So that actually wasn’t spring after all. Well technically, according to the calendar it is now spring, but around here we are back to 4C and rain, which causes me to whine and shiver and gives me a pissy headache. But, you know, onward and everything.
I am one of those people who does a lot of stuff, but if I am ever asked point blank “what are your hobbies?” I have no list at the ready. Karate? Sure, I do that, but is it a hobby? I don’t know. Maybe, I guess, if you consider sweating a lot and throwing people around a hobby. Gardening? Yeah, I do that too, but not in an organized fashion with a real plan or even anything resembling continuity. I used to do yoga, but again…hobby or exercise or lifestyle? I’m not sure. Reading? Um, doesn’t everyone read? I have always kind of thought of reading as a skill as opposed to a pasttime or hobby. You know, a large percentage of the population can read, so it’s not rare or anything. And again, what constitutes a bona fide hobby anyway? Wikipedia (I know) defines the word hobby thusly: “A hobby is an activity or interest that is undertaken for pleasure or relaxation, often in one’s spare time.” Huh. Ok, well if you put it that way.
If you ever visit Michael’s or any other crafty-type store, you might think that the true definition of hobby is “Pursuit of an activity or interest that will cost you shitloads of money, leaving you unfulfilled and with a whole lotta crap in your house that you will probably need a whole other room for eventually”. Because wow. In the past couple of years I have watched the scrapbooking section of the Michael’s I occasionally frequent go from an aisle or two to nearly half the store. Want to find coloured paper? Well you can’t. You can find acid-free scrapbooking pages in a variety of rainbow colours for about a thousand dollars a package. But just want some green or yellow paper for everyday use? Did I just hear you scoff at me, Michael’s employee? Yes, I think I did.
I have to be careful, because I know a lot of scrapbookers (actually just saying that makes my teeth hurt) and they are hardcore, people. They speak a different language, they use special expensive scissors (that look to the uninitiated anyway, just like regular scissors!) they spend a fortune on embellishments and stickers for their pages, they speak in special coded languages about weights and types of paper and they attend weekends away where they engage in special scrapbook activities and events (I assume, anyway). And for all my mocking and scoffing at their way of life? I am actually, deep down, a little envious.
Not of the forking out thousands of dollars for stuff, of course. But more for the ability of the scrapbooker to organize their activities, family events and outings into photo essays, complete with appropriate slogans and nicely crafted cut-outs of relevant items of interest. I find the whole thing fascinating and repulsive at the same time. And while I occasionally will wander the aisles of the scrapbooking paraphenalia in awe, and browse through my friends’ well-organized scrapbooks replete with smiling babies surrounde by hearts and flowers, I am never, ever tempted to start down that path. Why? Because I know it is something that would set me up for complete and utter failure.
I started this post by saying I am a person who does a lot of stuff, and it’s true. But I am entirely guerilla in my approach to these things. Take knitting for example. I have a friend who is an excellent knitter. I decided I wanted to knit. I bought needles and yarn and busted out a whole bunch of scarves last fall, some of which were nice enough to actually give away as Christmas presents. But would it occur to me to, you know, take a course or learn to read a pattern? Hell, no. It’s all about being in the moment. I want to knit! NOW! And I do. And I will again, and eventually I might even branch out to an actual pattern, but it’s the initial burst of excitement that does it for me. Gardening is the same. Last spring I created a bed and planted a bunch of stuff. Was it stuff that grows well together? Maybe, maybe not. It was just seeds I bought at a garden show on a whim. Let’s have lettuces! Cilantro! And OMG tomatillos! Why the hell not?!? Yay gardening!
And you know, my guerilla approach has worked for me, for the most part. Even my foray into yoga was guerilla-based, as was my introduction to running. (Ask me about the time I went to return some books to the library and came home with a new pair of running shoes and all signed up for a 10 week learn-to-run course with a 5km race at the end of the 10 weeks.) So stuff works out in the end for me, but there is something about the scrapbook world that just dooms me to failure, I can feel it. Maybe it’s because my thousands upon thousands of photos and souvenirs are in boxes in my attic. Maybe because my parents’ thousand upon thousands of photos and souvenirs are in similar boxes and suitcases in their attic. I don’t seem to have the scrapbooking gene, perhaps.
And besides, what’s the fun of beginning a hobby only to continue it? And be good, and successful at it? And complete entire projects from beginning to end? Why would I want to do that when there are so many other things to dive into guerilla-style? Like photography! Or baking! Or sewing! Or wine appreciation!
Actually I might start on that last one tonight. Suck it, scrapbookers.
ETA: After I posted this, I realized that the premise of the post reminded me of something I had read previously. So I did some digging and lo and behold, the Pop Culture Librarian did this “lack of a list of hobbies you can just bust out for people when they ask”-type post first, way back in 2007. Clearly I have no original thoughts. So props, kudos and apologies. And everyone needs to go read the PCL on a regular basis, because she is outstanding. That is all.