’s ass. I write a lot, but I have a tenuous-at-best grasp of basic English language rules with regards to grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure (perhaps this one is obvious).

I’ve been a parent for over two years, but the vast majority of the time I feel like I’m trying to take care of some sort of insanely complicated piece of unpredictable machinery with no user manual in sight. In other words, I definitely don’t know what the fuck I’m doing there.

I’m not an expert on anything! How did I get to be 33 years old and not be an expert on anything? I mean, there are things I can do, there are even things I’m sort of good at, but there’s not one thing I can claim as being my area of expertise.

I feel like I need to address this and make it a Life Goal, to become an expert on at least one subject. Even if it’s something totally weird and useless, like being able to name every movie in the last ten years that featured zombies. Although I’d prefer it if I could think of something at least marginally relevant to the world we live in, so that I have the potential to be a handy reference. Man, I would love to be a handy reference someday. “Linda,” people would say, “can you weigh in on this? After all, you know so much about the subject which we are discussing. Your opinion would be exceedingly useful and would in fact provide a meaningful service!”

Plus, I could maybe have special business cards printed up. That would RULE.

While I’m pondering my future status as Industry Expert (Actual Industry TBD), tell me, are you an expert in anything? Tell me all about it, please.

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Jacquelyn
16 years ago

Organ donation.

Emily
Emily
16 years ago

Um. Working on becoming an expert at photography, at least my own little artistic-eye corner of the photography world…and cooking.

Can I just say, for someone who claims not to be an expert in the English language, your writing is amazing. I grew up in a house that’s Kelsey Grammer-strict about, um, grammar, and cringe at the punctuation used in the newspaper. But this blog? You have such an intelligent voice and it’s literally a breath of fresh air to read. Wahoo!

Katie
16 years ago

Awwww man! I was reading that first paragraph thinking, “ME TOO! I’m just like Sundry! I must rule….”

But…then I read on…and I guess you don’t quite feel that way.

I think you are an expert at writing and communicating. You really are. Believe it or not.

Laura D.
Laura D.
16 years ago

I’m the person at work who knows the answers to random things… that were told at the staff meeting, printed in the bulletin, said in a memo, but others forgot. I remember that crap – but occasionally it does come in handy.

Really, though, it’s all in how you define “expert”. What makes an expert?

Bekki
Bekki
16 years ago

This is my one true talent…I’m excellent at identifying voices. Like if someone is a guest voice on a cartoon or does a voice over on a commercial. Yeah, I usually can tell you who it is. It’s a weird thing.

I also read really, really fast. Reading comphrension/rentention of information–not so much. But I can get through a book faster than almost everyone I know.

Lesley
Lesley
16 years ago

Become an expert on zombies. You’re already have way there – at least, you know way more than I do.

Seriously though, you’ve got a gift with language and you know a lot. You’re also modest and humble.

Lesley
Lesley
16 years ago

frig. make that “half way there” – geez. :)

Rachel
16 years ago

Linda, Carrie actually has instructions in her diary in her stated area of expertise, unless she deleted them. (hi Carrie! heart you.)

I am an expert on the legal aspects of homeschooling children in California. Which has a somewhat limited application in the world at large, but in my circle it can be valuable knowledge.

Also, L.M. Montgomery. I could serve as a paid witness in any case in a court of law concerning the author of Anne of Green Gables or her works.

Other than that, I’m pretty much useless. Good thing I don’t go to a lot of dinner parties (read: none).

mamma knows
16 years ago

you just made me realize I’m not an expert at anything either, thanks :)
you rock at blogging tho !

jen
jen
16 years ago

My line of thought goes like this: it’s better to know a little bit of everything, and all of nothing. Keeps you well-balanced, without the annoying expert ego thing. ;o)

Tracey
Tracey
16 years ago

I am a low-ranking master among jacks of all trades, an expert at quickly losing interest but not until after I’ve purchased all the tools for an exciting new hobby.

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
16 years ago

Your writing is wonderful! You should write a book!! I think you relate to a lot of people, especially those of us with a sick sense of humor.

My skills are kind of weird and I don’t use them anymore which is a bummer. I was a technician that worked with mostly Monkeys, Dogs and Pigs. If blood needed to be taken, catheters placed, I was the go to girl, the animals loved me. Now I kind of feel useless because I left that job.

Sadie
Sadie
16 years ago

Before I answer, I will also confirm that I consider you a very talented writer. Not sure that’s something you can be an expert in, but you’re pretty superlative.

I know a lot about a lot of things, because I’m a voracious reader and I’m not discriminating about what I read – Popular Science in the dentist’s office, ‘Anna Karenina,’ homebirth blogs, U.S. News and World Report, US Weekly? check check and check. But I do not consider myself an expert on anything either.

My particular areas of knowledge include cars (I can name on sight nearly every model that goes by, and I am also knowledgeable about auto repair), music trivia, and residential architecture.

Jennifer
Jennifer
16 years ago

You know, this reminds me of something I heard recently about one of the fundamental differences between eastern and western schools of thought. according to western thinking, if someone is good at something they are often told they are a “natural” or that it “looks easy” and that is valued. in eastern thinking, if someone excels at something they are complimented for working hard at it, to learn it. i have been trying to remember that there is value not only in what we do well naturally but what we do that is hard every day.

oh, and you make writing look easy. :)

Jan
Jan
16 years ago

What an interesting question! I really had to think about this one. I’m a lot like you and the other people commenting – I can do many different things, but I am not an expert at any of them. I read lots and lots and lots, both adult and kid books (I’m an elementary school librarian) but I’m not an expert. I watch tons of movies and tv, but not an expert. We travel a lot and I do a lot of research and planning – I found out you can get a $3 bus pass in Bermuda and we went all over the island on it – but I’m not an expert. I’m a wife, mother and grandmother, but not an expert. I’m a Weight Watcher, but not an expert. Or I would weigh what I want to weigh. The closest I can come to saying I am an expert would be in my job. I am really very good at what I do and, over the years, have learned to be a web site designer for my school and have obtained my National Certification as a library media specialist. But I would have to say that I am definitely an expert at – trivia! I know more useless crap than anyone I know. I kick ass at Trivial Pursuit. Perhaps this is not really a USEFUL skill, however.

JennB
JennB
16 years ago

I am an expert at being a bitch, reading, remember where things are in my house (you want the big lighter? Small drawer to the right of the stove, next to the ice cream scoop. Oh, you want the small lighter? Upstairs, in the bedroom, to the right of the bed in the dresser drawer), eating things I shouldn’t in massive quantities, and spending money like I have it.

Of course, I don’t get paid for ANY of these things. And I’m hard pressed to figure out how I could get paid for them.

I’ve been feeling like a pretty big failure lately in a lot of things. I hate my job, I hate my career, no one reads my blogs, I’m a sucky mom, and I have no “life goal” other than to not become homeless. I have all kinds of ideas, inventions, and projects to work on, but I am in a major slump with all of them and I have no time on top of it all to focus on anything.

Sigh.

Time to go stick my head in an oven. Have fun on your vacation.

http://www.opaqueprintproduction.com/jbblog

kendra!
16 years ago

I would still ask you to weigh in on any number of subjects because your pithy take on things is valued and makes you a wonderful writer.

I took Irish step dancing lessons for 10 years and I regret that is the only skill I’ve truly mastered and now that I am pregnant, I get not to use it, or will take a wicked digger into the ground due to shifting center of gravity…

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
16 years ago

Don’t forget your photography! You may only aim and push a button but your pictures are wonderful!!

Marie Green
16 years ago

Ok, well I’m NOT an expert at editing my own comments, obviously, since above I should have said VORACIOUS reader, not VICARIOUS.

*blushing*

Kizz
16 years ago

In some circles I’m an expert in Shakespeare. Just not in circles where anyone has studied Shakespeare for any length of time.

I think the more any of us knows about anything the more we realize how far from expert we are in the field. All we can do is keep learning about stuff that interests us I guess.

ang
ang
16 years ago

Sundry,
I think in general, we tend to underestimate our own abilities. For example: you consider yourself a master at nothing. However, I’d say most people who read you consider your life a masterpiece of time juggling, excellent writing, fabulous photo taking, and wonderful, envious ability to see humor in the really shitty aspects of life. So… maybe you don’t have to work on that blow job technique just yet. Sorry JB.

Felicia
Felicia
16 years ago

Like one of the previous commenters, I’ve become an expert at physiological childbirth – well at least teaching people about it. I’ve only done it once (so far) myself.

And breastfeeding. 9 months and counting. I can feed him in my sleep, on a train, in a box, wearing socks, etc. All the basic Dr. Seuss stuff.

I also have multiple degrees in Materials Science and Engineering and I can tell you all about ceramics and their processing. Wouldn’t necessarily consider myself an expert though.

I know SO MUCH useless trivia that people refuse to watch Jeopardy! or play Trivial Pursuit with me. :(

I planned my own kick-ass wedding that was perfect in every way. I don’t think I would want to do that for others though. Brides are too uptight.

Finally I can quote nearly the entire movie of Pulp Fiction verbatim, thanks to watching it 63 times in the theater when I was in high school.

birdgal
birdgal
16 years ago

I have an uncanny ability to remember names and directions. I can also tell you what the little birdies singing in your backyard are just by the song (though I’m better at east coast birdies:).

biscuit
biscuit
16 years ago

You are an expert @ something: making so many of your readers’ days brighter! We love your humor + wonderfully written blogs!!!

I too think the same thing a lot about my expertise or lack thereof. I think my problem is I get bored very easily + tend to need a break from sharpening my skills. Everyone is always hardest on themselves so it’s best to ask others what our expertise is, I think. In my case it would be snacking + photography.

superblondgirl
16 years ago

I am an expert procrasinator. Seriously, somebody should give a medal. Why, look at me reading blogs instead of working! That takes talent, people. Serious talent.

Ummm… I know a little bit about a lot of things. Like, I can recite many grammar rules, but still have a hard time spelling “embarrassed” correctly. I make a mean pie crust, but I screw up beef stew every time. Etc etc. But if you need a sound bite on something weird and irrelevant to everyday life, I’m probably your girl. Join me, Linda – become an expert in ephemera! Seriously, it’s easier than being really smart about one thing. Plus more interesting.

Kristin H
Kristin H
16 years ago

Remember that show, That’s Incredible? When I was little I used to think I could go on that show and demonstrate to the world how good I was at finding the words someone was reading in a book. Like, if someone was reading out loud, you could open to that part of the book and within SECONDS I would be able to find the line they were reading.

Impressive, I know.

I have since realized that I am not, in fact, very good at that at all, so I will not be taking this talent on the road.

I work in an oil lab, so perhaps I am an expert on oil. Also scintillating.

gabby
gabby
16 years ago

Useless pop culture trivia. Clearly my mind can’t use that room for something better? Say…letting me write something worthwhile?

Anais
Anais
16 years ago

GoingLoopy summed it up perfectly with: “Jack of many trades- master of none.”

I am into writing, blogging, photography, cooking, baking, graphic editing and design, web design, fashion design, business, cats…so many different subjects, though not an expert on any one of them.

My brain is real great at remembering useless trivia such as: Did you know that rats can’t vomit? Yeah, well, that piece of info doesn’t help anyone at all with a damned thing!

I’m also really good at remembering song lyrics.

Sabine
16 years ago

The only thing I am definately an expert in is clutzery. I am masterful at running into and/or tripping over stationary objects.

I am a practicing and degreed geologist, but by no means an expert. I bellydance with a local troupe, but I’m no expert. There are many things that I’ve studied for years, but I could not claim being an expert on. The few people that I know in life (wise elders for the most part) who *are* actually experts never claim to be.

PS – I think you are an expert at making people laugh, because you can make me laugh so hard tears roll down my cheeks and no one else can do that!

Laura
Laura
16 years ago

You guys are all a bunch of scanners. ;)

I am an expert mover, as in relocating to another state. People do come to me for relationship assvise alot. I am an expert call transfer-er at work. Three people on hold? Line is still ringing? No. Problem. ;) I am also an expert at forgetting people’s names when I first meet them. I am one of the most skilled pedestrians you may ever (virtually) know.

Leah
16 years ago

Grammar, cats, and Shakespeare. I think that makes me some kind of grand-poobah nerd.

omu
omu
16 years ago

I’m by no means expert, but I know a whole heck of a lot more about showing an Arabian horse at a Class A horse show than a lot of people. So that counts for something. My other skills are less public… :)

Alyce
Alyce
16 years ago

If you sort this out, please tell me how you did it.

I think I am pretty awesome, but I’m certainly not an expert at anything. I am 33 (34 soon) and I suffer from the same thing. I want to find a job and rawk it and also love it. I’ve never had a job that I loved.

I read recently about a Microsoft employee who is revitalizing their HR. Chief Happiness Officer they called her. Sounded so completely awesome. But how do I get into something like that?

victoria
victoria
16 years ago

Knitting. I knit better than anyone else I know. Sexy? Oh, yeah baby.

Rita
Rita
16 years ago

When I was taking a test for Manpower Temps I got rated a Microsoft Word expert. Is that the lamest thing you’ve ever heard?

ollka
ollka
16 years ago

The comments are extremely inspirational. So’s your writing, by the way. You might not be an expert, but blogging is not an area of expertise anyway, I think. It’s very partial and personal, so there are no professional criteria by which to judge it – even if many people do it as their (paid) job. But it can be done well, and such is definitely your case.

I think about Jack-of-all-trade-ship a lot. I think it is a product of society development, where all kinds of skills are easily accessible, and their acquisition is encouraged and even advertised. We place a lot of value in multitasking and variety, which naturally leads to us learning such amounts of arts, crafts, skills, and professions as could never have been possible a hundred years ago. All this is to say – there’s nothing bad in trying a bit of everything, it has just become natural.

As an answer to your question – I do possess an impressive amount of useless knowledge, but I am no expert in any given field except dabbling. But that I could easily do in the Olympics – it’s an inborn talent. I’ve started so many things in my relatively short life that I can’t remember them all anymore. Which will come in handy when I’m out of things to dabble in and need to start all over on something I’ve already tried.

Brooke
16 years ago

I’m kind of an expert at Journey (the band) and Disney trivia.

Karl
Karl
16 years ago

Well, I suppose if you were to go to http://www.ingres.com/downloads/prod-comm-download.php and download the source, you’d find my name (suitably disguised) in lots of places. I guess that makes me an expert in something.

It’s not clear to me that this is always a good thing; one finds oneself knowing more and more about less and less. I am well on the way to knowing everything about nothing. Being an expert is fun and useful, and the pay is OK, but I can see a lot of pluses for being a generalist as well.

BTW we raised four. None of them came with user manuals. Just to make it worse, they were all different. Bah.

telegirl
telegirl
16 years ago

I used to be good at typing (90-100 wpm, thank-you-very-much) but now? I’m not as fast. I used to be able to tell you music notes by sound, as I had perfect pitch. But I haven’t played piano in so long I doubt I’d be willing to take Jem on in an argument. I was an Adobe Illustrator expert but that was back in the Illustrator 5-9 days. So, essentially, I hit my prime before 30 and I seem to be on the decline. *sigh*

What I will say is that I am quickly becoming an expert at suctioning snot out of an 8 month-old’s nose as he moves his head from side to side and bats my hand away. I can tell you exactly when he’s ready to go to bed (incessant giggling over ridiculous stimuli) before he moves into melt-down phase. I am the queen at balancing a checkbook and paying our bills on time. My husband wishes that I was Carrie, but we have made a beautiful but hectic life together anyway. I work a full-time job and am very good at being completely coherent (without the aid of caffeine) after a night of getting up every hour.

So, my new skillset may not be so exciting or helpful but I bet my husband and little boy would disagree. And that’s all that matters.

kalisah
16 years ago

I consider myself a PR Guru. I’m not sure that anyone ELSE considers me that, but I like to propogate the theory anyway.

tracey
tracey
16 years ago

autism…been in the field for 16 years and i read just about everything and have seen 100s of kids. so i know stuff.

Emblita
16 years ago

Much better not to be an expert, I know some “experts” and their life revolves about other people acknowledging their expertise. Also, they spend an ungodly amount of time getting upset when someone else claims to be an expert in their expertise, and backstabbing each other i.e. GINORMOUS EGOS

I’m supposedly studying to become an expert on pre-christian religions in Northern Europe- but I’m not all that excited about it. Way more fun to know trivia about Buffy and StarTrek and the wonderful world of Discworld novels. Comes in handy at geek meets :p

Philomela
16 years ago

While you were listing all the things you don’t know about, it suddenly occurred to me how incredibly pretentious I probably come off as. My first degree is in Botany, so I could name nearly any tree, shrub, flower or blade of grass you could come across – sometimes I even remember the Genus and species. This comes in handy only to annoy people who would really rather just take in the scenery. My second degree is in art so I can recognize a lot of artists, particularly post modern, just to look at them. This morning I picked up a xeroxed book that a colleague at work was making and asked if the scribbled drawing inside was ‘Cy Twombly’ and proceeded to muse about the time I saw him in New York and how interesting the juxtaposition of childish imagery and literary references is and how a lot of current painters (including moi) reference him before he interrupted me to say ‘That’s just a picture my kid drew’

Ah…

So here’s what I think, though it really feeds the ego to detail your travels through the bush of alaska to someone, or to pontificate about the history of astronomy – it’s not necessary to be an expert in anything. More often than not, real people find it a bit obnoxious. You are definitely damn good at this blog – I’ve been following it for three years now and I still remember the URL.

And, you’re damn funny. Now there are no classes you can take in funny. You either got it or you don’t. I occasionally make some comment that has the office roaring and that is usually followed by some comment like ‘Wow, you’re really funny, I never knew.’

Uh … okay so I guess that means I’m usually UN -funny. At any rate, good luck with the zombie move thing – or maybe you can be the pioneer of the first ”How to be Funny for Dummies’ book.

I’ll be on the pre-sale list.

Nik
Nik
16 years ago

For a glorious time at my old job, I was master of iGen Land. The Xerox iGen 3 is an enormous digital printing press, and I worked alone on the dayshift doing all the maintenance and job production between preflight and bindery. I will spare you the part where I froth at the mouth about how great this machine is; I’ll also spare you the litany I got from others about how much this hourly-wage job was supposedly beneath me, with my master’s degree and all. We moved, and I haven’t gotten another job yet because I’m needed more for childcare right now. But I miss my iGen. The specific beat of the papers hitting the output cart is most accurately captured in music by Alvin Youngblood’s version of “Treat Her Like a Lady”. I’m probably a freak for loving a machine so much, but of all the things I could say I was/am a master of, that made me the most uncomplicatedly happy.

Sarah
16 years ago

No expertises here, either. I prefer to think of myself as a fantastic “generalist”. :)

Lauren
Lauren
16 years ago

Don’t feel bad. I have no specialities either. I hate it when people ask what my hobbies are and I have nothing interesting to say. I don’t play sports because I am completely uncoordinated and I hate to sweat. I have zero musical talent. I can’t draw a stick figure. It’s truly sad. I feel your pain completely. I am however an expert on Grey’s Anatomy….

Andi
Andi
16 years ago

Hey Sundry,

I’m not sure if you’ll see this, but I left this link in Amalah’s Daily Dose blog comments, and am trying to get the word out to everyone I can think of (and I know that you have a ton of awesome, loyal readers): http://lagliv.blogspot.com/

Just letting people know what’s happening to LL (a law student and mother) and her family is helpful right now, because she could use everyone’s support.

Thanks so much (and sorry to usurp your comments section like this).

Allison
Allison
16 years ago

sock yarn. Yes, I mean special yarn for knitting socks. And no, I’m not retired! I’m in my 20s.

Tina
16 years ago

Oddly enough, I’m getting to be a bit of an expert in thread crochet… At the age of twenty-one, I have the skills of a great grandmother. GO ME!

Someday, I would love to say that I’m an expert writer. Or, at the very least, that I have expertise in the art of getting people to want to read the things I write and enjoy them once they’re through. (You can certainly claim that one!)

Lucy
16 years ago

I’m an expert in Egyptian-style bellydance, and I specialize in interpretation to the works of Om Kolthoum. Somehow, I doubt this will ever come up in non-bellydance-community conversation, though!