Saturday, June 19, 2010


Sociologists (like my sharp fiance) have long opined that you can learn a whole lot more about someone based on what they choose to do with their leisure time than what they do to make a living. It makes a lot of sense, since our leisure time is ours alone to choose what to do with; lots of people work jobs they don't love, but why would anyone spend their free time doing stuff they didn't love?

It happens every year. School grinds to its alarming halt, graduation speeches are recited, report cards are finished, and I am free. For a couple of days I lay around and read, I go for long walks, I harvest the garden for dinnertime salads, I cruise the neighborhood streets on my bike. I flash my teeth at strangers. My wardrobe shrinks to the same few skirts and shirts piled conveniently in a corner on the floor and I lose track of when I last showered. At night I sip ginger ale (sometimes spiked with whiskey) and watch straight-to-DVD movies on Netflix and then complain with M about how they must have ran out of money halfway through filming. I don't know what time it is when I bed down, am shocked to find that it's ten thirty when I wake up. It's all quite grand.

Until I get restless. No classes to plan, no writer's salon until deep summer, no obligation greater than Pilates on Saturday morning. I sniff around and find myself at the helm of an unwieldy ship known as free time.

So what do I do? Well, other than try to write (God, I wish I could say that the bulk of my leisure time was spent writing) and sniff my luscious coconut-scented hair, my favorite way to wile away the hours is doing artistic DIY projects. I use the term artistic very loosely here; most of these projects involve little more than paint and collages of some sort. Still, few things are more satisfying than turning a beat-up chair into a funky artsy (there's that word again) sea-foam green and pink number that makes you proud every time you sit down. Or turning a boring black lap-top bag into a visual delight with strips of bright duct tape, stickers, and a cassette tape patch. Or ripping cool pictures from magazines and making an autobiographical collage (mine includes the Smurfs, a basketball, Lucky Charms, jack-o-lanterns and a burning heart).

After my summer travels, I return home with millions of receipts, ticket stubs, business cards, mini-maps, newspaper clippings, that are too significant to recycle, too unremarkable to frame. So I make collages: a giant picture frame with my Indonesia rabble and a magazine holder with my Turkish rubble. (Now I'm just itching for my next... Cuban bread box? Mexican stool? )

And so, as the longest days of the year shine their honey freedom light, I get inspired with my next project: turning our coffee table even cuter with a fresh coat of deep ocean blue paint and a decoupage of treasured artwork. Tables are perfect opportunities to make good use of those drawings and postcards and other bits of rad debris you have amassed. For me that includes a Berenstain Bears postcard, a watercolor from Thailand, a photo of a graveyard in Bulgaria, a Pretty in Pink movie jacket, a Turkish currency note and, the crown jewel, a classic Wayne Thiebaud print of pastries and a wedding cake. Now that I've done the lay-out, all that's left is to glue them down with Mod Podge, seal them with polyurethane, and voila: a one-of-a-kind coffee table that will spark conversations during evening soirees for years to come. Even better, a sweet reminder that fun and productivity can be close friends when it comes to my recess time.

What about you? What do you do with your leisure time?

1 comment:

  1. leisure time, what's that? Hope you're having a blast :-)