Sunday, 27 July 2008

When Loren and I went to get tickets for a Film Festival movie the other day, the lady at the box office looked really familiar, but I couldn't figure out why. When I went to the same theatre today, the same lady was at the box office, and again she just looked so familiar. Hours later it hit me: I'm almost certain she's the lady that officiated at our civil union.

Something about that made me feel like a really belong here now.


Written Friday, 25th July, 10:14 pm
Random moments from last weekend. Which was much more eventful than this weekend has been thus far. (by "weekend" I mean my days off which are Thurs. Fri. and Sun.)

I got a haircut for the first time in about two years. I got a recommend for this tiny place run by one woman. It was raining, and I sat on the couch flipping through hair design books. I pointed out a photo, and she got to it. Washing my hair, she asked me what I do for work. She said, "If it's true what some people believe that you come back as another animal, then I want to be a parrot." I asked "in the wild or someone's home?" She said "A pet parrot, because you can say whatever you want and no one will care." She got the haircut from the magazine dead on. I can't remember the last time I was this pleased with a haircut.

I cycled to the Sheepskin Warehouse to buy a possum tail to send to my nephew for his birthday. There's American opossums where he lives, I thought it would amuse him. They were fresh out of tails, but the lady gave me pitch for buying a whole possum fur. She explained that if you loop the tail through one of the holes from where its eyes were, you can make a sort of furry scarf of it. Something about being a foreigner myself makes me feel more comfortable asking strangers where they're from if I notice an accent. She said she's from Malaysia, lived here 17 years, raised two children here and they both left for the UK where the job market's better. I told her about where I'm from, and about my parents, and how my nephew, whose birthday it is, is a dancer. I settled on wool and possum fur hat, tucked it into my windbreaker, and cycled back into town.

When I got home, I saw a friend online whose visiting Hawaii right now. I was giving him all kinds of advice about Hawaii, and then I got to really missing Hawaii. He said "enjoy the island you're on." Which was excellent advice.

After work I quickly set about following my Hawaii-visiting friend's advice. Loren and I went to a great little out of the way Malaysian restaurant. I got lamb roti chanai and a side of steamed veggies. We wandered around town for a while then met some friends at SF Bath House (which is a dance club) for Atomic - a weekly even where the DJ plays 80's. Not just pop 80's but everything - pop, punk, new wave, goth, everything. It was late getting going but once I got on the dance floor it was so much fun. I couldn't believe I'd been here over a year and hadn't once been out dancing. I mean, that is ridiculous.

Loren and I went to our 1st Wellington Film Festival film. Vexille - a CGI/Animae scifi/action movie. It was actually really good, really interesting plot, and a lot of fun to look at. I cannot believe we didn't make it to a single thing for last year's festival. I mean, 3 of the theatres are within 2 blocks of us. Clearly we have a lot to make up for this year.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Wellington Coffee

Wellintonians love their coffee. This city has it's own coffee culture, and coffee is different here. For starters, coffee always means espresso drinks. There is only one place that serves drip coffee and that is Starbucks. Also, there are some standard items on a Kiwi menu that you won't see outside of NZ and Australia.

Flat White - very similar to a latte, but in theory the flat white has less foam.
Short Black - this is a shot of espresso
Long Black - a double shot of espresso with hot water. Similar to an Americano (as close as you're going to to get to something resembling drip coffee)

I was not much of a coffee drinker before we moved here, but now I order decaf mochas all the time. What makes them so great? For starters the milk is just better here. The coffee is also consistently good. Cafes get their beans from one of several local roasteries that source their beans from around the world and roast them on site. And since NZ has nothing against Cuba, some of them source beans from there, especially Havana Coffee Works.

revolutionary coffee

Turns out Cuba makes some pretty tasty coffee. I also love that if you order a cappuccino or a mocha (also called a mochaccino here) it will always come with at least one marshmallow. Often the marshmallow is covered in chocolate.

decaf mocha
(this mocha from Mister Bun's came with one regular and one chocolate marshmallow)

Despite, or maybe because of this, mochas aren't made very sweet unless you ask for sugar in them. Which is just the way I like it. Also coffee always and everywhere comes in the same lovely Italian ceramic mugs with brown glaze on the outside. Wellington coffee culture is not about a quick coffee to go. As my copy of "The Best of Wellington" puts it:

"The definitive coffee experience is best had sitting down, drinking from thick, pleasantly warm, tactile Italian crockery, with just the right amount of finely textured milk blended with a short strong shot or two of espresso."

decaf mocha - half full

Despite all this Starbucks does have a presence here, with its tall, vente, and grande, with its super-sweet double caramel latte to go. They are not completely clueless, though. They can't ignore the popularity of the flat white.

starbucks flat white

Friday, 11 July 2008

So I'm at the Doctor's today: I'm finally getting my chronic neck pain dealt with now that I'm a resident and can participate in NZ's subsidised health care. For one thing, my GP's not afraid of alternative medicine. Last time I was there, she recommended an acupuncturist, this time she gave me the name of an osteopath "because acupuncture is more effective for short-term pain."

While I was there she did a pap smear as well, since I'm way overdue. Afterwards she asked me what birth control I'm using. Then she offered to give me a script for condoms.

Holy crap. Subsidised condoms!

I had no idea that was an option. They're not "my brand" but they were so cheap there was really no reason not to give 'em a try.

Total cost:
doctor's visit $48
pap smear lab test: free
One month supply of my neck pain meds: $3
Six 12-packs of condoms: $3