arms around a vision

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Dublin/Howth: early September; taken on Ilford HP5 Plus 400 B/W film with a Nikon F3.

More photos can be found at

It was like Christmas had come early when I finally got just under twenty rolls of films developed and scanned last weekend (yes, I still love canned baked beans for dinner).

These photos show the beginning of some really important friendships, and a day spent compromising. I’m terrible in groups. I hate slow-walking and indecisive democracies where everyone is too polite to say and do what they really want. It was early September.

Fast forward a month to Saturday 3rd October.

Around this time I was thrashing Girls Names, Cheatahs, Grooms and Protomartyr’s new album.

I’d dragged some friends with me to Whelans for the Girls Names’ album release gig. It was a pleasant surprise that I’d found a Swedish, French and Austrian girl who all digged the band (and generally “shit Amanda listens to”) enough to fork out for the price of tickets and the copious pints of beer we plied ourselves with. Then I made myself more convivial.

The gig was great, obviously. That’s such a pointless, throwaway statement that seems important to make, yet in saying so, really undermines the point it’s making.

The thrill and buzz of it ended as quickly and concurrently as the short-lived fling I had.

In a press release for their Arms Around a Vision album, Girls Names’ frontman Cathal Cully wrote, “I’m not starving or anything, but I’ve practically been living hand to mouth since I was 22. Most guitar music now is just a playground for the rich middle classes, and it’s really boring and elitist. We’re elitist in our own way, in that we’re on our own and you can’t fuck with us when we’ve nothing to lose.”

That last bit really stuck with me. I’d read that before coming across this interview in which he elaborated on his thoughts and notions around being a “hunger artist”. Sometimes I think I belong in the clump of boring, elitist middle class that he spoke of. And then I think it’s all relative.

I wonder if it comes down to having something to lose, and what that something is. What I have to lose is very different from the next person’s. What I have to lose is… I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

For one, the privacy of no one else quite knowing, and me not enumerating to myself the things I have to lose. But I think I am slowly chipping away at it. Hopefully I’ll reach a point where I can say, what do I have to lose?! with the same badassness and je ne sais quoi that matches my habit of wearing triple leather this European winter.

I have too many ideas that converge and diverge floating around my head right now. I really need to find a vision to wholly throw my arms around. I can’t be the only one.

Another tease will come along with everything I don’t want






Richard Wilson’s 20:50 at the Saatchi Gallery is my favourite room in London.














London: all taken on Kodak UltraMax 400 film with a Nikon F3.

Tomorrow, I’ll have lived in Dublin for three whole weeks. Not including any holidays I leave the country for, I’ll be in Ireland for 110 days; all up, 155 days away from New Zealand.

Until this year, I have never travelled so much in such a short span of time before. It’s been a jam-packed tumultuous ride. And even though it’s not for very long, I’m glad that I finally have four walls to call  “my room”.

I arrived in London on August 12th, ditched my suitcase, and spent the next three weeks hopping around on a bit of an odd itinerary. Along the way I picked up a cold, which turned into a traveler’s cough through a shitton of second-hand smoke at a music festival, then developed into bronchitis by the time I arrived in Dublin. I caught up with old friends and made new ones. I saw my favourite metal band from ten years ago, and have a newfound obsession with Jamie xx’s In Colour. (I’m digging his new-and-improved live set — so far, no one else has made me dance like that before.)

It’s strange and scary how easily we can make a new place “home” for a while. I had only been to London for a couple of weeks earlier this year, but the city felt so strangely familiar. During my five short days in London, I had developed little routines and habits already. It was sobering to realise that I didn’t hesitate between the train and tube at Liverpool Street station, when all the tourists around me were flipping out their maps and apps, standing in the way. After flitting around Europe, London and my mate’s flat had felt like “home”. And indeed, it will very likely become “home” for a while, probably in the next handful of years or so. It’s just such a strange feeling, to have made “homes” out of so many eclectic places, in such a short space of time.

At the moment it feels like I’m the only exchange student intending on “doing uni”. I have to write my honours dissertation whilst I’m here, and I’d like to do better than barely scrape a pass in my courses. I’m trying to get involved in campus life like I never have before, and I’ve thrown myself into uncomfortable situations that I never would have back home (where is home?!). So far, that has manifested in the form of reading pretty out-there poetry to a group of people at a Lit Soc event, and I also plan on trying out camogie later this week. I had a lengthy and rather intimate chat with a gallery owner whilst perusing art galleries alone, and even befriended a sort-of-lost American on the street, who then bought me a beer.

I have too many rolls of undeveloped film and a backlog of research to tend to. I’m feeling excited but exhausted, displaced and distracted, and utterly, thoroughly alive — yet surreal. This playlist is called “september”, but I’ve had some of these songs on repeat since late-July. It doesn’t encompass the hip hop and dancier aspects of the past month or so, but is otherwise fairly representative of my headspace. I need to learn to be happy and content in little, small ways, without being crippled by the fear of stagnation and complacency. Here’s to trying to keep on trying things.

if this is the life, why does it feel so good to die today? blue to gray, grow up and blow away

Labour Weekend is supposed to be a weekend spent relaxing outdoors in the sun — especially since the weather has been amazing all weekend. Or at least studying for my law exams. But nope, I’ve done neither. Instead, I’ve been mucking around and practising for my recital, and then more mucking around.

I’m really freaking out but that’s boring to talk about. So, serious stuff aside, what the hell do I wear to my own recital?! I know that sounds like a really shallow and superficial “dilemma” to have, but it’s not as straightforward as it sounds, when you’re a bass player. Plus, no one wants to hear about how I am wanting to kill myself for having picked a(n awesome) tune which has three different time signatures (3, 4 and 7).

I can’t even look to the other girls at jazz school to see what to wear because they’re all either singers or pianists, so the level of movement that I require is completely different to theirs. Bass-playing is pretty physically engaging and stage lights elevate sweating to a whole new level. I have a really nice silk blouse that I would love to wear, but the long-sleeves mean that it’s absolutely out of the question. I also don’t have any pants that aren’t jeans or sportswear, so that’s also ruled out.

What about footwear?! My patent black leather shoes now have gaping holes at the front so that each shoe has its own “mouth”. And the last thing I want to feel besides nerves and sweaty palms would be pain in my feet, so definitely no heels. Plus I’m not a singer and it’s jazz school, not the classical department, so heels aren’t unspokenly-mandatory.

This sounds silly but I went as far as to put on the outfit I thought would be most comfortable and appropriate, only to discover that anything and everything feels uncomfortable when practising with the knowledge that your recital is less than 48 hours away. I’m getting all picky and indecisive about this because I really don’t like the idea of wearing something that doesn’t feel “me” — especially when I’ve gone out on a bit of a limb with some of my tune choices and arrangements. Everything is all quite Amanda-ish and with music it’s all about how you feel and interact in the moment, so how I feel in my damn clothes are important!

Urgh, break time is over. I’ve got to go finish these charts so they will be hot off the press for rehearsal tomorrow morning.

P.S. Metric announced a show for Auckland in December. I wished it was a few days later so that my sister could go with me. I don’t know anyone else that really likes them and at $60 a pop, it’s not the sort of thing you can ask someone to “just come along”. The boyfriend swore he’d never heard them and asked how I could “love them so much” if I hadn’t listened to them in years. I pointed out that he had heard them (although, yes, hearing is different from listening) but always asked me to skip the tracks when they came on in my driving playlist, soooo yeahhh. I was thinking today that besides Emily Haines’ voice and the occasional line of lyrics I wished I’d written, I can’t actually explain why I like Metric. I think they just hold a high sentimental value for me. If they’d toured here in 2007 I would probably be happy to throw down even more hard-earned cash for their show.

it’s so hazy while you’re breathing

Over the past, seven to ten days, I’ve somehow managed to clock 639 (and counting) plays of Beach Fossils’ new album Clash the Truth on my This isn’t even counting the plays I’ve had on my ipod! Just a classic example of how I obsessively repeat albums, especially when I begin working along to it, I often feel like I need the same persistent playlist to keep going. Last week I was writing my contract law opinion. I’ve got a public law one due next week… but it may be best to obsess over whatever solo I pick as my transcription, as that is due on the same day. Urgh. I’m having a ridiculously hectic time trying to stay on top of having one if not two assessment/test/law opinion/moot-things every single week of August. On the bright side, the boy and I have bought tickets to Beach Fossils and we’ve been having some pretty good Friday nights lately.

Also my hockey team has made it to the Top 4 playoffs for Division 1 and I’m stoked. I finally scored two goals on the weekend, after a long spell of hitting the post or just having shots fly off-target. The other update I have is that this will be the third time my photographs are being shown in an exhibition in Taiwan. This time it will be across three cities instead of just in Taipei. Once I get everything confirmed and sorted, I’ll post a link to my photos!


Now, they’re scared of where their daughter’s been, ’cause who knows, she could be alone with men

Taken on Ilford HP5 Plus 400 B/W film; Nikon F3.

I’m supposed to be moving out of home in a week’s time and I haven’t packed a single thing. My room is a wreck but I keep telling myself that there’s no point in tidying since I will be leaving soon anyway. I think the main thing I need to do is throw things out, rather than pack it all. Because who really needs shoe boxes full of clothing tags when they have boxes worth of postcards? Clearly, I “collect” too many things. The amount of books and clothes I have will be a mission to sort through, let alone everything else. That’s the mystery with me — because I can happily live out of a suitcase for weeks and not miss anything, yet when I’m back home, I can’t seem to let anything go.

I’m also starting to get terribly nostalgic about everything, thinking like, this will be the last weekend I sleep in this room and other pointless, torturous thoughts. I’m just too sentimental. And yet, I don’t think I would care half this much, if I was moving far, far away to the other side of the world. I’m only moving twenty kilometres away, it’s really not a huge deal. Plus I’ll probably be home for dinner at least once a week since I am still tutoring around here, and hockey is five minutes away. I just don’t know how my sister ever coped with leaving the cat!

Case in point — I found him sleeping on my double bass yesterday afternoon. Just too adorable:

Also, I’m pleasantly surprised at how much The Strokes’ new album is growing on me. For some unspecified reason, my favourite track so far is “Slow Animals” (below). I’d almost forgotten about their ridiculous 5-album-contract until I read this the other day. It’s an interesting analysis of what’s happening there, but I don’t know… maybe when it comes to bands from the early noughties, I really don’t like to over-analyse. I’d prefer to hang onto that feeling I had from ten years ago when I first started blogging, first really fell for music of my own accord, and was far too young to register half the lyrical content of  bands like The Strokes, Bloc Party, and of course the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. As much as I have to acknowledge that great things happen in Auckland and New Zealand, I can’t help but constantly feel that we’re so far off from being at the epicentre of anything. Maybe that’s why I wouldn’t care that much for all my stuff if I were moving far, far away.

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