Sunday, 27 June 2010

Sprained ankle (27th June 2010)

I've just returned from the Wellington Accident & Urgent Medical Centre on Adelaide Road to see a doctor with regards to my sprained ankle (cost me $65 for the visit). I'm now threading on my left foot gently and walking so darn slowly AND I've been told to walk less and rest my foot for 1-2 weeks! What, no sports and dancing??! Great, this is just fabulous...

'How did it all happen?', you ask. Well, it happened last night - after a lovely evening spent at the Tays chit-chatting over dinner, mum and I were walking towards my car when I accidentally tripped on a step at the porch (couldn't see as it was so dark outside) and landed most of my weight on a twisted left foot. I had hoped the twinge of pain would subside overnight but despite no severe swelling, it made walking more uncomfortable this morning so I decided to have it looked at, in case it was worse than I thought.

Around 9am after having a quick breakfast, I drove myself to the Wellington Accident & Urgent Medical Centre to see the doctor. Ow, ow, ow...every step I took going up the uphill path hurts...ow...Thankfully it was rather quiet this morning and I was seen within half an hour. All the doctor did was pressed his fingers on parts of my ankle to see where the pain was and explained that I have injured one of the strong bands of tissue (aka ligaments) that connects the bones at the joint - was told that it wasn't severe though I will have to take care not to sprain the ankle again, which included less walking and walking on leveled paths e.g. not on grass or going uphill or downhill (that pretty much means no exercise for the week - argh!!), and prescribed me some pain relief medicine to take over the next few days. He also got the nurse to put a firm bandage on my left leg which I have to wear on during the day for the next few days to help reduce the swelling. Just look at my pathetic leg now:

Still haven't quite figured out how I'm getting to work this week if I've to hobble to the bus stop to work and back. Hmm, might have to take the car in...sigh, can't believe I'm starting my week like this...

Friday, 25 June 2010

Mum's arrival in Wellington (25th June 2010)

Got up as early as 5am this morning for a 6am start at work so I could finish at 2pm and head over to the airport to pick up Mum. Mum arrives from Malaysia today and will be staying in Wellington for the next 6 months or so, living abroad for an extended period of time for the very first time (living and working in Singapore doesn't count, Mum; that's only 3 hours drive away from Batu Pahat). We've started scouting around for a place for her to stay as well as possible job vacancies before her arrival but haven't found anything to suit so far - frankly I'm somewhat concerned whether the rental property market is really slow at the moment due to the winter period and how easily we would find a suitable place for her, one that fits her budget and needs. She'll be putting up with me while Jono's away on holiday (yes, my man left for his Canada-Alaska trip on Wednesday - I miss him SO much!) so we have only a short time to find another place to put her before Jono gets back.

Arrived at the airport around 2.15pm and waited an hour before Mum exited the international arrivals/customs area - turned out she saw Uncle David working at the duty free store and the two ended up chatting (ah, thought so!). Standing around at the arrivals waiting area, it was very interesting to watch how different people react when they see their loved one(s) walk through the glass doors. Looks of surprise followed by smiles, hugs and kisses, a much happier place to be compared to the departure area where most are in tears or have looks of longing and feelings of sadness. I'm really happy that Jono's on his trip but also sad that we would be apart for 3 weeks - look forward to his return soon! And in the mean time, Mum's going to keep me pretty busy trying to get her settled...

Hmm, I looked more like the newbie in town with my beanie, scarf, gloves and wearing 3 layers, all wrapped up and Mum's only wearing a thin jacket and tells me it's not that cold. Huh? It's 9 degrees outside!

We headed into town to get her a SIM card for her mobile phone from the Telecom retail store on Lambton Quay only to find out that her phone wouldn't work properly on the XT network and that we were better off getting a 2degrees SIM card for her (really appreciated the honesty of the retail person we spoke to). But first, a quick stop at the Translation Service to get Mum's Malaysian driver's license translated. It was unbelievable how expensive it was to get the translation done! Costed $50 for 2 translated copies of the license and that was for literally 2 words AND it takes up to 3 business days to get the translation and license back! Crazy!! However, the translation is compulsory because she needed it to be able to apply for an IRD number, which in turn is needed for her to apply for a bank account. See where this is all going? Now you understand why it was essential we get the driver's license translated ASAP.

Popped in to Dick Smith Electronics on Featherston St to get Mum's 2degrees SIM card. Personally, I've never used 2degrees before but have heard from friends it is great value for money to be on prepay and if you mainly use text. Cost $5 for the SIM card and you get $1 credit (that's dirt cheap for a SIM card!) and we added $20 of credit and got 100 free texts. Pretty good value to me! And it worked immediately too - my only hassle really was to figure out how Mum's mobile phone works. She has a Sony Ericsson walkman phone that was just an absolute pain to use (a wrong touch of a button and it starts playing music). I cannot understand how she puts up with it! Even my Sony Ericsson C510 is much simpler to use. Sheesh!

With the 2 main things sorted, we headed home for Mum to rest and settle in to her temporary accommodation, the 'Newtown hostel' aka my house. Photos taken today:

Mum arriving at Wellington Airport

Me and the new resident :)

Mum checking in to the 'Newtown hostel'

The rest of the evening was spent chilling out at home, me buying takeaway Indian curries back for dinner and having an early night. Dad called us as well to see how Mum was doing - really sweet of him to do so :) I actually think he misses Mum but just wouldn't admit it when I asked him...tsk, tsk...Don't worry Dad, Mum will do just fine here. Will take her some time to get her head around things but she'll be ok. Auntie Daphne's already made plans to take her out tomorrow - see, she's got friends already!

Monday, 21 June 2010

'Rock Star Wife' music video shoot (21st June 2010)

In my search for extra work in the modelling/dancing/acting industry both for the additional income and sheer fun of doing something out of the norm, I stumbled upon StarNow, an online casting and audition service designed to help casting professionals find talent, and interested parties to apply for casting calls advertised on the site for a small registration fee. Since setting up my StarNow profile (see, I've auditioned for several acting roles, most of which unpaid work, including tonight's music video shoot. Though I would much prefer paid work, the arts industry in NZ is still growing; most of us participate for sheer passion for the arts or to gain experience in the industry rather than its monetary returns. Plus you will never know what other doors unpaid work may find you! I think of it as networking, putting myself out there so that other casting professionals know of my existence (pick me, pick me!) AND have fun doing so :)

After a long day at work (why am I SO tired???), I stayed back in the office till about 6.30pm and headed over to Temperance Bar on Blair St where the music video shoot was held. I was one of 40 rock star fans casted for the music video 'Rock Star Wife' performed by emerging rock-pop NZ singer/songwriter Sarah Aitchison. As you guessed, I had to dress up like a punk-rock chick (think Avril Lavigne) and I've got just the attire for it! Jeans, boots, white t-shirt with a black waistcoat and a chunky bangle - exactly what I wore when I went to the Ladyhawke concert last year. And a touch-up of make-up...there...ta-da! ;)

On top of dressing up to suit the theme, all rock star fans had to bring along cameras and mobile phones to help create the scene – lots of flash lights required! Extras were all gathered in the green room on level 2 of the bar (the room was not green; I later learnt from Jono that the term ‘green room’ meant a room in a theatre/studio where performers hung out when not required on stage) and I was fortunate enough to share a lift ride with Sarah herself together with other extras and crew to the room. A very bubbly and jovial person, Sarah was very down-to-earth and friendly to everyone she met. Her mum and manager Christine was around overseeing the whole shoot and equally lovely – you could see she was beaming like a proud mum, handing out Sarah’s business cards and stopping to chat now and again with us extras.

Most of the extras were probably around 18 – 22 years of age, chatting animatedly in little pods in the green room, some engaging in harmless flirting while others trying hard to be the centre of attention in the circle. It was really obvious, believe me – I didn’t even have to turn around to observe their body language. Some have previous acting experience (ones who spoke non-stop about what they had done and giving advice on dos and don’ts) while others were doing this for the first time (these types try to work the room, introducing themselves to everyone who crosses their path or the other extreme, the quiet one who sits on the edge of his/her seat looking all alert, waiting for something to happen). Me? Having done TV commercials before, I came prepared with a book and spent most of my waiting time reading with the odd occasion chatting with other extras nearby.

As we waited, the make-up artists and wardrobe assistant came around to check that we were all ready for the shoot. Everyone helped themselves to the free coffee, tea and snacks served throughout the shoot and as usual, everyone had to sign a release form – this is normal procedure and acts as a liability waiver, granting permission for our photographs (in this case, our image) to be published.

Around 8pm, we were called for the first shot where the extras gathered at the back entrance of Temperance Bar (Cambridge Terrace entrance), standing on both sides of the red carpet behind the barrier, mobiles and cameras out (some of us had posters and photos of the rock stars) looking excited to see our arriving celebrities. The first shot was us fans screaming wildly when the red Ferrari drove up to the red carpet and shot 2 was similar (the screaming part, that is), only this time we had actor Shane Boulton who played Sarah’s rock star bf (he had an arm painted full of tattoos which looked quite real and oh, I should mention that he had eyeliner and mascara too – a pretty boy who probably cause a few hearts go aflutter tonight) walking out of the Ferrari onto the red carpet and the ‘flirty girls’ going ga-ga over him getting his autograph (these 3 ‘blonde’ young female fans whom Shane specifically walked to). We sure were a loud and crazy lot, going nuts on ‘Action!’ and turned quiet when the director called ‘Cut!’. Several passerbies stopped to take photos of us and lingered on to see what the commotion was about. We did 3 takes per shot and we were back upstairs to relax and waited to be called for the next shot.

Brr, SO cold! Spent the next hour ‘thawing’ in the green room and continued reading my book. Around 9.45pm, we were back downstairs in the cold for the next shot of Sarah and Shane standing arms around waist on the red carpet. And yes, us fans screaming with excitement and enthusiasm at each take, flashing out gadgets and waving the posters madly at them.

More waiting upstairs and at 10.30pm, we returned downstairs to find that the Ferrari has now been replaced with a white limousine with Sarah stepping out of the limo and walking along the red carpet with Shane, stopping once to look back at the camera, and then proceeded into the bar. You guessed right – us fans continued what we did best, screaming wildly at them. Honestly, I think we did a fantastic job – it was really quite believable!

Back upstairs and more waiting, this time I had the pleasure of chatting with the man who was acting as one of the bouncers, Pisa, a humorous Samoan man who coincidentally comes from the same modelling agency as me and very openly shared with me stories from his upbringing and life. He turned out to be a part-time marriage counsellor at his church and we laughed together discussing how men and women behave in relationships and the simple tips to a successful relationship which most couples neglect to practice on a day-to-day basis. We both agreed that many women dropped their upkeep of looks and figure once in a relationship (‘I’ve got the man now so why bother?’ they say), a big no-no because men are ultimately visual beings and love what they see AND able to show their partners off. And dates don’t just end once two people are in a relationship – dates can last forever if the couple makes a point to keep it alive. Women love to hear sweet things, being hugged and kissed; men on the other hand requires respect and praise (I think he meant to be admired?). I laughed when he asked me if he was right to say that women love men who share the household chores and in turn reward their men in the bedroom. Haha! I think there’s truth to it – I mean, look, if the man can make the woman less tired out from chores, she would then have more time, effort and energy in bed, am I not right? And if you haven’t realised, most of these acts we discussed are simple and doesn’t require huge sacrifices – they are only small acts of love which in turn produces huge returns. Pisa and I were having a ball discussing our views of a successful relationship – it’s nice to know there are other people out there who share similar views in relationships as me and Jono :)

Around 11.30pm, the director called the shoot a wrap – yay, I can finally go home now! Looking forward to see what the music video would be like when released. Hopefully get to see a glimpse of me too! Photos taken tonight while on the shoot:

PS: Did I mention I’ve got the most amazing bf? He came to pick me up and made me a hot cup of tea when we got home! He’s SO lovely :) And not forgetting the hugs, kissess and sweet words too hehe...

Friday, 18 June 2010

Drinks and dinner with friends (17th June 2010)

My buddy James has been away so much this month on his swing expeditions – I hardly get to spend time with him at all! He’s back in town for 2 days before shooting off to Auckland for another swing event and I’m glad he’s decided we catch up over a drink after work tonight. Yay!

Around 5pm, we caught up and walked over to Foxglove located on Queenswharf, the newest bar in town that has taken over the old Loaded Hog. The layout of the place looked similar though the interior design has a 1930’s vintage glamour feel to it, a design with use of dark wood and dim lights, popular in most bars around town these days. James and I had a beer downstairs at one of the high tables – the place was quite busy even though it was only Thursday.

Us two caught up to speed with what’s been happening in our lives over our beers, and around 6.15pm, said our goodbyes as I headed to meet Su Wei and Rissa for dinner at The Long Bar Restaurant on Brandon St. “Hey, wait a sec – let’s go check out upstairs!” I reminded James for we agreed beforehand that we would have a look to see how much the upstairs layout has changed before heading off. We were greeted by a friendly bartender who briefly showed us around – hmm, very nice indeed. There were split areas where people could chat and drink in small groups like a restaurant or you could choose to chill out at the leather couches set up in a living room setting (rug, coffee table, lamp, magazines – just like a designer living room). What was most interesting was when the bartender walked over to a huge closet, opened the door and asked me to have a look inside. Huh??? “Go on, have a look,” he encouraged and I poked my head into the closet to find it was actually a door painted to look like part of the closet which opened to a whole other area with its own bar. I wouldn’t have thought to open the closet door – it had a rustic look as if I might open to discover piles of dust and cobwebs! Does feel much like walking into a hidden world, like in the movie Narnia. Very cool indeed :)

Ok, must go now – going to be late for dinner! Quickly ran 2 blocks towards The Long Bar Restaurant and Su Wei was already there with daughter Amelia who was sound asleep in her pram. I’ve been to Long Bar several times with friends in the past. A very popular and busy small restaurant well-known for its authentic Malaysian cuisine though more costly than most Malaysian places (mains mostly priced above $10). Definitely worth the cost if you want a guaranteed good Malaysian meal.

Su Wei was visiting Wellington for a few days while her partner Uli is here for a work conference and she always makes it a point to catch up with me when she’s in town :) She looks the same as I always remembered her – pregnancy has NOT changed her size and figure! Rissa came by shortly and us girls had a nice time catching up over dinner. We reminisced the time when we first sat down together for coffee some 2 years ago. That was when I first met Rissa and we were both catching up with Su Wei who was leaving town for Sydney. Wow, look how much has changed in our lives since – we were all single back then; Su Wei is now a mum and lives with her partner in Sydney, and who would have imagined me and Rissa having bfs who are best mates and we now hang out together? We laughed and concluded that we are very content and happy with our lives and our relationships at the moment :) Photo of us girls taken outside the restaurant:

Rissa, me, Su Wei and baby Amelia

Oh, and how baby Amelia has grown! She’ll be walking and talking the next time I see her!! Hmm, does she look more like her mummy or daddy? A mix of both, I say! Look forward to see Su Wei and Amelia again soon!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Claus' visit to Wellington (12th June 2010)

Frankly, I should sleep in but couldn't sleep very well due to the damp patch on the bed. Jono, in his rushed packing for his weekend trip away with the boys, had left his uncapped water bottle on the bed which leaked through parts of the sheets, duvet and mattress - an unpleasant surprise for me when I hopped into bed to find the bedding cold and damp at 2am! Spent most of the night curled up in a dry corner of the bed (was pointless changing the sheets since the mattress was soaked too)...Ah, might as well get up, run some errands and air out the bedding...

After a day of running around town, I caught up with Chris around 7.30pm for drinks at Mighty Mighty - Chris had just returned from his trip to Malaysia and Japan and us two had a few beers catching up in a rather empty bar (the night was still young). "What? You're going away again???" I exclaimed when he told me that he will be stationed overseas for several months for work. Hmm, all my close buddies are leaving or going away one after another - who am I to call up and hang out with anymore with you guys all away? :( Hmm, we'll have to catch up again before you shoot off!

Around 9.30pm, Chris and I walked over to Bodega to meet up with Claus who was visiting Wellington for a few days. Claus had sent out text messages earlier today to say that he would be at the bar for Brazilian party 'The Beautiful Game' hosted tonight in conjunction with the start of the football fever and asked us friends to catch up with him there. It has been almost a year since Claus moved to Melbourne and it was lovely to see him again - he looked and sounded much happier since moving to Melbourne (in fact, even Sharon and Kalwant are happy with their lives in Australia - is it really better across the ditch?) and I'm really happy for him :) Didn't get a lot of opportunity to talk much with Claus as so many friends from the Brazilian community were also here tonight, everyone getting a slice of Claus' time at the party. Still, it was nice to catch up even though brief - will have to keep in touch! I too took the opportunity to catch up with other friends including Celine who had recently returned to NZ after taking a year off traveling the world. I've not been out to many Brazilian events of late and it was nice to catch up with familiar faces I've not seen for some time :)

Around 10.30pm, Wellington band Zigiridum entertained the crowd with their Afro-Brazilian lounge-jazz-funk music, a band that is quite different from the likes of Brazealand who played more traditional Brazilian music (Brazealand has disbanded earlier this year). The band is made up of a mix of Brazilian and Kiwi band members with Alda Rezende as the lead vocalist and a few senior members of Batucada (including Batucada director Tim) playing in the band. A rather refreshing mix of soulful voices, percussion, guitar and sax playing original compositions as well as Brazilian classics. Definitely got the crowd up on their feet dancing!

Is Alda stoned?? There were moments when I thought she might just fall off stage or miss her cue to sing but whether she was stoned or drunk (or not), she managed to keep it together for the full hour of the gig, singing in perfect harmony with the band. Impressive...

DJ Bobby Brazuka was up next, mixing and playing an assortment of awesome Brazilian tunes but sadly most people left the party and only a few were left on the dance floor. Claus took his chance to show off his funky dance moves, criss-crossing his legs dancing all around the near empty dance floor. I reckon if the place was packed, it would definitely be pumping with energy to DJ Brazuka's music but it was just plain dead. What a pity!

Around 12am, I said my goodbyes to the boys and headed home. So tired...need sleep...Photos taken tonight at the party:

Me, Pooria, Celine, Claus and Chris

Chris and his mate drinking and dancing on the dance floor

Band Zigiridum playing on stage

Photo of Chris, Claus and me

Smile! :P

Girls' Night Out with Cocktails & Sex in the City II (11th June 2010)

Stacey and I hosted a joint event this evening, gathering a group of close gfs for a girls’ night out and what better way to round up the girls with Sex in the City II movie hitting the big screens this month! It has been a very long time since I last organised a group of girls to do something together (the last time was in high school maybe?). As you all know, I tend to hang out with boys more so than the girls and this would be a good start for me to have my own group of girls whom I can do girlie things with :)

Caught up with the boys at work for a beer at The Malthouse at 5.30pm then headed over to Monsoon Poon on Blair St to meet up with my girls for a few cocktails and dinner. I was the first to arrive and shortly friends Pip, Rissa, Stacey, Chris and the rest of the bunch trickled in. I attempted to book us a table earlier this week but Monsoon Poon does not take bookings so we had to all be there by 6.30pm in order to be seated together. Alright ladies, time for a cocktail!

Us girls had a fun time catching up, sharing stories and chatting over our yummy cocktails and food. My first cocktail was a Jimmy Choo! Very Sex in the City hehe…A generous pour of apple infused Bacardi Superior glazed with Cointreau, perfectly balanced with fresh lime and Apple Soürs, this cocktail is fruity and refreshing served in a martini glass with a lychee at the bottom and a pair of disposable chopsticks clipped at the side. My main meal tonight was my usual favourite, the Malabar Fish (fish fillets in a curry mix of a coconut, chilli, mustard seeds, tumeric and onion) served with a side serving of rice. Girls Rissa and Chris who were seated near me had the Shaking Beef (Vietnamese style wok seared beef, with garlic, spring onion, red onions and lime dipping sauce) and Sichuan Style Clay pot (zucchini, eggplant, fresh chilli and tofu wok fried in a Chinese hot bean paste) respectively, both delicious – must try them on my next visit!

Monsoon Poon is an Asian fusion restaurant and a sometimes place for me due to its cost (mains from $15) but the food and cocktails are consistently good, plus it’s always bustling and busy in this upmarket restaurant – a fun and funky twist to traditional Asian restaurant setting. Plus tonight was a special occasion so it’s ok for me to splurge a little :) More chatter, cocktails and laughs at our table - I’m having a good time with the girls! Had another cocktail, the Jet Li (lychees muddled with passionfruit syrup and fresh lime, then shaken with cloudy apple juice), another fruity drink but too sweet for my liking. Still preferred the Jimmy Choo. Oh, and you must try the desserts here! I’m so full but the dessert menu was tempting me. Tried their mocha brulee – so evil but SO good! Photos taken at dinner:

Around 8.45pm, we headed over to Readings Cinemas for the 9pm movie. I had bought the tickets in advance so we could get most of the back row seats to ourselves. There were supposed to be 9 of us at the movies but Amalia was MIA (Stacey reckon she’s sick) and Ruwi pulled out last minute (she was ill). Fortunately one of Rissa's friends, Verity, was able to take up Ruwi's ticket and joined us at the cinema. Coincidentally, Verity's bf, Ingo, was also away on the Man Weekend with boys Ben and Jono. Ah yes, Ben's organised a man weekend away to the Woolley's bach and it was really pure chance that my girls' night out and the man weekend were on the same day! And I think it's really cool to have a man weekend where the boys can just chill out together and do boyish things - I mean, true, these boys see each other almost every Friday after work for drinks but it is quite different to just spending time together away from the normal routine. Good on Ben for organising it! In fact, I think the gfs should all get together for a Girls Weekend the next time the boys go away for their Man Weekend - would be good fun!

The girls starting heading into the cinema while I stayed back to wait for Ella (I had her ticket). To be honest, I wasn't expecting Ella to want to see this movie - she has a background in movie production and I didn't think Sex in the City was quite her cup of tea. But she still made it, arriving 10 minutes late (thankfully the ads were still playing) and tipsy. I kept an eye on her throughout the movie just to make sure she was ok - the poor thing spent most of the movie crouched on her seat sleeping. Though she 'enjoyed' the movie in her own way, I say kudos to her for keeping to her word and showing up!

The movie itself was its usual over-the-top New York lavish lifestyle, high in fashion and heels (no way in hell would anyone wear 3 inch heels walking the desert!), rather unrealistic but in its own ways continued to emphasized the need for good friends and fun. For me, tonight's event wasn't really about the movie, but to be in good company of girlfriends and the movie was lighthearted with laughs, a nice way for us to end the night after a long week at work.

The movie ended at 11.45pm and we split into groups and said our goodbyes. I hope you ladies all had a good night out - I actually thought it turned out pretty well. Must organise another one soon! Ella, Rissa, Verity and I then walked over to The Welsh Dragon Bar where Ella was meeting Shane. Rissa, Verity and I had a beer and chatted about our lives and relationships and at some point, both the girls had texts from their respective bfs on their whereabouts and turned to me asking if Jono texted me too. Haha, no, he's probably on the wheel! It was interesting to find that despite us having a girls-only night out, the topics of conversation still revolved around our boys and I wondered if the boys were doing the same, talking about us too. Hmm...

And kudos to me too for successfully hosting and organising my first NZ girls night out!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Rental property scam (11th June 2010)

In helping Mum find a place to stay in NZ, she stumbled upon an ad on the web of this perfect 2-bedroom apartment on 24 Hanson St, Mt Cook for a mere $165/week and asked me to check out the place for her. Hmm, sounds way too cheap for the whole apartment that looked similar to the one I’m living in now AND it was said to be fully furnished too – I don’t know but something smells rather fishy here…too good to be true, really. Check out the ad:

So Mum contacted the advertiser and turns out house owner, Reverend Thomson is in Africa doing missionary work and that Mum should contact his wife, Lucy Nash, who is residing in London. Both husband and wife sounded really kind and lovely (very Christian use of ‘God Bless You’ and the like) in their emails, explaining that they are seeking a responsible tenant to care for their house while they were away overseas and that money was not the main issue, thus only asking $600/month including power. “Ding, ding, ding! It’s a scam, it’s a scam!” my head went when I saw the email Mum copied me in – seriously, both house owners NOT in the country AND Lucy has the keys and documents to the house? She wanted Mum to complete a rental application form which asked for her personal details including employment history (for what?) and the applicant has to agree to pay upfront a rental bond of $500 which was refundable in order to get the keys to the house. Scam, scam, SCAM!

But I was naughty and wanted to see how far Lucy or whoever this scammer is would go so asked her if I could view the place on Mum’s behalf only to be told that I could just view from the outside, insisting that she will only provide the keys when the completed rental application is received. I further explained to her that it was rather unreasonable for one to rent a place without first viewing it, that she should understand my scepticism, and if she could pass the keys to a local family member or friend to show us the place. You wouldn’t believe it but the scammer took a 360 degree change in tone in the email reply. “So you do not trust us and you want to rent flats from us! I don’t think you are normal,” was the response. Excuse me but what a b*&ch! Could you ever imagine a reverend’s wife speaking in such a manner?! She couldn’t even give me the exact unit number (24 Hanson St is a whole block of modern apartments)!

On further investigation, this particular scammer has been scamming all around NZ, using different properties, the same story but a change of names and email addresses. Just look at the many complaints on this Facebook property page about the ad: Jono also had a look at the legal property owners’ database online and couldn’t find legal owners with surnames Thomson or Nash. 100% confirmed scam!

I’ve since flagged the ad as a scam on the property website and also submitted a scam report to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. Hmm, I wonder if anyone fell for this scam…I sure hope the authorities catch the scammer. Be careful, New Zealanders – we may be living in a safe and peaceful country, but it doesn’t stop scammers trying their luck!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Illuminate Paint Party 2010 (5th June 2010)

Some 8 weeks ago, Jono and I got us early bird tickets to the Illuminate Paint Party 2010 for $60 each plus the booking fee – it only took 5 minutes for the tickets to sell out on the Dazzle Tickets website (no door sales for this R18 event)! I was sitting in front of the computer, refreshing the page again and again until the ticket sale started at 9am and quickly snapped up two! Subsequently, ticket sales have gone all the way up to $100 – I’m glad we got in first! This was the second year that the Illuminate Paint Party was held in Wellington after a successful launch of the first a year ago. Both Jono and I missed the one last year so decided we had to go this time – put the word out to friends to come join us but no one ended up coming to the party with us :/ Oh well, we’ll have our own fun!

The paint parties will be held in 4 mains centres this year – Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin – with Wellington being the first to host the party. Everyone was expected to wear all white – better canvas for the paint! Even though the paint used in the party was non-toxic and water-soluble, Jono and I still wore our no-longer-loved items and cheap clothes we bought from The Warehouse last weekend for the party, just in case. And I’m bringing my new camera to the party too that I hope will survive the mess! Let’s take some BEFORE photos of us all clean and white!!

Around 10pm, we took a bus over to Lambton Quay to the party at Shed 6, Queens Wharf. Cost us $3 each for the bus ride into town and we had to walk about 2 blocks towards the waterfront from the bus stop to the party. Shed 6 is a large wharf shed often hired out for huge events and functions and tonight, was filled with party-goers, mostly 18-20 year olds (damn, I feel so out of place in the crowd but I don’t care!) dressed in all sorts from mini white dresses to white boiler suits etc. We even found a male bride running through the crowd! Hehe, the events centre management are taking precautions against the paint and had most of its walls covered in white cloth or plastic :P

Jono and I didn’t see anyone we knew at the party so spent the evening partying happily together on our own. Bought some glow sticks for 50 cents per stick and linked them up into chokers for ourselves, then joined in the growing crowd dancing to the live music on stage. Lots of other merchandise was available for sale including white boiler suits and shutter shades, as well as extra bottles of paint. Hmm, might have to pick up some later tonight…hehe…

Gah, I’m getting crushed!! We got squashed and squeezed as we moved towards the front of the stage, Jono shielding me (he was big enough that I could ‘shelter’ myself in his arms and chest – my hero!) as we pushed through the crowd – it felt a bit like we were carried through a Mexican wave, only that I had to grip onto Jono so we wouldn’t split up as we pushed through and tried to avoid getting stomped on the feet by other people. As the night progressed, the crowd was entertained by loud pumping trance and club mixes played by various music DJs, as well as Argentinean circus acrobats showing off their amazing stunts on the Chinese pole and tisu (they were incredibly strong, even for the female performers!). Earplugs definitely required! And the stunning light show and visual displays on stage on the big screens – we’re having so much fun drinking and dancing the night away!

Around 12am, everyone counted down to the official paint-drop. 5…4…3…2…1! The crowd screamed and cheered as bucketfuls of paint were splashed, the Hot Illuminators (event models) squirted the audience with paint from their super long paint pumps and heaps and heaps (really, HEAPS!) of paint from paint bottles thrown out to and by the mass crowd! Jono and I bought a bottle of neon green paint for $5 and were plastering each other with green goo (he even had his initials finger-painted on my dress!), naughtily squirting some in the air so it landed on random people. There was paint of neon yellow, pink, green and orange raining in blotches EVERYWHERE!!! My white dress is no longer white!! Even my new camera is covered with paint!

Tossing our empty paint bottle away, we again headed into the crowd, this time squeezing all the way through to the very front of the stage, dancing to the music in our compact space sardined next to other party people who looked like they’ve had just had a mud bath (we were further back when the paint-drop happened so wasn’t as saturated in a mix of colours). The music was pumping and it was such a good vibe – such a pity the rest of our friends missed out on such a cool event! Definitely recommended you do this at least once just for the experience, even if you’re not a fan of getting messy and very dirty :)

Caught a taxi from Queens Wharf home around 3am. It was quite an amusing sight that the taxis wouldn’t take passengers who just came out of the paint party and we had to convince our driver that the paint on our clothes were dry (I don’t think he was fully convinced but let us hopped in probably because we were sober, unlike the drunk girls who unsuccessfully tried to get into the taxi behind us). Took more photos at home before we peeled off all our coloured items for the wash and a shower before bed. Eee, brown coloured water draining down me…Photos taken tonight:

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Photo shoot with John Sherborne (5th June 2010)

John Sherborne, a local amateur photographer contacted me via Facebook out of the blue asking me if I would model for his portfolio – it would be unpaid work but in exchange for my time modelling for him, I would get a copy of the photos he took of me. Sounds like a fair exchange to me but first, a wee chat with the man in person to find out more…

So John and I caught up for coffee one day to get to know each other better and also discuss the details of what the photo shoot would be like. Turns out John is the organiser of Wellington Life Drawing, which promotes life drawing through art groups, classes and workshops, and while he’s not busy wrapped up in the drawing world, you will find John with his SLR camera taking photos of events or landscapes or working with his new friends aka models (one of his recent models was Rosa Belle, another burlesque performer based in Wellington). John is a family man in his fifties who has a keen interest in photography and arts, open to new ideas and trying different things – he encourages his models to put in their ideas of how they want to photos to look like, suggest locations and even characters they wish to portray. To him, the photo shoot is not about the photographer dictating how the model should pose but a collaboration of both parties. Hmm, I like the idea and might have a few ideas in mind that we could talk through :)

Since then, we’ve kept in touch and finally managed to find a slot in my calendar today to have our first collaborative photo shoot. We had a look at the weather forecast for today and it looked good for a photo shoot! We decided that the shoot would be at the Botanical Gardens with me wearing the red cheongsam (yes, the same one I wore for the MissT photo shoot) – honestly, I don’t know what to expect working with John because it’s not like the MissT photo shoot where it was mainly focused on the pin-up photography; this was outdoors, in public view. Hmm…

Around 2pm, Jono dropped me off near the Lady Norwood Rose Garden at the Botanical Gardens. I’ve to be so careful with my movements in case I rip my aunt’s tiny cheongsam getting in and out of the car! Jono’s a total sweetheart, made me lunch while I was busy straightening my hair, putting on false lashes and make up, getting ready for the shoot. I love my baby – he’s SO sweet :)

I met John by the café and we started off taking photos by the pond at the Peace Garden outdoors. We made the most of the sunny afternoon (yes, I’m outdoors wearing just the cheongsam while people walking pass were wearing 2-3 layers), with me posing as John snapped away on his SLR, the gorgeous Japanese garden backdrop of green hues adding vibrancy to my bright red dress. The Peace Garden had a lit lantern in the middle of the pond containing a flame lit from the fires of the Hiroshima bombing that was given by Japan in recognition for NZ’s work against nuclear weapons – you would have to look closely to see the tiny flame dancing away inside.

I must admit, it felt weird at the start posing for John – I’ve never worked with a male photographer before and still building my experience as a model but John was friendly and encouraging, and I felt more relaxed as the photo shoot went on, occasionally playing with the camera with my mischievous pouts. Hehe :P There were photos of just me in the cheongsam and others of me wearing a conical hat (such hats are still worn today in South-East Asian countries, mainly by rice farmers), John stopping now and again to show me the photos he took on his camera – it looked as if these photos were taken in an Asian country and not in Wellington! While we were busy doing our own thing, a couple passing by asked us if they could take photos of me too. I thought it was rather amusing but of course, why not? I even got the female tourist to put on the other conical hat for a photo!

The second half of the photo shoot was done in the Begonia House, the large glasshouse used to store plants that would not survive outdoors, mostly tropical plants including orchids and several varieties of palm plants. Nice and warm in here! Photos were taken with and without the conical hats, some of me pretending to be a tiger hunter or Jane in the Jungle, checking out the surroundings as I come out from my hiding place. John has his own artistic flair when it comes to photography and I was more than happy to play along with his interesting ideas e.g. using the palm leaves to cover my body with only my head visible (I looked like I was cocooned in a huge leaf). Photos taken today:

Thanks John for the fun photo shoot - look forward to another collaborative project together!

Friday, 4 June 2010

Jury service (4th June 2010)

About a month ago, I received a letter summoning me to attend jury service at the District Court on Ballance St for the week beginning 31st May. Having lived in NZ for almost 9 years, this was the first time I’ve been summoned for jury service – I’ve never been to jury service before! What is involved and how does it work? What am I expected to do as a juror? This is all new and very interesting me! Another new experience for me to blog about :)

The jury list is made up by random selection from the electoral rolls in the Court area – there sure ain’t any mistake selecting me then as I am on the Wellington City electoral roll. You can be fined if you do not attend jury service though if you have a valid reason for not attending, you may be excused at the Court’s decision. I had to ring up the Jury Answerphone the weekend before my first day of jury service to find out what time I needed to report at the District Court on Monday morning – it was just a recorded message and over the course of the week, I had to ring the number after 6pm each day to find out whether I had to go in the next morning. As part of our service to the community, the Court reimburses the attendees for any public transport (taxi not included) and/or parking costs, and for each half day session, we were paid $31, which was very little but thankfully I’m not required to take annual leave from work to do this; most employers still pay their staff normal pay and we were expected to return to work if we weren’t required for the full day at Court. Jury service is a disruption to our daily lives (usually takes a week but sometimes longer) but is important because it is where we play a part in our democratic legal system and our responsibility to the community to make sure that justice is done.

I headed to the District Court at 9.30am on Monday and got in line to have my name checked off the list with the Court staff. Everyone had to get their name checked off the list (name not ticked off = not present and no reimbursement) then proceeded to the waiting room to help ourselves to free tea/coffee and just sat around reading any material we brought with us. Waiting times are expected so bringing along an iPod or book would help kill time. We had a full room of potential jurors this morning, probably 50-60 seated next to each other in the small waiting room.

Looking around to see if I could find a familiar face, you wouldn’t believe who was in the same room as me – my buddy Josh! He too like me was summoned for jury service for the first time. At least we have each other to chat to while waiting for further instructions from the Court staff :)

Around 10am, one of the Court staff gave us a briefing and played a DVD of the jury process and our duties as a juror. A jury is a group of 12 people chosen at random to sit in a Court trial to hear the evidence and reach a verdict. A juror must have good understanding of English (we were assured if we can hold a normal everyday conversation, it would suffice), wear tidy clothing (no sandals or shorts) and must remain impartial and keep an open mind about the evidences we hear. Jurors cannot discuss the case with anyone except their fellow jurors during the trial. The DVD proceeded to show us an example of how a Court trial is conducted and its protocol, all simply and clearly explained. Hmm, being a juror is not as complicated or daunting as I thought…

There were 3 trials on today and the 3 Court staff (each in charge of a trial) each did a ballot selection of names from the ballot box. The names on the jury list were cut up into small cards, placed into the ballot box, locked and spun before the name picking began. It was a bit like lotto, only we didn’t win money but had a chance of becoming a juror. Surprisingly, everyone had their name picked for a trial today.

More waiting around and finally about 10.30am, my Court staff came to collect my group and we headed upstairs to the Courtroom. We, the jury panel, were seated at the back of the Courtroom and briefed on the details of the trial – this was one that involved use of a stolen vehicle. The accused was then brought in accompanied by an officer seated next to him. Ok, I should not make judgements without first listening to the evidence but he has such a ‘mess-with-me-you’ll-be-sorry’ badass look…I couldn’t help it! Thoughts – out of my head!! The judge then enters the Courtroom and everyone present had to stand up as the judge walked in and sat down after he took his seat. Frankly, I do not see why the judge should be honoured this way (after all, he is still human like the rest of us) but I suppose this is a form of respect to someone of higher status, responsibility, power and representing the law. The lawyers introduced themselves, followed by the judge reiterating to the jury panel the juror’s duties and then the Court Registrar read out the names of the witnesses to the room. If we knew the accused or the witnesses, we must inform the Court staff immediately.

Next, the Court Registrar puts all our names into the ballot box again and draws names for the 12 jurors. As the name is called, the potential juror walks up to the jury box and is offered a bible by the Court staff to take with him/her (you can just put up your hand or shake your head to decline). Why I say ‘potential juror’ is because having your name called doesn’t necessarily mean you are a juror for the trial. Some people will be challenged as they come forward. A lawyer (representing the Crown or accused) may call 'challenge' before you are seated and then you must return to the back of the court. We were told beforehand not to take this personally as the lawyer is simply exercising their right to challenge without cause (and they can do so up to 4 times each) but I bet everyone challenged would feel somewhat discriminated even just briefly. I was challenged on a trial I attended on Thursday (this was an assault case) and I still wondered on what basis was I challenged – race? Age?? Sex??? How much information does the lawyer have of us anyway?? And the lawyer does not need to give a reason. I guess I’ll never know why hmm… :/

Anyway, back to the Courtroom. So this process of name selection and ‘challenge’ continues on until all 12 jurors are selected. They are then sworn in and instructed by the judge to go to the jury room to select a foreman who is chosen to head the jury’s discussions and speak officially for them. The rest of us who weren’t called had to wait in the room until the jury returned to their seats (this is in case a juror has to relinquish his/her duties because they know the accused or witnesses), this time with the foreman seated closest to the judge. Only then the judge releases us for the day.

Some jurors may sit on more than one trial during the course of the week while others may not be selected at all. I had to come in 4 times this week and twice selected for a trial but not once as a juror. To some extent, I found the whole process tedious (we go through the name balloting every session) and unable to make plans because I never know whether I would be sitting in on a trial or not. Felt a bit bummed out that I didn’t get to sit in on a trial this time round despite showing up the whole week. Still, it was an interesting experience and I have done my part for the community by turning up!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Miss Burlesque NZ 2010 on 20/20 (3rd June 2010)

It has been nearly 2 months since the Miss Burlesque NZ 2010 competition and the wait is over! Tonight, we’ll finally get to watch the filming of the event on 20/20 (a NZ current affairs television series) on TV2 – yay!

Grace had emailed me earlier this week to find out if I wanted to catch up and watch the show together. Sure, why not? Had her and Dan come round to my place (they are my first guests to my new flat!) around 9pm and we(them, me & Jono) took over the lounge to watch the show on our big TV screen.

Our segment was featured in the first 15-minutes of tonight’s 20/20 show entitled The Big Tease and had the 20/20 crew and reporter Beth Bates following Kimberley Grace (organiser of Miss Burlesque NZ) as well as contestants Leda Petit, Courtenay L’Amour and Anastasia. 20/20 looked into the lives of these women, some who lead a double life (juggling responsibilities of being mum and businesswoman or student by day, teacher and performer by night) and just how far they have to go to be the glamorous, seductive and talented burlesque performers they are today. We also learnt interesting facts such as Courtenay and Anastasia are good friends, and Leda squeezes herself into an 18 inch waist corset (I think I would pass out wearing the corset!) and owns a custom made bird bath which she uses for her shows.

The segment also had some highlights from the Miss Burlesque NZ event itself, with flashes of our friends who were in the audience including my sponsor and gf Amy, as well as snippets of the happenings backstage and performances. We all cheered in the lounge when we saw Grace on TV and 20/20 interviewing her after her crowning of Miss Burlesque NZ 2010. She had such a big beautiful smile on her glowing face and still had a look of surprise of her recent win! I’m SO happy and proud of her – you could see a 5 second shot of me on stage with the other contestants cheering madly when Grace was announced the winner :) For those of you who missed out 20/20 on TV, here's the video link to the show: Check it out!

“So, where to from here?” you ask. Well, to be honest, I’m not sure. I haven’t had any gigs since Footlight Follies so it has been quiet on the performing front and frankly, I’m feeling the itch to get up on stage again (something about being on stage gives me an adrenaline rush). There’s going to be a Miss Burlesque NZ tour happening second half of this year where the 3 winners (me, Grace and Anastasia) , Miss Congeniality (Courtenay) and Kimberley Grace will be performing and promoting the event around the country. No set dates yet but will keep you posted when I find out!

Oh, and I bought a new camera, an Olympus Tough Mju 8010 to replace my old Canon camera - I love my Canon digital camera but recently it has started emitting little smoke puffs whenever the flash goes and it smells really bad too! Got a quote to get it fixed but it wasn't worth the cost (as good as paying half the current price of a brand new camera) so decided to get the Olympus which I had been thinking of getting for sometime now - it's a digital camera that I will be able to take with me on snorkeling/scuba diving trips (water resistant up to 10m). And it arrived today in time for the paint party Jono and I are attending this weekend. Yay! Photo of me taken by Jono to test out the new camera: