Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Don't tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass."

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I believe the opposite.
A word is not static. Just one word can have hundreds of definitions and countless more connotations. A single word is loaded with sights, smells, emotions and can, in just an instance, invoke a thousand pictures.


Read a word within a sentence and it develops a context and an agenda. It is not there inadvertently but deliberately and meticulously handpicked to express a viewpoint, to exact a certain emotion, or, conversely, to spark your own, specifically personal response.  Even words that alone stand innocent and powerless in the pages of dictionary, when harnessed in the perfect phrase, have the power to shoot straight at your heart or etch the corners of your lips into a knowing smile. To me, there is something delightful about reading those delicious phrases that transport you immediately to a specific moment, those magic combinations of words that simply ooze and glisten with exquisiteness. “Don’t tell me the moon is shining,” Anton Chekhov once said, “show me the glint of light on broken glass.” I would kill to write like that.
When you read a great novel, or a short story, or a poem, you are not simply reading words from a page, but you are becoming part of an entirely interactive process of consuming and giving life to verbs, adjectives and nouns. Words are not constrained to their physical presence on paper, but leap into the complex inner workings of your mind and mingle with your experiences, emotions, hopes and dreams to inspire images and emotions. A sentence is like a new colouring book which each person shades uniquely. Some will render it gradually while others fill it in with block primary colours or stray haphazardly over the lines. The final product is a reflection of the reader's age, mood and interpretation. Your response to a piece of writing is a reflection of your own viewpoint, and yet, simultaneously what we read constantly reinforces or remoulds our perceptions of the world around us. No sentence will ever hold exactly the same meaning to any two people. So frequently I have been a participant in debates sparked by a completely different interpretation of just a few words. Never does the reader play a passive role vis-a-vis the writer but a true writer is one who inspires the artist in the reader to colour the words with the most vibrant crayons or waterpaint them with tears. The reader brings words to life and the words change (even if only minimally or subconsciously) the life of the reader.
As I child I would frequently disappear into the forts I built of flimsy sheets and sturdy imagination to rapaciously devour page after page of Enid Blyton, becoming completely enthralled in the fantastical world of The Faraway Tree for hours at a time. I would imagine myself feasting on Pop-Biscuits with Moon-face and sliding gleefully down the ‘slippery-slip’ in the centre of the Faraway tree itself.  The rhododendron in our back garden was transformed into a pirate ship, raucously teething with swarthy buccaneers on unruly seas and the hollow tree stump in our orchard became a treacherous and mysterious  smugglers’ cave from The Famous Five. In those days I wanted not Barbie dolls, computer games, or television: I had novels and a place in the countryside to let my imagination run wild.  Occasionally I would envy the children who would go home from school to sit in front of Nickelodeon, but I now know that an almost outright ban of television was the greatest gift my parents could have ever given me.
Today, I firmly believe that children are missing out on so much due to an overexposure to television. This is not to undermine photography, visual art and cinema which can be undeniably thought-provoking, intelligent and interactive, but to say, that too many children’s programmes are engineered to provide the opportunity for unimaginative and uncritical consumption. Rather than being a catalyst for our imagination they provide entirely pre-constructed settings and characters which allow us to watch passively and emptily. While some programmes are informative and valuable, I believe that no amount of government funded educational television can ever be equal to the immeasurable benefits of reading. The written word is one of the greatest sources of magic we have in this world and it is a tragedy for the world to turn away from it.
Instead of absently flicking on the tv today’s modern family could do with stopping and picking up a good book. Some of my earliest and most precious childhood memories were of reading, or being read to. And today I can still be moved to tears by Hans Christen Anderson's The Little Match Girl, or Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince. A picture may tell a thousand words, but the power of the right words is infinite.

Writing, I think, is not apart from living.  Writing is a kind of double living.  The writer experiences everything twice.  Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind.  ~Catherine Drinker Bowen, Atlantic, December 1957
A word is not the same with one writer as with another.  One tears it from his guts.  The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.”  ~Charles Peguy
"What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers.  ~Logan Pearsall Smith, "All Trivia," Afterthoughts, 1931
"The maker of a sentence launches out into the infinite and builds a road into Chaos and old Night, and is followed by those who hear him with something of wild, creative delight."  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Forever Young

We were three.
The memories are hazy now
but certainly there was a time
when we ran naked with reckless abandon,
we drew on each other with bright coloured crayons,
and fell clumsily on our noses in the playground.
We danced without a care in the world,
dug moats and buried treasure in the sand.

We climbed,
We swam,
We sang,
We laughed.

We dressed as pirates
and tigers
and Elmo.

It was Paraone St
and you were the king of the castle.

I am twenty, and you twenty-one.
The memories are hazy still
but certainly, there are those times,
when we run about naked without inhibition,

when we draw on each other with vivid,
and fall drunkenly to the ground.

We still dance without a care in the world,
and bury our friends in the sand.

We climb.
We swim.
We sing.
We laugh.

We dress as pirates,
and tigers,
and Elmo.

It was Weir
It is Wellington
And you are still the king of the castle.

(and a dirty rascal.)

Happy birthday kiddo. May you be forever young at heart.

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Explore. Dream. Discover."

I’m at an altitude of 35,000 feet somewhere over the Indian Ocean and yet somehow this still doesn’t seem real. That dreaded moment that always lurked on the horizon for the last six months is finally here but I can’t really believe it. After the extraordinary whirlwind that has been my life over the past semester, heading home seems the most surreal experience of them all.  The truth is it feels like my sense of reality has been so obscured over the last six months that I’m not entirely sure what reality feels like anymore. When you live out of a single backpack for six weeks and find yourself in new cities and new countries every day it becomes increasingly difficult to imagine the simple routines of walking up Adam’s Terrace to class or football practice every Wednesday evening. The unknown has become familiar, sleeping on bus-station benches in Eastern European cities has become unremarkable and I’ve learnt to navigate any city’s metro system like the back of my hand.

Travelling is the quintessential case of Murphy’s law, and the only certainty is holds is that something will go wrong.  The world seems resolute on destroying any travel itinerary, savings fund or remaining vestiges of sanity by inventing a multitude of disastrous scenarios that sometimes seem almost impossibly bizarre. Being stranded in Italy due to a certain Icelandic volcano or having my passport board a flight to Africa without me are certainly not incidents accounted for in your standard insurance policy. You can never even begin to imagine, let alone prepare for, the carnage that comes along with any proverbial Euro-trip. 

But that’s so often the beauty of it. The cliché rings resoundingly true in that there is always a silver lining and, even better, a fantastic story to tell at the end of it.  Being “forced” to spend an extra week in a rural Italian village with only airline pilots for company spoilt us with more scenery than just the Tuscan countryside. Sometimes you just need to sit back, relax, and ‘enjoy the view’ so to speak. Travelling opens your eyes, and teaches you, more than anything, what really matters and allows us to differentiate between what’s trivial and what’s worth the tears and the panic. Flexibility is the most important thing you can pack in your suitcase and optimism is more important than any forward planning in a tight squeeze.  Miriam Beard once said “ is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living,” and in my opinion, she couldn’t be more right.

Travelling, for me, will always be a priority. Wellington is a wonderful place, but what is life if you can’t see the world? What is a history degree if you can’t see where the Berlin wall divided the world, what is money if we never the extraordinary city that was once lavish and wealthy Constantinople? Travel can bring meaning to the words we read in the pages of the great novels and the history textbooks but, most of all, it teaches us about ourselves. In the words of the great Mark Twain “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” The travel bug is a wonderful affliction. Ironically, it is through travelling that I have realised how little I know, and so far I have made just a measly mark on my list of places to see. 

So chase down the Greek sunset at Oia,
See neon light up the canals of Amsterdam,

and always live with an insatiable desire to see the world. Because...
- Mark Twain

“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” –Samuel Johnson
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
 “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang
“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” –Jawaharial Nehru

 “Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

5.30am for Beethoven...

A sonata with a view-Only in Raglan would a bunch of hippies somehow manage to get a piano up and impossibly steep hill, much to my delight.

 In a uni lifestyle of frantic all-nighters to finish assignments, a constant tirade of compulsory readings, the drudgery of a part-time job, and not to mention countless nights of drunken oblivion, I've neglected those 'extra-curricular activities' that I was once so fond of. 
School for me was a whirlwind of sports trainings, choir practices and a bare minimum of three different meetings which I was supposed to simultaneously attend during any given "break time". Weekends could involve anything from piano performances, to debating competitions, or band practices that would inevitably turn into road-trips to Kai Iwi beach.
 In the months leading up to chamber music competitions our bleary eyed and pajama clad trio could be found trudging our way through the 5.30am frosts to the music wing for 'essential' practices every morning (such were the joys of boarding school). Indeed, between my guitar in the 'shack out the back' and the piano stool, I came to virtually live in the music wing throughout my last year of high-school.

With the exception of the unfathomably early starts, and the sheer dread of turning up to a weekly music lesson to explain that having a life and sometimes sheer lack of ability had got in the way of me perfecting a Beethoven piano sonata yet again, I miss music incredibly. Taxing though they were, all those hours of repeating bars over and over again, with fingers on the verge of RSI, were utterly worth it for the satisfying feeling of a good performance, or simply even the beauty of the music (or at least as beautiful as I could make it).

To play the piano is a wonderful thing; in playing Beethoven, or Mozart, or Bach, or Brahms you are immersing yourself in a piece of history, music that has been performed on the grand pianos of famous concert halls, or on rickety out-of-tune keys in thousands of living rooms; yet every performance is unique- it is not simply an objective regurgitation of the composer's intentions but each note an expression of the player's own ability (or sometimes lack thereof on my behalf), experience, and interpretation.

At uni we are no longer presented with opportunities on a platter, we have to seek them out. While at boarding school we had teachers constantly hampering us to do our piano practice, and had an 'extra-curricular' arsenal of sports facilities and musical instruments on our very doorstep. It takes much more initiative to 'fulfill your potential' in the real world. Or maybe I'm just lazy these days. Either way, my mission for summer is to find a piano and get back in touch with my musical self.

Here are just some of the pieces that had me awake all those mornings...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"The dream final"- Icy Boots vs 309BYCFC

World cup darlings the All Whites may be proving they can foot it on the world stage and the Phoenix may hold the A-league record for unbeaten games at home, but for evidence of the healthy state of football in this country, you need to look no further than the Victoria University Rec. Centre last Sunday morning.

With pre-match banter reaching alarmingly high levels, the indoor final between seasoned veterans 309BYCFC and relative underdogs Icy Boots was destined to be the showdown of the season.  In a suspiciously partisan build-up Raiko Shareef dubbed the match a “dream final” and the oxymoronic “pinnacle of the gloriously bleary-eyed shambles that is Sunday morning football.”  In the week previous, friendships were strained, allegiances declared and observers were drawn into vicious facebook debates, eager to be a part of the action. Banter was derisive and the stakes high, with Jacob McSweeny making a dangerous personal investment in the match, declaring that he would “get Todd Carney sleeves” if 150 spectators were in attendance.

 While pool play had often seen both teams in various states of disrepair after the previous night’s activities, there were to be no repeats of previous exploits such as 309BYCFC import Vikram Jayawant bolting from the court yelling “I’m going to be sick!” The numerologically significant 10/10/10 seemed a fitting date for these rival football teams to don their boots (Icy or otherwise) and shake off their hangovers for a clash which, by all accounts, lived up to the hype.  Alex Rothman was there to capture the pre-match tension and solidify this moment in video memory.

Interviewed before the game 309BYCFC demonstrated the eloquence typical of kiwi sportspersons, with captain Adam Clark saying he thought their chances were “good” and an ever positive Jayawant predicting “we’ll do mean.” Uncharacteristically cold remarks were made by some members of the Icy Boots camp, with Beyonce enthusiast Blaine Abraham talking up the game’s physical component, declaring “we’ve got the hustle.” Hockey convert and Icy Boots defender Sam Franklin was far from coy about his team’s chances, dismissing his opponents as “a bunch of clowns” and predicting “an absolute massacre.”  Jesse Strafford and Ollie Carr adopted a more serious approach to the match, while others were less diplomatic in their discussion of tactics, with Abraham openly revealing his intention to ““Taking out Clarky at the ankles, anything that involves hurting him.” Michael Candy showed remarkable insight into his role as 309 custodian, intending to “concede...less,” while Raiko Shareef emphasised Icy Boots’ commitment to political correctness and third-world humanitarianism by saying things in Maldivian that none of us understood.

Icy Boots defied their critics by moving into an early lead, with one-shoed warrior Zak “Red Mist” Myers drilling a shot past 309 keeper Michael Candy. This goal proved vindication for Meyers whose preference for playing with only one shoe has allegedly brought Icy Boots into financial strife, due to ACC demanding high injury levies. Despite some magical touches from the highly acclaimed Robbie Hunter and Shane Mahy Icy Boots tenuously maintained their advantage to lead 1-0 into the break.

With the half-time whistle Alie Novak stressed the need for his team to “keep their heads up,” before hoeing into mid-game oranges in the 309 camp. The oranges obviously worked wonders however, as the second half saw 309BYCFC come out firing, clearly keen to vanquish the demons that have left the title elusive in their previous two seasons. The Icy Boots custodian and walking West Ham memorabilia store that is James Bascand, proved that he is not entirely super-human, falling victim to just one of a series of thundering strikes from Robbie Hunter at the twenty minute mark. Two minutes later the vision of Clark and a well-timed run from Mahy combined to see a second, perfectly executed shot slip past the aspiring Rob Green. Despite valiant efforts and last minute pressure Icy boots failed to fire in the face of 309’s momentum, with the final score remaining locked in at 2-1.

Forward Dave Williams surmised Icy Boots’ feelings about the result as “gutting as,” but the competition’s newcomers must be congratulated for superb run to the final which has “sent shockwaves” through the footballing community. For 309BYCFC the win, Jayawant insists, is tribute to their unfailing positivity, particularly epitomised by manager Alex Handley’s enthusiasm with the vuvuzela on the sideline.

Rather than resort to the time-old clichés about fair play and participation (because let’s be honest, we’re all about winning here), I tentatively suggest that the real victor on the day was Jacob McSweeny, whose arms and future career were spared the trauma of Todd Carney sleeves due to attendance figures falling short of the optimistic 150 mark.

-All quotes courtesy of Alex Rothman, and here is his brilliant film of the action and ensuing banter-

Part I
Part II

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Superior" media and the joys of good journalism

A lecturer from our university once asked the class what sort of news media they read. When an unsuspecting student replied "Stuff," he was subsequently humiliated as though having stooped to the absolute lows of media degeneracy. While this was a pretentious question, and I by no means want to detract from because it fulfills a purpose of providing concise and easily accessible information on current events- we could all benefit from discovering the wonders of good quality print journalism (thus I suggest you should probably stop reading this right now).

I certainly do not profess to be any expert in the matter- my current exposure to esteemed news sources stretches little further than a daily browse through the New York Times website. But it is a wonderful and refreshing experience to read articles that are eloquently written, well-informed and look into the issues that are so frequently brushed over in our "if it bleeds, it leads" popular media culture. This is not to say that these accounts are always completely unbiased, as journalism is always targeted at an audience and, no matter how hard they try, in my opinion no one can ever write about salient issues objectively. Even a non-partisan observer has a viewpoint of some kind, and by attempting to present moral or political neutrality we are still subconsciously influenced by our agendas to some extent.

I have wanted to be a journalist for as long as I can remember. As a twelve year old I dreamed of jet-setting around the world to be there at the places where history was being made, in order to report them to the world, and, by writing them down, playing just a small part in solidifying them in human memory, for better or worse. While the power that journalism has to change things in a world that  (myself included) has so many times indifferently turned away from atrocities in the Balkans, or sat on our comfortable couches shocked at the abhorrence of genocide in Rwanda, is another moral conundrum in itself, we should at least not be allowed to plead ignorance.

So I will not distract anyone from reading decent journalistic material with my far inferior rant any longer, but will leave you with Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel's nine elements of journalism, and some of my favourite articles from the New York Times today- they are very thought-provoking.

  1. Journalism's first obligation is to the truth.
  2. Its first loyalty is to the citizens.
  3. Its essence is discipline of verification.
  4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.
  5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power.
  6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.
  7. It must strive to make the significant interesting, and relevant.
  8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.
  9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience.

Also, just to be completely pretentious, how cool would it be to sit in a Manhattan cafe in the early morning with an americano and a copy of the New York Times?

A gem in our midst- Happy birthday

There are some people who are so unfalteringly wonderful that they renew your faith in the world,despite the fervent attempts of a history and international relations degree to destroy it. They can remind you, even at your most disheartened, that humankind is good after all.

There are some people endowed with such incredible kindness and generosity that you simply cannot fathom how one person can possess so much love, for so many people. These are the individuals who remember to ask everyone how their test went, or check-in to see if they're feeling better.

There are some people so selfless and wonderfully benevolent that they bring happiness to all those around them, yet never ask for anything in return. People who will spend their day thinking of how to help out another, not because they have to, but simply because they want to. They are not just your umbrella in the rain, but the solace of a true friend and a cup of tea away from the storm.                                                                                            
                                                                                  These people are rare and if we are to cross their paths with just one of them in our lifetime we are truly lucky. 

Anna Whaley,
you are one of these people.                                    

I am constantly astonished and utterly in awe of how you manage to be so lovely! I think it is hard to even express how much we all appreciate you, because nothing seems comparable to the kind deeds you do for everybody, every single day.
This weekend treat yourself, and allow yourself to be treated. Because, for once, it should be all about you!

Also, as it's your 21st.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's no Auckland

Today, as I walked along the waterfront, I saw a gorgeous old man dressed entirely in yellow. Carrying a yellow pack ‘n’ save bag, and eating a banana, he struck up a conversation with a passing stranger. When the stranger commented that he was ‘wearing a lot of yellow today,’ the man simply pointed to the cloudless sky, “it’s sunny,” he said, with no need for further explanation.

This man, eccentric though he was, really tugged a heart-string, and, in my opinion, really encapsulated what Wellington is all about. I am fully aware that, in writing this, I am only adding to a plethora of praises song about the world’s southern-most capital. Ask any Wellingtonian their favourite aspect of the windy city, and they are quick to rattle off a long list of positives; its compactness, its music scene, the waterfront, or, on a good day, the sunshine. Indeed, I could write all day about Wellington’s many attributes.

To me, Wellington is like the man dressed all in yellow; quirky, a little bit crazy, and inherently optimistic. From my current vantage point overlooking the lagoon, the view is testament to the incredible diversity of this city. The waterfront is a hive of activity, with a hip-hop dance crew rehearsing outside Macs brewery; a couple snapping artistically away on their SLR; two guys leaping and tumbling over walls as they practice pakour; and a constant stream of people soaking up the spring sunshine with a fervour that only Wellingtonians possess. As people sip champagne on the balcony during a black tie event at the boat club, a pair of stubbie-wearing students laze about drinking Tui directly below.

The sun is shining, but there’s a slight breeze, as though the city doesn’t want you to get quite too comfortable.  And I love that about Wellington. In the words of Patricia Grace that are boldly exposed to the roaring winds and the sea spray, “There’s always an edge here that one must walk which sharp and precarious, requiring vigilance...” Having lived in Wellington for three years now, I am constantly discovering new elements of this beautiful city. There are countless treasure troves of op-shops in Newtown to be discovered, or hidden gems of bars, such as Hooch, hiding behind inconspicuous doors on Courtenay Place. Every stroll down Cuba Street is a new experience, as it is the buskers, the fashions of passers-by, or which way you have to walk to dodge the temperamental bucket fountain that make this city truly unique.  What Raiko Shareef loves about Wellington is that, in just a few minutes radius of the city centre “you can enjoy a top-class gelato, bask in sunshine, and listen to a Japanese man in a vest play “My Heart Will Go On” out of a conch shell.”

Wellington is far from your typical idyllic coastal paradise. For much of the year it rains, and it’s always windy, and to be honest, often quite miserable. Its list of tourist attractions encompasses little more than the Cable Car and Te Papa, while the sand of its most central beach is shipped in from Nelson. Yet, as is never more evident than on a sunny day like today, Wellington’s wild weather, and unpredicatability, endows its inhabitants with an optimistic outlook and sense of pride in their city. Where else would you see people stripping off and leaping into the harbour on an early October day, with temperatures barely pushing 16 degrees?  

Nothing embodies this more than the revitalisation of previously ailing New Zealand football in the form of the Wellington Phoenix. The hope and loyalty of the fans, who themselves often battle the elements inside the ‘yellow stadium’ are largely to credit for the Phoenix’s proverbial rise from the ashes. Lauris Edmond eloquently surmised this spirit in writing; "This is the city of action, the world headquarters of the verb."

One of the things that strikes me most about Wellington is that it is not simply a collection of suburbs, but truly one city. It is small enough that people are not confined to their suburbs, and thus, while there are certainly upper middle-class women who live in Karori and send their daughters to Marsden, there is very little sense of Ponsonby-type ponce, or Parnell pretentiousness. I think it speaks volumes about this city that the world famous Brett McKenzie chooses to live side-by-side with the financially frugal Aro Valley student population.

I am proud to be a Wellingtonian. A good friend told me that what she loves about Wellington is that you can feel like you are walking through a sprawling British estate in the botanical gardens, yet just five hundred metres away the city is thriving with an energetic magnetism. Wellington is not comfortable. It is not perfect. It blows with a wild wind that emboldens you, and on a sunny day Wellingtonians soak up the wonders of life with reckless abandon. Wellington may have the wind, the rain and the Phoenix, but more importantly it has spirit. Perhaps though, the best thing about Wellington, is simply that "it's not Auckland.”

(I realise I am at risk of sounding like a broken record for this city, so I promise that this is my last dig about Wellington for a while!)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pretty love songs...

A large, Maori man, in stubbies and complete with facial tattoos is not normally the image you would conjure up when you think of love songs. But, in Wellington, anything goes. I encountered this man busking on the waterfront the other day, and I thought he had some very valid things to say. Songs about love and peace may be a little bit cliche, and his message about Tuhoe controversial, but this man, having spent the last twenty years "up the coast" was absolutely genuine. 
The olive branch he had tattooed on his face was striking, and I thought very symbolic, considering we so frequently, and perhaps wrongly, associate facial tattoos with gangs and violence. And after all, if you have the commitment to tattoo the quintessential symbol of peace, right across your face, how can you not be genuinely committed to the cause? 
I sat and watched him for quite some time, but here's just a snippet...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Because it's sunny

On Saturday I saw this lovely old man on the waterfront, dressed all in yellow and eating a banana. He struck up a conversation with the stranger next to him who noted, "You're wearing a lot of yellow today." In response he simply pointed to the sky and said, "it's sunny."

Made my day.

Epitome of me

In the spirit of this blogging business here's just a wee window into all that is me:
-I am eclectic, disorganised, catastrophic even. I like busy, colourful, even cluttered, as opposed to pretty pinks, beautiful ornaments or straight lines. 
-I love Wellington, I adore this city- it's wild, rugged beauty, the fact that two minutes walk from the centre of government you can walk through bush and pretend it's the wildnerness. I love the hills and the views that accompany them- the fact that from virtually any vantage point in this city you can catch a glimpse of the harbour. 

I love that you can walk everywhere, and this isn't a collection of suburbs, but truly a city in itself. 

It is cultured, but not pretentious- financially frugal students will brunch at cafes tables right next to upper-middle-class women who send their daughters to Marsden, and buskers will play just metres from a ballet performance at the opera house.

I love that it has beaches, but also that is far from your idyllic seaside paradise. It is a place where the wind whips up a vigorous energy in its people, and the days of rain make Wellingtonians all the more appreciative of a sunny day.

I love Aro Valley, in all its quirkiness. I think it is a wonderful testament to Wellington, and to New Zealand as a whole, that Brett McKenzie, famous throughout the world, lives in a relatively modest house, in a student suburb.

I love the wooden terraced houses, jumping off the wharf on a sunny day (or on a mid-winter night), the wild south-coast, blanket-man, the coffee, the cafes, the fact that we're living on a fault-line that could send this city under the sea at any given moment.
I love the vege markets, their bright colours, the stalls getting buffeted about in the wind, the throng of people, running into people you know and piecing together last night's craziness and lamenting over today's hangover.

I have walked the Champs Elysees, cycled through the streets of Rome, taken the London Underground countless times, and even ventured to cosmopolitan Istanbul and exotic Marrakech- but nowhere in the world has ever captured my heart quite like Wellington.

-I am a caffeine addict. I love everything about coffee, and believe it is hugely important as a social mechanism. I love the myriad of things that it symbolises- stress, professionalism, the urban, the leisure time, the weekend, the conversation, the friendship, the solitude, the music, the art...

 -I love to run. Walking is overrated. Give me a sunny day and a pair of shoes and I will run for miles and miles. I even like to run in the rain. It's a magical feeling finding a rhythm, or pushing past that pain barrier, to the point where your feet effortlessly pound the pavement and you can think about everything, or absolutely nothing.

-I falling asleep to Bon Iver and that magical moment where a song just seems to fill up your soul and let you close your eyes and smile from the inside out.

-I sleep with my curtains open because I can't stand the thought of shutting away the stars, or missing out on a single ray of sunshine that comes streaming in my window every morning.

 -I love being a geek sometimes. I find my degree fascinating. I enjoy talking about history, or politics