I Love My New Toy.

August 29, 2008 at 7:49 am (Uncategorized)

Home again. I’m sitting here like a child beneath the Christmas tree. It just doesn’t seem right to open all the fun new toys without Llewie, ever my willing partner in crime, so instead I’ve left it all in the Apple carry bag that alerted absolutely everyone I passed on my way home to the fact that I have one and they don’t. Ah. It’s a surprisingly good feeling, the occasional bout of unstoppable, smug-infused glee. I’m feeling pretty jim dandy about it all. So I suppose you’re wondering what fine and totally sexed up piece of machinery I went for in the end? Actually I should stress that it was a joint decision. I was so mortified by the cost of everything in the store that I basically suggested we just forget it and get me a little paper model version instead, that I could sit on my desk next to this computer, the grand old dinosaur that she is. I asked the Apple guy who valiantly tried explaining all the technical stuff to me (why bother? I mean, really. Why? You lost me at hello.) what the shelf (or desk) life is for the average laptop, and he said 3 years. Gee, have my clam-shaped iBook and I blown that out of the water…this thing must be a virtual collector’s item by now… But at the time it was the biz, pure and simple, and I suppose once a glutton for the shiny pretty things, always a glutton for the shiny pretty things. Twinkle twinkle.

So yes, people, a Mac Air it is. I hear you gasp with awe and amazement, and I share your sentiments wholly. I think one of the reasons I haven’t even opened the bag since carting all my goodies home is that I don’t quite believe it’s real. The thing weighs one kilo. One lousy kilo. I can easily pick it up with one hand (not that I will, Llewie…no, no no! Nor will I drink coffee or drop cake crumbs anywhere near its gleaming magnificence). And that’s what got it over the line, in the end, because for me to actually take a laptop out and about, and on weekends away, and on travel writing trips, I need it to be light on my shoulder or back. It’s just no fun otherwise. I have a very low tolerance for pain.

But what a birthday present! How good is that?! How much do I think Llew rocks even harder than usual?? How did I get this gem of a man to even speak to me, let alone marry me and share his net worth with me??!!! It’s amazing, it really is. And going up to Varuna with a kilo in my bag instead of a fat baby clam is enough to make me float on, well, Air….

Oh yes. Which brings me to the fact that I’ll be there all of next week, so although I shall try my blogging best to post you details of what’s happening, in actual fact I have NO IDEA what’s going to transpire come Monday, nor how structured my days will be, nor how productive I’m going to be, so if it happens that you don’t hear from me in the next week, you know where I am and what I’m doing, and I will be back on board with tales to tell of my week in the woods. Do take care in the meantime.

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Style, Substance, and an Apple a Day…

August 29, 2008 at 3:45 am (Uncategorized)

Hi kids. Apologies for false promises but I hope you’ll forgive me. This isn’t a REAL blog, either, this is just a cheeky mini-post, a traveller, as I am in the Apple Mac store in town trying out their fancy pants wares because my wonderful husband has decided my birthday’s come early this year – early enough for my week at Varuna – and my present is… drum roll… a new laptop!! Ahhhh… so exciting. Mine is over 7 years old, so this is a purchase that is woefully overdue. It also weighs about the same as a small child, so I’ve rarely taken the thing touring. Not a lot of portability past the 3 kg mark. So here we are… a computer cornucopia, all very sexy indeed. But what’ll it be? The sensible or the sleek? How to decide?? 

I had Nana Dramas yesterday, which I’ll share with you later, and which meant I wasn’t able to blog at all. Wednesday, by the time we got back from Maroochydore, I was too tired to think let alone blog, which was lucky because my dear old laptop didn’t take at all kindly to being left on and unattended for 5 days, and staged a major meltdown that wiped out my broadband program. Llew is back with a person in a blue t-shirt so I must away… more later.

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Thank you.

August 22, 2008 at 1:18 am (Uncategorized)

Unfortunately I’ve run out of time to post today; Llew and I are off for a few days of much-needed R & R and I shall return to these pages next Wednesday, the 27th of August. In the meantime, I am incapable of fully expressing to you my gratitude for the remarkable, ready support you continue to give me, but believe me, it never goes unnoticed.

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Crawling Down the Road Less Travelled

August 21, 2008 at 5:48 am (Uncategorized)

As I emailed Sean Doyle, Lynk’s director, this morning, I’ve had my sulk and my tears and now I just have to get on with it. Because this is it, this is the road I’m on and have chosen to be on and am so glad and grateful to be on, so I just have to scrape myself up off the ground and keep crawling along. Can I just pause for a moment, though, and tell you that it’s really HARD? It’s so hard. Up until I began this process seriously (does my dreadful 1999 unreadable manuscript count? I’m not sure), my PhD thesis was undoubtedly the toughest challenge of my professional and intellectual life. Hands down. But this is worse in some ways, maybe because there is literally not one guarantee that it’ll all be okay in the end if I just work hard enough. The harsh truth is that it may not be, and everything I’ve got may not be enough. Ugh. Hideous, debilitating thoughts. But it does nothing to change my desire to write, my need to write, my will to write. That’s one of my constants, and so I’m still – even though I cried myself to sleep last night – just as committed. Perhaps I need to BE committed, but I’m totally committed nonetheless. It is the right thing for me, writing, and I know that, and I have no choice but to keep trying and doing my best. It is an end in itself; nothing anyone says will ever actually stop me from sitting down and writing because I’ve been doing it in one form or another my entire life and it’s as normal to me as opening my eyes. So as I said to Miriam today, they’ll never take me alive!

So. Yesterday Don Watson was the speaker at the Lowy Lunch, and wasn’t he a breath of fresh air? Funny, erudite, insightful, a master of understatement and the hilarious half-mumbled observation, I thoroughly enjoyed his talk on the American travels that form the basis of his laest book, American Journeys.

Like Watson, I am fascinated by America and its people and always have been. Like Watson, for me it feels almost like a crush, a love affair that just won’t quit. I am busting to live in the US for a time. In fact the only reason it hasn’t happened yet is because it’s not a priority for Llew without certain criteria being met first, and as you know, we ride together. It’s not all about me, after all, and as evinced by what must look like my utterly ridiculous dream-weaving pursuit of an untenable career as a fiction writer, and Llew’s unflagging, unstinting support of it, I’m pretty well catered for as it is. But my interest in America is abiding, and my affection for the place very deep. So I was the ideal audience member at Don Watson’s Lowy lecture; I was hanging on every word. I was so jealous. The map of his travels in the back of the book made me tight with wanderlust, and I can’t wait to lose myself in its pages at the very first available opportunity. For now, I’m going to sit here and start writing a new story, and to hell with giving up.

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Must ALL My Precious Bubbles Burst?!

August 20, 2008 at 7:12 am (Uncategorized)

It’s really taking some energy reserves to find the will to write this post. A weaker me just wants to lie on my bed and sob until I fall into one of those fitful sleeps that are half nauseating when you wake up dizzy and disoriented in the dying light. More tears, damn it, today I have shed yet more tears! And it’s been a strange day, too, because I’ve also been into town for the Wednesday Lowy Lunch, which I’ll tell you about in a minute, and which Llew and I thoroughly enjoyed. So as much as I am tempted to wallow in a warm bath of gurgling self-pity, I still know somewhere inside that the rapidly forming scum on top always ruins it for me, so I may as well just have a cold shower (look out! rambling metaphor on the loose! Duck for cover!) and be done with it.

Why am I in the dumps? Well, it’s the fucking manuscript, of course. I can hardly bear boring you with the details, but the upshot is I emailed the good people at Lynk and asked my assessor if she could be more specific about the overall prognosis, because on my second assessment, the ‘Where to From Here?’ section was answered with what amounted to ‘You’re going to Varuna! That should be useful!’ – both of which are true, but neither of which gives me any clue as to the MS’s future prospects beyond that residency. Imagine I wasn’t going to Varuna. What would she have said then? Well. Now I know. And as horrible as it is to hear, and as lousy as I feel right now, I am still glad I asked. Forewarned is forearmed, and I think I was letting my imagination run far, far away from the much more sobering reality, which is that I am nowhere near there.

The assessor said that she felt when she last saw it that my MS still doesn’t have the ‘something special’ that can make the difference. I’ve done another draft since that time, but what distresses me is the certain knowledge that if it didn’t have a glimmer of ‘something special’ then, it definitely doesn’t now. There was no seismic shift between the 4th draft and the 5th. I grafted, I took her criticisms on board, and I tried my hardest to make positive changes to it, but it’s still recognisably the same MS. Whatever it lacked then it lacks now, of that I’m quite sure. And I’m upset because I honestly do not know how much further I can go with it. You have NO IDEA how hard I’ve been trying to get it up to scratch. I’ve really torn myself apart trying to bring it to life, and if that doesn’t show, or if it shows but just doesn’t make the grade, then… I don’t know what else I’ve got to give to it. I was hoping to be able to latch onto something, some kernel, that elusive glimmer, the sense that if I just keep doing what I’m doing then it will get there, but truly, I just don’t know about that now. Of course I’m still going to go to Varuna, and I’m still going to throw myself completely into that experience and try and draw every last inch of value from my time there with Peter Bishop, of course. Nothing changes that. And if anything I’m better prepared after today than I was, because it’s amazing, and amazingly frightening, just what tricks your mind will play on you. Oh, the lush reveries I’ve allowed to flourish in idle, ever wishful moments. My favourite, which I shared with Miriam yesterday, was having Peter Bishop read my manuscript and call me ahead of my arrival at Varuna, because, you know, it just couldn’t wait, he HAD to tell me, immediately, that there had been a mistake, and that I didn’t need the residency at all. No, no, no, he loved it, it was great, and he loved it so much he was going to personally see to its publication… Ah, sweet, sweet fantasy (insert bursting bubble HERE).

Danger, danger, Will Robinson, danger.

Of course, there’s no fear I’ll breeze up to the Blue Mountains on that little cloud now. Nope, as my follow-up to Miriam today confirmed, I feel like I’ve just slid to the bottom of shit mountain instead. And it stinks. It just stinks. But aren’t I lucky I asked?! Imagine the nasty shock if I’d honestly allowed myself the delusion of thinking that Varuna might be the final assault on the mountain… I am bizarrely grateful for the adjusted perspective. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m enjoying it, this new landscape in which my MS still doesn’t have the smallest something that will set it apart, because I’m not, I feel fucked, but I do appreciate knowing where it stands.

I might tell you about the fabulous and fascinating Don Watson tomorrow, because I don’t really want to sully today’s Lowy Lunch with what came before it. It’s a testament to the quality of those sandwiches that I was able to eat anything at all.

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Did He Honestly Think I Wouldn’t Notice?

August 19, 2008 at 5:09 am (Uncategorized)

Sometimes I’m afraid I’m married to a child. Llew looks like a man. He certainly sounds like a man. And yet every so often he is nothing so much as a naughty little boy. I guess it goes back to his reasonably privileged years as the child of expats living in Asia. He and his brother and sister had a pretty good time of it, from all accounts. In fact, as I may have mentioned before on this blog, where most children argue about whose turn it is to do the washing up, Llew and his siblings argued about whose turn it was to stand in the doorway and yell for the maid to come and clear the table. It’s all relative, after all. Anyway, I think those years may have something to do with the way Llew tries to get away without doing even the most occasional household chore. Or perhaps it’s just him. Or his entire sex.

We’re supposed to uphold the time-honoured code of chefdom in this house. The cook does not clean. But sometimes it all falls apart because someone (not mentioning any names, Llewellyn) chooses to ignore his side of the bargain. This is what happened last night, and happens anytime there’s more washing up than can fit into the dishwasher (that’s right: neither one of us usually washes up at all, we both shove everything into the magic machine. You would think it would solve all arguments, but it doesn’t. It remains relative). Llew has several tricks in his anti-chore arsenal. Last night’s was a beauty, he went to the trouble of putting a whole new slant on it. I came in at one point and said ‘That’s not all going to fit in’ as he was busily wedging unlikely piles of saucepans and woks into the dishwasher. I can’t remember what he said – I’m not sure he said anything. I think he just glared at me.
‘You’re going to leave that for me, aren’t you?’ I persisted. There was no stopping me now. ‘That’s what you usually do. Which isn’t exactly cleaning up, is it?’
Thump, thump, crash, thump.
‘One of those always needs to be washed up by hand,’ I continued. I was trying to be helpful. ‘They just won’t all fit in. The colander needs to go on the top shelf. The big pot fits on the bottom shelf but the wok won’t. So are you going to wash it up if you can’t make it fit?’
‘I wasn’t planning to,’ said Llew, by this time clearly failing to appreciate my tips on loading the dishwasher. I started to feel like I was being ungracious.
‘Well,’ I said, ‘I’ll leave it to you. Thank you for cleaning up.’
And then I went to get ready for bed. That’s the small advantage I take from having cooked dinner: a five minute head-start in the race to the pillows.

So this morning, I walked into the kitchen and glanced around sleepily. Then my head cleared and my vision sharpened. There was nothing drying on the rack. There was nothing in the sink. Everything was scrupulously tidy on the surface, but still I knew something was amiss. I opened the dishwasher. Lo and behold, there was everything, crammed and rammed in there like circus clowns in the miniature car. I leaned in and tried to get the sprinkler to turn. It was wedged in tight and utterly incapable of even circulating. I may, at this point, have sworn. It was so over-crowded in there Llew must have forced the door closed. The bottom rack was completely jammed. I had to prise it out with a whole variety of tricks in order to loosen it from the top and sides of the dishwasher.

Now, there is no way – no chance – Llew wasn’t aware when he did it that the dishwasher would be utterly unable to run like that. That’s where the naughty little boy really came into his own. Maybe Di won’t notice. Maybe Di won’t see what I’ve done. And she’s lucky I’m doing it at all. Why should I clean up after dinner? Why can’t she do it? Look, everything is spotless.

I always have to unload and reload the dishwasher after Llew’s ‘helped me’ by ‘cleaning up.’ Usually I just think ugh, here we go again, but this time I actually paused and had the conversation, and then he went ahead and did it anyway, as if to spite me. Passive aggressive, as so many little boys and really all children (not to mention this blog) can be. That’ll show her, he perhaps thought as he rammed another piece of weaponry in. So in the end I had to unload and reload the dishwasher just to get it back to remotely operational, and I – the chef who was not supposed to have to clean up, because that’s the way it’s supposed to work – washed the wok by hand, swearing and cursing and raging all the while. And I can’t help it. I’m annoyed. I’m genuinely shat off that my naughty little boy knowingly shirked what little responsibility was bestowed upon him. It would have taken maybe two minutes to wash the wok – I daresay it took him longer than that to figure out how to crush it into the internal mechanics of the dishwasher, and yet he did it anyway. Anything but wash up. Aren’t there maids for that? Hmmm. Not anymore. This one’s going on strike.

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Wow. How Much Does Channel 7’s Olympics Coverage S-u-c-k?

August 18, 2008 at 8:01 am (Uncategorized)

After breaking a world record of our own this weekend for most hours spent lying on the couch watching the Olympics (Llew does something tricky where he tunes it through the old VCR so we can watch TV on the projector without actually owning a TV), I feel compelled to apologise to those poor unfortunates who aren’t Australian but have found themselves stuck in Australia during the Olympics. I’ve had ample opportunity to confirm the situation since last week’s almost speculative post about the coverage. Now I know it’s really happening. I didn’t just imagine it from the scant amount I’d seen. Nope. It’s real, and it’s worse than I thought.

Llew was recovering from food poisoning all weekend and I was recovering from dinner at Mike and Ben’s on Friday night, and the combination meant we blasted away all comers in the Couch Potato Final. And now I know I wasn’t just imagining the bias, all I can say is sorry chaps. It is acutely embarrassing, this refusal to show the whole program whether we Australians appear or not. I’m curious, too. Who decided Australians are only interested in watching Australians compete? EVERYONE I’ve spoken to about this, literally every single person, has said they’d prefer to get off the “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi” bandwagon (nothing jangles my nerves quite like watching fat drunk Australians abroad bellowing out this mindless chant over and over again. How to communicate to the rest of the world that we don’t all carry a blow-up kangaroo with us at all times, nor do we smear green and gold zinc all over our faces as a matter of course…).

I can’t stand the ignorance of it. I can’t stand the fact that it breeds yet more ignorance, yet more misplaced ego-maniacal nationalistic stupidity, and yet more total delusion about our national significance to the rest of the world. I can’t stand the MEEKNESS of it, I think that’s what gets me most of all. It’s so pathetically meek. It demonstrates a really crippled capacity for global citizenry that leaves me feeling like all I want to do is flee the country for somewhere a little more secure. Oh, we’re safe as houses in many ways, but that’s not the kind of security I mean. I mean the type of security you sometimes encounter in a person or a place when you know they’re just genuinely open to otherness, they’re secure enough about their own identity, weaknesses, outright failings but also their accomplishments and positives, to be wholly engaged with the much more interesting question of what’s happening elsewhere or in someone else’s experience.

I just don’t find it very interesting to keep being told how blinding we are as sports people. Over and over again. They’re making us watch hours – hours – of boring qualifying matches in sports no one watches rather than showing ONE, just one replay of the men’s 100 m final. I know this because Llew and I watched a lot of Olympics coverage yesterday, and we had to wait until the 7 o’clock news to see the replay of Bolt’s historic win. Meanwhile 7 replayed the rowing we’d watched the day before, and kept replaying the swimming, over and over, like they’re the only things on. It’s just too stupid. Unbearably stupid. And not at all in the international spirit of the Games, or, indeed, the multicultural reality of Australian life. Are we that insecure that we can’t take the success of other nations in these Games on board? Are we honestly that sad and small and blinkered? That lacking in curiosity? That unable to celebrate every great story coming out of Beijing? I don’t think so, so I don’t understand the commercial coverage on 7 (unfortunately we can’t get SBS – is it better there? Does anyone know?), I really don’t, and I think it’s a sad indication of where we’re at, because ignorance always but always does nothing so well as beget more ignorance.

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Australia Believes Its Own Press Too Much and Too Often

August 14, 2008 at 5:01 am (Uncategorized)

Sometimes it’s an interesting experiment to look on your own country as though from a distance. I personally think that what we’re like – not just in Australia, but everywhere – is often best captured by foreigners, because the perspective is so different and so clear-eyed. I often feel like an observer of Australians as well as obviously being an Australian myself; perhaps it’s come of having lived overseas for a period of years, of perhaps it’s because of the writing, but either way I often catch myself thinking wow, these people are funny, look at the way they do such-and-such, and of course, they’re my own people.

The Olympics are an excellent example of what I’m talking about. Specifically, Olympics coverage. Olympics coverage in Australia exemplifies the Small Country Big Swagger complex I recently discussed with Tanalee, a North American friend-of-a-friend who works for Associated Press and who recently moved to Australia for l-u-u-u-r-v-e.
“Nothing happens here,” she said, not unkindly. “There’s very little news that’s of any interest whatsoever to anyone outside Australia.”
“Yeah,” I said, “except we’re in total denial about that. We think we’re much more important on the world stage than we are.”
“What’s with that? That’s so true! Why? Why??”
“I don’t know… it’s partly thanks to Howard sucking Dubya’s dick for all those long years. By the end of it, he wasn’t the only one in Australia who believed we were best buds with the States. Reflected glory and all that. But personally I got the picture when I was travelling through Europe at the beginning of 1999. The Australian dollar didn’t appear on a single exchange board and I thought whoah, we just don’t register at all.”
But then as we kept talking, something else occurred to me: “I guess it’s also because we’re like a fully operational, multinational, multicultural, first world democracy. I think Australians quite reasonably look around and think, well, this is it, isn’t it, this is the model the rest of the world is trying to find. If it’s not this, then what is it? We’re like exhibit A of a functional democracy, so I think that affects our thinking about ourselves too. In many ways, Australia works. It’s a Western success story, so perhaps that inflates our sense of self-importance too.”

And then there’s the sport. Oh god, the sport. Talk about propaganda. I have come to despise TV in this country – the news is appalling and sensationalised, the majority of the content is dumber than dumb, and when it comes to sports, we are nigh on North Korean in our blinkered bleat bleat bleating of nationalistic baloney. Try finding out how some OTHER country is faring in Beijing. All the coverage here rests solely on events in which Australia is represented, and I don’t know about you, but I’d kind of like to see the big picture. The world’s best are in Beijing, not just Australia’s best, and I for one would appreciate being able to take a gander at them doing their thing. Instead, the coverage will take me inside the thrilling world of… what, archery, or maybe dressage, or (yawn) shooting if that’s where the Aussies are. What else is on right now, I always wonder. What is the rest of the world watching?

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DoctorDi is All Grown Up…

August 13, 2008 at 4:41 am (Uncategorized)

Well, well, well. My latest miniscule milestone has come a little early: at some point overnight, DoctorDi registered 10,000 views. I was hoping to get there by the blog’s second birthday on September 29, so we made it a month and half early thanks to all of y-o-u. Thank you. Thanks very much. I feel really proud that this tiny, obscure little page of mine keeps ticking over, slowly but surely, and has exceeded my own pretty modest expectations and secret hopes. My average per post is hovering around 26 views, so you’re out there, and at least some of you are coming back. It makes me want to work harder and make the posts better, so I guess that’s my undertaking to you as I stare out over the cyber summit I’ve reached today. 10,000 views… from here, that appears to stretch for miles!

Right now I’m thinking about hair. I wish I could tell you I was thinking worthier thoughts, but I’m not. It’s all deeply superficial (ha). Vain, vain, vain. I can’t get my hair out of my head. And I blame Tamsin and Sophie, and you can too. I was travelling along perfectly happily with my bland head of hair until they started suggesting I cut it. I can’t remember the first time they brought it up, but it seems to me that the past few times I’ve seen them, the Campaign for Change has been mounted with increasing force. It’s like the tidal wave building up behind Barack Obama, except here it’s more, er, semi-permanent.

It’s true I’ve had the same hairstyle for a while. Coming up to four years in December. It’s not exactly cutting edge (ho ho ho… wow, they’re just flying out the door today…), but nor is it without merit. It’s peaceable hair, really, it means no harm and causes little offence. I quite like it, because it’s easy as hell (cannot tell you the last time I took to it with a blow dryer), and yet it’s not the bob I know I’m destined to wear for the majority of my time on earth. It’s as inescapable as eventual death: I am fated to be bobbed.

You have to know my hair as intimately as I do to understand this. Oh, it’s got a lot to do with my ears as well. They… protrude. Not enough that I’m openly mocked on the street by roving gangs of teenage girls, but enough that I was teased about them when I was a teenager myself. They stick through my hair sometimes, which I despise. Watching the wedding DVD my friend Michael kindly shot for me of the ceremony and the speeches, I was soldered to my chair in horror by the sight of my fucking ears sticking out of my hair throughout my ENTIRE speech. I couldn’t even pretend to listen to what I was saying. It was all about the ears. “Blah blah blah sticky out-y ears blah blah ears blah ears ears ears, would you look at my fucking ears.” My profile was cruel. I hated it. More stupid vanity, you see. You know all about it – remember the photos Flic took of me? I hate them. I tried to like them, with all my heart, but I looked hard and was forced to conclude they’re just not flattering at all. And I need flattering. I’m just not good looking enough to get away with it otherwise. So my ears are a source of TORMENT. And their protrusion means that certain haircuts are simply Out. Of. The. Question. Gamin? Elfin? Galladrian? I don’t think so.

Then there’s the hair itself. I often joke that I have a hundred hairs on my head, and a hundred hairs only. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like an exaggeration. I have very fine hair, and not terribly much of it. It’s the colour of an ageing, long-suffering mouse. A real ‘nothing’ brown. But it’s mine. It’s the colour of my hair, so what are you gonna do?! I went through a period in my early twenties of colouring my hair and I think it was even once officially ‘Aubergine,’ but I don’t know that any of it suited me any better than the colour I’ve got right now. In fact, I look at photos from back then and think Mother of God, would you look at that she-devil? I look like I crack whips at infantilists on my days off. Scary. Scary stuff. I’m not that person, is the thing. I’m not that person at all. Really I am quite nice and occasionally cry at sentimental ads – I don’t drink blood or keep Llew in chains.

So now the question is this: do I cut it off – face up to my bobbed future – or just leave it that little bit longer for that little bit longer? So far I’ve got two for (Sophie and Tamsin) and two against (Lea and Aengus). Llew is quite wisely sitting on the fence, and my hair stylist Kim, the Agent of Change, otherwise known as the fastest scissors in the east, is revealing nothing. I’ll have to wait until I walk into Valonz on Friday to see what he thinks. We have discussed it before, and thus far he’s been pro retention of what little length I’ve got (and let’s be real: no one in their right mind could call my hair ‘long’). What will it be this time?

Of course, it depends on what I think, in the end, but I really don’t know. Hair’s never been my strong suit, or should that be my hirsute?

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The Eerie Sound of Silent Sydney

August 12, 2008 at 2:03 am (Uncategorized)

Well, there was no fairytale finish for me on Sunday. The results are in today’s paper, and Rupert emailed me before to say I didn’t make it under 70 minutes. I had to file a couple of stories this morning, so I still haven’t left my desk to go and get the paper, so I still don’t know my exact time, but Rupert said we both missed out by a ‘couple of handfuls of seconds.’ I came in just ahead of Rupes, but Llew’s calculations were evidently off, as he was convinced I’d be IN by the same couple of handfuls of seconds. Oh well. What’s disappointing is that Llew was so sure he went and told everyone we know that I ran sub-70, so now I’m left to explain to everyone who’s congratulating me that no, no, no, I didn’t. What’s a shame is that it makes my time feel like a failure rather than the personal best it still is.

Oh well, there’s always next year!

Anyway, I was thinking about the quietness, and thinking about when and how it came to Ruben’s attention, and I think iPods have had a lot to do with changes to the race day atmosphere. Ruben was wearing one himself, and he was certainly not alone. An awful lot of people on Sunday wore earphones, effectively cutting themselves off from the rest of the field. You’re not as likely to shout out or clap or do anything else, are you, if you’re listening to a particular beat pumping through your headphones. You’re in your own little world, as determined by your specifically chosen race day soundtrack. Some people actually choose certain songs for certain portions of the route – something heavily inspirational to get you up Heartbreak Hill, for example, or a cranking finale to take you right to the end. I can see how effective it might be, but it seems to me it could be taking a toll on the community aspect of the race. iPods are for individuals, and the more people that wear them in things like the C2S, the less we’re all connecting with each other.

The more I think about it, the more I think iPods help explain why Sydney has become such a deadly silent city. It’s SO QUIET downtime. Abey, our Panamanian friend, said this to us during his last visit, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since. He’s absolutely right. It’s like the most polite, passive, pod people place on earth. Next time you’re in the CBD, stop for a second, and think about it. Hear the silence. Compare it to the deafening roar of just about any other city in the world. People in Sydney are increasingly silent. Cars are mostly silent. Shit, even the buses are so silent that Llew was very nearly collected by one running a red light the other week. He didn’t hear it coming. Stand in Martin Place for a minute and listen to all that lunch hour silence. It is EERIE. Now Abey’s brought it to my attention, I can’t go anywhere without hearing the deafening permanent white noise of people on the street not speaking to each other. And what I’m interested to know now is how many of them are wearing iPods. It only occurred to me yesterday reading Ruben’s comment that perhaps there’s an actual technological explanation for our mute city. We’re enclosing ourselves in tiny little worlds of one. Is it just me who thinks that’s really sad? All these people, walking amongst each other but not even sharing the same sensory experience of the city. And for those of us who like our soundtrack rough and ready, as it comes from the world outside, all we’re left with is the awful, lonely sound of a city that never speaks.

POSTSCRIPT: Evo just emailed me my time: 70 minutes, 17 seconds. So close! Not under 70, but not too shabby at all.

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