Monday, July 04, 2011

Just when you thought it was safe...

Given that our little village has suffered another two large quakes that have caused yet more destruction, drama and danger I'm taking a bollocks approach to life these days and it's doing me the world of good. Some people pass this predilection off as Tourette's but that's dishonest, and I always tell the truth. Most of the time.

Friend in street: How are you doing Sach?
Me: Fuckity fuck fuck. Bollocks.

Telecom about the unpaid bill: Are you the person responsible for this Telecom account?
Me: Fuckity fuck fuck
Telecom machine: I'm sorry I didn't understand you.
Me: That's cos you don't speak fuckity fuck fuck bollocks.

Child living in my house who looks like my husband and came from my womb: When will we be allowed out of your sight?
Me: Bloody, bloody, bloody (a harmless adjective denoting the presence of blood) ..let me think about it...fuckity fuck fuck....never.

Don't mistake my approach to be born from frustration. I've got nothing to complain about. My house is rock solid, my businesses trucking along nicely for the most part and while the children's school has been overrun by hoardes from the nearest neighbourhood we're happy to share. Sharing is caring.

There are, however, just a few things that would make my life just a teensy bit easier and anyone who can fix these is guaranteed to not be o.t.c.c.l should we all still be alive this Xmas.

1) If you own New World supermarket please stop using the telly to ask for my feedback on how you can improve my New World supermarket. I DON'T HAVE A NW SUPERMARKET ANYMORE!! You demolished mine after the earthquake. I have since tried 6 other supermarkets and they are all, without exception, fuckity fuck fuck bollocks.

2) If you are the mayor, please rebuild my community centre, recently demolished, so I can help the local theatre group put on the end of year cabaret. It's what I do from July-Dec every year since I moved here 12 years ago. It's what I do. Not DID Mr Mayor, it's what I DO. I get up, play tennis, do yoga and spend every July-Dec preparing for the show.

3) If you play tennis with me, stop aiming the ball at the myriad of cracks, craters, moon bumps and broken bits that now cover our local courts. It's not very sporting. I know your end is damaged too but this blog isn't about you is it? It's about me. So stop it. And put a bit more in the honesty box. $150k to fix the courts isn't right at the top of most insurers must pay now lists.

4) If you are near me at yoga I'm sorry. I'm fatter now. There it is. I take up more room in the room. Suggestions for how to fix this must be painless, not impact on my preference for tasty food, and must not limit the medicinal tipple I take three of four times a day or when needed, whichever is more frequent.

5) Living in quakesville is an exercise in high wire walking. Some days life is peachy. The sun shines, the children bathe and widdle without needing a permanent sentry stationed just outside the unlocked door, and the traffic canters along in both directions. On other days the crawling cars wave in resignation at the stop/go man and the 400 shipping containers that now border our village are ominous portents of impending doom. The weekly mental flip flop from stay to go, fine to fucked, calm to chaos is exhausting.

For those living in the red zone it's more human canonball than high wire. Forcibly expelled from homes,schools and communities with little hope of returning within a generation. There are opportunities, no doubt, silver linings and fresh starts. There is grief. Raw, gut-wrenching anguish at saying goodbye to the life you knew, and none of it on your own terms. For most, there will be both.

It's entirely possible to be full of hope for the future, committed to rebuilding Christchurch and yet be overcome with emotion at the sight of so many of our landmark buildings and community venues destroyed.

The heart of the Sumner Community Centre is her people not her bricks and beams. But when the digger ripped it apart last week as I began the slow journey to work, I wept. Big ugly wet salty tears rolling uncontrollably down my face. I surrendered and let go of all the shock and pent up stress that comes from being on constant alert. And then, after a time, I rolled down the window, yelled fuckity fuck fuck bollocks at the world, wiped my nose and calmly drove away.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rock and Roll

Can you imagine the pressure? It's been four months since I asked you how often you'd like to hear from me. You said weekly, and I said yeah okay but since then there's been nothing much to write about. Well, nothing that hasn't already been beamed around the world.

My home town has been devastated by a series of earthquakes that killed more than 180 people, and left the city with major infrastructure challenges; 10,000 homes need to be demolished, over 100,000 need major repairs, schools are closed, roads blocked and hundreds of families have been evacuated. The ground beneath still rocks and rolls with disconcerting irregularity. The unpredictability is what tips you up. I'd take a 4.5 everyday at 4.30pm rather than days of unsettling calm which precede a 5.3 on a Saturday evening. If the numbers mean nothing to you it's because you're not from around these parts. Christchurch folk are now geological experts and even the most linguistically challenged 5 year old can say evacuation, liquefaction, Richter, and tsunami.

We sent our kids to school in Auckland and stuck it out here making daily trips to a community tanker for water and romantic nightly trips to the pair of portaloos perched on opposite corners of our block. We went all French in our approach to showering and made a weekly visit avec our amies pour une douche.

While our circumstances now are very different, everything is essentially the same. I get up, go to the coffee shop, chat with friends, come home and change out of my dressing gown. I play squash, I lose. The drive to work takes a little longer but when I get there the banter is the same. We debated at length how soon was too soon for earthquake humour. The answer seemed to depend on how many people you knew were tragically killed and whether or not you had running water and somewhere to live.

On the day of the quake we fled to Hanmer. Two frightend children, one heroic dad who'd walked for miles (the metric is not so dramatic - try it - one heroic dad who'd walked for kilometres - not the same is it?)to reach us, and me. I didn't feel guilty that we were leaving, I know I need power to be of any use to anyone. As soon as we arrived I plugged in and powered up, and felt useful once more. But fleeing was only an option for the cash rich. We had enough money to buy petrol, food, accomodation, passes for the Hanmer pools, and room service. While others were sleeping in tents on school grounds and living a terrifying night of wave after wave of aftershocks, we were watching the horror unfold on television from the comfort of our hotel room. And it wasn't only us.

The pools were teeming with Christchurch folk, all slightly sheepish about being at a thermal resort but doing the very best they could for their children. I have no guilt about being there, we were back at the coal face shovelling silt soon enough, but I was angry that some of our poorest, least resourceful suburbs had been hit the hardest. For many families this winter will be long and cruel. Sumner received more than its fair share of portaloos in the weeks after the initial quake. Why? Because its residents are better connected, better communicators, better advocates of their own needs than those in suburbs whose needs were much greater than our own.

The National Party say 'pull yourself out by your bootstraps'. Labour say 'you don't even have boots, let's take some from these people who have a spare pair and give them to you' and every other political party offers a variation of the above except for the Greens who don't like boots only sustainable moccasins.

I meet John Key two weeks ago. Delivered him a cup of tea, milk, no sugar, no thank you to home baking. He had a formidable security presence but no one sipped his tea before he took his first swig. I don't want him to die. I'm a fan. He was relaxed, confident, fabulous one on one with five year olds and fourty-four year olds alike. But if you did fancy knocking him off, a cup of tea with milk and spoonful of Gay Oakes magic potion might just do the trick.

I've met lots of famous people, well at least people well known in New Zealand. It's because there's so few of us. Everyone knows someone who knows someone famous and they're all just people like us who have milk in their tea and rum with their coke.

Christchurch people are less rock and roll than ever before. We prepare for the next big quake in bizarre ways. Some no longer sleep naked, some never let their petrol tank get lower than half full. We're a bit less 'whatever' and bit more boy scout.

There's a new appreciation of the community ties that bind us together and commonality of human fraility when facing massive natural forces but we still hate the morons who drive slowly on our roads just because the sign says 30, and our tolerance for those who hold up the ever lenthening queues at the few supermarkets that are open so they can get rid of their coins...well, who cares about the end of that way too long sentence. You hear me.

I'll be two years clear of cancer in July and despite the protestations of my mother about lack of warm clothing and vegetables, for me and my children, I'm feeling great.

All the important things remain. Glee on 3, Offspring on TV1. Theatre group, book club, tennis on Fridays against ladies who lunch, extended family, workmates, faithful friends and of course my very own tight five: The husband, the boys, and the girl.

That's about as rock and roll as I get these days. And it's enough.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

F words

Foxy indeed.

How many of the world's best words start with 'F'?

I know, I know. The English speaking world.

Fearless, ferocious, fierce, fun, frivolous, fabulous, fart, fantastic, fascinating, fuck, feedback, forgiveness, feijoa, family, fruit, friends, flan, fellatio, films, fish, facebook, fairytales, France, faithful, fanny, freedom, fantail, future, fruju and finished.

And what about the words that wished they started with f?

Photos, philosophy, philanthropy and phenomenal.

This will be my last post on Tips for Keeping Abreast and Ahead. My sister sent me an article about the increasing popularity of disease blogs. Three main reasons are given for their fascination. Firstly, they follow a simple narrative structure. As readers we get hooked and want to know how the story ends. Will she die? Secondly, they are used as fundraising vehicles to provide the last-gasp-chance-of-survival wonderdrug treatments not funded by health authorities. Who doesn't want to support the underdog battling for one final roll of the dice? The third reason is that these blogs offer an intensely personal look at the often titillating world of medicine and the intricacies of the human body. Not dissimilar to the public hangings still popular in some parts of the world there's a voyeuristic pleasure in observing from the sidelines. None of this is to suggest that the blogger is in anyway victim in this two way interaction. What we get is control.

Being poked and prodded, felt and fingered, rubbed and rotated every few weeks by people you might never meet again and to whom you are inevitably just a number can be a disempowering experience. By naming and claiming the treatment process we take back some control of what is happening. By showing you a photo of myself with just the one nipple showing through my togs it reduces the chance you might try to sneak a sideways peak next time you see me.

Fearless (having just jumped off a really, truly, very, very high bridge).
Free (of pain, treatment, and maybe, cross your fingers, cancer)
Fiction writer (the bridge wasn't so high)

I'm not going to die or move to New York (sorry anonymous - you spineless, nameless, ignorant loser) I don't need any money, and I'm not having any more treatment so there's no reason to continue the blog in its current format.

But undoubtedly the reflective process is good for my ongoing health and well being. So I will continue to write. And you, the dear 37 who know how to follow on blogger, and the others who pop in from time to time, get to decide what I write about.

You can't ask me to change who I am (well you can, but I won't) but you can tell me what you'd like to read:
1) monthly
2) weekly
3) personal
4) professional
5) other

So go on. Stay awhile. Or leave and don't you come back no more, no more, no more, no more.

Either way, thanks.