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Earthquakes, blogging and why I love New Zealand

by Marian Schembari on March 3, 2011

As one reader pointed out, I haven’t – on either blog – posted about the recent earthquake in Christchurch. A few of you have been super sweet about getting in touch, but just to put it out there, I’m nowhere near where the quake happened. I’m in Auckland, which is up up up on the North Island. Christchurch is on the South Island, and thankfully, many, many hours away.

Obviously Christchurch is still all anyone here is talking about. The news, the radio, people on the street, shopkeepers, bloggers and tweeters. The whole situation is crap. Really, really crap. A lot of people have died and I can barely watch the news because it hurts my skin to see the wreckage and people sobbing and bleeding on the streets. It takes me back to 9/11, where I couldn’t get hold of my parents and we’d all sit there dreading the guidance counselors who would solemnly take random kids out of school because someone in their family had been found.

Back in 2001, there was barely a blogosphere. I didn’t even have a computer, nevermind an online presence.

I wonder what it would have been like.

The response to Christchurch has been a really beautiful meld of people coming out of the woodwork to do their part. People have offered up their homes on Twitter. Google launched a people finder which had around 1,000 records the day of the quake and is now at over 11,000 at the time of writing.

Best of all, I’ve come across the greatest bunch of posts, all written with a certain amount of humor and lightheartedness. People cracking jokes and being “wildly inappropriate.” This puts a huge grin on my face because, sometimes, wildly inappropriate is the only way to be.

Check out these three amazing posts all post-Christchurch.

The Bloggess

First off, the always brilliant Bloggess shared an email she received from a reader, Ally. Ally is based in Christchurch and wrote the best request for help I have ever read. Just go to said post and read.

My favorite line: “We had a big earthquake and now it turns out that while the good thing about an earthquake is that you can be completely obnoxious then say, ‘Oh, sorry, that’s the earthquake talking’ there are also bad things, like it squashes your central business district and also some of your friends.”

Today is my birthday!

Of course, I then had to find Ally and turns out we’ve already chatted on Twitter! I blog stalked her and found an even better, funnier, more poignant post on the quake that she’d written more for herself than anything. It was hilarious and beautiful. Please check out her blog, follow her on Twitter and donate to the Red Cross should you have a second and some extra cash on hand.

My favorite line: “I learnt that ‘essentials’ is a very flexible term. We went into a friend’s central city, cordoned-off flat to get ‘essentials’ and came back with teacups, electronics, clothes… and a shisha pipe, a gas mask and a bag of bacon.”

But I also can’t leave out her briliant last paragraph:

On the highway to Picton between Seddon and Blenheim there is a hill which has a cluster of white stones that people use to spell out messages. It’s usually sporting HAPPY BDAY BAZZA or something equally entertaining, but when we drove through this weekend it read, KIA KAHA CHCH.

It roughly translates to ‘stay strong, Christchurch,’ and Christchurch will.

Trade Me

Then I somehow came across this AMAZING post on Trade Me (New Zealand’s version of eBay) and seller Phil Johnson has up for auction a “landscape rock” that appears to have landed in his living room post-quake.

The auction is complete with hilarious description on where you might place your new landscape rock, photographs and dozens and dozens of bidder questions that only show the incredible support of the people in this country.

My favorite line: “Suitable for garden feature, or as in our case a magnificent addition to your living area. Rocky will enhance your ‘indoor outdoor’ flow considerably, especially if you load him in through the garage roof like we did.”

In a disaster, sometimes the only way to function is to be a little inappropriate. During 9/11 it was all horror and death and barely any communication with the outside world. Thanks to Twitter and blogging and auction sites, we now have access to people who can – if even for a second – put a smile on our faces. As Ally said in her brilliant post, “Some of it is a little bit funny because even in tragedies funny things still happen, and that is how I deal with crises, and goodness knows we all need a bit of a laugh at the moment.”

God, I love that.

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  • Tricia

    I think we all need to add humor every now and then…appropriate or not. It’s a good coping mechanism. Sometimes we just get too caught up in things whether it be everyday life or disasters. Humor helps us get by. I read the Bloggess & Ally earlier this week and also enjoyed it. I had not seen the Rock story…great! Thanks for sharing. Must admit, when I heard of the earthquake, I did immediately think of you and pulled up a map since you are the only person I “know” connected to NZ. Glad to know you are ok…still enjoying your blog…

    • Marian Schembari

      Absolutely. Humor is totally underrated. And, to be honest, it drives me crazy when folks say certain situations need to be taken more seriously or joking about something is inappropriate. Okay, scratch that. I understand where in some instances cracking a joke can be really insensitive. However, in a situation like this – where an entire country is already in morning and no one is arguing the seriousness of the quake – a few funny posts and a little humor can solidify the country and bring us together. It’s pretty awesome :)

  • Marian Schembari

    Earthquakes, blogging and why I love New Zealand

  • Siany

    Sometimes the internet just stops being about the internet and lets people communicate. This makes me happy.

    • Marian Schembari

      Exactly. I love when the internets prove to be a force of GOOD.

  • John Falchetto

    Read @MarianSchembari on Earthquakes, blogging and why she loves New Zealand

  • Anonymous

    I love this. Sometimes we all just need to remember that no matter where we sit on this far-flung Earth we are all just people. Bad things, happen and its okay to ask for help. Its okay to smile and laugh because that’s what keeps us going. Its okay to reach out, because someone will be on the other side. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Marian Schembari

      Me too :) I love coming across these cool little tidbits on something that’s so horrible. Gives me a little hope.

      Love your comment. THANK YOU!

  • Kim Humes

    Great points about keeping one's sense of humour in the face of tragedy via @MarianSchembari

  • Sari Webb

    Thanks for this post Marian. It’s good to see something light hearted about Chch. The media tend to focus on the sad stuff. I lived there for three years when I was at uni and it’s tough to see buildings I know so well destroyed. My brother’s been there for all the quakes too (he’s at uni there at the moment) but he’s ok.

    • Marian Schembari

      Oh wow. Had no idea you lived in Christchurch! I’ve never been (yet) but I can imagine what it’s like to see a place you called home essentially destroyed. Thank God your brother’s okay though!

      • Sari Webb

        It’s very strange. I was just talking to an old uni friend the other day about uni days, and then it hit us that the places we were talking about might not be standing anymore.

  • Rosie Clarke

    So much love for the awesome people of New Zealand – Kia Kaha, Christchurch. via @MarianSchembari


    Earthquakes, blogging and why I love New Zealand — Marian Schembari /via @lukegregory

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