Friday, June 17, 2011

The startling joy of non-computer hobbies.

When I was in college, I used to work at a horse therapy ranch called the Ride On Center for Kids.   It's a few miles away from Austin, and provides therapeutic riding programs.  Mostly for children with autism, or cerebral palsy, or other forms of physical and cognitive challenges.

There were two main girls that I worked with, and they were sisters.  One was seven, the other was six, and both were severely autistic.  In our sessions each day, both sisters would ride a horse around the ring, and go through little exercises: Hitting a bell affixed to a post, grabbing a flag from my hand and placing it in a raised bucket.  The point was to feel the horse's rhythmic walking motion beneath them, and, feeling secure in that, perform tasks simultaneously.  It was a trust thing.

But one of the sisters, Victoria, got overstimulated.  Often.

When the weather was threatening, and it looked like it might rain, she'd kick her feet at my hands as I led her horse around the ring.  She was worried, and couldn't concentrate.  I'd offer her a flag encouragingly, and she'd smack it away, as if to say: "Who can think about flags at a time like this!"

I have been feeling a lot like Victoria lately.

Do you ever get overstimulated for long stretches, and you don't know why?  For the past couple of nights, I've been staying up until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning -- 3:00 last week -- because it's been really hard to turn my brain off.   I'm not stressed out, necessarily.  Just ON.

On those nights, when Ross is snoring next to me and I'm still surfing the Internet mindlessly, visiting all my favorite blogs and allowing my synapses to fire away, I begin to think that maybe I've gotten a little codependent on my computer.


This is the first week in a while that I haven't had aerial silks classes or samba school.  Which is a giant organization of 50+ drummers and 50+ dancers, drummers playing samba beats, the dancers performing Afro-Brazilian sequences.  I'm on the dancing side, and Ross is on the drumming side.  I didn't go to silks because we didn't have any class this week, but do you want to know why I didn't go to samba?  BECAUSE I STAYED UP TOO LATE THE NIGHT BEFORE. Surfing the freaking web.

Now, I love the Internet.  I really do.  But if I'm not careful, it sucks my creativity dry.  I so easily get pulled into a blog-reading and Facebook-lurking vortex, that by the time I pull myself out, I feel dazed and oddly out-of-touch.  Which is the very affliction that social media is supposed to cure, right?

Anyway.  Pardon the whining.  The real point of this post was to hear about all of the non-computer hobbies you all are enjoying right now.  It is summer!  Half of my friends are teachers-gone-wild right now, waking up at 10:00am and brunching on their apartment balcony.  They woke up at 10 because they went booty dancing the night before.  On a Tuesday.

So what hobbies / fun stuff are you doing offline, now that it's the summer?  Here's what I am trying out.

1. Decorating my house.  One paycheck at a time, the new house is getting cuter.  Right now we are still rounding up basic things, such as curtains.  And chairs.  But, all in due time!  During broke weeks, I collect ideas of things rather than buy them.  For example:

There's a person under there!  Can you see her?

This work is by Australian-based artist Emma Hack, and I want her art in my office.  Like whoa.

2. Aerial silks.  I've been taking these classes since January now, and people, I am completely obsessed.  The best part about taking silks is that you are forced to think about absolutely nothing else while you are doing it, because if your mind is wandering, you could hurt yourself.  Or (more likely) you get all tangled up in the silks, like I have on many occasions, and need to have your teacher come untangle you.  Like you are five.

(Would you like to see a picture of my teacher, by the way?  Here she is.)

So unbelievably graceful.  When she demonstrates a trick in class, all of my classmates and I just stand there slack-jawed for a moment ... and then go, "uh, can you do that again?"

We learned a new dance routine this session, and next time I'm in the studio, I'll take my camera with me and tape it so you can see.  

3. Photography.  I am still a complete moron at taking pictures of myself, which is why you haven't seen any outfit posts yet.  But I can take ok pictures of still things, like food.  And flowers.

Eh?  Eh??

I took these at the Four Seasons on Wednesday, where I had a fancy date with myself.  That's one of my weirder hobbies.  Going out to eat, solo.  I take a book, and it is marvelous.  Do any of you do that?

What offline hobbies are you trying right now?


That Chelsea Girl™ said...

I've never been to a restaurant by myself, but I have gone to movies by myself. Mostly because my friends don't have the same schedule as me/I really want to see a movie without a crowd and will go in for a Tuesday matinee. Plus matinees are cheaper.
As for the aerial silks, no I don't do that! It does look like a lot of fun.
I wish I was a better photographer, but practice will eventually make perfect...I hope!
Hope you have a lovely weekend :)

Megan Renart said...
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coloursmarie said...

I LOVE THIS POST, Tolly! It's amazing how disconnected one can feel after trolling the halls of facebook and twitter for too long. It's great to take a break and join the real world. And to listen to your body . . .

Last June I fell in love with climbing! I eat, sleep, and breath dreaming of climbing. I can't stop watching videos, researching gear, and training to get better. The only thing physical that compares to the amount of happiness it brings is snowboarding.

I've been bouldering (no ropes), sport climbing, and trad climbing. It's also an activity that melts the stresses of everyday away. I'm starting to actually gain some technical skill, which makes it that much more fun. For a lady, it's like dancing on the face of the rock. Ahhhh.

I've also been wake surfing! It is SO MUCH FUN! Riding the wake and tossing the cord back in the boat is the most exhilarating feeling.

"Be here now." It's the motto of my summer.

Austin Eavesdropper said...

Chelsea ... I also dig going to movies by myself! But it's been a while. Although I may go see Bridesmaids for a second time, by myself, and laugh so hard it SCARES PEOPLE. I love that movie!!

Megan -- Painting! I didn't know that! Like, what? I painted fruit once ... it didn't work out. Also, yes to dominoes. I can see Cliff & Molly being big-time players.

Le Tigre said...

Paddle Yoga is my new summer hobby! Come to a class with me!

Annette said...

Oh man, since starting up my blog, I have been internetting WAY too much. It's like I just discovered the internet!

Non-internet hobbies?
1. Researching Austin stuff in BOOKS from the LIBRARY!
2. Painting
3. Making and sending postcards. So much fun!
4. Cooking
5. Eating (this is a hobby, yes)

Austin Eavesdropper said...

Le Tigre -- PADDLE YOGA? Dude! I've done stand-up paddling .. I've done yoga ... but never have the two been combined! Where do you take this unusual activity?

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@Annette -- The blogosphere (particularly the Austin blogosphere) freaking PULLS YOU IN. It's a loving community ... and an addictive one too. I have to set time limits for myself. :) Good for you for going to the library!! Our new house is down the street from a really nice one. I need to start utilizing it.

@ColoursMarie -- STEPH! Oh my goodness! I knew you climbed, but, I had no idea how involved/skilled you were. That explains why you're always in such killer shape.

I don't know about you, but I find that I'm in way better shape now than when I was going to a gym ... probably bc I actually enjoy silks/samba. Shockingly enough, I didn't enjoy the elliptical machine that much. ;)

Dad said...

Get away from the computer screen. "Virtual" contact with the world, your friends, your passions, isn't real. "Actual" contact with the world takes you on real adventures.
I recently decided to be a tourist in my own town, San Antonio. And I've discovered some wonderful things. The Spanish Governor's Palace dating back to the early 1700s. The missions. I never knew how big they are or how vast the grounds are, much less the history.
There is so much to discover in your own backyard. Get away from the computer. Breathe the air outside your house. Take a walk in your neighborhood for God's sake.

Melody said...

I have a serious interwebs addiction, so I love the idea of even thinking about doing something that doesn't involve it. My fave: reading. A real, physical book. A novel requires a much longer attention span than anything online, and it's a completely different physical experience than sitting with the laptop on your lap. Great post.

Megan said...

I've been staying up waaaay too late as well. Maybe it's the moon.

My non-computer hobbies: painting (trying to, anyway); reading, photography, hiking, DOMINOES! Oh, man. I could play alllll the time.

Birth Injury Attorny said...

Off-line habits are crucial to helping a person grow. I have read a bunch of inspiring stories of disabled athletes competing in sports, and it made me think about your work at the Ride On Center for Kids. Programs like this are crucial and hopefully will pick up in future years! This is especially so for children suffering from cerebral palsy which can be caused by medical negligence during birth. Keep the great posts coming.

Gwen said...

I've been taking pole dancing classes at the Brass Ovaries here in Austin. I am all bruised and sore, but they are so fun! Who knew pole dancing could be such a workout.

DalenaVintage said...

Oh of course I go on dates with myself! Whether it's dinner and a movie or dinner over candlelight, I must admit, I do. I love this lists post and am super intrigued by the aerial classes you're taking. Hmmm...I am newly back to Austin so perhaps that's in my future too.