I recently watched a Vogue video with Alexa Chung talking about quietly slipping into the Met Gala last minute in a modest Christian Siriano gown and no longer needing to be the person who creates the loudest noise. In the winter years of my 20s, that’s been my prevailing mentality: not needing to center myself in most situations. Lately, I haven’t yearned much for attention, just comfort. I don’t desire being fully understood as much as I desire the time and bandwidth to be present in everything that I do, you know? (Of course, I am in a creative-ish career, so I fundamentally crave attention to *some* degree — I mean I *am* writing this blog.)
I’m not necessarily an adopter of the slow living or minimalist life quite yet. Ultimately, I run a writing business that I’m constantly trying to grow, and the crux of my work as a marketing writer/copywriter/entertainment writer is to discern trends and sell lifestyles. While my career fundamentally requires me to keep a pulse on the new and trendy, I’ve been finding myself drawing strict work-life boundaries and engaging in really quiet, old school hobbies lately.
Though I’ve always been into houseplants and books, it’s been less about ostentatiously flexing a beautiful, obscure plant or posturing as a learned intellectual who reads books these days. It’s more about engaging in activities where I can turn off my brain for a short while. And these hobbies are, by nature, kind of grandmacore.
Cross stitching was a real left turn for me, but I started seeing people like a random British vocal coach and my favorite romance writer picking it up. Despite coming from a legacy of tailors, I don’t have nimble fingers whatsoever and have been, frankly, terrible at crafts such as sewing and knitting. But I thought I’d give cross-stitching a whirl as a hobby since I knew that I couldn’t capitalize off of it by virtue of being so bad at it.
I found a cute little cottagecore gnome kit from Jo-Ann’s and sewed away while rewatching a bunch of Mike Flanagan projects. Sure, the pattern wasn’t followed closely, and the back of the aida cloth is hideous. Still, the end result looks lovely, and I found the embroidery process very therapeutic. Even if it took an entire week of my life to throw together.
Reading for fun
Long gone are the days I’d leisurely read Barthes or Sontag. Coming from college departments where I walked down the same hallowed halls as Judith Butler and Wendy Brown, I have nothing but respect for critical theory and the intellectual framework it’s provided me with. But it’s not really my thing anymore. These days, I have my nose deep in the Bridgerton and Written in the Stars universes. Sometimes, I’ll even throw in semi self-help books by Matt Haig or Thich Nhat Hanh. Sometimes, I’ll indulge in a thick volume of Junji Ito manga. Reading has become more about comfort for me, and I’ve become a voracious reader because of this mental shift. I’m not rejecting “serious” literature altogether, but it’s not usually the first thing I pick up.
My go-to place for books is the public library, and I love that I can access collections from non-local systems through LINK+. In the past two or three years, I haven’t really bought books unless I know and love the author already. As with clothes, I feel like books are something that I can quickly hoard and overconsume unless I’m very deliberate with what I pick up. That said, I’m not above the occasional used book haul — I’m truly fond of my coffee table books.
I haven’t been drawn to accumulating more indoor plants lately simply because I don’t have the bandwidth to care for heat-intolerant plants, especially when it’s consistently 100 degrees. What I have been doing is deadheading spent rose bushes for my parents. Deadheading is such a simple task, but I love how clean everything looks afterward, and I especially love seeing branches rebloom. It doesn’t take much to deadhead; I just need my gloves, scissors, and trash bin. I cut whenever I see an ugly set of leaves or a fading flower. It’s a simple but rewarding activity, and I can blast MUNA and Renaissance while doing it.
Pushing my dogs around in their communal stroller
Every week or so, I push my dogs around the neighborhood in a stroller, one by one. Despite the stroller’s rickety construction, they have a great time riding around and enjoy taking in the mundane sights without burning their little paws in the heat. Not much to say here, but it’s just awe-inspiring seeing the world through my pups’ eyes. And not to be too mawkish, but they’re just so full of precious, precious, tail-wagging wonder.
Anyway. I recently picked up an Instax as an early birthday present for myself, and I’m really hoping that it encourages me to appreciate these little moments in life. 27 has been the year of slowing down and looking within, and I’d be lucky to keep up with that burgeoning sense of self awareness.
Until next time,