27 Things I’m Grateful For

Today, Labour Day, I turn the stigmatised but otherwise un-noteworthy age of 27. That’s right – I’ll be counting down the days from 365, keeping half an eye on the airspace above me, measuring my alcohol intake with care and steering far (even farther than usual) from heroin lest I join the prestigious but dreaded 27 club.

A birthday is a great day for reflection. Much like New Years Eve or a relationship anniversary, it’s a time to consider improvements in one’s current situation while paying tribute to the multitude of positives one has enjoyed in the past.

With that, I will commence my list. It reads a bit like I’m bragging, which I guess is a good thing. In no particular order, here are:

 

27 Things I’m Grateful For

 

1. My health

Sure, I have Ankylosing Spondylitis and it does an impressively depressing job of crippling me for hours at a time. Some days I can’t pull my jeans without considerable pain and panting like an old man, but I’m healthy. I eat okay, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink to excess anywhere near as much as I did ten years ago, and I have recently been described as sprightly.

Number 1 on most first world country citizens’ list of importance is health. And I have that. Massive tick.

2. My family

My sister is smarter than everyone else combined, hence why she's wearing the cap.

My sister is smarter than everyone else combined, hence why she’s wearing the cap.

My mother Joni, my father Patrick, their respective partners, and my incredibly cool and intelligent sister Lana (anal backwards). These guys rock. Surely I don’t have to list the pros of having family that talk to me and support me in my career, relationships and values.

Also, special mention to the step parents in my life, Gaz and Deb, who I have to thank for keeping my parents safe and happy.

3. Harry Potter

Okay, I said this list was in no particular order, didn’t I? The reason Harry Potter is a thing I’m grateful for is pretty simple. It’s added a lot of pleasure to my life. I’ve re-read the books almost annually and watched the films countless times. That is a lot of hours of fun. Beyond that, I’m sure there are some ethical lessons and arguments that have seeped into my subconscious and made me a better person.

The Mudblood/Pure Blood idea is an allegory about racism, the disease of being a Werewolf is a metaphor for HIV and the skirmishes between the Ministry for Magic and Hogwarts are loaded with views about indoctrination and eduacation.

HP

HJW books music

My real life bookshelf right now.

4. Music

Music fucking rocks. The Beatles, Belle and Sebastian, David Bowie… I’m not gonna list my favourite artists ‘coz we’ll be here all night.

Music makes you feel.

5. Books

I’m a huge advocate for more reading. I believe it would benefit us all. Whether it be fiction or non-fiction or the shampoo bottle, there’s always more to learn.

Slipping into another world has never been easier than opening up one of those bad boys. Books make you feel too.

6. Abby Damen

I’m not gonna get sappy here. She’s my girlfriend and the best person I know and makes me better. She’s like exercise or a small amount of alcohol.

7. Movies

My entire world has been wrapped around the moving image since I was kid watching Back to the Future. Holy shit, it’s so good. It’s a perfectly written script, it has a cool main character, a great message, great action, music, action sequences, and romance. If I can one day make a film that makes me half as happy as Back to the Future, I will have succeeded in life.

Like music or books, movies make me feel and think and provide an insight to worlds I would’ve never known about otherwise.

HJW bali

Abby and me in Bali where even when it wasn’t sunny it was warm. SOOOO GOOD

8. Sunny Days

Warmth helps my back, but I’ve always loved a sunny day. It affects everyone’s mood in a positive way. How can you not love that? You don’t have to wear as many clothes, and I like to have a bare minimum of clothes touching my body at any given time. Which brings me to…

9. Being Naked

Yup. Best feeling ever. Complete freedom. It saddens me we’re not allowed to be naked all the time. Earlier in the week I went and lay in our back yard completely naked and read my book, letting the sun’s rays caress every crack and crevice of me… and I noticed the neighbours could see me.

Their young son was looking out the kitchen window right into the furry afro of my pubes. My first thought was, “Shit, I could get in trouble for this,” which is so sad, isn’t it? Some could argue a ten year old seeing me naked is sad too, and I wouldn’t disagree.

10. Coke Zero

I’ve always liked it. It’s refreshing and tasty. I know it’s bad and wrong and I should be sorry and it’s probably melting away my insides but I haven’t eaten McDonald’s or KFC in two years so it should balance out, right?

11. Coffee

Two cups in the morning and maybe an espresso closer to midday. Black, no sugar, with some cinnamon sprinkled on top. That’s how I take it. It’s the perfect accessory to writing.

On The Hobbit, Peter Jackson had a white cup filled with tea glued to his hand at all times. He’d sip it every now and again and his assistant Sebastian would refill it a dozen or so times a day. It’s like scratching an itch or running your hands through your hair. It’s comforting.

See the post about NZ’s coolest coffee shop, Raglan Roast.

coffee

Long black with cinnamon from Raglan Roast in Raglan, NZ

12. My friends

I am lucky enough to have a tight group of very talented and intelligent friends who can stand up to my pig-headedness and take anything I say when I’m in a mood with a large packet of salt.

We also make films together as Moffilaide and 2 Point 21 Films.

13. My workplace and workfriends

I work at a boutique cinema and have since it opened two years ago. I’m now assistant manager to a really groovy bunch of interesting and funny people who I consider close friends. They’re all young and attractive too which is a major bonus.

We eat dinner together and go to each other’s parties and we all watched Back to the Future in the cinema last night for my birthday.

14. My trips

Somehow, and I’m very grateful for this and take time to appreciate it often, I find myself going on these great trips. I don’t mean the ones brought on by lysergic acid diethylamide, I mean physical travel.

Last year I went to Thailand, Bali and Rarotonga with my friends, my girlfriend and my family friends. This year I went to Malaysia to mentor film students and the South Island to speak at primary schools about reading.

Soon I’m going to Melbourne to visit my sister and I’ll no doubt be taking photos and writing things about the cafes there.

HJW Thailand

New Year’s Eve in Phuket, Thailand, with the best friends ever

15. My career

I’ve barely started it really, but so far Hot Rob, Jack and Chops, The Hobbit, and all of Moffilaide’s stuff has been so much fun and made people laugh. I’m gonna keep going and have a few things in the pipeline with a lot of really great people, so I’m stoked on that.

16. My flat

I have a place to live and it’s warm and cosy and all the walls are different colours. Even better, my room is purple which is my favourite colour.

17. Food

Oh man, I had the best lunch at Prefab cafe today. I was tutoring the students of Film School doing directing actors workshops and for my lunch break I went over and had eggs and a coffee and read my book. Can’t beat it.

Apart from that, chicken wraps. That’s all I need.

HJW About Last Night

This is a BTS shot by Courtney Hooper of episode 3 in our new series About Last Night. Episode 3 directed by Abby Damen and Lesa MacLeod-Whiting.

18. Sex

My penis works properly and although it won’t win any contests for size or performance, it does the job to a satisfactory degree. Sex is a great form of exercise and lots of fun.

19. Exercise

One of the happy accidents of having a genetic arthritic condition is how I manage it. I am obliged to do yoga and core exercises. I never thought I’d enjoy it but I really do. It’s difficult at the time and hurts, but afterwards I have abs and my back feels good.

20. My scooter

I love that damn thing. It costs me $10 a fortnight in petrol and I use it daily to get everywhere I need to go. It zips to the front of red light queues and parking is always free with no time limit.

Sure, the weather can really shit your day, but the pros of having a scooter outweigh the cons by a long shot.

21. Wellington

It’s the coolest little capital in the world with more cafes per capita than New York. We’re surrounded by beaches and there are more creative people here then I’ll ever have the time to meet.

Scorching Bay Wellington HJW

Scorching Bay, Wellington, NZ

22. Sleeping

Today I didn’t start tutoring until 10am. Isn’t that outrageous? My friends work up to 80 hours a week right now with the looming release of The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies, and here I am making a spicy beans and egg burrito to have with my instant coffee and novel in the morning. If I wasn’t currently dedicated to writing this great new project (we’ll hopefully shoot in January), I could sleep until 9am if I wanted. Me and Abby just bought new pillows too.

23. This website

With help from my flatmate Elle, this thing was set up with minimal cost and has already benefited me by being able to spread the word about mooncups, get recognized by some of the NZ Film Commish peeps via my Dark Horse and Housebound reviews, and put all of my videos in one place.

24. Past experiences

I got arrested when I was 19 and months of legal headaches ensued. I was convicted for something I believe I shouldn’t have been convicted for which affected how I was viewed by employers for seven years.

From this, I learned several valuable lessons, the most important being: people’s motivations may not always be in line with yours.

25. My intelligence

Okay, I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel here. I never got a degree or graduated top of any class, but I have street smarts…

26. My genetics

This can almost be a subpoint under Family and Health but I think it’s valid. Thanks to my father, I tan easy. I have thick hair. I can grow a beard (sure, it’s not as full as I’d like on the cheeks but it’s passable). My teeth are relatively straight. I have a mole on my left arse cheek I could incorporate into my tattoo as Lake Taupo. I have good metabolism.

HJW tattoo Hayden J. Weal

Thanks for the mole, mum!

27. You

You reading this. You who watches my videos. You who says nice things to me about my work. Any and all constructive comments or straight out compliments. Pat yourself on the back because it means a lot to me. Or I wouldn’t bother putting fingers to keys.

How about a list from you? What would you come up with around the #18 mark? I talked about my penis, I’m sure you can do better.

Happy Birthday me!

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