The little journo that could

I'm still not really sure what's going on but look, I'm typing with my eyes closed.

Befriending parrots

Have you ever been licked by a parrot?

I have.

I never realised it before but I absolutely must have a pet parrot. I was visiting my grandparents in Wellington for the weekend when my uncle and his family showed up for Sunday lunch, feathery friend in tow. Here he is with my Auntie.20140309_125622

Mac the Macaw (a name bestowed upon him by a previous owner), was not what I expected of a bird. That being said, I didn’t really have any expectations to begin with. I don’t know much about birds, and I know even less about parrots, specifically. Turns out they’re kind of like puppies with wings. Let’s all take a moment to close our eyes and imagine that.

I never expected parrots to be so cuddly. He wasn’t particularly cuddly with me, tried to attack my hand a few times actually, but he absolutely loves my Auntie. He spent most of the afternoon perched on her shoulder, dropping his head down so she could scratch the back of his neck. He let her kiss his beak, and would sometimes crawl around to the front of her chest so he could snuggle against her.

A couple of times he climbed onto my wrist and hauled himself up onto my shoulder, but I think his main objective was to play with my hairtie. At one point I turned to look at him, as I could see him staring at me out of the corner of my eye. After a brief moment of locked gazes he leaned forward and pecked my nose. It didn’t hurt, but then I don’t think he was trying to hurt me. Looking at the size and sharpness of his beak, I decided I didn’t want to know what it felt like when he did want to hurt me.  Sometimes he’d put his beak around my finger, but I was told it was just a love-bite.

My uncle also informed me Mac had a penchant for painted toenails. This wasn’t a problem for me, but it did turn out to be one for Nana-Di, whose toes Mac became a little fixated with.

While we sat around the dinner table eating, Mac sat on a perch in the corner of the room, but about three times during that meal I turned to see him carefully climbing down to the ground and toddling underneath the table, making a beeline for Nana-Di’s feet. At one point I felt something brush against my leg, and looked down to see his bright blue tail feathers disappearing beneath the tablecloth. Before I had a chance to warn her, Nana-Di was shrieking and jumping up from her chair. 20140309_125632

So it’s decided, I need to have one of these. The only problem is they’re horribly expensive – Mac cost $6000 to buy – and they can live in captivity potentially for 70 years. That’s one hell of a commitment to make.

But they’re soooo cuuuuute…



Every time I come to Wellington it hits me again how much I love this place.

Maybe it’s because I’m still looking at it through the eyes of a visitor – maybe it’s not as great as I always remembered it to be as a child, but looking at the houses nestled into the hillsides makes me feel happy, and standing at the bedroom window in the dark looking at all the streetlights feels oddly magical.

Sorry to get all mushy.

Getting ahead of myself

It’s been awhile. I know. I have been sorely neglecting my poor blog because 1. there’s a decided lack of things I feel like blogging about, 2. I have a lot less time in my day than I used to, and 3. I’m lazy.

Something just struck me though.

Life is changing, rapidly. I have a full-time job and all the ups and downs that come with it, and the people I used to know are spreading out across the country although for the most part not much further than a 100km radius from Hamilton.

What hit me is seeing people doing the things that I wish I was doing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy where I am and I’m hugely grateful for the job I have and the career I’m beginning to build, but it’s still a little hard seeing people following my dreams.

I want to be a broadcaster, I’ve known that pretty much since I decided I wanted to be a journalist. As a child I wanted to be an actor, and in a way it’s not such a huge leap, you can see how wanting to act and wanting to anchor the six o’clock news could appeal in a similar way.

A friend of mine from class who, to be honest, I haven’t spoken to very much since leaving tech (but then I’m already out of touch with most of them), got a job at TV3, which is one of the places I want to end up.

Another person I know got a job there too, although we didn’t study together and I don’t know her particularly well. It’s still a case of seeing everyone but me getting a job in television.

I had to stop and give myself a little pep talk: Yes, others are getting the jobs you see yourself in, but this is not the right time for you.

I’d already decided before finishing studying that I should start out in print and stay there for a decent amount of time before (hopefully) diving into broadcasting however I can manage it. Just because other people are getting there before me doesn’t mean anything – it’s not as if I was applying for them. I just had to take a moment to remind myself that I am exactly where I need to be right now. I am following the path I need to take, and I don’t have to rush it.

It’s hard, sometimes, to go where life takes you when you have your sights set on the bigger picture. I think it might be time to start focusing on where I am at the moment and worry about the big stuff later.

On that note, my Sam has finally moved to Wanganui, and for the first time in three years we are living no more than ten minutes apart.

What a breath of fresh air.

When boyfriends go fishing

It was against my better judgement. Really, it was.

The thing is, Sam had just been talking to me about how he really wanted to go fishing, and had only been once in the past 10 years. How could I say no when a friend from work called him up a few hours later to see if he wanted to go out on the boat with him? It would be nice, I thought. Even though it was my last full day with him before heading back to Wanganui, I liked the idea of relaxing with a book or some Grey’s Anatomy (judge not lest ye be judged, at least it’s not Shortland Street).

Because Sam hadn’t been fishing in about three thousand lightyears, he didn’t know how long he’d be.

“Probably a few hours,” he said with a shrug.

In reality, he left just before three on Saturday afternoon, and it wasn’t until 5am that I heard from him again.

At first I wasn’t worried. It started off as loneliness, followed by a period of wondering whether or not I should cook my own dinner or wait for him. When his flatmate came home though, he informed me it could take hours and hours, and probably not to expect Sam home until about 10 or 11pm. I was a little disappointed – after all, like I said, I was going home the next day and hadn’t had a full day since I got to Tauranga just to spend with him. I told myself that no matter how late Sam stayed out fishing, I wasn’t going to be annoyed with him, because I gave him my blessing and he’s been wanting to go for ages now.

By the end of the night (or the start of the morning if that’s how you want to look at it), I was well past the point of annoyed.

The problem, you see, wasn’t that he didn’t get home until the sun was nearly up. The problem was that he’d taken his phone, but I couldn’t get hold of him at all. I expected he’d be out of service, but I tried his number about midnight, just to see. It rang, so I knew it was in service. I called several times over the next five hours, and left him a text saying “my feelings towards you are currently less than favourable”.

I don’t want to sound like a clingy girlfriend who can’t stand to be away from her partner, but I was already feeling on edge because Sam’s father had texted me saying he was a little concerned Sam wasn’t home yet, and that he hoped he was safe. That, coupled with the fact that it was the middle of the night, made me start to imagine the worst.

The best case scenario, of course, was that he left his phone in his car before heading out on the boat. At three in the morning, though, my brain was telling me that the phone was safely stashed on the boat, while Sam drifted lifelessly in the water below. I kid you not, I briefly thought “if he goes missing and then find his body it’s going to be gross from being in the water and I’ll be even more traumatised.”

As it got later and later, or earlier and earlier, I thought they surely couldn’t still be out. I’m not proud of how much I was freaking out once 4am rolled about. I slept maybe an hour and a half that night, but my mind was too wide awake to really let me rest. I was constantly back and forth from the bed to the lounge, where I’d sit with the cat and gaze stalkerishly out the window.

I was pissed off. Sam was depriving me of the last night of cuddles I’d get for a week, and I was doubly annoyed that I could not sleep, but had a five hour road trip the next day.  Also, he’d forced me to look like the psycho girlfriend by leaving a handful of messages and missed calls on his phone. And then, at about 20 to five, I got a text from Sam.

He’d left his phone in the car, and was on his way home now. Of course. Of course.

When he got home, had a shower, and climbed into bed, I lay there in silence.

“Are you mad at me?” He asked quietly.

“I’m not mad,” I said (thinking at the time that following up with ‘I’m just disappointed’ would have been the perfect way to portray a stereotypical mother).

It was true, sort of. I wasn’t mad at him. I understood why he didn’t take his phone, I understood why he took so long – I wouldn’t have wanted him to finally be invited fishing and then have to ask every five minutes when they were heading back – and I knew that he didn’t expect to leave me in the dark for so long. I was still mad, but simply as an after-effect from all the worrying.

Then he told me about how the first catch of the day had been a bird which somehow flew onto the hook, and I stopped feeling grouchy and started laughing. How stupid did that bird have to be? Also, Sam caught a stingray, so that was pretty interesting.

I think I worry too much.

Dogs and chooks and old people

Work has been interesting.

For example, someone called me up the other day asking if I could put something in the paper about their dog who had gone missing a week ago. We’d recently put in something else about somebody’s missing dog, so my deputy editor gave me the go ahead and I wrote something up, which went in the Saturday paper.

By Sunday, the dog had been found – at the other end of the country.

Someone staying in Wanganui had found him, didn’t want to leave him alone on the street, and took him back to Auckland with them, about 400km away. Needless to say, that was a funny story to write.

A story I did last week wasn’t quite so nice.

A day care centre down the street had three little chickens they kept in their back yard play area, and overnight somebody hopped the fence and killed the chickens. I went over to interview the manager and while I was there somebody found the chickens’ bodies hidden in the children’s water trough.

I felt sick. My skin got that creeping feeling – not the one where you get goosebumps, but the one where it actually feels like yours skin is crawling.

The other day I went to a retirement village and joined in a fitness routine that the elderly residents do twice a week, and then I had to go back to work and write about it.

This job keeps me guessing every day. Wonder what I’ll do tomorrow.

The apparent downfalls of court reporting

I sat through my first day of court on my own today, and half of that time was spent (unbeknownst to me) with my shirt on backwards. Good start Melissa.

Luckily it was the kind of shirt you couldn’t tell was on backwards. The only sign was the tag, which wasn’t actually visible. The two little lines where it was sewn into the shirt were what caught me eye as I went for a bathroom break. I sheepishly turned my shirt around and went back into the courtroom, looking as nonchalant as I could.

I also worry that I might have appeared to hit on the police prosecutor during a lunch break. I’d gone up and introduced myself, asked him for a summary of facts on a particular case, and then said “nice to meet you” before returning to the press bench. Doesn’t sound too bad, right?

Unfortunately, my voice and face conspired against me as I uttered my parting line, and the “nice to meet you” came out sounding – and looking – somewhat suggestive. Hopefully I played it off with the awkward drumming of my hands on the table as I returned to my seat. ‘Just be cool,’ I told myself.

Apart from that the day went relatively smoothly. It was second time lucky, though. I showed up yesterday ready for action only to be told by the security guards that the judge’s list wasn’t until the next day. I went back to the office with my tail between my legs, feeling like a muppet.

Stay tuned for more adventures of Melissa the inexperienced court reporter.

Attempted plant murder

‘I hate being sick’ is a stupid thing to say, because in my entire (admittedly short) life I’ve only ever met one person who does like being sick. Even that was a surprise.

It was back in primary school, and a boy said to me that he was about to throw up.

“Oh,” I said with a shudder, because throwing up is gross, “do you want to go to the sick bay?”

“No,” he replied with a shake of his head, “I like throwing up, it’s fun.”

Since then I’ve not yet met another weirdo who enjoys it, and I’m thankful for that.

At the moment, I am sick. I’ve had a cold for the last few days, which I now suspect I got from my editor. I sat down at my desk on Friday morning feeling miserable, and the photographer sat down next to me.

“Don’t come too close,” I said, “I’ve got a sore throat.”

“Snap,” he said. He’d gotten it from Mark.

So, over the weekend I’ve been lying in bed feeling sorry for myself while my nose hurts and my body aches and throat scratches. One of the worst things about having colds in my opinion is trying to sleep, and constantly waking up in discomfort with a horribly sore throat or a blocked nose.

My first night being sick I kept getting woken up by a scratching sound at my bedroom window. The first time it happened I was justifiably a little scared, but as I soon realised, it was the sound of the rose bush outside my room scraping against the glass in the wind. After about the fifth time it woke me up with its incessant scratching, I hauled myself out of bed, snatched my scissors up, and opened the window. I was just about to snip the whole thing off when I decided it might upset my cousin, who owns the house. Instead I slammed the top of the bush in my window, to keep it from waving around. A single rose bud fell off and landed on my floor. I felt weirdly smug, like I’d just won somehow.

Being sick makes me want to seek revenge on plants.

Astronomy to a six-year-old

Just to fill your quota of cuteness for the day, last week I was out to dinner with my family and we were walking back to the cars with my little cousins, who are six and three.

Mattie, the six-year-old, looked up at the sky and said “Look, the moon’s half done.”

I need to get me some little kids.

Falling to certain death

Blog posts are coming few and far between, I’m afraid to say. It’s been two weeks since I last wrote, and every day I feel a little guilty that I’m letting my poor little blog sit growing dust while I gallivant off around the countryside, travelling between Wanganui and Tauranga and everywhere else under the sun.

Today I dropped 80 metres from a bridge above a canyon, all in the name of journalism.

That’s right, as part of my job, I was sent off to Gravity Canyon near Taihape to get strapped into a harness and do a bridge swing while our photographer took unflattering photos of my facial expressions. Needless to say, my throat hurts from all the screaming. He, of course, didn’t make a peep when it was his turn.

“You have to scream like a girl so that I don’t look like a wuss,” I said to him as he was getting strapped in.

“Bastard,” I muttered under my breath as I watched him fall and swing in total silence. The pictures afterwards only showed a look of mild concern on his face, nothing close to the almighty terror I was exhibiting.1560665_10152244223179673_700365218_n

Yeah, that terror.


A good night

Here we go. Time for a cliched New Year blog post about adventures and hardships and everything else under the sun. Or not. I’ve probably blogged more than enough about these things throughout the year.

What I will talk about, though, was my night.

Friends, this is the first year I’ve really properly celebrated New Year’s Eve. For 2012 I went camping with some mates, but I didn’t really get into the spirit of it. In fact, I think I might have gone to bed before 12, that’s how lame I am. This year I actually got into it, for the first time in my life.

I said to Sam earlier in the day: “Can you actually kiss me at midnight this year? We’ve been together for three years and we’ve never once done the midnight kiss.” He mumbled something about whether or not he’d still be on his feet at midnight but said he’d try. As it turned out, he particularly didn’t want to let me down, because it seemed like every time I turned around that night he was stuffing his face with bread, trying to sober up so he didn’t crash out and thus be unable to kiss me.

We spent New Year’s at a bach at Waihi Beach, with good ol’ Sacha, her boyfriend, and about 15 of their friends. I was a little nervous initially, considering there wasn’t going to be many people I knew, but after about an hour I started talking to more people and having more fun. I was already in a good mood because I’d had my very first pay day for my new job that day. I found it particularly poetic that I’d spent the entire year being dirt poor and borrowing money to afford my groceries, and on the last day of 2013 I was suddenly rolling in it. Life’s funny sometimes.

I don’t actually have too much to say about my New Year’s Eve, except just remembering a few of the fun parts. We went down onto the beach around midnight and I ran off towards the waves, only so I could splash around in the ankle deep water. I did that several times that night and each time I was chased down by a worried and somewhat intoxicated Sam who thought I might go too far out and drown. It was sweet.

We made some friends on the beach. I never really saw their faces except by the light of somebody’s cellphone, and I only remember talking to them for about ten minutes. I spent most of the time cuddling up to Sam and repetitively telling him I loved him, but that didn’t stop one of our new friends from trying to go in for the goodbye kiss when we left.

“No,” I said to this boy, pointing to Sam, who was completely oblivious. “I have a boyfriend.”

“Oh sorry,” he muttered, skulking off.

That was an interesting experience for me. People never try to kiss me. Well, Sam does, but he’s obligated to try, if only to keep me happy. Needless to say, I was the tiniest bit flattered. Not keen, in any way, shape, or form, but flattered nonetheless.

Today on the way home to Tauranga, a car ahead of us pulled over a little quickly. As we drove past, we saw someone stagger out of the passenger side of the car and projectile vomit on the side of the road.

I was amused.