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international librarian of mystery

Sunday, November 14, 2004

International Librarian of Mystery?

4pm Friday finally clicked over.

A hot humid Friday. Another step closer to knock-off, but also a step into the longest hour of the week - the slow wind-down to 5pm. To make it even worse, today was the day all the cool geeks were congregating on the free booze and nibbles at the Auckland Hyatt Regency for the snazzy Netguide Web Awards.

I did my hourly gmail check and got a conciliatory ping. 'Subject: NetGuide Awards.' I popped it open in a full window. 'Please get in touch. Urgent.' It was signed by one of the event organisers. I rang the number. Rebecca, a very clear-talking lady answered, and, upon revealing myself, she told me they wanted me there for the event, all expenses paid, flights, cabs, whatever. Just keep the receipts.

Who was I to say no?

I put the phone down, wondering if I was to be the butt of some elaborate joke. My boss walked up to me the very moment, and, incredibly, asked...

"Natalie, do you know about this bizgirl blog?"
"Uhhhhhh, yes. That's me."
"Ahaha. I suspected as much. You've done well to get a nomination for that award."
"Uh, thanks, actually, I've just found they want to fly me up for the prize-giving. I need to catch the next flight to Auckland. I was actually about to come and ask you if could skip off a bit early so I can catch the plane."
"The awards people are going to fly you to Auckland?"
"Well, you'd better get going. Congratulations."

I had no chance of getting home to get changed. I couldn't have gone glam anyway. I was in full-fledged post-sunburn skin-peel mode, so had worn a plain long-sleeved blue shirt and some loose slacks to work that day to hide my scorched skin. As a result, and combined with the humid air, when I got to the airport I was in desperate need of a deodorant. Whifftacular? Definition: me.

The plane-trip made me even more hot and flustered. When we landed I had the sensation that the pilot left his braking manouveres far too late, and we were about to plunge off the runway. Then my run of luck with taxi drivers continued when, outside the airport doors I somehow managed to get two of them into a heated argument as to who had 'bagsed' me as their fare. Two minutes later I was huddling nervously in the victor's back-seat, wondering how much of my remaining $80 in the world this taxi-trip through Auckland's Friday rush-hour was going to cost.


But I was there. And not in bad time, truth be told. Rebecca somehow picked me out of the other late-comers straggling in, quickly introduced me to a few people, then gave me a glass of champagne and guided me to a seat in the Hyatt's function room, where a few hundred people in their 'smart casual' clothes were watching events unfold.

For an awards ceremony, a lot has to be said of the organisation of this one. They just rattled them off one after the other - no speeches - just a handshake with a corporate head-honcho, a quick photo, and that was it. So, although it was 14th of 16 awards, the Best Personal Blog category arrived in a flash...
Blogging is where it is at on the Web right now! And there have been some amazing examples given world attention in the past year. We're looking for enthusiasts who have created their very own content-packed diary on the Web. The subject matter may vary from personal thoughts to daily life experiences written in a way to enthrall the reader, making us come back for more. Age or occupation is secondary; of primary importance is the interest factor created by the content. Who amongst you is keen to make an impression on the Net?
That was the introduction to the category read out by the emcee.

I started grinning.

"And the winner is..." she read, "...bizgirl!"

Woo-bloody-hoooo! Now smiling like a loon, I leapt up and quickly strode to the stage. At the back of my mind I was hoping DC - who I had emailed and asked to pick up the award on my behalf in the unlikely event I win - had seen me and wasn't halfway into some horrible Zoolander-like embarrassment.

I suspect, however, that most eyes were on me as I ascended the steps to shake mega-salary man's hand and accept the award.

"Natalie Biz?" said the CEO.
"Err, yes. Hi."
"International Librarian of Mystery?"
"Aha, not any more."
"Haha. Brilliant. Congratulations. Here you go."

He handed me a, er, plaque thing, we posed for the photo, and I left the stage, still beaming, but feeling a little alone and bashful at this point. I stared at my plaque until the ceremony was over, all of about five minutes later, and then dreamily drifted with the throng into the next-door ballroom. The first person I saw that I knew was one of noizy's workmates, and, happy to see a friendly face, I went up and said hello. Thereby followed the first variation of what I've now come to refer to as the 'meta-Blog': an adjustable 30-second-to-5-minute description of (sometimes) what a blog is, (usually) why I do it mine the way I do, or (nearly always) just Why?

Rebecca found me again and guided me to a couple of people who I was informed were big-wigs in the publishing company who owned NetGuide magazine. I told them version #2 of Why?

I then made a dash for the cooler air on the outside balcony and finally met DC in one of those weird when-online-personas-become-real-people moments. We chatted, and then I got hauled aside by the magazine people for another bunch of photos, a few 'Why?'-stories with various people, and then, believe it or not, rather than staying and drinking the town dry of free champagne, I took the opportunity of sharing a lift with Rebecca - who was heading that way anyway - back to the airport and catching a plane home to Wellington.

I had volunteered for work on Saturday morning, and had left it far too late to organise cover. Besides, I only had $11 in my bag, and, although I had a 'keep the receipts' recompense deal going on, it's hard to get the receipts without the cash in the first place. The thought of telling Why? a few dozen times in one night didn't appeal too much either, and a lift to the airport with uber-efficient Rebecca meant guaranteed delivery to my doorstep. Just for once, I thought, I'll take the safe option. It was - I was home by 11pm.

What a surreal evening. The next two days weren't any less interesting. The story on that is to come.