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.

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:

in uncertain times I wanna go where my thoughts can take a nap, and if the atom bomb should end us both, I’ll be happy to go to the stars with you

It’s weird being back in real-life for just under a week now, after traipsing up the West Coast from LA up to San Francisco and Seattle, then back down to Malibu to attend my sister’s graduation. I shot purely on film and didn’t even have a digital camera with me, so it will be a while before I start to slowly get my films processed — but hopefully it will be like wine and age into maturity, best to be shared around.

Below are a few of my photos photos from the last batch of film I got back. I was super flattered when Reatha at Film Soup decided to feature these shots as part of her “Scanning of the Week”, you can check out her post here.

All taken on Kodak UltraMax 400 at Hard to Find Bookstore in Onehunga:

It’s funny how these photos captured a golden afternoon in all its glory and nothing else. We’d gone to one of our favourite places, I’d tripped on a book going up the stairs (that place is brimming with books to the point of dangerousness), which led me to almost falling down the stairs, I couldn’t find the book I’d hoped to find, and then was struck with a strange curiosity and moral dilemma when I found a handful of old photos tucked into a book. That sentence is a rambling mouthful to read, but so was that day. It all screeched to a halt when my car remote ran out of battery and I couldn’t deactivate my immoboliser to start the car and didn’t want to ruin his birthday dinner plans. What a mess. And yet the photos show none of this but merely the fleeting split seconds that I had decided to click the shutter, or left it on a timer to put myself in a photograph. I think that’s what I enjoy most about the photos that I take. I’d like to think that they’re very honest and documentary-styled, since I don’t “set-up photoshoots” and stuff — yet I hope they’re kind of fleeting and in media res, maybe making it a little dreamy, that you feel like they might be lying.

Ironically, since I’ve arrived back from America, my little yellow car has finally had its last legs with me, and I feel like my adolescence has really died along with it. All the music that was blast, the excited, cramped, drunken passengers, the driveways and carparks and drive-thrus that car has seen me taxi people in. It’s yet another thing sentiment I just have to put down and let go.

I’m also really struggling with living in the moment right now — I’m looking backwards, at easier days, at happier times, or looking forwards, looking forward to things in the future. There’s a roast dinner to celebrate a friend’s engagement on Thursday evening, or the potential of a job offer, also that day. There’s a comedy act I agreed to go to on Friday, there’s my two hockey games, and maybe getting some music recorded or something, and hopefully cramming in one last surf before my wetsuit becomes too useless for the winter. There’s the further stuff, the promise of the summer holidays, whether I’m working or not, I won’t have to study for a couple of months. I might actually spend all my summer wages on a trip back to my favourite city. Or do something else. Regardless, I keep looking away from the right now and avoiding being in my head. I know that’s how people cope with stress and pain and difficulty (and apparently how Generation Y just likes to live on their smartphones, period), but I know I need to be more present, especially if I want to get my academic shit together. I honestly feel like I would be a straight straight A student if I was getting paid to study, rather than accruing debt to do so. But I’m sure everyone else feels the same. So it’s back to playing catch up on law readings and trying to compose so I can finish my LAST EVER music paper and get one degree finished. Here I go again with the looking-forward-too-much thing. To be honest I’m actually fucking terrified of finishing my music degree.

but you ain’t going nowhere, why you procrastinate girl

Taken at MoMA, New York City.

This is it — there are 12 days before my recital and 19 days before my first law exam. And then, perhaps by November 13th I will be able to con myself into relaxing and not constantly refreshing the “exam results” page.

I’ve been quite sick this week (had a fever on Monday night which carried into Tuesday) and I’m going to attempt my first full-day at uni tomorrow, but it will be Friday already. Words can’t even begin to describe how stressed out I am. I know I signed up for this workload so I’ve got to see it through, but my god — how did I ever think my mind and body are supposed to come of this intact?! I’m 99.999% sure that what I’m doing is unprecedented as I’m taking the maximum law workload along with probably the most important paper in my entire jazz degree (since it includes my recital).

Anyway, to brighten my hopes a little, here is a list of things that I look forward to doing in the fortnight right after it’s all over. In no particular order:

  1. Reading. I can’t wait to read. And read. And read. Recreationally. Without guilt as to what else Ishould be reading instead (i.e. law cases and textbooks). I will read in bed, on couches, in the sun, in the breeze, outside, inside, all night long until dawn — I will read!
  2. Play hockey. I’ve been skipping summer hockey games because I need to attend other people’s recitals, or be studying or practising. I can’t wait to show up to a summer hockey game not exhausted from my long day, and get to stay late after the game drinking beers with my team. I’ll probably throw in “go to the gym” and general “exercise” here too. They don’t really warrant new points.
  3. Writing. I have so many ideas that right now merely exist in some abbreviated, bullet-pointed form all over the place — in my phone, notebook, scattered on post-it notes, etc. I can already feel that I will be turning night and day around like I do every summer — reading and writing until dawn, then collapsing when the birds start chirping. It’s going to be amazing.
  4. Drinking beer. That’s right, drinking beer gets its own bullet point here. I fucking love beer and I can’t wait to grab a box of cold beer and be popping them open in the sun, at barbecues, whilst cooking dinner. My god… nothing beats the feeling of a cold, cold beer on a hot spring/summer’s day. I’ll be scouring for sales of all the yummy, hopsy beers, mmm.
  5. Beach. I don’t really care what kind of day at the beach it is at the moment, I just want to go to the beach. Be it to read a book, write some stuff, walk around, eat an ice block, drink a beer, read some more, tan, tan, tan, maybe even swim if it’s warm enough…
  6. Spend all day with my cat. Self-explanatory.
  7. Go to the art gallery again.
  8. Take a shitton of photos. I need to get my camera fixed ASAP.
  9. Remember that I love playing music and keep doing it. It’s not actually as much of a chore as I keep telling myself it feels like.
  10. Listen to music all day and all night long.
  11. Hang out with my friends and catch up with people.
  12. This doesn’t fit within the “fortnight” criteria but oh my god I cannot wait until my sister is home in December. It will have been over a year since I last saw her by then.
  13. Do other, spontaneous, miscellaneous, unexpected, stupid stuff. (Like suddenly leave without notice, maybe?)

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.

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