Wow, this month has been intense.
The highlights of this month included:
- Going to NZ and meeting Lucy Lawless (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
- VCAA exam marking
- Turning 27
I haven't yet really written much about NZ on here and I don't think I'll have time to go into heaps of detail. But here's an album of pictures for those interested. For those who want the short version: I decided to take a day off work and go to NZ for a long weekend to see Michael Hurst's Chicago. It is, perhaps, the only trip I've ever had in which everything has gone 100% right and there was absolutely zero disappointment or disaster in anything that happened. The longer version is as follows:
Our first destination after touching down in Auckland at approximately 5:30 am on Saturday morning was a long drive to Hobbiton. It was pretty awesome as a first stop because it's just like phraawwrr LOTR scenery! The food at the cafe was great too. My only gripe was that Hobbiton itself was a little too packed and touristy at times. It would have been amazing if there were fewer people and we could just take our time wander about, but there was always a rushed feel to it.
The Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland was our second stop. It wasn't as fangirl!excitement as Hobbiton but probably better value overall because the views were stunning and, by the time we went in the afternoon, there were very few other people there. So we got to walk the trails at our own pace and just enjoy the beautiful New Zealand landscape. I was lucky because Robin did all the driving so I didn't even have to worry too much about finding these places. I'd planned out our stops beforehand, printed out a bunch of maps, brought along my GPS which has maps of NZ as well as Australia, and left it to Robin to get us to our destination.
We stayed overnight at Rotorua, ate dinner at a gorgeous cafe/restaurant called Capers Epicurean where the waitresses had rainbow flags pinned on their apron things and were incredibly friendly. The next morning, we did the Rotorua Canopy Tour which, for me, topped both Hobbiton and Wai-o-Tapu. Zip lining across the top of hundred year old trees and all that. It was the most expensive out of the three activities though. I think what pushed it from a great experience to an amazing experience was the friendliness of the guides. At that point, Robin and I basically decided that Kiwis are just plain nicer than Australians.
After the Canopy Tour, we stopped by a Wendy's for a mandarin orange salad which I had fond memories of from the last time I was in NZ, but it wasn't quite the same. Then we drove back to Auckland, checked into our hotel, and got ready to see Chicago.
I can't even begin to describe how amazing Chicago was. First of all, the venue was incredible. It was quite a small stage with four sides to it. We were seated right in the middle of the front row on one side. So I basically got to see all the action (including Lucy Lawless action!) from about 1 metre away. There was one part of the show where Lucy (who was playing Velma) was swinging around a red whip and it almost hit me. Oh man, it would have been kind awesome if it HAD hit me. But anyway. During the interval I asked one of the seat-pointer-outers (ushers?) if I could take a picture of the stage, and she was like "sorry, nope". And I figured maybe she misunderstood me and though I wanted a pic of the actual performance when I just wanted a picture of the empty stage, so I asked another guy, and he was like "Sorry nope, no pictures at all. But if you want a picture with the performers, they'll head out to the bar after the show" and I was like O.O *HEAD EXPLODES KABOOM* Because up until that point, I hadn't even entertained the thought that there would be even a minuscule chance that I could meet Lucy. Robin had said a couple of times on the drive there that our quest was to get me to meet Lucy, but I was like NO. WE ARE NOT MEETING LUCY. DON'T EVEN TRY TO GET MY HOPES UP. So yeah. That's when everything changed.
After the show, I grabbed Robin and bolted for the bar and then asked the bar wench there really intensely EXCUSEME, CANYOUTELLMEWHERETHEPERFORMERSUSUALLYCOMEOUTFROMANDWHERESHOULDIWAIT? and she as like >.> uhh.... if you just hang around, they MIGHT show up. I mean, on all the nights I've worked here, I've only seen them come out maybe twice? And I was like OH MAN IF LUCY DOESN'T COME OUT, I AM GOING TO BE THE SADDEST PERSON IN THE WORLD. A few minutes passed. Hope diminished. I pulled out fifty bucks and was about to buy a margarita. Stood in line. Then some random stranger who had obviously overheard my crazy fangirl stalking discussion earlier was like whispering loudly "she's right in front of you!" and I totally didn't even register that because I guess my head was in some weird dreamy place. But then Robin was like "Dude, SHE'S RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU", and I turned slightly to the right and saw that Lucy had just purchased two glasses of wine about 2m away from me. But she was talking to someone else. So I waited until she finished talking to the other person and was like UM EXCUSE ME HI COULD I BOTHER YOU FOR A MOMENT
Actually, I typed up the conversation for Ruth when I messaged her all about this right after the event, so I'm just gonna paste that conversation here:
( Conversation with LL under the cut )
I'm sure there were other bits that I've forgotten because toomanyfeels, but that was the gist of it. Basically, my overall impression of the meeting confirmed my suspicions that Lucy is the nicest person ever who is just amazing and wonderful to her fans. I really appreciate that she took the time to actually have a conversation with me. It never felt for a moment, while I was talking to her, that she felt bothered or bored or wanting to go do something else.
I still sometimes feel all weird thinking "wow, I've actually met her". It was so indescribably strange to meet her and to watch her perform live, because it all seemed so familiar. Because I've watched so many hours of Xena. Seen so many images and screensavers and wallpapers and icons of Xena. Read and written fanfiction describing how she looks, detailing all her idiosyncratic mannerisms and body language. Since I was 8 or 9, the image of a blue-eyed, brass-clad warrior woman has been engraved in my mind. And that night, I met the woman who holds her likeness. It was utterly, utterly surreal. I walked out of that bar feeling like anything in the world was possible.
Monday was also pretty amazing for reasons I won't go into here, but we ended up spending the last few hours of the trip in Auckland Museum (coincidentally fitting since it was the 11th of November). And then it was an uneventful flight back home and back to work.
Oh man, work. Yesterday was basically my first day off since getting back from NZ. The weekend after, I had to attend a Training Day at the VCAA centre in Coburg from whence I brought home 150 English Language exams. Every moment since then has been either working at school during the day or marking at home during the evening. Despite the fact that choosing to be an Assessor this year has meant that I've lost two weeks of my life to nothing but marking, it's been a pretty good experience. I enjoyed the Training Day because it confirmed that I was doing a lot of things right and all my marks were about on par with the Chief Assessor. Reading the first 30-40 exams was even quite fun because I had some hilarious essays and interesting examples in my batch. It started to drag a bit after the first 40 though. I now have 13 left, so two or three hours more of solid marking tomorrow and I will be done.
Last Friday I turned 27. This year, my birthday happened to fall on Ancient Civilisations Day which was awesome because I always love dressing up for that day. My co-worker, Andrew, stitched me up by unexpectedly asking the entire Year 7 cohort to sing me Happy Birthday. So I had about 150 Ancient Romans, Egyptians, Greeks, a couple of medieval footmen in the wrong era, and a lone conquistador all singing happy birthday to me. I don't think I'll ever get another birthday experience quite like that. To make it even better, my class performed brilliantly when we went out onto the oval to do the military drills and formations. The Principal, the Head of both Middle and Senior Schools, the head of Humanities and a whole bunch of other people were there to witness my class completely own all the others in terms of cohesion, discipline and celerity. Good job, kids.
Here's a picture:
I also had heaps of compliments for my costume, which I enjoyed. It was a pretty great day.
Yesterday I had an impromptu gathering of a couple of friends who came over to watch some Xena and play Hobbit Scrabble. But we ended up only peripherally watching Xena and instead played Munchkin (a new card game Rianna bought me) instead. Miriam baked me a cake which I am going to go eat more of now.
Oh, and I also watched Thor 2 yesterday after wandering around Chadstone with Rianna picking up free things (Nando's, Boost, Baskins and Robbins ice cream) because it was my birthday and people give you free things. I really loved Thor 2, and I can fully understand why all of Tumblr basically loves Loki.
So that's been November this year. Much more hectic than previous Novembers. I think I like it that way.