zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Despite my trepidation I've managed to sleep pretty much through the last three nights. Usually about halfway through the night, my foot even stops feeling like it's being twisted into some unnatural shape and starts feeling like a foot again, almost as if the cast didn't exist. It's a lovely feeling while it lasts.

Also on Friday I achieved the desperately needed washing of my hair. Clean hair feels so good.

Oh and Friday's other achievement was that after a good night's sleep I remembered that I have a slow cooker. So that's how I cooked my tomato soup. Then I brought it to the couch in a thermos cup I have: the lid doesn't seal watertight, but as long as I have other things in the bag around my neck to keep it upright it restrains any sloshes. And so I had tomato soup and it was good.

On Saturday I had a minor milestone in the shower. Until now I've been taking my crutches in with me, because otherwise I can't so much as turn around. They don't look prone to rust but it's still seemed suboptimal. Yesterday I managed to leave one out and keep the other in the corner that gets splashed the least. But today I discovered that, bracing myself on the various walls and corners in the shower, I could manage not only to stand (the heel is okay for standing still) but even turn around as needed. So the crutches got to wait outside where it's dry.

Another achievement was that it was sunny outside so I thought I'd go for a hike down to my mailbox. (I got a letter from the district health board about my crutches, and a letter from ACC accepting my claim based on the hospital notifying them of my injury. The bureaucracy of communist death panels cannot be halted!!!) And there were all these weeds in the garden and I weeded some of them! And then dumped the weeds on a nearby concrete step to shrivel by themselves because taking them to the green bin required more logistics than I'd planned for.

After lunch I got picked up to go to a church friend's 90th birthday party. This was as rambunctious an affair as it sounds, me being the youngest person in the room by two or three decades, but sitting up with a foot elevated on another chair while straining (with one's good ear) to distinguish conversation near you from the general hum of a large room is still hard work, so when I was dropped home again I lay straight down for a nap.

I've yet to decide whether I'll try for any major achievements today. On the one hand, I could trek to the local library (usually about a 6-minute walk) to get some DVDs. On the other hand I could rest up in preparation for going back to work tomorrow.

The cat meanwhile is being slightly more tolerant of my crutches. Mostly for those moments when I'm pouring out her kibble, but progress is progress. She's also currently sitting warmly next to me on the thin ledge of couch I'm not occupying. Alas it's a cooler day today so pretty soon I'm going to have to get up, turn the gasfire on, and close the doors, and before I've even started all that she'll have fled again...
zeborah: Zebra against a barcode background, walking on the word READ (books)
I've got a lovely two-week holiday so today, instead of leaving for work after my regular Sunday sleep-over with friends, I went with them when they took their three-year-old to his first (half-)day of kindergarten. It was the first time they'd left him alone with strangers so they were a little twitchy though also looking forward to having a bit of time without a preschooler around to catch up on things that preschoolers like to help with, like climbing ladders and painting and varnishing things.

In due course, we also went to pick him up again. He was looking at a picture book and asked me to read it, and about three seconds into it another boy appeared and handed me another book to read, and that's how I ended up reading "Maui's Fish" and "Princess Lulu and the Sleep Stealer" to four kindy kids.

(And then it being a gorgeous day we went to the beach and played frisbee and excavated a water channel while building a castle wall beside it and didn't get sunburned because they made me put sunscreen on even though I hate how greasy it is. I'm glad I'm not staying the night tonight because that's going to be one tired kid.)
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
While my house is nominally being fixed (they were meant to start on the 28th; they actually started late on the 30th and did a bit more on the 1st and nothing on the 2nd; I can tell these things with my super powers of reading the sign-in sheet) Boots and I have moved into a motel.

I think Boots is actually more or less settled, though it took some time. She spent the first 30 hours hiding under furniture - no food, no water, no litterbox. Then she spent an evening hugging my ankle, and then she spent all frickin' night scritching things and jumping on things and jumping off things (onto my nose) and banging things and trying to open things and generally preventing me from getting more than an hour's sleep at a time. (The asthma attack at 4am didn't help. I ended up going outside and sitting in a deck chair which turned out to have rain in it, and then I slept on the couch for the last hour of the night, and then I went to work and blinked blearily at everyone.)

For a few more days after that she spent the day (while I was out) under the bed and then crept out to hug my ankle when I got back, and then spent the night under the bed again. Nibbling a very little food here and there. But now she's eating fairly reasonably for an outdoors cat being kept indoors and is playing a bit more normally and sleeping on the bed next to my ankles as per usual.

It's weird living out of a motel in my own city, but it's all fine: I've got everything I need (including wifi and the run of the laundry) and it's comfortably lived in (so not intimidating the way I find hotels). I'll still of course be glad to go home. The date set for that is the 22nd December, and I'm determined to believe them despite all evidence to the contrary. They sound like they're determined to give excellent customer service, and I've heard from other people who've had repairs start slow but finish on time, so it's not impossible.

The other day, a friend asked where I was and when I told them they said, "Oh, that's good, there's lots of shops there." It's more that there were lots of shops there, I pointed out. Since the quakes, the fruit-and-vege shop, the two bakeries, and the supermarket (among others) are all deaded, which as far as the necessities of life go leaves the butcher, the petrol station, and a 2nd hand bookshop. I can shop at a mall on the way home instead, but.... But as I stay longer I notice there's more than I thought, because one of the bakeries is operating out of a shipping container, and the fruit-and-vege place is operating out of a tent.

Walking down the road from the motel towards my busstop in the morning, I can see straight down to a demolition crane in the CBD. I have feelings about this but they're fairly vague and unformed. They're oddly different from the feelings I feel on my normal bus route where I see the crane pulling apart the Catholic Cathedral and the crane taking the top off the Hotel Grand Chancellor and various bulldozers painting the town pink with brickdust. I think it's because it takes time for the bus to get me that far, but here I leave my motel at 7:15 in the morning and there it is.

I seem to have started writing my When the Sky Fell story again. May or may not get much further this time around, though today I reached the Ode to the Radio scene which I've never got to before. It aches to write, and there came a point this evening doing research where I had to stop reading mid-sentence. Someone was talking about the "glassy, shell-shocked look" people had after February and. I remember that, when I was walking along Bealey Ave on the 25th February; I mentioned it in a blogpost at the time, but. Words just don't. It's like looking into a black hole where a person should be.

--However, the other thing that happened on the 25th February was my friends' son was born, and yesterday when I went to visit (as I do most weeks) he crawled! Towards me! Seeing him once a week is fantastic, I get to skip the nappies and most of the teething and "I'm hungry but won't eat, tired but won't sleep" screaming fits, while still getting all the fun of playing with him and the excitement of watching him grow up. I heartily recommend being an honorary auntie.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (New Zealand zebra)
I do feel for those with no heating or indoor plumbing (portaloos in this weather, eek!) but it is quite lovely to have a snowday myself and be able to spend it with friends (who I stayed last night with, and would have gone to work with) and their baby and young cats. (In fact I'm basically snowed in with them, since public transport is stopped until further notice.)

The cats have been playing in the snow with adorable enthusiasm, running in it, pouncing on it, hiding in it, batting it around. The baby has been watching it fall with wide eyes, the way he likes watching screensavers or the flames in their woodburner. And we had a snowfight and made a snowman and my friend made a snow angel. And then we came inside and shook the snow off (I had to comb out my hair again) and had hot chocolate in front of the fire.

Typing from my friend's laptop, having left mine of the dodgy battery at home. Shame I can't see how my own cat is dealing with the cold stuff, but this is lovely company to be spending such a day with.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Sunday afternoon I bused around town to spend the night with friends+baby. This was an excellent boost to Operation Keep Eating (though I did contribute my banana cake) plus we watched Finding Nemo on Sunday evening and How To Train Your Dragon on Monday morning. Plus baby and kittens! <3 They kept apologising for baby's 2am screaming fit, but since I was at the other end of the house this was approximately as disturbing as your average Mag4 quake, ie I woke up and registered it and went back to sleep. Since their house provides the protection of distance from said average Mag4 quakes, this really evened out quite nicely.

After lunch on Monday I went to work for a meeting, which went exactly the same as every other meeting we've ever had about that subject ever in the history of time seriously ever. (Short version: "Look at this awesome technology which can be used in highly awesome ways to support awesome pedagogy! But yeah no, in practice you're only going to be using this one boring feature, and by 'use' we mean you'll be getting other people to contact us about how to use it.") Normally this would just leave me rolling my eyes; this time I was struggling rather not to cry, until I could get outside and put my sunglasses on.

Also it was hot and the bus was packed (it's still free and not yet as frequent as normal) and the traffic was horrid (the roads are either munted, especially in the east, or full of the traffic fleeing the munted roads, especially in the west) so I felt nauseous for the 1.5 hours it took to get home from there.

This is not -- to reassure people -- so much a desperate plea for help and/or sympathy, as an educatory narrative. I cry easily anyway; situations like this it's just a signal. Dry mouth signals thirsty; teary eyes signal stressed. The only reason I don't like crying in public is that the public is apt to consider it as signalling a worse emotional state than it really does. So I kept my eyes mostly dry while out and when I got home I phoned up a colleague and shamelessly whined to her for sympathy (which she duly gave) and then, having cooked dinner and scooped myself a bowl of jellytip icecream, watched three episodes of Sandbaggers in a row.

On the last few minutes of my trip home I caught a glimpse of the "cannabus". Apparently the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws have decided Christchurch is in need of medicinal marijuana. This so annoyed me I believe I actually dreamed about it last night. I have serious qualms about advocating self-medication in times of stress. (I'm not dissing self-medication by someone who knows themself. But advocating it willy-nilly to people whose reactions you don't know seems wildly irresponsible.) Plus, though the word "politicalise" is getting thrown around a lot, I think this really does qualify.

Today I worked entirely from home again, and have actually managed to achieve various work-ish things, in between the painters coming to work on my porch while it rained, and a visit from the Salvation Army, and the sun coming out so I luxuriously put on a load of washing! in the washing machine, with water and electricity!, and eating lunch, and watching a fanvid, and a phonecall from Dad, and cuddling Boots between her disappearances. She keeps going outside and then not being able to get back in because the painters have the powercord going through her catdoor and she doesn't know how to open the flap towards herself.

<ponders> This actually seems like a useful skill for a cat to have. I think I'll try to teach her someday. I shall of course report back on progress.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Got up in time to have a proper shower while I still had water (turning it off while soaping up in order to conserve water) and even washed my hair.

On the way to church I stopped at my parents' house to test my Sandbaggers DVDs. When I let myself in I discovered of course the burglar alarm was set. I used to unset that alarm every single day for years but for the life of me, and just like in my old dreams, I couldn't remember the code. I immediately discarded the code for my own alarm, and tried another that my fingers seemed familiar with. In retrospect, it was my credit card PIN. Fortunately my brother was upstairs (asleep) so could rush down and turn off the siren. He was remarkably nice about it, considering.

Anyway, it turns out I unfairly maligned the DVDs. There's nothing wrong with them; further experimentation proves the fault is in my laptop's DVD drive which, when the earthquake induced the laptop to do a flip off the chair it was sitting on and land upside-down on the floor, must have got jolted a bit. Yay, more insurance claimage; guess I'll have to take it into the local Mac store sometime. Sometime when it's operational again. In the meantime I've dug out my old snail of a laptop and set that to chugging through the conversion instead. And in the meantime-meantime I watched episode 3 on my parents' DVD player (having watched 1 and 2 on YouTube in order to decide that yes I was totally buying this) and... wow, that was rather dark. I love this show so much.

Church was... They warned us that last Sunday's service might be emotional, but forgot to warn us that this Sunday (whether because we were back in our own church or that things have had more time to sink in or that we're just more tired) would be worse. There's this beautiful Shirley Murray hymn which is a mashup of Ecclesiastes and Corinthians: "There's a time to be planting, a time to be plucking, a time to be laughing, a time to weep" etc in the verses, and the chorus "But there's never a time to stop believing, there's never a time for hope to die, there's never a time to stop loving, these three things go on."

And, yeah. It elicits tears at the best of times. I'm weeping just writing it up now; I had a hell of a time trying to sing it; I think it was only the third-and-last verse and chorus I finally got my voice under just enough control. And the readings (Lamentations 3:17-26, 31-33; Matthew 11:28-30) were likewise a bit on the nose, and we ended with another Shirley Murray hymn - "Give thanks for hope, that like the wheat, the grain / lying in darkness does its life retain / in resurrection to grow green again" (to Sine Nomine) and I was not the only one in serious tears, by far.
On the way home saw someone attempting to go into a dairy which wasn't yet open for business. He just wanted somewhere, anywhere, that's selling food. I pointed him to the nearest dairy (a bit of a walk) or around the corner for fish'n'chips - I think he decided on the latter. What I need to do is draw up some maps with vital services and post them on lampposts at that intersection. So many people don't have any idea where to get things with so many shops closed or destroyed around here; I only do from spending significant time poring over eq.org.nz maps. And it's going to be a long-term problem because cheap supermarkets are closed and only more expensive dairies are open (unless you drive, and then you have to pay for petrol) and people will have lost jobs and this is a lower socio-economic area to start with. It makes me sad and angry in advance at all the people who won't care about or even see the problem.

I'm increasingly angry at the letter Eastgate put in mailboxes a few days ago to say "McDonalds will be open in 5 days and the supermarket will be open in 4 weeks and the Warehouse will be open in 5 weeks" and blah blah blah, and not a single line to let people know where they could get food now.

Spent the afternoon visiting friends - about an hour and a half to get there, I think, since I have to take the bus right around the suburbs instead of through the city, so all up I spent more time travelling than with them, but it was well worth it to catch up and hold their baby. Then did some shopping at their local supermarket before catching the bus back home. Failed to have energy to cook a proper dinner, but did snack as much as I could manage and read myself to sleep.

---

Working from home this morning. So far I've got the "from home" part down pat, anyway; though I've just "answered" a student's question by IM, for values of "answered" that consist of saying essentially "God only knows." It makes me feel like a bad librarian, but it really is all we can say about pretty much any library service that can't be transacted purely electronically.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
On the way to the water tanker I talked to someone looking for an ATM (she'd walked a long way, by the way she was limping and the fact that she hadn't realised Eastgate was closed; all I could do was let her know where a pharmacy was if she needed bandaids for blisters, and hope one of the shops that are open would give her cash out) and someone wanting money for chips and a burger (at least I hope so, because fatty food seems eminently healthy right now; anyway I had spare coins).

Came back with five litres of water that need boiling. (I also have six litres of bleachified water in the pantry from September but... I don't know, I guess I'm saving it for an emergency? Plus and also I have plenty of juice and milk to drink so the water is mostly for the cat and for washing.)

Phoned the friends I stayed with last week - they now have an adorable baby boy, mother and son doing well. Very much looking forward to meeting him next time I get to that side of town.

Builders coming to remove chimney tomorrow morning. Painters may start again next week (hopefully aftershocks will have died down enough not that the paint won't crack again.)

In the evening [livejournal.com profile] cyphomandra came by and we chatted and invited ourselves to dinner with a friend out New Brighton way (pausing by an ATM). It emerged that we'd actually met previously at a party at the friends-with-the-baby's place. Later on in the evening one of said new parents phoned and was duly weirded out that I was there. Christchurch is a small place...

It was dark on the way back, which was an adventure: the street lights were out for part of the journey, and the roads had acquired some unplanned judderbars which in places required driving on the wrong side of the road. We lifted our eyes unto the hills and found a huge dark section. And when we did get back to areas with street lights, so many of the houses had dark windows. Contrariwise, some others of the roads we went by had only been recently reopened, being brand-newly resealed since the quake. We also passed a brand new Orion electricity substation, and a generator. Absolutely incredible the amount of work that's been done in a short time.

[livejournal.com profile] cyphomandra also mentioned to me in passing "dry shampoo". My hair typically needs conditioner as well as regular shampoo (or it emulates Delenn's hair), but still this seems Worthy of Investigation or it'll start to emulate a baggie of french fries.
zeborah: Vuvuzela concert: This is serious art. (art)
Yesterday afternoon I met up with someone I know from the online librarian world who was in town for the day on the way to a conference. We had this fantastic six-hour conversation which consisted of these amazing nested tangents about work, travel, politics (USan, Australian, NZan), sf (books, TV), family, home repairs, home invasions, and so forth. Every now and then one of us would say, "Oh yes, I was [half an hour ago] going to tell you about X," and then within about half a minute we'd be off on exciting new tangents.

So for example there must have been about an hour between the time I introduced the topic of my fanfic-in-progress and the time I actually started talking about it. But then I also talked about where I'm at with writing in general and it brought together some threads of things I've been thinking about why I'm in a bit of a lull at the moment, which are:
  • Partly it's that it's taking me a while to adjust to working full-time and being a houseowner and having to do all my own cooking and housework. (I think I'm never going to manage the "cooking every night" thing. I'm slowly resigning myself to the fact that it's not a crime to go for a walk from time to time and buy some ready-made food from one of the healthy takeaway places around here.)
     
  • Partly it's that the last novel I completed was horridly demoralising in the swimming-upstream way it took to write -- and that I'm not really happy with the result: there's a lot of parts of it I like, but as a whole, I'm not sure it's really a coherent story.
     
  • Partly it's that this year at work has been a year of ridiculuncous stress what with merging and construction and restructuring and farewelling people and more construction. The earthquake on top of this Did Not Help -- I couldn't write for a month or two after -- but that really was the icing on the cake; even without it I was really struggling.
     
  • And the other thing, which I've had to face more as I recover from the earthquake and which clicked a bit better in my head as I mentioned it last night, is that over the last couple/few(?) years, through all the "Fail" conversations and from trying to educate myself about various related issues, I've learned a lot. And it's made me increasingly aware that a lot of things I've written, and a lot of things I've wanted to write, are to various degrees problematic.
This is not a whine that it's all just too hard. (Though it is hard enough that I have at moments felt/understood the temptation to do that.) Of course it's hard; it's learning. When you learn more about characterisation or plot or anything else then you likewise begin to recognise your own failings at it, sometimes before you have any idea how to actually improve.

But and also it's that I'm trying to change what I want to write. (Because I want to write fun things, and I want to write non-problematic things, so I want problematic things to feel less fun and non-problematic things to feel more fun.) And changing what you want or believe or anything like that is doable if you know enough about how you think, which I think I do, but hard work nonetheless. (I'm suddenly thinking of Cyteen.)

So I think for most of this year, if not more, I've been on a "Argh, my stories are problematic and my writing sucks" plateau and going around in circles. And last night as I was talking I just magically recontextualised this as, "I've learned enough to recognise those problematic things; now I can learn how to fix them through the obscure methodology of: practice, practice, practice." (I ought to have known this beforehand. If anyone else had been struggling with the same thing this is what I'd have told them. But I just didn't really internalise it until last night.) I don't think the plateau was wasted time, because it was also time I was continuing to learn and process. And I'm not likely to suddenly burst into perfect productivity as of today either, so this learning and processing will continue. But I have some more confidence now that I can get myself back into the actual writing thing and will be capable of improving what I write.

I still need to learn how to plot actual stories, though.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
When reporter Ewan McGregor's wife leaves him for his boss, he decides to prove himself by travelling to Iraq to report on contractors. Unfortunately getting out of his 5-star Kuwaiti hotel across the border turns out to be harder than he thought, until he meets George Clooney, the best of The Men Who Stare At Goats. Clooney takes McGregor on his secret mission into Iraq while narrating the history of the US Army's experiments with psychic powers during which he has been trained as a Jedi monk - demonstrating along the way his powers of sparkle-eyes, cloud-bursting, psychic martial arts, etc.

Utter madcap wondiferous nonsense.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Every now and then I've seen ads in the uni newsletter for a choir that sings awesome medieval music and stuff, and I've thought about going along a couple of times, but last night I actually did.

I was expecting them to be big and formal with auditions and Simon Cowell telling me I can't hold a high note for beans, but I walked in and they handed out music and we sang together and I didn't in fact make exponentially more mistakes than anyone else, even when the person I was listening to for the melody went home with a migraine. And one of the other new members recognised me from a library lecture I gave last Friday.

They seemed quite happy for me to turn up again next Tuesday too. I may, um, try to actually figure out these tunes in the meantime though. o.O Sightreading isn't my superpower.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
A friend of mine is one of triplets and another friend of his has a birthday on the same day so he and his wife threw an "Attack of the Clones" birthday party, sci-fi costume compulsory. (This was also inspired by him ordering a stormtrooper costume from the UK and wanting to show it off.) So I decided to go as a Vinvocci.

Makings of an alienUncoloured alien

Vinvocci

Also at the party (besides sf-themed food, sf theme tunes playing in one room, and a Star Trek movie playing in a control panel decorated with LED lights by a spot marked as the transporter - it took them a few weekends to decorate, apparently) were:
  • a model of a dalek and the front of the Tardis opening towards the bathroom (both made by another friend -- they're excellent models, it's his hobby), a tinfoil-on-cardboard cyberman, and the Fifth Doctor complete with celery;
  • the abovementioned stormtrooper, Princess Leia, a few Jedis, (at some point the Stormtrooper, struggling with his awkward costume, had recourse to say, "Help me, Obi-Won Kenobi, you're my only hope!") a Death Star t-shirt, and a two-year-old Ewok;
  • three Star Trek redshirts (one of whom had helpfully pinned a target to her back; another had the perfectest thigh-high boots though the heels were apparently quite painful), a Vulcan, and someone in a blue shirt;
  • and miscellaneous fandoms: Starbuck, Cordelia Naismith (who was very excited that I knew who she was), the Men in Black (with business cards and memory-wiping devices), a combat person from Stargate, my friend's mother wearing robes and a sign saying "Attack of the Crones", and - gah, I've forgotten her name and I wanted to look her up: apparently an evil female character, wearing the awesomest long black robe/coat thing ever, neck to toe and so sleek. Anyone know?


The other fun part was beforehand - getting there on the bus. I decided I'd just wear the whole costume all the way (I needed my sister's help to get the helmet on with all my hair inside, and since I was wearing that I felt more comfortable being completely anonymous) so I left the house and went out to the main road. *Everyone* stared, which made me a) giggle and b) hope I wouldn't cause any car accidents. Some guys yelled out a car window, "Have a great evening!" which was nice; some other guys catcalled, which was meh - I get catcalls wearing my normal clothes, thanks, try something more original maybe?

The bus driver asked if it was a fancy dress party, which I affirmed. More stares and smiles from passengers trying not to laugh. In the bus exchange in town I was waiting for my connection and a young woman came and sat down by me:

Woman: Why are you wearing that?
Green alien: ...It's for a fancy dress party.
Woman: Oh. Did you make it yourself?
Green alien: <explains the virtues of papier mache and paint>
Woman: Cool. ...You know, it's kinda scary.
Green alien: It's okay, I'm a friendly alien.

Then the bus came and I got in line, and the driver didn't see me until I was right up paying, at which point -- this was my favourite reaction of all -- he bit his lip to keep from laughing, and tried really really hard to be completely casual, like green aliens take a ride on his bus every day.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
A friend called me up today to ask if I wanted to go to Mozart with her and her folks and boyfriend, which I did. So at the appropriate hour, I took my laptop, caught the bus, sorted through notes for editing a Wikipedia page I'm working on, and arrived in town.

fastfood; random Maori legend; musings on personal decisions about personal safety; and Mozart )

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zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
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