8 observations for 8 days in LA

“Bus” is a bad word
The bus in LA is incredibly affordable. If you are fortunate to be near a major bus route (which I am) then the $1.25 USD price tag is very reasonable when you consider that this mode of transit covers a serious stretch of space. In Toronto where the Buses/Streetcars/Train is the same price ($3CAD) whether you are going 16 stops or 2 – I appreciate this.

meh.ro7521

And yet, everybody seems to hate on the bus. The ones I have taken have not been dirty or (too) full of crazy people. As someone who has primarily lived in 3 major cities with awesome Public Transit, I’m kind of stubborn when it comes to a city that deliberately spreads itself out and doesn’t provide an easy, cheap way to get around.

It’s like you WANT me to have to drive man, and I now I have to do the opposite.

Streets to not walk down
LA is somewhere that has places you can walk, but you definitely need to drive to those places. Like the Griffith Observatory, or cute neighbourhoods. But if you are a clueless visitor like me, you might be under the impression that you can just walk where ever, from point A to point B.

Turns out, LA is a city where a nice street you are walking on, can turn into a scary street just by turning a corner or walking the wrong direction. And its not like you can google: “way home that will be murder and rape free” or “dangerous streets of LA” (Oh shit you totally can for neighbourhoods…maybe that could be an app? Like Google maps but for women just walking minding their clueless bizness?)

Neighbourhood City
Where you live in LA can say a lot of things about you…how rich you are, how cool you are, how artistic you are, if you have a family…and people can tell this simply by the way you answer the question: “So which part of LA are you in?” (By the way my answer tells people that I definitely found my place on craigslist and had no idea about this neighbourhood elitism)

Can I get that Vegan, Gluten-free, Skinny, Non-soy, Organic, Homogenous, Air-Free, Non GMO, and can you tap-it-gently-three-times-with-your-two-index-fingers and whisper “Nancy Noooo!” into the cup before you it?
Do you have a food thing? Like, you can only eat plants that come from a field planted on the west side of a mountain? Good news, LA will cater to you – no matter how ridiculous your request (you weirdo).

hipster-meme

The traffic is the new weather
In other major cities, the weather is a nice safe topic to chat about with strangers. Hong Kong and Sydney:  “So hot today” or “Crazy rain!”, Toronto: snow (lack there of, the crazy amount, the consistency, texture) but here in LA where the temperature remains fairly consistent (not a great conversation starter…”still perfect out there!” “yep”) the Los Angeleans talk about how busy the roads are/were and how crazy traffic is.

We get it, its bad.

And to that I say, “yeah well… maybe if more people took the bus…”

You can survive without a car
The rise of ride sharing companies Uber and Lyft make it super easy to not have a car here, so long as you have a phone with the internet and the app, and a credit card. Parking is a bitch anyway (it takes five minutes to understand the signs themselves) and although I can drive (in theory: passed my test, haven’t driven since) I honestly think having less cars on the roads will also ease traffic issues (also I am terrified of the aggressive driving, but also the noble thing). Plus with Uber Pool and Lyft Line, (carpooling) its very very economical so you can save your dollars for Gluten and Fun free beer (barf).

Everybody wants to tell you their story
Ride sharing these past 8 days have introduced me to people I would never have a ten minute conversation with. And everybody out here seems to have an interesting story. Maybe its because it is a city built on overnight fortunes and aspirational living, but no one has yet said “oh i do this one thing and i’m pretty comfortable” nope. Everyone gives you their headline “I am a song writer but I want to get into modelling” “I work at a country club but I want to get a union job at Frito-Lay” “I work for a startup that is manufacturing Hemp pain relief for Dogs and Horses” (seriously…seriously)

And Last but not least:

The Homeless Situation
I hate to get all serious at the end of this frivolous blog but with the good, sometimes you get the bad, and here it goes…

I’ve travelled all over the world and I have never seen a worse homeless situation than I have in Los Angeles. I had heard of “Skid Row” or “Tent City” but I was not mentally prepared for the reality – which is, there is a population of people living on the streets of one of America’s largest Cities, with views of the millionaires living up in the “hills”. According to this article, the population of the homeless has grown by 12%… Forty Four thousand homeless people living in the city. That figure is gobsmacking, and when I have asked people living here (immigrants and born&breaders) what the ACTUAL fuck is going on, there has been a general shrugging of shoulders, or a gentle shaking of the head and light tsk-ing. Apparently it is well known that psychiatric hospitals discharge patients with one-way bus tickets to LA/California AND there are red tape laws that prevent young homeless people from staying in shelters that house adults.

It is all kinds of fucked up that I’ve seen gold bentley’s cruising down the streets and walked past homes that look like they are bigger than every house I’ve ever lived in put together ever (aka OBSCENE wealth), and then walked past people with wheelie bags and trolleys living under a tarp on a street corner.

Maybe, maybe I could ignore it if I was in any other foreign country. But I can’t because this is America. This is the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. This is (traditionally) the country that everybody looks at, to get a piece of that “American dream”.

And the reality is stark. It is in your face aggressively there. And it isn’t easy for me to understand how anyone can get to the point in their mind where this is normal.

There are so many wonderful things about LA, and I am having such a great time in California, but the Homeless situation is something that you may never know about unless you come here and see it with your own eyes. It is very, very distressing, I don’t know how it can be addressed or fixed in a country that seems to be so angrily against the “socialist ideas” of somewhere like: Canada or Australia say.

Being new to a place gives you a unique perspective – things that become every day, or things that you don’t notice after a while are still very obvious, and funny or sad to me.

LA is like no where I have ever been before – it is a city of 18.5 MILLION PEOPLE, 270,000 Millionaires and 44,000 homeless people.

So far, I’m not too sure what to think – it seems like the kind of place you might fall in love with passionately, or hate with a vengeance.

Time will tell.

 

My Lighthouse

images

Are you a human adult?

Do you find yourself unable to sleep some nights (even when you are utterly exhausted) because the great whirring globule inside your skull has chosen this exact moment to throw all of the personal challenges you have ever considered or thought about- into your face?

Maybe you trip down the rabbit hole of “what the fuck am I doing with my life?”

You wouldn’t be alone with that – almost everybody I know, childless or childful (is that a word…?) Teenagers, Twenties, Thirties, Forties, Fifties, Sixties… everybody is trying to figure out what they’re doing, why they did what they did, and what they are going to do next. All the while maintaing an immaculately maintained and crafted image of themselves on Social Media.

You think its just you?

I will be the first to admit that the last ten years have been a colliding merry-go-round of lucky breaks, happenstance and the ability to fall upwards.
From the University I attended, to the country I now live in, to the jobs that I have had – it’s all been one big “OKAY SURE!?” + tears.

I’ve had my goals and dreams, but while they remain a lighthouse on the coast, I’ve happily gone down into employment mermaid lairs and boarded pirate ships that have been more than diverting. (Are you staying comfortable with all the Metaphors?)

 

It is really hard to sail directly for the lighthouse when there is an unpredictable ocean (life) you are riding on. I am far from easy-going, but to avoid sinking, I’ve tried to take the waves as they come – and yet I see the lighthouse on the shore and it gives me pangs to see that some days it feels like I am further away from it than I was yesterday. That drives me crazy – especially when you feel like you’ve rowed as hard as you possibly could and it doesn’t make a difference – the lighthouse feels like an impossible target.

Still following?

For a long time now I’ve struggled to be honest about what it is I’m even sailing towards – because for a long time, floating at all seemed like the greatest achievement (hey look at me I’m on a boat and I haven’t crashed into the rocks!)

At 2am, for whatever reason, my brain finally decided to admit to itself what it is we’re aiming for and here it is:

I want to be a writer.

I’ve spent the last month funemployed and in that time (amongst the watching of numerous fail and cat videos) I buckled down and wrote a screenplay that has haunted me for four years. A story that I started and abandoned with no real deadline.

On Friday last week, I finished the first complete draft, 83 pages. And while my bank account reminds me that I need to get a real job again ASAP, I’m prouder of myself for those garbage 83 pages than I have been in anything for a long time.

And all the noise and splashing and the disquieted seas feel calmer now than they have in years because I don’t feel like an idiot for saying I want to be something – I AM something. I used to feel ashamed to admit that I wanted to be a writer because outside of this blog and the witty Facebook statuses I craft – I hadn’t written anything. I felt like a fraud with my Masters Degree in Creative Writing. I’d never in a million years have answered “What do you do?” with “I am a writer” because what a fucking fraud!

Now that I can admit what my goal is, all of the jobs and the career I’ve been carving – make sense. Because silly me – you don’t sail towards a lighthouse, that isn’t what a lighthouse is for. A lighthouse is a navigational tool. It helps guide you through the rocky sea and warns you of danger.

 

Thats what my brain was thinking about at 2am – that maybe you don’t ever reach your lighthouse – but knowing what it is and how it affects your decisions, is enough to see the path. Isn’t that we’re always looking for? Patterns and paths that make us feel like our lives aren’t haphazardly thrown together?

Find your lighthouse and then sit back and enjoy the boat ride.

13 things I have learned over 13 flights in 5 weeks

  1. Push the bounds of Hand Luggage
    luggage

    Everyone has these mini wheelie dealie bags these days. They are massive and some are so crammed there is no way they fit in the overhead bins or under the seat in front of you (they will check it for free at the gate if they are anticipating too much hand luggage in the cabin). I feel like an idiot with just my handbag/laptop bag especially when Air Asia wants to charge me $20Aud per extra kilo in my suitcase. Excuse me for having a reasonable amount of hand luggage and an unreasonable amount of regular luggage.

 

  1. If you’re not first – you’re last aka Queue up to get on the plane
    Passengers line up and wait for a security check during morning rush hour at Tiantongyuan North Station in Beijing
    No hear me out – I used to hate those idiots who would line up to get on the plane they would be trapped in for 5 or 11 or 16 hours FIRST. And then I noticed that the above (massive amounts of hang luggage being brought into the cabin) began to happen. Now if I want to defend my leg room and not put my bag in an overhead bin way over on the other side of the plane – you’re damn right I’m in line – me and all the other sheeple.

 

  1. Neck pillows do not work
    Seriously – who invented this garbage? Designed to make you look like a Knob and as comfortable as having a ring of foam around your neck – it looks comfortable – more so than your head slumping forward and jerking up as you drool on your lapel like an oozing starfish – but news flash – it isn’t.

 

  1. People LOVE THEM some tomato juice
    Ew – hey guys – wtf is going on with that. They’ve got your apple and orange juice there, a wide selection of free alcohol and all the soft drink your heart could desire, good old H20 in spades – and you’re all guzzling away at the spicy blood of the most confused fruit I’ve ever met (and you should meet my family). No. Please stop. You are revolting.

 

  1. No but seriously drink water
    After Dad’s Deep Vein Thrombosis last year and the reflection looking back at me in the mirror, that of a yellow skinned harpy – I have realized that if drinking water means my blood wont clot in my limbs with the threat of breaking off and murdering me, than yah. H20 me up son. Water is one of those things that everyone could drink more of and its freeeeee (unless you’re in Bali or Asia where you have to buy bottled lest you tempt the wrath of the Bali Belly)

 

  1. Possession is 9/10s
    270125

    If you get so lucky as to fly a less busy flight and there is a seat/multiple seats around you available, you have to think fast. Long haul – the difference of having a little extra space versus keeping your arms and legs inside a couple of arm rests is a game changer. So everyone is on the look out for more territory to invade. Sit in the middle seat and put your stinky feet on the outside chair – nonchalantly reading a book and signaling by your possession that these SEATS ARE MINE BITCH.

 

  1. Turbulence makes you realize how small you are
    Especially with nothing to grip except a moveable arm rest and a seat belt the only thing holding you down, to a chair connected to an aircraft that as far as I can see is working by engineering and magic.
  1. 16 hours is 16 hours
    Whether you sleep, read, watch a movie or stare out the window – there is no way to escape the waiting on an aircraft. People always try to give you advice like – oh take some Nyquil and have a rum and coke and boom you’ll be flying over Asia before you know it. Incorrect. Even if you fall asleep or watch two movies back to back you’ll think – oh man we must be almost there you’ll somehow check the flight tracker and realize your little plane hasn’t even left the continent. GRRRRR!!!!!

 

  1. There is always, always, a screaming baby

    middle-finger-baby-smiley-emoticon
    I’m thinking that like the drink carts the Flight attendants stock, and the cross checks of doors they do before we take off, one of the crew, maybe the head flight attendant is like “now hold on a second, who has got the screaming child? And have we given it coffee? Oh okay good, because we wouldn’t want there to be one moment of peace on this over night flight.” I realize as a childless person, and a former screaming, internationally travel baby myself that I have very little wiggle room here for criticism… but 13 flights later and EVERY SINGLE time, I’m not crazy. There is a conspiracy. Pass me my tinfoil hat.

 

  1. There is also always, always, a farty/wheezy/coughing old man
    And he perfumes the air around him with his natural fragrance. 10 points if he is in the seat directly in front or beside you and you fear for your nose/health. *Shudder*
  1. I don’t know what I am eating right now
    weird-food-7
    The most memorable meal on a plane that I ever had was the Hong Kong to Seoul Korea flight I took as I tried to make my way down to Australia for University. I flew Korean Airlines and dinner was a boiling hot bowl of noodle soup (ohkay I can have a bowl of hot water but I can’t have my nail file – but of course) and a shrink wrapped boiled egg… Memorable because the food was so immaculately presented and also because I couldn’t help thinking that the boiling hot water was kind of crazy.

    But at least I knew what I was eating! Over the last few Air Nippon (Japanese airline) flights I have taken, I have been given little packages of things I cannot identify or things pretending to be other things. Oh cool, this is clearly some sort of dessertOHMYGODNOW it is a creamy mayonnaise infested potato salad with fish eggs. Barf.

  1. So much of the planet is uninhibited
    I love to fly in daylight hours and look over the patchwork of the farmlands and see in layout of the world below. But travelling by night is something special too as you reach a cluster of lights that mark a city, the highways, the homes, and then you come upon nothing again. The vast blackness of the empty, and even in the strong moonlight you cannot tell if the spreading darkness is Ocean or Land.
  1. It is never enough
    tumblr_mznh6d7s4u1ri85fso1_500

    Whether you go for 5 days, 5 weeks or 5 months – the travel is never enough. In the moment on that beach in Thailand, or in the Mountains in Utah – you are taking for grated the beauty around you. You become immune to things when you travel, take things for granted – and it isn’t until you are on the way home that you realize it will never be enough, those moments with faraway family or drinking cocktails on a steamy rooftop.

    If home is where the heart is – then my home is on an airplane – travelling to my next adventure.

    Follow me on instagram: @ohparisimo for adventures

The “I like dating this person but we’re not quite ready to get married so please don’t deport me” Visa

australia-canada-flags

After 4 years of living in Toronto, 13 months of Visa limbo hell, $3500 Canadian Dollars, 16 forms, 7 tearful calls to a Lawyer, 2 police checks, an Expensive english test, a medical (and a partridge in a pear tree… no… wait…) I became a Permanent Resident of Canada on July 4th, 2015 (thank fuck).

It was a touch and go race against time, a tricky maze of paperwork, and bureaucratic hoops to jump through.

The immigration laws in Canada for Australians used to be super relaxed. There was such a thing as a “Working Holiday” visa, open to all Australians between 18 and 30, who met the criteria (no criminal background and with at least $3500CAD in the bank) and the visa was good for 2 years at a time, renewable until you no longer met the criteria.

Until this year.

The Canadian government, notorious for it’s open arms approach to Immigration has begun cracking down and changing policy. Laws have begun changing and I luckily slid in just before these changes had the opportunity to affect me.

At the time of applying and back and forth with the Canadian Immigration Centre, I was (understandably) nervous that if my application was rejected, I would have had to leave Canada.

That was a shitty situation considering I have a pretty built up life in Canada with friends I love, an Industry I am heavily involved in, a family member who also lives here, and oh yeah – a Canadian boyfriend.

At the time my Visa application began to look a bit dicey, my boyfriend and I had been dating for about 3 months. We were at the shy “I love you” stage, but we were definitely not at the, “lets get married so you can stay in the country with me” stage (although this was suggested to us as the last last option).

I felt pretty awful about the whole situation and lost a lot of sleep over it (and gave myself an ulcer I think). At the time, things were starting to get serious with Jason, and it just really fucking sucked that it seemed like our only options were, breakup, get married, or leave Canada.

Thankfully, my Permanent Residency worked out and our relationship was allowed to progress at a normal pace without making any make or break decisions.

But my story is not unique, and the struggles faced by International couples are very real.

On our recent trip to Vietnam we met Taylor and Richie, a fantastic duo who had been travelling the world together for 3 years after they met in New Zealand. Taylor is American and Richie is a Scotsman. When we asked them where they would be heading when their globetrotting adventure ended (shortly after Vietnam) they told us: Richie was headed back to Scotland and Taylor was going back to the States. There was no working visa for either of them to live and work in each others country (I have since read Taylor’s awesome article for Verge magazine which tells us that she is in Scotland with Richie for 3 months on a tourist visa… yay love!).

The same deal with my two friends Conor (Irish) and Amanda (American) who met in Toronto and who need to figure out where they can exist as a couple in the same place at the same time.

These couples are everywhere, and are constantly trying to make love work across international borders. But it’s not easy. Many people I know simply cannot make it work without a clear concrete destination where they can both live normal, unmarried lives, and still figure out if their relationship is headed down a more serious track.

So.

What is my point?

Aren’t countries always looking for a way to continue fostering great relationships with other nations?

What better way to do that than to encourage couples from different continents to continue loving each other, fostering ties at the most basic level?

This is from the internet... I do not know these people but they add to this blog and prove a point so thereeeee, yay internet

This is from the internet… I do not know these people but they add to this blog and prove a point so thereeeee, yay internet

The traditional notion of belonging and “home” is evolving as globalization and international nomadry (not a word) become more and more prevalent. Doesn’t it make sense for governments to reconsider booting someone out of a country if they have a life, a loved one, a family? It seems even my married friends are struggling with Visa constraints on their partners. It doesn’t make sense and this issue needs to be readdressed.

Hashtag ParisforPresident.

Please stop touching me

www16

Dear weird guy at the event,

I’m talking to you because I’m nice and I am volunteering here. You seem like you’re not with any one and you approached me, and I have to stand here…. You are wasted and you smell like rotten grapes and I am working, so I feel like I kind of have to be polite to you. It is loud in here so you are getting reaaaalllll close to my face – which is an absolutely hideous experience for me because I think actually might have just spat into my mouth and again, you smell.

Please take your hand off my back. I do not know you and yuck, you are gross. Please do not think you can move that hand down towards my ass. I took a step back to try and give you a physical hint that I am not interested in you, because apparently telling you I have a boyfriend wasn’t enough. You asked why I don’t dump him and go out with you? I’ll give you five reasons, and they are attached to the thing which is attached to your shoulder which is trying to rest itself on the small of my back… for now. Please stop touching me.

No thanks, I don’t drink while I’m working, and we’ve already established that I am not into you. That is faaahhhascinating that you believe a man should be dominant in a relationship. And great to know that you make over 6 figures and that you could take me out to some of the “best spots in Toronto” because you know “everyone”. I think I’m going to try and throw my friend into your path now so I can run away. Sorry Ashlea.

Your flirtation game is ON POINT Weird Guy. Whichever pick up manual told you to touch a female as much as possible to assert your interest was TOTALLY right. Panty dropper ovah heeeereeee. I’m just avoiding you because you are TOO much of a man for me.

Yours truly

Not interested.

I am not cool enough for Brooklyn

Hipster

A few weeks ago I turned 26 and officially said goodbye to pretending I’m still close to being twenty and not closer to being thirty (whatever… the alcohol intake is the same, just fancier) and to celebrate I took myself down to New York for the weekend (yay for Toronto for being close to stuff!)

I went to New York in July with my Dad and we did all the touristy stuff (that he paid for… thanks Papa!) so my plan for my birthday weekend in New York was to chill, walk around, and eat as much delicious food as I could find, and yes, probably consume a lot of alcohol.

Luckily for me, a good friend from Middle School lives in New York and offered for me to come and crash at her place in Brooklyn. THANKyoufreeaccomodation!

My brother and I went to Brooklyn one evening to meet with said friend one night in July. My brother is a 6”, dreadlocked, stocky dude with a scruffy face and a heart of gold. If I was walking alone on a street at night – I would cross to avoid him (sorry brah… but I don’t trust beards). We got off the subway at a cross section of Brooklyn which I’m told is up and coming and extremely trendy.

My brother thought we were about to get mugged.

Cue group of gangstery latino dudes chilling on a corner. Cue child with no shoes on empty street across from industrial lot kicking broken soccer ball against a wall. Cue dark and stormy night. Cue broken fire hydrant.

It’s okay, we survived and were taken to one of the most delicious all meat restaurants I have ever been to. We were not mugged, but we did get lost on the train system on the way home (No No you’re right New York, your train system is the best in the world and makes perfect sense! Why WOULD the Q run on Sundays after 3pm?! Ludicrous!)

There’s no denying that there is something about Brooklyn.

Throw all the creative, eccentric, wonderful people you know into a place and wonderful things are bound to happen. If New York is the big apple, then Brooklyn is the Japanese fusion, apple infused vegan mushroom brisket.

And I am not cool enough to belong there.

Maybe it’s because I’m a tourist or maybe because I’ve just never been very bohemian, but my outfits seemed to be lacking in feathers and tassels (I wore black leggings and some kind of top and boots most days – I looked like a fucking IDIOT!) and I couldn’t keep up with the slang. I am sarcastic and blunt and while Americans can be both of those things, people in Brooklyn seemed to take everything literally – which made me sound like more of a moron.

My friend has just moved to the East Village – a neighbourhood I spent a lot of time in, drifting out of cheese cake and antique shops. With it’s wrought iron fire escapes, tree lined streets and “stoops” it is VERY sex and the city, and much more where I picture myself.

It’s okay Brooklyn… you’re that hot guy at a party which is way out of my league, but the East Village is the guy that HAS too go out with me because our friends set us up and you’re to polite to leave.

 

Do battle, be brave.

317d07e6ec58a55640dbfcc5a82024c0

Every new day poses a question to each of us: how are you going to live today?

Though the internet has moved on to its obsession with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, I still find myself unable to quite process the “old news” of Robin Williams death a few weeks ago.

I did not wade into the fray of online grief and tributary at the time, I did not want to add my voice to the collective cacophony. His death brought back some pretty frightening reminders of a time when the Black Dog stalked in the shadows of my family and the outcome that could have been.

I see Robin Williams death as a very real and present reminder that you never truly know the daily struggles of the person standing next to you. To the world, this very talented and hysterical comedian was Robin FUCKING Williams. If you have ever seen the man do stand up or speak in interviews, you know that he is an incredible performer and improvisor, one who is vibrating on a different frequency than the rest of us.

And yet the man took his own life.

It just stands as a reminder that we are each doing battle daily with our own demons.

From the girl I know, who is Cancer free a year later, who has been quietly fighting since her diagnosis, to the friends who have JUST moved to Toronto to start a new life – leaving their old ones behind and struggling to figure out where they belong in this jigsaw puzzle. To those fighting heartbreak over lost love, and still others bravely facing the frustration over unemployment, financial difficulties, and family trauma – everybody has their something.

Sometimes I need the gentle reminder to be kinder to those around me, because as the quote reads, everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about, and it is all too easy to point the finger and say “they don’t have it as bad as…(fill in the blank).”

Every day we are faced with challenges, be they big or small, and it is the way that we navigate them that makes us who we are. Sometimes there are days when getting out of bed is the hardest thing we have to overcome, and to do that requires immense strength and the flexing of determination and will. There is no way to say that achieving one foot in front of the other on a given day is any less important or incredible than fighting a dragon or climbing Mount everest.

I try to be as open as possible. There are few things you could ask me that I wouldn’t be brutally honest about.

Why is that?

Too much of life is airbrushed and photoshopped out into the perfect image of what we think our lives should look like.

When I have struggled in the past, I would look around and think “everybody has it all worked out, but me” and I would feel like a failure.

And we all know that is not true, we’re all just winging it daily, fighting our battles the best we can, and going on.

Because the only other option than to continue on is to stop.

I wish someone had helped Robin see that wasn’t his only option.

Not all battles have to be fought alone.

http://www.beyondblue.org.au/

How do Third Culture Kids make it work?

vpqHu84

A Facebook event invitation pops up.

What is the first detail you note?

For me it’s the city the event is being held in.

I’ve missed so many birthdays, bachelorettes, house warnings, engagement parties…

2 weeks ago, two of the coolest people I know stood up in front of a lot of people and said “Sure why not?” and got married to each other. I was asleep, 12 hours behind, 12,000 kilometres away.

If I ever sound jaded about love or throw my hands up in the air when people I know are getting married, roll my eyes, and scoff, well, this could be the one couple who could maybe make me melt and say “nawwwww weddings, LOVE, Foreverness, etc. YAY”.

My beautiful (now married) friends are the international types, so one of their weddings was being held this month in Hong Kong, and one in France. Back in January I decided that as much as I love Hong Kong, now that my Mother has moved to Thailand (selfish bitch! Stay in Hong Kong forever so i can have a free place to stay, you MOO. You’re so mean to me, I’m running away! YOU’RE NOT MY REAL DAD!!!!), that I would attend the one being held in France. I thought: Fuckeyeah, Food, Fun and French guys. YUP.

I pulled out my poor, tired credit card and whacked some international flights on them. Hashtag YOLO, Hashtag whoneedsaretirementplan?

I was a Temp at the time, which despite its many drawbacks, meant I could take as much vacation whenever I wanted. It was January and September seemed like a long way off. Sure I could commit. Why not?

And then my year exploded.

Opportunities came my way after a year of knocking on every single door and having it slammed in my face. I attended two of the most amazing film festivals in the world, worked at arguably one of the best  global Film & TV distribution companies, and travelled to three new cities, all before June.

And then one day when looking at my calendar, a shiver of dread ran down my spine and I had one of those OH FUCK moments.

My friends France wedding was smack bang on the first weekend of the International film festival taking place in my backyard.

All of the jobs I was interviewing for would need me in Toronto the weekend I was supposed to be sipping champagne and terrorizing my french Mates groomsmen.

I so badly wanted to be in France with my friends, watching them get married, and make this huge commitment (shudder) to each other. But the timing just couldn’t have been worse. I’m still the bottom of the food chain, and there are 300 other girls who would eat me alive for the opportunities available to me.

Thankfully, friendship is a two-way street, and those that love you will always love you, even if you miss their special day. I explained the situation and they were beyond supportive.

But this situation made me realize that this is just the first of many conflicts I will face.

My best friend & beloved roommate from college has been living with a guy and just bought a HOUSE WITH HIM for 3+ years, and I have met him twice. That makes me go WHAT THE FUCK!

People I love dearly are going to be doing more of this adult shit, and I can’t miss it all. I’m just going to be that person that people wonder if she’ll fly in? Or that person that just won’t get an invite because they know I can’t/won’t come?

Like, sorry I haven’t met your five year old, but today I ordered some totally adorable branded water bottles and my boss said “Good Job Paris.” So yeah…

I’m not sure that it gets easier.

And yet I know I’m not alone. My floating international community is out there facing the same challenges, work, life, travel balance. We can’t just go home and see everyone, because our home is not a stationary place.

I’m worried I’m going to be the crazy old lady from the end of Titanic who it turns out is Rose and she had this insanely awesome life but she was also like, FUCK YOU JACK the door is mine.

Sigh.

An art concept, My Secret, Your Secret.

secret-img-1

What makes a secret a secret? Is it the thing we don’t want people to know because of how it reflects upon us? Is it a thing that we feel guilt about and cannot stand to voice?

My Dad is in town which is great. I love him to bits and we haven’t hung out since he flew to Hong Kong last year to help me through a period of hot mess-ish-ness. He’s seeing a completely different side of Toronto to the city my Mum saw in the bitterly cold winter months. The summer in Toronto is short and sweet, so we are taking the opportunity to walk all over, and see what we see. Today along with one of my camp besties Amanda (who was only passing through this Maple syrup city) we stumbled upon a contemporary art gallery down by the water front.

I’ll preface this by saying I did two different courses at University in Art History (the pre-requisites for Film Studies units at Sydney Uni) but that I may be on the more sceptical side when it comes to the definition of “Art”. The first room we entered had wigs on stands with microphones hidden in them with peoples voices recorded, whispering stories about why they wore a wig. I know. I raised my eyebrow too. How contemporary. Another room featured a 13 minute video loop with what I can only describe as a homo-erotic sequence of three european dudes getting each other naked, pointing at each others penis’, covering said penis’ with hands in a “no” gesture, and staring at each other uncomfortably before sitting on the floor or pushing each other over (mmmm yes, art art art, penis penis penis, I sees hmmm, so vivid, so real… strokes goatee, silently beats drum).

I just don’t think I’m deep enough to get it.

Ya know?

And then we wandered into a section of the art gallery that was roped off. A girl in a lab coat stood up, introduced herself and began to talk to us about the Sanatorium, a performance art space by an artist by the name of Pedro Reyes.

There were a number of different elements that this lab coat wearing art person could walk us through but as we were under a time limit (flights to catch, lunch to eat, general scoffing at contemporary “art”) Amanda and I elected to do the quickest option.

Secret for a Secret.

The general concept was this: you would write a secret on a piece of paper, you could either share it with the group (or in this case, share it with Amanda and the trained lab coat wearing person) or not as you chose. You would then roll the secret up and tie a piece of string around it, and put it in a glass bottle, with the edge of the string poking. You then place your bottle amongst the group of bottles sitting in disarray on the floor behind the table. Then you could select a bottle from the ones already placed and read the secret aloud and discuss it.

Okay we thought. Simple enough. Right off the bat we agreed to not discuss what our secrets were to each other and off we went writing. We placed our bottles in the group and we selected our bottles.

I was attracted to mine because the paper wasn’t rolled at all. It was folded many many times into a small rectangle and tied very tightly.

The secret Amanda chose and read aloud related to an artist who was nervous to tell people they were an artist, and that that is what they wanted to do full time. It was interesting and we discussed bravery, and going after the change we want, to make our lives the way we want them.

And this is what mine said:

Years ago-
A lady who lived on my floor killed herself by jumping off her balcony. Everyone suspected she sold drugs from her apartment. But a week before she died, she asked me to call her a cab. A man was clearly abusing her, but I never told anyone what I though.

…..

Even to type it out now hours and hours later, it hurts my heart to think of the woman who jumped, and the person who has been carrying around this secret. A secret they shared in a glass bottle, with some strangers, in an art gallery in Toronto, down by the waterfront. When I first read it all the hairs on my arms stood on end and by the end of the last sentence my voice was cracking with emotion.

My secret seemed quite petty in comparison. I’m a fairly open book – that is obvious to most that know me, and even to those who only know me through this blog, but there are some dark things inside of me born of jealousy and loneliness (even though I subscribe to the Desiderata and even have some of the words tattooed into my skin).

More than anything, I wished the writer of the secret I read had been sitting across the table from me so I could take their hand and tell them that it was okay, and that they were forgiven.

Because that is a hell of a thing to carry around inside of you.

We talked about the secrets for a long time. Longer than we expected.

At the end of our session our Art Assistant/Guide(?) told us that usually they collected the secrets, however because we had talked about them so much and they had clearly affected us, we were also welcome to keep them.

And so we did.

Amanda kept hers I think because she has a potential load of changes ahead of her, career decisions, thoughts about travel, and she needs to remember to be true to herself and to be brave in the face of change.

I kept mine because it reminds me to speak up when someone else needs a voice they may not have inside them. Too many times I have turned away from others I did not know because it was not my “place” to do or say something. How many people have I brushed off in the street? What if I could affect good and meaningful change.

It is too easy to say nothing. Do nothing.

It reminded me of this incident that I blogged about.

I very well could have passed the person who wrote my adopted secret in the gallery today. There were dozens of bottles, perhaps hundreds more stashed elsewhere. What do I know, perhaps the artist actually wrote it as a piece to inspire the “performance art”.

I am haunted, and I just wanted to share it

Encounters with morons

download

There are  few people who’s advice I truly value. My parents (because they have known me since before I was just a tiny puke-inducing parasite in my mothers stomach and they honestly want what’s best for me), a handful of friends who I go to for more day to day advice (why hasn’t he teeeeeexxxxxttttttedddd meeeeeee?!) and those I perceive to have career trajectory’s I admire – the men and women older who are more successful than me in the industry I love.

And outside of that, I really don’t give a fuck.

Now that may sound harsh, but lets be honest, it has been pointed out to me on more than one occasion in the recent past that I have a bitchy streak (something I never actually recognized in myself until I took a few steps back). I am blunt, and I am opinionated and I am (starting to be) okay with that (or at least trying to tone it down enough to not make that part of my identifier… “oh you know Paris! The Big Boobed, Blonde, Angry Australian one?”.

I have lived an interesting life (Yay Passports!)

Yes, random new Canadian stranger I have just met, it IS kind of funny that my name is Paris and that I am from Sydney. Let us jovially exchange pleasantries as you make a joke about my name that I have heard MANY times before. I will do you the courtesy of smiling – because I don’t go from 0 – 100 anger quiet as quickly as a psychopathy might. Which is lucky for you because otherwise *PUNCHYPUNCHY* straight to the faceyfacey. I’ll wait for you to make the classic:

Why did you come to Canada?“Why would you leave Sydney for this?!” *Chortle Chortle* remark.
I came to work at a Children’s summer camp, loved it, worked for the camp office, went back to camp and then decided to stay and break into film and television which is what I was doing when I left Australia. I left Australia because I was over it, and I have the passport so I can go back whenever. Travel while you’re young, be adventurous, move away from the ordinary.

Good to know that you think I am crazy to have moved to Canada over Australia and that you think the Film & Television industries are very hard to break into. That is a top-notch tid bit. Let me jot that down in my dream journal for further evaluation.

You know zero things about my life, or how I was raised, or what my true ambitions are. If the conversation goes further (which pray god it doesn’t – but people are nosy curious) you might discover that I spent the majority of my childhood living in Asia, that my brothers were born in Hong Kong and Malaysia, and that my Mother now lives in Thailand and that actually over the last year, that tough to crack industry has paid all of my bills and kept me alive on the planet.

Shall I tell you my blood type and bra size?

People have opinions, I get it (see first paragraph, I am infected by opinion-itis) and generally, we believe what we think is the right thing – otherwise we would not think that thing.

But people live differently and if you think it’s weird that I move around a lot, tell me in the same breath that I’m crazy for leaving Australia, but also crazier for wanting to leave Toronto, then get the hell off my lawn. I think its crazy that anyone would want to live in the same place for an extended period of time. There is so much to see, so much to learn. 3 years later in Toronto and I’m still seeing new bits every day – still learning and exploring.

And as for my career choice, that’s freaking FANTASTIC that you gave up on your dreams to live “in the real world” and get a “real job”. I would blow my brains out if I felt I had to do something I didn’t love because it was the mature and right thing to do. Maybe I am neither mature or responsible, but my credit rating says I am, so go fuck yourself.

You think it’s insane I would want to move to LA, New York or London to pursue those ambitions? It’s too expensive/hard/competitive? That may be. I might try and I might fail, but at least I learned and went for it. Thank you for giving up before you even attempted it, the bodies of the apathetic were the easiest to climb over as I made my way to the top.

I don’t know why this enraged me so much today – maybe it’s the repetitiveness of these types of conversations – but holy fuck the relief of talking to other expatriates/third culture kids.

I’ve often written about feeling disembodied from a sense of “home” and a belonging to a specific group of people. But the older I get the more this becomes apparent – my home is a floating web of hummingbirds (be they the internationals, or the creatives), who rest gently in a place, gather experience and then shoot off again. Those are my people – the people who can’t sit still. You think we’re weird? But we think you’re fucking weirder.

No matter how long I live in a place I will never truly belong there because my collective experiences will always mark me as foreign. Perhaps there are pockets, in expatriate communities in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore… but there again the expatriate communities cling like barnacles to the hull of a country.

It’s cool, my anger at your moronic assertion of your opinions evaporates. We walk away and you become another faceless idiot.

I write a blog about you and the world turns. I send up a silent thank you to the universe (and the people who shaped my life and world) that I am educated, wealthy, safe and supported, and we all go about our days.

The end.

Paris