Friday, March 11, 2011

Two and a Half Weeks

I have no reason for an anniversary. There's no date and time to today. It's a Friday. To some it's just another Friday.

It's just two and a half weeks. 18 days.

I look back at what I wrote just a few days after the earthquake and think how incredibly selfish it was. I did not do well to express the end of my life-as-it-was in this city. It has its raw intensity and the pain is there.

Just as it is today. Though it's different - smoother, not so much jagging up and down with the ground, but I am prone to burst into tears at a particularly rough aftershock, or seeing a familiar place as a pile of rubble.

Some places I see in photos - I haven't been to many places because I can't walk far and access is restricted - I can't even identify because so many familiar land marks - signs, street corners, facades, colours - are gone. These are not streets or corners or a city that I know.

But for all that is unrecognizable, I didn't think things could get so normal so quickly. I am astounded at the work done in the city to make roads passable, get power, water and sewerage flowing, make services accessible, to give some semblance of routine. For someone who despises routine, to actually realize it's needed (and how routine my life is) annoys and pleases me in equal measure.

There are some amazing people going above and beyond to make sure life goes on in this city, that there is hope. I can't say that I'm one of them - I tried to carry on working to the best of my abilities (stress, broken appendage and power outages negotiated around), but what I do doesn't save the world. I'm almost embarrassed that routine was demanded of me and I caved to it - it was safe, it was something I could do. But it didn't save anyone, or make anyone's life better. I wish I could have done more.

I have desperately wanted to get back to my writing in the last two weeks, but I just haven't had the mental capacity or energy to do it. When the world is falling down, why would I want to write about the hope you find in SF? I'm also annoyed at myself for having so much time at my disposal, but unable to use it. A colleague of mine managed to write twenty thousand words on their novel in three days directly after the earthquake! I'm embarrassed by my lack of focus and jelly-fish temerity, and ever so slightly jealous. I have real concentration issues at the best of times.

I did continue doing submissions and have started picking at editing pieces needing polish. I do have submissions that need to be done before the end of the month. But as far as new words go, they're still in my head and it's grating on me. Badly. It's like a return to the frustration I felt before I put my finger on my writing need - only I can do something to fix this.

So where am I two and a half weeks later? Everywhere. Nowhere. In between. Falling between the cracks. I feel at a loose end, because I don't know if I want to stay in this city if it's going to be so munted for almost a generation. I feel guilty - good ol' survivors guilt - when I realize I have nothing to offer recovery efforts, when I think about abandoning this place. This city doesn't need a writer! It needs people to do physical, hard work and mental heavy lifting. I know people here who can do that, but it's not me.


  1. After really rough times in my life, I didn't write for a while in the literal sense, but I can see the effects, the thoughts I was processing in my head, the changes of perspective they forced on me, still emerging in my writing even a decade later. You're not me, my situation wasn't the same as yours etc, but it wouldn't surprise me if it all starts to come out in words in a few weeks or months.

    I'm tempted to babble on about how writers are always needed (just with less immediate urgency than others), and I believe it, but I'm pretty sure in your situation I'd be thinking along the same lines, so it feels kinda patronising. *hugs*.

  2. There are a lot of people doing wonderful things. But there are many things needed right now.

    This includes continuity and a sense of sanity. Words, perspective.

    As I said to Moata, the city does need people like you. The country does. We need people who are going through such utter shit to pour their hearts out in words. Hopefully it helps to heal you. It definitely heals the world.

    And like I said on B's blog, remember that the feeling of guilt is natural. Let it flow. It will pass. Surround yourself with loving people who accept you unconditionally. And don't worry if you snap and bitch at people.

    We all deal with things in our own time. So what if someone else wrote heaps. You're not them (and we are very glad for it).

    You say you have nothing to offer? Well, sweetie, you have just offered it. And it is enough.

  3. Oh - and just wanted to make it clear. "Sweetie" really is a term of endearment. There are so many wonderful women that I feel are now dear friends through these forum.

    I realised later that it might be offensive, but none was intended. I deeply and humbly apologise.