To Hobbies I Have Loved (and Lost) Before

It all started with a banjo.

It was years ago. I’d just moved to Seattle, and I was brimming with the optimism of a youth who thinks a new place can turn them into a brand-new person. I thought hard about who I’d be in this strange new place, and finally, somehow, landed on an instrument. I would be a person who played the banjo. I made my way to the perfect basement music shop across the street from my new job, Dusty Strings, and I signed up for a six-week class. On the first day of lessons, I lugged my brand-new banjo in its heavy case the six blocks to the bus stop, then hoisted it onto the bus. I stowed it under my desk at the office, waiting eagerly for six o’clock.

And then I fell down the stairs at work and broke my finger. First week on the job, too!

What followed were six weeks of banjo classes — I still went! — but, sadly, I couldn’t learn the chords, not really. I learned the rolls, which were played with the right hand. The chords remained elusive. Later, when my finger healed, I went to learn my chords on Youtube, but by then the magic had worn off. I wasn’t a new person, in this new place. I was just me.

I have ADHD, and I love learning new things, but I have all the stick to-itiveness of a bumblebee in a field of wildflowers. I buzz here, I buzz there, sometimes intense about my new hobbies, sometimes lazy. And so: here are some of the hobbies I have loved and lost, in no particular order, which gave me great joy, sometimes for a whole entire two-week span! But never longer.

Cross-Stitch

This was an early Pandemic brainstorm. I bought a little kit, and a book full of feminist cross-stitch patterns on Etsy. Imagine the Christmas gifts I’d churn out!

I still have the singular piece I made. It’s not actually a cross-stitch at all, because I abhor reading directions, and I hate a pattern telling me what to do. It’s just a piece of cross-stitch cloth on which I have embroidered the word FUCK in soothing shades of green and teal, without a pattern, completely willy-nilly.

High School Biology

I know, this sounds…bananas, but hear me out. It was right around when the Covid-19 vaccine was coming out, and there was a lot of science on Twitter that I didn’t understand. The first time I took high school biology, it was during an exchange year, and everything was in French. I passed, somehow, by memorizing words I did not actually understand. What better time than the Pandemic to finally get some of this stuff?

I made it almost all the way through the very first section of the Khan Academy lessons. I took copious, color-coded notes, which I stayed up late into the night to copy over with neater handwriting several times. Then, about six days after I’d begun, I abandoned it forever.

The Ukulele

So much more practical than a banjo! I would so easily be able to take a ukulele on a bus!

Listen: I haven’t given up on this one. I still fiddle with it sometimes! My finger isn’t even broken anymore. And I only need two chords to play Amazing Grace!

Improving my Spanish

Right before writing for Autostraddle started eating up a lot of my spare time, I found this website where you can work with a Spanish tutor over Zoom from their home country. It was amazing! My Spanish was just so much more abysmally rusty than I thought it might be, and my tutor was so patient, and gracious, and funny!

Rocío: I hope you are well! ¡Gracias por todo! I treasure the four whole weeks we spent together!

Miniature Bookmaking

I did this one for awhile, actually! Maybe two whole months? I even wrote a tutorial about it for you all. Right before I stopped, I’d started printing out favorite poems on tiny accordion pages, and designing my own covers for them. I loved it. Maybe I’ll do it again someday!

Baking

Once upon a time, Donald Trump was elected President, and I was jumping out of my skin. I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I decided to make a pound cake. And for three long hours, I didn’t even think about politics, or the world. It was heaven.

A family member loaned me my grandma’s Kitchenaid, and soon I was pulling recipes from everywhere. I found a recipe for snickerdoodles that took two kinds of shortening and were melt-in-your-mouth perfect, even a whole week later. I made them three times. I even took them to a protest, where everyone loved them except for my ex, who said “no thanks, I’m watching what I eat.”

There were still pound cake leftovers in my fridge when, one day about three weeks later, I stopped baking. Forever.

Sewing Dog Bandanas

This is a recent one, so I can’t be sure I’ve sewn my last! My dog Milo goes hard on bandanas, though, and my hand-sewn ones just don’t hold up like the ones I get on Etsy. I still have a whole pile of fat quarters in cute fabrics to try again! Just like with the embroidery: Imagine the Christmas gifts!

Teaching Myself Latin

Once, long ago, because I am THIS kind of procrastinator, I was a 19 year-old college student with a six-page paper due in the morning. It was maybe 4 PM, and I’d been staring at my laptop in horror for hours. There was only one thing to do: pick a random book off the shelf, called Latin for the People, and start to teach myself a dead language.

That paper got in on time, but surely that was down to the chocolate-covered espresso beans and the fugue state.

To this day, I know no Latin.


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Darcy

Darcy, a.k.a. Queer Girl, is your number one fan. She's a fat feminist from California who doodles hearts in the corners of her Gay Agenda. They're living through a pandemic, they're on Twitter, and they think you should drink more water! She also wants to make you laugh.

Darcy has written 349 articles for us.

18 Comments

  1. i have to believe the little bits we do of the loved lost hobbies stick with us, and could theoretically be returned to (even as I know I really wont be picking up wood burning and star photography ever again)

  2. Fellow ADHDer with the following hobbies I have tried and left by the wayside: crochet, sewing (I have a largely unused machine), knitting, Duolingo (Spanish, Yiddish), yoga, marriage.

    Some of them I sometimes think of trying again.

  3. darcy this is eminently relatable! the closets in my spare bedroom are entirely devoted to the ghosts of hobbies past. my sewing machine, my embroidery supplies, literal shelves full of craft supplies including many types of paint, several sketchbooks with five to twenty pages filled, model airplane kits, stationery, fancy pens. i have several bookcases with my lego models of spacecraft (ideal hobby because i have no money and have to wait several months between sets, so it’s like a new hobby each time!), stage makeup, tools and scraps of wood from my forays into carpentry you can manage in an apartment. at this point i have embraced the jack of all trades master of none and am happy to acquire Random Crap when it’s being given away. that’s how i got my 1917 victrola that i want to learn to restore (have not done this in the four years i’ve owned it), my record player, my swords, and my hatchet

    anyway, off to go finish my perler bead space shuttle craft! perler beads are much harder to fuse than i remember from being seven years old!

  4. I am a different flavor of neurodivergent, so my intensity with hobbies/special interest tends to last a little longer (months-years vs days-weeks), but I still deeply related. So much embroidery thread that I’m simply never going to use with the zeal that my former self did.

  5. LOL Same

    I’m autistic and may also have ADHD, as it explains my abysmally short attention span when it comes to learning new things. So many hobbies – horse riding, guitar playing, acting, choreography, boxing, none of them apart from the guitar went anywhere serious.

  6. Oh yes, I felt this. Although I try to keep the amount of stuff I buy to a minimum, and I have kept most of my hobbies. I just ignore one craft for a while, half finished project too, and come back to it some years later. I just collect all of the crafting hobbies.

    We should start a trading place – leftover hobbies for fellow ADHD peeps in need of something shiny and new! We can add to that half finished cross stitch without the long lost instructions, and give it back to the trading place when we’re distracted by something shiny and new. Imagine the art we’d make!

  7. As an ADHD person, I have been able to flow back and forth between forgetting and coming back to specific hobbies. My main obsession right now is funk and jazz bass guitar. I bought a bass during the pandemic, didn’t do anything with it, and now I am taking group lessons. My goal is to be in the gay jazz band in Chicago next year.

  8. Oh my god, yes. I also abhor reading directions and hate a pattern telling me what to do. I had nothing against learning an instrument, but I hated being told to follow someone else’s composition, and obey the exact marks for volume and tempo rather than choosing your own emotional expression, that was what utterly killed music-related hobbies for me.
    I just checked autostraddle and found this article after hours of contemplating crochet designs that are unbelievably way out of my skill level, and yet I’ve been trying to invent something nonexistent and even more difficult still. If I’m not designing my own project, I won’t care enough about it to get started, and yet the things I get hyped about are always unattainably imense and overcomplicated. This was good timing.

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