Editor’s note: Today’s post is very Oakland-centric. Apologies to our readers abroad.
A good lunch break is a work of art. (Just ask Frank O’Hara.) That hour or so in the middle of the day offers so much possibility – a chance to recharge your batteries, run errands, get your daily allotment of exercise, catch up with a friend. You have to treasure this time; it’s too easy to scarf a peanut butter sandwich at your desk while you catch up on email, only to realize that your next meeting starts in 5 minutes. A lunch break offers precious respite from your busy day.
I worked in Oakland for a long time before coming to work at the Carnegie Library, so I’ve had years to develop a repertoire of lunchtime haunts. I’m a grazer, so I’ve typically eaten my entire lunch by the time I’m ready to take a break, which leaves me more time for wandering. And up until I began coming here every day for work, the Main Library was one of my go-to lunchtime getaways, and not just to pick up books. I still love hanging out at Main, but for the most part I hang out elsewhere during my lunch breaks now.
(This is the curse of working at one of your favorite places. Yeah, poor me.)
For all of you Oakland workers and students out there, I’d like to share my lunch break expertise and recommend for you a week of lunch breaks at Main.
You need to ease into the week, so nothing too strenuous. Come on in through the front doors, pass through the New and Featured section, and enter the world of wonders known as the magazine reading room.
From this vantage point, you can indulge your low, middle, and high-brow reading tastes with a current selection of magazines. I remember reading (probably in a magazine) an interview with Michael Stipe where he let out his secret for being (or appearing to be) intelligent and well-informed — read lots of magazines. (You can also eat on the First Floor, making this the only of my lunch break suggestions where you can actually eat your lunch.)
Tuesday can be disheartening. So much work week left! So, how about doing something nice for somebody? Nothing like a kind act to buoy your spirits.
Here’s your task: pick somebody you care about, find out their birth date, then go find the front page of a newspaper from that day in the Microfilm room on the third floor.
Pretend to be an old time detective while you whir through the pages, but don’t whir so fast that you miss out on the old ads and other context.
When you get your printout, feel smug knowing that you just spent a quarter or two and a lunch break doing something that someone else charges 25 bucks for.
By the middle of the week, your brain is humming with precision. You are ready for a capital-E Experience. And you are in luck, because the Music Department is hosting an art installation called AUDMCRS. Listen to artist Corey Arcangel’s collection of trance and underground music.
What an experience!
Thursday is a day for getting your act together, a day to prepare yourself for the end of the work week. Your mind is cluttered, you’ve still got things in your inbox that need to be taken care of, and you need a spiritual lift to get you through the week.
In other words, a day for poetry.
The International Poetry Room on the second floor is a treasure. In addition to being one of the warmest parts of the building, it’s also a comfortable place to kick back, relax, and immerse yourself in a book of poems.
If you’re anything like me, the last lunch break of the week is typically a bit of a rush to prepare for the weekend. So a stop at the library makes perfect sense. For starters, if you’re wondering what to do this weekend, look left as you walk in the front door:
And then, of course, it’s a mad dash to get whatever you’ll want to have at home for the weekend. Maybe a big nonfiction undertaking from the New Books shelf in the Reference Department on the second floor, a stop in to Film and Audio to get a movie or something to listen to, or maybe some fiction on the First Floor. On any given Friday, you will likely find me looking for a cook book, for weekends are when I have time to try new recipes.
These are, of course, just suggestions. Anybody out there have lunchtime favorites? For you non-Oakland workers, where do you go for lunch breaks?
Oh, and don’t worry too much about me losing my lunch getaway spot. I’ll make do with my new one, which is pretty nice, too.
-From the peanut-butter-covered keyboard of Dan