My wife and I wrote our own wedding vows. One of the biggest laugh lines in hers was, “I will support you in your many hobbies.”
It was well known among my family and friends that I was a serial dabbler. I experimented widely with interests in games like poker and chess, endurance races, writing projects, cooking, and all sorts of other things. The rate of new hobbies has slowed in recent years as I have settled in on activities that truly interest me and have abandoned those that haven’t.
In the interest of reflecting on my own experiences, here is a list of my nine favorite abandoned projects. (NOTE: Many of these projects still interest me, so I reserve the right to bring them back to life.)
This YouTube series lasted 18 episodes and resulted in 60 subscribers (look out PewDiePie). In it, I played chess and gave commentary. I often featured my friends and gave them all chess-related nicknames. My favorite episode was this one featuring my roommate at the time (ChessPimp) and his two cousins (CrookedChess and SmoothBishop) because it captured how fun and loose those times were.
I knew back in 2013 that it was valuable to start putting my thoughts out there, so I started a newsletter called “It’s TIME!!!” Almost every part of the newsletter is a derivative of something else (the title comes from UFC announcer Bruce Buffer, the writing style is discount Tim Ferriss, etc.) and I didn’t have my shit together enough to put it in MailChimp, but it was a good practice while it lasted. Follow the link above to see some examples.
I majored in English. It would be disgraceful for me not to at least attempt to write a novel at some point. National Novel Writing Month inspired me to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I wrote 53,700 words in a month (yay!) but the story needed another 10,000-15,000 to be finished (boo!). I always tell myself that maybe one day I’ll get back into it. Read the manuscript here (warning: it’s terrible) and the summary below:
Set in the near future, a company named Orchid Pharmaceuticals discovers the “outlier” gene that connects individual outliers in every field, from every geographic region and time period. They decide that the best way to use this discovery is by opening a school in New York City where the only qualification is for children to possess this gene.
The public outcry is tremendous, with religious groups calling it blasphemous and bioethical groups calling it unconstitutional. Through some gerrymandering, the Regents of the State of New York grant the company the ability to start its school with the stipulation that it had 10 years to prove its worth.
The story surrounds the founder of the school, head scientist for Orchid Pharmaceuticals Dr. Bernice Steel O’Connor, the kids of the first graduating class through the 10-year trial, and the groups that will stop at nothing to see the school go down for philosophical, political and personal reasons.
4. My Acting Career
Squarely in a quarter-life crisis, I had the thought that maybe I shouldn’t be following a route in education and should instead be an actor. I went to exactly one audition (spoiler: I didn’t get the role). All that remains of this period are a set of headshots that will likely never see the light of day, save for the one below (I feel like my face says, “I don’t think this is going to work out”):
5. Freestyle Rapping
I started freestyle rapping in high school. I would arrive at least an hour early and a group of us would gather at the end of the third-floor hallway to eat bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches while we had freestyle battles. I dabbled in music through college and grad school, mainly participating in freestyle battles and featuring in my friends’ rap albums under the rap name “President.”
To see me spitting hot fire (and get a sense of why I abandoned rapping), check me out freestyling back in grad school.
I also used my skills to teach my high school students vocabulary, as you can see in my parody of R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet (warning: my voice is basura).
I combined my love of writing and fantasy football by putting together a weekly article under the pseudonym Ray Barone. It only lasted a couple of seasons. In hindsight, it was mostly a way for me to make fun of my friends.
7. This blog
I started this blog in October 2015, wrote a couple of entries and then didn’t pick it back up until June 2016.
8. Graduate School Admission Editing
In an effort to scare up some extra cash, I started editing graduate school admission essays on the side. I did it for a few years (and helped people get into some great schools), but it was ultimately not my life’s calling.
9. Policy Drinks
After graduate school, I found that making friends wasn’t as easy as it was before. I attended networking events and started going on a thousand coffees and after-work beers. This was an unsustainable approach, so I decided to condense all of these social interactions into one monthly informal meeting called Policy Drinks. I did it for a little over a year and found that once interest wained, I didn’t want to put the energy into marketing it and let it dissolve. There’s a similar initiative called Little Bets, which I’m a big fan of.