You’re Such A Silly Woman

This may be the brightest idea I’ve heard in ages.

…Trade School encourages students to “barter for instruction.” Basically you take a free class, and in exchange, you teach the teacher something they want to learn about! Classes range from making balloon animals to making soup, from learning dance forms to public advocacy, and even a How to Teach A Class class.

This past weekend I took a 1.5 hour class with Brooklyn’s locavore and foraging specialist Leda Meredith. The class was Food Preservation for cans and jars, and was attended by a dozen students. In exchange, sometime in the future, I’ll teach Leda on how to use File Transfer Protocal (FTP) to connect to her own websites and servers! A real deal for me, because whereas I make my own kombucha, kim chi, and sauerkraut, I was unaware of the simple science behind hermetically sealing jars for pickling food — whereas I can teach about FTP while I sleep!

I do all my best thinking while I’m exercising. Last night, we had all of the weathers, so this morning I aerobicized before chiseling open the door to my frozen car. That sounds athletic, right? I can think of a pile of things I’d love to learn, but in an exchange situation, what do I know well enough anymore to teach?

Eeeeeeeeeeeeons ago, I taught gymnastics, dance, creative writing generally and poetry specifically, but since my brain spazzed, I don’t do those things anymore. What do I do? Well, I sleep poorly, stutter a lot and buy savings bonds for children. I can’t follow a recipe, bicycle on sidewalks, knit cat blankets, write postcards to Grandpa, ignore phones, scoop cat boxes, wear comfortable shoes and grow arugula.

My sister Daria can’t fold fitted sheets. It’s easy.

Come to think of it, Daria hasn’t eaten a stuffed artichoke since our grandmother Edith died 19 years ago.

I can pick a bold paint color, give cats medicine, say what everyone’s thinking, decorate with shiny objects, live thrifty, bake healthy cookies, wear silly clothes and polish nails. I can bake fruit breads, forget secrets, think two boxes outside of the regular box, stretch muscles, hunt for bargains and pack large volumes of stuff into small spaces. Does anyone need to learn these things? I dunno. These are not necessarily useful social social skills that’ll make you popular at parties. But maybe! I suggested my sister Anya start this same kind of exchange in town. She has doubts.

Anya: I like it. We could totally do this. What could I teach? How to argue with husband. How to clean the house without help. How to skirt cat puke until husband comes home. How to sit on my ass and watch the Daily Show. How to avoid paying bills until your phone company makes threatening calls. Why, I’m a jack of all trades!

I suppose a master class in sarcasm is out, but maybe not. What could you teach? What would you want to learn? Could this work where you live?

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