Incoming, out clubbin’, not lovin’, slow your body down

I think I’ve run out of farewells for the year. Saying goodbye for 1-2 years to one of my closest friends, Takuma the other night was extremely difficult – he’s gone to study in New Orleans and neither of us can afford a visit within a year, I think. On top of that, 6 days ago I had to send my sister off at the airport, without knowing if the next time I see her is for Christmas this year, or worse (and more likely) to be in a year’s time, during the US summer season, when I will be a year older, and she will be turning 18. Thoughts like that are freaking me out so bad – I’m not going to be a teenager the next time I see my sister! I’ve been having difficulty over the past week living by myself, contemplating the fact that now, the four members of my immediate family are spread over 3 countries. It’s really hitting me: I will NEVER live with my sister again. I know this is all normal and part of growing up, but it just seems kind of whacked out she’s moved across the Pacific Ocean on a massively glamourous 4-year scholarship to play Division 1 College Golf, but I’m the older sibling and I haven’t even moved out of home yet! This whole “end of an era”, aka END OF MY CHILDHOOD thing is seriously messing with my mind. Despite the fact that for years it’s really only been a pseudo-childhood, it was much nicer than the huge push into the deep end of a very cold and icy pool. Sea, even.

Although I’ve only been at university since March (the NZ academic school year is different to the northern hemisphere, school years don’t cross calendrical years), it feels like I’ve been here forever. It’s scary thinking that in 2 months’ time I will have completed 1/3 of my Bachelor degree. Even scarier wondering what comes after, but extremely exciting contemplating all the traveling that I want to do – and all the people that I know scattered all over the world who have offered me “couch” accommodation just adds to the excitement.

In the meantime, this is how I spent Friday night procrastinating from practising for my recital tomorrow night: low light phone snaps by Elvia.

Black Motel caged-back dress. She convinced me to wear the shorter one of my two new dresses, over the mesh Asos one. Powerwalking from her apartment near the Sky Tower, we fended off drooling and drunk men on the streets. I was grateful for the height difference between us that allowed her to wear heels and me to stomp in my Dr Martens. The Bouncing Soles really put a bounce in my step. Winter nights are brutal to exposed backs and uncovered arms, the city air an unfriendly reminder of how inebriated we must be to ignore its scathing existence. Taking pictures whilst we are still straight and lips unsmudged by bottle tops and glass rims. They say a girl is sexiest when confident, but how much confidence is real? Leaning against the bar, girls try and skip the serving order by pouting, eyelash batting, whilst men blanket an act of confidence over a core of frenzied excitement. Classified as a depressant, I find alcohol full of connotations: suppressant, an activator, empowerment, enslavement to the lack of conscience that ensues. And for better or worse we can’t escape ourselves and the things we do or say under the influence. But I often wonder – isn’t it really that we’re under less “influence”?

At her apartment we talked about the differences between Taiwan and New Zealand – the contrast in cultures and perceived “normality”. She grew up there, whilst I grew up here. But both spending our young adult life here with different backgrounds and cultural upbringing gives us a rare view that others don’t have. I question the differences, the ones I know of but don’t live by, as she adjusts to the new set of social “normality”. It’s funny how people can come from the same place and end up so different. Or come from different places and still have so much in common. Sometimes the diversity drives me crazy, how people don’t understand, aren’t curious, don’t know to be curious, but variation is never a bad thing: “Six kinds of blue”.

Even though this last picture caught me by surprise and was a snap in a whim, I love how offguard it caught me, its blurriness being precisely as the moment was. Sometimes there isn’t a still in the moment. Does that make sense?

She asked me about the kinds of music I’m into, and showed me Taiwanese bands she’s into. There is a huge gap to bridge but I can see why that stuff sells. It’s depressingly not difficult to write and perform though, in my opinion. That is, relatively.

You want to feel something more than I could ever bring

Rewind back two, three years ago. I was underage, incapable (most of the time) of getting into gigs, let alone getting to shoot them. I’m not too sure of precisely where my desire to do so spawned from. I suspect it’s a combination of things. For starters, there are lots of photographic projects I’ve planned and plotted in my head – but I never end up undertaking them just because it requires preparation and planning – in other words, I would’ve had to think ahead. For someone as lazy and usually uninspired as me, thinking ahead for a photo seems a bit out of whack. Especially when I’m the sort of person who likes to take spontaneous photos, often in unexpected places, of unexpected subjects. There’s a magic essence in capturing a moment in time that just doesn’t exist in a constructed setting. Even when I have constructed settings in the past for a shoot, I usually end up picking the “accidental” shots, rather than the ones I had “intended”.

When I first shot on black and white film in a Nikon F3 almost 4 years ago, I was pleasantly surprised at how much enjoyment I got from rediscovering all the things that I had merely shot in passing, in the city of Wellington.  As I didn’t get the films developed until a few months later, I hardly remembered what I had photographed, especially all the little corner snippets that I had snapped away at, without a thought at all. My mother (the term “professional photographer” here sounds daunting, but she is) has always been supportive and encouraging in anything and everything I do; but for some reason, once upon a time she tried to dissuade me from attempting concert photography. It’s “much too difficult”, she’d said. And it sure as hell is. But that is exactly why I love it. The equation – so it appear so be – is: lack of necessary thought process/laziness + spontaneity + music freak + love a good challenge = concert photography.

Fast forward a couple of years, I had an amazing Friday night. Back when I was googling concert photographers and oggling at the amazing shows they get to shoot, I stumbled across a lady called Ami Barwell. Mostly lo-fi styled stuff, shot a lot of bands that I love – made me mega jealous. I think she used to be the photographer-in-tow for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, so she has a lot of nice shots of them, and a couple of nights ago I got to have a crack at it myself.

Here are some of the shots that I liked best of BRMC and their opening band, The Checks. The problem is… I’m undecided as to whether I’m happy about them or not:

The Checks:
Can I just add – their drummer reminded me of why I used to have a thing for drummers and dated a couple. He also looks like one that I had crushed on for a long time. Shhhh. Good thing NO ONE knows who it was, ha!

Stoplights are swaying and the phone lines are down

My absence has been due to over a week spent in Sydney, Australia – which followed a 5-day/nights’ series of events, which were all blurred into a very long, extended lump in my memory – and I’m not too sure how I feel right now. Until I can conjure up the effort to sort through hundreds of photos and thoughts, I’m not going to write about where I went, etc.

Families are supposed to be the comfort zone. The people who’ve known you your whole life, know all your embarrassing childhood stories, who care for one another the most. At least, that is the family that I was brought up under the illusion of, despite having been disillusioned over a decade ago about its idealistic ways vs reality.

Unfortunately, over the past week in Sydney, my (immediate) family – who usually live in different countries – have been crammed into one single hotel room. It was large, yes – the size of half our house, but a single space nonetheless; and all the things we usually pretend is all okay could no longer be contained. My parents aren’t getting along. They haven’t for a long time. But under the facade of not living under the same roof for majority of the year, everything is “okay”. In the middle are me and my sister. Whilst she still has to put up with the same problems, same fights and outbursts as I do, she doesn’t have the older-child syndrome of taking on all these problems as my own. I don’t want to take sides. I have two sets of opinions and views on these problems, and how I think they should be dealt with: one, being the daughter, I want them to work through things, slowly, fine, but surely, and just at least do something productive or argue productively rather than stupidly about anything, everything and absolutely nothing at all; and two, being from a completely objective point of view – get it all over and done with, if it’s so painful to coexist.

I shouldn’t be saying this.

In the most selfish manner, also, I have so much else on my plate that I am stressing over, but the whole family thing is an overbearing darkness and source of stress, pain, guilt, troubles, internal and external conflicts that I can’t conjure up the strength to deal with anything else. It also doesn’t help that I’ve been sick for a week and a half, and it’s only draining me more, physically.

I know people out there go through much worst than me – in fact I have close friends that have, let alone all the people whom I don’t know. But it feels soo bad I don’t know how people get through it. I guess they develop some coping mechanism to subtract themselves from the equation of their parents’ misery. I can’t seem to. I am so latched onto every bitter/icy/frustrated/angry/defeated/confused/hopeless/unreasonable word that comes out of their mouths, and I catch all the hurt/vengeful/loathing/sad/intolerable look that the other doesn’t.

I can’t sleep. I was already insomniac enough without the jetlag. Skytv’s ceased working sometime over the days that we were away, so there is nothing to brainwash my sleeplessness with either.

My ipod is currently lost somewhere in the pile of luggage in the lounge, next to the couch on which my father is sleeping – so no music to dither away to.

If there was ever such a time I felt I needed sleeping pills the most – I lied. I really need some now.

To take you back when… I know it’s been so long

Tried to have a song-writing, jamming session today but failed miserably. I don’t think that the fact that I was so out of it due to having stayed up well into the morning hours watching the footy helped.

The drawings on Julia’s blog reminded me of a habit I’ve noticed more and more recently – lip biting. I know I’ve always done it, now and then; but lately I’ve been catching myself doing it more often. I’m not sure what it means… I think it happens when I’m thinking, uncertain, weighing things up. Contemplating. Anticipating. Nervous. Why?

I usually have at least one long thread of thought that I ponder on, and debate to myself. Turning it over and over, dwelling on things. But strangely, not today. I feel rather numb and empty and lifeless. Thus probably why so music-less today. As I’d said to him, “I don’t have a single musical cell in me today” :(.

This is the cake I’d decorated for a friend a few weeks ago – eeek at the sloppy edges though!

If my life is mine, what shouldn’t I do? Everybody just wants to fall in love, everybody just wants to play the lead.

During the last week of semester a conversation I had with a classmate went something like this:
R: Don’t get tooo stressed out, it will all be fine. I mean, heck, I love jazz school.
Me: Asides from the obvious, why do you?
R: Well for one, who the heck else can say “I go to jazz school in a castle”?!
And I guess he’s right.

These photos were taken on Friday night in town with Sinead on our walk back to my car. The photos in black and white were unintentionally nice angles that I found when I took a closer, chilled out look at the surroundings that I’ve had for the past semester. It’s funny how everything that I usually bustle past in a rush to and from classes actually appeared really photogenic to me, on a cold, winters night at 1-2am. Perhaps the combination of the cold night air and the lacking elements of people and time restraints was what made these usually mundane corners pop out to me that night. The first 3 photos are taken just a few metres from the Kenneth Myers Centre (the “castle” that jazz school is located in, photographed below). The second 3 photos are just around the corner where I would usually park my car if for some reason I had shorter classes and decided to drive instead of ferrying. The last 7 are all taken around the same block as well. The odd photo is of the view out of my car and through the rearview mirror; and the sky tower was shot off a reflection.

Isn’t it ironic that most people my age I know agree with me wholeheartedly that Auckland (and NZ in general) is such a beautiful place to live, and yet we cannot wait to leave the minute that we can – most likely when we’ve finished completely our degrees. I kept intending to take photos of the amazing view that I am treated to by my daily to and fro ferry rides, but I never remember to take a camera. Maybe next semester.

Being out 3, 4 nights in a row has really taken a toll on my sleeping habits and overall tiredness. And, although I have officially finished Semester 1 at jazz school, my final assessments didn’t go as well as I would’ve hoped. I know I can’t really blame anyone for anything, but one thing that was beyond my control was the failure of the drummer during a very important song that I had arranged, and had high hopes for. There’s only so much that I can do as a bass player when the drummer doesn’t play in double time as per rehearsed. I’m just upset that it is my mark that will suffer, and most especially when it was the first time that I had nailed an entire structure of a solo without getting completely lost of out this world – let alone the fact that it was without music! I have no idea how I managed to memorise ten tunes over the space of a couple of days, but I know my arse will be kicked into gear next semester, and I will start earlier. One more exam for my Computer Science paper on Tuesday, and then I will really really be on holiday. That is, if the lingering work that’s been prescribed in advance for next semester can qualify as a total holiday. It’s once again times like these that I envy those doing other degrees the true joy of having no work to haunt their minds over semester break.

These last photos are just… well, some shenanigans we got up to. I haven’t really looked at the band photos I took that night.

Surprisingly, I have a kind-of backlog of blog entries I never got around to posting. Maybe I will catch up.