Down here in Christchurch, New Zealand (aka QuakeZone), 2011 has been unforgettable – and not in a good way.
Admittedly, that first big quake – the one that set off all the others – was in 2010. But this year we’ve had literally thousands of aftershocks (some, incredibly, more violent than the original earthquake). We’ve shovelled silt and patched up our homes and grieved for lives lost and kept going because, really, what else could we do?
It seems incredible to me that ten years has already passed since 9-11 stopped being my friend’s birthday and became instead a symbol of terrorism.
Ten years since I woke to images so horrifying, so emotionally overwhelming that I struggled to comprehend them.
Ten years since I waited by the phone for news of our cousins, who were in transit to the States (from New Zealand). Ten years since I went into work, wondering how I could possibly answer the questions I knew my students would have. Ten years since I, thousands of miles Read More…
Hi! Yep, I’m still here. I’ve been off-line a while – a loooong while – three months, in fact – and yes, I do have the odd excuse (including, on 22nd February, another horrific earthquake, so destructive it pretty much flattened what remained of our already-shaken inner city). Still, I’m sorry I haven’t been more in touch.
So much has happened in such a short time! One summer holiday spent in sunny Auckland. Two competition results for my WIP – third and fifth. Three extra weeks up in Auckland when, post-quake, our house was deemed unsafe until the chimneys were demolished. The incredible generosity and empathy of people all over the country – hell, the world – has been humbling, reducing me to tears so many times I’ve lost count. It’s taken a long time to get my mojo back, but finally I can say I’m writing again.
News? Um… well, we’re still here, rocking and rolling with no sign the aftershocks are about to stop. (Last count: 1111 quakes since 4th September.)
A few days last week were almost quake-free – and I didn’t like it. Not that I’m enjoying the aftershocks – but the sudden lack of them was weird. Then, on Saturday night, a cluster of four significant aftershocks. My nerves twanged straight back up to high-stress mode. And, just like that, we’re back in QuakeZone. Weird as it sounds, it’s almost a relief to feel them on a regular basis because last week’s eery quiet reminded me of scary monsters waiting in the shadows.
Writing news? This week I’m working on submissions to editors, and adding to my current WIP. Busy, busy!
Twelve days on and we’re struggling to re-boot normality here in Christchurch, NZ.
It’s not that we can’t function: we can, and very well. Our infrastructures have withstood this crisis amazingly. Our civil defence emergency response teams have been excellent. Our community has come together to help each other through – I’m proud to live here. And, miraculously, no lives were lost.
But it doesn’t feel normal. The shops are open. School’s back in. People, if their job still exists, are back to work. But there’s a nervous edge to it. I avoid large shopping malls. I constantly check where my kids are. I startle at every low rumble. I quiz my son daily on what he should do in an earthquake.
We’ve had 611 quakes in twelve days. There’s nothing normal about that.