Thursday, 28 February 2013

Wow

Remember back in December I spent several hours watching ludicrously thin young ballet dancers contort themselves into pretzel-like shapes?  

Then there was the Genee  finals night that even the Animator enjoyed, and the following day's sprint to file copy before morning broke in London.

I finally received the magazine today and am quietly chuffed at how great it turned out (click here to read). And a big fat OMG - my story cosies up to one by author Audrey Niffenegger, she of The Time Traveller's Wife (loved that novel; the movie was just one big meh). That's right, my writing is sharing the same magazine real estate as Audrey Niffenegger. Wow.  



Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Thankful

Today we swapped out our usual Wednesday run along the waterfront for the Town Belt because it was too hot to run in the blazing midday sun (how often do I get to type those words in Welly?!)

About the halfway point, we met an Irish chap who was looking for the Lord of the Rings filming locations (here's an idea Wellington City Council, install better signage. I have been bailed up by tourists so many times asking where filming locations are, I've half a mind to set myself up as a tour guide).

Anyway, this lovely bloke was from Dublin and had been away from home for three weeks. He was missing his dog terribly and fussed over the Hound, praising his beauty and good nature.

He told me he'd wanted to visit New Zealand since he was seven years old. "You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place. What a good life you must have," he said. He is right, of course. Although I've visited Dublin twice and adore it, I'm very glad I landed where I did.

Sorry to get all Oprah on you, but today I am very thankful for all I have. Especially this little chap....





      

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The one in which I get a free haircut

So the old barnet was looking a bit rough - and getting a trim is just one more item on the list that should be filled with ticks but sadly doesn't feature many.

Fortunately Sean, the husband of one of the Animator's colleagues, is a hairdresser and recently set up a salon in their house. In fact, a couple of weeks ago the Animator dusted off his power tools to help Sean put up some shelves and in return, Sean offered to cut my hair.

So tonight after work I whizzed up to Miramar and as their adorable dogs Woody and Buzz cavorted around the garden, Sean worked his magic on my tired old locks. And gave me all sorts of tips for our coming trip to Korea. I know where I'll be going for my haircuts from now on...



    

Monday, 25 February 2013

Oscar


So neither of the two feature films the Animator worked on, The Hobbit or Pirates! A Band of Misfits took home any little gold men (even though Pirates most certainly should have).

One of our things is to try and see as many of the Oscar nominees as possible. I've already banged the drum for Life of Pi and the other night we saw the extraordinary Flight. Denzel Washington plays the role of an alcoholic pilot whose real 'flight' is from reality, via drugs and alcohol. Washington was robbed of the Best Actor award; robbed, I say. He is amazing and charismatic and a hugely flawed character. Probably best not to watch it before hopping on a plane, though.

On Saturday night I tried, and failed, to watch Lincoln. I wanted to like it - this is, afterall, the story of one of history's most famous Presidents as he tries to abolish slavery, end a war and unite a nation. Maybe you have to be American to really get it, but oh my stars, I've had more fun bleaching stains out of teacups while staring at a brick wall.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Bristol is famous!

So my story about returning to NZ after an OE or two ran in yesterday's Canvas Magazine (click here to read).

Looks fine in the digital version but holy mother of god, in the print version this photo - which the editor assured me would be used quite small - took up an entire page!

The Brizz, however, is loving the fame and is now demanding his dressing room be filled with green M&Ms and slithers of wagyu beef. I have created a monster...

          

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Basil action

Meet the Animator's first successful attempt to grow Basil in the wild:


    

He is so proud of it that when I asked him to pick two bunches so I could have my way with them, olive oil and stupidly expensive pine nuts, he looked as though I'd asked him to jump through a plate glass window.

But it is starting to go to seed and, as gloriously fragrant as it is, the time will soon come for it to commit hari kari.

Tonight's pesto will also contain garlic from the Animator's garden; it's a bit of a hippy notion, but oh my god, it is nice to be able to wander outside and pick fresh veges and herbs. You watch, we'll be knitting our own yoghurt before too long.

While I'm riffing on all things green, it would be remiss of me not to mention the other herb pot and the fat green tomatoes which, fingers crossed, the birds won't get to before we do.


Friday, 22 February 2013

Photoshoots

Is there anyone - apart from genetically freakish 6ft tall anorexic 15-year-olds who clotheshorse for a living - that likes having their photo taken?

Sometimes, however, you just have to suck it up. Below is one of the pics from a photoshoot I did the other night for a magazine article I've written about returning home after living overseas. Of course the editor wanted a shot with Wellington spread behind me like a blanket.

Note how I managed to drag the Wonderdog into the shot. Hopefully everyone will be so distracted by him they won't notice me...



Thursday, 21 February 2013

Stunning

Tonight after work I interviewed an amazing artist, Pravithra, for a magazine profile. She was warm and funny and stupidly talented. I was privileged to spend time in her orbit.

On the way home, while waiting to cross the road, a $10 note fluttered across my foot; I looked around to see who owned it and apart from a chap to my right, there was no-one around. "It seems to like you, keep it," he said. And so I did.

Later there was gossip and laughter with a couple of the girlies and their dogs in the Town Belt and when I got home there was an email commissioning four out of the five stories I'd pitched to Canvas Magazine. That is not a misprint.

The cherry on the top of this glorious day is that I do not have to show up to the gulag for 72 hours. Insert happy dance here.

Today's images are of Pravithra's oil paintings:





Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Life of Pi


“I must say a word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always ... so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don't, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.” 
― Yann MartelLife of Pi


Last night we parked butt in front of what the Guardian calls a "gently astonishing film". The adaptation of Yann Martel's allegorical novel of a boy adrift at sea with a Bengal tiger is one of the best things to scrape across these tired and cynical eyeballs in a long time.

Today I have bored everyone stupid with how great this film is. Go and see it. And then go again.

(Pic credit: Google Images)   

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Sadness

Once again, summer had Wellington in a choke-hold.

Sunshine clung to me as I walked to work, lunched with a former colleague, grappled with a difficult PR strategy and scheduled an interview for a magazine.

But later, an email from a very dear friend threatened to blot out the sun: yesterday she had to send one of her beloved dogs to sleep. Diabetes and age had conspired to end poor Allie's life. Understandably, my friend was distraught; she had moved halfway around the world with her two dogs and now one of them was gone.

I know only too well how my friend feels; in August 2009, we held Brompton as our vet gently freed him from his disease-ravaged body.  And late last year, an ocean away, Doug and Suzi had to make the same decision for our cherished Molly.  I know how grief can bash about the poor heart, often in a way it may never recover from.

Tonight I'm sending positive vibes, and putting aside a good bottle of red, to share with my friend. When she's up to it, I hope we can laugh and cry together about our four-legged friends, both past and current.

Images are of the canines I've recently loved and lost...

  

Monday, 18 February 2013

Tattoo you

Yesterday the Sunday Star Times Magazine ran my 'I'm too cowardly to get a real tattoo, so slapped water on this fake one' story. Click here to read.



(Yes that is my arm and yes, the Animator did take the photo - and got a credit in the hard copy version) 

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Tired - and full

It is noon on Sunday and all I want to do is lie on the couch and look at the back of my eyelids.

I spent most of yesterday locked in my home office with a colleague as we edited, re-nosed and cut and pasted words for a freelance copywriting gig I have taken on. At times it felt a little overwhelming, and we both looked ruefully out the window at the glorious sunshine and my neighbours going about the business of enjoying it. Still, it was nice to have someone to chat to as we waved our editing wands over the mound of copy.

Thankfully there was a chance later to sit in the garden and enjoy dinner with friends and their 18-week old Griffon puppy, Humphrey. He is too adorable for words.

There was also this mother of a pavlova from the Animator. It was all kinds of calorific wonderful but as I have no wish/need to consume any more, I am about to  take the leftovers to our tenants when we do our three-month property inspection this afternoon. Whether they like it or not.









Friday, 15 February 2013

Balance

In the AM, there was a run, oodles of green tea and fruit salad for breakfast.

In the PM, there was a batch of citrus slices* I whipped up to enjoy with my friend Pamela (she of Mt Vic Vixens fame). I haven't seen Pam since before Christmas, so there was much to chat about as we sat in the sun, sipping tea and carb loading.

Years after kicking my food issues into touch, these days I reckon I've got this balance thing nailed...

  
* Note the slices above aren't the ones that emerged from my kitchen; they are downstairs but it's too late to be faffing about with the camera, so this one from Google Images will have to suffice.  

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Shanghai surprised

Wellington's DomPost newspaper finally uses one of my Shanghai travel pieces (link here).

 

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Sunshine, laughter and interiors

It is almost indecent how much I love the two weekdays I spend away from the gulag.

Today, the first of my working-from-home days, was spent coffeeing with two gorgeous PR women who often pitch stories to me. The last time I saw one of them was in New Caledonia on a media trip she'd accompanied us on. She also once sent me to Hong Kong on a media famil, so she rates highly on the Shazzymeter.

Later, as the sun licked the back of my neck, I walked across town to interview the owner of this adorable flat and shop  Zinc+, which is filled with things I really, really want. I profiled Trish's previous place and she often puts interesting houses my way, so in-between the interview stuff, we gossiped, laughed and spoke of the importance of following one's heart.

Later still there was a dog walk with my friend Lorna and her woofer Dobbie. After the last few days, it was a relief to surround myself with positive, fun folk. I have enough madness in my life, I don't need any more.






Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Yeeha!

Despite the unusually large number of people in training for the Grumpy Olympics, today was an EXCEEDINGLY GOOD DAY.

After months of faffing about, I finally had my media trip to Seoul confirmed. I have commissions from five magazines and newspapers, so now have to work with the PR bods to organise my  accommodation and tours. And guess who managed to blag a ticket as my photographer?

This is what makes all the crap worthwhile....  


(Pic Credit: Tumblr)

Monday, 11 February 2013

Relief

Today I spent almost two hours talking about myself to a Very Nice Woman (caps justified).

We talked about my health, my hair and nails, my body's ability to expel waste. She delved into my childhood, my emotional state, the plutonium-grade insomnia that's spooned me more years than I care to remember.
  
It was a relief to have a good look under the bonnet of my life, to be diagnosed not with depression but with Rushing Woman's Syndrome (I did not make that up), with a lack of balance and fulfilment. We looked at how my Type A personality manifests itself and the possible reasons for the impatience and frustration that wrap themselves around me every time I leave the house. When she said she understood how hard it must be swimming against the tide of expectation and convention, of trying to make my way upstream in my own way, I almost leapt out of my seat to hug her.

We discussed the need to shake hands with my demons and then show them the door. We worked out a way to address my hormonal imbalance and tomorrow I shall go and collect the natural remedies. I have high hopes....



     (Pic credit: Google Images)
  

Sunday, 10 February 2013

The weekend in less than 140 characters

Don't panic, I am not about to be consumed by the tidal wave of pointlessness that is Twitter (tedium as it happens, when it happens) but am so shattered, this is the best I can manage today.

This weekend was made of:

Dogs, sunshine, work, friends, baking, movies, green tea, books and cold white wine.

Visuals are of Saturday's early morning walk with Bristol and a couple of his mates, Humphrey and Wicket (and their mums).




    

Friday, 8 February 2013

Result

I come to this news late, mainly because this week I have been so busy my brain is about to eat itself.

But not commenting earlier doesn't lessen the significance of the momentous things that have been happening  in the world this week.

Britain's House of Commons finally saw sense and legalised same-sex marriage, recognising that equality for everyone is the most important thing. Say what you like about David Cameron, and many have, but his support, whilst no-doubt cloaked in strategic political gain, has nonetheless helped push this bill over the line.    

Here in NZ, as our same sex marriage bill gains traction in the House, we can only applaud the British pollies for their brave move and hope ours follow suit.

Because, in the end, to cut off a chunk of society and say, "You are not the same as us. You are not allowed to have what the rest of us are free to have," is wrong on so many levels. As someone commented earlier this week, we are all human beings, we bleed the same. We all want to love and be loved, to be happy and give happiness in return. The fact that so many in our society wish to deny others those basic human rights smacks my gob.

Thankfully, this week the small minded didn't win. This week, equality walked away with the Gold Medal...


(Pic credit: 3 News)

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Happy Waitangi Day

A public holiday in Godzone today, as we commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, NZ's founding document in 1840.

Of course, for the last six months, my contract has enabled me to do freelance gigs from home on Wednesdays, and as the Animator is at work today, it's pretty much business as usual casa Shazzy.

The day followed the same mid-week pattern - a run in the Town Belt with His Highness, five billable hours of copy writing for a brochure and presentation and about an hour on a travel piece I really need to stop shagging about with and finish. I also sold a piece into Canvas Magazine and successfully pitched a couple of other ideas.  

Soon I will wander downstairs and play a game I like to call "open and close the pantry and fridge several times and still have no friggin idea what to make for dinner".

Well done if you've made it to this point; I've bored myself even typing this.

Wherever you are, fellow Kiwis, hope your Waitangi Day was more interesting (it surely couldn't have competed with mine for the knuckle-chewing boredom cup).


  
(Pic credit: Google Images)

   

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The black dog

Today I had lunch with a very dear friend. We hadn't seen each other since before Christmas, so there was much to catch up on.

But as the hour wore on, and the vegetarian enchiladas shrunk, we talked of the black dog that has nipped at both our feet. About ways to bring it to heel, about medication and natural therapies. We discussed my appointment next week with a homeopath, what works and what doesn't. We spoke at length about the importance of valuing the little things, of being thankful for what we have (sorry to get all Oprah on yo' asses).

Tonight after work, a couple of the Mt Vic dog walking crew met up; at one stage there were seven dogs  cavorting madly around the park, barking and sniffing and being as generous as possible with their canine joy. It made me smile so much, I do believe these dogs may have chased the other one away...

        

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Weekends

And God selected five days, jammed them together and said, "I shall call these Hell".

Then he said, "I will also give you two days to chill, sleep in and spend afternoons on the couch comotose with carbs, boxed sets and more than the recommended amount of alcohol. I shall call these two days Heaven".

And so most of the Western world obeyed, and took Saturday and Sunday off.

Not Shazzy though; once again, she worked through (although yesterday's work was fun). Today was spent chained to the laptop, shoving nouns and adjectives together.

There was some time off for good behaviour (a trip to the beach with my two favourite boys) and later we will park our arses in front of Zero Dark Thirty.

One day, in the not too distant future, I am going to stage a coup and reclaim my Heaven.  

Visuals are of us hard at work during yesterday's food walking tour (thanks Lynn!) and the fresh pasta and aged balsamic that the delightful Roberto and Laurent at Merkato Fresh slipped into my handbag while I was interviewing them. They are about to morph into dinner.



Saturday, 2 February 2013

Gluttony

Today I gave a whole new meaning to the word 'overeat'.

I perfected the verb, adding a new layer and embracing its cousins gorge, binge and gormandize (I swear I did not make up that last word; look it up if you don't believe me).

I had the good fortune of being commissioned to do a food walking tour of Miramar (otherwise known as Wellwood, home to Peter Jackson's film empire) for a publication. The Animator came along to take my photos and a group of us trudged from shop to shop, talking to artisanal producers, suppliers and entrepreneurs. We sampled everything from char-grilled baby octopus and olives the size of my fist to pasta rolled fresh off the machine and churros with a chocolate dipping sauce that would give the health police conniptions.

You know that feeling you get after Christmas lunch when a constricting band of discomfort settles around you, almost as if you've pulled your belt too tight? Well put that in high def and that's sort of how I feel this afternoon. All I want do is lie on the grass reading my book and massaging my poor groaning stomach.

Instead, in two hours, we are due for dinner with one of the Animator's colleagues, a lovely Italian chap who first came to Welly to work on Lord of the Rings. There will be a mountain of delicious food and wine. I will wear a loose dress and dig deep into my bag of endurance. Wish me luck.

Photos of today's food walking tour (courtesy of the Animator):








      

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