I had the pleasure of spending last weekend in sunny L.A., my first time visiting. I went to see a friend from high school, but got the added bonus of meeting his lady and seeing a friend of mine from my summer at the Smithsonian.
In between beach time and museums x3 (I’ve been on such an amazing museum roll lately), the topic of hobbies came up. More than once. My high school friend’s house is basically a shrine of musical instruments aligned one after the other on raised stands. He cooks. Is into photography. Is generally kind of tech-y—in order to present me with a list of tourist options for the trip, he sent along an elaborate, multi-layer Google Maps mashup.
A year or so ago, my camp counselor from when I was 14, with whom I’ve kept in touch all of these years, was cleaning out her stuff at her parents’ house and unearthed a number of gems, among them the “Letter to My Counselor” form I filled out half a life ago. It was hilarious and kind of charming in its naiveté (I was trying SO HARD to be cool), but one thing stuck out to me: I listed so many hobbies. Basketball. Volleyball. Golf (wait, what?). Tennis. Listening to music. Writing letters to friends. Reading.
Oh, and I said I was good at “volleyball, basketball, writing, school stuff, knee boarding, and Name That Tune” but just OK at “golf, tennis, ping pong, and making friends.”
Ha. I’m dying over here.
If you’d asked me a few years ago, I would have told you about my projects. DIY stuff around the house (lots of spray painting). Taking and editing photos. Tennis. Listening to music and going to concerts. Reading – online articles, blogs, magazines, fiction, non-fiction. Plus this blog: writing, tweaking the code.
And then I went to grad school.
Being around my former intern friend last weekend, now a PhD student in Public History, I remembered that constant “should be” grad school feeling. If they aren’t actually writing, researching, prepping for the next thing, to say nothing of the doctoral “oh yeah, I also need to write a book,” grad students are basically feeling guilty. And sleep deprived. With some low-level anxiety thrown in.
In school, I handled that by going to the other extreme: if I wasn’t doing something school-related, I was likely watching every single episode of Gossip Girl. Or just lying on the couch, or in bed, staring at the wall. Or out with friends, when I could convince them to step away from their reading lists.
Two years of that, and I kind of forgot how to have hobbies.
So now, a year after graduation, I’m throwing a mixture of time (weekly tennis, on the calendar) and money (contemplating replacing my slooowwww computer with something that won’t waste so much of my time just to boot up, only to produce about a 50/50 ratio of functional vs “not responding”) at the problem. I’m trying to do a bit of web work, and am finding that being so behind on html5 and css3 updates makes me feel like I’m starting from scratch. Damn, it’s a steep learning curve!
But it’s good. On the occasion that I actually get something to work, there’s a rush I haven’t felt in a while. And even in the interim, just getting in a bit of practice—it’s fun. It makes me want to meet new people with whom I can talk about this stuff. It makes me happy to be spending a quiet Saturday at home, the light streaming in through the windows. The windows that could use a good cleaning…but I’m pushing aside the “should be doing” feeling, at least for today.