Night before last there were aftershocks all through the night so I was even fuzzier-headed yesterday than before. Including buying some heavily-discounted chocolate, then getting to my siblings' place (we'd planned to go to the movies but due to slow buses (due to heavy traffic, due to earthquake damage and diversions) none of us could get there in time) and looking at the receipt and thinking they hadn't discounted it after all. (I apologise for that sentence.) Today I went to the supermarket to get my discount but fortunately before I went in the door I looked at the receipt again and saw the line that they had in fact applied the discount. This saved me some embarrassment.
The thing they don't tell you about earthquakes is the aftershocks. I mean yeah, they tell you there'll be aftershocks. But they don't tell you there'll be hundreds of aftershocks. 600-odd to date. Many of these are small, many you can't even feel unless you're sitting somewhere quiet. But many, many of them are big enough to startle you. The model predicts about a month of aftershocks but we've been on the low side of the model so some geologist says he reckons another week of them.
The thing they don't tell you about how no-one died in the quake is that they mean no-one got crushed to death. Someone did die of a heart attack. And I heard a rumour today that heart attacks since have been up eight-fold, and that 7/8 of these don't make it. (A colleague had a heart attack a couple of days ago; he's since had surgery and will make it.) Don't trust my numbers, this is just rumours and the 7/8 sounds high, surely? But the "up eight-fold" certainly sounds believable to me, judging by the amount my own heartrate/anxiety was up in the early days especially. And stress comes out in other ways. On the bus last night I saw the results of a car-vs-cyclist - the cyclist was sitting up fortunately, but it looked like his leg was hurt. And in the paper today was an article about an engineer allegedly attacked by a digger (also survived) and this seems believable to me too.
Because... you know what it's like when you're exhausted, body and especially brain, and you can't go on but you've got to. Now imagine a city of 350,000 people who all feel like that. All at once. For weeks.
I've been meaning to post this for a while: a list of my coping mechanisms, in approximate order of me taking them up:
- sitting constantly in a safe place
- carrying a cellphone at all times (for comparison, my cellphone previously had far more use as an alarm clock than as a means of contacting me)
- constantly monitoring the radio, twitter, and geonet
- when moving out of my safe space, making sure I know at all times where the nearest safe spot is. And making sure that there's no obstacles between me and it
- to match the obsessive reading about what's happening, also obsessive writing and talking about what's happening
- sleeping in my clothes, with torch, radio, cellphone and slippers by the bed and go-bag and shoes (upside down so as not to collect broken glass) by the door
- breathing/relaxation exercises
- singing (more effective than generic exercises while doing it, but less conducive to sleep)
- putting together a belated emergency kit (after all it's never too late: little aftershocks still cause damage, there remains the possibility of a 6, and this quake does nothing to reduce the possibility of an 8 from the Alpine Fault)
- extra time with family, rewatching comfort movies
- chocolate, and whatever other food I felt like, whenver I felt like it (including a sudden craving for raw carrot and cucumber) and whatever else I could make my appetite tolerate
- moving into my spare room to sleep because my subconscious is scared of my normal bed
- with my pillow over my head because the Red Cross says if you're in bed in a quake that's what to do, and because it muffles minor creaks, and because I always feel more secure with a gentle weight on me
- reading myself to sleep
- working (I would have gone sooner if possible. I was absolutely devastated when I misinterpreted photos and emails and thought the bulk of the heavy work would be done before I was allowed back. Hahaha...) though this is also tiring
- going to the library (would have been more successful had the library been open)
- shopping for my emergency kit
- crying. It took me about a week to be in the mood for this. I normally cry at the drop of a hat.
- gardening (and remembering to take my hayfever meds first for a change)
- catching up on Covert Affairs, Leverage, and Firefly, and rewatching Yes, Minister
- finally getting back to writing a little bit, even if it's 'just' fanfic
- making up stories about random people in the street, then realising that a) I was projecting something awful and b) I feel a whole lot better
- listening to my "Cheerful" playlist on my iPod, skipping the occasional track with too urgent a beat because I'm trying to keep my heartrate down, thanks.
My "Cheerful" playlist and Yes Minister episodes are still pretty vital for cutting through the weariness though. And chocolate. That cheap chocolate was very timely. Also, I'm collecting empty bottles to fill with water, and when I found myself at the supermarket with nothing to complain about I bought some things for my emergency kit and repacked that (finding, in the process, something that I'd been looking for yesterday. Mental note: if you can't find something and it seems like it should be important, try looking in your go bag.)
Today I'm way less fuzzy-headed because a) last night I went to bed shortly after 9pm and b) all the 4s of the night got themselves out of the way in a two-hour cluster, so from midnight until my alarm went off at 6:15 I slept totally undisturbed. So I was pretty productive at work, which is a nice feeling - when there's so much to do, one doesn't like to leave for the weekend with too much undone.
A cool thing happened today: I was pausing in the middle of an email (okay, so I'm still a bit fuzzy-headed) with my elbows on my desk. And I felt a soft swaying vibration through the desk. And then a second or three later I felt the jolt. (Also then I tweeted, guessing it at 3.7; it turned out to be 3.6. Useful life skills!) I have a hypothesis about the "animals sensing an earthquake" thing: I think they're sensing something subtle like this, and it's perhaps a learned skill or anyway it's not an instinctual one, and this is why not all animals act weird, just some of them.
No sign of Boots yesterday or today. Hopefully she's stealing food from one of the neighbours.
I'm vaguely thinking of applying for a certain promotion at work. Well, not vaguely per se: my thinking is actually quite specific. But there are reasons why I hesitate too, some of which may even be good ones, so I don't know. Further thinking required. I'll talk more of this if it goes anywhere.