We actually had a whole day without an aftershock yesterday! According to geonet here was a 3.4 at 10.32 on Saturday night, then nothing significant until 12.30 this morning, when we had a 4.6 (which actually woke me up – normally I’ve been sleeping through everything less than a 5, but it was quite shallow and went on for a long time). Perhaps the end is in sight?
Life has been getting back to normal in other ways too. I’ve been back at work for a week now, and the students are back this morning, so it’s feeling like an ordinary day. Last week was a bit odd – it was really hard to get back into the rhythm of work. Probably just another side-effect of stress and tiredness – everyone I talked to was feeling the same way. If it’s possible for an entire city to suffer from depression, I reckon that’s what happened last week. The first week after the earthquake everyone was busy responding to the emergency, but by the second week the adrenaline was running low and everyone was just tired, anxious, and having trouble concentrating – basically depressed. It’s not surprising, really – even if you’re not all that scared by the aftershocks, you still get that jolt of adrenaline every time one hits, and having that much adrenaline in your system for such a long time isn’t great for your mental health! But after a reasonably quiet weekend, seismically speaking, everyone (including me!) seems so much more awake this morning and ready to get into it.
I’ve been into town a few times now, and it’s both better and worse than I expected. If you went by the pictures on TV, you’d think the whole city centre is devastated, and it’s not. There are plenty of streets where there was no damage, or nothing worse than a few broken windows, which are rapidly being replaced. But every so often you see a damaged building – some with just a few bricks crumbling from the facade, others where whole walls have collapsed, and some that have already been bulldozed and the rubble removed, so there’s just a gap and you’re trying to remember if there was actually something there before. Then there’s the buildings which look ok from the outside, but have a red notice on their door (the council inspectors attach a coloured notice to buildings once they’ve checked them. Green means safe to enter, yellow means restricted entry (i.e. the owner can go in and retrieve their belongings, but definitely not open for business), and red means absolute no go.) And there’s cordons everywhere, so navigating around the city centre is a bit of a challenge – you start to go down a street and it’s closed off, or the road is open but the footpath is closed. There’s moments of dismay and delight as you find out what businesses have survived: Liberty books is open (yay!) but further along the block Smith’s is closed (majorly – the building has lost part of its upper floors) but planning to reopen in a new location (yay!).
We had our first post-earthquake meetup on Tuesday night (it’s funny how there’s this whole “this is the first time I’ve done x since the earthquake” feeling to so many things – even something like getting into a lift feels like an achievement :-)). We’d originally cancelled the meetup, not knowing if anything would be open, but the Dux reopened pretty quickly and enough people were keen to have a meetup that we uncancelled it. I reckon we should cancel meetups more often, because we had a better turnout than we’ve had for ages 🙂 It was a great night, and nice to feel like we were doing something normal again.
I managed not to acquire any books at the meetup, but I haven’t been so good at resisting temptation since then. On Saturday MrPloppy and I went into town and decided we needed a bit of “retail therapy”, so I may have bought one or two books (ok three, but one was second hand, so it doesn’t count, right?). Then later that afternoon Boreal dropped in on her way to Hanmer, and left me a huge box full of books, several of which have already migrated to Mt TBR… Oh well, you can never have too many books 😉
In among all the earthquake drama, I almost missed the fact that spring is definitely sprunging. The trees outside my office window are tinged with green, there’s blossom and daffodils in the park, and a definite hint of warmth in the sun. Of course, those down south under a blanket of snow might not be feeling so positive about the season…