Yesterday, I performed not one but two minor acts of near-handiness. It really doesn't take much at all for me to feel pleased with myself and start puffing up. I have (with good cause!) a very low opinion of my skill at accomplishing practical tasks, as opposed to, say, setting up a network. I almost never have occasion to do anything more complex than change a light bulb. When something does come up, I'll often spend an inordinate amount of time poring over any available reference material before I begin tackling it, and then will patiently work through the chore at the same speed we usually associate with glaciers.
So what were these tasks? Honestly, I'm embarrassed to even talk about them, not just because they're so simple but because their very existence indicts me. The first thing was replacing a windshield wiper blade. I should probably point out that my car is three and a half years old, and this is the first time I have ever replaced a blade. It has needed to be done for some time now. In fact, I actually bought a blade over a year ago, but it has been sitting in my trunk until I felt properly motivated. (It rarely rains in the Bay Area, and I make frequent use of the free windshield cleaner at gas stations.) I squinted and cursed at the unhelpful illustrations on the back of the wiper case, then scrutinized the existing wiper, carefully disconnected it, then snapped the new one into place. After a few practice wipes I declared success. I'm still a little concerned that some day I'll turn it on in the middle of a storm and watch the blade go flying off the car, but for now I'm feeling proud as can be.
I did this after coming home from work (after the Longest Day Ever), and when I walked over to my mailbox, I saw an enormous window screen lying on the ground. "Huh," I thought. "I hope that isn't mine." There was sort of a funky smell in my apartment when I got back from my Christmas holiday, so before leaving for work in the morning I had opened up all the windows. While taking my typical strolls around the building, I had noticed that it was unusually windy outside, and with the events of the previous 24 hours I thought it would be entirely fitting if the one day I had kept my windows open was the one day the winds were strong enough to rip the screens out of their frames. I went upstairs and found out that I was correct, although I'm uncertain whether that should make me feel smarter or dumber.
I grabbed the screen and brought it up. After only about 5 or 10 minutes of wrangling, I was able to mostly get it back into the frame. There's one particular corner which isn't very secure, and short of bringing up a ladder so I can force it from the other direction I think I've done as much as I can. Still, I'm going to call this a victory, since with all the torsion I was applying to it I should have permanently damaged the screen.
And so it continues. Small victories in fields where I make no claim to greatness give me enough confidence to keep on going, inordinately pleased at my range of abilities.