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.

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:

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.

all my loves are within a wild night

Something silly and awful has happened with my webhost and of course I hadn’t backed up anything – so I’ve lost my last blog post. Just as well I didn’t post more often, I would’ve lost more, right? I can’t remember what I said in it besides the main points, but I will post those photos again once I’m back in New Zealand.

I’m currently sitting at Sydney airport, waiting for the boy to arrive. There was only one seat left for the sale price I got my ticket at, so I have to wait a couple of hours for him to join me. We’ve got a super exciting couple of weeks ahead of us, and I can’t wait to see Amanda again in a couple of nights! I first mentioned the trip mooonths ago, and now the day is finally upon us. In two sleeps’ time I will see my favourite band who I have loved and wanted to see for literally half my life! The icing on the cake with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is that my sister has kindly pre-ordered their new LP (due out in April), for my birthday in May. I believe that she managed to order it in time for me to get one of the 1000 signed lithographs that comes in the bundle. Wheeee! I’m such a fangirl lunatic right now.

We’re only in Sydney until Friday and then we’ll be in Melbourne until the 4th of February – going along to Big Day Out (yes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs again!) and Laneway Festival – so time is precious. Please feel free to email me any recommendations/tips for anything in these two cities. Whilst I will easily be crossing off the big “main things” and definitely be doing the art galleries and museums, I will be eternally grateful for anyone who recommends amazing restaurants/bars or events that are happening which only locals are aware of.

Main things from the last post that disappeared into cyberspace’s black hole:

  1. New York was amazing. The bands I saw and the things I did and ate and photographed and, and, and – I will post about it all once I’m back in NZ!
  2. I got into law school. So I, umm, made my life harder as usual, by enrolling in something that’s equivalent to about 150-170% of a “full time workload”. Jazz and law. Law and jazz. They just don’t really want to like each other. It’s going to be hell, but I want it.

and spend my time just sitting in the sun

I’m trying to take my trusty old Nikon F3 with me to as many places as I can again, so that I put my grandparents’ lovely gift to good use. Namely, twenty slick new rolls of my favourite Ilford HP5 black and white film in 400. I think I’ll ask for 800 or even 1600 next time, because I’ve been really missing some good old grain. But the photos which I would like to accompany this post are unfortunately sitting in a roll of undeveloped film next to my tea mug, so it may be months before I have anything to show.

Not wanting to take a biased view, but it’s barely September and my friend’s band, Artisan Guns, have released one of my favourite albums of the year already. I hadn’t been the most active friend as of late, so apart from a tiny sneak preview, I had no idea what to expect when Jonathan and I sat down over a hearty meal from Burger Wisconsin and listened to the album from start to finish. Cutting to the chase, Coral is simply so solidly fantastic that I knew most of the lyrics by their album release gig two Fridays ago (at which some of the aforementioned photos were taken).

From the very first listen, “So You Know” has been my favourite track, and I’m guilty of doing that awful thing where people put a song on repeat because they can’t get over the fact that every song must inevitably end. Considering the fact that it clocks in at under three minutes, I think hitting ‘previous track’ repeatedly is wholly justified; especially once you’ve fallen for the slide guitar intro. Did I mention the subtle overlap of vocal entries? One of the (many) standout components of this band is that not only can Matt, the frontman really sing, so too can Reuben, and sometimes the lads on guitar (Jonathan) and drums (Alex) also chip in on the background vocals in an instrumental-colour sort of way. The ensuing outcome is an album that’s been fine-tuned to sound so… precise.

Whilst I favour certain songs over others, there are definitely none that I skip over when I listen to the album — which is indeed a bad habit of mine, but I’d like to justify it as being reflective of the quality of music at stake. These guys are skilful at crafting bridges that are musically realised in a way which makes the musician in me smile. Often I feel like they successfully avoid what I’d call the “easy” or “obvious” choices for a bridge, yet the transitions out of choruses have been tackled so well that I can’t fathom any alternatives. There is no room left for any wishful thinking by the listener such as, “great song, now if only they had…”, and the like.

One of the other main things that stuck out to me about the album was the strange mood of the “season” which it evoked for me. I’d said to Jonathan at the time that it’s like a really nostalgic-sounding summer, because it didn’t sound sunny or summery. As if it were almost autumn but not quite — and we went on to chortle about how crap the past couple of New Zealand summers have been, as he pointed out, like the opening song — “Rain in Summer”.  More to the point, it truly makes me happy that a friend that I’ve always musically looked up to has been a part of producing something that brings me — and I’m sure many others — great joy and comfort. Even in the sadness-tinged corners of this album, there are glimpses of a contented hopefulness that is a rare find.

And the most important thing of all, you can listen to the album on their page here, and please do share any thoughts if you do! I’ve already stuck this album under the nose of people in Seattle, New York, Malibu, Taipei and Abu Dhabi. So perhaps I am a rather biased friend-and-fan but who cares, I’m supposed to know what I’m talking about! Also, I believe that anyone who has the high-quality files will be able to experience the same tape hiss as I did, on selected tracks. Retro-magic.

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