September 13, 2006

Cairns - Sunday

Yesterday and Today were spent travelling and lounging in Atherton, QLD, at the ranch of Matt's parents. The beauty of Atherton is remarkable, and I saw the first wild kangaroo since I've been here. It was 50 meters away and the only reason I knew it was a roo was when it bounded away up the hill.

Because it was Atherton, there wasn't a whole lot for me to do. Matt and his parents took care of all the cooking, and wouldn't hear of help cleaning, especially given my possibly-contagious, sinus-clogged, running-nose, snot-sucking state. At some point, Matt and his father wandered off to do Coleing things (about which Matt mentioned only that he was helping his dad with something mysterious), and Shawna and Liz were happy to reminisce and talk with Matt's mother. As it happens, I can't reminisce about things that I've not yet done, and after I'd exhausted all possibilities of entertainment with Bundy, the family bird, I settled into a chair with my laptop and spent some quality time writing.

I don't get to write this much while I'm at home. There's always something else to be doing, which is why I love vacations so much. The Aussies love them too, so much so that a standard full-time just-out-of-College job here starts with at least 4 weeks of paid vacation, to say nothing of the jobs that earn a lot of money, and not including the fifty or so long weekends due to public holidays - they celebrate everything with a long weekend. Needless to say, I balked when I heard this, and drooled at the thought of working in such a place as this.

Of course, as one ends up running out of subjects to write about, he begins to edit. But as it happens, a guy can only edit the same five articles so many times, and sooner or later, needs some fresh material. So I began to dream.

Someday I want to have my own little office in our house, with lots of bookshelves (which I could probably already fill up) and a big desk that has one of those insanely comfy chairs behind it. I can invite people (students, friends, whoever) into my office, where they might admire my fish tank while I tidy up some papers I'd been working on. As they sit down in another comfy chair across from the desk extension, they'd see my bonsai tree next to a little cactus and a miniature ecosystem-in-a-bubble. On my desk would be a stylish yet barely noticeable desk lamp, the laptop plugged into a dock, the flatscreen monitor pulsing a mesmorizing but strangely satisfying screen saver. After they managed to pry their eyes from the screen saver, they would notice the fern in the corner, and perhaps decide to examine the many rows of books, all arranged by category and genre. Perhaps they would pull out the complete works of Calvin and Hobbes, or examine my collection of postmodernism texts, or peruse the sci-fi novels. As I finished, they'd nearly trip over the dog, who just wandered in to say hello before we got down to business, and notice the collection of exotic foreign masks, instruments, and swords on the wall next to the door.

It's the seemingly insignificant details that make dreaming so interesting. I've not yet given thought to what sort of fish I might want in the aquarium, or what color the carpet might be (though I know the wood would be of a dark flavor, perhaps cherry or oak), but I think those details are best left to the time I'm actually planning the thing. I also haven't decided if I want a couch in my office. Couches are very nice, but sometimes they can clog up useful space that might be used for more books or a recliner. And maybe I'll have a pipe sitting on a shelf, not because I want to smoke, but because it looks sort of distinguished. My grandfather had pipes in his office, and I always thought they looked (and smelled) fairly nice. I think my office would be as much a museum and library as it would be a working space; I like that sort of thing. Photos of my travels and family would be around my office on the walls, I think, or maybe they'd be the screen saver. Maybe I'd even have a trio of flags in the corner: American, Australian, and Swiss.

I often wonder if I'll ever get to do this at all. Will I be able to afford a house that gives me a space for an office? Will we settle down near one place, perhaps the university at which I teach, or will my life involve traveling, moving from place to place, renting small apartments with barely enough space to contain the energy of our children?

1 comment:

Priscilla said...

Your office sounds awesome! I'm very good at visualizing...and it really looks great! The kind of place you can kick off your shoes and relax...or get to work if need be!