5 things I thought would be different when I left home

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It has been almost 10 years since I left home and went out into the wild, scary, unknown world of adulthood living. I feel like I was truly and utterly underprepared for what was out there, and had I known, I’d have pulled a jew-dude (TM) and stayed at home until I was thirty.

But just like with black, there’s really no going back once you have fled the familial nest.

I just had so many misconceptions on what I thought living away from my parents would look like.

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  1. “I can eat whatever I want!”
    Oh, oh…ohhh how I dream of the lovingly prepared home cooked meals of yesteryear. So angry and angsty was I, when a meal was NOT EXACTLY what I felt like eating, but instead an equal measure of vegetables, meat and grains. MEAT! Do you know how expensive that shit is?! What I would give, to have two middle aged people cooking for me three times a day…
  2. “I can stay up SO late”
    Want to know what I did Friday, Saturday and Sunday night this past weekend? Binge watched The Wire (because I’m about 15 years behind in my television programming at this point). I am a morning person, so around 10/10.30pm I start to fade fast. I used to think living away from my parents would be sooooooo wicked because I could just drink and party and watch movies all night long…Turns out my favourite thing these days is sleep. Yeah. I’m pretty cool actually.

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  3. “I do what I want!”
    So long as it doesn’t cost money. Seriously. Sometimes over the last few years I have had all of the freedom and none of the money (funemployed/between contracts) and other times I have had some of the money and none of the time (J.O.B). When can I have all of the money and all of the freedom? (right…right…when I rob a bank Oceans Eleven style…got it…have you guys SEEN that movie? It just came out recently in 2001)
  4. “I can date whoever I choose!”
    Remember when your parents hated that guy you were dating in High School and you were like IHATEYOUWEAREINLOVEyoudon’tunderstandmeGETOUTOFMYROOM! Yeah well. Turns out they were right. Man when I was single, I would have given my left ovary (she’s the gimpy one I suspect) for my parents to be hovering over my shoulder as I swiped like: “No. No. No. Yes Paris. No he will have a weird thing for feet. No. No. What about that nice boy from the coffee shop?” It turns out I just wanna date guys that my parents will like and not weirdo’s with spider-man face tattoo’s. Go figure.
  5. “I’m going to get a creative job and YOU CAN’T STOP ME!”
    In grade 12 when picking degree time came, my mother said to me: “Do a degree with the name of a job in it” and I laughed in her face as I applied for my Bachelor of Arts. I guess, if you were to squint your eyes, choke yourself a bit until no oxygen went to your brain and then smoked some meth – you could really consider my whole life one elaborate “Art”. “So what do you do Paris?” oh me? I’m Art. Yeah I studied it at University. In reality, life has been interesting in the working world (#noregrets) but I definitely find myself veering more towards the corporate world as I see all my fellow creatives struggling and think fucccckthatshit. Oh you live in a basement apartment with your sibling, sister and co-business partners and you work in a deli 3 days a week but your new album just dropped on myspace? Cool dude, Imma go over here and work on my excel skills though….

So many people I know have babies now. Literally holding an infant a week ago and thinking: “this adorable squishy baby girl is going to slam a door in your face some day.”

I wish I could go back ten years and slap some sense into my 17 year old self. Eat my free meals, get my free laundry, and remind myself that unfortunately…your parents were right. Uh! Gross.

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.

 

13 things I have learned over 13 flights in 5 weeks

  1. Push the bounds of Hand Luggage
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    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
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    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

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    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
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    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
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    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

“Client”: The new buzzword for Late Gen Y’rs and Millenials

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Listen. I get it. In todays competitive employment market, with many of the jobs of our parents disappearing, it’s not enough to be just one thing. Diversification is the name of the game if you didn’t do a degree with the name of a job in it (heyyyyooooo – right here). Multiple skills, multiple ways to market yourself. Very few creative people I know are ONLY Graphic Designers or ONLY Musicians. They are also Servers, or photographers. People have side businesses and projects, multiple streams of income to survive in an increasingly expensive world.

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However, with the rise of entrepreneurs and people working for themselves, freelancing and working outside of the “norm”, I have noticed an increasingly hilarious trend in the language people use to describe themselves and what they do. And the most overused word is “Client”.

Me: So, how are you?
Guy I made up: Great great. Just had a really productive meeting with a client.
Me: Do you mean Brian? Your friend Brian? That guy with the man-bun and the vegan hair shampoo blog? I saw you guys through the window before I came in. Remember I met him three weeks ago at that weird art show where a girl peed in a bucket and called it the oppression of meninism? (just kidding you guys – I don’t look at art… or buckets…or weird chicks with weird explanations for stupid shit they do – they are around, I just close my eyes and don’t look like LALALALALA)
Guy I made up: Oh yeah Brian…well we’re collaborating on a project so…

Thats another word. Collaborate.

*shudder*

Don’t get me wrong. I use the word “Client” and I use the word “Collaborate” – they are great words and sometimes they are appropriate. Tomorrow I’m off to collaborate on a shoot for a pilot (read: work for free on a project I hope to one day use as a vehicle to convince people that I’m great and to pay me a fuck tonne of money). And I have had clients recently, or as I like to call them, random-non-full-time-companies-or-people-who-help-me-pay-my-rent-sometimes.

Let’s get serious… I’m not a small business… not a real one. I’m a loud-mouthed creative-type with the self confidence to sell myself as a product. That’s it. People say “oh hey can you do this one thing for money?” and I go, “yeah”.

You can dress it any way you want. You can throw words around that sound interesting, all the other twenty-something’s will be reaaaaal impressed and mentally catalogue that expression themselves for next time.

Buuuuuuhuuut, it seems to me that while having multiple “clients”, “collaborations” and “projects” on the go and talking about them on the reg may make you seem like you’re moving up in the world and creating your own success story to those around you, the downside of these buzzwords is that your parents think you’re actually doing alright, and finally cut you off financially for good (god forbid).

Toe the line my fellow creatives, remember we’re mostly all a month or two of unemployment away (heyooooo right here) from eating two meals a day and doing our laundry in the sink.

America, the Australia to Canada’s New Zealand

The United States of America.

Land of Supersize Me, The statue of Liberty, George Bush and Corn Syrup Paradise.

After talking too much about how I love to travel and see new things, and having not really traveled or seen any new things outside of Ontario since September 2011, I decided it was time to try that might land, connected to the mighty land I live in, that has a very similar culture, but arguably better food, weirder people, and the Cheesecake Factory.

And so I booked flights to Boston.

Lets not go crazy here. I was just going for the weekend, and I wanted to dip my toe into the United States. Boston was the perfect compromise. It was also kind of the halfway point between Toronto and Miami, the destination my travel companion was coming from (no don’t look at the map, just take my word for it. It’s halfway). SO off I went, a little nervous considering my last experience with American immigration (when I had to transfer at Newark airport and saw a vaguely Arab looking guy being escorted to a little room). I left Toronto on Porter Airline, and landed in sunny Boston.

From the air, Boston looks tiny, but I found over the weekend that it is a hugely interesting and vivacious city, packed into a small space.

The lady at immigration wanted to know my life story (in a nice way) telling me in her thick Bawwwwston drawl that she has always wanted to visit Australia. My line stopped moving and the people behind me moved on to other queues until I was the last one. She was laughing and giving me travel tips. WOW! Maybe I love America!

The guy who stopped me when I was wheeling my bag was less friendly, crew-cut, beefy, he looked through every page of my passport asking me questions like:

“Where you staying? How long are you staying for? Who do you know in Boston?”

When I answered truthfully that I don’t know anyone but that I was meeting my friend from Miami, he glared at me suspiciously and said:

“You have an Australian paaayyysport but you don’t have an Australian ayyyyccent”

When I began to explain that I had lived overseas for a number of years, he made a kind of growling sound, thrust my payyysport back into my hand and rounded on the Asian couple struggling with the cheap blue, red and white carrier bags coming of the carousel.

But then it was freedom! Hello USA!

The weekend was insanely fun. We did so much stuff and loved every minute of it. We went shopping on Newbury street, we went to Fenway Park home of the Red Sox, walked the freedom trail with a guide in period dress, supposedly related to the guy he was playing, we went to Quincy market where I ate clam chowder (which tasted a bit sandy to me if I’m being honest), we went to Harvard, the Aquarium and we ate and drank ourselves into a coma at every available opportunity.

Yes the portion sizes in America seemed bigger, and there were definitely some SUPER weirdos on the train (which we conquered thankyouverymuch) but over-all, I found the Bostonians to be an EXTREMELY friendly bunch of people. Americans clearly love Aussies, I didn’t pay for a drink all weekend as they were always being bought for me and wanted to tell me about their cousins/friends/neighbours living in Bondi/Melbourne/the Gold Coast. They are smiley and they think my accent is adorable and hilarious (even though they are the ones you can barely understand…take that stupid airport guy). They are a cultured bunch and they have a beautiful lifestyle with their huge water front, history interposed with modern conveniences, and their love of good food.

For a first time experience to the United States, I would rate it highly and I would love to go back once I’ve seen more of America.

But it was nice too, to land back in Toronto, and feel comfort looking at the familiar CN tower glowing in the darkness, and realize that Toronto feels more and more like home.

🙂
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Our tour Guide

Our Tour Guide

 

Fenway Park

 

Harvard University

 

Beautiful Architecture in the City

 

Drinking with the Locals (after they had a re-enactment)

 

 

A wider education

It’s hard to be creative sometimes when the days of office work whiz past and there are relationships and commitments and financial obligations to juggle. You have a blog space sitting right there, beckoning you to splurge and blheurghk all your ideas and musings right out into the open so everyone can see. And it’s hard, because each day that passes is marked UC, UnCreative.

And thus it has been over a week since I posted. I went from posting once a day, to three times a week, to when I can manage it. Rather like my Gym attendance (hello size 12 verging on 14).

But I have finally found the time, between work and social and all the other things that eat up my time to finally discuss something I’ve been thinking about:

A Wider Education.

My youngest brother is about to start at the University of Sydney (which is where I went to for four years), my other brother is mid-way through his degree, constantly looking for ways out – or other travel adventures to escape to.

Recently I’ve been reviewing the contracts of new international staff applying at our summer camp. Their resumes and cover letters are interesting, they all seem to be well-educated, thrill-seeking types who are after something a little bit different.

We have Uni students coming from England. We have full-time workers coming from Australia. I read their personal essay’s and look through their resumes and ask myself, what is it that attracts this group of people to this experience?

It is the same thing that drew me to Canada 8 months ago. The search for the unknown, the restless desire to be somewhere new, new experiences, new places, new people, actions which lead us to become more diversified and interesting, adding more colours to our shimmery identity, more skills to be learned. To add more strings to our bows.

There are plenty of people in this world stuck in a formulaic existence, to some extent, I would have classed myself in that group prior to ditching my life and staying in Toronto. I was good at school (for the most part), got good grades (except in Maths), did what I was told, got a good University entrance score, didn’t fail any units, finished my Bachelor of Arts and got my Masters.

Okay so I’m leaving out some minor details, like the fact I went to 3 different international schools in Asia, and that my family life completely imploded when I was in year 12, but the gist is the same. Each Uni holiday I would go “home” to one or the other of my parents homes (Hong Kong or Perth). I never went with my friends through their global trecks. Uni holiday time was family time as my family was thousands of Kilometres away.

It was only when I was doing my Masters degree that I realized I might have to put in a little bit more effort, that I wasn’t just going to walk from school to Uni, from Uni to the perfect job. So I started interning.

Interning is an amazing way to get a foot in the door in places, you do a lot of bitch work but you also learn a lot. I consider my 5 months of free work for Freehand productions as an invaluable part of my education. It was wider education.

Travel is part of my wider education. Living in Toronto, learning about North Americans from the inside out is part of my wider education. Learning how to move places on a whim, is part of my education, that I’m sure will serve me down the road. Even working my kind of boring office job is teaching me something, a core unit of study in the University of life (perhaps, how to sit the f*ck down, shut the f*ck up and get on with it.)

I try to never overlook the value of things I do in my life – even if they seem irrelevant or annoying, or wastes of time. Recently I did a VERY amateur dramatic production of a Panto – Goldilox and the Bears. I bitched and moaned, PRETTY much through the whole production. I constantly whined about doing rehearsals three times a week, but I now realize it got me through the heart of winter. It gave me a purpose and a place to be. It made me feel like I was part of a community again, and has actually given me an idea about putting on a show of my own.

You can’t underestimate the power of a wider education.

It’s the different experiences of each of us that make us more interesting and diverse human beings. I’m glad that I’ve taken risks and made mistakes, and had moments of absolute-what-the-hell-am-I-doing-with-my-life-ery.

I hope that if you are reading this blog, you challenge yourself to gain a wider education.

The Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory of my life’s existence

I adored the ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ book and film as a child and vowed that one day, when I was rich (and famous, in my mind those two things always went hand in hand) enough, I would make that infinite candy land a reality.

I think like most kids, the magic of the chocolate river and surrounding candy trees stemmed from the vastness of that land, the endless delicious potential and the way the children were encouraged to partake of the scrumptious surroundings (well…except when they went and took things they were told not too…like poor old Augustus Gloop – but that’s ruining the metaphor that I’m about to get to).

Even though I don’t have daffodil candy cups to drink out of and then devour, I’d say that life has pretty much become the candy field of my dreams. Every day presents a new delicious possibility. The world is that Candy field.

As I subway-ed with my roomie Jem this morning, we looked up at the Toronto train line and compared where we had been on the that multi-coloured bisected squiggely “U”. Jem went to Uni here for four years but is a PEI native, and I’ve been here 8 months (nearly 9! wow!) and between us we haven’t been to all that many stops on the Subway line.

As we train surfed and bumped into our fellow subwayer’s (actually quite a nice experience as everyone is padded up in the winter jackets) we talked about how we need to randomly jump on the train and get off at a new stop to see what there is to see.

It’s hard not to get bogged down in the routine of every day life. I’ve only really been living in Toronto six months (because the first two I was up in Haliburton at Camp) and yet I’m already pretty routined up. Work is a routine, you get up, wash your face, brush your hair, put on your clothes, eat some breakfast, grab your bag and head for the subway. You get to work, do your thing, then you go home, make dinner, have a shower, watch something on your laptop and then go to bed. All to be repeated the following day. Sure there are mid-week variations, you might see a movie or grab some dinner, but usually there are cinemas or restaurants you always go to. It seems varied but it isn’t.

Hence the Jem and Paris plan to shake things up a bit and randomly go somewhere in Toronto. Variety is the spice of life – it’s something my mum always says but it truly is true.

Another thing my Mum loves to say is:

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”

Ain’t that hard-edge-of-the-hammer-that-smashes-you-in-the-head truth?

Basically, if there is something crappy in your life, it isn’t going to change itself. If you always plant corn in the spring, you’re going to harvest corn in the fall (I am totally making shit up now…I know nothing about farming). But do you get what I’m saying?

I’m not sure if it is fear or laziness that keeps us trapped as prisoners in our own lives. For me it can be both of varying scales. On a smaller scale, eating at different restaurants is a laziness thing. I know what food I like and I know places to get it. I know the movie theatres that are nearby and so I go there.

The fear thing comes in more when people talk about big changes. A friend of mine that I met in an awful amdram play I am doing, tells me she wants to move to Australia. Yes there may or may not be a guy involved. My advice is DO IT! She tells me how she doesn’t love her job and she’s not always so happy. I told her the quote above and she sighs and tells me it’s not that easy.

No. It’s not easy to change things. Most people (including myself) fear change.

But it’s the struggles and the big leaps which often yield the most fabulous rewards.

Think:
-Getting Married
-Moving Countries
-Having a baby
-Changing Jobs
-Traveling
-Writing that novel
-Committing to that creative project.

If Charlie had never bought that chocolate bar, if he’d gone on as he had, then what would have happened? His two sets of grandparents would still be sharing that one double bed.

And he never would have got to try that floating lemonade.