holly hobby (tried to rob me. silly stunt...)
now that i have the free time, what am i going to do?
by adam kraemer
By the time this is published, my employers will know I have accepted a new job.
Or, this is the most original letter of resignation ever.
Regardless, the new position is likely to allow me more time in my weekly schedule, especially on weekday nights. Which means I may actually be able to do something in my free time. Because, for the first time in three years, I actually have free time.
I'll be able to read those books I wrote about at the beginning of the summer that I haven't actually gotten to yet; there's even a library across the street from my apartment. I'll be able to do some writing for me; the first page of a novel has been sitting on my computer for a year now. I'll be able to start exercising again; not having to nap when I get home from work will probably help with that.
And I may even find myself a hobby.
The thing is, I can't remember the last time I had a hobby. Or what it was that I did. I do remember my parents buying me a starter stamp collection sometime in my early teens when (I guess) they determined I was not going places based on my baseball skills. I never had the conversation with my dad about it, but I imagine it would have gone something like this:
Dad: We thought you might find this stamp collecting interesting. It's a way, sort of, of learning about other countries, and some people - philatelists - really enjoy getting involved in finding that one last stamp to complete a portion of their collection.
Me: So did you have a stamp collection when you were my age?
Dad: Me? No, I was cool.
Regardless, after placing the stamps from the starter pack on the correct pages, I lost interest pretty much immediately. I have no idea what happened to that book, but I'm sure those stamps are probably worth hundreds of thousands of dollars today or something.
The thing is, that's the only real "hobby" I can ever remember having. I've done plenty of other things, but I wouldn't call taking piano lessons and playing in a band to be a hobby. I wouldn't consider running my high school youth group or working on the yearbook staff a hobby, either. I think the thing about a hobby - and correct me if I'm wrong - is to fill time by doing something that's never going to let you touch a girl's boobs.
According to Merriam-Webster, anyway.
No, seriously, I actually realized about halfway through this column (just prior to typing this sentence, really) that I wasn't exactly sure what differentiated a hobby from a pastime, or an avocation, or just simply wasting my life.
So I consulted Mr. Webster on the subject, and here's what he had to say:
hobby: a small Old World falcon (Falco subbuteo) that is dark blue above and white below with dark streaking on the breast
Now, I knew I'd never had one of those. So I checked the second definition:
hobby: a pursuit outside one's regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation
Which, I suppose, means there's no real difference between hobby, avocation, pastime, etc. Which is fine by me, but it still didn't get me any closer to figuring out what I could do with my free time.
So I thought back to the Jenkintown Hobby Shop, in scenic Jenkintown, Pa., just down the street from where my brother broke his ankle.
On a coincidental note, I used to enjoy hurting my brother's ankle as kind of a hobby. Synchronicity is fun.
Many miles away....
Anyway, the hobby shop, ostensibly, had plenty of offerings to help further one's hobbies. Hence the name. So I ran through a list in my head of what I remembered them carrying and mentally nixed, well, everything:
Plastic models of planes, plastic models of cars, plastic models of Godakin robots, wooden models of planes, cotton balls, yarn, google eyes, do-it-yourself stained glass, model soldiers, model solder, shrinky-dinks, twist-ties, pipe cleaners, do-it-yourself potholders, model trains, H-O scale and N gauge model train buildings, small bags of gravel, kites, glue.
Apparently, the minute the word "model" gets put in front of something, it immediately becomes a hobby for some people. Sometimes that also happens with the word "supermodel."
Regardless, since I'm not about to install a display case for my Sopwith Camel collection and/or start crocheting my own underwear, I figure hobby shop hobbies are out.
Hmmm ... I know I know people who have hobbies.
My friend Yusef, for example, who worked with me in a publishing company, does photography on the side (he's good, too - check out his body art site (if you're over 18 or mature enough to handle artistic representations of the female form). My friend Jay collects comic books (I think the last title I read regularly was Sergio Aragonés' "Groo"). My mom paints (if you have a link, mom, let me know). My dad burns characters from Dickens novels in effigy in a bunker he dug under the dining room (you thought I didn't know about that, didn't you?). There must be something I can do, right?
The thing is, most of what does take up my time when I'm not working (on the rare occasion), are things that, in the strict sense, wouldn't count as hobbies - there's no "pursuit" involved in watching a lot of TV, playing the songs I first learned on piano 15 years ago, or even reading, technically. The aspect of the "pursuit," while not necessarily having a goal, at least needs a direction.
I could go wildly meta and think up hobbies as my hobby.
But I won't.
Well, I guess I don't have to decide everything today. But who knows? Maybe by this time next month, I'll have made good headway on my soap collection. Or taught myself how to play the kazoo. Or started that cult I've been contemplating. Or designed my own Chee-tos. Or proved the existence of Greece. Or dug that moat around my bedroom. Or translated the first word of every book of the Torah. Or built a television using only the parts from my television. Or written more of my book.
No, really. I'm serious about that last one. And the cult.
Point is, there's a lot out there I can do. I think I like this hobby thing.
Oh, and if this does wind up being a letter of resignation ... um ...
A native of Elkins Park, PA, Adam Kraemer spends way too much of his time repeating "K-R-A-E..." He moved to New York City in 1998 and earned Master's in Journalism at NYU; don't let his writing fool you. He feels he is best known for saying the things no one is thinking, but afterwards wish they had been. He spends his free time wondering where all his free time goes and why he can never come up with a decent kicker for the ends of his articles.
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
9.12.08 @ 8:38a
You could start collecting belly button lint! I've heard that can be quite profitable! Or how about balls of used string - enormously profitable and in demand as well!
dr. jay gross
9.12.08 @ 10:05a
My Father and I shared very similar interests. He would start a hobby. I would watch and seem interested. He had a number of them over the years; pottery making, stamp collecting, photography, reading James Joyce books, growing plants under artificial light, mathematics, writing poetry, etc. There even was a time when he thought annoying me was a hobby! I've taken this hobby thing one step further. I collect things; hats, computer stuff, fishing equipment (I even use it sometimes.), educational books (don't use them much), meditation and lots of wishing. I probably could play with my hobbies and exclude anything productive for the rest of my life.
Adam - Don't follow my example.
9.12.08 @ 10:04p
I think a hobby is defined as something one needs to pick up when they start debating just what a hobby is. Seriously though, I've started making my own Pimp Cups. I think it qualifies as a hobby because I don't get paid to do it, enjoy the whole process, and it involves me visiting a craft store for supplies.
9.12.08 @ 11:48p
Um...dare I ask? What's a pimp cup?
9.14.08 @ 6:41p
Is everybody else waiting for the answer to the Pimp Cups question?
9.14.08 @ 10:25p
I don't actually put the word "PIMP" on any of mine, but they're bascially personalized, blinged-out beverage glasses.
9.16.08 @ 11:54a
For those of you who don't know how to copy and paste, click here to see what a pimp cup is. This is not your savior's holy grail.
You'll all be happy to know that I might have found my answer. For only $50, I can get myself a Pimp Cup Starter Kit. I wonder how many times I can get the hobby shop guy to say "pimp."