How to understand this blog

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

st stephens

My friend and I were taking an elevator down from the roof of the cathedral, crammed into this tiny little room with about ten other people. The elderly man in charge of the lift was holding his transistor radio close and as he turned it on started nodding his head to the beat: "I will survive... oooooooh, as long as I know how to love I know I'll be allright..."

My friend and I looked at each other and almost collapsed with laughter.

It was one of those moments I'll always remember and will never quite be able to explain how funny it was, because the juxtaposition in that grim, sweeping cathedral was just so stark. You had to be there.

Monday, November 28, 2011


It's illegal there - gave me a little thrill!

I'm such a rebel.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

the soundtrack of my year

My year started out with this song. This was a real feeling of congratulation that Christchurch had made it through a massive earthquake in 2010 and, though some buildings had fallen, the city remained intact. No one died. There was a tremendous sense of togetherness. I remember sitting in a pub at the Arts Centre with a cold Pimms and ginger ale on a summer evening looking around me and feeling so lucky to live here. I also remember playing this song to myself and thinking, I'm almost feeling this good, all I need to do now is finish my Masters and I can really feel it:

Then there was the earthquake on 22 February, and I remember wondering if I'd ever have a hope of listening to that song feeling good again, let alone not feeling sick.

For some time afterwards, I listened to this song over and over, and I'm not exactly sure why, but it captured how I felt without actually being at all about earthquakes:

A few weeks after the earthquake, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami happened, and in Christchurch there was this horrible realisation that we weren't as badly off as we could be, and what was happening to the world? And all I could listen to was this song and feel very dark and desperate:

Maybe it was the following songs that pulled me out of this a little bit... they're not particularly positive either but they helped:

I don't know when the turning point came, but during the remainder of the year I came to love Ella Fitzgerald:

... and Mumford and Sons:

Maybe I had calmed down a little? Probably it had something to do with finishing my Masters and learning to think clearly again.

And now it's this:

I'm sure I'll do a "summing up the year" blog post in a wee while so I don't want to steal all my own thunder... but it has definitely been a year of learning to rely on God. Did you know that we can't even rely on the ground beneath our feet? So I've learnt and I'm still learning to put them elsewhere, and I'm happy with the song my soundtrack finishes on.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

west virginia

On the monorail, to be precise. That is why I chose this photo.

It was actually quite scary and I burst into tears. (I was 12, separated from my mother, had no idea where I was, and no idea how to make the monorail take me where I wanted to go.)

Then I collected myself, found some coins in my pocket and figured it out.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

rat race

So it turns out that I really love my job! I've been there four weeks now, and not once have I felt at all unhappy with it.

I won't explain what it is again here, but will point you to this post, as I probably should be discreet and avoid easy google searches - not that there's any level of special, mysterious knowledge about my job, but it's in the public service and there's a lot of public interest in this organisation and I'm still a little unclear about where the boundaries are when it comes to blogging about it.

All the same, I can happily say that I love working there!

It totally suits me. I get to research and write letters in response to letters that come into the office. The original letters are often angry or complicated or sad, and I find the necessary information online or by talking to people throughout the organisation or in different organisations, and then draft a response. The best of it is when someone is in a really difficult situation, and you can provide information that will benefit them enormously.

The atmosphere is really exciting, because the pace of change is FAST. Since I've been there, there have been two major public announcements that have had a huge impact in the recovery effort. There are opportunities to stop your normal work and go help out at a community meeting, or take a bus trip through the central city, because there's a recognition you have to stay connected with what the organisation is doing on the ground, and with the people who are affected by the decisions coming out of this organisation.

My colleagues are wonderful. We get on very well, share a similar sense of humour, and there's a culture of helping each other out. We're a very small department and have a huge backlog of work but we're attacking it together and it's very satisfying to see the numbers on the "to-do" list falling.

Often, when I remember to think about this, I love the feeling that I am in the midst of a historical moment, a juncture in my city's history. I'm learning so much about what is going on here - it's a really valuable perspective. You can see things from many angles. I know that I will be looking back in the years to come and be able to say that I was involved. There's a strong feeling at work that, although we will probably make mistakes, everyone is there because we really care about our city and we really want to serve its people.

I also have to say that I love earning a regular income. The last few months have been really, really difficult money-wise. I had to stretch out any money that came in as long as I possibly could, as I usually had no idea when next I would be paid. It was a revolutionary feeling to get my first paycheck as a full-time worker and to know that another would be coming in a fortnight and so I could actually buy the things I need!

Oh. Two not-so-good things.

1. I don't like uncomfortable work shoes.

2. I'm not so keen on the fact that I am writing a blog post at 7:00am on a Saturday morning, because I am now incapable of sleeping in.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


... but at least I did it in an exotic, beautiful place, right?

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I think it wanted to eat my fish and chips.

Weirdest feeling ever.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Last weekend I went out to Little River for the Manderley Festival. Little River is some forty minutes from the outskirts of Christchurch, and Manderley is an old homestead with beautiful grounds, where every year they hold a market of artsy-craftsy-foody type stuff and open up the house, etc.

We stopped on the way out there at Birdlings Flat, which is a wild beach with millions of pebbles, which is exactly what my flatmate A. needs for the decorations for her wedding in December. So we were equipped with several buckets, but I have to admit I kept getting distracted from pebble-gathering and taking photos. Not many turned out very well but here are a couple.

Then to Manderley itself:

Here is the house:

The stalls:

Cool things for sale:

Swing dancers:

It's difficult to recreate for you, but it was such a beautiful day and there were so many interesting things to see and/or buy! I ended up buying a hippie bag and a beautiful little old hand-painted china vase, but also got to try out cheeses and salamis and chutneys and cupcakes and more, and I would heartily recommend the Manderley Festival to you - yes you - if you happen to be in Christchurch next November!

Monday, November 7, 2011


Well, I wouldn't blame him for being confused, really - not all that many people ask to have their photo taken with Karl Marx's grave.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


It's Austria's turn...

He sauntered into our hostel with a friend. He had a splendid moustache and a tan-coloured suit. I was waiting for my friend to finish using the internet.

While his friend argued with the proprietor, he approached me and asked me something in another language which it was convenient not to be able to understand precisely, although the meaning was pretty clear. I'm pretty sure it began with "How you doin'?" Then there were the gestures.

"Ah, I can't understand, very sorry!" I chattered politely.

"Gypsies!!!" hissed the proprietor as they left.

(By the way - I know that gypsies, or Roma, or wanderers, or whatever you like to call them, are quite a normal part of the community in parts of Europe, but to a 23 year old from New Zealand they sound like they come out a fairy tale. That is where this bumper sticker has its novelty for me.)