Schadenfreude is wrong

While I was eating my breakfast of mango, passionfruit, banana, sheep milk’s yoghurt and granola and looking out at the view of the city, a flock of rainbow lorikeets went screaming past, their red, green and blue feathers illuminated by the sun and I thought about my dear, dear friends—especially poor Maureen Johnson, little Libba Bray, and wee Robin Wasserman—back in New York City, who, judging by their frequent sad missives to me and Scott, are cold right now. Cold and miserable and they’ve completely forgotten what the sun looks like.

I decided that it is my duty here in sunny gorgeous Sydney to cheer them up. First, I thought of describing a day in the life of Justine in Sydney to remind them what warmth and beauty and happiness are like. But then I decided that might be construed as gloating or, worse—as schadenfreude—and we all know that schadenfreude is wrong.

So instead I turn things over to you, kind and gentle readers, what do you think will best cheer up sad little NYC writers who have the northern hemisphere winter blues?1

For those who do not know what rainbow lorikeets look like, here’s some hanging out on the building just across from our new digs:

  1. Short of plane tickets to Sydney. []


  1. Maureen Johnson on #

    When we turn up on your doorstep, all smiles and city manners, and set up camp in your living room, complete with a little tent, you will only have yourselves to blame.

  2. Malcolm Tredinnick on #

    I read “sunny, gorgeous Sydney” and, right that minute, you made the sun go away! It’s overcast outside now. Don’t do that, please. It certainly was a nice day, but now you’ve shared the magic.

  3. Tim on #

    Although fitting a horde of YA authors into your house may make doing things like, say, living and working difficult, it would certainly be the most awesome house in Australia.

    If all else fails I’m sure Libba, Maureen and Robin could come and sleep on my couches in Brisbane. It might be a little squashed and a little far to travel from Sydney, but our sub-tropical climate would be most suitable for their needs…

    (Also I’m of the opinion rainbow lorikeets are one of the coolest birds in the world.)

  4. Nicholas Waller on #

    Your NYC friends can examine the weather news from London and perhaps amuse themselves with how a mighty world city can be brought to a standstill by a few inches of snow.

    Lots of people from around the world – like Moscow, Berlin, Boston, Helsinki – have apparently been laughing at our inability to cope, claiming they laugh in the face of six foot snow for six months at -40C etc etc. Some of these are travellers passing through (or rather failing to pass through) Heathrow. Plenty of Brits have been whingeing too, saying we’re like a 3rd-world country (even the Luftwaffe didn’t stop London’s buses running whereas Monday’s snow did).

    Personally I don’t think that’s fair – sure, Moscow has a lot of snowploughs but it’d be daft for London to have armies of them on standby in case of these one-in-18-years events. And how many of the British complaining about the lack of council gritting on the roads even have snowchains for their own cars, let alone the winter tyres and studs that drivers in central Europe deploy? I ask you. (How many people in Sydney have snow chains and winter tyres?)

    But if The Writers Of NYC want to laugh at us – have their own moment of schadenfreude (even if it is wrong) – then let them go ahead.

    And let the children of Britain bunk off school and play in the miserable amount of temporary wet snow we get for a ay or two. The 8-year-olds I saw sledding yesterday might be 26 with their own kids before it happens again!

  5. Tim on #

    Nicholas, if it started snowing in the city of Sydney I think snow chains and winter tires would be the least of our concerns… 😛

  6. Justine on #

    Nicholas: What Tim said.

    I also notice that it is currently -7 in NYC. You poor, poor babies! I will not mention what temperature it is here in Sydney because it would make you cry.

  7. Julia on #

    Some things to cheer up the New Yorkers:

    1) The days are getting longer! Woo!

    2) In New York, one can easily walk to any of several places and get a lovely hot chocolate, or coffee, or tea right now. In Sydney, one might be able to (or not — I have no idea), but the pleasure of hold that warm cup, and savoring the hot liquid would be lost because it is way too hot outside.
    Blog overlord says: Absolutely not true. Every true coffee drinker I know says the coffee in NYC is terrible. You have to search far and wide for coffee that’s half as good as the standard coffee in Sydney and Melbourne.

    3) There may not be rainbow lorikeets in New York, but there are also no Sydney funnel web spiders.
    Blog overlord says: Oh, please. I was born and bred in Sydney never seen a funnel web spider in my entire life. Though I’m looking at rainbow lorikeets right now. There are giant killer rats in NYC. Much worse than a wee spider no one ever sees.

    4) Australia is full of unicorns everthing good in the entire world.
    NOTE: this sentence may have been altered by the blog overlord.

  8. robin on #

    I have a sleeping bag. Perhaps I can set up camp with the birds.

  9. Don on #

    I’m more jealous of the cool parrots than the weather. Nobody comes to the northeast US for the weather. That being said, the cold and snow (snowed again in Boston yesterday) are the price we pay for not having hurricanes, earthquakes, tidal waves, volcanoes, tornadoes, floods, or Kaiju.

  10. Dave H. on #

    My wife and I have been amusing ourselves by mocking the British for days now. We got over two meters of snow last winter – not at all once – so a few centimeters is pitiful.

    (That said, Angie did live in Nashville, where they sent the kids home early from school because the snow had covered the grass. And my dad used to laugh at us, because he grew up in the Keweenaw Peninsula, where they’ve been known to get over 11 meters of snow in a winter, and where there is snow on the ground in shady alleys year-round.)

    I’m also failing to feel bad for the people in NYC. I look at the weather forecast, and it says that today’s projected high there is 27 with a low of 15. Detroit’s *high* today is supposed to be 15, with a low of -3. Not -3C, -3F. That’s -19C.

    (To put that in context for Justine, that’s as cold as it was for ConFusion when you two were here.)

    The birds are very pretty, though.

  11. caitlin on #

    Hey, NYers it’s in the mid-5os in sunny Seattle today. One of the many reasons I fled Schenectady, though have you ever been to Schenectady?

  12. Justine on #

    Caitlin: How can you say that? Schenectady is where all the ideas are!

  13. caitlin on #

    Ah, but you did not grow up in Schenectady. Although, it’s fairly close to NYC, Boston, VT, Adirondacks, VT, Western, Mass, and a lot of great minds have spent/done time in Schenectady — Edison, Vonnegut, Mickey Rourke.

  14. Lesley on #

    It is 2 degrees where I live. I have 13.9 inches of snow in my yard. We’re just counting down the days until March!

  15. Janet Lafler on #

    There’s a very funny scene in a BBC nature video of David Attenborough being mobbed by rainbow lorikeets.

  16. Julia Rios on #

    Okay, I’ll give you the coffee thing. I have no idea why the coffee on the East coast is so awful. I live in Boston, where a good cup is also nigh impossible to find. Perfectly lovely tea and cocoa can be found in both New York and Boston, though! Also, I am not budging on the terrifying spiders (mouse spiders! huntsman spiders! trapdoor spiders! Aaaugh!). And spiders barely even scratch the surface of terrifying Australian fauna.

  17. Jessica on #

    I wanted to email this to you, but the contact form on your website doesn’t show up!

    Anyway, Neil Gaiman recently blogged, “…the Australian press sometimes has a strange habit of always being about 15 years behind everyone else when it comes to realising that things like children’s books, graphic novels or genre fiction might actually have some validity or even readers.” I was curious about the Australian publishing industry in general. And since sometimes you talk about it (or Australian authors), I thought you’d be a good person to ask!

  18. Joey-la on #

    You definatly won’t see those in NYC!
    Although, oddly enough, I did see bottle brush when I was in LA…. weird

  19. Sian on #

    I just had a flashback… 1996… I (an American) just moved into my new apartment in Kirribilli in Sydney. Suddenly on my balcony appears a gorgeous multicolored little bird who chirps at me inquiringly. I thought for sure that someone’s pet bird had escaped. I tried to catch it in order to find it’s owner, but it flew out of my reach and away. I mourned as I thought this poor little bird might die with no one to feed it… the next day I’m walking around my new neighborhood and I see a flock in a tree… … I miss Australia sometimes…

  20. deltay on #

    Aww those birds look so adorable!

    Unfortunately, there aren’t any like that here. And even if those gladiator sandals are abominations, at least it’s warm in Australia! It’s like, -40’C here. It’s terrible.

  21. Joey-la on #

    Nice weather in Australia?
    yesterday in Melbourne it was 46degrees (celcuis!!)
    it was the hottest day ever recorded

  22. Justine on #

    Joey-la: You know I never thought I’d have to explain to an Australian that Australia is a big country with many different weathers. 🙂 Why, yesterday in my part of Sydney it was 30 with lovely ocean breezes. Not just nice weather, but gorgeous! I hear the weather was lovely in other parts too. Especially Tasmania.

    My sympathy to those in Melbourne, the western parts of Sydney and elsewhere in Australia who had unbearable heat. But I’d still rather be sitting in 46 degree heat then anywhere under freezing. Cold makes me cry.

  23. Joey-la on #

    I do know that the weather can be very different in different places around Australia, even in the same city!
    Sorry if I didn’t make that clear! 😀

  24. Justine on #

    Joey-la: Not at all. But I have to be super vigilant because USians might read this and they have been known to ask me questions like, What’s the weather in Australia? As if it were a tiny place with just one weather. Gah!

  25. Michelle on #

    Obviously I am a crazy northern British Columbian and I find -10 (Celsius) ”refreshing”. Now if only it didn’t drop about 20 degrees below that during some parts of winter…
    We may not have cool birds, but we have moose and they’re pretty awesome.

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