The semester is winding down, & it's been a doozy. I've cooked up two conference proposals, done three tenure reviews, written a letter of support for a sabbatical, and given a reading in Ohio. I've lived thru the 2012 presidential campaign. The worst of course is yet to come: applications for our MA program are sitting in the file cabinet, waiting to be read and decided on; one more sabbatical letter remains to be written, and several letters of recommendation; and I'm part of the evaluation committee for one of the college's "eminent scholars." Not to mention the usual end-of-term grading and so forth. No wonder I haven't gotten my book orders for the spring in yet.
I've been thinking about "hobbies," those ancillary pursuits we put so much of our hearts into, lately. I'm lucky: if I were working at an insurance agency, I'd probably be trying to snatch waking moments to read and think about poetry; as it is, I get paid (sorta) to think and talk and write about literature (or at least that's part of my job description). When I read Adorno's essay "Free Time" some years ago – the one where he says I have no hobbies; I write and read and think and make music and think about music; hobbies are capital's way of colonizing the little free time left to workers – I felt all virtuous and Frankfurt-schooly.
But more recently I've come to feel that it's good, for me at least, to spend significant time doing thing with my hands and eyes and ears that have nothing to do with the "serious" work I'm committed to. I've made peace with my own trivial pursuits. I haven't bought a new guitar in a couple of years now, and have no plans to buy any more instruments anytime soon: but I do intend to spend a good deal more time making bad music. And yes, I've resurrected my teenaged hobby of collecting and painting toy soldiers ("military miniatures," that is). So look for lots of pictures of 30 Years' War battle formations, and a vast diorama of the Battle of the Teutonberg Wald, or the Battle of Maldon.
And maybe some poems along the way. That, after all, isn't a hobby.