these days are scraped from ceilings

It was so nice to read the handful of comments/emails that I got in the last post — and really lovely to know that I provoked some thought with regards to goals and bucket lists. I guess those things can get stagnant and we all need new perspectives to formulate motivations sometimes. Something that I am lacking right now. I really shouldn’t be blogging right now, but I enjoy it so much more than writing the essays which I have due in next to no time, ahhh!

I had spent the virtually the entire weekend camped out in the boy’s room, bashing my head with books, trying to come up with these essays in time. But all I want to do is gush gush gush because – GUESS WHO’S GOING TO SEE THE YEAH YEAH YEAHS TWICE?! And I am not joking when I say that I have been jumping, dancing, leaping around the room singing them at the top of my lungs. Driving to them. Writing, eating, loving, procrastinating, prancing around to them. You have NO IDEA how over the moon/giddy/happy/ecstatic/crazy/hyper I am about this. The boy and I decided “oh why not” when they announced their only Big Day Out side show in Sydney. So we’ve decided to fly to Sydney, then train down to Melbourne for BDO and Laneway. That’s the rough plan, at least. Nothing’s been planned nor booked except the concert tickets at this stage, but we are 100% committed to going.

Can I just say it again?! I AM GOING TO SEE THE YEAH YEAH YEAHS TWICE!!! And Animal Collective! We are seeing them in Auckland before we leave for Sydney. Essentially, we are seeing the boy’s favourite band, and my favourite band – twice. It is going to be the absolute best week of my life I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I will see the band that I’ve been listening to for half my life – twice in ONE WEEK. And if you think about it, half my life is a decade! Ten years! I remember being eleven and discovering “Miles Away”, then thinking I was so badass for getting away with listening to “Bang”. The rest is history. When I’m done with all these bloody assignments (and probably exams too), I will have to do a comprehensive post about my love for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. As if it wasn’t obvious enough already…

In the meantime, I had finally finished up a really old roll of film on my point-and-shoot and gotten it developed. It’s got lots of other good times on there that I’m going to spread out posting because I sure as hell do not get to party again any time soon. Apart from perhaps a sneaky few hours at hockey prizegiving this Saturday… So in memory of times much more carefree and deeper sleeps – all taken on Kodak UltraMax 400 film:

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.

Saturdays = Youth (but now means exams)

Turning 21; staying-up-until-the-next-day for days on end to complete a painfully difficult assignment; throwing a highly-anticipated and very enjoyable birthday party; now studying for my first ever round of exams in the three years I’ve been at university… just what happens when one has been solely a performance student for two years solid, I suppose. So many exciting, whack and wonderful updates I wish I had time to write about right now, but kicking academic butt takes precedent right now. My brain has made an impressive comeback so hopefully it won’t let me down!

All the epiphanies, rolls of film, party-times and general awesomeness will appear here in just over twelve days’ time. Promise. For now, from Saturday night, where my guests were subjected to 10+ speeches which lasted virtually an hour on the dot. Luckily, the consensus is that they were pretty interesting so people did not die of boredom. I forgot my Nikon F3 with my trusty roll of b/w film in it, but luckily still had a film point and shoot on hand (blessing in disguise, perhaps! So I wasn’t preoccupied with photographing the whole night, even though I took a fair few anyway). Happiness, captured on Kodak UltraMax 400:

it’s been at least another year, and I still haven’t got the chance to say

Disappearing from my blog because, oh you know, real life is so much more… I simply have far too many adjectives to insert here that I’d better just quit while I’m ahead. I’ve had an absolutely splendid first three-quarters of this two-week “study break” (aka two weeks off in the middle of a 12-week semester in order to catch up on what I like to call the 3 S’s – anyone want to stab a guess at what they are?) but now it’s all downhill from here since I’m having to face three assignments that I’ve conveniently avoided until now. The main thing that I’ve spent the past few days on has been hand-making and writing out almost fifty invitations for my 21st birthday party. Although turning 21 isn’t all that “special” in terms of what you get to do here in NZ since the drinking age has been at 18 for quite a few years now, it is still considered a milestone birthday where people tend to throw big parties that involve speeches. So, being the super-sentimental person that I am, of course that’s exactly what I’m doing, except that planning it has proven to be rather time and energy-consuming.

I’m not sure if it’s craziness or just my refusal to let facebook take over the my world, but I didn’t want my birthday invitation to just be a mass message put on the internet where people are bombarded by events everyday, and nothing ever feels personal anymore. On top of that, I want to make my birthday nice in the underrated and undervalued sense of the word, and for it to not become just another blur in everyone’s memories of this years’ batch of 21st birthday parties. Because by the time you’ve been to three or four weekends of 21st birthday parties in a row… unfortunately they do begin to blur. So in typical Amanda fashion of all-or-nothing, I made them all myself, only employing mum’s help for some advice, and asking her to ship the cards into the next room for me because I ran out of floor space! I’ve still got the majority of them sitting behind me on my bed though… need to deliver them all ASAP!

Here’s some pictures of the lengthy process. Luckily the only purchase I had to make in contribution to these invitations were ribbons, since mum magically has all the art supplies I needed! I made them by cutting up large watercolour paper into quarters. Painted. Textured. Folded with two ribbons tied on and hand drew a double bass design that I had made into a stencil. Then I wrote, signed and sealed them in wax.

This whole process of planning and inviting people to my 21st has also inspired me to catch up with a lot of old friends that I’ve not had the chance to see in far too long. It’s definitely been a colourful couple of weeks, and on Saturday I had a mini-drinks thing at Daniel’s house where Cara fed us all too much cheese and salami. Definitely not a complaint though! And despite the assignment deadlines, the boy and I have made some lovely plans for the next couple of days/nights; and tomorrow night dad is uploading to dropbox my film scans for the b/w rolls he’s gotten developed in Taiwan for me, so I can’t wait to see those either!

feel it come from nowhere, taking over me. feel it come from nowhere, tell me why, tell me why

I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad about it finally being Thursday. It’s not exactly a day of the week that people generally look forward to. Nevertheless, today I’ve been able to sleep, read, eat – whatever I wanted, virtually whenever I wanted. This is a stark contrast to the previous three days, during which I’ve had three tests, two assignments and a recital. The two written tests were both yesterday, which kinda sucked – by the end of my evening test, my arm, hand and fingers were cramping out from the sheer amount of writing I’d had to cram into such a short time. Eleven pages in an hour? Not bad. Let’s hope my mark turns out to be better than “not bad” though.

Anyone who knows me well at all would know that I’m not one for sustained effort. I tend to “not really care” about my grades, and my results always seem to be in inverse proportion to how much I tried or pretended to have studied. I’d like to think that it shows what I’m naturally good at. But heck. So this week, and this year altogether has been a weird change for me. My grades are important now, and I’ve discovered what it’s like to actually study for a test. And they will continue to be important and pivotal towards what I would like to pursue after my two degrees are fiiinally completed. That’s a scary thought. The idea that whether I study longer and sleep less or study less and sleep more could indirectly change the direction of my life’s path freaks me out. I know that’s oversimplifying it, but you can’t help but wonder – was the three hours’ extra study the night before a test/exam worth the three hours’ less sleep?

Also, here are some film photos from my friend Christine’s 21st birthday party. It was all the way back in December, the night before I left for my trip, but I’ve finally gotten around to putting them up now. It’s just so lovely, how happy she looks. It makes me smile just to remember how delighted she was with the speeches and how the night went. All taken on Kodak UltraMax 400 colour film with a Nikon F3:

Which brings me to the troubling issue of having to organise my own 21st birthday party. Which is less than two months away! Crap, I had better get those invitations and decorations sorted… ideas anyone?