Friday, September 09, 2011

This is how I don't become an alcoholic. Or how I DO.

It started innocently enough, this hobby stuff, back when I was a kid and someone taught me how to make friendship bracelets.

I forced my mom to take me to Ben Franklin (that completely unsatisfying hobby shop with 80 rows of balsa wood model airplanes and almost nothing else) so that I could buy String, as I referred to it with my sophisticated 3rd grader vocab, and then proceed to make one hundred fairly similar bracelets for friends and then, when I'd run out of friends, those who sat near me in class and then, my sister.

Sure - she's a friend NOW - but back then...less so.

I enjoyed pinching her. That's something.

Anyway, I think that's probably a good place to put a pin on my personal timeline of When This Hobby Bullshit Began.

The whole friendship bracelet thing lasted for a while, or probably something on the order of two weeks, which counts as "a while" in 3rd grader years and then, when I got tired of tying knots shaped like the number 4 with embroidery floss (thank you, 3rd grader directions), I set aside the String and moved on to other endeavors.

Like playing soccer, going to swim practice at dawn and school - which took up an oppressively large amount of my time.

Which, thank god, because later in my teenage years when my time wasn't nailed down by as many organized sports, I made a hobby of being the biggest bastard child a set of well-mannered hippie parents could imagine and fear.

Wow - I was awful.

So awful that I don't think my recognizing this fact in my 30s does anything to make up those years of sheer horror. I've stopped apologizing to my parents. We've agreed to just refer to those as The Dark Years and then also to never refer to them at all.

The never-er the better.

But then! I graduated from college and moved back to California where I began my life as a career commuter. What I was doing for work - which SHOULD have been the topic of convo and importance at that time - fell by the wayside as I recounted with great dramatic flair and arm flinging the soul-crushingness of my daily commute to and from San Francisco. And to and from Santa Clara. And to and from Livermore.

Oh god, it was grotesque.

But! Had I not spent the better part of my early twenties riding BART and CalTrain and MUNI (hate you still, MUNI.) and light rail and my fucking feet, I may not have begun my life as a serial hobbyist.

Because on the various train and bus-like modes of transpo, I learned to knit. And crochet. And actually read all the magazine subscriptions I'd amassed over decades of birthdays. Which ended up inspiring me to try new hobbies like sewing and cooking and reminded me that OH YEAH I could grow food if I so desired and OH YEAH my mom is a gardener I could ask her and so on...

So, whether it was the time on the road to and from work or the mind-numbing work or the subliminal magazine influence or the suffocating broke-ness (I lived on food swiped from executive luncheons for about four years) - I took up hobbies to entertain myself. Cheap ones.

I guess that's the best way to describe these years of hobbying - The Cheap Years.

Years of acrylic yarn, metal hooks (tink, tink, tink - I still hear that shit in my nightmares), poorly coordinated fat quarters from the $1 bin, plants ripped from my mom's yard (hey - she was the one doing the ripping), "Champagne" chicken made from Mumm's and so on...

Boy howdy, did I make some ugly, ill-fitting and offensive shit, people.

Thankfully, I also grew some pretty flowers and a tomato.

I think I'm starting to see how the gardening hobby stuck most effectively while other things like soap making (why? Soap is what? A DOLLAR. Just buy it.) and candle making (No one needs more candles. This is a fact.) were forgotten after only a single try.

Though I *just* threw out the soap molds, like, a month ago. Perhaps I should add de-stashing as a hobby. A hobby I stick to. Eh...

So yeah, that was all true until about five years ago when I started this blog.

Wow. Has it been five years? Wait! No! I just checked the archives - it's been SIX years. Yikes. Sorry people - that's a lot of salty language and poorly written tutorials to endure. You're champs.

Anyway, yeah, when I started this blog I also began reflecting on the state of my hobbies and, more importantly, reflecting on the state of other people with the same hobbies and I then decided to stop making crap.

Or, at least I decided to stop using crap materials to make what might or might not have turned out as crap.

So, like, wool yarn instead of acrylic, bamboo needles instead of metal or plastic, decor weight fabric rather than quilter's calico, foods other than know.

Which I think, for the most part, has improved those hobbies to which I've stuck. The products of those hobbies has improved anyway. So, at least now when I finish a knitting project and SHOCKER it fits and looks decent, I have a useful clothing item instead of an itchy unwearable piece of synthetic garbage to add to the Goodwill bag.

Thank god for Goodwill, by the way - they save me from having to face my failures every day. Or at least from having to put them directly into the garbage, which is certainly where they belong and, likely, where they eventually ended up when the Goodwill sorters got a hold of them.

Short aside: Goodwill sorters - you do good work. Thanks for handling that whole wrap skirt fiasco. I really have no idea what made me pair narrow wale corduroy with blanket binding. It wasn't right.

Glad I got that out of the way. I've been thinking it for a long time. Knowing that Goodwill is there makes me a more confident hobbyist.

Not that they'll take a failed beehive, 40 tubes of too hard lip balm, cucumber plants with powdery mildew or my last two NaNoWriMo projects, but in some cases, they're a savior.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post - HOORAY WE'VE MADE IT! I need a Gatorade. - all my god damned hobbies and how, when recounting my weekend's activities to a friend, I realized that I've collected so many hobbies that I may find it hard to carve out enough time to join said friend for margaritas on Saturday.

This is my wake up call, friends.

My name is Finny and I'm a hobbyaholic.

Yeah, that makes no sense as a word, but I think you get what I'm saying. My hobbying has slowly and quietly gotten out of control.

And you know what broke the camel's back? Cheese.

I told my friend I was taking a cheese-making class and I got the look that many of you have probably gotten. The one that you usually only see on the faces of the family members during interventions when the addict is all, "No, really! I've got this under control! I can stop whenever I want!", as they scrape the white crust of their nostril.

Liars, those.

If I've reached the stage where afternoon cocktails on a sunny patio in fall is about to be eclipsed by a full schedule of back to back hobbies, I've got to pull back.

Right? Because otherwise when will I drink? That's a hobby, too, you know. You don't just start by having a top shelf Cadillac margarita with Tres Generaciones tequila. OH NO - you have to work up to it. You start with that sour mix crap in a bottle and some Albertsons brand tequila and then you learn first hand what a margarita *should* and should *not* taste like and go from there. Through many years of disastrous hangovers and awkward apologies. You know, until you're a discerning margarita drinker who can lounge on a sunny patio with friends for the better part of an afternoon without drinking too much, but also without ever running your perfect margarita dry.

It's an art, is what I'm saying - a hobby in its purest form.

But this hobby is in danger - because of the cheese making.

And beekeeping.
And running.
And canning.
And knitting.
And cycling.
And new book reading.
And fly fishing.
And NaNoWriMo novel researching.
And lip balm recipe refining.
And Japanese maple pruning.
And, and, and...

I guess this is just how I don't become an alcoholic. I take up so many hobbies that I just don't have time to drink until I've taken up so many hobbies that I'm so stressed that I MUST drink and then...whoopsies I become an alcoholic.

It's a fine line.


  1. Hah! Sounds a little like me. Always messing around with something. With some drinks on the side. Although I haven't mastered sipping all day without getting drunk. I might need to stop drinking whiskey and switch to something calmer lol

  2. I may have actually stated that it's a good thing I have all these fucking pears to can (and tomatoes and sauerkraut and every other damn thing), because otherwise I'd just sit around in the evenings drinking. And rotting my brain reading useless shit online (this site not included, of course).

    Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's really hard to explain it as a hobby.

  3. Quilter's calico is like pbr. Not the best, thankful for the inexpensive backup.

    Knowing that Goodwill is there makes me a more confident hobbyist.

    Not that they'll take a failed beehive, 40 tubes of too hard lip balm, cucumber plants with powdery mildew or my last two NaNoWriMo projects, but in some cases, they're a savior.

    That is really good stuff. Oh the garbage I have hauled to goodwill just because I couldn't bear to throw it out.

    Looking forward to winter finny dig hobbying drinking stuff in MONTANA.

  4. I am rolling on the floor laughing. That is my life. Cheese making is brilliant do you think the food bank will take it?

  5. Yeah. Goodwill is the best. They take the guilt out of getting rid of crap. Let someone else do the dirty work. It's like they're cleaning your toilets for free.

    Oh. And don't forget swearing in your list. An admirable hobby and one that must be refined over time 'cause you can always tell a novice swearer.

  6. Delurking here to let you know I am also hitting the hobby wall with cheesemaking, out of raw milk no less. If I did not have to work for a living, the incredible shrinking 24-hour day would not be a problem. Only 1339 days until I can seriously consider retiring, assuming the politicos don't ruin Social Security in the next few years. BTW, I'm hooked on (Red Haven) peach juice and vodka.

  7. They're not hobbies, they're various day to day tasks (most of them) that you perform as you go through a life of increasing self sufficiency.
    And nobody said you couldn't sip as you knit, garden, write, can, sew, etc.
    You must be doing something right, your results look good to me.
    Go easy on the houses in the next few months. On second thought, give it to them, blights on the human soul.


[2013 update: You can't comment as an anonymous person anymore. Too many douchebags were leaving bullshit SPAM comments and my inbox was getting flooded, but if you're here to comment in a real way like a real person, go to it.]

Look at you commenting, that's fun.

So, here's the thing with commenting, unless you have an email address associated with your own profile, your comment will still post, but I won't have an email address with which to reply to you personally.

Sucks, right?

Anyway, to remedy this, I usually come back to my posts and post replies in the comment field with you.

But, if you ever want to email me directly to talk about pumpkins or shoes or what it's like to spend a good part of your day Swiffering - shoot me an email to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.