New Year, new goals

This doesn’t have much to do with food.

I’m not one for resolutions; my attention span is far shorter than a year, and Back to School always feels more fresh-startish than January, to me. But I feel like I slipped into a bit of a funk as the year wrapped up, and I am at a bit of a crossroads in terms of work and health and so forth, so I do want to take the New Year as a chance to re-set and try harder.

For the blog: I did much better in December, but during the fall I really let the blog slide, and only posted a handful of times per month. I want to try putting myself on a schedule (I’m a journalist; without deadlines I can procrastinate until the cows come home), posting on Tuesdays and Fridays at a bare minimum. We’ll see how it goes, but it’s worth the effort, right?

I also want to work on the quality of the photography… Enough with letting the terrible kitchen lighting serve as an excuse, I have little studio lights and a lightbox/diffuser thingy, and I just need to be more consistent about taking stuff into the pantry and shooting it. Not sure what can be done about things I’m actively cooking, but I’ll get there. One day.

Finally, I want to be more specific with recipes. I’m lazy and tend to just say “eh, an onion or so, some olive oil, blah blah blah,” but when I think about the blogs I find most useful, they isolate the recipe so it’s easy to follow, in addition to writing about the process.

For me, I mostly want to figure out if I can freelance full-time for a while, or if I need to go back to an office job. I like working from home, but obviously it’s not the most stable thing. If I stay home, I need to make a major effort to, um, leave the house. For exercise, for socialization, for fresh air.

During the fall I took a drawing class at the MFA’s museum school. It was rigorous and challenging and I learned a ton, but I can’t justify doing something like that right now, so I want to make sure I also keep drawing, get back to painting, treat photography more seriously, etc. I am also hoping to help a few people with some interior design advice. Finally, while I write for a living I’d also like to write something different, for pleasure. Fiction, maybe? I doubt it but I’ll try, perhaps.

[For my class, we worked on a final project consisting of a series of studies and drawings on one topic. I chose ballet, and used a couple books of photos of the New York City Ballet as my subjects.]

The greatest lesson I learned in my drawing class was how to relax. At the beginning of the semester all my drawings were in pencil, mostly of interiors, very literal, very precise, not very dynamic or interesting. I never expected to enjoy figure-drawing and I never thought about charcoal one way or the other, but those two things brought me tremendous joy. Charcoal is messy and it didn’t let me stick to my precise lines. I couldn’t really use a ruler. And drawing the figure made me want to explore movement. I want 2009 to be like that. I’m feeling closed in and limited in a few ways, and I want to break out and try things I hadn’t considered, even if it means I have charcoal-stained fingernails.

Or hands that smell like garlic. I’ve never minded that!

10 thoughts on “New Year, new goals”

  1. Charcoal is messy and it didn’t let me stick to my precise lines. I couldn’t really use a ruler. And drawing the figure made me want to explore movement. I want 2009 to be like that.

    Highly laudable goals!

    Also a highly laudable quartet of sentences. Good luck!

  2. While sketching a model in a college drawing class, my art instructor told me that I held my pencil like I was writing a letter. I needed to loosen my grip, let my arm be fluid, and give up a little of the control I was holding on to. A challenging skill that I still haven’t mastered.

    I like the idea of goals, rather than resolutions. A resolution sounds so much like you want to stop doing something– like not eating an entire cake in one weekend, or watching three episodes of America’s Next Top model in one sitting– but a goal sounds like something you aspire to. I’m still drafting my goals for the year (it’s still January, hey?), but I really like how you described yours. -X

  3. Not too related to goals, but I wanted to tell you I made your pork (I used turkey Italian sausage) and rainbow chard soup last night and it was really nice. I’d never used chard before. Jen said “I like this chard” and I about fell off my chair, because her range of acceptable leafy green vegetables starts with iceberg and ends with romaine. We’ll definitely make that again!

  4. Wait. You write (very well — love the charcoal/2009 bit). You photograph (beautifully). You sketch (with sensitivity). You cook (I need that pork/chard soup recipe). AND you blog.

    Woman, you have mad skillz, as the kids today say (or said so-five-minutes ago — I’m often behind the times).

    First visit to your blog. A friend directed me here in a shared self-pity e.mail thread about feeling overwhelmed and just not good enough — she envies you. And now so do I. Sheesh.

    Strangely though, now I feel better, too. Hey, I just found a recipe in which I can use pork, which I love, and good-for-skin chard. Plus, if you, MadSkillz Woman, feel as though you have room for improvement, I can get over this blue moment and move past it to accomplish something myself.

    Hope the year brings the growth you seek. 🙂

  5. Josh – aw, thanks! How many years have you been hearing me talk about breaking out of myself?

    Xander – My prof called it “gesture” drawing. I miss having an easel and being able to draw standing up; it’s much easier with big sheets of paper…
    Now that you mention it, I guess goals are more positive. (Heh, if there’s one thing I’ve never bothered with, it’s resolutions to stop eating *anything*!)

    Rach – YAY! Ok, have you tried her on chard or kale cooked with sausage, not in soup form? I think I wrote it up last month; I served it over polenta rounds, and using some chicken broth makes the greens really mild and flavorful. You could leave out the sausage and serve as a side, too. Yum.

    Janine – What kind words! You made my day. You know, a lot of the design blogs I read make me feel like I’m not accomplishing anything–maybe our joint 2009 goal should be to focus on making our own lives beautiful without trying to compare ourselves to other people too much! I was feeling super blue for a few days around New Year’s, too… Chin up, I bet you’re doing great. Thank you for visiting and I hope you’ll stick around!

  6. Kate,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now & have enjoyed a couple of your recipes too, especially the potatoe & kale casserole. This was a fun post, I liked that it was informal but informative and fun. I hope 2009 is all you want and more.

  7. What a lovely post!
    And what AWESOME comments!!!
    I LOVE people discovering the magic of Kate!!!

    I had a few tight friends over on New Year’s Eve; we all wrote down our resolutions, stood up and read them to the group, then tossed them in the fire and watched them burn. I loved the gesture – making a wish, making a statement, throwing it into the flames, watching the whole thing go up in smoke … it felt solemn and magical!

    I’m with you about feeling a little odd – the New Year came too soon for me, and like you, I feel at a crossroads… but reading your process helped me with mine. I think we are siamese twins of the brain.

    Here’s to another year of enjoying your blog and your cooking and your sense of humor and your support!


  8. Germi, I love that idea–very cool, I’ll remember it for next year. Let’s make 2009 a year of forward movement, and maybe a little cross-country action. Come visit me in Boston; I’m dying for an excuse to get to LA and I just might make it happen!

    (The awesome thing, looking over these comments, is that they come from people I have never met, as well as people I have known in real life since I was 16 and 20. People who were at (and in) my wedding and people who I encountered for the first time just now and people like you and Xander and Abbey who have become friends. “The Internet is AMAZING,” as a friend of mine recently said.)

  9. I really like that first charcoal of the dancer. For some reason it reminds me of a Tim Burton sketch.

    If you want to frame or prevent smudging in the future they sell spray fixatives.
    I’d use something like Krylon Workable Matte Fixative.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *