Emotions, feelings…

the week, end

I wonder if any other couples have a sport-watching routine that would resemble what the boy and I do. We’ve been really sad to see the London Olympics come to an end, and since I stupidly deleted the last day of the Tour de France from mysky, we’ve been watching the Closing Ceremony as the backdrop of dinners and dish-washing. I was so impressed by Matt Bellamy’s vocal abilities that I’ve re-wound and watched the bit where he hits that amazing note and transitions from piano to guitar (why did he step away from the mic?! Argh, I hate that note being cut off like that!!) over and over and over again. And then we speculated as to whose decision it was for George Michael to debut a new song that nobody knew, when he could’ve easily done another crowd pleaser. And whose call was it to blind us all with Jessie J’s 3x horrendous nude bodysuits?! Oh yeah, and to have to sing repeatedly too. Many, many others would have been far more qualified and deserving of the honour of singing along side the remaining Queen members, say. Yikes. So, just as the Olympics have wrapped up, the boy’s soccer and my own hockey are just heading into the business end of the season. I was sad to have missed his two very impressive sounding goals yesterday, since our game times overlapped. And I’m sad to say that my team lost to an opponent who are technically not as good as us, but are proving to be our bogey team. We probably needed the extra motivation though. We’ve had a few decent wins in a row now, and we have the semi final in a couple of weeks’ time, so maybe we needed a decent wake up call. Also, Liverpool probably got a bloody decent wake up call last night. After a night of beer pong and chandeliers (both fantastic beer games, by the way), I dozed off during the game, but to be honest, there was hardly any desire to stay awake considering the shabby loss to West Brom. Embarrassing.

A few food recommendations, then I’m back to nursing some battle wounds and studying with the cat. This Glass Eye Creek Wild Meat Sauce is one of the greatest sauces I’ve ever had. Considering the fact that I’m not a sauce person at all (tomato sauce is about it, and only on average-tasting fries, no less), this is a big deal. They only sell them in selected supermarkets and I’m positive they don’t sell them overseas yet, but I’m definitely sending my sister in Malibu a bottle of this when I get around to it! (Am happy to take requests too) I haven’t done all that much with it yet, but I was introduced to it in the easiest, most amazing manner of consumption: well-toasted Vogels (amazing NZ bread), buttered, sauced, then topped with feta cheese. Too easy.

Oh by the way, I have to confess now that I am turning into one of those people that relies on their phone for photos. So they’re all sub-standard to me (especially of the beautiful restaurant below!!!), so I need to umm, you know, get back into a camera-carrying routine. Damn. Cos all of these were taken on my phone, shhh.

I also put a spot of that sauce in my burger (below). Which was also made in quick-and-easy manner, but tastes so sooo good! The boy and I have been improving with each burger we make, haha. The below features two sorts of lettuce only because it sort of had to be eaten… For the patty, all you need is some mince, mixed with pan-friend onions (maybe garlic), an egg, mustard seeds, salt and pepper, mould into the right size (press down the middle part to a slight welled shape so that it goes flat when cooked) and grill in a regular pan. Flip only once. Let the cheese melt on the cooked half once it’s been flipped. And compile on toasted buns with anything you like. I had an egg with this one. Butter, salad, mustard seeds, Glass Eye Creek Wild Meat Sauce and some ground black pepper.

Just a token chocolate shot. Brain food.

On Friday night we managed to get around to going to a Japanese restaurant which the boy had been planning on taking me for quite some time. It’s located in the oddest of neighbourhoods (next door to a Chinese takeaways), and I can’t say that the shop front looked all that promising – in fact it was rather blinding. But after we were lead through this…

… a sliding door opened to reveal some stairs leading down into a quasi-basement area that was very industrial-loft-looking with a high ceiling and the most amazing framed windows on one side, and a lovely wall that was entirely painted with cherry blossoms. The waiters and waitresses (and chefs) all spoke or were Japanese, so it definitely passed my standard of what they advertised as “authentic Japanese” should be. We had the most amazing, drawn out meal that consisted not only of our absolute favourites such as karaage chicken and tempura prawns, but we also had shabu shabu. Not to mention the three bottles of Japanese marble soda that I could not resist!

Photo of the beautiful iris flowers in my front yard. One of my favourite, favourite flowers.

And this is what winning beer pong looks, like, heck yeah! After some warming up, the boy and I made a killer team last night. I had to crack open some beers on the side in order to drink any haha. One more week of tests and such, then it’s study break. I miraculously did better at my combo recital last week, (the best public playing I’ve ever done so far, I think), so yay for improving. In the meantime, Jacam Manricks is back and we’ll be attending his show at jazz school on Tuesday night, but check him out online!

and everyday, I am learning about you, the things that no one else sees

Today I went about my day feeling, I can’t believe it’s only the third week of semester, I am far too tired, and the feeling hasn’t shaken off since. Even when I get a full night’s sleep, I can’t seem to ditch this innate tiredness. Of course, staying up late this very instant is not helping, but I am completely hooked onto listening to an album right now and I can’t turn the computer off until I’ve sat through the whole thing. I’ve got a dissertation to write before the semester’s out, and I’m trying to listen to all that I can cram in, because I honestly have no idea what form, shape or directionmy “musical voice” is in whatsoever and I need to figure it out pronto! It’s just been a really slow couple of weeks, which is why I wanted to blog about the blissful evening that the boy and I had. We’ve been together for another “celebrate-able” length of time now, and didn’t waste any excuse to book in an evening of feasting on food, bubbly, each other, and of course, the action at the Olympics!

With help from the boy, I cooked cordon bleu, firstly on the stove, and then we threw it all in the oven with potatoes, onions and a healthy dollop of mustard seeds and tasty (read: randomly thrown together) herbs that was then sprinkled with cheese and mushrooms. For dessert we hadamazing mango sorbet, fresh fruit and berry yoghurt… I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! It was a wonderfully relaxed and lovely evening, and pretty much had all of my ideals: the boy, yummy dinner, great wine, dessert (plus spearmint dark chocolate!), live hockey, a fire going, the cat being jealously affectionate, and to top it all off it was raining outside, which is our absolute favourite. I dare not imagine life any other way, even though I am juggling so many things and exhausted all the time, at least I am healthy, loved, and happy. And I think that’s three of the most important things to strive for in life. Most of my friends tell me that they feel like we’ve been together for years and years, which it hasn’t been, just yet – but I certainly believe that we will be, without a shadow of a doubt. We make each other better people not just through the good things, but we also confront each other with our worst parts to change and improve. I’m a hectic, chaotic madhouse of a person but maybe I’m cooking just well enough for the boy to stick around? Kidding. But I’m glad that he does, despite the chaos… because I don’t think I’d quite be Amanda if I were to attain a stable personality. So thank you, to my main man, and to everybody else’s main-men for keeping us sane or at least distracted from insanity!

Also, it’s been superb to watch top notch international-level hockey every evening, and of course I’ve got my fingers crossed for our women’s Black Sticks team (sorry, the men were too much of a disgrace the other night, don’t even ask!!!) for hopefully a medal. Speaking of hockey, my team’s season’s been going fairly well so far – we’ve made the top four play offs and will hopefully do well in the next couple of games to make it through to the finals. It’s nerve-wracking stuff and I’ve kind of been playing below my standard lately, but I’m willing myself to pick things back up. I don’t know what’s been happening in my head that I’ve seemed to have lost all my sense of being “onto it” when it comes to potential-goal-time, and my fitness has vanished into thin air in the past couple of weeks, but it must return! Maybe it’s got more to do with being mentally exhausted rather than my actual physical fitness right now?

Saturdays = Youth (but now means exams)

Turning 21; staying-up-until-the-next-day for days on end to complete a painfully difficult assignment; throwing a highly-anticipated and very enjoyable birthday party; now studying for my first ever round of exams in the three years I’ve been at university… just what happens when one has been solely a performance student for two years solid, I suppose. So many exciting, whack and wonderful updates I wish I had time to write about right now, but kicking academic butt takes precedent right now. My brain has made an impressive comeback so hopefully it won’t let me down!

All the epiphanies, rolls of film, party-times and general awesomeness will appear here in just over twelve days’ time. Promise. For now, from Saturday night, where my guests were subjected to 10+ speeches which lasted virtually an hour on the dot. Luckily, the consensus is that they were pretty interesting so people did not die of boredom. I forgot my Nikon F3 with my trusty roll of b/w film in it, but luckily still had a film point and shoot on hand (blessing in disguise, perhaps! So I wasn’t preoccupied with photographing the whole night, even though I took a fair few anyway). Happiness, captured on Kodak UltraMax 400:

Every photograph and story, trickled through the lengthy web of friends

I’ve still got a handful of handmade invitations to distribute (mostly to friends who are studying overseas and have not arrived back yet), but after that it will be mission complete for phase-one of 21st birthday party planning! I’m going to avoid going into how scary it is to turn twenty one as much as I can – but it just seems like it’s the last pretend-barrier between me and supposed “real adulthood”. The thing that I’ve discovered to be surprisingly daunting yet somewhat enjoyable about the whole party-planning experience is the fact that this is possibly the most narcissistic thing I’ve ever done. And it will probably remain so, until some miraculous day when I get hynotised into thinking that getting married is a good idea, haha. For the time being, I’ve just been absolutely thrilled that everyone who has received an invitation seems to really appreciate the sentiment, and think that they look lovely. It now feels absolutely worth the painstaking hours spent hand-making and handwriting them all.

This whole process of creating a guest list has been somewhat nostalgic. Whilst I’ve invited a lot of middle-ground friends who have darted in and out of my life for most of my adolescent-to-adulthood years, it’s also caused me to put in quite a bit of effort with catching up with people. During the mid-semester break a couple of weeks ago, and even during class breaks last week, I made sure that I tried to see as many of my friends that I hadn’t seen in a while, and to try to deliver as many invitations in person as I could. I had the most lovely lunch-turned-int0-afternoon catchup with my old piano teacher (who has the same birthday as me), who had taught me for about eight of the past ten years, and it felt just like old times again, chatting about everything music and beyond – minus the piano lesson. I’m also looking forward to catching up with another influential figure who helped me out a lot when I was younger – hopefully this will actually go ahead in a couple of days’ time. I really want to make sure that everyone who has influenced me in a significant way will know how important they’ve been to me – and hopefully they will be able to attend and enjoy the evening with me. I’ve also committed a faux pas in not allowing “plus one”s, except for couples whom I’m friends with both people and have invited them together. This is firstly due to the venue having a strict people limit (for fire hazard reasons, etc), and secondly because I don’t want my birthday party to yet again turn into “just another party” where the host hardly knows half of the ‘partners’ there, and so on. It might sound harsh at first, but I’m sure my friends all understand.

The biggest headache I’ve got with regards to party planning has got to be the food. I don’t even want to go into it… That, and scanning childhood photos for a slideshow on the two TV screens at the venue. I simply can’t pick! And it’s going to take me absolutely forever to scan them all. I need to acquaint my mother with scanning…

And here is Flakey, who was a cute feet-warmer last night and caused me to sleep rather lopsidedly because I didn’t want to kick him! For a while last month Daniel’s beer box hadn’t quite made it into the recycling bin and was just floating around by our backdoor… Flakey decided to be a bit of a (cute) hobo, haha:

sweet relief calms me down. makes me drown, lost and found. neighbours complain, people they want us to fall down. but we won’t ever touch the ground cause we’re perfectly balanced, we’ll float around til no one is near. do you hear this sound?

There’s a widespread and very annoying myth which surrounds jazz – that it’s easy, because you “just play whatever you want”. To its credit, this myth makes some sense, in the fact that, alright, okay, technically we do “play whatever we want”, but by no means does that equate to musicians thoughtlessly churning out notes completely randomly. In fact, ironically, it’s kind of what we aim for – the ability to seemingly not think at all, in the improvising process – for it to just naturally, magically happen. Unfortunately, that’s not how reality works. To put things in perspective, I guess we’re taught the rules and how to make them work. Then it’s up to us to play within and then beyond these boundaries, but to an extent that is somehow… heck, to whatever extent one wants to, really. But put it this way, the art of playing “out” is complicated in the sense that you want it to sound “out”, but not like you can’t play “in”.

Having sort of established that context, the rest of what I want to say might make more sense. So I mentioned last week that on top of tests and assignments, I also had a recital. To be honest, It wasn’t anything that major, just a combo thing that we do twice a semester, so by my third year now, it just comes by like clockwork. But this particular one was especially important and symbolic to me, because of something that happened at rehearsal the week before it. See, the thing I’ve struggled most with, at jazz, is taking a solo. Most people love it, it’s why the play jazz after all. They want to take a solo in every single tune they play, and many people take long, long ones, and get lost and absorbed in the enjoyment and happiness of it. I’d never quite gotten there, to feeling like that… After a traumatic incident on stage back when I was around 16, I’d never been able to get over the “deer in headlights”, FREEZE, BLANK, PANIC! that just completely takes over me when I’m supposed to take a solo. Sure, it’s improved a lot since then, but in my head it’s still always been miserable. Which explains why jazz school has been the hardest thing I’ve made myself stick to, regardless of the fact that I seem miserable all the time – because I hate soloing. A lot of it comes down to confidence and just staying calm, I know, but it’s always been easier said than done. The PANIC! button has been the hardest to tame, because once the switch is flicked, nothing else seems to exist, and cognizant behaviour seems completely out of the question. I guess this is a very particular form of stage fright, in the sense that I’m perfectly okay with hopping on a stage, until I have to do the specific task of playing a solo.

Anyway, the thing that happened was, I had a musical epiphany of sorts. I had brought in a hard tune with tricky changes that I decided I wanted to try and solo over and every day when it crossed my mind, I’d scare myself shitless over it. It was at our last instructed combo rehearsal with Nathan Haines and I was intimidated out of my bloody mind, but for once in my life, it felt like it was a conscious decision – an available choice – to be able to say to myself “I’m not going to panic, fuck it, I’ll just see what happens”. And what actually happened? Well I have no bloody idea. That was the brilliance of it. It felt like an outer-body experience. I don’t know what I played or how I played it, it kind of just happened. Seemingly without any consciousness of what I was doing, and without any of the blind panic. It wasn’t miserable, and I’d almost enjoyed it, even. I went hope delighted and gushed at the boy about how bizarre and scary and wonderful and all sorts of adjectives about how it felt – but the problem was, that sort of thing isn’t to be replicated. I knew that to get through the combo recital I couldn’t just conjure up that “unconscious” playing, and I would have to actually tackle the issue of the PANIC some other way. So I made the pianist play the changes with me over and over and over again the afternoon before the recital (a bit late, I know), but I finally got comfortable and just left it to be.

I’m sad to say that it never ended up being half as enjoyable or lyrical as that afternoon spent in practise, because of an arrangement alteration we’d made which made the cue to my solo a logistic nightmare that actually came true. I’m annoyed at not having put my foot down and kept the original arrangement for it, but whatever, it’s okay. It just meant that the beginning of my solo was a state of confusion for the whole band as to which chords to play, but it turned out okay in the end. I ended up being thrown off and rushed somewhat, but I’ll live. The important thing to me now, is the fact that I feel it might actually be possible for me to one day thoroughly enjoy this business of doing a solo.

A surprising and interesting thing I’d discovered though, was that even though my bass teacher has been playing for lord knows how many decades – 5? more? – he said that the “unconscious” thing where it felt like a solo has just magically happened has only happened to him four or five times in his life. I said, oh, ha, great… so once every ten years then?

And on that note, here’s a nice photo of me that he’d taken at combo rehearsal last year. Who knew that Kevin Haines wasn’t just a bass master, but also took nice photos?

1 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 24