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!

Yeah I’m just crazy, I’m fucked in the head. And maybe if I really tried with all of my heart, Then I could make a brand new start in love with you

I made a really nostalgic playlist that is pretty much comprised only of songs from 2008 and 2009. At first it started off as an accident that all the songs were from 2009, but then I sort of continued it on purpose. I’m the sort of person that has rather intense phases with a certain band, album or song in particular, so every time I sort of come out of a phase, I get a really lost feeling like, what the heck did I listen to before that? So here are some oldies:

 1. Lust For Life – Girls
To be honest I never really got into Girls until recently, but this was always pretty much their only standout song to me. Except now I’m way more hooked on it and hearing it reminds me of Bret Easton Ellis’ Less Than Zero and Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk because I had read both those books in around 24 hours each, both whilst listening to Girls for a significant length of time. I relate far too much to those lyrics (especially this weekend…) and it’s also where this post’s title comes from.

2. Skin of the Night – M83
One of my favourite songs by M83… It kind of ties for first place with Asterisk which I posted last month on this previous playlist. I don’t know where to start when it comes to describing this song except that it’s a must-listen. The lyrics are rather creepy to be honest but I guess that’s part of the beauty of it. And the buildup is incredible… it’s almost got like an 80’s synthed-up sort of feel as well, especially because of the drum sound employed.

3. Crystalised – The xx
I just realised another common theme (besides release dates) with this playlist – it’s full of first-or-second favourite songs by bands I like – and this song is no exception. I like all of these songs so much that I changed the blog post title three times before I left it alone, but it had originally started with lyrics from The xx. I will never get sick of calling their stuff sexy, sly, sexy music. Mmm.

4. With My Eyes Closed – The Raveonettes
It took me so long to decide which song from The Raveonettes’ Lust Lust Lust album to put on this playlist. It’s seriously one of my all-time favourite albums ever, and whilst getting the Youtube link for this song, I got completely distracted and spent like half an hour watching videos of the band discussing each track from the album, ha.I’ve said this a thousand times but I’ll say it again – this song makes me think of those old American movies where there’s a prom scene and the teenage couple are finally slow-dancing. Oh, how I want to slow dance. And dance in general. Sigh.

5. It Will All Make Sense in the Morning – Halou
Whilst looking for this song on Youtube, I ended up watching a trailer for some movie that is (according to the greater world wide web) classified as a “gay hustler” film. Ahem. It looks interesting though. I then went and read a review on it. But I doubt I’d watch it because 1/ I’d never be able to get hold of it and 2/ I don’t think the boy would want to sit through that with me. Oh, I should probably clarify here that the reason I saw that trailer at all in the first place is because whoever made it had used this song in the background. Gosh. Love this song.

6. Say Back Something – Tapes ‘n Tapes
This song always makes me want to cry a little… it’s tugs at my heartstrings every time. Besides the obvious, I can’t really explain why. My favourite lines are when it goes “when you say come back/why don’t you mean it in the morning?” and “say back something/why can’t you look me in the eyes?”, ahhhhhhhhhh.

7. The Thief – Secret Knives
I used to be so hooked on the EP that this song is from. I think they came up (from Wellington) to play shows in Auckland a while back but I wasn’t very onto it, and still haven’t gotten around to hearing their album. I think that might largely be contributed to laziness, rather than the “averaaage” review that someone once gave me. Either way, oh this song and this EP makes me so so sooo nostalgic for 2009. It’s one of the songs that just instantly take me back to 7th form, whether that’s a good thing or not.

8. 2010 – The Mint Chicks
Couldn’t find a better link, but skip like the first little bit unless you’re watching the video because the song doesn’t kick in for a little while. I had this song on a limited edition white vinyl that they had at their “farewell tour” thing a few years back, but a friend of mine kindly left it in my car and it melted in the summer sun and heat – I’m still bummed out about this because I liked that version better than the album version. Oh well.

9. Life Will Get Better Some Day – The Mint Chicks
My “other favourite” track from their Screens album.

I’ve had a really crazy couple of days this weekend and I’m too tired and touchy to talk about it. However, I’d have to say that I’m very proud of myself for pulling off cooking risotto and steak for ten people, as part of a kind-of-surprise birthday dinner that we organised for my friend Cara. And boy is right hand tired from all that bloody stirring! I’ll probably post photos from that later on.

Something from the boy:

Something like a phenomena, baby, You’re something like a phenomena

It’s about to be my 20th birthday. I have mixed feelings about not being a teenager anymore, and it’s scary considering I was still 19 when I went to the supermarket this afternoon and once again didn’t get ID’d for buying alcohol! Earlier this evening, I went over to the boy’s house “for dinner”, thinking it was just going to be another fun but casual dinner. Turns out, they had cooked me a feast of lamb shanks (done superbly with probably the same recipe as mum, score!) and fresh brownies out of the oven with fancy ice cream on the side for dessert. It was such a sweet, sweet surprise, if I wasn’t so takenaback I probably would have jumped and given Donna a hug! I probably should have. Ahhhh. Anyway, I’m still in awe of how nice it was, to whip me up a hearty family meal to celebrate my birthday for me, when my family are away – I will never forget it. What a nice way to round of my teenage years.

Sooo… I decided to spend an afternoon (which turned into evening, which turned into all night) digging out old photos from my years of being a teenager. This is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever done because – in case you hadn’t noticed – I rarely post photos of myself. And when I do, it’s usually ones I’ve taken, or got other people to take under my strict strict instructions. So what is beyond that “Continue Reading” link is actually hundreds of photos (mostly of me) showing my transformation during the ages 14-19. There are gazillions more photos somewhere, but I don’t have access to mum’s stash of photos at the moment, so I also don’t have any one hand from when I was 13. Regardless, even if no one is that interested in what little-Amanda looked like, I had a LOT of fun doing this, recalling so many events and memories that I had long forgotten about. I’ve posted things in order of age, and almost in perfect chronological order, so be impressed. It’s a little funny turning 20, because in New Zealand it’s not a big deal like 18 or 21 is, but in Taiwan, 20 is a big deal. It’s like NZ’s 18th and 21st birthdays mashed together, sort of. To put it in perspective, I can’t renew my Taiwanese passport on my own without a parent’s signature until I turn 20 tomorrow. Which reminds me I really need to get onto it.

Looking back, I’ve obviously grown up a lot throughout my teenage years, but I’ve also stayed the same in more ways than I had expected. I’ve done a lot of things that I’m proud of, but also a lot of things that I’m not. But I’m pretty happy where I am right now, and I’m just trying to look towards the future optimistically. And if you know me at all, you’d know that I’m not generally an optimistic person. Like… how I have to spend 13 hour at uni tomorrow on my birthday… I’m sure it will turn out fine though. Also, the exhibition opened yesterday, and I’ll probably post the official photos in the next entry, but there are photos of the gallery at the bottom of this post!

Oh, and you may be surprised to find that I hardly look different at all.

Age 14:

Taken at the house I “grew up in”. I wish my hair was that long again.

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I say the right thing, but act the wrong way – If you wanna be with me, baby there’s a price to pay

I’ve fallen asleep in so many places in the past week that I haven’t really been home/online/at my desk, thus the slack amount of blogging. I desperately need some form of decent daily routine to up my productiveness, but the calls of partying is just too loud as the end of summer grows closer in sight. This past week has been quite a whirlwind for me, reconnecting with old ties, severing some recent ones and meeting new people all at the same time. I’m definitely guilty of biting off more than I can chew all the time – starting up more projects than I can physically juggle, and keeping up a sort of rotation-like social life. On one hand, I really enjoy it. I thrive off the copious amount of choices I have with anything from what music I want to listen to/play/write, to who I want to see/chat/dance/drink with, to what I want to be reading and writing in bed, before I sleep.

I had a cold a week ago, largely from Big Day Out, being cold, drenched and tired, and then partying too hard. When it finally eased up a couple of days ago though, what did I do? Drank too much and slept too little again. Aka partied too hard. That, and the storm that New Zealand’s been hit with hasn’t really helped the chances of my immune system with keeping up with me. It looks to be a relatively tame Saturday night tonight, but I think my Wednes, Thurs and Friday nights have made up for it, haha.

The other day I caved and bought these killer shoes for half price. Although, having said that, half price was still fucking expensive. They are ridiculously comfortable though (took them out for 5 hours of dancing, standing and walking around to test drive them that very night, haha), and has resulted in me listing a pile of shoes that I don’t wear on I’m also currently selling a Sufjan Stevens ticket (Wellington), dress and various shoes. Click here for my listings :).

These bad boys make me veeery, very tall. I’m 5’7″ to start with… the platform itself is 1.5″ and then a 4″ heel wedge…

Mum didn’t say much (guilt, guilt, guilt about retail therapy, but I’m happy with them, haha), except that she looooves the leather. So soft and amazing.

So uhh, I don’t know how my legs ended up looking this tanned in the photo, haha. Very messy room though, am tidying out my wardrobe – dirty laundry on the floor, etc. Typical Amanda.

Aaaaand I’ve finally gotten my Laneway Festival Media Pass. Just smudged out my media outlet’s name until I have the photos and write up to link to.

This track – listen to it. I am so hooked it’s not funny. It’s a mash up of The Strokes’ “Hard To Explain” and Christina Aguilera’s “Genie In A Bottle”. Asides from being pure genius, they happen to be two of my fave tracks – “Hard To Explain” was the first Strokes song I ever heard, and they’ve been one of my favourite bands ever since, so there we have it.

Conversations from Wednesday and last night have really got me thinking about the chronology of my music tastes. I get really flustered whenever people ask me “what music to you like/listen to?”. Because I honestly listen to such a wide variety that I don’t even know where to begin to describe what my tastes are. I know it seems really superficial, but being the music freak that I am, I really do feel that these days, to a lot of people, what music someone is into makes a big enough difference on the impression they leave – akin to that of a first, visual impression. I can’t be bothered analysing my own musical etymology right now, but put it this way, within the two past weeks I have: gone crazy on a one-woman-dance-rampage over Ratatat + relived the nostalgia of my youth in the Deftones moshpit + creamed myself (awful expression, I know) over Rammstein’s set and pyrotechnics from the 2nd row at BDO + gone clubbing at places where “everyone goes” and they play supposedly the “most popular” tracks + had a blast to Tidball’s set at Cassette 9 + spent the rest of that evening listening to pop favourites from the past decade with friends (think Britney Spears, Blue, Christina Aguilera, Back Street Boys, Liberty X, Mis-Teeq sort of stuff)… not to mention, in the next two weeks I will see an array of bands at Laneway Festival that are more akin to recent music tastes + go to see Rusko + be at Sufjan Stevens’ concert in Wellington… I would also love to see Queens of the Stone Age again, but I can’t really bring myself to fish out $85 ish in my current state of unemployment.

Don’t even mention it – I’ve been looking and applying for jobs. And I know that I’m picky, because I want to keep whatever job I get as a part-time thing for the next two years, like I did with my last job – so I don’t want to hate whatever it is!

She’s always lookin’ at me

**Edit: It’s 3am in the morning and I’m not bothered to write a new entry, but the good news is I’ve changed the theme and I have a random image rotation on the head banner; so you can refresh to see almost 30 odd pictures! I may or may not delete/add some more later**

This is such an image-heavy post that I’m not even sure where to begin recalling my past week of events! But I’m counting on the theory of chronology to help me out here:

We left for Raglan on Tuesday, but I’d stayed up to some ridiculous hour on Monday night – well into the early morning – and it was raining all night, with general terrible weather. Thankfully the rain had cleared up a bit by Tuesday morning, and more so when we headed South-West towards Raglan, the first 3 photos are from the beach on the Tuesday:

Everything asides from the crap weather that returned on Wednesday, and my ever-worsening cold was great: the campsite was awesome and it was set up so you could park right next to your tent (instead of the sort with a separate carpark); we were lucky enough to get a spot right next to all the vital facilities like toilet, shower, bbq, etc. On the second day due to my cold and our lack of wetsuits, Charlotte and I opted to stay out of the choppy waves down at the surf beach, but my sister and her friend Caryn dived straight in with some rented boards that were $35 for 3.5 hours. We were all so tired from either surfing or going on an huuge walk down the beach (it’s a very, very long beach, we found out) that we all collapsed and went to sleep halfway through our poker game that night. I haven’t had the chance to get the photos off Charlotte’s camera yet, but she has the other half of photos, which include the huge sand dune that we decided to scale whilst the youngsters surfed. Soft sand is very, very difficult to climb – but the leaps down felt amazing!

The photo on the right is of the Bridal Veil Falls, which we visited on our drive back to Auckland. I believe the sign said it was a 55m drop – and evidently we didn’t feel like taking the half an hour walk down… and back uuuuup.

Upon arrival home, Liv and I cleaned all the sand out of our bags and flopped down on the couch for some much needed rest – I shot the Peaches gig that night too, except I haven’t yet had a chance to sort those photos yet.

The very next day I awoke to my paranoia of forgetting something important as I was leaving to attend Auckland’s Big Day Out. Usually I would’ve packed light – sunnies, money, ticket and phone in pocket, but this year I was photographing for Cheese On Toast (who had offered and gotten me my first fancy-looking media pass that had my name pre-printed and all!). Here are some shots of acts that I’m sure most people will recognise, the rest are up at CoT! (Hopefully I’ll put some up soon as well… although such publication is a bit iffy…)

To be honest, I’d always thought Muse was good, but I had been quite indifferent and definitely didn’t constitute myself as a fan. But that changed after photographing them – I was completely blown away. It was just so EPIC, intense and insane.

Ironically, this is my favourite Muse photo:

Lily Allen:

Sophia Burns of The Veils – she’s stunning, it was a mission to get her face though, with the shoe-gazing bassing stance:

Ladyhawke & what I found beyond the media room beneath the stadium stands – the stadium changing rooms had been converted to the bag check area, and all the rooms and bathroom walls were lined with numbers and bags against the wall in numerical number; here’s a photo of the main corridor:


Joshua Third from The Horrors – once again, trying to get his face was such a mission, but I eventually got quite a few, here’s two I like of him:

At the end of the night my sister got a shot of me in my bright orange photo vest. I never wore it apart from when I was in the pit because the fabric was quite rough, and plus it got pretty hot. Although, the one time I’d left it on whilst trying to find my wallet in the shade, soooooo many people stopped to ask me for directions for things… obviously they couldn’t read the “PHOTO 19” on the back of my vest and assumed I was an event guide – who were in florescent yellow vests scattered throughout the stadium. There were so many of them I couldn’t figure out why anyone ever thought to tap on the shoulder of the girl who was evidently having trouble juggling 2 heavy cameras with 3 lenses digging in her bag! Following that, I had to work both days of the weekend and my shoulders were completely rubbed, raw and soooo sore. But it was definitely quite an experience – front row punters were all jealous, and they all had some misconception that I want to take a photo of everyone of them… haha.

Completely irrelevantly, today my mother bought me a belated graduation gift. It’s a turquoise Thomas Sabo bracelet, and thoroughly appropriate for the occasion, as we were barely just discussing how she hadn’t quite yet found something I could keep close to me all the time. When I spotted the bracelet it immediately reminded me of mum because she has a custom silver cuff with the same stone embedded in the centre of it from Japan when she was about my age – and I’ve been borrowing it for about the past six months. Ahh I’m so in love with this, it adds some sparkle to my silver and monotone jewellery, yay!