Monday, March 19, 2012

Leisure, the basis of Nerd-dom

Proof I'm a nerd:

I am so frikkin excited (below is back story, I may get to the actual point at the end... unless I forget).

One of the things my dear hubby-to-be has been insisting is that I need to take a more leisurely approach to life (yes, he IS Italian, why do you ask?). Ever since he read Joseph Pieper's Leisure the Basis of Culture a few years ago, he's been going on a tirade about how America is too goal oriented and the meaning of life is not to work but to have leisure. You have to work for the purpose of leisure, not that you have leisure for the purpose of being able to work better. It honestly threw a wrench in my world view, and contributed (very indirectly) to my disillusionment of my last relationship (I later found out that James was attracted to me then, but felt horribly about it so he actually really tried to help patch things up, but was relieved when I ended it).

So here's the problem, there is good leisure and there is "not actually leisure." These are the technical, philosophical terms for it. Going to the bar and getting trashed = not actually leisure. All the while going to the bar to enjoy a drink or two with friends and pleasant conversation = leisure. Watching TV in excess = not actually leisure. Watching your favorite movie (that follows the basic guidelines for decent movie) = leisure. Reading = leisure. Hobbies = leisure. Spending an hour to make a good blog post = leisure. Spending 3 hours on facebook = not actually leisure.

This creates a difficulty for me in my Protestant-German leaning background. Even though I'm Catholic, it's hard to leave the way I was raised completely behind. I like to be productive, efficient, and punctual (and I'm marrying an Italian...why?). Within the first few weeks of starting my job, James had to scold me for wanting to purposefully work overtime just to get more done (and get more overtime checks). Not to mention, I'm no reader, and getting myself to do something actually considered leisurely is not the easiest. I often times am either trying to be productive or just being lazy (hence the 3 hours on facebook). Yes you theoretically can spend 3 hours on facebook in a leisurely way, I just don't (and I suppose the number that do could be counted on my fingers)

James is your classic example of intellectual. We seriously have over 800 books in my apartment right now. No he has not read them all, he would have to buy more books to be able to do that (it's a mathematical equation, don't ask). I have a minor form of dyslexia which has caused me over the years to develop a distaste for reading. I would probably be at least 3% smarter if I would bother to read, but I just have the hardest time picking up a book. Keeping the book is even harder. When I find a book I like, I either read in 3 days, or if it's a saint's book slowly digest it over the course of a year and a half. It's really hard for me to consistently pick up a book for an extended period of time.

This brings us to a predicament. James has a hard time thinking of anything other than reading and fishing as leisure. Don't get me wrong, if you bring up a leisurely topic he will quickly agree to it being leisurely, he just has that narrow minded intellectual's disease of not being able to think outside what he finds enjoyable... For about three weeks I asked him for leisurely suggestions and the first answer he came up with was "I don't know, grab a book, or a rod..." I realized that I was going to have to figure it out on my own after this (I'm a slow learner).

My first thought is to get back into collecting coins. I dabbled a bit in high school, but I never was any sort of serious numismatist.. My favorite coin is my own from 3rd Century Rome (you know when they were mass producing coins and diluting any value so that you can basically buy them from just about anywhere for 10 bucks now...) that I have since misplaced after taking it out to examine it for a time (sigh). I know it's in my apartment, so I'm not worried about it, I'll find it when we move. The increasing cost of metal means that I'd have to be really sneaky and clever to find any deals, and even then it would be hard. All of the good coins are going to be very expensive, and with the melt value ever increasing, more and more people are looking at collecting coins, making their value go up, up, up! I just don't have the resources to be an avid coin collector again.

So when I went to my parent's house for Christmas, I wanted something to do while I was there, as most of my friends were out of the area. I got caught up in my father's stamp collection, and I was hooked. The only thing? I find most of his stamps rather uninteresting. I don't get excited about fuzzy animals on stamps, or famous people (with an exception I'll mention below), or the modern royal family, or what. I started to notice some BEAUTIFUL stamps from former British territories with depictions of the Stations of the Cross, famous religious paintings, and about a million Madonna and Child's. I just about lost it. Some of these stamps are seriously works of art in and of themselves. Then I almost died.

...the Vatican makes stamps.

Ya, I know, right?!? My dad only had a couple of the less interesting ones, but his album listed so many beautiful Saint (the famous people I find VERY interesting) stamps, and commemorations of events in Church history. Sometimes, they even just celebrate beauty. Oh, let me tell you, the Italian influence on art is not lost in the Vatican. I looked into it more. These stamps can be some of the rarest in the world. The Vatican only makes a small number of stamps with each issue compared to larger countries. What's funny is that the Vatican post office runs more letters per resident than any other country. While this has a lot to do with the fact that a lot o top notch Vatican officials have official correspondence (and let's not forget that the inhabitant of the Chair of Peter is likely to get a LOT of mail), I found out that many Italians don't trust their postal system (can't imagine why) and if possible will take their mail to the trustworthy and efficient Vatican (yes, the Vatican does something timely and efficiently).

Now to my most recent nerd-dom.

Yesterday while I was searching for an affordable way to house my stamps, I came across a bona fide, used Vatican City stamp album. At $100, it looked like a better deal at first, because it only goes up to 1971, but here is the jewel. It's partly completed. Ya, I know! This has around 250 stamps from 1929 (the first year of Vatican issues) to 1971. My guess is that no one has gotten this collection appraised due to the lack of stamp content in the description. I don't think I'll find an ultra rare hundreds of thousand dollar stamp or anything, but I am guessing that the value of the stamps is easily worth more than the $50 I paid for it after using my amazon rewards points (which I needed to use up, too as I'm canceling my credit card soon and you can't use the points after you cancel). If you're reading this, sorry James, my new credit card doesn't have amazon points, but it does have a cashback bonus and if you'd like I can promise to give you any cashback rewards for books unless necessity demands otherwise (if you'd like? Who am I kidding?).

I was so excited about this find that I could hardly stand it. I wasn't intending to shop on a Sunday, I was more looking at options for buying albums and local stores and such. I consider that being leisurely toward my hobby... I guess I could be doing it wrong, though. I even asked James if I could buy it right then and there because who knows if someone else would snatch it up before midnight rolls around? He advised that I wait, and I agreed. I almost tried to stay up till midnight, but then I thought better of it. Time will pass more quickly when I'm asleep. I had a hard time getting to sleep (excitable? Me? Why do you bother asking?) but I woke up around 2:30 like I do every night  to go to the bathroom. At this point I TRIED to get back to sleep. I mean, I do have 9 hours at work tomorrow. But I just couldn't. So, being that it is Monday and no longer Sunday, I banished all qualms and set to ordering it right away! The seller is Abe Books (James calls is A-B-E books, but I'm thinking it's supposed to be pronounced like the Lincoln), but I bought it off of amazon because of the discounted price with points. I'm so excited, too that I paid the extra 6 dollars to ensure getting it by the end of THIS week (watch, it'll come on Saturday and I'll have to wait till Monday!)!!!! I'm having it delivered to my work so that I don't panic about it all day, and I can use my work's tracking system to see when it's coming. My boss told me from the beginning that they are fine with everyone getting their personal shipments at work (and sending them from there). I'm the shipping department at work, so I know she's right.

Now the next 40 years is the most expensive part of the album set, but I just can't believe the deal I got! Let me tell you, the apartment is going to go to Hades because I'm not going to want to do anything once I get it but examine and appraise my stamps (I'm not doing it for the money, I just want to know if I need to get my album insured). I'm so flipping excited I can't even tell you. I don't know if I'll get to sleep again tonight. I'm being brought to the glorious kingdom of Nerd-dom (I mean seriously, what girl in her mid 20s gets this excited abotu stamp collecting?)!'s so exciting! I could get it as early as WEDNESDAY!

In other news James got an article published!!! It was his first try and he got it published! I hesitate to tell you even the website that published it because I would be conveying our identities basically (a simple facebook search of him could tell you my name and location). What I will tell you is that it's about a lot of the bad attitudes associated with the HHS mandate from what are otherwise good and faithful Catholics (just ignorant of Church teaching on social issues, ps national healthcare is not an intrinsic evil, just not advised in the current situation). It's mainly arguing against classical liberalism and libertarians. I honestly haven't read the article. I started to and then I was like, "Ugh, I've heard this argument 10,000,000,000,000 (pronounced ten thousand-billion) times! Okay I exaggerated a little. Take out ONE of the 0's. If he asks me to, I'll read it. Otherwise, I'll be looking at my stamps.

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