Thursday, May 28, 2015

Things I Can't Do (But Wish I Could)

A note: yesterday's hiatus announcement was supposed to go up tomorrow, on Friday the 29th. I don't know what happened that it posted early; I thought I'd scheduled it for then. Anyway, I'm still here today but won't be tomorrow. Sorry for the confusion. We now return you to your regularly scheduled post.

I know how to do a lot of things. Maybe not as many as I think I know, and maybe a lot of them aren't very practical, but I do know how to do them. (More or less.) However, there's a lot more things I don't know how to do but wish I did, and that's something I've been thinking about a fair bit recently. I thought I'd share some of the top things I wish I could do with the rest of you.

Things I Can't Do (But Wish I Could)

  1. Sword- or staff-fighting. I could possibly pretend I want to know this solely for purposes of story research. That, however, would be a lie worthy of Wizard Howl himself. My desire to learn how to wield a sword or staff (or various other weapons of fantasy-book fame) stems primarily from the fact that almost all my favorite fantasy characters wield one of the two- or a bow, which I both own and know how to use. However, I don't know where I'd go to learn either of these, and while I might be able to figure it out from books and videos (those made by people who know what they're doing), I'm honestly too lazy to teach myself.
  2. Play a musical instrument. This is something that I'm sure I could teach myself if I put the effort into
    it (there are a lot more resources available for learning to play musical instruments than there are for learning the sword or staff), but again, I've never put the effort in, mostly because I've never really had a burning desire to do so. Also, there's the fact that I'd have to either buy an instrument myself or ask my parents to buy it for me, and somehow, books always seem to have much higher purchasing priority. I don't even know what instrument I'd play- at one point, I wanted to learn guitar, but having tried it once or twice and discovered that pressing down the strings hurts and it's difficult to figure out where to put your fingers (even when you have a friend showing you what to do), I've kind of become a bit disenchanted with actually playing it. The same issue would probably apply to most other string instruments as well. So that leaves wind instruments (namely pennywhistles, which are used in Celtic music and look to be both easy and inexpensive) and percussion instruments (which in general look easy but can't really do much on their own I don't think).
  3. Speak and/or write in Elvish. I've actually made attempts at teaching myself Elvish at various times. Unfortunately, I've never stuck with either long enough to learn more than writing my name and speaking a smattering  of phrases. As this is one of the least useful things on the list, though, and I can speak fairly decent German, I'm not too torn up about it. Maybe I'll give it another shot sometime during the summer and see if I get any further.
  4. Speak with an accent. Ok, it's a little silly, but I do wish I could speak in some accent other than my native one. An accent from somewhere in the Great Britain/Ireland area would be my preference, particularly from Scotland or England. (And yes, I know, there's a lot of different kinds of English accent, and I'm not particular on which one except not Cockney.) However, a German accent would also be cool (and useful for improving my German pronunciation, most likely).
    This is nightshade. Aka poisonous.
  5. Identify poisonous plants vs. edible ones. Yes, I do have actually useful skills on this list, surprise, surprise! This is probably something I should actually learn to do, both for my novels and for real life. Not that I expect to be stranded in the wilderness anytime soon, but you never know. At the moment, my knowledge extends to: (A) pine needles can be used for tea and the inner bark can be eaten, (B) nightshade, water hemlock, and a lot of mushrooms are all poisonous, (C) don't eat anything the animals won't. So, yeah- if I ever need to find food in the woods, I'm in trouble.
  6. Make a small-animal trap. This one is kind of related to the last item on the list, in that it would be useful if I'm ever stranded in the middle of nowhere. I'd rather be able to find plants to eat since catching animals means I also have to kill them, clean them, and cook them, and yeah. I could probably manage that last one- yes, including making a fire; I've seen my grandpa and others do it enough times that I at least know the method, though I'd need matches or a lighter or something- but the other two? A bit more difficult. Of course, if I'm desperate and hungry, that might outweigh my squeamishness.
  7. Navigate without a map and not get lost. This one actually isn't limited to the wilderness; I'm talking about the streets as much as I am the middle of nowhere. And yes, they use different skills; I'd like to be able to find my way around both. I'm ok if I have a map, but without one . . . Well, basically, I have no sense of direction, so I can feel lost even when the rest of my family apparently knows exactly where we are. Also, while I can find my way around fairly well within a mile or two of my house, there are some places that I'm a little iffy on the route to or back from, even though I've been there literally hundreds or even thousands of times. So, yeah. The latter of these could probably be solved by my paying a little more attention to where I'm going even when I'm not the one driving. The former? A little more difficult to solve.
What things do you wish you could do? Do you have any suggestions regarding my list? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
 -Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 


  1. Pretty much the only one of these I can do is play a musical instrument... You should learn! It is terribly rewarding. : )

    1. What instrument do you play? (I feel like I should know already, but I can't remember.)

  2. Penny whistles are really easy to learn- I taught myself how to play by ear, and since I already know how to read notes I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be two hard to learn that too.

    Also, I can do a couple of different accents, and it's really a matter of listening. When I want to learn an acccent, I listen to people speaking in that accent and pay attention to how each syllable is pronounced. Then I proceed to imitate it myself until I've perfected it.
    Accents I can do: Queen's English, Northern English, Irish, Scottish, and Australian.

    I wish I could sword fight too. I know how to spar with my siblings and friends, but I don't know any real techniques. My dad has a friend who teaches stage swordplay in a college, so maybe someday I'll see if he can give me lessons. :)

    Another thing I wish I could do is Irish Tap Dancing, but that will NEVER happen.

    1. Cool. Maybe I'll try learning one sometime, then.

      Wow. I'm impressed! (Though not surprised, since you've said you're into acting and such.)

      I hope you can learn. :)

      I have a friend who does Irish Step Dancing (which I think is what you meant). She's pretty awesome at it. Why will it never happen for you?

    2. Mostly because I have hereditary plantarfatiitis, which makes it very difficult for me to stand or walk for extended periods of time- so dancing is definitely out of the picture for me. :( Not to mention, I'm already eighteen and they say that it's best to start learning when you're young.

    3. Ouch! That stinks. That does make sense that you should start young, though . . .

  3. I often wish I could play bagpipes and speak at least four other languages fluently. Sigh, maybe one day.

    Have you searched about for survival books? They usually include a list of edible/poisonous plants, and instructions on how to make traps. (Lilly pad stems are edible, by the way! Edible and unpleasant.)

    1. I wanted to learn the bagpipes at one point. The problem is that, like many other really cool instruments, they're expensive and difficult to find a teacher for.

      I have not; I'll have to look into that sometime. (Interesting! How'd you learn that fact?)

  4. I can do one or two of the things on your list, but most of these I'd love to do too. Especially learning to speak Elvish--it's Elvish. :D

    Enjoy your hiatus!


I'd love to hear your thoughts! But remember: it pays to be polite to dragons.