I'm a music (jazz performance major) and law student, named after a song by the band Boston. A 'retired' concert photographer with a vicious hockey agenda, I'm constantly trying to keep track of all the rolls of film scattered throughout my room. This blog is the documentation of the fumbling juggling act between my two opposing degrees and three forms of art.
For all enquiries or if you just want to say hello, please email amanda[at]staticimage.net.
Who knew that a pimple located smack bang in the middle of my forehead could bring me so much grief! Not to be culturally insensitive (I’m kind of on the fence about the whole “cultural appropriation” thing), but since there is no way that I will supply a picture, the most precise way of describing it is that the culprit has decided to form exactly where people would place a bindi.
Whilst touching pimples is generally unadvised and causes irritation and discomfort, I think my skin-type makes it even worse. To backtrack a little, I’m actually quite lucky in the sense that I have pretty neutral skin which is neither oily nor particularly dry, which means that I rarely get pimples at all. I only tend to get them when I’m really stressed out. Even then, that means getting maybe three pimples in a month where I have tests or exams — which my friends berate me for complaining about.
So what’s the problem then? Well, unfortunately the pimples which I do get, tend to be of the sort that stay under the skin and never quite “mature” and sprout a head. Which means that they stay around for ages and hurt in an eye-watering way when bumped. I’m sure that most people can relate to the surprising pain of pressing down on a pimple, but these type of pimples seem to hurt a lot more than the normal sort, as I think they’re deeper in the skin.
What I discovered this weekend was that I bump my forehead more than I ever would have guessed. Or at least my forehead makes some kind of contact with things and people a fair bit. For example, at my hockey game yesterday, I collided with an opposing player. It wasn’t a head-on collision, but her body sort of slammed into my face, shoulder and body in general — basically what happens every few minutes I’m on the field, with or without the ball. I just never realised that my forehead was ever involved in these bumps and pushing around — until the pain emitting from my pimple told me so! Later on whilst trying to snuggle with the boy, I realised I couldn’t sleep with my face or head pressed up against him. Because it hurts. An accidental bumping of heads this morning hurt a lot more than it should have for such light contact. I also discovered that when I lean forward towards my steering wheel whilst in fits of laughter (due to conversing with a friend in a parked car), my forehead cannot bear the momentary contact at all!
This darn zit has made me suddenly aware of all the contact that my forehead actually comes into. I never knew that my forehead touched anything or anyone at all, let alone on a regular basis. I guess it’s not a part of my body that I particularly note the sensations of, until pain is involved. It’s just been really silly how I keep unexpectedly going “oww!” at things I usually don’t even notice doing.
I’m not sure how clicking “Save Draft” resulted in the loss of my almost-finished blog post just now, but it somehow happened. Since I can’t handle trying to re-write it again, I’ll start with a fresh topic.
I have a confession to make. I am the proud owner of one of these “Pop” phones by Native Union:
My introduction to the existence of such a device was through my dad telling me about how he and my sister Liv saw these in a store. They’d wondered what silly people would buy such a thing, only then to get in an elevator with someone who had just used one for a phone call. I completely forgot about that story until I stumbled across a whole shelf full of these “phones” in Kitson at Santa Monica back in November. I got so excited and determined to get one in this particular colour that, when I discovered they didn’t have any non-samples in mint, I even made the store assistant ring up the Malibu branch to check that they had some. I’m more than a little ashamed at how much trouble that sounds like, but to put it in context, my sister’s college campus is in Malibu, so that store was only 5 minutes away, right next to places we ate at anyway.
Liv made fun of me and couldn’t believe that I wanted to buy a big clunky thing to attach to my iphone or laptop. “But it will make skyping and viber-calling you easier!” I’d protested, urging her to take me to Crumbs for cupcakes and then going a few metres further into Kitson.
Whenever I buy “luxury items” (read: not necessities), I try to justify them by either how much “happiness” and ease they will bring into my life, and by cost-per-use analysis. This device has exceeded my expectations on both fronts
Sure, I can see how absurd my attraction towards this “phone” thing was, but I’m pleasantly surprised at how easily I’ve kept my promises of using it over and over. Whilst in LA alone, I’d skyped the boy countless times, and whenever I’m home, I’ve used it for every phone (or skype/viber) call which lasts longer than a couple of minutes. My cost-per-use is down to much lower than $0.50, and it’s justso much easier to use this, than to tolerate the earache or headache that using mobile phones causes. Not to mention the icky residue that occurs on smartphones these days, from sweat or makeup on one’s face.
I can tuck this big receiver against my shoulder, put my iphone in my back pocket, and talk to my sister on the other side of the world, whilst tidying my room. Like how old-fashioned phone calls used to be! Comfy, with the tendency to go on for far too long.
I really wanted to post a photo of my happy self, since it was my 22nd birthday yesterday — but I’m only on my laptop (quickie before uni) so I don’t have access to most files and had to whip this low-fi off the dreaded facebook. In true Amanda fashion, I overslept through two classes yesterday morning, and only woke to my friends calling me asking “WHERE ARE YOU?!” so we could go for my birthday lunch. They thought I had intentionally wagged class on my birthday, oops.
Melbourne Big Day Out Friday 26th January 2013, on disposable camera. (The thing on my forehead is a Y from the YYYs)
The other night, I had an application for something that was due a minute before my birthday, at 11.59pm. Due to a torts test and uni all day, I had about two hours left after my hockey training, to finish my cover letter. I don’t think writing such things under time pressure is the best idea, but in writing it, and compiling my CV, I unexpectedly learnt a lot about myself.
At first glance, my CV isn’t exactly cut out for the corporate world whatsoever. I scarily realised that I’d been playing in various music ensembles for the past fifteen years and that it’s been eight years since I started playing hockey and fatefully broke my nose on my birthday. Some days, I feel like what have I got to show for myself?! now that I’m no longer a teenager. Other days I feel like I’ve managed to do quite well in what (relatively) short time I’ve had on this earth. But the thing I realised when I was writing my cover letter was that, I’m quite proud I never really did anything just “because it would look good on a CV”. The pages and lists of things I’d put on there, were truly things that I wanted to do, even if in the cold of winter I didn’t want to train, or didn’t like early morning rehearsals. I wasn’t in those sports teams purely for my ego nor did I spend twelve-hour days at high school because I thought that it would “pay off” one day. And maybe it never will. But it doesn’t matter.
Even if nothing came of this application I submitted, I’m happy that the process of writing it made me feel really content with myself on my birthday. People that know me quite well would know that I struggle to be content with myself — there’s always more I can do, more to be done — so this is a good start. I’m really passionate about the the photos I’ve taken, the experiences I’ve sought out for myself, and bass callouses born from pain.
Whilst I know that law school will always make me anxious that I’m not doing the “right” co-curricular things, I insist on not pretending I’m someone that I’m clearly not. I’m making a conscious decision to continue to only do things that I want to do, rather than because “it would look good”. (Disclaimer: I do realise there will be things that I must do that I don’t necessarily “want” to do or feel passionate about. But I feel there’s a difference between things you’ve got to do in general, versus things above and beyond, merely because it looks nice on a piece of paper)
Also, it’s amazing how many indirectly-relevant and awesome skills I’ve managed to get out of all the “wrong” (read: unconventional) mixture of things that I’ve been doing. Anyone can sit at a desk and grind books into their brains all day, but how many will leave their comfort zones and chase down lofty dreams?
I feel like it’s a miracle I managed to survive the past week. I had a contracts test, a technical jury for double bass and a torts moot, back-to-back in the space of 72 hours. That I did not feel prepared for virtually anything, is a momentous understatement. My daily brain-function quotas were maxed out and I probably used the next three weeks’ worth, explaining why I have not so much as pretended to open a book all weekend. To top it all off, I’ve had a flu for which I’ve been drugged out on codeine, making it all the harder to stay awake. Somehow, in the space of the past seven days, I managed to do all this, photograph Esther’s wedding, pick up another commissioned assignment, and did a graduation photoshoot for a friend.
Oh yeah, and the boy graduated in the middle of the week, during my tech jury, so I didn’t witness the ceremony itself. But afterwards, we had too many celebratory drinks and I irresponsibly got too tipsy to write my moot which was at 9am the next day. I don’t know how I hauled myself out from under the pillow to write it at 5am. I also don’t know how much I like being me right now. It may sound like I’m complaining, but I’m not, really. I signed up to do all this. I signed up for far more than what qualifies as a “full-time study workload” — I chose to do all this, so I’m not really complaining. Just… trying to vent to get through it. And get through it well. Because, let’s be honest here, a certain lecturer may try to tell us all she likes that getting a C-grade for contract law reflects that our work is “satisfactory”, but no one ever got an internship or job off that grade.
I’m just feeling really envious of all my friends who have been capped and awarded with their all-expensive “piece of paper(s)” that’s been earned through hard work, blood and sweat. Although I do have an odd choice to make next year — do I attend a graduation ceremony for my music degree alone? Or wait to wear white an light blue simultaneously?
A handful of photos from Wednesday night:
P.S. I love the song that I nicked the title of this post from, but I think I must’ve subconsciously chosen it because it’s what I feel I need to do: free myself from the leash that is university and my ever-violent battles with time constraints. I’m working hard, by my standards, but hell, definitely nowhere near 100%. What is my 100%? How will I know? How does anyone know if they’re putting in 100%?!
In a conversation with a friend the other night, we were discussing our childhood and adolescence, being bullied by girls and general bodily awareness, etc. She pointed out something that I had never considered before — that, before a certain point in time, your body was just one whole part. You were you, that’s what you looked like, and that’s just the way it was. Until one day, someone makes a comment about your body, and suddenly your awareness heightens, and you start to question your body and the form that it takes.
After thinking about this, I realised that I can remember a very distinct shift from merely acknowledging that my body looked a certain way, to realising that my actions can cause my body to look different. It’s sad that, once you cross that line, there is no going back. Life used to be, oh, swimming training, ballet classes, run the 800m heats, blah blah, and all was well. Then one day, I realised, it’s all this swimming and ballet that has given me a really lean physique with strong abdominal muscles. That switching these two for hockey then gave me a thicker build, along with hockey thighs. That my gluttony over a few meals will amount to jeans being tighter or beers equating to a gut. And as a woman, these are consequences that are too hard to ignore sometimes.
Even though I don’t really “watch what I eat” and barely try to be moderate about it all, admittedly, one big reason I love hockey season so much is that I can then consume without as much thought as when it’s off-season — because it’s almost guaranteed to burn off. Case in point: in December I bought a beautiful pair of Rag & Bone jeans in New York, and this was right after a season of winter and summer hockey, and I’d walked and walked and walked on my trip. Then I get home, Christmas and New Years happens, with no hockey… and now I can’t fit them anymore. Hopefully if my coach continues her current plan of playing me on the left wing for the first sixty minutes (of a 70 minute game, ouch!) I will definitely be reaping in rewards in the form of muscle gain and fat loss. (Disclosure: I’m weird in that I gain and lose muscle easily so my weight fluctuates not 1-2kg like most females, but more like 4-7kg) But if I were ten again, I would just think, oh yay, I feel a bit fitter and lighter. Not, I lost muscle and put on fat, boo hoo, must reverse this. This body awareness thing was much easier when I only ate what my mum put on the dinner table, and did the amount of sports prescribed.
Also, I’d forgotten about these photos until I stumbled across these scans just before. They were taking during a jazz combo rehearsal at uni last year. Funny how I can forget about these completely, yet now that I’ve found them, I can remember what it felt like at the time, framing these shots in fairly quick succession, then putting the camera away to not be a distraction.
All taken on Kodak Colour Reversal film; Nikon F3.
I’m writing this from a new bedroom, in a new neighbourhood, with a new Macbook, in the company of a new teapot. Some things haven’t changed though — I still can’t manage to go to bed early.
Yesterday I had to buy a bus card for the first time, since I live much closer to uni now, and don’t need to catch the ferry anymore. Auckland Transport has been implementing new transport card systems, and it seems like they are trying to unify everything. But it’s still an absolute shambles. In all the other countries I’ve visited, if you qualify for a concession fare — student or otherwise — you show your ID card at the time of purchase, and will then be charged a reduced fare from that point onwards. However, Auckland Transport seems too incompetent to pull this off.
I know that some people cheat the system and try to get away with paying lower fares, but the level of student-ID-checking that’s going on is just ridiculous. I don’t know why they can’t just apply the discount from the point of purchase! Instead, I had to queue up to buy a card (have my student ID and sticker* checked), then queue up elsewhere to get hold of an application form (on which I filled in my student ID and sticker details), then queue up once again to hand in said form, THEN have my student ID and sticker checked yet again. Seriously — do they want students to take public transport or not?! This whole process wasted a lot of time, not to mention the inefficient chain of bureaucracy that this is, and the unnecessary number of people they had to employ in order to supervise this. I don’t understand why having person at the ticket booth checking people’s IDs and stickers does not suffice!
To make mattes worse, I came home to register my card online… only to discover that the $20 credit I had paid to be put on it isn’t there. Thank goodness I kept the receipt, but now I have to make yet another trip out of my way to Britomart (it’s a train station/transport hub) to sort this out. I hope whoever I have to deal with tomorrow is quick-witted enough to remedy this quickly, if at all.
So much for life being easier if I didn’t have to deal with the fiasco that ferrying has become.
*We have to go and get a new sticker either at the start of every year or semester, which verifies that we are enrolled in enough courses to qualify as a “full-time student”, in order to get a student discount on public transport.
I’m supposed to be moving out of home in a week’s time and I haven’t packed a single thing. My room is a wreck but I keep telling myself that there’s no point in tidying since I will be leaving soon anyway. I think the main thing I need to do is throw things out, rather than pack it all. Because who really needs shoe boxes full of clothing tags when they have boxes worth of postcards? Clearly, I “collect” too many things. The amount of books and clothes I have will be a mission to sort through, let alone everything else. That’s the mystery with me — because I can happily live out of a suitcase for weeks and not miss anything, yet when I’m back home, I can’t seem to let anything go.
I’m also starting to get terribly nostalgic about everything, thinking like, this will be the last weekend I sleep in this room and other pointless, torturous thoughts. I’m just too sentimental. And yet, I don’t think I would care half this much, if I was moving far, far away to the other side of the world. I’m only moving twenty kilometres away, it’s really not a huge deal. Plus I’ll probably be home for dinner at least once a week since I am still tutoring around here, and hockey is five minutes away. I just don’t know how my sister ever coped with leaving the cat!
Case in point — I found him sleeping on my double bass yesterday afternoon. Just too adorable:
Also, I’m pleasantly surprised at how much The Strokes’ new album is growing on me. For some unspecified reason, my favourite track so far is “Slow Animals” (below). I’d almost forgotten about their ridiculous 5-album-contract until I readthis the other day. It’s an interesting analysis of what’s happening there, but I don’t know… maybe when it comes to bands from the early noughties, I really don’t like to over-analyse. I’d prefer to hang onto that feeling I had from ten years ago when I first started blogging, first really fell for music of my own accord, and was far too young to register half the lyrical content of bands like The Strokes, Bloc Party, and of course the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. As much as I have to acknowledge that great things happen in Auckland and New Zealand, I can’t help but constantly feel that we’re so far off from being at the epicentre of anything. Maybe that’s why I wouldn’t care that much for all my stuff if I were moving far, far away.
Knowing that I’m a sleep-wrecking advocate of “trying to do it all”, my sister sent me some lecture notes from her religion class about how we simply can’t “do it all.” Whilst I haven’t gotten around to reading the lectures themselves (I think I can be forgiven, some days I have uni from 11am-6pm with virtually no break!), the email with her views on it have been really interesting. So I’ll rephrase — I’ll try to do everything I can. Good news is, I did make it back into the Division 1 hockey team after all, despite panicking about how badly I had trialled on the first day; I must have made up in round two.
Anyone who knows the boy and I quite well would know that we’re not advocates of marriage. I don’t even believe in little things working out, I’m such a bloody pessimist. Being the lofty thrill-seeking person I am, it’s surely no surprise that I always question the doctrine of monogamy. Without going on a huge tangent, I’ll clarify that I’m not about to ever be a swinger, and I simply couldn’t deal the jealousy and uncertainty of being in a “relationship” that isn’t monogamous. But I often encounter existential issues like “what’s the point?”, or my strong belief that I can’t be with someone unless, for its duration, I believe that I’ll always be with them, and will always want to be. Regardless of if that actually plays out in reality, I feel like, if that’s not how you feel when you’re together, then WHY would you bother being “together”?!
Some time in 2012 I devised a test for “how I may one day use to gauge whether or not I will accept someone’s proposal for marriage” — this is, assuming that anyone would ever be crazy/stupid/brave enough to stick their neck out for slaughter like that. The test is, I’d ask myself whether I would be willing to get a tattoo related to the person. It doesn’t have to be their name or anything, just, something sentimentally, symbolically, intimately related to them. Everyone knows that it’s a dumb idea to get a lover’s tattoo (sorry for the grand generalisation, though I’m not sorry if anyone actually thinks it’s a great idea), but regardless of if I’d ever follow through with something so stupid, I think if I could ever answer that test in the affirmative, then it would be pretty telling. There is so much more on how I feel about all this that I haven’t breached, but I’m looking forward to chucking my casebooks and real book on the floor, and climbing into bed with a book called Sex at Dawn. Before anyone jumps to any conclusions, it’s a New York bestselling anthropological book with the subtitle that reads “How we mate, why we stray and what it means for modern relationships.” I think the key point to be extracted from praise on the back cover is “that humans evolved to be monogamous” — a topic I’m clearly fascinated by. It seems messed up that I’ve talked about these things for years but this book actually belongs to the boy and he read it sometime recently and has since shoved it under my nose. Let’s ignore the fact that I’m three quarters through Malcolm Gladwell’s What the Dog Saw and the infamous American Psycho. Those can surely wait, whilst I uncover the thread of how modern human relationships came to be, right?
Here is Master Flakey, cute as ever, always managing to find a spot of comfort in the mess of a life I lead. I’m going to miss him so soo sooooo much when I move out soon.
Given recent events, university starting again, and just basically everything in general, that shiny, clean-slate sheen of the new year has more than worn out for me. I have no idea what anything means any more. I’m trying to avoid the snowball-effect where one lecture’s worth of readings and notes turns into three, into thirteen, into thirty, and the next thing I know is — well I don’t know anything. There isn’t a name to describe the state I’m in, but it’s a constant state of perpetual sadness. The death of hopes, of far-fetching plans — of a part of me. Every day that I’m at uni, I fluctuate between rushing to jazz school for instructed combo rehearsal in my only hour off from law lectures, or meeting a friend for California burritos. And amidst this flurry… where the hell am I, and who am I about to be? I’ve been chilling the fuck out, but I’m still serious about the things I do. I just don’t feel like I quite fit in anywhere. I want to do well, I want to come out near the top when my law marks have been scale-graded against my peers (that’s how they’re marked, on a rough bell curve, rather than raw scores) and I want to pull off a good graduation recital later this year. I want all these things and I want more. But the rest of the jazz cats or the law kids want things that are at least going in somewhat the same direction, and the things I’m after are pulling me every which way. To top it off, I’ve been debating with myself for ages over whether or not I can realistically still play hockey this season, but I’ve decided I will go to Division 1 trials after all. My father kindly pointed out that I would regret it if I don’t, and if it all really gets too much, the worst that could happen is that I’d have to drop out for the remainder of the season. So I’m going to do it.
On Thursday night the boy and I went to see Bloc Party. I’d seen them in December in LA with my sister and they were amazing, but the crowd there was awful, and — not to be racist, merely factual — a black chick tried to get in a fight with me. By that, I mean she actually did hit me several times. Just, what the hell, it’s a concert, when you’re in the fourth or fifth row and there’s a big gap in front of you, someone is going to go and stand there! So yeah, that was an experience and a half. But the Auckland crowd was predictably much mellower, and I certainly enjoyed second-row views of Gordon Moakes. I was sad they didn’t play Sunday (see blog title), but Signs was definitely a pleasant surprise. I just have no idea why Moakes looked so sad during the whole set, like something was wrong and he didn’t want to be there, who knows?
After the show I’d managed to get my hands on a set list, but a nasty girl knocked it out of my hands and into the photo pit. Then she went bailing over the barrier head-first to retrieve it. I really wasn’t in the mood to lose any dignity over it, so gave up. Luckily for me, an old friend was in the opening act, and although they didn’t get to meet Bloc Party, he’d seen the whole fiasco from upstairs and promptly went to retrieve a set list from backstage for me. Yay. And from the bass tech, no less, so I’m going to fawn over potentially having Moakes’ handwriting sitting on my desk. I honestly don’t care that it’s from the 5th in Brisbane rather than the 7th in Auckland. Nor do I know where this bass-player-fangirl-dom has come from, because as I’ve always said, bass players don’t typically tick any boxes for me… because I am one. I shall keep collecting “what stories are made of” experiences.
Here are two photos I took at the Met in New York. Both taken on Ilford HP5 Plus 400 B/W film; Nikon F3: