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.

Things I wish I knew before I did my Masters of Creative Writing AKA you should have spent your money on shoes

Hey Past Paris, how’s it going? So adorable that you just turned 21 and that you’re finishing up your Bachelor of Arts degree. It’s a miracle you passed every subject (hey…a 51 is still a pass OKAY) and that they’re ACTUALLY going to let you graduate when you were supposed to. All those last minute assignments you handed in (some that you began the DAY they were due and were mostly just made up sentences that you hoped made sense because lets be hungover…you drank 7/7 days of the week) were totally worth it, and now, because that 3 years went by in a flash, you’re thinking you’ll do a Masters Degree because you aren’t quite ready to join the real world? That’s sweet, and a great idea considering Australia has this Higher Education thing where you don’t have to start paying back your student loans until you make over a certain amount of money (don’t worry – you’ll flee the country before that happens/at this rate – you’ll never make more than that minimum amount anyhow!).

Except a Masters today does not hold the currency it used to, dear old past me. They’re handing those out like free condoms at the walk-in clinic, and by the time you’re twenty two, you’ll have yours, and everyone will assume you’re a genius in North America (because they make them do like four year degrees or some shit) but we all know you’re just a chicken who applied for the program the day it was closing, and who nearly didn’t make it because you forgot your passport, so you had to use your feminie wiles (and your tears) to convince the dickhead at student services to process your application.

And that Masters in Creative Writing (dear god why didn’t you do something like marketing or business-y so you could actually find a real job?!) is going to be a great talking point… but here are some home truths:

More Valuable than your Masters, is the Interning you do:
The Master’s contact hours I had were a joke. 7pm-9pm Monday-Thursday. Sure there was a lot of writing involved – but I did that ANYWAY because I love writing. SO to fill my time (and feed myself) I got a job doing shitty admin (this is what  has led to more jobs in the future, so thank you universe!) and got stuck into interning for free at a Television Production Company 3 days a week.

This is where I discovered my true passion and the career path I had vaguely known I wanted all along. Turns out  I am a WHIZ at juggling people on set, in a production office, PR people, people I need to get things from (like permission to film for free on a set) 20 year old reality “stars”, major networks and crew. Turns out I thrived on the drama, and learn’t more in 8 months interning (and then being hired and paid!) than I did from sitting in a classroom analyzing the screenplay for Scar face.

Get used to Temping/Retail while you look for that foot in the door:

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Truth be told, had I stayed in Australia, I would have worked on a bunch more shows by now. The production company I interned at loved me (the feeling was mutual!) and they would have found me another position (in research or production). But I knew I’d get stuck in the Australian industry. And hot off the press from a breakup and the completion of four years in one place (I get claustrophobic when I stay still too long) I decided it was now or never to try somewhere new. And so I found myself in a new market, starting from the bottom all over again, networking and having to re-make contacts. SO retail and Temping is what pays the bills and allows me to keep trying to be as fabulous as I can be. It isn’t glamorous but I am damn thankful for it, and it is pretty crazy who you may meet when you’re in a new office/talking to customers. If you are genuine and people are interested in you – they will do what they can – you’ll be surprised to discover who wants to help you/the connections they have if they know what you are trying to do.

You need to learn how to use multiple coffee machines/how to effectively stack a dishwasher:

A run-on from the Temping thing. Mostly what I’m asked to do in a day could occupy two hours out of eight. Answering phones, creating a few fedex orders and crafting a couple emails. Mainly you’ll be unstacking/stacking the dishwasher and making yourself fancier and fancier coffees (mainly due to boredom and or your secret mad scientist sensibilities and not due to your love of coffee).
Maybe you should have gone to Barista school and not got a Masters. Just saying. You’d probably be making more money by now.

Mostly what you’ll write is your blog:
Without those deadlines and people breathing down your neck, it’s going to take a lot of will power to finish projects. Sure you’ll go through writing frenzies, but to actually complete something… yeah not so much. But adorable that you thought you’d be a novelist by now. Uhhhh-dorable. *sobs*

People who did boring degree’s will have way more money than you and/or actual grownup lives:

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That girl in the year below you at college who was studying chemical engineering that you stalk on Twitter and Facebook? Yeah. She just bought an apartment, is engaged, has a pet bulldog and makes 5x more than you did last year (yeah but her tax rebate was probably nothing so HA!). If you wanted to be rich you should have listened to your parents and done a degree with the name of a job in it (hey… Writer is a job…).

The good news is, you’re chasing your dreams and will probably not hate your job (when you get one) and will not just be living for the weekend.
The bad news is, while you’re chasing those dreams you’re going to be eating baked beans on toast at least 3 nights a week.
Yay for Creatives. *Hugs self tightly and rocks*

People are impressed you did a Masters of Creative Writing, because they always figured themselves a Writer… but it’s not going to get you hired…yet:
The number of times interviewers have been impressed that my Masters is in Creative Writing… well it’s a lot. The number of times they’ve been so impressed by the fact that I hold that degree and thought “we need to hire this ridiculously awesome girl!!” is not many. Scratch that. Maybe it’s none. (Pretty sure the interning thing is what has gotten me hired in the past)

There is a difference between people being impressed/jealous of the degree you got, and the way they figure that that degree equals revenue in their business/justifies your salary.

I’m sorry, I thought this advertisement was for an amazingly hilarious Australian girl who grew up in Hong Kong, can stack ALL of the dishes in one tray. is really good at Facebook and can make you an exquisite blend of hazelnut latte and hot chocolate. No? hmmm. That is strange. Anyway while i’m here i’ll just drop off my Resume…

You will probably think a lot about doing a more relevant degree/PHD:

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There is no way in hell I can afford international student fee’s here in Canada, so if i plan on getting further education – it’s back to Australia I go. And while that wouldn’t be so bad, I’m not sure I could handle being a full time student again. I may not be rich now, but i’m hella richer than I was as a student AND my parents were still helping me out at the time.
But I have thought about it. Two guys I’ve dated in the past got their MBA’s and people are doing the PhD thing now. I feel like, if I hadn’t done my Masters right after my BA, I would have appreciated it more (although moving off campus made my results sky-rocket and put me at the top of the class!)
But knowing me, i’d probably just want to study something fun and creative again, like, get a Masters in Stand up Comedy, or a PhD in Blogging.

 

I don’t live my life with regrets, and not for a second would I change my Masters degree, because I loved it, met some awesomely inspiring people – and got to do what I love.
I think i’d just make sure I had less lofty aspirations. Cos… like… I’ll be 25 in a month and I haven’t won an Academy award yet…

But there’s still 30 days!

OK GO.

Cosmo Sex Tips are ruining my life

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As an English Major I’ve read a lot of literature in my time, and I continue to read everything from the Game of Thrones series, sci-fi books like Enders Game, biographies and all the chick-lit in between. So for me a Magazine is like junk food for my brain. 

I mean who doesn’t want to look at pictures of chicks wearing hot stuff, with perfect makeup and hair, and be like pfffft I could be a model.

And there are articles in Magazines too. Some of them are great. Many of them relate to sex. Because thats all I’m into as a woman, clothes, and how to please my man. I just had to double check it’s not the 1950’s. Nope. phewph. 

Some of the sex tips are eyebrow raisers, some of them will outright get you punched in the face.

 

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…..there are no words. I’m trying to picture the guy I likes reaction if I tried this. Like, hey baby I want to fork you REALLY hard…in the butt. This one will definitely get you a punch in the face. Next tip from cosmo? Heat a spoon and stick it right up in there. Guys love this. Tonnes of nerves up there. Okay I may have gone a bit far. I’m gagging.

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Me: I TOLD you I like SUNFLOWERS. It remembers my favourite flower or else it gets the wax again.

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I feel like this is unhelpful. Because it’s lacking some very important information, like, when is this appropriate and kinda can you be more specific. I can’t wait to taste your toes. MMMMMM especially if you just got done sport or the gym. Nummynummy sweaty feet tastiness. I can’t wait to taste your beard. It’s…crunchy and delicious. I can’t wait to taste your elbow. Nibble nibble. Somebody call Lays, I think I just came up with their newest flavours. Also, when is this applicable. Dinner? Family dinner? At the bank? I need more information.

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Seriously? Should I just walk around being like WHOOPSIES?

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Why stop at water? Why not jelly? Or Ham? Why not whoopsie wet ham down the front of my shirt? That outta get his attention.

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Okay Cosmo. What I’m visualizing right now is I’m a lip licking, moaning clumsy babe, walking around with her butt poised in your general direction at all times, like entering rooms backwards, constantly kind of at a 90 degree angle. Batt eye-lashes. Now I’m irresistible?

 I’m pretty sure the guys I know would back slowly out of the room and then have me committed if I acted like this. Somewhere with soft walls and plenty of electromagnetic pulses. Which I’m sure the writers at cosmo would be totally into.

Eg:

Tip 18: next time he has you committed to a mental facility, try to sexy up the mood by playfully biting at your restraining straps. Arch your back seductively when they zap you with electricity. Those straight jackets are totally hot because they push your arms under your boobs making them look TOTES big.

No Cosmo.

Just no.

 

You don’t get it…I’m an ArTIsTe

Pursuing any kind of career is hard (unless you’re Bruce Wayne). Because of my interesting life, I know many interesting people (yay ME) from all industries scattered across the globe. Some of my best friends are medical-types, educators, health-related people, business savvy wizards, nine to fivers and of course creative types.

Each industry has its ladder to climb and no ladder is less challenging than any other.

But sometimes I wonder, if the Arts industry actually has a ladder? Maybe its more of greased up lightning rod you’re trying to climb? Or maybe where the ladder is supposed to be, there’s actually just an empty space with an artwork tag that says “Ladder” and four creative types (one in tattered jeans and some kind of slouchy headwear) are standing around describing how “post modern” and “eclectic” the ladder is. And just like in the Emperors new clothes you nod and agree and leap in the space it theoretically should be, only to fall flat on your face.

Are we still following?

Good. Lets move on.

I’ve had some experience trying to get a foothold on that elusive ladder…probably I’ve had more experience discussing how I should probably try and look for that ladder. Bitching about not being an academy award winning screenplay writer when I haven’t written a screenplay since 2010, and wondering why there are people younger than me who are more famous.

It’s a tough industry. I know a lot of talented creative people who gave up on their dreams to try for different careers. I know many creative people struggling to make what they love a priority and a full time gig, while busting their arses doing something else to pay the bills.

My Mother is a perfect example of someone in the latter category. Two nights ago she opened her new Directorial offering “My Big Gay Italian Wedding” which is completely sold out and pretty much was when the tickets first went on sale. She has had rave reviews and write ups. She is a Theatre DAHHLING in Hong Kong, and yet she, and her extremely talented cast and crew, are doing the play more for love than any other reason. There just isn’t money in it.

For the amount of time (and talent) that these men and women poor into a project, it would be nice to think that they could make the leap from teachers and bankers and general managers (who act and sing and direct on the side) to full-blown Artists or Creatives or whatever you want to call yourself.

But the truth is, that funding in the arts and for creative enterprises is limited no matter where you go. Part of the reason I didn’t go back to Australia, and have decided to stay in North America, is the possibility and opportunities here. I was fortunate enough to work on a TV show when I was finishing my masters in Sydney, however the opportunity of a second season for that show dried up because of the way the Television industry operates down there. It is simply too expensive to make home-grown products. Most episodes and series are imported from the states as it is cheaper.

Lots of my young, energetic creative friends have moved to LA or New York to try and break into industries there where the market is bigger. And what a shame that they do. The UK, Australia, Hong Kong…these countries are losing some great talent to places that seem like Creative Mecca’s.

That’s not to say that there aren’t people battling it out on home ground, doing what they love, trying to see what happens. Some guys I worked with on the previously mentioned TV show, used crowd-funding to get some cash together to make a reality of a creative project of theirs “The Weatherman”  which is going ahead in the next few months. But I know that for them it has been an uphill battle. I read some of their scripts while we would wait around like goons, and it is really funny, great stuff. Why shouldn’t it be made? And why shouldn’t they reap the benefits?

The Arts and Entertainment industry is often hard because it’s so competitive. It seems as though people are sometimes reluctant to help one another get that crucial foot in the door. It seems like once you’re in, you’re in, but that door is like the room of requirement at Hogwarts. You have to chant and chant what you want and hope that it materializes.

There is an element of being in the right place at the right time, of knowing the right people, of working hard, but for some it isn’t that easy. It is a difficult struggle to keep going, keep interning, keep writing, keep putting on shows, trekking to auditions practising, learning, all while trying to live everyday.

SO what am I getting at?

I guess I’m saying we all need to support the arts more. Go to plays, see up-and-coming bands, read each others work and give encouragement and feedback. And I guess I’m trying to say, keep going. If you are a creative person and thats what you want to do with your life, then go for it. Maybe things won’t turn out exactly as planned…Hey! That’s life and its a part of the journey, but Mama says:

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

So stick that up your ladder and deal with it!

Paris

Because I haven’t had a “what the hell am I doing with my life?” moment in a while

Dear Universe,

Hi, how’s it going? Remember when I turned twenty and I decided to throw away my foolish teen angst and exchange it for the melancholy of being a 20 something? I decided to write a list of things I wanted to achieve in the next five years as a way to not die of stress/boredom/whatever fucking hormones they’ve injected into the chickens I eat which now make me grow black hairs in places a fair-haired woman should not and make me a crazy person 9 out of 10 times during the day…

Remember? Remember Universe?!!? We had a deal! I’d put all of my hopes and dreams for the next five years on a piece of paper, and you… you would keep up your end of the bargain and make them all magically happen. Instantly. Just as I planned.

Like:

Win an Academy Award

Publish a book

Learn Another language and live in a country where I can use it

Buy some property

Do something notable that helps others

Well guess what Universe? In 2 months, I’ll be 24 years old.

HOLY COW BATMAN! you say, and I say it too, but you can’t really understand me because I’m curled up into a little ball with a pillow scrunched into my mouth, rocking violently from side to side shaking my head, moaning WHY WHY WHY to the sound of that biological clock ticking and the days of my beauty ebbing away.

So MAYBE (I’ll admit it here) some of these dreams were lofty, and MAYBE (I’ll admit) even though I WAS an extremely well-travelled 20-year-old, I didn’t really know shit about the world, having lived first in an Expat bubble, and then wrapped up in the world of Wesley College where my main concern each week was how many boxes of wine my friends and I could afford if we got Thai food 3 times that week too.

Perhaps I was a little naive in thinking that somebody would swoop down to my disgusting room and say:

“WOW! YOU! YOU TALENTED STUNNING YOUNG CREATURE! EVEN THOUGH YOU BARELY WRITE AND YOU ARE TOO AFRAID TO LET PEOPLE READ YOUR WORK…YOU GIRL! YOU WHO WANTED TO BE AN ACTOR YOUR ENTIRE LIFE WHO HASN’T PUT ONE LICK OF EFFORT INTO TRYING OUT FOR THINGS OR GOING FOR CASTINGS…YOU ARE MY NEW MUSE. COME TO HOLLYWOOD IMMEDIATELY AND TAKE OVER.”

Because I’m pretty sure that’s how it happened in my head. Hey! I wrote it on the piece of paper. Now I just sit back and watch the money and job offers roll in.

Heh heh heh. *I rub my hands together Mr Burns style – excellent*

Um yeah.

So let’s have a lookieloo where I’m at with the old paper universe wish list.

I haven’t won an academy award, in fact I haven’t written a script in almost 18 months…so. I did win a badge at the Blue Jays game I went to a couple of months ago… and by won, I mean, my friend who works there got them to give me a badge that said “Today is my first Blue Jays Game!” and the date. I wanted to end up in LA or New York…but in fact I am here in Toronto. Like a bird slightly blown off course.

Publish a book…. well i did write two articles for free which went into the Gleaner Newspaper! A small indie newspaper that mainly services the tiny area I live in…And I have this blog. When I finish writing it, the button I have to push says Publish.

Turns out I did move countries, so we can strike this one off the list. AND to a place where I had to learn another language and could use it every day. Canada is that country. I learned to speak Canadian English. I can now put that on my resume. WIN. I now know what a sweater really is, and sketchy. Woohoo. So glad my parents sent me to Private schools.

Buy some property…yeah maybe on the Monopoly board – If i don’t get sent to jail

Do something notable that helps others….

When I was redrafting my Resume a couple of days ago, my Canuck boyfriend, who for the last five months has been working in a position where he has to view hundreds of Resumes, told me I should put some hobbies and interests if I am to be applying to certain positions as it distinguishes you and sets you apart.

Me: Okay…so what hobbies should I put?

CanuckBoyf: I don’t know…whatever you enjoy doing in your spare time.

Me: So… sleeping?

CB: OR, writing your blog, theatre viewing, Theatre acting…

Me: Okay! What about Photography? (Just btw, I have 217 albums on Facebook and, as someone pointed out to me, nearly 5 and a half thousand tagged photos of myself.)

CB: Great, I’ll put attending indie music festivals and historical reading.

Me: um… I don’t think I’ve ever attended an indie music festival…and historical reading… that sounds like you.

CB: you read game of thrones right? That’s historical ish, and you love Of Monsters and Men! They’re indie!

Me: Okay… maybe we should put basketball… I seriously plan to join a team this season…

Sadly our little fudging of my Resume exercise made me realize how lacking in volunteer work my life is. I have always meant to volunteer some of my time to helping others, but the “meant to” does not translate to actually helping somebody. And so with remorse I realize that by 25, I may not have achieved something on my list.

OH HUSH Paris, you say as you read this overly long and gas baggy account of woe is me – there is still time. You have 14 months to get yourself on track. And you are right, by the time I am twenty-five, I very well may have put myself on a path to Oscar glory, or written some chapters of a novel, or seriously started saving for a house, or made a difference to someones life.

I realize that life is a journey, and that probably this freak out is because I am currently seeking the next chapter of my life – deciding it is time to start that elusive beast “A Career”.

Being unemployed SUCKS and its only been a week, but I’ve always been someone who likes to know what’s happening next.

And right now it is all a bit of a mystery, like a jigsaw puzzle with the border all done, but NO fucking clue what the big picture is.

Paris