to gather my thoughts when I don’t know what to say

I’m doing a bad thing. I’m sitting in bed with a packet of “fancy” chips that I find spicy, and attempting to become “informed” enough to allocate some ticks and numbers on my voting form. I’m having the best and worst time ever.

The chips are amazing (Bluebird Delisio in sweet chilli relish flavour, by the way) and I’ve just forced myself to stop eating before I finish the whooole packet. But I’m really struggling with everything else at hand.

“Anyone can [run for mayor], it’s democracy yo”, said the boyfriend’s txt. My stupefied response to the Auckland local elections booklet must have been… well fuck, I’m still sitting here blankly. Let me preface this by saying that I’m pretty sure I never have, and never will explicitly express any political views here. I feel like such a bigot but I’m really, really bothered by the selection of people running for mayor. There are seventeen candidates, and only two people who I might even consider voting for. I’m pretty sure I won’t be surprised when the results are announced.

Although some much more than others, the candidates all seem enthusiastic and genuine enough, in the quest for becoming mayor of Auckland City. But that’s the problem for me — it’s Auckland City — it’s the biggest city in this country, and a city which I can say I’m from, when traveling, without having to explain that it’s in New Zealand. (That is, unless I’m visiting my sister’s university in California, where they are convinced that Auckland is Oakland and many aren’t sure where exactly New Zealand is.)

Frankly, the calibre of many candidates are well below the threshold of what I would deem necessary to be the mayor of Auckland City. There are too many candidates whose election platforms and views are simply too narrow to be able to address the wide variety of issues that Auckland encounters. Some of the candidates in the booklet sound like they’re having a good ol’ bitch at the dinner table and just aren’t cut out for the job. It’s already caused so many facebook scandals, but needless to say, one particular candidate will be highly unpopular, as his only plan for the future of Auckland is summed up in his party name Christians Against Abortions.

This sounds picky and shallow, however, I definitely judge candidates on their eloquence, or lack thereof. I’m aware that some candidates may not have attended university, or that they perhaps didn’t study anything that was ‘word-heavy’ — but I’m so dismayed at the amount of grammatical and spelling errors. Someone sounded like an interesting, intriguing person (although one I still wouldn’t vote for), until I read to the bottom and saw that she had used the wrong “practise/practice”. Another candidate just had strange, grandiose views and his introduction read like something I’d expect from an online-dating profile. (Disclaimer: I have never been on an online dating site, thus, emphasis on “expect”.) It said something like: “Name. Aucklander. Age. Area raised in. Blah. Blah. Blah. Unemployed“. I do admire his honesty and ambitions but I can’t help raising an eyebrow at someone whose hypothetical first six weeks as mayor includes: “cease violence/crime”; “full employment”; and “talk multi-millions” in South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and South Africa. Oh, and don’t forget  “early releases” — for what? prisoners?! — and “exercising Auckland dogs”. Sorry, am I missing something here?

Another candidate’s goal is to “reinvent politics” and to “remove 75% of the politicians”. That sounds nice, but maybe we’ll strike him off that list too, in line with his own manifesto. I do like the idea of “online referendums” and “quality two-way communications”, but what do these lofty ideas really mean, on a practical level? Sadly, not all households have internet and/or web-browsing devices, so are these referendums only to be directed at those well off enough to sit in bed with their laptop like my ever-grateful self? I’m also a little miffed that he wishes to “introduce quality education” because, as much as I complain, I believe quality education does exist, although standards fluctuate between teachers, schools, faculties, lecturers, etc.

I got curious enough to visit the website of the candidate with questionable aesthetic judgment. I thought, hey, with a creepy, Edward-Norton-like, one-eyebrow-raised photo, maybe it’s a young dude having a laugh. Nope, he’s 36. Someone else asserting that they’re a “defender of what is obviously and logicallybest for people” makes me nervous. Shall we do away with all pretenses of conducting a democracy?

The point is, I’m astounded and entirely underwhelmed by the options I’m offered. Despite the dismay of the rest of the country, Auckland is the biggest city, and the rise and fall of many things are determined here. Surely there are people more eloquent, qualified, inspiring, sensible, and just all-round better even if only on paper, than the disappointing nine pages I just read?!

Semi-relevantly, why don’t they create some kind of comprehensive survey which determines your detailed political views, with the outcome being that you get offered a list of all the candidates/parties in descending order of how much they agree with your personal views. That would be helpful, especially in the context of many people voting in general elections influenced by party loyalties, rather than actual policies and directions.

I’m glad I got so worked up and needed both hands to type vigorously. I’ve got a lot of chips left.

all your words are so magnetic, generational pathetic. and I will do it on my own again, and I will say what I will

There are those rare, rare moments that make me perk up and feel thoroughly, substancelessly euphoric. Moments where I feel the most clear-headed, yet hazy at the same time.

Clear-headed because for a few short minutes or partial-hours, it feels so obvious — what else could be the point to everything? And hazy as the scarce appearance of pure happiness couldn’t feel more inebriating. I expected a good show, but I didn’t expect this.

I’m a sucker for atmospheric music with honest lyrics, and Beach Fossils nailed it on the head. Dustin Payseur’s banter carried well throughout their set, being the type of frontman that never said too much or too little. Having experienced too many awkward singers that carried jokes into the land of cringe, I was pleasantly surprised to be chuckling along to his assertions that they were [ridiculous fake band name] and that “Beach Fossils are next”. And whether or not the stories are true, there were touches of surprising intimacy when he explained what the songs were about, even introducing one as “this song sucks”. Other band members chimed in with suggestions such as “everyone should crowd surf at the same time” and they engaged in faux-fights, trying to push each other off the stage whilst playing.

Dustin hopped off the stage in what my drunken friend mistook as a crowd-surf-attempt during “Clash the Truth” and they ended up on a pile on the ground. Maybe I’ve been too bogged down by the daily slog, but it was just so much fun.

I really didn’t care that I had only slept two hours the night before, already endured a 10-hour day, or that I had a full schedule of law lectures and then tutoring to dread. For the first time in a long time, everything fell away and I didn’t care, didn’t worry and didn’t feel. I didn’t mind that I hadn’t done my readings for class, or that my recital charts weren’t finished. I forgot that I had dirty hair and was sweating from being in my own little bubble. Because for once it was a happy bubble.

To add an even sweeter ending to the evening, at the end of their set, they hopped off the stage and hung out with leftover fans like us. It was the second time in my life that I’d ever felt any level of fan-girl-ness*, and I ended up gushing to Tommy the drummer about how I really dig his time feel. Turns out, he’s actually jazzically trained (somewhere prestigious, on a different instrument) so I guess my ears weren’t lying! Jazz schools and music training aside, what a nice, genuine guy.

I think… it was just so lovely of them. To have played a great show, and then hung out and chatted to us. I don’t know if they’ll remember the moments and words exchanged, but that doesn’t matter. I’ll remember it, and regardless of how fleeting, I found some pretty intense happiness on a fucking stormy Tuesday night. I hope they survived their 40-hour trip to Brazil and didn’t lose any instruments on the way.

When I bought tickets, all those months ago, I had obsessively listened to them whilst studying and expected a good show. I’d thought, Diiv was amazing live, I’m sure the band they spawned from could do just as well. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I can get all analytical-music-student about it, but it’s not about just the music. It was the vibe, the honesty, the atmosphere, the ambience in the things sung and left unsaid. Just some cool guys doing what they love. They were mindset-altering, to say the least. I guess I had better work on an excuse to go back to New York soon?

*The first time being when I met Nick Zinner and it turned out he liked my photos enough to get me a press pass.

P.S. This really sounded like a half-review, half-ramble and I really don’t know what the point in this post was. Nor do I know where this blog is going, but I am going to write more. Maybe not blog more, butwrite more. I know bloggers these days are all trying to find a “target audience”, have specialised blog posts such as “Music Mondays”, etc., and some even monetise their blogs — but I really can’t operate like that. Sure, I write for “someone”, unnamed, uncertain, out there, but I never know who that is until I get the odd comment or email that really connects with me or something I said. Well anyway, this is just an archive of a tiny portion of things I see and do and feel and hear.

I’ve wasted all my daylight

Part of a series of photos I exhibited in August in three cities in Taiwan. I cropped this to be landscape for the sake of this post.

Bad things happen for probably no reason whatsoever, and I need to stop thinking about shit happening to me in terms of me “deserving” it because of karma. A tiny clink against the leg of my chair in the law library, and unbeknownst to me, my torts case book was destroyed, along with the bottom three lines of my moleskine notebook containing the past year’s worth of writing in fountain pen ink. Glass containers for water, eh. I usually stick to plastic, but on the one day that I— well anyway. I feel moronic that I’m copying my highlighting and handwritten notes from my soaked, half illegible torts book into the replacement I bought. I know I should just re-read it all but who has that kind of time when other cases remain completely unread?

The other really shit thing is that my beloved Nikon F3 (pictured above) is currently broken. A really stupid accident led to me being unable photograph myself being in the company of thousands of second hand books. And of course, you always miss what you don’t have, so all of a sudden there’s all these things and moments that I keep wanting to capture on film, but of course I have nothing on hand. My point-and-shoot film camera is also mysteriously out of action too.

The title of this post is from Black Moth Super Rainbow who I had on repeat the other night. Also reflects how I spent Saturday in bed nursing a hangover. Rare occurrence for me, as my friends kindly pointed out. I think that the cigarette some stranger offered us at a bar must’ve done it. I was fine and fun, up until that point.

so close up your knees, and I’ll close your parenthesis

New York City on Ilford HP5+ 400 B/W film; Nikon F3.

Now that I’m twenty-two, there’s something I’ve been struggling with for a while. I guess I still haven’t really come to terms with my age (it’s too long to insert an explanation here), but this is an awkward stage in a woman’s life, where — see, it’s awkward for me already — let me start over.

Frankly, I feel weird referring to myself as a woman. I realise that I am indeed a woman, and have been old enough to be called one, for some time. It’s not that I associate myself with the word “girl” — I haven’t done so since well before fifteen or sixteen, if I remember correctly — it’s just that the word “woman” comes with so many connotations which I’m not sure I’m ready for yet. For some reason I’ve always felt that a “woman” is someone powerful who, for lack of a more poignant term, has their shit together. I’ll concede that I know people who get the impression that I’m all-confident and self-assured, definitely “powerful” in some way, and have my shit together. But that is just bollocks. In other words, by my own ideal of what a “woman” is, and all the symbolism it carries, I don’t feel like I qualify as one yet. A “young woman” or “young lady”, perhaps, but not quite a full-blown woman. I realise I need to work on this.

Why isn’t there a female equivalent of “guy”? It seems socially acceptable to call a male of any age a “guy”, albeit with varying degrees of acceptability. But I’m not going to call myself a “girl”, especially when I had issues with that word even as a teenager. I can’t seem to find  a solution besides ignoring it, or the practical alternative is to simply dub myself as a “student”. This will work perfectly fine… until I graduate. By then, another set of issues will be triggered, that is, to refer to people by their professions. This is a tangent which I would like to return to, perhaps in another post.

As a side note, I’m a fan of “fake it til you make it” in the confidence department, and I also subscribe to idea that life isn’t about “finding” yourself, but is actually about “creating” yourself. Having said that, I don’t condone any fake-ness and I like feeling that people are “authentic” and aren’t just brand-building, networking, social-climbing schemers. So although I can understand and empathise where people are coming from, I’ve never really enjoyed those bloggers or people in real life who categorise themselves as someone “looking for themselves”. My abbreviated interpretation is: you’re creating yourself and curating your tastes through the means of looking for what you like and love, rather than looking for yourself.

Oh so while you’re growing old under the gun, gun, gun, and I believed them all — well I’m just one poor baby ’cause well I believed them all

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?

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