Compared to 20 years ago (or so), I am definitely better at:
1. Hitting a baseball. One Spring back in middle school, Dad took me to a softball field and we spent the day working on my softball skills. He patiently tried to teach me to bat, throw, and pitch (you must admit, pitching is different that throwing). I'm sad to say I failed to learn how to successfully perform any of them; all I could do was catch and run and could do neither very well.
This past weekend, my family celebrated the Spring-like weather by playing outside a lot. Sunday afternoon, we went to the park and hit baseballs. Nothing formal; one batter, one pitcher, and everyone else fielded balls 'til it was time for them to either pitch or bat. Mostly my oldest brother pitched, but we spelled him every so often. Turns out, I'm still horrible at throwing a ball - no aim or distance. I can hit that darn ball, though! Finally! Almost every pitch - even some bad ones - my bat made contact with the ball enough to propel it forward (in other words, decent hits, not foul balls). Some of those hits had quite a bit of mustard on them and went a ways out. Why couldn't I have caught on in middle school when I was unbelievably asked to join the softball team. I struck out every time at bat - yeah, I ended up warming the bench a lot. Why now? Why can I hit a ball now? Weird.
Compared to 20 years ago (or so), I am definitely worse at:
1. Articulate Speech. Part of the problem could be attributed to the slight lisp created by my new teeth, but I'm afraid that isn't the main problem. I'm talking about using words and/or phrases incorrectly and often messing up well-known, albeit sometimes trite, sayings. More than a decade of fairly voracious reading has increased my vocabulary, introduced me to a variety of pithy phrases, and pretty much hampered my ability to speak coherently. You see, I have a slow brain. The more options it has from which to choose, the longer it takes to decide which option would sound best for that situation/sentence/sentiment/etc. While Ms. Brain sorts through the racks of Synonyms, Pithy Statements, and Really Big, Intelligent-Sounding Words & Phrases, my mouth (who is quicker than my brain) sees something shiny and interesting and spits it out even though it's totally inane and incorrect. Like when I would like to say a word meaning aware of one's surroundings or situation, the word that escapes my mouth is "succinct" instead of a better word like "conscientious". It's not Ms. Brain's fault, she would never have chosen that word! Mouth is to blame. Now, you'll hopefully understand when I mix metaphors, misquote famous sayings, and basically manhandle the English language in general.
2. Dream Impractical Dreams. Ah, the dreams of my youth! Nothing was off-limits or undo-able. The man of my dreams awaited for the perfect time to enter my life, sweep me off my feet, and treat me like a queen for the rest of my days. 'Til that time, I'd travel all over the world - explore the pyramids, eat bread and cheese in Paris, climb the Great Wall of China - really experience what the world had to offer. I'd live in big cities in tiny, but ultra-cool apartments. I could do and be anything. Now, the dream closest to my heart is to be mostly out of debt. A sensible, uber-practical dream that will be very nice when it happens. And, uber-boring! Not bad, just kind of sad. I enjoy being an adult and am okay accepting the accompanying (the first word I wanted to write was "recumbent" - see what I mean?) responsibilities. I wish I had the courage to still Dream Big.
At some point, I discovered that unfulfilled dreams => disappointment => heart pain => no fun at all! Hope slowly took a seat against the gymnasium wall, silently praying that someday I'd have the courage to walk across the room and ask it for a dance. Not that Practical Dreams don't deserve their space on the dance floor; in fact, some of them should never leave it. They are important. It's just that I'm finally in a position to make some Big Dreams come to pass, and, baby, it's time to make room for the wild girls! Especially when Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" comes on! Especially then!
So, Big Dream #1: I'm going to France. Come hell or high water. Alone or with anyone that wants to go with me. I'm going no matter what. Next year! Mark it on your calendar.