15 January 2007

An Uncharacteristic Burst Of Activity

I realised - or rather it's been slowly dawning on me - that I'll soon have been here almost a month, during which time I've only left the immediate neighbourhood a couple of times. By "immediate neighbourhood," I mean the Eastern Suburbs and the fringe of the North Shore, and by "fringe," I mean the beach and the road that goes to the beach.

So despite my best intentions of doing little more than going to to the gym and going to the beach and being as empty-headed and carefree as possible in hopes that they'll make me an honorary Australian, I started feeling as though I should, you know, like do some things. Like what, you ask? Well, maybe some of the stuff that people come from all over the world to do in Australia. Getting out in nature, hiking around, seeing some of the sights, etc.

Granted, I've done most of the standard tourist things in previous visits, but some of it bears repeating (I mean, I've walked across the Brooklyn Bridge half a dozen times at least, and been up the Empire State Building at least three times, and that's even before I decided to become a fulltime New Yorker), and there are plenty more journeys to be made around greater Sydney that are off the standard tourist beat and probably the better for it. So yesterday and today I took some time off from the beach (well, after the sun had sunk too low in the west to do much good anyway) and did the most serious walking I've attempted since my foot operation last October.

What prompted this sudden surge - oops, sorry, I think George Bush has run off with the meaning of that word, so let's say, burst - of energy? My best guess is that I started reading a book. Shocking, I know. Not that people here don't read books. They even read them at the beach, but they tend to stick to the fairly light stuff: How To Wax Your Surfboard, Ten Days To A Tighter Tummy, that sort of thing.

Not that my book - a collection of John Updike short stories - wasn't fairly light stuff itself, but it had the unexpected effect of giving me the idea for a couple short stories I might write myself. They're both very good stories; in fact, I spent much of yesterday and today's beach time mulling them over in my head, giving names to the characters, devising plot twists, coming up with pithy - yes, that's how it's spelled and no, I don't have a lisp - bits of dialogue. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, but the trouble is that it's getting perilously close to the time when I'd have to sit down at my computer and do the actual work of writing them.

Work being the four-letter word that scares me above all others, I immediately set off to do anything but, which yesterday entailed walking a meandering route across some of the richer and more opulent bits of Woolahra in the general direction of Bondi Junction, eventually arriving at said junction where hitherto I'd only arrived by bus or train. I was going to continue walking on into Southeast Sydney, but it was nearly dark and I didn't like the looks of some of the hoons (uniquely Australian word, I think, sort of a cross between hoodlums and goons) gallivanting up and down the highway, so instead I sat in the coffee shop at Borders Books, read more of my Updike, and marvelled over how Borders had become this vast worldwide network out of its humble beginnings as a cornershop in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Today, after my routine gym and beachness, I decided to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Very touristy thing to do, and I think I've actually done it once before, back in 2003, but the fact that I couldn't for sure remember doing it meant that it was more than time to do it again. Or possibly for the first time; having now completed the walk, I still am not sure whether I've done it before or merely imagined what it would be like as I rolled across on the train or in a car.

It's a spectacular view, or would be if it weren't for the suicide barrier, d let's hope the authorities don't inflict such an atrocity on the Golden Gate Bridge. At least before I finally get around to walking across that one, which somehow in 30 years of living in the Bay Area I never managed to do. The way I was thinking - and perhaps this is uncharitable - is that only a tiny minority of people who walk across these bridges are inclined to jump off them, yet to protect these bozos from themselves, we have to spoil the view for everybody else. I can understand stopping them from jumping off the part of the bridge that goes over land - can't have them landing on people's patios or in the middle of a busy street, obviously - but once you're out over water, why not let them fly, and just send the Coast Guard around now and again to scoop up the corpses?

Too heartless? Okay, then string up a net under the bridge and catch them that way. Nobody's view is blocked, and once a day, or as necessary, you just pull them out of the nets and cart them off to the funny farm for appropriate treatment. And before all you champions of the suicidal write to me in outrage, I've been seriously suicidal on several occasions myself. Not seriously enough to jump off a very high bridge, but enough so to go in for some of the less painful alternatives. I don't want to see anyone die unnecessarily, but at the same time, I don't think we need to constantly be restructuring society to prevent people from harming themselves. Does that mean I'm in favour of doing away with drug laws? Possibly, but only if it's accompanied by a rule that all junkies (including potheads, especially including potheads) have to live on special reservations not accessible to the mainland).

Ah well, enough attempting to stir up controversy. I think it's late enough now that I can go home without feeling I have to do some serious writing. In fact it's late enough that I can't even do the laundry, which leaves me in the somewhat awkward position of having nothing to wear tomorrow, and, worse, without a clean beach towel. I'd already semi-circumvented that nothing-to-wear dilemma by planning on a visit to the clothing-optional beach, but the bus ride to and from could prove awkward. You see the sorts of things I have to go through? No wonder I'm so irascible.

1 comment:

Amy said...

I didn't know Borders started in Ann Arbor. How ever did I miss that part of Michigan History?