So, I know we all read a lot for work. It’s all I do. And then I do more of it online, because I am a blog addict and F5 refresher hound. I need to do that site-blocking thing Jeremy does.
But what do you read in your spare time? Me? Not enough, and it hurts me, former English lit major that I was. It wounds me to the core. Subquestion: what do you do in your spare time, since you have so much of it?
The Dude wonders how I don’t read enough through the year. He let me borrow 20 books or so, and I’ve only read two. He predicts that it’ll take me two years to finish (since I have another 30 unread of my own), and so maybe by the time I file my dissertation, I can give them back. I tell him that my job is to read, that I am always behind in my reading, and that with a few hours free each evening, my eyes are too exhausted to read more. I prefer to cook, bake, knit, or run–something physical and hands-on. I might try to read the New Yorker right before bed, but more than once I have whacked myself in the face with it as I fall asleep reading (I lie on my back, making reading in bed a dangerous sport). In fact, a lot of my books are unread because I can’t safely read them in bed. A hardcover of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is downright deadly in a mid-slumber face-whacking.
I’m not above watching television, but I don’t have my TV connected precisely because I would watch it, and watch lots of it. Dancing with the Stars! I also don’t have it in the bedroom. The bedroom is for sleeping and fun reading, although I have been known to bring along Gideon Kunda’s Engineering Culture inside, messing up the zen-like peace of the room.
Finally, I don’t want to be all competitive in my off-hours life too. A perusal of academic blogs shows that many read middle/high (depending on how elitist you are) publications in addition to all the high falutin’ journals they “have” to read: The New Yorker, The Economist, Dissent, n+1 (more popular among grad students/hipsters), The Paris Review, The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic, The New Republic. Wow, academics sound like a fun crowd.
Of those rags, my limited budget and time means that I only subscribe to and read The New Yorker. I occasionally look at TNR online, and I pick up occasional Economists. I do not subscribe to the expensive quarterlies, not even The American Scholar (which is totally elitist signaling!).
I ask you, Scatterbrains: what do you do in your abundant spare time? Are you really always awesome? Can’t we all, as a collective body of academics, admit to not being “on” all the time, that our off-hours are not always caught up in the esoteric, the same vicious, never-ending intellectual debates? Why do I have to hide all the issues of Vogue or Marie Claire every time a fellow academic visits my house? Why can’t I admit to watching the same episodes of Firefly and Buffy over and over again, because it is comforting and non-challenging to re-watch something, as opposed to sitting down to some three hour foreign movie that will depress me greatly?
I have so little spare time, and in addition to trying to “have it all” and make dinner for for my partner and myself and keep a nice home (way to be against gender stereotype and live your work on gender discrimination law, Belle), I feel constant pulls to be hyper intellectual in my off-hours too. I know that this is just my own insecure neurosis, but blogging has made public aspects of our private life, and I admit, it is my own fault that I have bought into that. I have to post some “serious” posts in addition to silly ones, just to feel better about myself. I can’t only admit to “common” off-hours activities–I must show myself to be interesting and intellectually engaged in my hobbies, too. So much of this is exasperating, and self-created, that I wonder why I still blog, when blogging seems like a lot of work and I keep worrying how I appear to others. If I had no audience, I wouldn’t worry, right? Or would I anyway? Reading other people’s blogs makes you evaluate yourself regardless of any external arbiter. Judge not, lest ye judge yourself.
Anyway, all to say, I hope that in the comments you will confess to your own “low” or “middle” brow indulgences, and own them!