Living in the Green Zone

So I’m less angry now. Actually, now I think about it, not really angry at all. I’m in ‘pick up and get on with it’ mode again. Feeling a little more battered than before, but A-okay, all things considered.

The big news of the week was the government releasing information on the suburbs it has deemed potentially unrepairable (I’ll blog more about the ins-and-outs of this later). Our suburb was on that list. Not a great feeling. More detailed information was scheduled to be released on Thursday afternoon.

On Thursday morning, Stephen and I sat at the breakfast table looking on google maps at the list of suburbs in question. Which would be in the red? The most badly damaged areas were around the Avon river and Horseshoe Lake. Our lovely little suburb of Dallington sits in between these. Would they just wipe out the lot? It made me nervous. Even the usually cool, calm and collected Stephen admits to a little anxiety.

I had trouble concentrating at work that morning. It felt like a big part of our future would be decided by the announcement that afternoon. Either our house and land would be considered repairable, or it would be not. And to be honest, either option didn’t sound great.

So on Thursday afternoon we found out that we are ‘Green’. The street we live in is fine. The land is not so badly damaged by the repeated shakes since September 4th that it can’t be lived on. I was so relieved. We put so much effort and energy (and money!) into buying our house. We wanted to make ourselves a home there. A base for us and the rest of our Frompson crew to be safe and comfortable for a long time to come. To lose that, after everything else, would be so hard. But now we don’t have to worry about it.

The Red Zone, Christchurch
The Red Zone, and us

And then the reality and enormity of what was going to happen started to sink in as I drove to collect Bronwen from school on Thursday afternoon.

We are surrounded by the red zone. The houses between where we live and where Bronwen goes to school (and where Stephen grew up) will eventually be gone. Over the past couple of years we’ve driven, walked, skated and run through that area. It feels like our place.

The next few weeks and months will be interesting as it all shakes down. People will accept the offer the government has made to buy their land, and they’ll leave. The government has said they will demolish houses as people go. Within two years, the 5000+ houses will be gone, and we will live surrounded by a green belt. It’s hard to imagine.

Okay, now I’m angry

Before Monday, I was rallying. I was starting to get my mojo back, feeling much better about things. My strategy was to focus on small things that were happening so that I could see things moving forward. This helped to ease the general feeling of hopelessness that would creep in some days. So I noted the smoothed roads in my suburb, the fact that we finally had flush toilets, that we’d be moving into a new office soon.

Then Monday happened, a 5.7 and a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. More liquefaction, more flooding, more broken streets. Making a dash across town to gather my family at home. No power, water. And no flush toilet. It breaks my heart.

My first thought, when I stopped long enough to think about it, was that I’m angry. Thoroughly pissed off. Again?! We have to do all of this AGAIN?! Before Monday I was getting a level of acceptance of how my life has changed, now I’m just mad. At what? I don’t know. And that just makes it harder. Not nature. Not god. This is just a random event. There is nothing to get mad at. But I am anyway.

I know that underneath my anger is fear. The more of these destructive earthquakes we have, the less secure I feel. I lay in bed the other morning, woken by a strong jolt, thinking … “is there going to be another? Will this be ‘the one’? …”

Those thoughts don’t last long. I can’t live with them in my head for long. But I resent that they are there at all. I should be able to trust the ground underneath my feet. I should be able to take for granted my power, running water, flush toilets. I shouldn’t have to listen to children developing a new vocabulary that includes ‘liquefaction’, ‘magnitude’ and ‘munted’.

I know I’ll pick up and move on, but right now I’m just angry.



Acceptance represented by the Past, Present and Future


And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life—unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in the world by mistake.

Time flies!

I’ve been really busy lately! Work has been full-on busy the past couple of weeks. I’m really loving the challenge of managing a couple of fairly big projects. Both involve creating and producing training materials (a combo of print, web, and eLearning content). It’s really interesting work, with great responsive clients and a hard working team. Whoop!

On the home front, we are slowly making changes to our little nana house – it certainly needs some serious modernisation. The big job was getting the carpet down – I still enjoy the feeling of landing my feet on the floor in the morning.

We’ve also chosen new lighting for the conservatory and living area (yet to be installed) and we purchased a new dish-drawer and a gorgeous leather lounge suite (sofa and two chairs). We got some great deals, so I’m feeling pretty pleased with us right now.

And being the good project manager that I am, our home wouldn’t have been complete without our new whiteboard-corkboard combo. They hang in the walkway between the living room and kitchen, a constant reminder of the things we need to do, buy, remember. It’s also a great place to pin our achievements – like the school notice announcing that Bronwen made it into the school zones for cross country running. I am so very proud of her!

So we have a long list of improvements to make, and it’s going to take us years to get through them all. But I’m having a great time sifting through all the possibilities together, shaping what our dream home will look like. It helps to distract me from all that is gone, and gives me something good to focus on. This home is our future, our hope.