Monday, January 12, 2009

Working Girl

"Before Enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. After Enlightenment: chop wood, carry water."
– Zen proverb
In Australia, the business world closes between Christmas Eve and the 12th January. The three week hiatus drives me crazy. Suppliers are closed. Shippers are immobile. I can't deliver work. My income slows to a trickle. I keep thinking that in the midst of a global economic meltdown, there should be a reality check but in Australia, the summer holiday is sacred.
This is really apparent in the privileged, beachside village in which I live. In summer, it becomes just another over-crowded, high-priced resort: half the home-owners only come here at this time of year and only if they're not renting out their houses for $20,000 a week. Shiny new Mercedes, BMWs, Jaguars and the odd Bentley cut in front of each other for the few parking spots and their drivers reverse without looking in the rear-view mirror.
Everyone here is, in their own minds, at the centre of the universe and everyone looks the same. The young trophy wives are blonde and tanned, the older women tweaked with plastic surgery.
The fragments of conversation that I overhear are always the same, too – real estate, investments and foreign travel.
I find myself longing for the third world. Through fiscal necessity, everything's open and anything's possible, all the time. It can be confounding, frustrating, and counter-intuitive but it's often easier to get things done. especially once you've figured out how it all works. At worst, it's always interesting.
After Australia Day, the country's big national holiday on the 26th January, everything will be back to normal. The evacuation of the rich has already started. It's still almost impossible to get to the local bank or post office, but tomorrow, I'll drive out to my studio in the west of Sydney and start painting again.
A lot of people live to holiday but I'm only really alive when I work.

7 comments:

Kate said...

"In Australia, the business world closes between Christmas Eve and the 12th January. The three week hiatus drives me crazy. Suppliers are closed. Shippers are immobile. I can't deliver work. My income slows to a trickle."

Yes grrrrrr, I hate this I hate this I hate this!
90 % of my country town went, as per usual, to the coast for this period of time while I stayed back to study my Trimester 3 Uni Unit. Desperate for a takeaway coffee on New Year's Day, I pulled my nose out from a heavy textbook and ventured into town to see what was happening - Nothing.........no coffee, no people, no buzz, nothing. Except, of course! for McDonalds.
Just another aspect to that 'weird' couple of weeks I dislike every year.

sue beyer said...

i used to live in Sydney and I hated it because the focus of conversations was always real estate and other materialistic subjects.

Anonymous said...

I went to the movies at Kino in Collins Street Melbourne on new year's day forgetting it was a public holiday. I was shocked to find all cafes closed there and panicked struggling with caffeine withdrawal for a while :-) So rude to not have cappuccino available.

Anonymous said...

Third world?
why don't you come and hang out with us in the real world?
M

Anonymous said...

Yeah!

Marrickville is always open, even on Christmas day.

It is also the most multicultural suburb in all the world and you can eat extremely well and very cheaply from at least 10 different countries, all on the one street.

There are greeks, portugese, italians, africans, vietnamese, chinese, korean, thai, french, south americans, english, german, australians, japanese and many more all sharing the same street and creating one of the strongest local communities I have ever known.

Sick of the north shore? try the inner west every now and then - it is bound to put a smile on your face!!

S x

Anonymous said...

Hi Hazel,

Just wanted to let you
and your readers know
that I didn't make the
meanspirited comment
posted above by M.

Always,
-M

Lauren said...

The third world is not the real world?

Anyway...

Yes I hate that holiday season too... I also dislike Christmas (shhh) bah humbug, it would not sadden me to see Christmas done away with. I think only workaholics have this attitude.