So a month ago, February 21st, I had this life. I was the reasonably proud owner of one the biggest tattoo studios in Christchurch. I was booked out for a month and struggling to find time to keep up with my other commitments.
I had stopped smoking. Spent four nights a week swinging fists and sticks at the gym. My waistline thanked me.
My book Poison Door had somehow climbed to #23 on Amazon.UK's bestseller chart for 'Female Sleuths'. I still have no idea how that happened. Just, overnight, the Brits started buying the hell out of my book.
The next day, everything changed.
Ten minutes to one, I was waiting for the mobile espresso van to bring me my midday shot of Brain Enhancer before I went to bank the month's rent.
A minute later I was standing behind the counter, surfing one a floor that wouldn't hold still. The sounds were deafening: the building rattling, glass crashing, one of my artists screaming.
When it stopped I got the upset girl outside, went back in to start cleaning. Enough equipment was broken or damaged that I knew we'd have to close for the day.
More people started yelling. Something about 'flooding' and 'trapped'. A dark wet line appeared through the carpet. I went out front, pulled the sidewalk-sign in and locked the door. Brown water was rushing out from between sidewalk and building. On the other side of the wall, it was filling my front room. The building was still rumbling. Aftershocks made cracking sounds in the roof.
Out back, more water gushed from under the building. In the time it took to lock the front door and leave through the back, the nose of my car had been buried in wet brown mud.
I snatched a cigarette off the first smoker I saw.
I got three weeks off work. Unpaid.
Poison Door sank like a stone from the UK charts.
Now, it's a month later.
Zyban's cutting the smoking habit- in just over a week I've gone from a pack and a half to five. My gym's reopened, now almost an hour from my house. I'll travel that distance, just to lose the results of four weeks of fried food. (Most nights I'd just stare at the fridge, stare at the stove, and go buy fish and chips.)
My new shop is open. The new place is smaller, more intimate, and the rent isn't such an incredible stone around my neck. I can't help but be aware that in a city where half the storefronts fell down and competition for those still standing is fierce, I was wise to hustle and a little bit lucky too.
And in the UK, Poison Door has sold two copies. That's right, two. I don't know why, any more than I know why it sold so many in February. Sales in the US are steady and growing, but that weird spike in England... just baffling.
In times of trouble and times of joy, I read the Stoic philosophers. They help me 'meet with fortune and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same.' And seeing as I opened with a quote from one of my favorites, I'm going to go out with him too. Especially poignant in light of the tragedy in Japan: