Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: One, Redux

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  • chris,

    It's heartbreaking to read this Emma, but in the same breath reading you coping so well considering is inspirational, this totally helps me to appreciate life more. Thank you.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • Gee,

    We're all rooting for you and for Christchurch. Kia kaha.

    Canada, eh • Since May 2011 • 75 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    When I arrived at my Mum and Dad’s last week, the first thing Dad did was show me the cracks in the paving that keep expanding and spreading. At my brother’s it was the TV that has hit the ground a handful of times that is the problem. And the windows that don’t quite open and doors that don’t quite close.

    From the outside, having not been in Christchurch for nearly a year, It feels like those small things that are the remnants. Maybe because I couldn’t face the central city, except for the container mall on Cashel Street, and even that did me in. I chose not to look at any more of the red zone – I was there not long after the quake. I don’t need to see it again. I was offered tours of “badly-affected areas”, but I’m (contrary to expectations) not a ghoul, and once you’ve walked through liquefaction in someone’s house, seeing the deserted suburbs isn’t hugely meaningful.

    What I will say, is that a year on, the city does look better. It might not feel it, with the day-to-day battles over water pressure and road closures and the ongoing shakes. And, of course, I understand the frustration, and the anger – I have family members who lost houses in September, and won’t be in re-built houses for the foreseeable future.

    But the city at least looks less devastated. It’s probably just that so much rubble has been cleared away, so many cracks have been painted over. It does look like stuff is happening. But then, I couldn’t bring myself to go anywhere near the Catholic Basilica. Listening to the first ten minutes of Morning Report this morning made me cry – I think I will stay away from the media for the rest of today.

    I’ve lived away from Christchurch for more than 6 years now. Last year was the longest I’ve ever stayed away, and I am still not sure why that was. Everything I see in Christchurch has a filter – how it looks now compared to how it was when I was growing up. Now, it has two – how it was when I was growing up, how it looked after the earthquake, and how it looks now. And when how it looks now is an empty space – I’m still not quite sure how to deal with that. And how you deal with the empty space of a loved one, I have no idea. All I know is that Christchurch, the place and the people, is in my heart. Every day, but especially today. And with that, I’m also going to have a cigarette.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Thank you, Emma, it does seem a little odd commemorating something which is not yet finished nor resolved for so many Christchurch people. I want to add Christchurch cinemas to my http://cinemasofnz.info site this year but I will venture your way with some trepidation, knowing just how little remains. Going to the movies always seemed to be an important part of life in Chch and it saddens me when people down there tell me that it is no longer so. I had some of my most important film moments in Chch ( The Life of Brian, 2001, the Chch Film Society...

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    None taken. And thank you, Emma.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16281 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    it seems odd to be commemorating the anniversary of something that's still happening

    Great observation.

    snap, Geoff

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16281 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    I'd like to be unable to credit the rumour that the least-damaged houses are being fixed first, in order to make the numbers look good.

    It sounds heartless. But. Lets take 12 months and consider if they did (try and) fix the most damaged ones first. They would take the longest to do and more people would be hammering on the door to get their "least damaged" ones fixed.

    Doing the "simple" jobs first means that a greater number of people get satisfaction.

    It is heartless. But entirely rational.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1479 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    I'm a nest builder. I don't like moving home. I don't like moving office. I don't like moving jobs. I know this about myself and accept it.

    So to me the hardest thing would be have my home, my nest change underneath me ... and keep changing

    You have my deepest sympathy, all of you.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3224 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    I'd join you in a solidarity ciggie, except that I don't, except for maybe once every three years or so and then only under the influence of alcohol and bad company, so it will be a contemplative cup of coffee on the verandah for me. Thinking of you and yours.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1298 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Ross Mason,

    It's enough to speak only of your situation, Emma. The patchwork of stories is better, in many ways, than executive summaries. The fragmented image parallels the fragmented city. Interesting insight that it makes you feel more naked, to lose the "we". So true.

    It was a shattering blow to the nation, too. I remember talking remotely to American colleagues not long after, who were of course highly sympathetic, but did not really seem to credit what the quakes meant to this place. A city the size of Christchurch sliding into the sea would hardly show up on the American economic indicators. In NZ, it's like losing a leg. Or a close family member. Or more like them having a stroke, from which they come home to slowly recover under the inexpert care of family.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    I had some of my most important film moments in Chch ( The Life of Brian, 2001, the Chch Film Society...

    Sorry if this comes across as a rather tacky thread-jack, but the Canterbury Film Society's 2012 season starts on March 12th at the Hollywood 3 in Sumner. Don't think I was the only member of the Film Society/Festival whanau who had some anxious days and sleepless nights until we heard everyone was alive-and-as-well-as-anyone-could-reasonably-expect.. You can grieve for a venue, and re-jig a schedule but not bring people back from the dead.

    .

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11786 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    It’s a beautiful warm still morning here and bellbirds singing in my garden, but today still feels scary and sad and oppressive; I’ll be glad when the day’s over.

    I’d like to be at the memorial but I can’t face it. There have been so few opportunities to forget the distress and tragedy of our ongoing situation!

    Arohanui to you all. If there’s one good thing to come out of all this, it’s the fellow-feeling here in Chch. Our circumstances and reactions may differ, but no-one is unaffected. There’s been so much kindness and compassion; I hope we can find a way to build a new and stronger city together, without descending into exhaustion, bitterness and infighting.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3411 posts Report Reply

  • Lara,

    To speak only for myself, to not use the camouflaging “we”, makes me feel intensely vulnerable.

    This. And this:

    commemorating the anniversary of something that’s still happening

    Thank you, Emma.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2009 • 74 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I'm a nest builder. I don't like moving home. I don't like moving office. I don't like moving jobs. I know this about myself and accept it.

    I'm very much the same, though lucky in a way that my form of nesting is to build gardens rather than structures. That in itself has been difficult - we've had severe water restrictions here since September, not because of water levels but because of the state of the pipes, and I've struggled to keep my patch alive - but at least I didn't have to watch it all fall to pieces.

    Lets take 12 months and consider if they did (try and) fix the most damaged ones first. They would take the longest to do and more people would be hammering on the door to get their "least damaged" ones fixed.

    We're talking "people living in unfit houses because they can't afford to live anywhere else" vs people whose paint needs touching up.

    Also, I should say this, and stop worrying about how to get it exactly right. Last night, in preparation for writing this, I read the comment threads on the February earthquake columns from last year. You know what? You people are pretty fucking awesome. You found ways to engage and to help with something that didn't directly affect you. You gave us sympathy and strength and shelter. "Hey why don't we have a Public Address Great Sleepover" turned into flying me and my family to Wellington and giving us a night off. And giving me a sense that I could still be of some use, some relevant function.

    I can only speak for myself, of course, but I love you guys.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4328 posts Report Reply

  • Dana Burnett,

    Agree with your sentiment, Emma. And on top of everything, it seems that all I talk about to "outsiders"of Christchurch are the earthquakes. I'm sure they all think I'm unnecessarily obsessed with them but when you are surrounded by the remnants of broken pathways, endless traffic jams, empty spaces, lost friends and demolished buildings of memories and fun times, you can't help but talk talk talk about it! Even a minor crack in the pathway is up for discussion. And some days I feel a bit gypped when they change the subject - "what?!? You mean you _don't_ want a detailed overview of _when_ that crack in the driveway appeared and _what_ it means to me?!?!". Argh.

    Life goes on, but it stills feels off camber for me.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2012 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I was okay today until I visited Philip Matthews' blog and saw the picture of Peter Majendie's memorial work '185 Empty Chairs'.

    In a complete mess now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18521 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Emma Hart,

    “Hey why don’t we have a Public Address Great Sleepover” turned into flying me and my family to Wellington and giving us a night off. And giving me a sense that I could still be of some use, some relevant function.

    At the risk of turning this into a Public Address circle jerk, you (and David and Blair) were pretty fucking awesome too. I still feel kind of stink that I was a bit stand-offish, but what the hell do you say that’s not complete canting foofy-tosh? Under the circumstances, Megan playing to her strengths and dragging you off to get tits-up wrecked was more useful. :)

    Agree with your sentiment, Emma. And on top of everything, it seems that all I talk about to “outsiders"of Christchurch are the earthquakes.

    And why the bloody hell not. I get really fucked off at the occasional "hey, guys, it's really time to move out, move on and generally get over it" commentary, because... well, people aren't fraking robots. Emma's put it more eloquently than I ever could, buit nobody grieves in exactly the same way and that kind of nonsense is pretty abusive..

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11786 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Emma Hart,

    You people are pretty fucking awesome. You found ways to engage and to help with something that didn’t directly affect you. You gave us sympathy and strength and shelter.

    +1

    Public Address people have been hugely important in keeping me sane through all of this. I expect Chch people to understand automatically, but all you folk in other parts of the country have made such an effort to understand and care for us. I appreciate your support and kindness more than I can say.

    And Emma, your columns have really helped, too. You've been so open about your own feelings, it's helped me to be open about mine. And feel that I wasn't the only one struggling to keep it together! You're a brave and wonderful lady, if you'll forgive the term. ;-)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3411 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Also, NZ On Screen's Christchurch Collection is achingly full of lost places.

    I can't even bear to read my own introduction to it today.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18521 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Lilith __,

    Public Address people have been hugely important in keeping me sane through all of this.

    And yet this ordeal brought you to us, and that's been such a good thing Lilith.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18521 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    At the risk of turning this into a Public Address circle jerk, you (and David and Blair) were pretty fucking awesome too.

    I remember looking up as Emma, David and Blair frankly shared their experience at that Wellington Great Blend and everyone in the room, even the old blokes behind the bar at the bowling club, was still, just listening. It was an extraordinary thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18521 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I was okay today until I visited Philip Matthews' blog and saw the picture of Peter Majendie's memorial work '185 Empty Chairs'

    A really cool thing that's been happening a lot in Christchurch is coming on an unexpected artwork someone has created among the mess. 185 Chairs is sad -- I'm used to that -- and awesome and happy-making too for me.

    My tiny contribution today: a sunflower on top of the street sewage collection tank left over from chemical dunny days. The flowery road cones are awesome; and we're going to the river to strew flowers by the boy's school, which was the closest school to the Feb 22 epicentre. The River of flowers and the road cones touches my heart more than the big showy memorials, necessary though they are for many and especially the families of the dead who have come from around the world.

    When we danced at Mollett Street a few weeks ago it was a metres away from where the Colombo St bus was on Feb 22. I knew the bus driver, and he would have had a sardonic enjoyment of that.


    Yeah and +10 to Public Address, all of you. David and Emma especially for actually being able to write still. Ian Dalziel for wonderful weirdnesses and wordplay. And the Capture threads have been such good holidays for the head. Thank you all from a newbie.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2553 posts Report Reply

  • Dave Patrick,

    I'm not sure if it counts as confirming the rumour that they're doing the easy bits first, but there are a LOT of driveways and fences getting replaced out in Rangiora, and a fair number of people getting their houses done too. It just feels wrong for that to be happening.

    And every now and again (like today) I get an attack of the "how come we were so little affected by something that has destroyed so much" guilts. Our lives are pretty much carrying on, while others not 20 minutes' drive away have been devastated. And that just feels wrong too.

    I drove in to Tuam Street the other day (school stationery run) and went down a street that i didn't recognise - wondered which one it was, the got to Smith's City and realised for the last few blocks I'd been driving down Colombo St and hadn't even known it. That was a bit scary.

    Rangiora, Te Wai Pounamu • Since Nov 2006 • 232 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And yet this ordeal brought you to us, and that’s been such a good thing Lilith.

    Russell, you dear man. Now I am crying.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3411 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    To play the old man card, one of the things I've learnt (slowly) over the years is that there is no right response or wrong one. There is only the response that you have.

    Needing to talk about the quakes is as real and valid a response as another persons need to talk about something else, anything else.

    Everyone in New zealand was affected by this event and many many people outside the country as well. What I have found most heartening about PAS is that for the most part we have all accepted the feelings and responses that we've had and shared them without demanding something else.

    And it hasn't just been PAS. For the most part New Zealand has actually been really wonderful about how we've responded. Sure there have been the "get over it" people, but most times I've heard that I've seen people shake their heads and accept that the person saying "get over it" is just coping in their own way.

    Maybe I'm just being sentimental and viewing things through a rose-tinted monitor but I've seen more real care and genuine sympathy and empathy than I hoped for - that at least is something good.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3224 posts Report Reply

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