Friends, acquaintences, and other social matters.

arms around a vision

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Dublin/Howth: early September; taken on Ilford HP5 Plus 400 B/W film with a Nikon F3.

More photos can be found at

It was like Christmas had come early when I finally got just under twenty rolls of films developed and scanned last weekend (yes, I still love canned baked beans for dinner).

These photos show the beginning of some really important friendships, and a day spent compromising. I’m terrible in groups. I hate slow-walking and indecisive democracies where everyone is too polite to say and do what they really want. It was early September.

Fast forward a month to Saturday 3rd October.

Around this time I was thrashing Girls Names, Cheatahs, Grooms and Protomartyr’s new album.

I’d dragged some friends with me to Whelans for the Girls Names’ album release gig. It was a pleasant surprise that I’d found a Swedish, French and Austrian girl who all digged the band (and generally “shit Amanda listens to”) enough to fork out for the price of tickets and the copious pints of beer we plied ourselves with. Then I made myself more convivial.

The gig was great, obviously. That’s such a pointless, throwaway statement that seems important to make, yet in saying so, really undermines the point it’s making.

The thrill and buzz of it ended as quickly and concurrently as the short-lived fling I had.

In a press release for their Arms Around a Vision album, Girls Names’ frontman Cathal Cully wrote, “I’m not starving or anything, but I’ve practically been living hand to mouth since I was 22. Most guitar music now is just a playground for the rich middle classes, and it’s really boring and elitist. We’re elitist in our own way, in that we’re on our own and you can’t fuck with us when we’ve nothing to lose.”

That last bit really stuck with me. I’d read that before coming across this interview in which he elaborated on his thoughts and notions around being a “hunger artist”. Sometimes I think I belong in the clump of boring, elitist middle class that he spoke of. And then I think it’s all relative.

I wonder if it comes down to having something to lose, and what that something is. What I have to lose is very different from the next person’s. What I have to lose is… I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

For one, the privacy of no one else quite knowing, and me not enumerating to myself the things I have to lose. But I think I am slowly chipping away at it. Hopefully I’ll reach a point where I can say, what do I have to lose?! with the same badassness and je ne sais quoi that matches my habit of wearing triple leather this European winter.

I have too many ideas that converge and diverge floating around my head right now. I really need to find a vision to wholly throw my arms around. I can’t be the only one.

Iceland: the backstory — we drive around this town, houses melting down, a vision turning green, is all we’ve ever seen

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Earlier this year — 5th March, to be exact — I took a 24-hour trip to Berlin just to see Death From Above 1979. It sounds crazy, I know. But… I’m crazy?

To be fair, I had gone from London to Cologne/Bonn just to see an old high school friend, so it didn’t seem a stretch to swing by Berlin to see a band I’d spent much of my adolescence obsessing over. I “found” them only a couple of months after they split up, and didn’t think a reunion was ever going to happen, let alone more than once.

After my U-Bahn ride towards the venue, I was intercepted by a tall woman asking for directions. “Sorry, I don’t speak German,” I said, and was surprised to see a smile spread across her face. “Neither can I,” she replied, “not very well, at least”. It turned out that we were both looking for Postbahnhof, where the gig was located. And so we became fast friends, bonding over beers, drags of smoke, and our shared love of DFA.

I tend to make quick decisions about people I meet, and I don’t often miss the mark. Or at least, not by far. Kobi’s “bastardised accent”, as she calls it, betrays her Australian roots and the best part of a decade spent in London and Europe. She no longer says “yuuu-rope”, rather, referring to the continent as “your-ope”, and calls 3G “day-ta” rather than “dar-ta”. We didn’t hang out long. After a few post-gig drinks I wandered back to the hostel to resume rave plans with some English brothers I’d met earlier.

I think we all need friends like this. And the courage to make friends in this way. Many people were perturbed to hear that I was going to Iceland Airwaves for a whole week with someone I’d “only known for a few hours”. Whilst we had kept in touch, it wasn’t like we had developed a deep and constant web-based friendship whatsoever. Merely the occasional “hello” and my all-important “I’m coming back to Europe, are there any music festivals you reckon I/we should go to?”

In a time where technology is increasingly geared towards connecting people with one another, it’s become a lot harder to meet people organically, in person. If Kobi had relied on Google Maps from the outset, we wouldn’t have crossed paths and discovered that we were very compatible wingmen. And if I had then resorted to being “social” on my phone for the walk to Postbahnhof, we wouldn’t have driven in blind darkness in search of Iceland’s northern lights.

And oh, Iceland, and Airwaves! More to come.

today is made of silences and oh, the time between them

Göreme, Turkey: all taken on Kodak UltraMax 400 film with a Nikon F3.

I recently wrote a travel article on Göreme/Cappadocia for OTwo Magazine of the University Observer. The article and my photography can be found on pages 5 and 32:

I’m on the brink of something. Of an epiphany. On the edge of the edge, a couple steps away from leaping.

Being on exchange for only one semester is an intense experience. You’re condensing life-changing events and perspective-challenging friendships into just over a quarter or maybe a third of the year. Since I set foot in Dublin on September 1st, I’ve fallen in and fallen out with people,* involuntarily adopted an increasingly-brave mouse in our kitchen, and played a shitton of hockey. And that’s only the superficial stuff that happens between class ending and night falling. I won’t be the first nor last to have abused my circadian clock and dear old liver, but unlike seemingly everyone else on exchange, I’m actually having a very academically-challenging semester. I decided to take two Masters-level courses (as opposed to all undergrad normal courses) because I’d rather be excited and challenged by my courses, rather than having an easier but far more boring time. On top of this, I’m supposed to be writing my honours dissertation, but nothing is coming out. That’s the problem with choosing a very current, on-point, grey area to write about, I guess. That’s why I chose it. That’s why I’m a masochist.

I think I’m just in a very different place from most people on exchange. The European Erasmus students are mostly here to have fun — party hard, improve English and maybe go to class. They will return to their home universities after this, and student life will continue. Meanwhile, once I’m done here and with my dissertation, I’ll be done with undergrad, finally. I’ll be done. And everything changes. That’s terrifying, albeit exciting and something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, until it’s just around the corner. It sounds cliché and repetitive but I’m really glad I came to Dublin. This is completely irreplaceable — even the most gutting, bottomless downward spiral of lows.

*Okay, the latter was more a subtle social exit rather than a fall-out, but that reads way better!

Another tease will come along with everything I don’t want






Richard Wilson’s 20:50 at the Saatchi Gallery is my favourite room in London.














London: all taken on Kodak UltraMax 400 film with a Nikon F3.

Tomorrow, I’ll have lived in Dublin for three whole weeks. Not including any holidays I leave the country for, I’ll be in Ireland for 110 days; all up, 155 days away from New Zealand.

Until this year, I have never travelled so much in such a short span of time before. It’s been a jam-packed tumultuous ride. And even though it’s not for very long, I’m glad that I finally have four walls to call  “my room”.

I arrived in London on August 12th, ditched my suitcase, and spent the next three weeks hopping around on a bit of an odd itinerary. Along the way I picked up a cold, which turned into a traveler’s cough through a shitton of second-hand smoke at a music festival, then developed into bronchitis by the time I arrived in Dublin. I caught up with old friends and made new ones. I saw my favourite metal band from ten years ago, and have a newfound obsession with Jamie xx’s In Colour. (I’m digging his new-and-improved live set — so far, no one else has made me dance like that before.)

It’s strange and scary how easily we can make a new place “home” for a while. I had only been to London for a couple of weeks earlier this year, but the city felt so strangely familiar. During my five short days in London, I had developed little routines and habits already. It was sobering to realise that I didn’t hesitate between the train and tube at Liverpool Street station, when all the tourists around me were flipping out their maps and apps, standing in the way. After flitting around Europe, London and my mate’s flat had felt like “home”. And indeed, it will very likely become “home” for a while, probably in the next handful of years or so. It’s just such a strange feeling, to have made “homes” out of so many eclectic places, in such a short space of time.

At the moment it feels like I’m the only exchange student intending on “doing uni”. I have to write my honours dissertation whilst I’m here, and I’d like to do better than barely scrape a pass in my courses. I’m trying to get involved in campus life like I never have before, and I’ve thrown myself into uncomfortable situations that I never would have back home (where is home?!). So far, that has manifested in the form of reading pretty out-there poetry to a group of people at a Lit Soc event, and I also plan on trying out camogie later this week. I had a lengthy and rather intimate chat with a gallery owner whilst perusing art galleries alone, and even befriended a sort-of-lost American on the street, who then bought me a beer.

I have too many rolls of undeveloped film and a backlog of research to tend to. I’m feeling excited but exhausted, displaced and distracted, and utterly, thoroughly alive — yet surreal. This playlist is called “september”, but I’ve had some of these songs on repeat since late-July. It doesn’t encompass the hip hop and dancier aspects of the past month or so, but is otherwise fairly representative of my headspace. I need to learn to be happy and content in little, small ways, without being crippled by the fear of stagnation and complacency. Here’s to trying to keep on trying things.

til now I’m doing great, doing well is pretty vague

New Year’s Day 2015; taken on Ilford HP5 Plus 400 B/W film with a Nikon F3.

It’s April Fool’s Day, and I’m writing this post at 4.20 — the irony of this does not escape me.

Where have I been and how did I get here?! For the first time in my life, on paper at least, it would appear that I have all my “ducks in a row”. Since uni wrapped up in November last year, I have completed a summer internship and managed to secure employment for February 2016. During this time, I have also been on 22 flights for a mix of (very little) work and (a shitton of) fun. How did I get here indeeeeed.

Of course, anyone that knows me will know that there’s no rest for the wicked… Let’s just say there are a lot of things in the pipeline.

So it’s taken me a quarter of the year to come back to blogging. I’ve been itching to write about absolutely everything and nothing at all, and ended up writing in many places but here. I think the crux of maintaining this site is that I need to stop thinking about it as “blogging”. Rather, just as writing. Last night, whilst looking for a very particular photo, I accidentally fell into memory lane via an old hard drive. It’s been nine years since I registered, and ten years ago I blogged — much more prolifically — at Terrifying how time has not flown, but simply disappeared. Irrelevantly, I wish I was as cool of a 23 year old as I was a 13 year old!

Anyway, it really got me thinking about why I had found it so easy to blog so frequently and enthusiastically back in the day. The blogosphere has changed a lot since I started blogging over a decade ago, and certainly the vibe of the internet as a whole. The façade of internet anonymity really dissipated when facebook came along, and with the increasing popularity of monetising blogs, they just feel like such work these days (even if you’re not involved in the blog $$ world).

On a personal level, I’ve always struggled with privacy. I’m never particularly particular about anything, and that makes for tough writing and a boring read. But “anonymous” blogging was never quite for me, and my photos are damned well getting attached to my name, so that’s not a viable option. I was recently discussing the issue of creative freedom versus our imminent legal careers with friends, and they pointed out some things that stuck with me. One said, “lawyers have feelings too”, and the other bluntly said I should publicise and continue to take whatever the fuck style of photos I feel like.

Also, I’m going to stop thinking about this as strictly “blogging”-blogging and just throw things in here. I think that will work better.

Without wanting to offend anyone (who am I kidding, I’m sure I will), I’ve realised that the new direction that the blogosphere is going in just doesn’t really suit me. Ten years ago, blogs that offered help/tips/advice on blog-related things were largely to do with the practical side of how to build a blog. Literally, how to build a blog, i.e. coding, graphics, database imports, and in the pre-Wordpress days — manual versus cutenews versus whatever-else-I-can’t-remember-it’s-been-over-a-decade! Now it’s all about “find your niche” and “how to monetise” and “affiliate programmes”… the list goes on. At the heart of this discomfort and tension, really, lies the fact that I simply do and see and think too many things about too many things. So whatever website/blog I own, will ultimately reflect that.

I’ve also finally conceded to myself that I am never going to sit here and blog about my trips. Not in the way that other people do. I will, however, get off my arse and start writing stories and try to scan my films with a bit more urgency. Twenty one rolls are on their way back to me and I cannot wait.

Also here is the happiest sound of a song I have heard in a while, from whence this post derived its title:

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