Excerpt of “WORK”
By Bud Smith - Nov 21, 2017
On Friday, people sometimes get the fish sandwich. They’re either repentant Catholics or they are just excited for any kind of variety, any kind of variation. Sometimes this place feels like prison. You can’t leave the gates and go anywhere to get a good lunch. There’s nothing around worth rushing out for, and damn, bringing your own food everyday sounds like a beautiful way to live your life, but it’s the last thing on my mind every night when I finally collapse into bed.
I’m trying to distract myself with writing projects. I’ve been walking over to the machine shop, and walking past all the welding rigs, and the chain hoists hanging from the steel beam ceiling; I duck around the gang boxes full of grease-stinking tools and go to sit in a back corner by the wood saws, where the carpenters cut planks to build us scaffolding. Over by the wood saws, it’s good-stinking. And it reminds me of when I was twenty and had a job at a sawmill out in the western part of the state, it was the hardest and cruelest job I ever had. You can be nostalgic for anything, I think. Even for your own suffering.
I like eating my lunch in the back of the machine shop, next to the lumber, because it’s quiet and I can eat and write. There’s less distraction. There’s less yelling and joking than in the trailer where I usually sit. I’m able to squeeze in a half hour of typing with my thumbs on my iPhone, eating a lousy fish sandwich with tartar sauce and one of two kinds of cheese, yellow or white but they’re the same cheese, one has yellow dye, the other is just bleached.
Writing isn’t a precious thing and I’m not in eternal search of keeping what I do holy or built up out of shimmering gems. I don’t eat my lunch off a gold plated lunch truck. The great American novel doesn’t know it’s the great American novel until it’s been out almost a hundred years and the woman or man who wrote it is dead. Who cares about the great American novel while we’re in the golden age of TV?
Art isn’t something you should protect from yourself. Just run towards it full sprint and embrace how ridiculous your ideas are, how unguarded, how close to something a child might think up, lying on their back in a field overgrown with weeds. The sights and sounds of the rotating world revealing itself to you, or not.
Take a sip of black gas station quality coffee, take a bite of fish sandwich, write down the adventures of the day. Every day adds up. Every lunch break is something more than a lunch break.
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