Writing has been a key interest for most of my life. The rest come and go, some lasting for decades and others keeping my attention for only a few weeks. You’ll notice a trend. When I’m in, I dive into the deep-end and completely immerse myself in whatever activity has caught my fancy.
My interests vary. Some…more than I care to admit…are currently in the inactive mode. That I’m not currently engaged in the activity doesn’t mean I don’t like it any more. It’s just that there are only so many hours in a day, and obsessing takes a lot of time.
Tropical Fish. Few things are more beautiful than a well-maintained aquarium. Saltwater tanks are pretty, but I prefer a freshwater tank full of plants and a variety of fish. Twenty years ago I had at least one aquarium in every room, trading in the fish I raised for supplies at local pet stores. I’ve been on a little break for the last few years, but I’ll have aquariums again. I keep thinking about setting up a little tank for a couple of pairs of super-expensive guppies or some other fancy livebearer.
Paint-By-Number. Yes, it’s true. I love doing acrylic paint-by-number sets, especially those that involve blending, like sets made by Dimensions. It’s grown-up coloring, and I’m great at staying in the lines and following directions. I used to throw them away when I finished. Then I kept them, giving them away as gifts to family members and whenever someone happened to admire one. Say what you want, it’s not untrue to say I’ve sold some of my paintings–for pennies when we’ve had garage sales. My vision has deteriorated too much to paint anymore.
Gardening. Few things reward effort like gardening. Plant something, water it, and watch as it lives and grows more beautiful. Deer, drought, heat, and humidity all worked against me in the old house and were winning as I neglect the garden for other interests. The house I moved into in December 2012 came with a much smaller yard and a six-foot tall privacy fence. I have no idea what to do with it yet–the back yard is a blank slate. Being so small, there’s no room for error so I want to make sure I get the right plant for the right space.
Growing Plants from Seed. When I first moved to Athens, I created this massive seed-starting operation with three shelves, four-foot shop lights, a timer, and a cold frame outside to hold young plants until planting time. I spent a fortune ordering exotic flower seed to fill my garden with plants nobody else had, including some they’d probably never seen before. My little greenhouse cranked out 50 to 100 flats of new plants every spring for several years until I ran out of room.
Sports. I’m a fair weather fan of the University of Georgia football team. The better the Dawgs are doing, the more likely I am to be watching football on Saturdays in the fall. I’ve had season tickets for the Gym Dogs–the women’s gymnastics team, for as long as I’ve been in Georgia. I get excited about basketball when my alma mater, the University of Kentucky is doing well which, these days, is all the time. The idea that there is such a thing as a professional athlete blows me away, so I ignore pro sports.
Playing Video Games. Okay, controllers with more than two buttons ended my gaming days decades ago. My most recent ex got a game system several years ago so we could try playing Dance Dance Revolution at home to lose weight. It worked. We both loved DDR and within weeks, owned all five versions of the game then on the market. We practiced for hours. Note: I said practiced rather than played–we were too serious about nailing all the moves for any playing around. We got really good (click here for proof)…and then we got Guitar Hero, the last video game I’ve practiced enough to develop some skill.
Bicycling. DDR got me off the couch and helped me to lose weight. I needed more, and because it was the only other thing I enjoyed, bought a bike to pedal around the neighborhood. Within months I’d upgraded to a nicer bike and was going for 20 and 30 mile rides three or four times a week. I still ride, but not as often as before. I’ve ridden enough that it no longer freaks me out to wear biking pants in public.
Reality Television Shows. The television is on a lot when I’m home. Most the time I’m doing something else, but it’s on. Reality shows are good to have on in the background because you really don’t have to pay that much attention. They repeat anything interesting that happens often enough that it’s impossible to miss anything important. I’m picky about my trashy television. You can keep Survivor, American Idol, and The Bachelorette, but I’d never miss So You Think You Can Dance, Top Chef, or Project Runway. If it’s on, I enjoy Cheaters, Jerry Springer, and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
My Dog. Before my most recent ex came along, I was a cat person–mostly because I opted for the relative ease of a litter-box trained kitten over the attention a dog would need at a time when I didn’t have time or money for either. I had at least one cat for many years, and was happy to finally be pet free when they were gone. Grateful for the break from pets of any kind, I resisted his pleas for years. But one day the horoscopes in the daily paper (he’s Virgo) led me to say he could get a dog. Six months later we got another one…for me. She completes me. The dogs get together for play dates several times a month.
The Athens Writers Workshop. After I finished writing Glass Houses, I hooked up with this local writers group. They are an essential part of my writing process and a very talented bunch. I love them dearly. Thanks to Adrienne Wilder, Amy Severson, Samantha Barnum, Misty Hawkins, Ed Wyrick, Stephen Morgan, Kaitlin Bevis and Angela Powell for all the encouragement and support.
Zumba. A coworker’s wife started offering Zumba classes around Athens. To show our support and because the first visit was free, my ex and I went to one of her classes. Now I hit a Zumba class two or three times every week and every Zumba event in Athens in one of the many Zumba outfits I’ve purchased over the last few months. Hey…I’m the Zumba King. I’ve got an image…
Running. In late 2011, I followed the Couch to 5K program and started running three times a week. The nine-week program worked–in just seven weeks I was running for an hour or so at a time as often as I could. Now I’d count a good run on a warm, sunny day as one of my favorite things to do.
Working Out. Paying for Zumba by the class got expensive, so I opted to pay for membership at a gym where it was offered. Considering I’d never before actually been in a gym, I signed up for a plan that includes a thirty minute session with a personal trainer every week. A year later, I finally started enjoying it. By 60, I plan to be amazing.
William Levy. Yeah, I’m interested. Just putting it out there. The man is gorgeous.