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Posts Tagged ‘Wellington’

Tomorrow I’m going on a roadtrip!

I have almost decided that I am going to stay in Wellington for good now.  I say almost… I have decided really – well, my heart has decided.  I’m just trying to convince the rest of myself that it doesn’t matter what other people think of me.  Which has really been my problem my whole life.  I strive so much for honesty and authenticity, and yet I have so much trouble being true to my Self (or even knowing who that self is) – which is somewhat of a contradiction, but then, I have always been a walking contradiction 😛

I want to stay in Wellington because my heart and soul is here – I don’t know why and I don’t know how to explain it, but that is how it feels.  This is the one place in the world where I feel centred, I feel me, I feel like I could live happily here in bliss doing anything – it doesn’t really matter as long as I’m here with my family and my Self and my friends and this fantastic city that makes me feel alive.

All this medical stuff… I do have an interest in it, but I certainly haven’t found my niche yet, and I have an interest in so many things.  I feel like I need to relax and let me become myself, rather than forcing myself into an image of how I think I should be.  So here I am again, trying to let go, trying to just be.

So I’m looking for work in Wellington at the moment, sleeping on my Mummy’s couch again, and strangely happy (although confused as always).  Tomorrow I am getting a 12 hour bus to Auckland to get my stuff and my car.  The next day, myself and a couple of tourists will roadtrip our way down the North Island back to Wellington over a few days.  I am totally excited.  We are going to do touristy things like visit the Waitomo Caves (have never done that, am looking forward to it) and stay overnight near Mt Ruapehu.

I LOVE road trips so I am totally psyched.  I also LOVE the Wellington-Auckland bus trip with Naked Bus  so I am very excited about tomorrow also.  I love just sitting back, putting my mp3 player on and disappearing into my blissful little world while the wonderful scenery of this amazing country that I love drifts past my window for 12 hours straight, with the odd little leg-stretch stop and re-fuel in between – fantastic.

Guess I better go chuck a few things in a bag and getready to roadtrip!

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Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

~Senecca

What an amazing, amazing summer I have had in wonderful Wellington with wonderful people.  I have had the best time of my life with the best friends I’ve ever had.  I’ve felt carefree and cared for.  It makes you realise what is really important in life.  Living it!  I have worked as a Medical Typist, felt lost and confused and searching for my meaning – and yet, all along, I was already living life, surrounded by amazing people in the best city in the world.

Can you believe I spent so much of my summer with this as the view I woke up to every morning out my window:Wellington Harbour

There was always a sense of peace knowing that, whatever else was going on, I could retreat to that gorgeous room and that gorgeous view.

But of course the summer wouldn’t have beenwhat it was without the awesome people I met and was lucky enough to spend my time with.  My girls – you know who you are – I love you all like sisters.  Well, some of you are my sisters – so that’s lucky.  But you know what I mean 😛  You are all awesome.

girls at earth hour

Now it seems that the summer is coming to an end and those cold cold Wellington winds are blowing us separate ways.  I sincerely hope that this wonderful summer has forged friendships and memories that will outlast any distance of time or geography.

But now, as the season turns, I am leaving these blustery shores of the city I love and heading out into the world to see what may come my way and what adventures I may discover.  I leave in 3 days on a one-way ticket to Australia – and beyond. 

How do I feel?  I know how I should feel – I should feel excited right?  Ready to embark – finally – on my adventure.

I don’t, really.  I feel lost.  I have lost – and am trying to let go of – everything I thought defined me… everything I used to define me to avoid the quest of discovering who I really am.  So I embark on this adventure, really because there is just nothing left for me to do.  As much as I love my friends and my family and my city here – somehow I have to leave to see what what there is in this life for me.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

~ the Bible, Ecclesiastes III, 3:1-3:8

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[Update 1 Dec 08: published here]

Having been promised an ‘electrifying stage show’ from ‘a performer unlike anyone else in Godzone’ by practically every events website in town, Sheba Williams had a lot to live up to when she took to the San Francisco Bathhouse stage on Saturday night (November 22nd, 2008) to support the debut of her self-titled first album.

However, it would have taken the most hardened cynic not to sense, as the pulsing drum beats were joined by guitar, trumpet, saxophone and bass, that something very special was about to happen.  And then, there she was, replete with headdress and various leotards throughout the night, commanding the stage with the graciousness of some majestic African queen.

Not just another singer behind a microphone, Sheba Williams is a writer, musician and performer extraordinaire.  Quite appropriately, she has coined her own genre to describe her music: ‘Calyptro’ – a sound unlike any other, a fusion of hip-hip, soul, funk, electro, afrobeat, and then some, calling on influences as varied as her Caribbean heritage, her Aotearoa upbringing,  and her extensive travels, ranging from Berlin to Kyoto to Shanghai.  This merges into an exotic and vivacious sound unable to be boxed into any particular place or time.  Standing in the San Francisco Bathhouse on Saturday, you could have been anywhere in the world, and were somehow being taken to a place quite beyond it.

For example, what Kiwi girl couldn’t sympathise when she prefaced her song ‘Shy Guy’ with the dedication “This is to all the Kiwi guys – so dear to my heart, so far from my ass”, before launching into her song about the reticence of Kiwi men in their (lack of) amorous advances.  But far from leaving it there as a witty little ditty, the song progressed into a tour de force of the world, the afro-Kiwi diva singing verses in Chinese, Korean and German.

With music that was like Fat Freddy’s mixed with Cabaret mixed with afro-carribean funk, and a stage performance that was a patchwork quilt of theatrics, dance, amazing instrumental solos, and uniquely Sheba monologues and stories from her travels, this really was something else – a true show, and one unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.  Did I mention those leotards?

While Sheba owned the stage like some kind of worldly African queen, she never let you forget that “My grandmother lives in Parnell, bitch!”  A Kiwi girl who grew up in ‘the KKKs: Khandallah, Karori and Kelburn’ and yet made belting out Chinese rock ‘n’ roll in a red silk cape and leopard print leotard into an art form.  A gracious regent of her avid crowd and minions, she ended the show by thanking pretty much everyone under the sun, and had seemed just as happy to gyrate her fantastic figure to the skilful funk of her superb supporting band or hand over the stage to the antics of her supporting dancing act, as she was to take the microphone herself with her powerful and playful vocals.  Later in the night she could be found cavorting in full costume at the back of Mighty Mighty, a royal gracing the masses.

Her debut album can be seen as a metaphor for herself, a wide-ranging collection of pieces into an eclectic whole.  It comes in two parts: the 12-track studio-recorded Black Album, and the White Album, consisting of a live performance recording, three music videos, and an excerpt from her as-yet unpublished book Shanghai Sheba and the China Monologues, some of which she has read on Radio New Zealand. 

This was a true performance by a true performer, a unique and yes, I would even say ‘electrifying’, experience.  I would go so far as to say that Sheba Williams is not just ‘unlike anyone else in Godzone,’ but that you would be hard-pressed to find any one comparable in the world.  A world and law unto herself, she really must be experienced to be fully appreciated – but until she graces a stage near you, you can just do as she suggested and ‘buy my CD, then rip it and give it to someone for Christmas.’  Really.  She’s cool with it.

Seeing her emerge from backstage at the end of the night, I couldn’t resist grabbing her attention to praise the awesomeness of her show.  Her response – to kiss me graciously on the cheek and then admonish ‘Don’t wash that off!’ – really summed up the whole experience:

Sheba, the down-to-earth diva.

www.myspace.com/shebawilliams

www.shebawilliams.com

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[update 19 Nov 08: this review has now been published here]

My first thought, on hearing that Auckland band Body Corporate would be playing their Wellington release gig for debut album Howlaround at The Adelaide, was: ‘well, that’s a little random’. The Adelaide is what I would tend to describe as a ‘seedy old man pub’ on the outskirts of Newtown, one of Wellington’s dodgiest suburbs (slowly becoming the height of contrary cool for the mere fact of its dodginess).

As it turns out, I was right – ‘random’ really is the best word to describe it. But that, however, is precisely the point, drummer Paul educated me (myself being newcomer to this whole alt-indie business). Preferring to steer clear of the mainstream masses and play just another standard bar like just another standard band, they purposely seek out the random backstreet pubs wherever they go – which, after their launch gigs in Auckland on Friday (November 14) and Wellington on Saturday (November 15), will soon be including some gigs in Australia and the South Island as well.

Well, random is certainly what they got. My friend and I arrived painfully early due to my chronic over-punctualness (really must work on the ‘fashionably late’ thing!), but there was a certain enjoyment to be found in watching The Adelaide metamorphose from old man pub to… well… old man pub with some devoted and swaying indie fans in it. The place is a strange breed of venue – it has the atmosphere of an old school English local where the village drunks go on a Sunday to shoot pool, have a nosh up and drown in beer – and yet, high above, the walls are scattered with gothic photography of girls crying blood with flesh-stained teeth. As my friend said, you kind of get the feeling that at midnight the place becomes some kind of vampire coven, ghouls crawling out of the walls to drink each others’ blood. Even the girl behind the bar sported the blue hair of anarchy and damn-the-man-ism, and we arrived to be greeted by a lot of pirate speak, before the barman admonished the punters to ‘leave the normal people alone’.

Being preceded by quality toe-tapping to fairly fun and vivacious Wellington band Cougar Cougar Cougar (who seem to be invariably described as a ‘dirty 3-piece rock ‘n’ roll act’), drummer Paul exited my barrage of questions to join his Body Corporate mates in playing a sweet but very short set for the oddly assorted ‘crowd’ that had accumulated. Trying to blend in to a crowd of at maximum about 14, each doing their own little unique sway in an audience about three meagre lines deep (highlights being Random Old Drunk Guy Who Hates The English and the chick with the Emilie Le Strange hair cut who proclaimed to all and sundry that her beer was ‘cumming’), I was reminded of two things. Firstly I couldn’t quite escape flashing images of the closing credits of that Simpsons episode where grungy audience members sway morosely to the Smashing Pumpkins. Secondly, I kind of had the feeling like I was hanging out at my mates’ place, watching a bunch of guys jam in the back of the garage and sharing a beer. Which I found myself enjoying rather much more than feeling like just another skirt on Courtenay Place.

Their all-too-brief set was followed by an all-too-lengthy one by Wellington indie-progressive-rock band Captain Sergeant Major, playing what Paul described to me as ‘math rock’. I dunno about that – all I know is there was a hell of a lot of long boring guitar and not much else. The drummer himself proclaimed somewhat indignantly after the first song “You all sat down! We made you all sit down!” Technically proficient certainly – but not exactly foot tapping or even hold-your-beer-and-sway inducing.  Just not my cup of tea, I guess.

When I told Paul that his band should have played longer, he told me that it’s best to be considerate when there is a band on after you. He had told me previously that the band was really just an excuse to have a good time with mates and play a bit of music. The debut album itself was released only on vinyl (complete with mp3 download voucher – as the 3 News article said “They may be romantic about the vinyl, but they are not stupid”), ensuring only a particular subset of people with a certain dedication to their music, and to music in general, as buyers. And finally I realised that, rather than some misplaced modesty or typical Kiwi tall-poppy-avoidance, perhaps this choice of album medium and release gig venue was exactly what they were after. Who wants hordes of meat-market teeny boppers wielding made-in-China CDs hoping to hear something just like the band that played last night, when you can carve out a little niche of truly dedicated fans and experiment a little? Sure, it means you’ll be playing about 4 songs to a ‘crowd’ of 14 in a seedy old man bar to release your album which most people don’t even have the mechanism to play (download notwithstanding). But it also means you’ll be playing whatever the hell you want to play however the hell you want to play it, and your fans will feel like they’re part of some special little club that includes you. It also helps when they buy you beer.

Somehow though, I couldn’t quite escape the feeling that they could back themselves just a little bit more. Maybe they don’t want to be music for the masses, but surely they could at least play more than 4 or 5 songs for those dedicated enough to brave The Adelaide and its resident Old Drunk Guy to see them perform. A good night – but one that left me feeling like I wanted more. Which, come to think of it, is probably not a bad result at all.

www.myspace.com/thebodycorp – Aussies and South Islanders keep an eye out early 2009 for the post-Christmas leg of their release ‘tour’!

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Wow, what a brilliant day I had today!

Went and investigated some options up at the Vic campus, which was nice because Vic is such a great Uni and it reminded me of the great time I had there doing my BA 🙂  Sat in the little graveyard perched on a stone overlooking Wellington city and harbour, basking in the sun and generally revelling in the gloriousness that is Wellington on a beautiful sunny morning.

Then I wandered down to the Weltec campus to ensure I was enrolled for the summer – I am going to be doing a Certificate in Art & Design in an attempt to find my avenue of creative expression, give some things a go, and just generally have some fun and a play around!

While at the Weltec city campus I had a wander around the exhibtions of the current Creative Technologies students to get a feel for the place (on til November 18 for anyone interested, at 11 Church St).  I have to confess, I just don’t get ‘installations’.  Like, you know – let’s lie some things around the floor and say it’s art.  How is that art?  To me art is either meaningful or beautiful or both.  What is meaningful or beautiful about random stuff scattered around a room?  But maybe I’m just uncultured or old fashioned or something 😛

Then, on pure spontaneous impulse, I went to a lunchtime Catholic mass at St Mary of the Angels church just down from Weltec, which was a very interesting experience.  I just happened to be passing and thought: ‘well, I’ve never done that before’.  Quite peaceful and nice actually, I found it surprisingly enjoyable.  Cool church too.

Then, on wandering through Civic Square to find a perch to eat lunch, I stumbled across the Cartooning for Peace exhibtion:

Cartooning for Peace display in Wellington's Civic Square

Cartooning for Peace display in Wellington

Luckily I had my handy dandy cellphone camera with me, you can check out the rest of the photos I took here.

I spent a glorious lunch on the bridge from Civic Square, overlooking the boatshed and Wellington Harbour, being whispered to by the stone, and feeling in the sun and wind that right there was really all the church or temple I needed.

On the way back to Cuba St I discovered that the Cartooning for Peace exhibition continued inside the Michael Fowler centre, with a display of tons of political cartoon which were really cool – it’s really neat how they can put a concept so poignantly in pictures which wouldn’t be expressed nearly so well in words.

Then I wandered the funky awesomeness of Cuba St, ending up at another Weltec visual arts exhibiton at Thistle Hall, which was much more to my artistic taste – I especially liked the realist painting of Helen Clark with a Moko, which had obviously prompted the ire of a Maori gentleman busy arguing with the poor young girl supervising the exhibition when I walked in, over the respectfulness of painting someone without their permission, and somewhat contrarily, why there wasn’t also one of John Key.

This was followed by rather too much time spent in Real Groovy, which has to be the randomest collection of stuff in a store ever.  Where else could you find a bin of $2 Shakespeare next to Britney CDs, heavy metal T-shirts and books of surrealist comics?  Gotta love it!

A little trip to some wonderful little arty, knick-knacky stores like Magnolia and Koru and finally, that bookshop to rule them all, Auntie Bees, and the day was complete.

Wellington speaks to my soul!

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Hear the word circus and what connotations immediately spring to mind?  If you’re anything like me, images of pathetic clowns pulling off tired slapstick jokes on a floor of sawdust spring to mind.  Sad, neglected animals being bossed about by rotund ringleaders under a red and white tent and children in spandex flying from rooftops.

Which was why I was intrigued by the tagline of Adagio, the most recent offering of Wellington’s Downstage Theatre:  seriously sophisticated circus.  Not to mention its rave reviews.  Circus?  Sophisticated?  Serious?  Critically acclaimed?  Devoid of dirt-smeared toffee apples and animal rights activists?

Having secured tickets to the final night of the extended season (November 1st, 2008) and having coaxed some long-suffering and equally culturally adventurous family members to accompany me (heaven forbid I not be acquainted with the individuals who sit silently next to me in a darkened theatre while I watch a show), it was with curious anticipation that I sat in Downstage’s slightly rickety stands, hearing the rain rattling furiously at the walls and wondering what was about to come.

Whatever I had expected, it wasn’t the delicate, playful and masterful piece of theatre which filled the next seventy minutes.  The word ‘adagio’ is actually a musical term which indicates the piece should be played ‘slow and stately’, which turned out to be a perfectly fitting title for this well-crafted piece of theatre.  Picture, if you can, finely interwoven threads of music, dance, theatre, incredible displays of acrobatic skill, and subtly cheeky comedy, all sewn imperceptibly into one another and pulled off with epicene charm and playful mastery.

Picture a circus in which the place of the traditional ‘clown’ is taken by a romance-novel writing mime and a Pacific Islander with talent as surprisingly large as his belly.  In which the ‘death-defying feats’ are replaced by elegant, almost sensual displays of acrobatic artistry.  And where else but here could you find rugby and ballet intertwined into something that is somehow equal parts amusing and beautiful?

Actually, no, scratch that.  There’s no way you could imagine it if you tried.  Adagio was quite simply unlike anything you’ve seen before.  It is a terrible shame the season has finished, otherwise I would be highly recommending all and sundry to see it and see it now!  I can only hope that this original creation has not been bestowed upon its last audience, and that its gentle sense of magic continues to whisper softly to the hearts of the rest of those lucky enough to have had the experience, as it does to mine.

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The biggest surprise on the soulful journey to authenticity, whether as a philosophy or a spiritual path, is that the path is a spiral. We go up, but we go in circles. Eash time around, the view gets a little bit wider.
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

Being back in Wellington is wonderful!

There is something about this place that ‘remembers me to myself’ – the ode to Wellington I wrote really says it all.  Anywhere else, and I feel like a part of me is being drawn here.  Being here, I feel somehow deeply at home, no matter what else is going on.

A wonderful friend of mine put it perfectly in a message to me recently (I hope she doesn’t mind me borrowing!):

“Money and a sense of direction are sooo secondary to a sense of wholeness & belonging.”

Right now, I would rather be broke and directionless in Wellington than wildly successful anywhere else.  That might sound crazy, but then I’ve never professed to be sane.  For whatever reason, this is my place right now.

So far this week I have spent my days looking for jobs, reawakening to my creative spirit, wandering the streets of my favourite city, and indulging in the daily laughter and philosophy that comes with living with my Mum and sister.

Bliss!

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