It's time to dry those tears

I've had so many emails and messages recently from people I've never met telling me that the words I have written about "it'' (I am trying to minimise the times I use the word 'quake' this week) make them cry.
Making people cry is not something I want to intentionally do.

Today I re-read something I had written about feeling frightened all the time and realised I was letting "it'' win. I was letting "it'' make me afraid to live my life to full capacity, whatever capacity that may be right now. Sod you, "it''

It's time for a little humour. If you don't laugh you'll cry and all that.

Through the last few weeks (I can't believe ''it'' happened weeks ago now) there has been little to laugh about but I've had a few experiences this week that made me laugh at myself and the ridiculous situation which fate has landed me in so I thought I'd share.

Yesterday I interviewed Ben from the band Gomez about his solo album. If everything in my life was normal I would have done this from an office overlooking Cathedral Square. While talking to him I might have doodled flower or a sun with a smiley face as is my habit while on the phone. I wish I could draw better.

However, under the regime of the ''new normal'' I ended up conducting the interview surrounded by goats.

Because the place I am currently living in is relatively rural there was no or little cellphone reception. Awaiting Ben's call I realised that I'd need to find reception pretty quickly. Just to give you an accurate mental picture I should point out here that I am currently wearing a disgusting floral dress I bought in the only open shop selling clothes - an old ladies' dress shop - the day after the quake. I look like I could be cast as an extra in a remake of Anne of Green Gables or a stray member of the Waltons.

Anyway, I walked down the country road looking at the bars on my phone. After 500m I got half a bar but only if I kept my neck rigidly in one spot. A bloke on a tractor stopped and said "Are you all right?''. I explained my predicament. "Gomez, you say? What sort of music is it, Mexican?'' farmer drawled.

Eventually it transpired that if I wanted to be able to talk to my non-Mexican Gomez I would need to, and was welcome to, enter the paddock to his right and stand approximately in the centre of the field where reception goes all the way up to three bars.

This is great but it meant climbing over a fence in my olde worlde floral dress to stand In a field of goats.
I accomplished the fence climb with only a slight ping from the wire fence to my nether regions and everything was fine until around halfway through the interview when the goats started taking an active interest in me. They mobbed me - no kidding. There were goats attempting to crew my shoes, goats nibbling my skirt, another not-so-gently butted my butt forcing a repressed memory of being chased around a paddock as a child by a ram to emerge.

I tried to cough a lot to block out their bleating noises but eventually I was forced to confess to Ben from Gomez that I was standing in a field of goats and that this was no reflection or indication on the hickness of Kiwis. I didn't feel brave enough to mention the horrid floral outfit. It just happened to be yet another random situation I find myself in, post "it''.

He laughed. I laughed. The goats bleated. My phone soared up to four bars of reception. Good times.

Walking back down the country road it made me remember other weird interview situations I've found myself in, like the time I interviewed Kiwi group the Checks in a urinal (which they used often during the interview) and the time a few days before I gave birth to my twin boys when I interviewed Aussie rockers the Living End.

I sat on the couch with them backstage at a gig. The interview was fun, they're nice blokes. At the end of it I slipped off the couch and landed on the floor and was so pregnant I couldn't get up. The Living End had to help me up off the floor. It really was the living end. Back then I wanted the ground to open up. Now I spend most of my time hoping it doesn't.

Today was a first for me of a different kind, forgive me if I seem crass mentioning this - you'd have to live in Christchurch right now to understand our obsession with ablutions. I finally experienced an aftershock while sitting on the toilet - (a real toilet, not the chemical toilets Christchurch has decimated the world's supply of).

It was a watershed moment. Luckily it was at the Press' printing plant where we are now working and there was an endless supply of blokey blokes in overalls and high viz jackets on hand to bog me down with their toileting tales and make blokey jokes as I emerged startled from the bright pink ladies' loo. I don't know what was pinker - me blushing or the candy cane wall shading.

Ever since September 4 friends, workmates and strangers, usually men - true devotes of toilet humour - have shared tales of being on the dunny during an aftershock.

I've had an idea in my head that when this had happened to me it would have significance. For six months and literally thousands of aftershocks I managed to avoid being caught short by Mother Nature.

I'd mentally resigned myself to it and now that it's actually happened I'm relieved (pardon pun). It's like a rite of passage (pardon me again).

We're all obsessed with toilets right now. It's a little sick but if you don't have a toilet for a few days and you're competing with the cat for best place to poo in the garden, believe me a nice porcelain number well deserves its 'throne' slang.

Cantabrians are a good humoured bunch. Here and there I've noticed little bits of black humour popping up amongst the silt and despair.

Someone in the hard-hit eastern suburbs is selling M*A*S*H tee shirts with a picture of John Key in a helicopter on them. In small letters it says Prime Sinister Don Key where's my crappy crapper? There's another tee shirt idea in the works which says: The only thing worse than a port-a-loo is no port-a-loo.

Others have scrawled graffiti urging Gerry Brownlee not to hastily demo the city's heritage buildings. Inside the cordon his head replaces a wrecking ball in several tagged images.

Others have found solace in creating Facebook pages. There are numerous ones about being on the toilet during an earthquake, many with only one member.

But my favourite page right now has over 9000 members, it is: You Know You're From Christchurch When...

A few examples of how to tell if you're in Christchurch - I hope you cry laughing:

  • Your kids have stopped asking for a sandpit.
  • A bucket of shit is no longer that old car you drive.
  • On SingStar sessions with your neighbours you rehash the Rolling Stones (I can't get no liquefaction)
  • Geonet is saved as your homepage.
  • Going to Wellington to escape earthquakes makes sense.
  • You sleep in one suburb, shower in another, get water in another and go to the toilet wherever you can
  • A hot shower feels like you've won Lotto.
  • Face masks and gumboots are regular daywear.
  • A game of Jenga only lasts two minutes.
  • Having 50 students congregating in your street doesn't make you call the cops
  • When you talk to people in Wellington about how big "it'' was you are not being suggestive
  • Dressing up to head into town involves putting on a hard hat, high visibility vest and steel-capped boots
  • When everyone around you freezes when a truck goes past
  • The notion of doing University classes in a tent suddenly doesn't seem outrageous
  • You ring the Bus Info line and the guy who answers is working from his lounge
  • You know who the Moon Man is
  • When having sex the earth really did move.

The Press