2.04.2011

we like lists: list # 8: downtime pleasures

This week I handed in two assignments, due on consecutive days, one being the worst assignment for the worst class of my entire degree. I am feeling a huge sense of relief at having that behind me! Now I have no deadlines until March. Brilliant.

I am in sore need of some serious downtime, to veg out (as we used to say), to be a mush-brain, a couch potato. Truth be told, during the school term I am a couch potato four nights a week, but it feels so much better with these papers behind me!

What's your preferred method of recharging? This is total downtime, when your brain needs a rest and you need an escape. These are the pursuits sometimes called "guilty pleasures," but I think we should never feel guilty about pleasure.

My number one downtime pleasure, no contest, is baseball. Nothing takes me out of myself - there is nothing I find both so completely relaxing and absorbing - than watching baseball. In times of great stress, baseball is a mental balm.

Another of my prime downtime pleasures is a bit embarrassing, and not something I do very often. If you've been reading this blog long enough, you know about my obsession with "Dallas", the cheesy 1980s nighttime soap. "Dallas" may be my favourite, but it's only a symptom of a larger disorder: I have the potential to be addicted to soap operas.

I prefer the nighttime variety, and although I have watched very few of those shows (since I watch very little TV), it wouldn't take much to get me involved in any of them. Then a few years ago I started watching "Coronation Street" once a week, while folding laundry. It wasn't long before I'd look at the clock and think, can I get in an episode of Corrie in before the game starts...? And now I am addicted to Corrie.

The wonderful thing about this particular downtime pleasure is that it's so readily available, a mental mini-vacation almost every day.

Where do you get your R&R? Let's do five of these.

1. Watching baseball

2. Watching certain soap operas

3. Walking, especially in the woods

4. Sitting in our backyard, watching our dog(s) play, watching birds flit around

5. Watching movies or favourite comedy series

You?

16 comments:

Amy said...

Although reading fiction is my number one downtime pleasure, I don't consider it a rest for my brain really so I didn't include it.

1. Watching TV. Almost anything. Drama, sitcom, HGTV, anything.

2. Baseball (a subset of #1, but I also love it on radio and especially live).

3. Playing solo games in the real world or on the computer: Scrabble, solitaire, word games, etc, and especially crossword puzzles and acrostics. (Although crosswords and Scrabble are not really mindless, still so relaxing for me and so capable of taking me away from all worries that I have to include them.)

4. Yoga, biking or walking. None of these are done in a terribly strenuous manner---more mind clearing than aerobic.

5. Sitting on the beach or floating on the water or snorkeling.

laura k said...

Although reading fiction is my number one downtime pleasure, I don't consider it a rest for my brain really so I didn't include it.

Same here, reading both fiction and nonfiction.

Playing solo games in the real world or on the computer

Ah-ha! I'm completely and hopelessly addicted to this. I can't even call it downtime. It's pure addiction. I play endless games on my phone/blackberry and my computer. On my old handheld, I had a solitaire program with 300 different varieties of games. I played so much, I had to uninstall the program!

Amy said...

Glad to know we share another "addiction!" When arcade games first became popular in the 80s, I was a Ms. PacMan addict and spent a fortune in quarters at a local store playing. I would stop on my way home from work as a way to relieve stress! Fortunately, personal computers arrived with games built right in, so I am now able to keep my addictions more private. Except when someone catches me at work with Solitaire or Tetris open! There have been times I played so much that I would go to sleep and the afterimages from a game would keep floating in my eyes. Then I knew it was time to draw some limits.

I have a bunch of solitaire games on my phone, and I find that whenever I am in a dull moment: waiting for Harvey to get his coffee at Starbucks or to fill the gas tank, standing on line at a store, waiting for someone on hold, I turn to those games. Scary. In the "old days," I bet I actually did some creative thinking during those breaks. Maybe.

laura k said...

I have a bunch of solitaire games on my phone, and I find that whenever I am in a dull moment: waiting for Harvey to get his coffee at Starbucks or to fill the gas tank, standing on line at a store, waiting for someone on hold, I turn to those games. Scary. In the "old days," I bet I actually did some creative thinking during those breaks. Maybe.

This sounds very familiar! The only difference is I never did arcade games. Crowds, noise, lights - I run screaming from all those things.

I do use games for think-time, too. When I'm writing, I play Spider or Free Cell (or whatever I'm into at the moment) while I'm thinking. But mostly it's just an addiction. I don't find it scary - it just is.

Amy said...

Scary may not be the right word. I tend to be somewhat addictive about things, though fortunately not about anything dangerous, illegal or even too unhealthy. It just makes me wonder what I might be doing with all that time and energy rather than playing games, watching a particular TV show, going on Facebook, surfing the web, or whatever particular addiction is eating up too much of my time.

laura k said...

I have a very obsessive/addictive personality. It's always something I have to be aware of and control, especially since I do love many substances that are unhealthy with overuse. That's why I don't find my more mild addictions (solitaire games, caffeine) scary. They're the least of my issues. :)

Lets wrap this up and hopefully hear from other readers!

M@ said...

I didn't think there were so many video game addicts out there! That's up at the top of my list.

1. Casual video games. I play some of the more modern video games, and enjoy them, but they're work -- you have to commit time and mental energy to them. I love the older video games, such as arcade games (I own five of them, much to SuMei's chagrin) or old console games from the 80s. Those actually relax me.

2. Cooking. I use downtime on the weekends to make chicken stock, soups, lasagnas, gnocchi, won tons... I like the complicated and intricate kitchen tasks and I get a great sense of accomplishment when I'm finished.

3. Re-watching movies and TV that have good pace and dialogue. Movies like Snatch or Glengarry Glen Ross, and TV like Arrested Development, are exactly what I need.

4. Watching sports. Canadian football and soccer are my favourites, but I really like the Saturday afternoon CBC sports shows, when I can catch something different like rowing, speed skating, and stuff like that.

5. Bookstores. Man, I love a nice bookstore, used or new. I haven't done this enough lately though -- I should get out to the stores in my area more often.

laura k said...

Cooking.

It's so great that the thing you listed as your greatest strength is also one of your top pleasures!

I don't like to cook often, but when I do cook, I also find it very relaxing - even therapeutic.

M@ said...

I don't like to cook often, but when I do cook, I also find it very relaxing - even therapeutic.

That's exactly it. In fact, when I don't cook for a few days for whatever reason, I start to get a real itch to make something, even something simple. Unless there's garlic and onion frying in a pan at some point in my day, there's something wrong.

johngoldfine said...

1. Anything I do with dogs--walking, training, grooming, petting, watching, cuddling, canoeing

2. Splitting firewood, preferably black ash, with a heavy ax, though that ash splits so sweetly I could use a hatchet....

3. Summertime bush-hogging, round and round the old pastures, keeping an eye out for dozing fauns in the high grass and wildflowers....

4. Cooking--after a long long day of reading and commenting on student writing, chopping an onion is the emotional equivalent of a week of meditation. My mush brain says in gratitude, nearly in tears, 'Oh, my dear dear onion, I love you so much. You are nothing at all like a student essay--nothing!'

5. I'm tempted to say 'reading' but I think Amy's point is well-taken, though some of what I read is a step or two down from 'Dallas' or 'Coronation St' so maybe I will say reading. I can drop like a stone into a trash novel.

P.S. Laura-K--I understand the Queen Mum watched 'Coronation Street' but for educational purposes only--so she'd have a better idea of life outside the palace--nothing so common as enjoying a yarn for her!

laura k said...

My mush brain says in gratitude, nearly in tears, 'Oh, my dear dear onion, I love you so much. You are nothing at all like a student essay--nothing!'

I love this!

I imagine trash reading gives one the same veggie-brain as trash TV. I can't bring myself to do it, personally. The closest I come is a thriller once a year or so, and even that has to be pretty upper-crust. But apparently it's a very popular form of relaxation. :)

I understand the Queen Mum watched 'Coronation Street' but for educational purposes only--so she'd have a better idea of life outside the palace--nothing so common as enjoying a yarn for her!

It's like us commoners watching Dallas or Dynasty - in reverse.

impudent strumpet said...

1. Gaming. Like others have mentioned, I use it as think time. Gaming is second only to my shower as a source of blog posts.

2. Fanfiction - both reading other people's stories, and writing my own terribly horrible stories that will never see the light of day.

3. Rereading old comfort food books of no particular literary merit. Yes, I have multiple new books on the go at all times, but sometimes, especially when I'm sick, I want to put all those aside and read my favourite scenes from Harry Potter for the zillionth time, or take a stack of Archie comics out of the library.

4. Self-indulgent eating and drinking. Having one glass of wine too many and eating enough heavy/fattening/salty food that I regret it the next day.

5. Dancing around my apartment like an idiot and loudly singing along to the music.

laura k said...

Having one glass of wine too many and eating enough heavy/fattening/salty food that I regret it the next day.

Excellent. I associate this with being tired or in need of cheering up.

Dancing around my apartment like an idiot and loudly singing along to the music.

I love to do this. :) These days I usually do it while driving, so without the dancing.

deang said...

I'm late to this but I'm glad I am, because other people's lists reminded me of pleasures that I'd forgotten about:

1. Obsessively watching certain shows systematically until I've seen them all. Within the past five years, I've done that with the British show, QI; the British quiz show, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, when it was hosted by Simon Amstell; The Mighty Boosh; every film version of Jane Eyre I could find; early 70s "Soul Train" episodes; etc.

2. Obsessively watching interviews with certain pop culture celebrities who I may not even like. For short periods of time, I've gotten obsessed with Russell Brand, Amy Sedaris, Dita Von Teese, Noel Fielding, Tracey Ullman, Stephen Fry, and many others.

3. Impudent Strumpet's love of old comfort food books reminded me that I habitually go for old comfort escapism books that I've had for years, which all seem to be about non-Western cultures, especially pre-Columbian ones from the Americas, like European explorers' first impressions of Aztec and Inca cities and North American forests and animals. Those take my mind right out of my present life.

3. Watching and listening to birds and plants outside my window, as well as watching the moving interplay between leaf shadows and sunlight projected against the wall at certain times of day. That is very relaxing.

4. Listening to music and, if I'm completely alone, singing and maybe dancing to it, but I don't do as much singing and dancing as when I was much younger.

5. Eating certain favorite snack foods, currently usually these Mexican chocolate brownies or vegan pecan-caramel tarts available at my favorite health food store. That or something salty, like chips and salsa.

laura k said...

Wow, great list.

Obsessively watching certain shows systematically until I've seen them all.

I do this too. :)

I'm wondering why I didn't include movies or serieses on my list. I'm not sure why or how, but there is something different about that for me. Hmm.

laura k said...

I just edited my five. I combined walking in the woods with walking, which I suppose should have been one entry in the first place, and added watching movies and favourite comedies.

That's the beauty of doing this on your own blog. :)