Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bucked from the Hobby Horse

My manfriend brought home his very first guitar this week, and has been spending a lot of time holed up in his office with his shiny new Precious and amp and how-to book, the muted sounds of electric strumming leaking through the door while I read at night or work on my own projects on the weekends. Do I feel neglected? Hell no! I've been nagging him to cultivate a new hobby for a long time, so I'm pumped. Plus his fingers are getting all callused. Growr.

Anyone else recently take up a new pastime? Tell me so that I may be jealous. I'm missing a hobby of my own at the moment.

Oh, my poor neglected tub o' yarn.
For a long time, writing was my hobby. Then when I lost my day job as a designer and had a few months of severance pay and unemployment insurance to help keep Team Awesome afloat, writing became my "jobby"—the thing my manfriend and I decided I should pursue as though it were my full-time paid gig, even though I wasn't yet published. It was clear to the both of us that I was good at it, and it fulfilled me more than working at my old job (which while fairly fun and decent-paying, wasn't feeling especially creative after five years of working on the same types of projects). So I had our collective couple's blessing to pursue writing until the money got unreasonably tight. And who'd have guessed it, six months into the lark, I sold my first book! Followed by another dozen. Though money is indeed way tighter than it was when I earned a salary, I'm still full-steam-ahead on making writing my full-time gig.

So, my hobby-turned-jobby turned into an actual job. Which leaves me hobbiless. I have a bunch of quasi-hobbies—reading, watching reality TV (while drinking wine), playing Angry Birds (also while drinking wine)… But those are passive occupations, requiring little of me aside from my attention, so I don't qualify them as hobbies. Walking and running are more physical upkeep than pastimes to me, cooking is as pleasurable as always but still a household obligation, so I don't count those, either. I find myself with occasional graphic design projects, for myself or others, but they're more diversions, not so much what I think of as a hobby.

A hobby is a long-term activity, in my view, one that requires you to continuously learn and gain competency. Like the study of a foreign language, yoga, painting watercolors, rock-climbing, poetry, amateur filmmaking, martial arts [wistful sigh], quilting, non-essential cooking, sailing, community theater, skateboarding, carving the faces of foreign dignitaries onto walnuts… You see where I'm going with this attempted definition. Something persistently challenging and hopefully creative. Something you look forward to while you toil away at your day job, and occasionally fantasize that you might one day make a living from.

Well my new day job, miracle of miracles, is still as creatively fulfilling as it was before The Call. So by the end of the day or the work week my mind is tapped, hence all my passive "hobbies". Staring at a page or screen is all I've got in me. I used to knit (I can produce a variety of impressive items, all of them roughly rectangle-shaped), practice Taekwondo, study French, sew, and try my hand at a variety of visual arts projects. I've always tended to grow bored easily then seek out new challenges as soon as I felt I'd grown competent with (if not mastered) a given skill. But now my brain's mush after fifty hours of working on projects that, generally speaking, I have massive creative control over.

Hmmm, suddenly this post sounds really douchey. Let me be clear—I'm not complaining! But I do miss having a hobby in my life. I've shifted to having projects instead, since that implies a challenge with a finite lifespan—an end. I very much feel that writing is something I'm still in the midst of getting good at, and I just don't have the energy to cultivate any additional creative skills just now.

What happens when your hobby turns into your profession? Does it become your "calling"? Your "passion"? Your "life"? I don't really know. But I do know that I'm just a little jealous of my manfriend, sequestered this very moment in his room, strumming away, with the promise of years of creative growth and challenge spread before him, should he choose to continue on his musical journey. I guess for now I'll just have to live vicariously. Possibly while drinking wine.


  1. "Birding" is a hobby. (Looking, not shooting). Just sayin'. And not douchey.

  2. True! I do love me some birding, even though the way I do it often involves pointing to a tree and whispering, "Look at that Fatty McPufferson!" or, "Look, a Lesser Crested Squeezums! Give me the binoculars!" Can't wait for hiking weather to return. My Peterson's hasn't gotten a good workout in months.

  3. First of all I love your term "jobby." I also like the word "jobette" to describe a part-time job.

    with regard to hobbies, I bowl. I'm in a league with my neighbors. My husband I and travel quite a bit (we have a month-long trip to Europe coming up). I read, and I also enjoy reality TV (Survivor and Real Housewives being my favorites).

  4. Cara—every time I see you tweet about bowling and your elusive 200, I'm pitched into a pool of envy. That's a genius hobby, as it's social, competitive, and challenging! That what I miss about martial arts.

  5. I used to do Tae Kwon Do, but I quit when I wanted to get pregnant and figured getting kicked in the belly continuously wasn't conducive to that. I never went back and honestly don't miss it. I also used to paint. I even had my paintings hung up in a local coffee shop. Haven't done that in a while either, though I suppose I might do it again someday.

    I used to take classes for fun at a community college. Sign language, tap dance, investing, etc. Having a kid changed that, but I'm thinking for all of our sakes I may have to take a cooking class soon!

    My current hobby is studying the Alexander Technique to improve my posture.

    My favorite hobby is reading, and I couldn't live with out it. Writing is my jobby. ;)

    Hey, couldn't you knit while watching TV?

  6. "Hey, couldn't you knit while watching TV?"

    The way I drink wine requires both hands. It's an advanced technique.

  7. 1 - Invest in the Wine Rack (bra) or a wine will free up your hands. ;-)

    2 - I agree with Penelope that birding is indeed a hobby.

    3 - I consider cooking and baking a hobby (because it is mine!) and you do a great job being adventurous in the kitchen. Erm. RWOR.