Hobby Time: Doing Stuff
I don’t remember having a hobby before all of this (gestures wildly at pretty much everything).
Back when we could lick doorknobs with relative abandon, we would do things to keep from being bored — they just never really rose to the level of “hobby.” Back then, we just called it “doing stuff.” But after a year of staying home a lot, I’ve come to a surprising conclusion: Hobbyists, I am one of you. I’ve discovered a lot of things I really like that I’m not very good at and that I never, ever dreamed I’d be doing.
At first, it was all about puzzles. We made them, took them apart and put them back in the box. Seemed a little pointless, and after months of quarantine, a little too physically demanding.
We also got into streaming concerts. It started with the Dropkick Murphys in March — shot, apparently, right down the street from my house at the Tupelo Music Hall in Derry. Then there was the Dropkick Murphys show at Fenway at the end of the summer and, finally, the Dropkick Murphys streaming show on St. Patrick’s Day this year.
Our attempts at normalcy then evolved into Zoom happy hour/beer and wine tastings. I am now on a first-name basis with the distiller at Flag Hill Winery in Lee, only I don’t remember June and I can’t find my laptop.
Then I got an Oculus Quest VR headset, which was incredibly immersive and convincing. So much so that I got motion sick while maneuvering through a virtual environment, which abruptly led to the hobby of rug cleaning.
COVID summer turned into pandemic fall and I realized I needed to make better decisions about how to spend my time at home. For that, I returned to the hobbies of my youth. Namely: model kit building.
It started when my wife bought me a couple of torture devices from a company called Metal Earth. They’re these tiny metal sheets with parts stamped into them. You remove pieces, fold, insert, and create an item of miniature beauty. Or a complete mess. The pieces are so small that I had a hard time even seeing tab A, never mind inserting it into slot B. With my first Metal Earth model finished — an F4U Corsair/crumpled up ball of metal that I hucked into the woods — I asked my wife, “Why do you hate me?”
It also crossed my mind that a traditional plastic model might be slightly easier. So I went to a hobby shop in Londonderry and came home with a Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am kit. Other than not being able to close the hood because I put the engine in crooked and some decal debacles, it came out a little better than the tiny metal thing. After pursuing this for a bit, it occurred to me that I picked up right where I left off in sixth grade. Everything I make looks like it was crafted by a middle schooler with no patience or adult guidance. Yet somehow it remains calming.
At some point, we’ll start getting back to normal. Thing is, I’m not sure I want to stop exploring new hobbies. Besides, there’s an X-Wing fighter waiting to be built, and those doorknobs aren’t going to lick themselves.