A Failed Experiment
by Emily Flake
— Always on the lookout for ways to avoid the ill effects of holiday over-indulgence, I thought this year I would put my own skills in the traces and draw everything I ate. The logic behind this seemed sound enough: If I knew I had to go to the trouble to draw it, would I really want that second (third) piece of pie? And would not the act of drawing force a certain contemplation, an awareness all too lacking in my usual holiday dipsomaniacal gluttony? Yeah, maybe. Which is to say, it started with the best intentions (fig 1). And ended without them (fig 2).
I ran into a few problems right away. I do a lot of baking during the holidays. Would I have to draw every scrap of dough I sampled? Every spoonful of batter? Did egg nog count if I made it myself? What if I couldn’t remember what I’d eaten? My family already thinks I’m weird enough without my stopping to sketch down what I was putting in my gullet at the end of the evening.
But the real problem was that it posed a great big pain in the ass at the time of the year when a) you’re already busy enough figuring out how to make, say, brandied cherries and b) you want at least a few days to sit around on your duff, moving though space like a shark when you must rise at all, maw open, consuming everything in your path. That I took a few more days than was really warranted should not discredit the fact that such days are necessary.
That this exercise failed to mitigate my holiday binging (5 pounds up last I checked … on December 23rd) doesn’t mean that I don’t think it has potential, however. Now that it is 2010 and Emily 2.0 is in effect, it might be a useful tool in monitoring the healthy, wise food choices I intend to make until I can fit into my pants again. At the very least, there ought to be less to draw.
About the Author
Emily Flake is an award-winning illustrator, cartoonist, and writer. Her work has appeared in Time, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Globe and Mail, Forbes, The Nation, and many others.