Oh! The Things You Can Do!

In high school, I dated a guy who could play every instrument he picked up. He was some sorta prodigy. He had a music room, and I never tired of his musical abilities. I also never thought much about it, because I was young and there seemed to be an abundance of talented people around me.
I’ve come to realize I’m still surrounded by talented people, but they’re adults, grown responsible adults, most of whom don’t have hours a day to feed their passions.


In college, while learning about how people learn and the various abilities students might possess, I was tested in every way possible. I came to understand that despite IQ, intelligence depends a great deal on the span of a person’s abilities. Meaning, with regards to Gardner’s theory, a better brain wasn’t about the scores, but rather, the range of scores. A person who scores moderately above average in all fields is brighter, and likely to experience more success compared to someone who spikes extremely high scores in only one or two areas. I won’t go into this too much, because you can read about it elsewhere, but suffice it to say, I’m a person with big highs and big lows, and this relates completely to living my life, regardless of occupation or academia.


Splendid with words, self, and nature — not so much splendid at everything else.
Of course, I take my own abilities for granted, thinking my own abilities are not gifts, really. Articulating my thoughts and feelings is a cinch, and writing them is even easier. I think growing flowers and food isn’t even a skill, more a matter of hope mixed with the magic of science. How can you walk by plants and rocks and not even know what they’re called? Isn’t cooking simply common sense? What do you mean you can’t visualize an imaginary tree? Can I cut you one from the imaginary forest I can’t see through? Why does it take you so long to answer me?!?

sometimes. at certain things.

sometimes. at certain things.

But oh, the things other people can do! Particularly, The Mister. I have a feeling his range of intelligence is a much closer, level range than my own. All of my lows are his highs, which makes him not only complimentary, but downright admirable.

He can hit a ball with a bat — any size ball, any size bat. Even he can hit balls with his hand, or a racquet, or a club, or a paddle, or whatever. Better yet, he can land it where he aims. He can also throw things and catch things. When I throw the remote across the coffee table, everyone ducks, but he always catches it. When he throws me the remote, it touches my hand and then it falls or ricochets because I cannot catch things.

He can pack stuff. Brute force doesn’t hurt, but I have seen him fit luggage into a car, as well as containers into our refrigerator, as though they’re pieces of a puzzle whose image only he can see. I’ve watched him fit a bed into a nook that I believed was smaller than the bed. I’ve seen him choose the appropriately sized plastic baggie, when I was sure he needed a much bigger one. For me, it’s like being a child at the circus. “Daddy, how did they get all those clowns into that little car?”

fuck you

fuck you

Do you know he can do math in his head? He can multiply and divide multiple numbers and even add a series of triple digit numbers! In his head! I can only math money and fractions easily. I assume this is from cooking for a large family and from learning to count back change before cash registers told you the difference. It’s like living with a calculator over here. “Did you just calculate the area of the living room without paper?”

the answer is fuck you

also fuck you

Since I’m awkward and intense and most people don’t like me, I cannot make small talk to save my life. We have these receptions after church, which are like tiny weekly parties from Hell, and inevitably, I can be found on the outskirts of the hall, eating cheese and crudites while The Mister walks from group to group laughing and smiling as people laugh and smile with him. I have nothing to say. I literally have nothing to say. “Isn’t it amazing how peanut butter and raisins elevate this celery from dull into a scrumptious treat?” I don’t know what in tarnation he talks to them about, but I bet it’s not about celery. Everywhere we go is like this, he talks to everyone, and everyone talks to him, and they all seem to like him. I mean, I like him, too, but not for his small talk.

The best one is the music intelligence though. Yeah, yeah, I can read music. Yeah, yeah, I can carry a tune. But I cannot MAKE music. Furthermore, I cannot hear a new song and then immediately imitate its instruments or play its rhythm. Then, once I start singing the melody, there is absolutely no way I can find the harmony.
We have this terrible game we play where I have a song stuck in my head and I mutter out lyrics (because words) and then he doesn’t know the words (because words) so I continue with the words until suddenly, I strike the right note, flipping the switch in his musical brain, and the entire song becomes accessible. I guess there’s an app for that, but I’m married to the live version.
I have never sat down in front of a xylophone, or drums, or piano, or picked up a guitar and just started making phenomenal music, whether it was my own (like I have music to make) or some task put out before me G-A-G-E, G-A-G-E (that’s Silent Night, you know.) I mastered the recorder in fourth grade and failed all the instruments after.
It is unfathomable to me how musicians spontaneously riff and jam. I mean, I’ve seen it, and every time, I’m completely awed.
We watch Jimmy Fallon, and I ask The Mister, “But how does Quest know what to play?” His answer? “When you know music it’s easy.”
I wonder, what’s that like?
I think if I could make music, I would be an egomaniac.

What intelligence do you take for granted, and which do you wish you possessed more of? Do you share your life with someone who balances you?

This post is part of Just Jot It January. It’s never to late to join and jot it!

About joey

Neurotic Bitch, Mother, Wife, Writer, Word Whore, Foodie and General Go-To-Girl
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32 Responses to Oh! The Things You Can Do!

  1. LindaGHill says:

    Out of your pie chart up there I think the only one I’m totally inept at is Nature. The rest…ehh. I suppose I’m pretty good with the linguist thing, and I’m very logical. Also, I can pack a box or a bag like nobody’s business, but I can’t take a picture if my life depends on it. Okay, I took one that was good. Once.
    I don’t have many people around me because like you, people don’t really like me. Possibly because I intimidate them with my awesomeness. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  2. danicapiche says:

    Hi Joey! Great post and lots to think about. If I could make music I’d be another Etta James (could you imagine?) or maybe Angus Young. The rock and roll guitarists probably have more fun 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think they all must have a lot of fun — ooh Etta James…chanteuse…yeah…the world needs more of that!

      Liked by 1 person

      • danicapiche says:

        I’d love to be able to sing like her. I’ve always considered musical ability as a cross between mathematical and language abilities. It strikes me as a different way of thinking. I came across an article that noted mathematical ability among autistic kids. These kids also gravitated toward music, in particular Metallica. Math formulas and music composition apparently activate the same areas of the brain.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    My husband is the expert at all things spatial, too (like your hubs with packing the car). I’m just not very good with imagining shapes and orientations in my mind. Directions with only pictures can be challenging to me. I need the words to go with them. But give me a word game to play? I’ll kick my hub’s butt every time. (He swears he’s going to beat me at Boggle or Scattergories some day, but he hasn’t yet!)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Elle Knowles says:

    My son is a percussionist and a music major in college – can make music out of anything, composes and performs. Didn’t get that from me BTW! What I wonder is where was he when they did that survey about music students scoring higher in the math’s and sciences? He would have tipped the scales! His worse subjects! LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dan Antion says:

    So, a train leaves Philadelphia at 8:17 am traveling to Chicago… Sorry. I think you left “Street Smart” off of your list. I might be the hypothesis busting case for the connection between math and music. I got math down cold. I added you list, I do math in my had and I answered the word problems our daughter’s algebra teacher put on the board during Open House. My wife hit me (lovingly) but I got them right. Music, yeah, not happening. I love to sing, but it only happens in my car on the way to work. I can pack the car regardless of how much stuff there is and how big the car is. I learned that from my dad. I actually think he could put stuff in a parallel dimension for the duration of our trip.

    We all have gifts. You certainly have one for telling a story, communicating a concept and keeping the stress level in check. That’s why I keep coming back here. Now, about that train 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • That parallel universe bit is quite apt!
      Thanks for the compliment. I don’t know if Gardner didn’t value Street Smarts, but I did read that he’d studied Spiritual Smarts and ultimately tossed it aside, so maybe Street Smarts went with it.
      The train sucks, Dan. Only math geeks take that train to word problem town! 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  6. cardamone5 says:

    My husband, like yours is off the charts smart, annoyingly and attractively good at everything. Music is his passion. He can play a few instruments, but his main talent with music is knowledge. He knows and remembers every musician in every genre. Give him a lyric of an obscure song from 1953, and he’ll tell you the name of the song, singer, musicians, studio it was recorded in, etc. Same goes for history, sports. He’s also very athletic, able to contort his body in every angle imaginable.
    Me? I’m an excellent organizer. I can fit more dishes in a dishwasher than anyone else. I am finding my way back to my creativity (detailed in a recent post of mine) and enjoy and am somewhat good at decorating, etc. I am a very hard worker. i will try and try at something. In the case of gardening or manual labor, my end result is usually neater than most, although in the moment I am sweeping, planting, etc, it doesn’t feel that way. I have to take a step back in order to see true results. My husband says I should write scripts for tv shows or movies or books because I guess the outcome way before it’s revealed. I don’t know if that’s a skill, but to have him compliment me on it, it must be something. I am a very good negotiator, down right fearsome when I want something. I used to intimidate phone customer service reps to get what I want, but that has lost its charm. I just can’t be mean to strangers anymore…unless they are assholes to my kids, then look out. I am a good gardener and a decent cook, but like you, I don’t consider those skills, more interests that I have taken the time to cultivate. I am a decent writer and communicator, but I can be a wallflower too in large groups. It just depends on my mood.

    Phew. That’s enough from me about me.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Not really enough about you, never really enough about you, or I’d stop reading! lol
      I’m a good negotiator, too. I think we were forced to be early on…
      I’m glad your husband is one for you to admire as well. AND I’m glad he compliments you on the things you excel at, because otherwise, it’d be a bit lop-sided. I always enjoy your writing! Never enough 🙂


  7. Veronica says:

    My hubby is a talker like your’s and I am the complete opposite. Everyone loves him. If we are running errands, we will be running late all the time because he just loves to start a conversation with random people. Picture us. Hubby yapping away and then me and our two girls hanging around the back staring off into space. A few times, we left him in the store while we waited in the car. OK, let me stop the rambling. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Luanne says:

    You are very hard on yourself. I had never heard that about intelligences. It makes sense. I am like your mister in some things. Eyeballing sizes for instance. Then I act smug to my hubby ;). But he is great at packing the back of our vehicle. I am good at chatting but he’s good at negotiating and fundraising. I am bad with money. Thanks for making me think about this.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sammy D. says:

    Really do we manics or depressives need any more highs/lows in our fraught lives ?!?
    I wore a big grin the whole time I read this, getting high at least 4 times and that’s not counting the Colorado marijuana 🙂

    I love that my Hub is a spatial guru – not only does he pack the car, he packs my suitcase once I lay out all the stuff. I can swing any kind of racquet or club and am pretty accurate with the remote. But I can’t so any of the dreaded S’s – sing on key or spatial comprehension. Tools, plugs, portals and wormholes are also beyond my ken.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Aussa Lorens says:

    I’m glad I have Alex for all the areas where I am stupid. I asked him to come help me “do math” last night, to determine how much fabric I needed to cover a wall, and how to space certain things on the aisles at the church. I expected this to be like some vast calculation with lots of paper and possibly arguing. No. It was like 10 + 10 + 4 = 24 and then 15/3 = 5. Fantastic. At least I’m good at tweeting stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. cara says:

    I laughed out loud at your description of the after-church gatherings…my sons always want to go (because free food) and I have made pretty much every excuse as to why we can’t. I actually have to practice things to say before parties and make a mental list of potential topics to bring up should I have to. So, yeah, I feel you. Also love that cartoon, It’s been a long time since I took the Myers-Briggs, but I am pretty certain I am an INFJ as well.

    I would love to be more musically smart. I played a couple of instruments when I was younger, but I needed to work very hard at it. Body smart would be nice too…my clumsiness can be painful.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sherry says:

    hmmmm, mostly I write in my head, switching sentence structure, and whole paragraphs. Once I have it, I write it down. I don’t rewrite, and just have minor editing after that. I have no idea how you “rewrite a piece” a dozen times to get it right. It’s right the first time, as right as it’s gonna get at least. I am also very good at sequencing how to do things. I intuitively line up the steps to achieve the goal in the way that is most succinct and easy. Doesn’t everybody? lol..math is my nemesis however.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Phil Taylor says:

    You asked so many good and interesting questions in this post. I love it. My son is a musical genius but I’m nearly a musical illiterate. There are about a thousand different ways a person can have intelligence. I agree with your theory that those that have general intelligence across several domains are better at coping with a diverse world. One thing I didn’t see you mention is that certain types of intelligence or skills are more inherent to men or women. You and the Mr. seem to have perfected your complimentary roles in that regard. This should come as no surprise, but I regard humor as a type of intelligence that is highly undervalued and underrated.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Phil. No, I don’t see it related to gender at all. My MIL is also incredible with spatial skills, and my friend Tracey is incredible with math, not just computation, but with its entire language. Humor may well be an intelligence as well, mix of words and apt timing, perhaps? Thanks again for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Faith Simone says:

    For years I took my literary/writing intelligence for granted. I think I’ve come to appreciate more over the last year. I’m also effortlessly good at spacial intelligence when it comes to buying clothes for other people that fit perfectly, knowing what furniture will fit in a room, etc. I suck at math and I’m totally directionally challenged! I’ve passionately thanked God for GPS on more than one occasion.

    My sister balances me. She’s pretty much good at everything I’m not. I totally get your appreciation for your husband’s ability to fit luggage/tupper ware in their respective places. I go a little crazy when I try to do it, yet when my sister does it: magic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s nice to have someone around to balance us out! Remind me to take you clothes shopping with me. Faith. Or better yet, I could just give you my card and let you go instead! 🙂


  15. I have a really, really high I.Q. They started testing me when I was in grade school, and I’ve taken more tests than I can count. I kill I.Q. tests. Any you know those aptitude tests we had to take in school? I killed those, too. My grades were so high on those tests that I was embarrassed to show them to anyone. And I have NO TALENTS. None. Maybe a few, but they’re all really stupid talents. I can cook. Well, I used to be able to cook, until all those food shows came on, and suddenly everyone in the world became Julia Childs. Now I’m an okay cook, sort of. Someone sent me a cartoon a long time ago that had the punchline, “Intelligence has less practical application than you would think”. I’ve found that to be absolutely true.

    Oh! just this moment I had a realization! My talent is taking stupid standardized tests!

    Liked by 1 person

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