Category Archives: earthquake

too long

I feel like people might have expected a 3 year quake memorial post. I didn’t write one, not because I haven’t been thinking about this day, or remembering what happened, I just sort of didn’t.

Ollie spent the day with Siobhan, and I spent the day, and the evening at the Fringe Festival with wonderful friends, who filled the night with amazing food, circus acts, friendship and hilariousness. It was lovely and eventful.

I shared my story with them over hot chocolate and dessert, and I guess that’s why I didn’t really think to share it here.

It was so wonderful to have so much support and love from friends and family the world over, and we definitely appreciate it. It’s also so wonderful to be here, amongst friends and family in a city that offers us so much. Including dreadful heat and horrible bugs. But you know, that is really nothing in the scheme of things.

This is a great city and we love this country. It feels like home – until I open my mouth and the Australians look at me puzzled because they don’t understand a world I’m saying.

Such is life. It’s hardly their fault they don’t know how to speak proper English. ūüėČ

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I first heard about Amanda Palmer through Neil Gaiman. It was just before the Christchurch earthquake hit that I got my first album of hers. One was certainly not enough and my love for her music just grew.

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Not long after this, Ollie was crushed in his building, and during his long recovery, Amanda Palmer became my solace. I nursed him back to health while listening to her music. I received visitors and well wishers, cards, flowers and meals and I helped him shower, helped him dress, fed him and reminded him to take his medicine with her words in my ear. Ollie did not want a nurse, even though he was entitled to one. So I gave up work and spent 3 months at home with him while he relearned how to walk and how to take care of himself. It was long, and sometimes really difficult, but ultimately it was what I wanted and needed to do for him, and what he needed me to do too.

I listened to her music while EQC came to assess the minor damage to our house. I remember the two men who came vividly. The older of the two, in his late 50’s was enthralled by her voice. He kept stopping to listen and asked me who she was. He wrote down her name and said he planned to go buy the album when he finished up that day. By this stage, I was following all her social media sites and had fallen in love with not just her voice, but who she was and what she stood for.¬†It felt good to share someone that had helped me so much, with someone else.

Music has always been the most driving force in my life. I am a lyrics person and I listen to music that speaks to me and my beliefs, and who I am. I look for connection, and understanding because I quite often feel like I’m alone. I know I’m not of course, but I bond very deeply with music because of this. It’s my religion in a sense. Songs are my sermons. They give me hope when I need it most.

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In the two years following the earthquake, Ollie and I decided it was time to leave Christchurch behind and move to Australia. To leave behind all that we’d been through together in that city, now buried along with people we loved. It was not an easy decision to make, but it was the right one – for both of us. Watching your husband startle awake in the dark, crying out when another quake brings back those memories is heartbreaking. We chose Adelaide, because a lot of his family are here, and it felt like the right place.

I am always up for a challenge, and I love to travel. I also love his family, so it was not a big deal for me to do this, but the more we thought and planned, the more I ached to leave the place that had been my home for the past 15 years. A place that had fallen down around us and changed our lives irrevocably. I spent a lot of time soul searching in the 6 months previous to our leaving. A lot of time walking through places I’d come to love, all changed now, broken if not gone completely, alone with my headphones on listening to Theatre Is Evil.

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I remember hearing about how Amanda had come to Christchurch after the quakes and put on a free concert. I had not been able to go – for obvious reasons.

No one really ever came to Christchurch, and no one EVER went to my hometown, so I am not particularly concert savvy at all. When we moved to Adelaide though, all these concerts opened up right here in our city and Amanda was one of them! I bought my tickets as soon as they went on sale and counted down the weeks until she’d be here.

It has been at least 15 years since I have been in a mosh pit. I wasn’t exactly sure that’s where I wanted to be until the concert started. The opening acts were so fantastic and funny and the crowd was gentle. No one pushed or shoved and very few people tried to sneak in in front of you. At least, until Amanda got on the stage. She came down into the crowd immediately, and they all surged towards her like a human wave. At one point, I had her back pressed against me, and then she was gone, lifted high overhead and passed from hand to hand through the crowd and back on stage.

I had gone from five people from the stage to the third row. By the end of the concert I was at the front. The ebb and flow of people around me had pushed me up there. I’d forgotten how intense the feeling of being so close to people was. How deeply their feelings reflect your own and how you all become one part of something huge and warm and amazing. How suddenly, you’re not alone anymore, because the people with you are all there for the same reason you are. Because this musician has also touched a place in their hearts.

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For me though, the most intense experience, was watching how much Amanda gave of herself. Without reserve. She held nothing back and put her full trust in the people who’d come to see her. She didn’t just give us her voice, she gave us her body, her soul and she trusted us to hold her and touch her and give her back again. I cannot imagine that kind of giving. Or that level of trust. Her faith in her fans inspired me so deeply. The entire concert was just one big party. It was inclusive and passionate and amazing. When we left, I couldn’t really find the words to describe how I felt. It was like being part of a surrealist dream. It’s taken me three days to figure out how to put this into words.

Seeing the woman who had helped keep you sane through her music during the toughest time of your life was incredible on it’s own. But seeing her give herself up, watching her climb into the crowd and trust us, watching her give her fans herself fully, watching her kiss them and be part of them was an experience that I needed so badly right then, that I just don’t really know how to describe it. She humanised herself in a way that so few artists do.

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I love you Amanda, you’re amazing. Thank you for being such a wonderful inspiration. Thank you for your music, for your humanity, your humour and your humility. Thank you for helping me when I needed you most. Thank you for your understanding and your trust and for the selfless love you give back to your fans. You give me hope and because of you, I am writing again.

with love,
Kelly xo

22 February 2013

It’s been two years since the 6.3 aftershock hit Christchurch, tearing my family’s world apart and almost claiming the life of my husband.

For the two weeks building up to this date, I have felt a little off. Not myself. The heat hasn’t helped, but I just couldn’t understand quite why I was always on the verge of tears and desperate for my own company and no one else’s. Nothing I did could shake the lump in my throat and the feeling that I was just about to cry, and then my dad called and said a few really thoughtful things which made me realise what was going on.

It’s strange to me that I still don’t really have a complete handle on my own moods. I know when I feel sad, or uneasy, or scared but I don’t know why. It all made sense and I just let it happen. Let myself feel those feelings and took deep breaths.

I had been missing Christchurch a lot in those few weeks. I felt like I should be there again. Like I wanted to be there, but I didn’t really. I spent the couple of days leading up to the 22nd thinking about what we should do. I wanted to do things that I knew Ollie would like. As awful and heartbreaking that day was for me, he’s the one who almost died. It should be a day where he got to do the things that he liked.

I wanted to share some photos with you. To show you how far we’ve come.

2011-03-11 13.57.01A couple of days after he was pulled from his building. I’ve never seen my boy look like this. He took it of himself – I can’t remember why. There was a reason. Just before we left Christchurch we met the fireman who helped save his life. It was a surreal and amazing day. To be able to hug the man who is the reason the person you’ve loved and spent the last 16 years of your life with is pretty incredible. He told us that Ollie was only moments away from losing his foot and they had to put everything into getting him free.

It was pretty amazing to listen to him tell his side of this story. He remembered so much that Ollie wasn’t able to.

2011-03-18-11.30.58At home in his hospital chair that helped support his broken pelvis. Game controller in hand. We had to put sheets over it because it was so hot he was sticking to it.

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A couple of months later, the company he worked for held a memorial at the building site. They had pulled it down by this stage, and we were the first ones in to see it. It was very difficult to stand in front of an empty space where his building once stood and to remember the ten people we lost. I think it was harder on me than it was on him, because it was the first time I had really seen for myself that all of this was real. I had the proof in front of me of course, every time I looked at Ollie, but you sort of blank it out, you don’t really consider the reality of what happened until you’re confronted with something like this.

It’s been a long couple of years following all of this, and it’s hard to believe just how far we’ve come. Now we’re living in Australia and life is completely different. People are different, the weather is different, the birdsong, the insects. It’s only one country over, but it just feels so very different here.

We’re moving on and settling in and coming to terms with a whole new life. We’re taking our time and enjoying ourselves together and just letting things happen as they’re supposed to. On the 22nd of February this year, we took to the city on our bikes.

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This is mine. I love it so much, you have no idea! I’ve only ridden it twice because of the heat, and it is still missing it’s basket as yet (although I have a feeling that will be delivered today! YAY!), but I just LOVE it. It’s so cute and easy to ride. I was stopped in the city by a guy who wanted to know all about it. As soon as people see it, they love it. It’s just the most adorable thing in the world.

Our day consisted of riding through the park opposite us in order to get to the city which is only about 8 minutes away where we had lunch at a cafe.

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Mine was a Thai noodle salad with coconut water, and Ollie had a mushroom pizza. It was SO good! And then we continued on through the city to the Art Gallery where we wandered for awhile looking at the exhibitions. Some of which I have to admit were extremely horrific and kind of terrifying. One was the carcass of two horses stitched together and hung from the roof, one was the statue of a dead man with a bird eating his penis – a rendition of the first sight Siddhartha had when he left his palace, and one was a very intricate and detailed model of Nazi war. Skeleton Jews hanging Nazi soliders, beheading the corpses, violence and death and in the centre Ronald McDonald figures in a playground. It was intense and interesting and the more you looked the more you saw. I wish I could have taken a photo of it. It was so disturbing but totally brilliant all at once.

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We carried on down to the river after this and saw birds there that looked suspiciously like Pukekos! On the way back – all uphill, my bike chain came off and a lovely woman stopped to help us get it back on. By the time we were cycling home, I was almost dead and the heat was stifling. We had a few hours relaxing and playing video games together, before we headed out for dessert at Eggless¬†Dessert Cafe¬†– Ollie’s cousin’s restaurant. It’s a gorgeous little place and all the desserts are to die for! Their menu changes each month, and we’re pretty sure we’re going to be some of those regular customers who end up in there once a month to try their new creations.

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This is such an awful photo! But I had to include it, because it was so much fun to take. I used my cellphone and no one was happy with the outcomes, so we ended up taking FOUR and were completely blinded by the time they were over, which explains the slightly stunned expression on our faces.

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Peachy plum and salted caramel crumble with my most favourite drink in all the world – Morrocan Mint tea! It’s to die for and it’s vegan! So very good.

A far cry from how we spent that day two years ago.

Kia Kaha Christchurch. For sixteen years you were my home. I miss you dreadfully sometimes.

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Ollie’s building site as it is today. It’s so beautiful and green and peaceful. Hard to believe what took place there only two years ago. Thanks to Greg who took the photo on his way home that day. We love you. xoxo

Waiting for the Miracle (or some cool weather..which would be a miracle)

I really wanted to update more than once a month, but it’s just so HOT here internet.

The room we have the computers in is the hottest room in the house, which means that if I am out here for any length of time, all I’m really doing is wilting and looking at pretty things instead of being creative and thoughtful and writing!

Speaking of writing, that has come to a little bit of a halt. Obviously moving countries has given me reason to be lax. Terry Brooks says it the best really:¬†‚ÄúFiction writing is a twenty-four-hour-a-day occupation. You never leave your work behind. It is always with you, and to some extent, you are always thinking about it. You don‚Äôt take your work home; your work never leaves home. It lives inside you. It resides and grows and comes alive in your mind.‚ÄĚ

This is pretty much exactly where I’m at right now. I have been writing notes and thinking up plots and fixing the holes in my head, but I haven’t actually written anything yet. It’s so hot! Hot hot hot! And when it’s not hot, you get this little moment of pure pleasure where you go “let’s go out!”

We are doing a lot of things here at the moment. Starting new routines, becoming better at cooking, eating, shopping and living. It’s gone past the holiday stage but not completely. We are still sort of figuring out what it is we’re all about in this new country, and finding the cohabitation with large bugs and HUGE SPIDERS all a bit overwhelming really.

In saying that though, Siobhan and I are back to dancing, and really loving it! We are being very challenged which is great, and have a beautiful and inspiring group of people to dance with. We are hyped and even go on the super hot days when we’re likely to die. Which is pretty much exactly what I did this week.

I am however, determined to get my fitness levels back up to something. Anything!

It’s a very long story, the short of which is that stress and unhappiness and quakes and almost losing my husband along with just normal day to day life crept up and kicked me in the arse. I put on a LOT of weight and stopped looking after myself. Actually, if I’m going to be honest, I haven’t looked after myself in YEARS. I dieted on chocolate and coffee and lost 10kgs. But ruined my health in the process. I was tired and weak and my last doctors visit announced that my normalcy of low blood pressure was well and truly gone. I had high blood pressure and cholesterol and have become insulin resistant.

This has been pretty devastating for me, but I have no one to blame but myself. And my first instinct was to throw a complete childish paddy and eat everything and anything in sight. Which meant I piled on the 10kgs I lost again and felt even worse. The moving business didn’t really help. In those last few months, we ate a lot of take aways and fast foods, and I wondered and lamented and wailed and¬†gnashed¬†my teeth wondering why I’d put on all this weight, and bitching about how life wasn’t fair.

It’s taken me a few months to admit to myself that it’s my own damn fault and to face up to the consequences like the adult I strive hard not to be. The past three weeks have been hell. I have been slowly trying to repair this damage, and making choices that contradict a lifetime of bad habits. It’s been hard, but I’m getting there, slowly. People always say “you didn’t put on that weight overnight, you won’t lose it overnight”. ¬†The truth is though, you always feel like you DID put it on overnight, and when it doesn’t just come off over night, it can be really demoralising.

Exercising in this heat is something else. Today I had sweat literally pouring off me. Running down my back! I do not like to sweat at all, but despite all my inner protests I did it, and 44 minutes later was on the floor doing ab and back work.

Yeah, I’m proud and showing off.

I feel a lot better than I ever have. Particularly now that my withdrawls over lack of salt and sugar have worn off. I no longer really crave chips or chocolate. I never, ever thought I’d say that. Ever!

So, I hope that you’ll forgive me my lack of actual writing right now. I am reading a TON of books and keeping up with writerly type things, and considering attending a full day writing workshop coming up in March, and definitely, definitely still living in my world with my characters and planning their next moves. They are far from forgotten.

I have also become a lot more confident with driving a GINORMOUS car we’re borrowing from family in this GINORMOUS (don’t even laugh – there’s a million more people here than there were in Christchurch, it’s HUGE) city…AND I have a bike, which I totally adore, and I know where the library is.

So if my husband does not get his arse off that computer chair next to mine and get out to work, I will leave him behind for the glorious, and air conditioned deliciousness of our local library.

God. Why aren’t I there right now?

*melts*

I Don’t Know What’s Wrong With Me!

This is I suppose, a testament to the fact that I am a bit of a hermit. I know my way around this city, because I have followed the exact same routes for as long as I have been driving here (8 years – in case you were wondering). I do not drive by way of street names – because I forget names. I mean, I write the names down and follow my directions by street names, but I know where I am because of the landmarks around me.

Of course, the earthquake has ruined that. And the terrible roads on the east side of the city mean that I don’t go over there very often at all anymore. It’s just easier to stay on this side than to have to battle through millions of road cones and dodge massive potholes and road workers.

Yesterday, I met a friend for coffee in the city. I was excited to be going into the city, because I don’t do it anymore at all. We have been to the city approximately three times in the past almost two years. I knew where the place was, sort of, so I didn’t bother to write myself instructions. You see, the difficult part of navigating your way through Christchurch these days is that all the roads in the city are blocked off, so the ways you normally went, you can’t go down anymore. Which means that you are even more reliant on the landmarks to give you some idea of where you are.

But this doesn’t work either, because there ARE NO landmarks left in Christchurch! I drove into the city, knowing that I needed to get to the corner of Tuam and High Streets. I knew if I went down Manchester, I’d find it. I went down Manchester, and there was a road block, so I turned down a street without actually seeing a street sign (turns out it was Tuam St) and drove straight past the cafe and ended up a street and a half away with no clue at all of where I was.

So I call Ollie, and he’s like “what street are you on?” I don’t know what street I’m on. There aren’t any street signs! “Well, what’s around you?” “Uhm. Nothing. Just empty spaces and rubble.”

“Oh. He says.” “Yeah” I reply. I’m looking to my right, and seeing the street running¬†parallel to me (Tuam St, the street I’m looking for) and it took us ages to figure out, that’s probably the street I was looking for. So I just parked in one of those big empty spaces, that used to be probably a good 6-8 buildings at one time, and I make my way down the street. Nothing at all looks familiar to me, until I finally see Alice’s and I’m like “That’s Alice’s! It must be close!”

Turns out, the cafe is now in the old Alice’s and I’d driven right past it without noticing. Actually, I’d pulled into a carpark opposite – but it was full and I had to find somewhere else, and I still did not realise where I was! You see, the new Alice’s which was also a mission to find when I first went looking some months ago, used to be at the end of a blocked off street. That street is now not blocked off and so I did not recognise where I was at all.

Hopeless.

Today I ended up going across the city to a mall I am not all that familiar with. That was fine, because I’m pretty good at finding my way there. Except, when I left I could not for the life of me find my car. “I can’t find the car!” I frantically text Ollie. He doesn’t reply. “No really. I can’t find the car!” I text again. Meanwhile…I find the car.

Driving back, I decide I’ll get to our side of the city by 5pm, so I should just go pick him up from work. I go down the ring roads, towards the motorway and it’s all good. Except the motorway has been expanded and made HUGE and NEW and so I just go on straight down it, like I always do. But they’ve done something weird to it, and I’m going “wait a second…wait a second…” and I can’t wait a second, because hello? I’m on the motorway! “It’s fine!” I tell myself with waning confidence. “I’ll just keep going straight, like I always do and I’ll end up at Blenheim Road.” Yeahhhh…no.

I’m driving, and driving, and I see a sign, and it says “Timaru.” ¬†I’m going to Timaru, and the freakin’ motorway is neverending! How on earth am I supposed to not end up in Timaru! I don’t have the gas to get me to Timaru!!! What if the motorway just stretches out all the way there and there is no way off?

There was a way off.

I took the way off and had…yeah, you know it…no clue where I was. So I call my husband again, and bemoan the fact that I have no clue where I am, and the stupid motorway was taking me to Timaru.

All I can think about is that in FOUR DAYS TIME, I will be living in a completely new city and I’ve been in this one for 16 years now and I’m still getting lost!

He’s amused. I’m just tired and want to go home damnit!

It was easy enough to get there though, once he’d given me directions, it turns out I was only about ten minutes from home. Apparently I didn’t really want to pick him up after all.

goodbyes are never easy

But they have to be said. It’s the end of 2010 and we just said goodbye to our oldest cat, Swirl, a couple of days ago. It was her time to go, but that doesn’t really make it any easier. We’ve been prepared for this day, for a long time, but still, pushing an unwilling cat into a carry box and taking her away to an end she doesn’t really understand is coming is a hard thing to do.

I couldn’t do it. I would have broken down when they said that whatever was wrong with her was fixable, and instead of $100 we’d have ended up paying $1000 to get her “fixed”. She couldn’t take care of herself anymore. She couldn’t keep herself clean, she smelled like pee and she peed constantly inside. She was getting vicious and forgetful and the summer heat wasn’t helping. She was incredibly overweight and I have a feeling she was riddled with cancer. She’d had a strange spot on her nose for years, and her stomach wasn’t soft fat, it was rock hard.

Ollie took her in and came back and was upset. We held each other and I promised that next time it would be my turn. I’m no good at doing that sort of thing. It’s not easy, even when you know it’s for the best. I keep seeing her everywhere and waiting for her to slink past me on the way to the food bowls. It’s left me feeling a little strange and emotional. Vulnerable, angry, sad…I didn’t think I’d feel this way, but I do.

Anyway, it’s a new year tomorrow. I’m going to try to write here more. I know I keep saying that, but the problem is, I don’t ever have anything amusing to talk about, and I feel like all my posts are whiny and emo, which just annoys me. The quakes since Boxing Day haven’t really helped either. There are possibly a few more cracks appearing in the house and it really doesn’t do anything for my moods.

I’m not making any new year resolutions this year. Every time I do, the year turns to crap. One goodbye that I am definitely looking forward to is the end of 2010. It’s been a hideous year on so many different levels and I am not sad at all to be saying goodbye to it. Bring on 2011.


Sweet dreams fat Swirl. xo

damage control

We had the EQC guys come today to check out the damage. One of them, I swear was 7 foot tall, his head skimmed the top of the doorframes and he was built like a football player. He was SO Australian. Blue eyes, sandy hair. “It’s cold today eh?” He said. “Yes. Compared to yesterday!” I replied. “I’m from Brisbane.” He said, and I felt huge pity for him. Brisbane is on the Gold Coast, it is hot there ALL YEAR. I sympathised with him and became his new best friend.

They were here for about two hours. We have a LOT of structural damage to the house. Our remaining chimney – the one we need, is close to falling down. If it does, the only place for it to fall is either into the kitchen, or pretty much right on top of me where I am sitting right now. There are cracks in the ceilings and walls, in our garage, in the foundations under the house. “Oh they can use this concrete filler on the foundations” he said, “it’s much less invasive than having to lift your entire house up off them to fix them for you.”

Yeah.

Anyway, it’s all covered. I was too honest. I can’t help it. He was SO sweet and so helpful. I think he would have believed pretty much anything I said in regards to broken things in the house. Siobhan was frustrated that we didn’t say her camera broke in the earthquake! Anyway. In the two hours they were here, I think I learned this guys life story. I feel sorry for them. They’re working 10 hour days, six days a week and people are treating them like shit. “Why aren’t you working Sundays?” They ask. 60 hours a week isn’t long enough? There are 200 teams here, working six day weeks. There are 170,000 claims that need to be seen. He gets one day off and has been here since the day after the quake. “I booked my flight back home for Christmas two months ago.” He said. “I’d stay, but it’s Christmas, you know? And I don’t have any family here.” He doesn’t get a break when he goes home either. He’ll go back for a week, and work most of the time there, because “my boss is a jerk.”

I don’t know how old he was. Probably late 20’s. I think we might have been some of his youngest claimants, he seemed excited to have someone to talk to, even though when I offered him a drink he asked for water because “talking to people all day is kind of hard work”. I told him I understood, and that I was a teacher, so I knew what he meant when he was talking about difficult people. That totally won him I think, having someone who understood made him very approachable. He was REALLY sweet and talkative and I’m pretty sure he would have liked to have stayed the entire day. He definitely took his time with me while the other guy ran around with Ollie checking the structure of our house. It’s kind of scary to think that there’s far more damage internally than we thought there’d be. They’re recommending we don’t get anything other than the chimney fixed until March next year, which is when the ground should be stable again. Because if it’s fixed, and we get more shakes (they’re still happening every day, but I don’t really notice them anymore), it’s possible we wouldn’t be covered a second time.

I know my nerves are shot because of all of this stuff I’ve had to deal with lately, I keep having strange panic attacks over ridiculous things. It’s hard to describe what it’s like here right now. All that goodwill and love thy neighbour shit died when people realised that they were going to have to wait for their claims to be filled. I felt really sorry for him. He said that he gets shit from people on a daily basis, and he’s like “you know what? There are 200 teams..that’s 400 people working here and we’re just doing residential claims. Over 170,000 claims have been made, and the guy down the road who lost one chimney is complaining we didn’t get to him fast enough when his next door neighbours house is a complete write off.”

People are assholes. There are 400,000 odd people in this city. Over a QUARTER of them have had damage to their properties. I don’t envy him his job at all. He said that with the last quake we had in NZ, the EQC had stopped paying out cash sums for house repairs, because people who’d never had any money in their lives were being given $90k in the hand and taking off to Australia, or on long holidays, and not fixing their homes. Which meant, obviously, that there were truckloads of unsafe houses that couldn’t be lived in and no one cared. So now they pay it to the builder directly. Honestly, people disgust me. They’re so rude, and so selfish. He looked tired and frazzled, so I talked to him about alcohol and duty free and Christmas and fun things and he went away with a smile. I felt like it was the least I could do.

if tomorrow never comes – an earthquake story

Backdated – 5 September 2010, a day after the 7.1 Earthquake in Christchurch, NZ.

I’ve had a really emotional couple of weeks. So much has happened that it’s been really difficult to figure out, where I am, and what I want. I still don’t really know. I feel like I’m at this crossroad, but I’m so indecisive, that I don’t know which way to go. I could probably stand here forever, looking down the three other roads, and turning around wondering if I should go back the way I came. Several things shifted my mood this week. I’ve had masses of online drama. I got a job teaching, which to be honest, I’d given up on and found it really amazing, and then, this earthquake.

We were hit by an earthquake the size of the one that hit Haiti. 230,000 people died in that earthquake. Not one person died here. Not one. Obviously, the differences are huge. We’re not a poor country, and we’ve been preparing for ‘the big one’ for pretty much our whole lives. Ever since I can remember we’ve had ads on the tv preparing us for earthquakes…and this one? It was massive, but they’re saying it’s not New Zealand’s ‘big one’. ¬†We’ve had big earthquakes before, and we’ve lost people to them..a lot of people. I am, very aware of just how lucky Christchurch is. Very aware.

One thing it has pushed home for me, is that there are some things that are just not worth my time. I fell all around my bedroom at 4.30am yesterday morning trying to find some pants because I sleep half naked and I was far more concerned with not dying until I had my arse covered than I was at getting into a door frame. I couldn’t stand up, I kept falling over and everything was so black and so disorientating that it was hard to know which way was out of the bedroom anyway. I finally found pants and a dressing gown, but I couldn’t figure out where the sleeves of it were. By the time I got into the door frame, the entire thing was almost over.

My initial thoughts were “GET ALEEYA!” And “oh my god, Siobhan.” I can tell you now that I cannot imagine going to bed in only a teeshirt ever again. I certainly don’t imagine sleeping naked will be high on my list of priorities for a long, long time. The only thing that really worried me was not being prepared enough to be able to protect my kids. I kept thinking “is this it? Is this the one? Are we going to get out of this alive?” I wasn’t worried for myself at all. In fact, I felt incredibly calm. I know a lot of people were freaking out, but this sort of thing, there’s nothing you can do, I just don’t see the point in panicking. I don’t panic…at least, not until I know the situation is well and truly over, and I’ve had time to think about what could have happened. Right now, I think I’m still a little shell shocked. It’s life as normal here. I’m distracting myself by carrying on. I’m online, I’m watching tv…we’ve had family here, we have the MIL staying.

The aftershocks are becoming almost normal. It’s like I’m just waiting for them, but they don’t worry me. I’ve had time to think about the way I handled things, the people I contacted first, the people I thought about while my world turned upside down and I wondered if I’d ever see them, or get to speak to them again. Initially, I just needed to feel Aleeya in my arms, to hold her against me and tell her it was all okay. I needed to know that Siobhan was safe, even though she wasn’t with us, and I needed to tell people that we were okay.

Now that it’s over, or semi over, and I’ve had time to think…I’ve realised that there are so many things that I worry about every single day, that don’t mean a thing. I’ve often wondered if I’m really living my life to the best ability that I can, and I know now that I’m not. I know that if I had died yesterday, I wouldn’t have been happy with the way I’d left things. I’ve realised that if I don’t actually take control of my life and really live it, I’m going to miss out on so many things. So many experiences. It’s an incredibly humbling thing, to be tossed around your house in the pitch black and to not know if your kids are going to make it. To wonder if the child you sent off with her friend that previous afternoon is safe. To hope that, that child’s parents take care of her as if she was one of their own. To not know if you’ll ever see her again, and to wonder if you’ve done everything you could as a parent, to keep her safe. What was the last thing you said to each other? Did you pay attention when she spoke? Did you give her the love she deserves? Did you tell her you loved her?

I’ve had arguments and fights with people I love, and I am so, so grateful that I had managed to smooth those relationships out before this happened. If this had been the moment we didn’t make it through, and I hadn’t apologised for the awful things I’d said? That’s how I’d have been remembered, and my god that devastates me. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past few days. I don’t like a lot of what I’ve learned, I really don’t, and I’ve also learned a lot about the people around me.

Our next door neighbours who we’ve never spent any time getting to know, came over in the morning to check on us. They invited us over, set up a caravan and made us hot drinks and toast and took us in while we had no power. They made sure we were going to be okay, offered us wood, tools, ladders, everything we might possibly need, who made sure we knew what was going on because we had no batteries, and therefore no access to any news whatsoever. Without them, we would have had no real idea of how bad the damage around the city truly was. They treated us like we were their own family, even though it was the first time, in the almost three years that we’ve lived here, that we even swapped names.

Since then, we’ve had more than 3000 aftershocks, most of them 3’s and above. Just a couple of days ago we had a 4.9. It’s incredibly unsettling and at times quite traumatic to still be having these quakes two months after the big one.

And since then, we had the¬†February¬†22, 2011 quakes which almost took Ollie’s life. ¬†That’s another post, for another day.¬†

what not to talk about in christchurch

Many of you know that Christchurch suffered a pretty terrifying earthquake two months ago. It was 7.1 and we all came out of it okay. I wrote a little about my experience, which I’ll probably post up here on one of those many days when I can’t think of anything else to write.

Anyway, last night after we watched Inception, yes again! Oh the joys of Chris Nolan and obviously, Cillian Murphy, who is perhaps the most perfect specimen of the male species ever…I digress. Last night, I turned to Ollie and I said “we haven’t had any noticeable earthquakes for awhile!”

“No.” He replied. “Just a few around the 3 mark that we haven’t really noticed.”

He looked it up on the Geonet earthquake site – check it out! You can follow our progress, and we talked about all the little ones we hadn’t felt. ¬†Well, just about quarter of an hour after that, I was in bed, and guess what internet? ¬†Ya, that’s right. Earthquake. It was just a little one, but it did make the house bang and the windows rattle and my poor heart leap in my chest, but it was sudden and over again and I settled back down to read my book. A couple of minutes later, there’s another one! Then not long after that, yep..another one.

And then just as I was on the verge of sleep, a 4.7 rocked through the house, banging the windows, crunching the floor and shuddering violently for a good 30 seconds or so. The both of us sat up and were trying to decide whether or not it was one we were going to have to throw ourselves out of bed over and save the girls when it stopped and we fell back down and went to sleep again.

So, internet. The moral of the story is: don’t let me talk about earthquakes out loud, because apparently, the earth likes to prove me wrong.