A question of when: Terrorist Attacks, 28 dead in Istanbul

*Breaking News: 10 28 Dead in Turkey, 20-60 injured in Turkey’s largest airport, Istanbul*

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If you haven’t seen the news yet, a terrorist just blew themselves up Instanbul’s main airport. What the actual fucking fuck.

I went to google to look up “Terrorist attacks in 2016” and as I scrolled down the Wiki page my eyes widened… until I realized I was only looking at January.

It is hard to say how many people have been killed by acts of terror this year. Where do you draw a line, differentiate? Isis attacks? Mass death caused by suicide bombings? A crazy lone wolf with a gun and a mental illness?

As the world still reels from the Orlando club shooting, another headline fills up the Social media feed. And what can I do? Change my profile picture to a flag overlay of the country where this next atrocity has occurred? Express my anger on Twitter, Facebook, on this blog? Sit glued to the unfolding news story as the horror of a city, of a nation unfolds before us? That media self flagellation of speculation and talking to witnesses who escaped near death?

Security measures get tighter and tighter at airports for those of us flying, and yet we can’t stop assholes from blowing themselves up where the families say goodbye, where loved ones wait for reunions.

I travel a lot, and my anxiety grows with each flight, every new famous monument we visit. We were in Paris two days before the attacks in November 2015. It felt close, WAY too close.

But it’s not just airport and iconic monument targets.

It has been a year and a half since my cousin was held as a hostage in a cafe in Sydney. Just a regular day where she and her friend were having a coffee and a catch up. My cousin Julie walked out of that cafe. Her friend Katrina did not.

Why?

If we #prayforturkey does that make it so that these attacks will never happen again? Did it change anything  when we #prayedforparis?

There is a heartbreaking video that makes me bawl my eyes out, of a french father explaining to his young son that they don’t have to leave Paris, because they have flowers to keep them safe. It is here, and as touching and inspirational as that video is, it is gut wrenching when you realize that child is growing up in a post 9/11 world where terrorist attacks are the norm, and it is not a question of if, it is a question of when.

 

 

Sweetpea is Dead

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My name is Paris, and I am not your “Sweetie”, “Sweetpea” or your “Honey”. I am a twenty seven year old adult (as far as you know) that works near you.

There is only one man who is allowed to call me Sweetie, and he wears ugly crocks, speaks bad french and gave me half of my last name (love you Dad).

So why is it, that I find myself being pet-named on frequent occasions, by dudes (and its 99% of the time dudes) I barely know? It is beyond frustrating, rude and very very unprofessional. Haven’t these fuckers watched Mad Men? We don’t want to be cute-sied, we want us to be taken FUCKING seriously. EVERY time some rent-a-suit calls me “Sweetie” I feel my Spice-Girl raised Girl Power soul shrivel and cringe inside. I am woman hear me ROAR.

Why is this happening?

I look down at myself today. Black jeans, black top, side braid, wedges. Nope, as I suspected, not wearing something that could have me be mistaken for a small child on a swing with a broken ice cream cone.

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My attitude? Friendly, bubbly, outgoing. Not ditzy.

Okay. Maybe I’m being sensitive, maybe I should be careful not to fall town the Tumblrina rabbit hole of getting everyone to check their privilege (BOW TO THE POWER OF MY ALL ENCOMPASSING OVARIAN FEMALE MIGHT) but really, I mean really.

Do I look like a Sweetie? Does Madonna get called fucking Sweetpea before she opens a jar of jam with her brickhard thighs? Does Hilary Clinton get “Honey”?

Obama: Hi Honey, just letting you know I’m going to endorse you for president okay pumpkin?

How come I never hear blokes I’ve worked with getting pet names (unless you work in Australia and count ‘Cunt’ as an affectionate pet name)?

It boggles my mind that a man would think its totally fine to call me sweetie, but would NEVER EVER call someone of the same age, and position, different gender, a cute-sy name.

And I wish I could say, “oh its just the older generation, they don’t know any better” but no. No it isn’t. Guys very barely my senior do this. Have they forgotten my name? Is it like when you call someone “Buddy” because you can’t remember and it has been too long and you are afraid to ask?

Thankfully I am not alone in my frustrations. There are plenty of articles online claiming that these “terms of endearment” are actually subtle ways of belittling or condescending strong women in the work force, and urging professional ladies to put their foot down.

Suggestions for combating Sweetie-itis seem to run along the “just say politely do you mind not calling me that” lines, which seems way less dramatic than what I was thinking: morphing into a huge psychotic bitch that no one would dare condescend to and spritzing people with bear mace until they learn.

Sweetpea is dead people. Now, there is only Zuul… I mean Paris.

 

 

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…or maims you horrifically for life

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I like that saying: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”(WDKYMYS). It sounds good, it’s inspirational. It makes you think “Heck, things were tough/awful/soul destroying – but I’m still here!!”

People have appropriated that saying into songs (looking at you Kelly Clarkson), put it on T-shirts, tattooed it on their bodies, put it over pictures of sunsets and posted it on each others walls when their friends have been dumped by jerk’s named Derrick (fuck you Derrick you meanie!)

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I like the expression, but I don’t know if I always agree with it.

Because sometimes things kill you a little bit inside and they make you feel weaker, they throw off your game.

Was Leo’s character stronger at the end of the Revenant after he got fucked up by a bear, watched his son get murdered, was left for dead and then had to crawl through the snow and shit of 1800’s Canada to Murder my future ex-husband/baby-daddy Tom Hardy’s character? (Oh yeah, spoiler alert… but seriously if you haven’t seen that movie yet get your shit together – it was nominated for and lost best picture like 5 months ago).

I mean…I guess he was stronger – like how calluses get stronger on the tops of your feet. But he was also weaker because he had lost his humanity, and he was a murderer murderer and he was gross (like a callus – see how I tied all that together? Yay Creative Writing Masters degree)

I wonder if people use WDKYMYS as a way to excuse awful situations they don’t know how to extricate themselves from?

I’d consider myself a strong person who has faced some challenges. Would I exchange them for an easy life where some of the shitty things didn’t happen to me? Yes of course! I’m not insane. Faced with two choices: an easy road and a hard, bush-basher of a path, I think most of us would choose the easy option.

But life doesn’t work like that, and there are plenty of things that will try to throw you off the plans you’ve made, a death in the family, a financial set-back, a painful divorce, an unexpected illness.

So I propose a re-word. “What doesn’t kill you makes you different” – because not all things make you stronger, and thats okay too.

You are not a failure if you come out of a near-death-esque experience and think: “well that fucking sucked” and you’re not stronger.

End of Thought.

 

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.

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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).

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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.

 

We need to talk about guns: Why I stopped watching the news

Yesterday a reporter was shot. Live on Camera.

The studio host reacting to live events: aka her colleague getting shot live on air

The studio host reacting to live events: aka her colleague getting shot live on air

The internet was exploding with screen grabs, articles, posts from people, THE VIDEO. The video of the asshole who shot that Reporter Alison Parker and her Cameraman, Adam Ward.
And then! before he was caught, the shooter posted the Video of him attacking those poor people from his go-pro on Twitter….

What do you say? What is there to say when someone is shot and murdered, live on Television? Or in a mass school shooting? Or in a bank for money, or because of drugs… or what EVER?! What do you say when there are these pain inflicting, life ending objects called guns and people use them to kill/intimidate/make a point/grab a moment of media attention out in the world, and every day there seems to be another report of such and such violence and fear and death?

At the end of last year, like most Australians abroad and at home, I was glued to the Television and Radio because an insane person took hostages at a Cafe in Sydney, my former home town. I was shocked and horrified, as we all were as a nation… only to discover that my (pregnant) cousin Julie was one of those 18 hostages.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 15:  People run with there hands up from the Lindt Cafe, Martin Place during a hostage standoff on December 15, 2014 in Sydney, Australia.  Police stormed the Sydney cafe as a gunman has been holding hostages.  (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 15: Julie Taylor runs  from the Lindt Cafe, Martin Place during a hostage standoff on December 15, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Police stormed the Sydney cafe as a gunman has been holding hostages. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images)

I cannot describe how your feeling of fear and sadness and general “that is horrible”- ness, suddenly slides into panic. The TV, the news, it becomes your only lifeline to unfolding events as you try to understand:

Why is this happening?

Why is it that every time I read the news there is always, somewhere, someone, who bought a gun and used it on somebody else.

And why are we surprised?

I’m not pointing the finger at America, but it does seem to be the country who advocates the most for their right to own a gun, to have a gun in their car or out in public.

And every time someone is murdered, in a church or school or on live TV, those NRA fuckers put out some fantastical one liner like: “Gun’s don’t kill people, people kill people.” Or they use a mass shooting as an example like: “well see now… if we had more guns, none of this would have happened.”

LIGHTBULB: Lets all get guns to protect ourselves against those people who already have guns. And then maybe we should think about getting mini-guns for our guns, because what if those other peoples guns try to attack our guns. HOW ARE OUR GUNS GOING TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM OTHER GUNS?! Are you a Patriot?! DON’T YOU WANT TO BE SAFE?!

It’s gotten to the point where I just can’t watch the news anymore. I’ll read the headline, I’ll be informed. But I can’t watch another reporter talk to local eye witnesses, or muse on why this has happened. I can’t hear that everybody in the community is devastated and asking themselves… why, WHY?

We know the reason. Every time it’s the same.

Guns.

I don’t care about why the shooter did it.

So many statements, so many people feeling heard at the end of a Gun.

I care about the people, and the families torn apart (like Katrina Dawson, my cousins friend and former bridesmaid who died on the scene in that cafe in Sydney and left behind 3 small children), the communities who are still rocked, the people who now live in fear.

How did the reporters feel yesterday, reporting on the reporter who was shot?

I can’t bear to watch the segments, the speculation, the talking heads. I just can’t.

As a former reporter my goosebumps rose, as a fellow human being, my heart hurt.

It feels like a waiting game, where will the next psycho with a gun go off?

And what are we going to do about it?

Far from “home”

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It’s way early in the morning in the city I live in and I’ve been awake for hours.

I fell asleep right after work and set an alarm to check the reviews on a movie I’m supporting as part of my shiny new job in Public Relations.

But I’ve had trouble falling back asleep.

Mostly it’s just having invisible and insignificant arguments with people that are pissing me off lately (good god how I need to learn to let things go) and cat video’s I’ve fallen behind on watching (what with the schedule of my life at the moment).

But then there’s the other the thing. The family thing.

It’s always the big questions that keep you awake at night. The rest is just padding.

My 92 year old Grandmother is in the hospital after a nasty cold left over from the weekend, and complications with her breathing.

Suddenly, the sweet old lady I send christmas cards to, and call on Birthdays and Holidays, but barely think about, has come back to the centre of my mind. Front and centre.

Updates from my Dad via text and email keep me in the loop, and Nana and I have spoken on the phone a few times (once I heard exasperation in her voice – “oh it’s my granddaughter calling me from Canada… again”).

Suddenly we have gone from acquaintances to “I’m all up in her business”.

And sadly, that is what we are. Family acquaintances. Not up in her business. Ya know?

Never has it bothered me so much as it does now, that I don’t really know my Grandmother, and it suddenly hits me like a tonne of bricks… fuckkkkk my grandma’s old. 92. Fuck. You know what else is 92 years old? This Kodak film building they demolished last month. Why’d they demolish it? Because it was falling apart.

Things that get old tend to do that.

So I’m up late at night wondering how I never made it a priority to get to know the woman who birthed my dad who in turn birthed me (I think that’s how babies work… right?)

Growing up, we spent most years in cities far away from where she has always lived (Perth, the west coast of Australia). When I turned 18 and got to decide things for myself (yay adulthood) I lived in Sydney (the east coast of Australia) and then randomly moved to Toronto, Canada… literally the furthest away place from my Grandmother as possible.

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And I suppose the whole situation really snowballed in my mind (as things do) about the fragility of life (blah blah) and how fucking hard it would be to get to somewhere last minute.

Not a whole lot of flights direct Toronto —> Perth.

In fact, there are none. If there was an emergency, I couldn’t get “home” to my Nana in less than 24 hours, IF there was a flight. Same deal in reverse, if something terrible happened to me, geographically there would just be no way for my family to get to me quickly.

And so, here I am lying awake in the morning, wondering how my expat, travel brat lifestyle is really going to translate long term. My parents are young and healthy (thankfully) but they wont be forever.

Not one of my Grandmothers grandkids live in the same city as her (and there are six of us). We live in Sydney x 2, London, Toronto, Vancouver and somewhere in Europe (I can’t keep up).

Gone is the generation of living in the same place forever, or at least in my family.

It makes me think (brain whirring) in the middle of the night, what I would do in a worst case scenario (or I guess, second worst case scenario, as the first worst case would be a zombie attack and let me tell you, I am fully armed and ready for that – just in case any of you come back as zombies… just know that I am ready so….)

How would I get home, what would the steps be, how much would it cost, what would I do about work… the questions pile up and yet the answer is simple.

I would go home.

I would make it work.

America made Gay Marriage legal and Australia didn’t

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I’m not American, but I grew up on American TV, Cereal and Pop Culture. At age 11 my dream was to marry Aaron Carter, join Destiny’s child and have a cool american flag strappy top with a choker necklace.

 

Pretty much my amazing fashion style age 11-14

Pretty much my amazing fashion style age 11-14)

America was the place to be according to MTV back in the 90’s. I wanted to be a cool chick like the girls in ‘She’s all that’ (I was very much not all that in middle school) with a yellow roofless jeep and I wanted to say things like “hey girl!” and “get in bitches we’re going shopping” (I remember the first time my mother overheard me call a friend a “bitch” like “hey Bitch” – that shit did not go down well.)

As I got older and moved around the world, I realized that America was pretty cool, but there were a lot of other pretty sweet places to live. Hong Kong was an amazing city, and it was there that I really came into contact with a lot of American families (oh my god… they’re just like us!) and University in Australia was schweeeeeet (that vegemite, Passion Pop and Goon though). As an Adult I moved to Canada (so close to my 14 year old dreams) and actually went to America. It was pretty cool and there were parts that I loved but…

America also scared me.

There were guys in LA standing on the side of the streets with big aggressive signs that said things like: “God hates Fags!” and “Enjoy your Sodomy in Hell”.

This was pretty jarring as my previous world experience came from cities like Sydney (which has a healthy gay community), Hong Kong where drag queens were out and about in clubs, and Canada where gay marriage has been legal for ten years and the pride festival shuts down the city.

America was like the alcoholic, gun-toting, racist/homophobic uncle that you liked to see now and again but wouldn’t let around your children.

And then yesterday happened.

America passed Gay marriage, country wide. Love won out, and while the glitter settled and the world rejoiced, something stuck sorely in my mind.

Gay Marriage is still not legal in Hong Kong or Australia.

Two of the countries I would consider to be home do not allow awesome people like my brothers and my aunt (with 3 gorgeous kids) to get married to the people they love. Two of the places that felt like wonderful, gay-friendly countries, (compared to “scary America”) actually afford less legal rights and equality to people like this:

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And that really sucks. Australia paints itself as a liberal country, have-a-go, fair-dinkum. We call ourselves “the lucky country” and boy have there been times where I’ve felt lucky to be Australian. Visa’s to most country are easy as fuuuuuck, we have Medicare, an amazing education system and weather that can’t be beat. Everybody I’ve ever met lights up when I tell them I am Australian. Everybody loves us, or the idea of us (like how 11 year old me felt about Aaron Carter).

But what the hell Australia?! This country which has no guns, and preaches tolerance and claims to be forward thinking, still won’t allow certain people to get married because reasons?

Come on Australia, that is bullshit.

New Zealand (our younger, smaller, brother) passed gay marriage and this happy thing happened (get your tissues out):

What the fuck is our problem?

Unlike America, the church does not play that big of a role in our countries culture. In 2011 the census recorded that 5 million people (of our 20 million strong population) ticked “no religion” on their census forms.

So what? What the hell is keeping us from making marriage equality a thing. And if we pass it now, is it because we’re copying The US? We used to be a forward thinking country, carved from the rock and harsh soil by convicts and 2nd chancers.

Hurry the fuck up Australia, or you run the risk of being left behind in the dark ages.

And people like me, the young people, the educated people will stay away. We’ll marry our Aaron Carters and we won’t come home.

Figure it out.