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Friday, April 8, 2011


The boil-water order has finally been lifted! A month and a half after the earthquake. We have been industriously boiling our water for weeks now. It's not so bad. But it's going to be very, very nice to return to normal habits of tooth-brushing and face-washing and dish-washing and water-drinking and so on.

In the spirit of celebration, which I feel has come upon me, I would like to mention some of the things that have cheered me up or helped me relax in the wake of the quake. There's quite a lot of things to pay tribute to. It will be a long list. In no particular order:

1. Thanks to the woman in the Otago Museum shop, when I visited with my two small nieces about a week after the earthquake. I was having a day of feeling particularly bad, feeling useless, and wishing I was back in Christchurch. When she found out that I was from Christchurch, and had brought my nieces down so my sister could work, she said: "I just think that what you are doing is wonderful. You're doing something so very helpful and practical when the rest of us just feel so helpless!" It really, really helped me! Thanks very much!

2. Thanks to Oscar, pictured below:

Oscar is a bichon frise-Jack Russell cross. He is happy and excitable and loves to be cuddled. When I was staying with my sister in Dunedin, I took him for a lot of walks and I found it very healing to be around such a simple, happy, faithful creature who took such pleasure in Life. Dogs are good for the soul, I think.

3. Thanks to a facebook page, You Know You're From Christchurch When... The idea is: light relief makes everybody feel better. It certainly made me feel better. Here are some of the best contributions. Here, also, is a photo added to the site which I thought was really cute.

4. A poem written about the earthquake. I thought this was amazing.

5. The memorial service on March 18 at Hagley Park in Christchurch, which I attended, had moments of sheer tediousness but also moments of loveliness. These were some of my favourites:
The unanimous, spontaneous standing ovations of the crowd for the search and rescue teams and the fire service.
The video montage they showed at the end of the service of people helping people, rising above the disaster. This is one of my favourite things of all.
Prince William's speech was unexpectedly touching. That is one promising prince.
A beautiful performance of Pie Jesu by Dame Malvina Major and a choir boy called Patrick Manning.
The haka at the start.
Hayley Westenra's performance of Amazing Grace.
It was also quite amazing singing the national anthem towards the end of the service. I felt just about as patriotic as I will ever feel. It was also amazing feeling the extreme appropriateness of our anthem's wonderful lyrics.

6. The song written by a band in Wellington as a tribute, all proceeds to the Red Cross fund. It's called Morning Light and I think it's rather beautiful.

7. The funny song written by a Christchurch resident. Rewritten from Tim Finn's "There's a Fraction Too Much Friction", it is called "There's a Fraction Liquefaction". (Liquefaction is the process by which hundreds of thousands of silt and mud appeared on the streets of Christchurch.) I love it when people manage to find humour in situations like this.

8. Another example of this is the website Show Us Your Long Drop. This was a competition for the most creative outdoor loos. Creativity out of necessity.

9. The skaters who have found opportunity in the twisted streets of eastern Christchurch.

10. Some of the cool ideas for rebuilding Christchurch. Creative and exciting! They make the whole horrid experience seem like an opportunity in disguise.

11. Feeling proud of my city, proud of my nation, for the way most of us have handled this experience. As this writer says.

12. No thanks to Ken Ring, the conspiracy theorist/weather presenter/author of "Pawmistry: How to Read Your Cat's Paws", who decided it was a good idea to predict a huge earthquake, even bigger than the ones before, on March 20. His prediction was based entirely on pseudo-science, but he managed to terrify a rather large percentage of Christchurch's population. A lot of us felt very, very angry at him and were jubilant when, of course, no major earthquake struck on March 20. We were even more jubilant when this video appeared, mocking Ken Ring, very successfully.

13. Thank you to Bruce Springsteen for his "My City of Ruins". Handel's "Comfort Ye, My People". U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday". Brooke Fraser's "Shadowfeet". Coldplay's "Everything's Not Lost". And many more. Music in general, really. On the day of the earthquake, soon after I got home, we were sitting around feeling absolutely miserable. We thought about praying but didn't know what to pray other than the simplest calls for help, and then we suddenly decided to get out our guitars and sing. We sang songs to God and they expressed everything we wanted to say, and it was a really powerful thing to be able to do. I don't think I'll ever forget that experience. So thanks to music. Thanks to my wonderful flatmates that I could do something like that with them. And thanks to God for getting us through this time.

14. And thanks to you guys who have borne with my slightly dark blogging style since February. It's hard to express how wonderful it has been to have support and prayers from all over the world in a time like this. I've heard an idea being tossed around over and over since the quake, since the nations of the world turned up to help us in little New Zealand, and since the quake and tsunami in Japan, and it is this: Why on earth do we bother with war, when working together is so utterly wonderful?

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