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Hobby hunting: A few in review

cameron cravings

This is not the senior spring anyone imagined or hoped for. Everything has changed so quickly, and continues to change every day. What I’m fixating on most at the moment is how much time I have now. Everything that takes up the greatest part of my regular schedule at Duke has disappeared. Meals are fifteen minutes instead of hours spent lazily chatting with friends. My walk to class is replaced with grabbing my laptop from my desk and getting back in bed. The hours I usually spend in meetings, extracurriculars and study groups are just... gone. 

At first I thought I might use this time to get in shape, maybe pick up running. But it is currently 30 degrees in Vermont and there is still snow on the ground, so that might have to wait a couple weeks. Instead, I am becoming increasingly devoted to a variety of new activities. I started my search by Googling “hobbies” and went from there. At the very least, they fill the hours of the day and give me a task to keep my hands and mind busy. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the hobbies I have begun to curate in the last two weeks: 

Crochet/embroidery/knitting: I have a half-dozen half-finished projects in this vein that I have not had a chance to finish. Now, I have nothing but time! To my professors: if it appears that I am looking at my phone during class, please know that I am listening attentively but also cross-stitching at the same time. I only know how to knit rectangles of varying lengths, but let me know if anyone wants a scarf.

Baking: About halfway through my fifteen-hour drive home from Durham, I realized that I had eaten my last bowl of Divinity Cafe’s oatmeal without even realizing it was my last. Divinity Cafe deserves an entire column (honestly, an entire issue) of its own, but in this moment I’m grieving the loss of its oatmeal in particular. I hope that with enough attempts and ingredients, I might be able to recreate it. I haven’t gotten it quite right yet, but thank goodness I have endless time to keep tweaking the recipe. Additionally, to prepare for quarantine my mother bought multiple large cans of Quaker oats, just in case we needed to make several gallons of granola during the apocalypse. All I need is oats and time, and I have plenty of both! It will never taste the same as it does at Div, sitting at those long wooden tables with my friends and a chipped mug of coffee, but I am determined to try. 

Mixology: Under normal circumstances, I would never dream of drinking my school alcohol in my parents’ home. It feels shameful and offensive to all parties, bridging two worlds that ought to be kept separate. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and I know I am currently trying to figure out the most respectable way to consume my Gameday leftovers that I couldn’t bear to pour down the drain. If anyone has classy cocktail recipes for Fireball or Strawberry Smirnoff, please send them my way.

Hair styling: I have been intrigued by Instagram ads for cruelty-free, do-at-home hair dye for a few weeks, but never planned to act on it. Now, my personal style choices are the very least of my (and the world’s) concerns. I won’t be defending my senior thesis; I won’t take cute graduation photos; I won’t be starting work at a new job. It seems like a perfect time for irresponsible hair choices, so I bought some dye in the “rose gold” shade and a $7 pack of foam hair curlers at Target, just for kicks. I invite you to join me in this journey of self-reinvention.

Gaming: Listen. I don’t really understand “video games.” I recently described Fortnite to a friend as “that game where you pop up and have to shoot people” because I couldn’t remember what it was called. That said, I am on a new personal mission to beat all my family’s old video games. I will be damned if I don’t unlock the King Julian bonus player in Dreamworks’ Madagascar Kartz. And I will get good enough at Just Dance to beat my older sister if it kills me. I don’t have much else to look forward to right now, and this seems as good a pursuit as any.

Re-reading Harry Potter: I don’t think there is ever a bad time to read Harry Potter, but right now feels like a particularly good time. Any emotion or topic we might be processing is covered in these pages: grief, fear, love, loss, homesickness, community, friendship, humanity, national governments mishandling major public safety crises. With so much uncertainty and disruption all around, it helps to feel like a child again and read about good people triumphing over darkness. Also, Duke looks like Hogwarts and I miss it. In Chamber of Secrets when Harry is still stuck with the Dursleys, “he missed Hogwarts so much it was like having a constant stomachache.” Ouch.

This has just been a small sample of the many glamorous, exciting activities I have been taking up. Whatever your hobbies or coping methods of choice might be, I only hope they might be as distracting, satisfying and therapeutic for you as they have been for me. Wash your hands, stay at home, help your community where you can and pick up some goddamn knitting needles. 

Gretchen Wright is a Trinity senior who is laughing and hobbying only to keep the tears and fears at bay; you can follow her progress in this endeavor on Instagram @hobbyhunter2020. Her column, “Cameron Cravings,” runs on alternate Wednesdays.

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