Little boxes, little boxes

Liz Breslin
Liz Breslin
There’s a stretch of road leaving Wanaka where if you look to the left you see small square boxes floating on the lake, and to the right you see THIS IS A WORK SAFE WORK SITE FOR SALE FOR SALE FOR SALE, writes Liz Breslin.

The scaffolding alone is worth megabucks and you wonder if the grebes on their little lake-perches watch the sun glinting off the heavy steel beams as each day fades. The speed limit here is 40kmh and this has been the source of much complaint among locals. Maybe if you drive fast enough you can escape the irony.

Grammarly tells me that the tone of this piece is neutral and I Write Like tells me I’m writing like David Foster Wallace. But I don’t want to be David Foster Wallace (I like it when I Write Like tells me I write like Virginia Woolf, or Sylvia Plath, which it does quite often and which I choose not to think about too deeply, while also admitting that I overthink everything) and also I don’t feel neutral about the road. I feel nostalgic, aggrieved, wryly amused, even. I suspect either Grammarly doesn’t have a wide grasp of tone or I am not properly woman-roaring. I’ll try again.

OK, so in Wanaka there’s this point along Lakeside Rd where on one side they’re housing homeless grebes in temporary structures and on the other there is a multi-mega-amazing construction site spawning shiny alluring houses and you don’t know why and how people can drive through it faster than mandated every day and not want to screech to a stop in the middle of the road and be like, ‘‘Hello world, hello!?!?!?!?’’ Because have we all just accepted that this is what life is as easily as we’ve accepted the lower speed limits around town, which are not of course equal in any mathematical way but socially they are a minus and plus you can’t compute.

Grammarly tells me that while the tone of this piece is also neutral, I do have two critical errors (here’s looking at you, multi-mega-amazing and a minus) and I Write Like tells me I sound like Cory Doctorow who I have to Google and six minutes later I have nine tabs open and have yet to read anything actually written by Cory Doctorow and I have almost forgotten that I’m (wait, we’re doing second person) ... you’re mad about the construction and the grebes. Or are you? It takes a slow walk round a still-beautiful lake doing your tour guide best when you mention it and she says you should write about it and so you are, though most days you just drive straight through with one eye on the speedo, telling yourself you’d be biking if you could. But you can’t. Because who needs to put a bike back where they found it, amiright, the teenagers?

Grammarly gives me a zipper face and a shrug, telling me I’m disapproving and uncertain. I wonder if there’s an emoji for passive aggressive? I now write like Lewis Carroll, apparently. Nonsense.

Once upon a time there was a lake with birds. Then there was a lake with birds and people. The birds and the people all needed shelter but for some confusing reason the birds couldn’t have their own shelter and the people’s shelters had to be incrementally more expensive than all the other people’s shelters in the country and the birds got a brand-new shelter made out of what looks like cardboard and shade cloth and the people got a brand new shelter made out of what looks like money and it’s too soon to tell who will live happily ever after.

Grammarly tells me I am optimistic and I Write Like says I am basically Margaret Atwood. It even offers me a badge that says I Write Like Margaret Atwood. I’ll take THAT. Clearly the algorithm knows me well. I skip past the grebes as the sun glints on everything. Everything is beautiful. Happy new year.


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