Blog #7: Brunchtime!

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© B. Rubin
The Commissary

I love brunch. The food, the company, the time of day, the coffee—I love brunch. I spend a large fraction of each week planning the following weekend's brunch. I like other meals, too, but brunch definitely takes the (pan)cake for me.

These feelings quickly change in the field. My all-consuming passion for brunch and disdain for other, lesser meals is negated over the first few days. It’s not that I love brunch any less—though I have never heard of anyone eating brunch while doing fieldwork—it’s that I begin looking forward to every meal at least as much as I typically look forward to brunch.

My normal routine of sluggishly dragging myself out of bed is counteracted by the prospect of a delicious breakfast, leading to an uncharacteristically cheery morning mood. And lunch in the field! What could be greater than lunch in the field?!

Don't let me mislead you; the food is not unusually good here. It’s fine and certainly delicious compared to much of the food that I’ve consumed at field stations elsewhere, but the flavor of the food is not the reason for my transformation.

The amount of work that I need to accomplish while here is large. I need to collect ants all day every day and, in the evenings, I need to database these collections and take care of the ants that we’re keeping in captivity. Moments of not working are filled with guilt that I’m not constantly working, making any sort of relaxation hugely difficult.

However, during meals, I’m forced to put down my tweezers and sit and eat—and there’s absolutely no possibility of working. Meals are a fixed cost of time that has already been accounted for during scheduling.

Under normal circumstances, I would never eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich—it’s just not my thing. But here, I start thinking about my lunchtime sandwich as soon as breakfast ends (see Photos #1-4 below, and check out our “Video Journal #3: Daily Life” for more about our living conditions in the field.)

Sleeping is similarly relaxing here, but not in the normal way. It’s not the sleeping itself that’s so great—I haven't slept a full night since getting here. Instead, it’s the lying down and being finished for the day. Finally, since awakening 10 minutes before breakfast, I have the chance to reflect and just spend time with my thoughts. There’s no procrastination in the field because time and resources are limited, so all of the sitting and staring that I normally do needs to happen before falling asleep at night and during meals.

I’m sure that once I get home I’ll return to my normal state of being. Dinner will be relegated to nothing more than a physical necessity and brunch will retake its regal position as “The Greatest Four Hours of the Week.” Hopefully, I’ll reflect on this sad transformation someday, but not right now. I have to get to lunch.

More soon,

© B. Rubin
Preparing Lunch
© B. Rubin
© B. Rubin
Another Field Lunch
© A. Tischner