What do you do on your lunch break? I used to go out and eat semi-fast food, sometimes with friends or colleauges, admire the scenery, play fashion police inside my head while people-watching, and drop $7 to $10 on a lousy meal.
Over the winter I decided to tighten up the budget and commit to bringing my lunch, every day. Sometimes that means I eat a can of soup or a PBJ, though today I had tasty leftover sesame noodles with tofu and bok choy from the farm. I don't eat out unless I have a lunch meeting, which averages to about once a week. So instead of $35-50 a week for lunch, I'm spending probably about $15, all told. It feels like I got a raise!
But that also means I don't go anyplace. Just down to the kitchen to grab my lunch, and then back up to my desk to eat it (unless it's a really nice day and I take the time to go eat in the park). No visits with friends, no fashion police. Am I missing out on something? Fresh air, at least.
Today I'm blogging on my lunch break, something I do quite often. And I just randomly stumbled onto a kind of amazing website, the blog of the Feminist Mormon Housewives. Yes, you read that correctly. Feminist Mormon Housewives. There are such creatures. There are apparently five of them, and they have this blog together. I'd imagine you'd have a lot of pent-up frustration to vent if you were a Feminist Mormon Housewife, so it kinda makes sense.
Anyhow, I got to reading and read the founder, Lisa's, post on how she became an FMH. It was an amazing story of faith and self-discovery.
You should go read this, it's a really good essay. But the other thing it was making me think was, how come artists and writers have to have really insane or difficult lives to be good? I mean, think about the really great artists - they're all manic depressives! Who ever heard of a happy artist? Personally, I had a healthy happy suburban upbringing, and I am a basically happy secure confident adult person in a secure and loving relationship, and my art is bad. My writing is boring. Writing is all about telling what you know, and what I know is so happy and boring it could put an insomniac out like a light.
"...And I was getting older, seventeen, eighteen. And I voted for the first time for George HW Bush with a warm glow that all was right in the world. And I was shocked! Shocked to wake up in the morning to that Bill Clinton guy!
"And the questions really started to add up. A Sunday School teacher who taught us that “Nothing Good came out of the Women’s Lib Movement.” And even as stoutly conservative as I was, my jaw still hit the floor. And it mystified me, could a truly righteous man stare the facts in the face and really believe that. Really?
"I was (not sure why) fascinated by Women’s history, and the Civil Right Movement. And as I read more deeply my initial impressions of distrust in “movements” and all those connected to them, grew slowly into admiration and a longing to emulate those brave enough to create movement."
I saw "Be Here to Love Me," the documentary about Townes Van Zandt, the other night. If you don't know Townes, you probably know his music (though you may not realize it). His songs have been recorded by folks like Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard and Emmy Lou Harris. In the movie, Steve Earle calls Townes the "greatest American songwriter." It may have been true. The documentary bascially focuses on Townes' depression and alcoholism. He wrote beautiful songs, left three wives and three children behind, and died of alcoholism at age 52. Brilliant songs. Brilliant artist. Horrible life.
Art is like that, I'm afraid. Those of us who have never been diagnosed with depression, who don't get beat up by our parents or our partners, we have it pretty good. We're the lucky ones. There is no art for us. For us, there are crafts. We may be boring, but we can follow a pattern like nobody's business!
So even though I'm not such a hot writer (or at least I don't have any interesting stories), I do know that I'm supposed to wrap up this post by connecting back to the opening thought... which was about lunch and what to do with one's lunch break. But I don't have anything to say about that.
Instead, I think I'll just end with a chirpy reflection on the transformative power of art and how it's this amazing human capacity to save ourselves from our own tragedies. If you were here in my office right now, you'd see me do a cheer for art... GO! ART! [imagine insane jumping with poor arm formations] This is the kind of thing we happy people do. We cheerlead about deep topics like artistic transendence.
That's it from the lunch desk. Back to you, Work!