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.

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!