Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sorry, Homework.

I remember singing a sweet sayonara when I left grad school. Though I had learned loads, and was endlessly grateful for the opportunity, there was still an inner voice that said somethig like, “F%#k you, homework. Never again.”

But now I am eating my inner words, and would like to issue a formal apology, “Sorry, homework, you’re not all that bad.”

Over the past two months, I have been reveling in the experience of having an assignment—lots of assignments. Somehow, they seem to be keeping me creative. There are a lot of things that take priority in my life, and these things are not bad. For example: work, seeing my friends and family, exercise, grocery shopping. And I have a pretty manageable list (no kids, no elderly parents to care for, one job). But these tasks often edge out making time for creative projects, and those projects are a very core part of what keeps me, me. So, I have been enjoying assignments that force me to prioritize being creative.

I was in a quilting slump. I had started a quilt with awesome visions in my head, but it wasn’t materializing how I had envisioned it, and I stopped. For a long time. But then my friends decided to have a party: Bad Art—It’s Trashy. Guest “artists” were invited to create a piece of bad, trashy art to be displayed at an opening. Yes! That was the assignment I needed to make friends with my sewing machine and get exited again about creating.

And I’m not the only one. The popularity of programs like Project Food Blog from FoodBuzz and Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Charcutepalooza, and 100 Push Ups is a sign that lots of people are clamoring for an assignment to help them accomplish their goals.

So behold, my food assignment to myself for 2011: make a new preserved item each month. And by new, I mean new to me. So, build a new pantry skill twelve times this year. I started out easy. In January, I made preserved lemons: pack lemons in salt, wait. I’m still waiting. For February, I am just under the wire. I am headed out now to pick up two freshly butchered pork jowls from Sea Breeze Farms, with which I will make guanciale.

Wish me luck. And I'll wish you assignments that keep you creative.


Annie said...

I love this idea! I look forward to staying connected from afar by preserving along with you! Bren and I were just talking the other night about how tasty your spicy carrots were. ...Off to find some lemons ;) xo, annie

Rachel said...

Yah - what is is about assignments? I agree that we (as free adults) still flourish in a home-work like setting. I just wrote out my monthly creative projects list a few days ago, and am scrambling to get my February assignment done! Thank you for putting such eloquent words to this common conundrum.
A friend of mine put this project/blog together to meet similar goals:

Pleasant Company said...

Annie, I love that idea! And I am hoping you can help come up with some ideas for the coming months.

Rachel, next creative project: marbleing paper with you!