A Little Distance

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A Little Distance

Category : Art

Well, it happened again. Insert sensationalist news headline here. Earthquakes are a-quaking. But not right under me. Not here. Not this time. We felt the biggie, sat up in bed, said ‘Is that a… oh shiiiit,” and zig-zagged to the doorway, but all the hundreds of after shocks, all hours, night and day, we don’t feel them. Not this time.

And it makes all the difference. Like when your baby starts sleeping for more than 2 hours at a time—blows  you away how much better you feel, how your brain and body remember how to function the next day. World of difference, and it comes as a surprise.

We get to feel capable. I get to feel like some kind of super hero. Like I’m something special because I can get on with life despite it all.

juggle and drop

I can handle the jandal. Helps that the jandal only gave me a gentle caress upside the head, no skin-tearing ear ringer.

Don’t get me wrong, we are weary again. Packing go-bags and filling the water drum from last time, wondering where we put the little battery-powered radio. The day after the biggie that lifted seabed up out of the water and shook the hills off their perches, and stretched the railway tracks around the coast like tinsel draped around a tree—the next day I went to do the groceries. Did a big shop too. Our supply lines are cut, right? Time to pack the cupboards with dried noodles and tinned beans, and other things we may never eat, if all goes well. But just in case there’s a shortage coming… so I’m rolling around Pak’nSave, trolley laden, and I find myself back in my old habit of stopping at the start of an aisle and casing the place, pinpointing where along the ailse I’ll find the four things I want so that I can dash and grab, bee-line and get out quick. Just in case. Spend as little time as possible caged in by towering shelves lined with glass bottles and jars and tins that’d likely brain me if they flew out, if the fault faltered again.

And we’re assured it will. So it’s not unreasonable to think this way.

Tiring, though. And old. Gets old fast now. Only a week later I did the whole shop and the thought only popped into my head once, and not until after I’d done the olive oil aisle.


Yep, I’m getting blasé already. Getting good nights’ sleeps, and nothing fell out of the cupboard when it was a seven point fiver, so…

We’re just that little bit further away. Not even 200kms but still… a little distance makes an enormous difference. The kids slept through. They don’t seem stressed. They talk about making themselves into turtles and crawling under tables like its a game.

I’ve been supervising exams these past few weeks and I’m in there for three hours with almost nothing to do, walking up and down rows of these kids. And thinking. And for some of that time I’m thinking about how they were ten or eleven when Christchurch was hit hard. Anxiety in this age group is meant to be way out of whack. Across Canterbury, mental health issues are significantly increased, post quakes. How many parents are watching their teenagers and wondering if some awful moment is a normal teenage grappling with impending adulthood or something else?

But I might get to skip that, as a parent. My kids are just young enough, just far enough out of reach. Lucky for us. But I feel for those near the action now. I remember—not perfectly, no one does maybe, but enough. In the thick of constant preparing and wondering and what-ifs, you can only really react. Even the plans you make are reactions in disguise.


It looks and feels like a plan, proactive and careful, but nope. Just a reaction. A ruse!

Time and geographical distance is what I have now, and both give me the space to think in a very different way. Not a reaction but a considered, self-aware processing.

I can choose not to check geonet constantly, not to tune in to every news broadcast and fill my head with the cycle of stories—stories of tragedy, near-misses, even the wonderful stories, the happy ones, contribute to a kind of obsession.

I can choose to get my head out of earthquakes, this time.

It didn’t seem like an option last time. Obsession was required—or seemed to be. Of course it’s easy now. Easy not to be obsessed. Easy to tell others not to become obsessed, to warn them it won’t help.

Much harder for those there.

I can step out of myself, almost, and watch my response. I can separate the visceral reactions for the ones I can control. I’ve figured out: I can’t help looking up to see if the lampshades are swinging but I can choose not to get on Facebook and feed off everyone else’s responses.

I’m far enough removed to notice how this whole thing translates so readily to art—this distance, with it’s pros and cons.

When you first create something, you are so close to it, moved by it, reactive, obsessed. Necessarily so. Attempts to be self-aware and moderate, and any pretense of getting on with normal life, is seldom successful and if it doesn’t feel just plain ridiculous it probably, at the very least, is bad for the art itself.

Distance, though, does several things. Time teaches you to see the work objectively. You can measure its impact, see its strengths, weaknesses, self-indulgence and spark of genius. Quakes can bring out the genius, the generosity, the community potential we all kept so well under wraps when life was ticking along and we didn’t need to rely on each  other. In the throes of making art, the art and the artist can be completely unpredictable, can do things no one can explain. At the time, it may seem madness. Later, though, the madness shakes out and it becomes clear which bits were brilliant and which were, perhaps a necessary part of the process but not something to hold on to and retain and revisit and celebrate.


Shake it out. Find the gold. Toss the grit.

Distance has its pitfalls too. Feeling less can suck all the heart out of art, and that’s a problem because,

“the most important element of art or architecture is human emotion.”

– Barak Obama in a speech just this week, awarding Medals of Freedom to a whole raft of people including designer and artist Maya Lin.

He’s so right. Art is important because it has an impact on people. The way it influences or moves people might vary wildly, but it is those responses that lend art enormous value.

Distance can also make you blase about the value of your creation. The rush of passion and sense of importance, the urgency and vitality that pushed you through, you can’t feel that way all day every day. It’s exhausting.


So. Very. Exhausting.

But the absence or presence or intensity of that feeling isn’t a reliable measure of the value of your work.

Distance can be a wonderful thing and I am so very aware of this—every time I see a quake tweet and didn’t feel a thing, every time I watch a light shade swing and then look over to see my kids continuing their colouring-in, blissfully unaware… hurrah for distance! But it comes with dangers too. Feeling less. Forgetting what matters. Being faithless, even: to yourself, your experience, your creation, your community.

I have no easy answer here. No cure. No fix. It’s a tension we’ll have to sit with, struggle with. Along with the survivor’s guilt and some variety of impostor’s syndrome, the best thing is first to become aware. Be patient. Be kind—to yourself and others. Be present. In fact, that’s always good advice for artists. Being present makes for excellent material. And it’ll slow you down a bit, which makes for healthier artists. Working artists. Truer art.

This post was going to end here. Feel free to stop reading, by the way, but I just thought of another application for this distance pro/con conundrum.


Honestly, feel free to stop reading.

Geography puts me, if not out of reach of a particular narcissistic megalomaniac (yes, the one who is making even the Dutch reconsider the colour orange), then at least in the far reaches of the danger zone. Socio-economic factors put me out of touch with numerous aspects of NZ’s politics. Ability, education, race, sexuality, age, body type and gender can give you proximity or distance from any given movement or issue or piece of legislation. Having diverse friends will lend you proximity to issues you would otherwise easily, unwittingly, be untouched by.

I am a white, cis, hetero, able, young, employable, educated home-owner. I could choose to feel less about so many things. I have the luxury of that choice. I could forget the importance of issues that don’t touch me, and be faithless. It’s easier for me than for most.

Distance can be nice. Easy. I get to feel capable, independent, in control. When distance is dropped in your lap, accepting it is instinctive.


Oooh, goodies. For me? Yes please.

But can I implore? Is that allowed? Please, bridge the distance. Seek to feel more—for yourself, and your humanity, and for others. Choose not to forget how important these things are to the daily lives of other people and their families. Choose to be faithful, first in thought, and then follow where that leads.

A little distance can be a good thing, a much-needed breather, but too much and we all lose out. In politics—which is far reaching. In art. In civil defense.

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The Christchurch Bit

We spent the first 12 days for our time in NZ staying with my parents in Christchurch. Here we recovered from jet lag.

elena falling asleep before dinnerElena kept nodding off in the high chair.

Luuk went to work the day after we arrived and for the whole following week… which meant our trip around the world didn’t gobble up ALL his annual leave.

Me, my parents, and the kids tried to keep busy, in order to resist four hour mid-afternoon naps. We did a supermarket trawl, for all the kiwi goodies we’d been going without for two years (pineapple lumps, gingernuts, raspberry licorice, rice crackers, yoyos, black forest chocolate, venison sausages…)

And then it was coffee time. A great NZ flat white was just spot-on. And so was the lolly cake.

lolly cake appreciation

 Elena agreed.

ducklings at northlands  And there were ducklings, in case the lolly cake wasn’t joy-giving enough.

On Saturday morning we visited the farmers’ market at Dean’s Bush. This place is just pumping now. It was always lovely, but I suppose there aren’t a whole lot of other places to go while so much is being rebuilt. We didn’t even get to the first stall before meeting more than one familiar face.

bumping into people at the riccarton market

Bumping into people at the Riccarton Market.

It took us probably an hour to get from one end to the other with all the impromptu catch-ups on the way. Luuk and I fortified ourselves with one of the best sausage rolls the world over, about half way along, and there were numerous other tastes and treats before we returned to the cars.

Next stop was the ‘encraftment’ market in the city center.

encraftment market, cathedral square, christchurch 2013

A friend of mine had a stall at this fantastic local craft market, so I was very excited to see her and browse her lovely wares. It was strange, however, to be back in the city center, which has been largely inaccessible to the public since the earthquakes. The cathedral will be demolished, but part of it remained and we had a good last look through the fences.

On Sunday we visited Ilam Baptist, where we used to go to church. It was wonderful to catch up with everyone (well, those who were there) and the kids enjoyed being around so many other kids. Having warned about two people of our arrival, we ended up lunching on our own, but actually it was quite nice to have a little time out.

fish'n chips after church

And some essential kiwi tucker – fish’n chips from Captain Ben’s.

Dad had the week off work, so the kids got lots of time with their grandparents. I took the opportunity to nap each afternoon, to do a little shopping on my own, and to see friends.

christmas cookies with gran

Louis making Christmas cookies with Gran.

christmas grotto, spreydon, 2013

Visiting the Christmas Grotto.

hagley park playground

Playing on the playground at Hagley Park
(after a lovely coffee and scone at the Curator’s House – things NZ does well…)

good ol' kiwis

Speaking of things NZ does well… kiwi fruit!

Elena spent much of the week climbing up and down my parents’ stair case, and didn’t tumble once (though she terrified us all plenty). The kids also enjoyed the piano, when they weren’t clonking their heads on it.

perks of gran's house

On the second saturday of our stay we resisted the market-pull and hosted an open-house kind of party, so that we could catch up with as many people as possible, in one day. It was fantasic, and exhausting, and probably fattening, but hey! it’s christmas.

the joy of stairs

There were lots of kids to play with and we probably neglected our own, talking the day away with friends from so many different circles.

In the evening there was BBQ, and so naturally it rained. Dad has stood in the rain for probably half of my birthdays, ever, cooking our meat. Once again, somehow, that was his lot. We ate our full, and then some, and then some hokey pokey and goodie goodie gum drops ice cream.

Somehow we’d managed to miss people at that one-big-get-together, so on our last night in Christchurch, Eva came over for dinner.

nose-bopping fun

Eva and Louis, nose-bopping.

We were in town long enough to see a few of our closest friends multiple times, to get past the bare-minimum catch-up stuff. Of course it wasn’t long enough, but one day we’ll be back. In the meantime, I haven’t any great certainty or insights into whether or not we want to move back to Christchurch in a hurry. We will most likely be back there sooner or later, but perhaps not forever. The city is changing all the time, and that could be an exciting rebirth to be a part of, or it might just be too difficult, going back. We can only wait and see.

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hungry much?

I’ve been all about the writing today. I’m hungry for the next scene, the next twist, the next big reveal! I did nap this morning, but I wrote right up until napping became necessity and then wrote again as soon as I got the chance (must thank Louis when he gets home from halte garderie, my lovely boy, for being so conveniently distracted and happy).

I can thank Elena now.

What a happy baby!

I’ve made stacks of progress with editing, though I suspect I’m racing a bit and probably need to do another once-over of the bits I covered today, just to be sure…

I’ve been all about the food today, as well, if I’m honest. Yesterday was the same. My diet’s gone out the window. Elena was off her food this week, she was a bit sick, and has been relying on breast milk for nutrients more than usual, which is probably picking up my milk supply – which is all related to my sudden increase in appetite! Yesterday I ate all the leftover dolmades (they did need using up) for morning tea and then had a full sandwich for lunch as usual. At French class I ate about three times my share of afternoon tea and today… I kept sneaking into the kitchen for another peanut MnM this morning, and I just inhaled my second pastry for the day.

And then I wrote a poem about it.

if I were an apple
destined to be consumed
I’d like to be the one oozing
from between the layers of
un chausson aux pommes,
turned caramel crunchy where I made my escape
but just baby apples in the middle.


I do love these things: in English, a slipper of apples. Yeah, it’s an apple turnover, but a REALLY GOOD ONE.

Dinner is going to be full of veggies. And pasta. But mostly veggies. And then we’re going to have a lovely lazy evening (new episode of Modern Family, fingers crossed) and an early night. Stayed up way too late with our friends last night. Introduced them to Bohnanza, or ‘The Bean Game’ as it is generally referred to it by its numerous adoring (and English speaking) fans. It is great for groups, addictive, tactical and nearly everyone who plays it seems to then go out and buy it. So if you don’t want to buy games at the mo, you’d better stay away.

Hurrah, it’s Friday. I would take a video of Louis saying ‘bon weekend’ in his lovely French accented way, but he’s on the potty and you don’t want to see that. Plans for the weekend? A new bike seat needs picking up (the new bike comes next weekend), there’s an agricultural show in Paris, and our friends want to introduce us to a big indoor play land for kids – better than Acrochats, which isn’t saying a lot in itself, but it snowed today so indoor playgrounds are gaining appeal.

And one other thing to mention, two years today since the Christchurch earthquake. It wasn’t the first, but it was the killer. I watched a tribute video on youtube earlier (possibly unwise) and I had forgotten how bad it all was. But if you’re feeling unwise and/or curious…

The theme at the next Paris Spoken Word stand-up night is ‘hometown’. Christchurch is, in a way, my hometown, but I don’t really know what to say about all this. I’m tempted to say my town is gone, but it isn’t really. It has just changed.

It’s too hard to get along to the Spoken Word event anyway. But at the risk of being the millionth person to say it today, kia kaha Christchurch.

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yummy love

Who’s idea was it to have valentines day after lent starts? Seriously. But I suppose, as I’m not giving up chocolate, I shouldn’t complain too much.

I’m giving up whatever I have to in order to read my bible every day. Other years I’ve given up meat or coffee (or both) and as helpful as the experience was I really want to get into a habit of reading my bible again, so this seemed as good a time as any. I could cut out a specific thing – reading trash, watching television, or some other wasteful time-suck, but I think I’m more likely to read my bible if I can then reward myself with a little trashy tv… hey, know thyself, right?

I’m also going to have a go at 40 Acts, which is all about being generous. I suppose the focus shifts from giving something up, to giving something up for someone else. And with my bible reading resolution, giving up something for something else.

And Valentines? Well I did think ahead and shopped the lingerie department during the last round of sales, but then yesterday I saw a recipe for red, heart shaped pancakes… So I’m thinking I’ll make the mixture this afternoon and then serve them up for breakfast. We don’t have moulds but I’m wondering if a round pancake with a frosting-heart would have a similar effect. And it all goes down the same way (apologies… common saying in our family – more disgusting than I realise, possibly.)

— dropping Louis at halte garderie —

Stopped in at the church on the way back, just to check on a detail for my story (several scenes of which take place in the church), and it was packed out… The priest up the front is making a mark on the forehead of another priest, then on an altar boy – oh! It’s Ash Wednesday. Took me long enough.

Dates like this, and Valentines for that matter, make me think back to other years.

Two years ago, valentines day, Luuk and I went to a restaurant which no longer exists, because a week later the hotel crashed down around it in a massive earthquake. The city jumped up and down, as well as side to side, at 2gs, and little survived. Since then much of the city (including that hotel) has been demolished.

christchurch remainsChristchurch Remains
(not my image, belongs to ChristchurchNZ group)

It is so strange to think of all the places, of all the memories I have of things happening in places, that simply no longer exist. I used to work in that big hotel in the foreground… but the theatre over the road, gone. The Starbucks where I’d get my frapuccino (I’d lasted another day cleaning hotel room filth! Well done me!) is still standing, though not operational, but the cathedral is gutted and half gone.

Depressing. Moving on…

I’ve never been to very traditional churches till this last year but two years ago I went along to an Ash Wednesday service for the first time. It was just after the earthquakes and the cathedral was a ruin (the one in the middle of the image above). The catholic basilica was also a mess and there’s nothing quite like a natural disaster to bring people together. The respective bishops and other church leaders of the city got together and had a joined Ash Wednesday service at a little Anglican church in the suburbs. Louis and I went along. After the quakes we were encouraged to stay home, to limit strain on the infrastructure, and with a four month old baby I wasn’t much help digging liquefaction silt off of people’s driveways, so I was home a lot. On that Wednesday, I wanted to be a part of things, to see the community joining together, working and celebrating and mourning together.

Now I’m a part of a very different community, and yet in some ways I’m not a part of it. I’m an expat, always a bit out of things, and then I speak middling French at best… This morning, Elena was ready for her nap, the church was full, it was half way through… I didn’t stay. Elena will have to wait till next year to get an ash cross on her forehead, but she does get blessed every other week at church, and by us every night before bed. She’ll be fine. It’s not a magic spell.

I’ve gone off on a tangent. I was going to write about showing love through food. Yesterday evening I made mince and cheese pies, not an entirely self-less act of love, but Luuk enjoyed them at least as much as I did.

They turned out awesome, despite my basically winging it with regards a recipe. So, for posterity or something, here’s what I did:

1. butter, shallots chopped fine and mushrooms chopped roughly, all fried up.

mushroom layer


2. I used the chinese food dishes from the previous night (reduce reuse recycle!), rinced them well and then lined them with pre-rolled flaky pastry. I put the mushrooms in first then…

3. Cooked up the beef mince.

4. Grated a potato, skin and all, and added this to browned beef.

5. A glass of red wine and a dissolved stock cube in less than a cup of water, added gradually… and herbs, seasoning, etc.

6. I put the beef/potato/gravy mix into the pie dishes on top of the mushrooms then grated plenty of (comte) cheese on top.

pies ready to cook

7. I managed to do this with just one sheet of pastry, but I had to wrestle the pie tops to fit. And then I poked holes and then baked at 200 for about 40 minutes.

mushroom, red wine, mince and cheese pies

8. Cause I’m a good girl, we also had a half head of broccoli each, steamed with a tiny bit of butter and the last dregs of that stock water.

I saw a picture of an old Georgie Pie meal deal on facebook yesterday and it made me crave pie… I haven’t had mince and cheese pies since we left New Zealand, and I’ve had some very good ones in my time (thank you Mountain View Bakery, Pirongia, to name one source in particular) but seriously, take that Georgie Pie!


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où sont mes bottes?

Mum and I went on a bit of a shopping mission this afternoon. We both need boots. She drowned hers in Venice – I tell no lies. That’s exactly what happened. True story.

Mine have heels – not very high heels, but high enough to not be flat – and they’re looking rather rough around the toes. And they’re brown.

I’m looking for flat, waterproof boots, with snow in mind. It’s coming. I can feel it in the breeze. And I’m thinking black is very versatile. But then again, I really like purple, and my winter coat is a deep red colour… so I could get dark red boots to match and how chic would that be?

I’m not sure really. I’m not sure I’ve a great definition of chic.

Nonetheless, boot-shopping we went, with chic dreams of course.

I came home with a pair of purple jeans, a red, white and blue check shirt (1 shirt; 3 colours) and a very cool end-of-line blazer by Ralph Lauren! I don’t think I’ve ever owned any actual fancy shmancy label clothes before. Looks good tho!

I also got water-proof gloves (snow is coming), a wind/water-proof jacket for Elena, and socks for Louis.

But no luck on the boots front. I have big calves. Gah! They don’t look big to me. But I always have this problem with boots, so much as I might like to blame the boots, I think it’s probably just me. Maybe soon though, with all this weight I’m losing (and hoping to).

I was very excited to fit into smaller jeans than before and the shirt sits better than they usually do. So I left the shop happy.

Another win on our outing was that I posted off some cards and packages that have been cluttering up the sideboard for, oh, weeks. So hurrah for that.

Luuk was late back tonight because he does the groceries on the way home from work. Traffic was a nightmare, but it was also a huge shop with some exciting new things: a toddler toilet-insert-seat, a step-stool-thing, pull-ups and real undies!

Guess what that means. My little goal: day-dry by Christmas. I know, get real girl; he’s not even two yet. Yeesh.

And then there were some pressies for me:

I’m feeling very spoiled. Not only is this very handy-dandy, but it’s also my favourite colour (tied, of course, with purple). I mean, sure, Luuk gives me a casserole dish, it’s possible he has an ulterior motive or two, but I don’t mind. Slow-cooker recipes are once again within my reach!

We’ve had a lovely couple of days. The weather has been miserable but yesterday we had NZ visitors! They live in Toulouse, as of very recently, and have three kids. We had dinner together yesterday evening and the kids all had a blast.

Despite the age differences, the kids got on spiffingly and this helpful young man even managed to get Louis to eat some of his dinner. His reward: first choice of macaron flavour for dessert.

Us kiwi expats of course had tonnes to catch up on and plenty of notes to compare re:adaptation to France. A few complaints, but we’re not missing Christchurch much. Blame the friggin quakes. The people are lovely, but the ground just keeps on moving.

Bit of a tangent there, but back to les bottes (french for boots, prounounced ‘bots’ like in ‘robots’ – that’s how I remember it, cause it always looks like the transformers have big clunky boots on). The hunt for my perfect pair will go on another day. Might have to make a bargain with myself: no other shopping till I get the boots.


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A-tumbling down

I was woken this morning by the sound of breaking breakfast bowl, shortly followed by “No! We don’t throw!”

We brought four of these funky blue and white rice bowls over from NZ. One got cracked a month or two ago and now it holds Louis’ crayons. After this morning, we just have two left. I’m just glad Louis’ breakfast was dry cheerios. Luuk tells me Louis was putting a cheerio on top of each spoonful of yoghurt. Cute. Shame about the casualty.

Despite the dramatic beginning we’ve had a lovely, leisurely day. Luuk and I spent much of it reading, sitting out on the deck, feet up… And that’s where the second crash of the day occurred. Luuk had his favourite coffee cup balanced perfectly on the wall edging the deck. I put my glass up on the wall beside me, balanced it, relaxed: a very convenient sideboard. The weather has been hot, so I was thirsty. I drank my water. I returned my glass to its place.

It slipped; hit the deck. Shattered.

Almost dropped several other things in the course of the day. Managed not to, somehow. But crockery isn’t the only thing tumbling around here.

We took a picnic lunch to Parc Heller today. It was perfect. We ate our lunch by the lake, then Louis and Luuk fed the leftovers to the ducks.

Louis spent most of the rest of the time chasing his ball around the gravelly vicinity of the playground.

He was the third thing to tumble today. Gave himself a nasty shock, and put a red graze-patch on his cheek – the same cheek he landed on when he body-rolled at the playground earlier in the week. Luuk checked him over and cleared all other blemishes – jam left over from lunch rather than bloody cuts. So he’s fine. Was back to exploring the gravel and chasing his ball within a few minutes.

Also had a glorious time on the swings.

But then some other kids came nearby with their ball and Louis got distracted. A ball trumps everything.

Luuk and Louis had biked to the park – I met them there with the picnic. But I wanted to try out the bike with Louis’ seat on the front… no pictures of this feat, unfortunately, but I did squeeze on, my belly up against the back of Louis’ seat. Biked to the edge of the Parc then handed over the reigns and walked the rest of the way. Managed to beat the boys home (I’d boast of a great sense of direction, except that I mistakenly took a circuitous route on my way to the park…)

Louis napped away the remainder of the afternoon. Luuk finished his book and then did the same – noteworthy, as Luuk rarely naps. I was the only one not napping today. Got dinner organised before we went to church – a real treat to come home and have only a couple of last things to do before serving up a fresh, healthy, flavourful meal.

So, it’s Sunday evening and we’re determined to have an early night – always a challenge when we don’t get home from church till after 7.30pm. Sunday evening can be poisoned by Monday’s imminent arrival sometimes, but not in May, not in France. Tomorrow is another holiday! Luuk is off to the Netherlands in the late afternoon – has a client to see on Tuesday. It’s his last trip before the baby comes… so long as the baby doesn’t come between now and then. I’ve been aching in all the places that contractions ache: lower back, lower abdomen, etc. Walking to the park today was one long (500 metre) mission – these hips don’t lie: I’m at capacity. Can’t be long now. But it’d be good if it weren’t till Wednesday, at least.

Loving the summer weather, except for when I’m too hot to sleep. During the sermon this evening – on pentecost Sunday nonetheless – there were numerous peals of thunder. Very cool. A few spits of rain, but all dried up before we came out of church. Crazy weather.

I realised as we got in the car: not once, though the thunder rumbles deep and low in just the right way, not once did I think there might be an earthquake. Not even for a fraction of a second. Four months since we left Christchurch and I might finally be losing the neuroses. Meanwhile, Christchurch is rattling and rolling still – though my parents assure me that the quakes of the past week or two haven’t been that bad – I’ve had numerous geonet tweets reminding me that for some the neuroses are alive, and well, and well-justified.