Poems/lyrics that I have written.

to live like common people, I never think I’ll do

The list of ever-looming deadlines I have are looking gloomier by the day. It’s amazing how many things I find myself doing instead of writings essays and doing my jazz research dissertation. It’s not that I’m “wasting time” per se, when I procrastinate, I am genuinely doing and reading things I find interesting – they just aren’t the things that I must do. Right now. I was saying to a friend yesterday that “assignments are like screaming children. You like to hope they’ll go away if you just leave them, but you know they MUST be dealt with”. When I shared this analogy with the boy, he added something that I think is pure gold: “and like your children, everyone is totally disinterested in hearing you talk about them”. Touche.

The Raveonette’s new album, Observator, is now streaming here (aka it has leaked anyway), and will be officially released in a handful of days. I urge anyone who has ever enjoyed my playlists or music I’ve posted to go and check them out. Reading Sune Rose Wagner’s backstory of how the album was conceived (you can find it here) has given me a deeper perspective on the album as a whole. I know that some people don’t like to find out what songs and albums are about or were inspired by, because they feel it “taints” their interpretations of it; but having already repeated the album to death last night, I definitely wasn’t at any risk of having my initial experience influenced. It’s fantastic. Really fantastic. It’s what I love them for – sincerity, noisy guitar, what some have labelled a “dream pop” sound, and relatable lyrics. Also, for this album they’ve brought in the piano on a couple of songs which really gives songs like “Observations” a deeper, sombre timbre.

Here are a couple of photos taken a couple of months ago. Anyone who knows me knows that, whilst I love wielding the camera, I rarely volunteer to be in photographs. Even less frequent is the event of me handing my own camera over – so this shows just what a good night I was having. Both taken on Kodak UltraMax 400 film:

When I bent down to pick up my pointe shoes off the floor to hang them up last night, a string of thoughts were triggered and the idea hasn’t left me since. Even though I haven’t done ballet for five or six years now, I leave my pointe shoes hanging on my bedroom door. On that same hook are a couple of really pretty dresses that I just like seeing. It’s an aesthetic thing. But also, I realised last night that I can’t put those shoes away and let them fall into dusty obscurity because I absolutely loved ballet and it was a part of half my life – which is a  decade! Even though at the time I probably came across like I hated it (it was hard work and painful and time-consuming and full of pressures and I had an old teacher that just went nag, nag, nag), I still loved it. I’m not into the more classical stuff, like if I have to ever hear music from the Nutcracker again I will snap, nor could I sit through something like Cinderella, but I love the more contemporary styles. Earlier this year mum and I went to see the Royal NZ Ballet’s performance of “NYC: Three Short Ballets From the Big Apple” and it was one of the best nights I’ve had all year. To drift back on topic – it’s scary how things can be such a big part of your life and suddenly it’s just gone. Whether by choice or not. And no matter how you felt about it at the time or afterwards, you will never be the same person again, because everything that we do in our lives shapes us in some way. Skills we learnt and a practised and polished may be deserted and given up on – but to some level we are a changed person, and we retain those skills and knowledge to some degree.

I was feeling rather down about myself last night, thinking about ballet and all the things I can’t do with my body anymore. Even more poignant were these feelings, since I had a physio appointment yesterday, because I am aching all over as we’ve taken on extra hockey trainings in preparation for this Saturday’s semi-final. But then I thought, hang on, yes there are many things I can’t do anymore, or at least not as well as I used to be able to, but because of all those years of hard work towards different directions and different goals, the me today can probably do a lot of things that normal people can’t do. I really need to make a proper list of things I can do, have done, and then all the things I’ve yet to accomplish, but really want to. The mere idea of compiling this list is daunting though. There’s definitely a reason why, unlike many blogs I read, I don’t have a “Bucket List” or a “101 in 1001” list. I don’t like setting concrete goals because I don’t like failing. My excuse is often, I’ll want different things at different times, and therefore it’s pointless setting myself up for feeling like a failure if I take things off the list because I can’t or don’t want to do them anymore. So after all this, I’m not sure if I will make a list or not. But I’ll definitely make a list of things I’ve managed to do already. Like a reverse-motivation thing: if I have already done this, then surely I can do that too.


you were made for life, you’re lost to the world, very transparent, very selfish, beautiful powerful careless women – watch it

There are currently two great mysteries which I would like to solve right this minute. Well, actually there are three, but one is far too blush-inflicting to ever mention publicly. Although I should stop right now and warn you that to be honest they aren’t “great mysteries” by any stretch of the imagination, but are just things that have been pinching at my nerves with great pressure…

If you have scrolled through this blog at all or even glanced at the sidebar, you can see that I’m very much into photography. Having said that, it seems that I tend to fail rather miserably in front of the camera (except when it is I who has taken the photo) and most especially when I’m the only person in a photo. This leads me to Life’s-Great-Mystery-Right-This-Very-Instant #1 – why is it that I look horrible even in photos taken by my own mother, who is a professional photographer that specialised in portraiture and children’s photography, no less? I’m not going to post any examples, because it’s too cringe worthy and I can’t bear to splash unflattering photos of myself on the internet when enough people have done so already… but the question remains, why?! My mum has said herself, that even she can’t figure out why, and that I make her feel incompetent! For some reason unbeknownst to us, I tend to just seize up and hate being in front of the camera, especially when she’s behind it. I really don’t know why. She thinks its ironic that she used to make a killing living by making ugly people look pretty, but cannot seem to make me look… anywhere near normal or how I usually look, let alone look good. I just look astoundingly dreadful in her photos. To contrast this, here’s a random picture I took of myself in a public bathroom. That sounds like an idiotic thing to do, yes, I don’t deny that, but let me rephrase – it was the bathroom at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, and I was waiting for someone else to finish up, you see. Anyway, the point is, I look absolutely normal there, as I would usually look, if you were to run into me on any given day (except when I’m in a bad mood). So therein lies the great mystery – why do I look nice in thoughtless photos taken in bathrooms of famous places, and instead look awful in pictures taken by other people, even a professional with whom I live and am very close to?


Just some more photos from Grauman’s Chinese Theater (I thought I’d spell it the way it’s spelt over there…) which I never got around to posting.

As for Life’s-Great-Mystery-Right-This-Very-Instant #2, I am very curious to know whether I am the only person who thinks like this or does this: does anyone else ever think of painful things that are touchy subjects or just things in general that bring you great pain from the past, even though you’re “over it”… and rather, does anyone else do this in almost like a scab-picking way wherein you test the waters a bit, and the first time the thin new skin peels off and it hurts like hell again, but the next time it heals back slightly better and it hurts less, and you repeat this cycle until it’s almost like you’ve desensitised yourself to these great painful memories from the past? I keep doing it, I can’t fucking help it. I have been feeling increasingly better and calmer about things in the past that just a month or two ago would have outright upset me to the point of tears instantly, but I just still don’t feel completely healed. It’s even worse when I feel like there are things that I would have had control over, if only I had known I could reach certain people at all. I guess that’s why I just keep playing the blame game in my head, even though I know it’s pointless, and this is the happiest I have been for a long, loooong time.

On (the fear of) old diaries and notebooks:

Try me, now
Is it safe yet?
Those wounds you shared
Is it safe yet?

Open it, now
Has it been long enough?
Those fires you snuffed
Has it been long enough?

Right/write it, now
Is what you said still true?
Those deepest scars of you
Is what you said still true?

And good lord, please, the All Blacks must destroy Japan in their match tomorrow, or the country will be outraged, especially with the “not risking top players with minor injuries” going on at the moment…

Oh, say say say – “Wait, they don’t love you like i love you”

Words that I would absolutely die if I heard, yet feel like I will definitely die if I don’t. The lacklustre blogging is because uni and life have had a hold on me this past week, and with the entire family back together again, life will surely preoccupy me for the next week to come also. Dad’s back for the week as of earlier this evening. Picked him up from the airport and then took him out to dinner. Brought the boy with me, and so the “big two” men of my life met. Scarily so.

Taken on Ilford HP5 Plus 400 B/W film; Nikon F3. A photo I had used in the exhibition.

Call me sentimental, but honestly, I’m only blogging in the middle of the night because I wanted to post this playlist. It’s important to me. Close to heart. Far too dear. I would cry to every song if left alone on my own with this playlist… or even if I wasn’t alone. The amount of times I have. Over the person this playlist represents.

For the two years apart, six months together and an infinite more. Six songs for the past and one for the very endearing right now:

1. Bluish – Animal Collective
First night, first band he introduced me to. From one of the best albums of that year (2009), a very fitting song with very fitting lyrics.

2. Roads – Portishead
From an unforgettable night with this unforgettable album. I also wrote about “Mysterons” from Portishead’s album, Dummy, here. Everything about this so is just so subtle, so powerful… just so.

3. Ion Square – Bloc Party
“The perfect modern love song” – We dissected this song’s lyrics to smithereens, and who could blame us? The words are just so beautifully, powerfully written and described how we were for such a short while. A short while that has frozen itself for eternity in my memory. In an otherwise-forgotten song from an otherwise-dismissed album, we found Kele’s words which I wish were mine. Lyrics can be found here at their band website.

4. Y Control – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
From one of my all-time favourite albums, by one of my timelessly favourite bands. An unbearable reminder. Also the name of the epically long playlist I made last year which prompted me to start writing again.

5. Blush – The Raveonettes
I told him to listen to this song because I loved it. I told him I loved this song because I love the band. I knew he would listen to this song because I said so. And this song said everything I couldn’t. The most honest juxtaposition made with noisy, noisy guitar and such soft, realistic lyrics.

6. In Particular – Blonde Redhead
On repeat in his room, after two very mind-sucking(ly good, one of them was) movies. Then live at Laneway festival precisely six months ago, today. This band proves that former jazz students can write and play other genres too. And very well at that.

7. Overcome – Tricky
All the nights spent sleeping to this song on a previous playlist… for the times spent reading in his bed, to time spent “dancing” to this song. It’s a bloody good album opener, I’ll say that much. And very sexy too.

Seven months ago I was the commitment-phobe that found peace and company by means of globe-trotting. Now I’d still like to keep doing so… just perhaps not so alone. It’s scary, I’m a completely different person now than I was one, two, three, six months ago.

So maybe the point is that nowadays, I plan for tomorrow morning, tomorrow evening… I think about the upcoming “next week”s, I plot a while ahead. I can finally see that “ahead” even exists at all. That I don’t have to be like everything I’ve been taught through nurture (torture), and that some people don’t give up on me just because I pretend I want them to.

” And I am certain that I love you, more than I am certain that I like myself. “

So hold me, you know this wasn’t planned. Hold me close, you’ll hold

Class today was a bit of a joke. I had a clash so got moved into a different combo, which meant that I now only have 1.5hrs of class on Tuesdays. On all the students’ timetables online, it said that our Composition & Arranging class was at 1pm-2.30pm, but according to the teachers’ version of the timetables, class is set for 12pm-1.30pm. I only found out by accident yesterday, whilst trying to sort out the clash with the HOD and the teacher in charge of combo placements; so I ended up txting Oli, the teacher for this paper, to confirm that it was indeed at noon. In the end, only five people (myself included) showed up for class on time, so Oli decided to call it lunch time and to start class at 1pm when everyone else showed up.

Turns out, Student Services Online and the music school admin is more useless than we thought, and they had mucked up the times of the class before and after ours as well! And this is for classes of 3rd years, 2nd years and honours students, all for just one room! Ridiculous.

I ended up going over to Albert Park on the other side of campus to have lunch with the boy since the weather was so lovely outside. Lovely, but freezing. I happened to have everything the boy wanted for lunch so I shared and took a couple of quick snaps before anyone spotted me being touristy. Basically, going anywhere else on/near campus is a novelty for me, since I virtually never venture out of the KMC.

Seeing this fountain today made me think of The Fountainhead. My sister is a fair way through it now, and I read her a chapter earlier tonight as she curled up in bed.

My box of fuit and salami & cheese sandwiches. I bought that Marcs skirt along with the cardigan I was on about yesterday. It’s nice to own and wear a bit of c0lour… I constantly look fit for a funeral, otherwise.

 I was going to post a couple of nice songs but decided against it… I think I’ll post a full playlist along with youtube links later in the week instead. For now, a poem:


O I have allowed too many
Not guests
into this house that
was not
my            Home

until You
entered and affixed
a light
a heat
into the deep bellies
O’ the ceiling.

i have sat and laid
and chat
with mortal,
ordinary ones.
more than once.
special, they ought
think not,
for what is a host
without a cause?

for empty nights i stared
            at walls
            at all
i can’t alter the backlog.

you wonder of the
dozen more hands that touched
the door and
wiped the floor
filthy tracks
like thoroughfare
i conduct memories as an
   archival library –
irrelevant, useless, left to dust and rot but
libraries must be kept in order. In check,
in line,
with time.

            You daren’t
for this HOme was an old house,
      a trodden, (mis)used refused
      house with mislaid boards and
      traps, set just-so;
But this HOme is now
into well-polished
sparkling form today.

and my Home is no longer open,
            not for sale
            to the highest bidder,
any bidder,
even more handsome than thee–
this once Open HOme is
to its old-Owner
whose key to the door
and cellar
Is the Only
that Fits,

If you believe I’ll deceive and common sense says you are the thief, Let me take you down the corridors

I just did something extremely cringe-worthy: I went back and read some unfinished blog posts that are still saved under “drafts”, as well as some posts from 2006 that I’ve long ago made “private”. 2006!!! It’s so scary to think how fast five years have flown, and how much yet little of me has changed. Ahh. I dare not dwell on it.

It’s late and my mind is boggled, but before I let myself ramble off in tangents – there are two main points to this blog post. Firstly, I’d have to say that as far as birthday presents go, the boy’s done pretty well for himself . He’s given me a huge stack of books, The Fountainhead being the first that I decided to tackle. Reading Ayn Rand’s novel has not only preoccupied me enough to leave him alone to study for exams, but it also made me cry, laugh, and re-read paragraphs pensively on many, many occasions. It’s such an amazing book that I almost put off finishing it, instead mucking around with the last hundred pages the other night, and finally allowing myself to finish it and sleep at 6am. Which resulted in me being terribly late for a meeting with the head of jazz, but that’s a different story. I had a discussion with the boy about the book yesterday, but I don’t think I’ve quite tidied up my thoughts enough to blog about it. Actually, I don’t know if I will ever collect my thoughts enough to write a coherent post about it, but all I can say is just read it!

Secondly, people don’t read enough these days. Or should I say, people my age don’t read enough these days. I was tweet-chatting to Rob the other night and finally decided to blog about this. It seems that most people who complain about “kids these days not reading” are older adults, so it was interesting to really step back and think about how I feel in regards to this topic – as I’m supposedly part of this “generation of non-readers”.

I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember. When I was still very young and lived in Taipei, I remember my family’s in-car entertainment would be “can Amanda read all the signs?” – because, as you know, the streets in Asia are overwhelmed with signs, of stores, ads, you name it. Later on I progressed to proper books in Chinese, and when we moved here when I was six, I learnt English mostly by being virtually the only Asian kid at my primary school, and by – you guessed it – reading. Never mind not understanding all the words in a book at the time, the actual reading itself, absorbing ideas, characters, gaining entertainment from reading was the biggest thing for me. And then when the Harry Potter phenomenon exploded all over the world, I used the series as my escape from reality. I always had a niggling feeling though, that many of my peers didn’t enjoy reading. But I never thought twice about it since even the kids who “hated reading” seemed to all have read Harry Potter as well… until…

…One day, someone in my class snapped at me, “don’t tell me what happens, I’m waiting for the movie”. That’s the day I really did a double take and thought, what?! you’d rather wait a couple of years for a bad film interpretation of the best children’s series of our generation, rather than read it?! I was shocked. But sadly, at the same time, not that surprised at all. It was a kind of disillusion, almost. And whilst I will note that the technology age has impacted a lot on the declining number of youth that read, I’m not going to sit here and blame television, the internet or various other sources of entertainment that have replaced books. Instead, I’m more concerned with what those things cannot replace. Too many people are too preoccupied with plots. And getting fast, instant results. That’s why TV is so addictive – you get fed a half-hour storyline with a cliffhanger, as opposed to spending perhaps two hours reading to gain the same amount of “plot development”. That’s why many people have seen movies based on books, but have no interest in touching the book whatsoever. Some people have told me that it’s “more convenient”, or “saves time” in terms of digesting the “classics” in the form of movies rather than books – but none of these people will have truly experienced what made that book a “classic” in the first place.

Personally, I know I get too tied up in the analysis of the writing itself – choice of diction, dialogue, how the plot is structured, how characters are portrayed and the contrasts between them in terms of writing styles employed, on and on… That sounds like a total exaggeration but I kid you not – I involuntarily do all this subconsciously, peeling things to pieces and re-reading phrases or entire paragraphs just to re-absorb the text in a new light (all my favourite English teachers should be proud!) – but I’m not saying that other people should or could do this, I just think that they should read so that their brains are offered a chance to even do so. I’m not slagging films or anything (I love them!), but I truly think that books are irreplaceable and I repeat – people get too caught up with the plot, and wanting to “find out what happens”. Although many books are judged by how much of a “page turner” they are, I think that with the best books out there, less emphasis is on “what happens next”, rather, “how it happens” and “why it happens”  is far more important – and that’s what non-readers are missing out on. They’re missing out on the gaps between time spent reading, where their brains absorbs what they have just read, and allows mind space for their own judgements, analysis and ideas to be formed. Don’t forget now, books and imagination are hugely connected, so youths who don’t read are often missing out on chances to explore their creative boundaries.

I’m sure most people have experienced (perhaps, once again with the recurring Harry Potter example) an occasion where they’ve seen a film based on a book and have either had their imagined settings or character appearances completely recreated onscreen, or have completely disagreed with the visual depiction they’re offered. And therein lies the beauty of reading – you’re not confined to any visual elements and are free to interpret the setting and descriptions in any way you wish. That’s where your imagination gets a workout! I remember when I read Twilight out of curiosity (the entire series, no less, I am thoroughly ashamed to say!!! – instead of studying for my 6th form AS exams), and I had pictured Edward as… well let’s just say that I don’t think Robert Pattinson does my mental version of Edward any justice whatsoever. But in stark comparison, I’d have to say Harry Potter (once again) was very well cast, and was a case of where I thought the core cast members were precisely as I had pictured them when I first read the books.

Also, when I say that people should read more, I’m not being a literature elitist here and trying to shove “classics” or anything down anyone’s throats. I just think that, yes, some books are more worthy of your time than others, but people aren’t reading enough for me to even begin to comment on what they do read.  I vastly enjoy the odd crime/thriller/action novel, but I also like to feed my mind with other books in which the plot is only the undercurrent to character development. I think a lot of people don’t realise how valuable these things are – how reading books with complex characters with different backgrounds and motives actually gets osmosed into daily life and how you view or analyse the actions of those around you. Ever wondered what the life of a struggling artist is like? Go read about it. Ever thought thank god I’m not the kid picked on at school? Go read about some poor kid. Ever wonder what might drive the ulterior motives of conniving people? Go read about it. There is so much eye-opening to be done through shelves and shelves of black ink, more so than people even realise. Reading isn’t just about “what’s going to happen next?” or “does the good guy win?” – it truly is about how it happens – and the conclusions we’ve drawn along the way, as well as perhaps some philosophies that deeper books may offer us.

I know I’d said I wasn’t going to rave about it, but I can’t ignore using it as an example: The Fountainhead for me felt really personal, on so many levels that I can’t even begin to describe coherently. But the underlying theme here is the fact that, through her highly contrasting cast of characters, Ayn Rand’s writing has put into words for me, so many conclusions, judgements and philosophies that I’d already drawn up throughout my life, but had never attempted to vocalise and summarise. The different “types” of people that I’ve spent hours of my life trying to decipher, to understand, to overcome difficulties with; how I feel towards them, and they towards me, why I love or hate the way I do… my illiterate scrawls in notebooks and hours spent theorising with my therapist – all these tangents of life compacted into a beautifully crafted novel.

To view this whole “young people don’t read enough these days” issue in a different light, I have to say that too many people struggle with English Lit at high school. Asides from tutoring my sister to pass AS English Lit in half a year (so that she could qualify early for a college scholarship in America), I’ve also helped out various people throughout high school, plus I now tutor a kid on a weekly basis. And I’m disturbed by the main causes of why I think they needed help in the first place: how the teachers are teaching (or not teaching); and how these kids never read except when they are forced to do so for class. Therefore, they don’t know how to read “effectively”, how to process what they’re reading, how to analyse and absorb things, what they’re looking for – which results in their inability to scratch beyond superficial meanings, let alone concoct an in-depth analytical essay in an hour-exam! What these people have in common is the fact that they don’t read by choice as a pleasurable pastime: when they’re faced with trying to get through behemoths such as Jane Eyre or Cat’s Eye for school, they simply struggle through the books, and are reading “up to Chapter X” by certain deadlines merely because they have to! I’ve discovered that an astonishing amount of people don’t even know basic things like what a semicolon or em dash is – I had to write up sentence examples and point them out in a book to my student who is 17!

I could go on and on about this, but I’d better not and get to bed instead. I will, however, freely admit that I’ve been guilty of neglecting books in recent years, but I feel that at least I make up for it when I have some time – such as now. So that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I feel about this issue, at age 20. Maybe when I’m older I’ll look back and be one of those old grumpy adults still bitching about the same thing. Ha.

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