Wednesday, May 17, 2006

wednesday lunch break

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.

"...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."

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.

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!


  1. Some deep thinking, dear, on that lunch break of yours. Though the image of you cheerleading for art just might make me call into question your claims of being entirely sane...

  2. feminist mormons...
    i thought i had heard everything...
    actually when i briefly dated
    a mormon artist
    he gave me a book called
    the simeon solution
    about a woman's struggle
    about women
    in the mormon faith...
    i wasn't impressed...
    amazing what men
    think would help
    a woman deal
    with the overwhelming
    sexism in religion...
    but on another note,
    there are many amazing
    artists who have lived
    normal lives
    but i think we interpret
    art differently
    knowing about
    the artist's difficult life...
    how much of that is the artist
    and how much of it is
    your empathy
    that draws you in...?

  3. Which leads me to ask the question " what is art?" Yeah, I know, we've all heard that before. I personally know quite a few artist's who, while their lives have not always been a bed of roses,(who's is) they have not led a life of pain and deprevation and they are still managing to produce worthwhile, relevant "art". Art which is good enough to be shown in nationally recognized galleries. The one's that immediatly come to mind are women with children who are in happy, stable relationships. I think the myth of the angst ridden artist is perpetuated by those who feel that they ( and their pain) NEED to be recognised, and make so much noise doing it that eventually they are, Look at Kurt Cobain. Not that he was unworthy, but he sure made a hell of a lot of noise to be recognised. There are also the great tortured artist of our/Europe's past like Van Gogh. Or Mr. One Ear as he was sometimes known. Those who are often recognised are those squeeky wheels that make a lot of noise. Townes may have been a brilliant but tragic musician but have you ever heard of Jimmy Webb? I bet you have heard of some of his songs sung by some of the greats like Glen Campbell ( “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” “Where’s The Playground, Susie”), Richard Harris (“MacArthur Park,” “Didn’t We”), the Fifth Dimension (“Up, Up and Away,” “This Is Your Life”), The Brooklyn Bridge (“Worst That Could Happen”), Art Garfunkel (“All I Know”), Linda Ronstadt (“Easy For You To Say”), Joe Cocker (“The Moon’s A Harsh Mistress”) He seems to be doing fine. I consider my self an artist and a crafts person. Right now I am a titch buzy raising a family and trying to keep body and soul together and don't have enough time to devote to "My Art". I shall not always be that way, and neither will you. Crafts take a lot less of your soul and time. I don't believe that means that crafts are any less valid. I still do art on a small scale, little collages, poems, drawings ect. Keep going, make enough noise and you too can be a recognised artist.

    This has been ranting with Jackie. Thanks for tuning in.

  4. I don't have any deep or insightful comments to contribute, but rather something a bit more mundane: I used to go out to lunch all the time too, but now bring my lunch in (usually ham and cheese sandwiches which I toast) and I eat it at my desk and then just duck out with a book to sit in the sun for about 15 minutes, or I troll the op shops. More money for things that matter (as opposed to sustaining my body... who cares about eating anyway!).


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