Thursday, May 02, 2013

Stream of Consciousness

When a girl spends the day biking alone, what runs through her mind?

Yesterday was Arbeitstag, Austrian Labour Day. I decided to treat myself to a day of physical instead of mental exertion, and devised another biking adventure. This one took me through Klosterneuburg (where I’d ended up accidentally on Sunday). I investigated the monastery, then carried on northwards through what is apparently Viennese cottage country, ending up a bit past Treppelweg. By the time I got home, I’d logged about 30 miles. Is that a lot? My legs felt like it was a lot, but I’m still working on my biking muscles. Some of what drifted through my mind as I rode concerned my thighs and tailbone. And when I say ‘some’ I mean ‘much’. For the most part, this comprised internal grumbling about the burn and the pain. I had to remind myself that if I end up joining my colleagues on a biking trek to Bratislava, I’ll only have a chance at keeping up if I practice now. So suck it up, lazybones.

I also used the opportunity to practice my German. I mentally described the geographical layout of Australia: Brisbane liegt im nordöstlich von Australien. Sydney liegt südlich von Brisbane und nordlich von Melbourne. I tried to practice my –ch sounds, particularly the helle vokale one that you use when saying ich, nicht, or welcher, but that exercise didn't last long because I am physically incapable of making that sound with my mouth.

I thought about the trees. I thought about how tall they were, how much taller they were than the maple trees in Kenmore, how much I want to visit the Redwood forest, and how different in shape deciduous trees are from gumtrees. Then I thought about the texture of Australian forests and reminded myself of how gumtrees smell on hot summer’s day. Then I got a bit sad.

I put in some quality worry time, in typical Laura-fashion. I worried about whether I am working hard enough at my job, whether I am making the most of my current European experience, whether I am saving enough money, whether I’d put on enough sunscreen, whether I’ll ever learn enough German to carry on a conversation, whether I’m boring, and whether Pi wakes up the downstairs neighbours when she runs around at night.

I thought about how clever I’d been in strapping the top section of my camping pack onto the back of my bike, and I wondered why I’d thought it was a good idea to pack two sweaters but only one lunch.

I replayed scenes from Doctor Who in my head.

As I entered cottage country, I thought about how architecturally different Canadian and Austrian cottages are. I passed several waterfront places on stilts, and I wondered how often the Danube floods. I thought about Queenslander homes, bacon, eggs in a basket, cane toads, and sugar cane plantations - a logical progression of related ideas in my head.

I gave some thought to action stimulation and the concepts of memory encoding and retrieval, but not too much because I didn't have anything with me to take notes if I came up with anything important, and I was supposed to be on holiday anyway. I thought about King David, Chopin's Butterfly Etude, and how likely it was that I was supposed to have turned right at that last fork.

Quite likely, as it turned out. But I made it home in the end, thankful yet again that there was a small cat waiting to tell me about her day. Cause man alive, was I ever tired of hearing myself talk.

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