Saying you’re from Christchurch is like saying you have cancer

I remember when Simon was first diagnosed with cancer and we had to let people know what was going on, they often didn’t know how to react.

I had many many conversations that went something like:

Friend: “So I heard Simon was sick, I hope he’s feeling better”.

Me: “Um no, he has lymphoma. It’s a form of cancer. He’s probably going to die”.

Friend: blank look, stare, look of horror or something similar.

Then I would spend the rest of the conversation comforting them and helping them through the shock of the news. Simon and I both did it on an almost daily basis for ages. It was hard. I didn’t want to NOT talk about Simon’s cancer with people, but everyone got so upset about what they had just heard. It didn’t occur to them to ask how I was doing. The conversation was always all about the cancer – what kind, where, treatment etc. etc.

It might sound self centered, but I often just wanted people to ask how I was. Not Simon, not the cancer, not the chemo, but ME.
One day, someone greeted me with, “Hi, good to see you, how is Simon?”, and I responded by saying, “I don’t know how he is, but I’M not doing so great!”. Every time after that, they asked how I was.

So, I’ve been away for a few days in Wellington and Auckland, meeting with lots of different people. They ask, “Where are you from?”, and I’d reply, “Christchurch”. And the response is similar to the one I’d had with Simon’s cancer.

I’d either get blank stares followed by an “OH” and an uncomfortable silence, or they’d want to talk about broken buildings and cost of repair and isn’t it just terrible.

I’m not criticising – I know people are just dealing with the situation as they know how, but I was just struck by how similar the reactions and conversations have been.

From my point of view, every time I leave Christchurch I am pulled out of the strange reality we live in here, and realise the rest of the country now has a different (shinier, normal) reality. It can be quite disorienting. I’m reminded of what I’ve lost. And then I have these strange conversations.

Sometimes I just really want things back the way they were.

Leap Day 2012

Where will you be on February 29th, 2012? You probably have no idea. I know where I’ll be. All going well, I’ll be on a plane with Stephen, on our way to London.

Last weekend we booked our plane tickets and rental car for our honeymoon in the UK. By the time we get to next February, it will have been the hardest, strangest year I’ve lived through. So much has happened it makes my head spin.

So I’m ridiculously excited about the idea of mooching around England and Wales with my beloved. We have only a rough itinerary, so we will go where the mood takes us. We can live in a fun little love bubble for three weeks, and have the newly-wed break away we should have been able to have after we got married. Better late than never!

Heaven, thy name be dishwasher

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It’s been a great weekend. On Friday, I got home from work to a shiny new dishwasher. We had purchased a dishwasher a couple of months ago, and had been patiently waiting for the joiner and plumber to be available to install it. They’ve been a bit busy doing other more important things no doubt.

The joiner also took out a cupboard in the kitchen, creating a space big enough for our ‘fridge – it was previously in the laundry. It makes a huge difference to my general happiness to have these two things fixed.

And then, just to add to my general joy in life we noticed that our water pressure had been restored in the kitchen. We figured that it was related to the plumber tinkering with our pipes. But then Stephen went out the back yard and noticed silt all over the back path. He took a look in the drain and voila…no silt!

We’ve been waiting for almost five months (and expect to be waiting for many more) to have someone look at our drains at the back of the house, so this was very exciting news. I ran the shower in our ensuite bathroom to test it. The water drained away. We had a working ensuite! The City Council, as a part of the work they’ve been doing fixing the sewer pipes, have also been blowing silt out of lateral water pipes. It doesn’t sound like a big deal really, but to me, this is HUGE news. We moved into our broken home fully prepared for a long haul before it would be fixed. These small things feel like moving on. They are epic luxuries.

Google+

So I got an invite to Google+ today (thank you Julio, and Dan too). It’s supposed to be an answer to those who are fed up with Facebook. We will see.

My first impressions are that it’s a mashup between Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. Which should be a good thing for me, since I use all three of these social networking media every day. With G+ I can upload photos, broadcast my location, chat with other Plusers, and put people into groups (called circles). I’m not sure why I want to be putting people in circles, or the consequences of this.

Like other social networking services at their birth, it’s not very exciting – there aren’t really enough people using it to make it interesting yet. But then Facebook and Twitter suffered from this too for a long time before they went mainstream. I signed up for Facebook as soon as it became possible to, in 2006. I didn’t know anyone else using it. Not really the point of a social network. I went back to MySpace, where everyone was hanging out at the time.

I joined Twitter in 2007. Same problem there. My usage didn’t take off until around mid-2009, when enough of my friends discovered the joys of tweeting. And it wasn’t until the September 2010 earthquake that Twitter became more than just another internet byway for me.

So, is Google+ the amazing new replacement for Facebook? Part of me hopes so. I like Facebook well enough, but it’s become cluttered. My news feed is full of updates about games that my friends and family are playing. If I want to see what they are actually up to, I have to spend inordinate amounts of time blocking all these apps from my feed. Let’s hope Google stays away from games.

I like that G+ links to Picasa for photo sharing. I used Picasa a lot back in the day. It connected directly to my iPhoto library for easy sharing – much as Facebook does now.

I’m not sure how I feel about the integration of my social networking. I use Facebook and Twitter for different things. There is some crossover of people, but for the most part Twitter is for friends and Facebook is for family. My Facebook profile is certainly more family-friendly. Twitter is like the wild west – anything goes. I’m not sure where G+ would fit.

Google Plus is a closed network at the moment – available by invitation only. Ostensibly this is to keep the network manageable for Google while they get it up and running. But really, I think this staged release is a way of building buzz around the new app. And it works. The geeks have jumped in first. They will blog and tweet and chat about it, and this will make others curious. Are you curious? Probably just a little, like me.