Nancy Roman

Not Quite The Renaissance Woman

Even when I was a little girl, I disliked the adage, “Jack of all trades, Master of none.”

I didn’t want to be encouraged to stick to only one thing. I wanted to be able to do everything.

And that Attention Deficit Disorder Desire For Versatility has stuck with me my whole life.

And, for the most part, it has paid off.

People say to me all the time, “You are such a Renaissance Woman.”

Okay, they don’t say that.

But I’m quite sure they think it.

After all, I write a blog, draw the illustrations, control the finances for a decent-sized company, bake my own bread, practice Yoga and Zumba, and keep abreast of all the latest fashions.

But as much as I would like to be Master Of All Trades (I just can’t use the word Mistress – it doesn’t convey the same power as Master), I admit that there are certain things that I just can’t seem to get the hang of.



I can’t balance on one foot.  For someone as flat-chested as a boy, I’m extremely tippy. Luckily, this only matters in Yoga, which, I have been repeatedly told (by every Yoga instructor I have ever had), is not a competition. But forget Warrior III or Eagle pose. And when I am in Tree pose, I am sure the people around me are not thinking “Namaste!” – but “Timber!”



I can’t play the piano. Oh sure, I have a piano. And I have had seven years of instruction in various chunks. And I can read music. But I can’t play. I can only figure out.  if I hit a bad note (like in every measure), I have to stop and figure it out. I have to stop for an unfamiliar chord. Or a plethora of sharps or flats – (and why do they DO that?  What the hell is wrong with the key of C?) I stop and figure it out, and then stop and figure it out again.

Last Christmas, a guest admiring my piano asked to play something.

“Oh, I can’t,” I said, (which I meant literally).

“Just one Christmas carol. Silent Night, Something. Anything. Just one,” he pleaded.

I explained:  “Dinner will be ready in an hour. We don’t have time.”



I can’t flip an egg. I can bake bread, and make ratatouille (I’m not saying I can pronounce it), and produce a four-course dinner for twelve – but I cannot flip an egg. I do not blame myself for this. I think I just need the right spatula. I have 27 spatulas, but I’m sure I just need to keep shopping for one that works. Or perhaps the right pan. We recently had overnight company, and at breakfast I asked her how she liked her eggs.

“Scrambled,” she said.

“Thank God,” I said.



You know that condition – Prosopagnosia, it’s called – where a person cannot recognize faces?  I have no facial recognition for cars. Autoagnosia, I call it. It drives my husband crazy. A short time ago, I had lunch with an old friend.

“What kind of car did he drive?” my husband asked when I got home.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“But you were IN IT!” he said in his exasperated voice.

I thought hard. “It had a passenger side and a driver side. It had a steering wheel on the driver side. The visor mirror lit up.”

“Jesus Christ!” he said, as he is insensitive to my Condition.

“I’m almost certain it was blue,” I added helpfully.


night sky

I cannot comprehend constellations. I see no pattern in the stars. They are just little lights in the sky. You can connect the dots any way you want; I don’t see dippers or bears or swans.  If I look and look for a really long time,

then sometimes,


I can distinguish

which star,



airplanenightan airplane.


  1. I love this post. I like to think of myself as a Renaissance woman as well, but there are many things I can’t do. 😉 I think the terms still applies though. To me a Renaissance Person has many interests and learns about many things, but that doesn’t mean he/she has to know and be able to do everything. 😉


    • Good thing I don’t have much real ability to be a Renaissance Woman.


  2. Good to know I’m not alone in being Constellation Challenged. (and you are the first person I’ve admitted it to) 🙂 Feels good to have it out in the open!


    • I just don’t see it. I’m so relieved I’m not the only one.


  3. You still have many good qualities, Nancy. Don’t worry. I can’t see constellations, either. Or play the piano. But I will give you a tip on flipping eggs — PAM. I wasn’t able to do it either until I started using Pam. Now my omlettes come out of the pan, too.


    • Pam, butter, olive oil. I’m afraid it’s hopeless.


  4. Don’t feel bad. I don’t recognize cars either. It only becomes important when they don’t run.


    • They all look the same to me. My husband feels that I am lacking in a very important emotion.


  5. sisteranan

    Autoagnosia… the nice thing about flexible people is that they create so many new things. *writes down brand new word*


    • I think many of us suffer from Autoagnosia. They will introduce a drug for this next year.


  6. I have every inaptitude you have. But, luckily, … there’s an app for that. Well, at least for the night sky. Maybe when cars get DNA, we can wipe it on us and have our husbands scan us for car makes/models.


    • And he expects me to tell one motorcycle from another too! That’s just unreasonable.


  7. I, too, have a Desire for Versatility. Very well said, Nancy, but sometimes I wonder how fantastic I could be at just one thing if I stuck to it to the exclusion of all other things. However, I realise I would become seriously jaded. In tackling new projects and activities one keeps the creative juices flowing, and I live for Creativity.


  8. Sounds so much like my deficiencies – have no idea about make/model of cars, stars are those pretty spots in the sky, and I serve eggs sunny side up. Love my zumba class. Yoga is hit and miss. I understand Renaissance women were buxom and curvy with a few extra pounds for padding – I would fit in perfectly!


  9. autoagnosia. i am so happy to have a label. i’m always afraid I will have to identify a car/vehicle in a great kidnapping or bank theft getaway and i’ll say, “it had four wheels and I think it was blue? or was it white? it might have been a truck? or an SUV?” drives my husband batshit crazy.


    • Oh yes! I hear the cop asking me whether it was a late model car, and I answer, “I have no idea what that means.”


  10. I always wished there were only flats in music. They’re so much easier than sharps. And treble is so much easier than bass…..And I’ve often wondered if other people feel that way??


    • And why are notes above or below the lines? Why aren’t there enough lines for all the notes?


  11. I love your sense of humour and you sound kind of like my twin here–I always pretend to see the Big Dipper, and I am tippy and I cannot even find my own car in the parking lot


    • In years past, I have tried my key in the wrong car door. But now that it is all remote, and the car beeps at you and blinks – it is sort of saying “Hi! I’m over here! Remember me?”


  12. So I also diversify- life is so much more interesting this way… my piano is covered with books and luckily in Germany eggs are not flipped over… and I find I could use with an extra day each week to fit in all those interesting things I’d love to do.


    • This summer I took a one-day watercolor painting class. I thought that I would paint something every week – and one of these days I will empty the satchel I took to class.


  13. Loved reading this. I think I suffer from all the above as we’ll.


    • Thanks. It appears there are many of us.


  14. Looking on the bright side, we versatile people are very easy to buy presents for. And the charity shops always love to have your old karate equipment, bicycle lights, macramé beads, bread machine, flute music, aquarium aerator…


    • HaHa! That’s right! And why we need to rent storage units!


  15. I can do anything. At least that is what my stepdad used to say. And then to add more to the confusion, my mother used to say I couldn’t do anything, when she had a bee in her bonnet (which was often with raising 5 children, four of them girls). So it’s no wonder I grew up thinking I was a jack of all trades, master of none! But after reading your blog, I can now accept that, no, I can’t do everything, and it’s okay that I have a beautiful semi expensive guitar that I can occasionally strum a tune to in one chord! You’ve just save me some therapy sessions! Love your blog, I get to smile every time! 🙂


    • I always tell young people: You are not as wonderful as your mother tells you you are, but on the other hand, you are not as stupid as your father tells you you are.


  16. I’m at the age I’m paring down all the ‘experiences’ I’ve had in my life, piano is one as well as constellation reading. As it is I can’t fit in a nap because of all my projects which take longer to do because I am NOT an expert as I fumble my way through.
    Nice to know I am not alone in the ‘same game’. Nancy, you sure know your way around a funny post. This one was delicious. BTW, I like my eggs scrambled too because…


    • I don’t really want to pare down though, because now I am also aware that I may not get future chances to try new things. It’s kind of now or never. Except for motorcycles of course. That’s NEVER.


  17. Howling with laughter over the stars. Having taken astronomy I can generally recognize the dippers … one of which I lost last spring and can only find the other; no clue which one I actually located, of course. And I can find Orion’s Belt. Sometimes. Because the star Betelgeuse resides there and is connected to one of my favorite fictional characters (Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy). Airplanes are really lovely because they actually twinkle!


  18. I can’t do anything better than you can. In fact, I have all your shortcomings plus a few, but like to think I am superior anyway. 🙂 Another superb post!


    • Oh, my feelings of superiority never seem to suffer. I am unfazed by my shortcomings.


  19. That sounds pretty Renaissancy to me…


  20. I have no shortcomings. I prefer to think that other people have longcomings. Hubby tells me that I can’t manage to walk and talk at the same time, but I think too many people already do that. Maybe it’s just me…


    • You’re right. I am plenty renaissancy. The things I cannot do are just immaterial.


  21. You remain very much a Renaisance Woman, a woman for the ages, superior in the things important for the time…like putting together the perfect outfit, zumba as well. The rest, these are not critical.


    • You’re right. I am plenty renaissancy. The things I cannot do are immaterial.


  22. I think you have managed to “Master” quite a lot. Number one on the list is your ability to make me laugh out loud even if coffee is coming out my nose. You have definitely masterd that.


    • That’s my favorite accomplishment: making people laugh!


  23. I love the pictures and your lighthearted postings. So happy I found this blog. Always a fun quick read.



  1. The Cure | notquiteold

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