My Lighthouse

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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.

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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.

Don’t you know who I am? I’m Kind of a big deal! And other tales from my experience as a Guest List Bitch during TIFF

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For those of you just joining us today in the wacky, yet I’m sure we’d all agree, WONDERFUL world of Paris (that’s me), Jambo! And here’s the spark notes on the important info:

I am a 24 (almost 25-sweet-baby-cheeses-that’s-old) year old Australian who lives in Toronto, Canada, but who grew up in Asia, and I am probably definitely the most inappropriate, coolest, and most all-over the place girl you know.

I’ve also been looking for a real job (read: one with a steady salary, and or benefits) in Film, TV, Production, Advertising, Marketing, Social Media…look i’ll literally do anything creative you want at this point…you want me to dress up like a Monkey and clap my hands while hopping around the office singing, ok i’ll do it. Let me just update my LinkedIn….for a while now.

As such, I have been temping, which for those of you that don’t know (lucky straight into jobs after your degree bitches…oh so you did a degree with the name of an actual job in it?! That’s cool, me and my Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Creative writing will be chilling over here with the cool kids) is when you get hired on Assignments to do Reception, Data Entry, Help at Events… etc.

So two weekends ago I was asked if I’d like some weekend work at some parties for TIFF.

TIFF stands for Toronto International Film Festival, and like, don’t freak out, but it’s kindof a big deal worldwide. I used to live in Sydney, Australia and attended the SIFF and even I had hear of TIFF and even followed the head of TIFF, Cameron Bailey on twitter (more on him later).

So I love Parties and I love Film so I said, Hells yes. Sign me up.

And it was glorious.

Not only did I get to meet some lovely celebrities I also got to talk to the people that actually make shit happen in the world of entertainment, Assistants to big name producers, Agents, Finance people, Parents of stars (Daniel Radcliff’s dad is potentially the nicest and shortest British man I have ever had an interaction with, he told me Dan was always ditching him at parties…sigh).

Everybody sucks up to the guest list girl (I gathered) because the huge scary gorrilla like bouncers standing behind you are only listening to you. If you say they’re in, they’re in. If you say they aren’t on the list, then step aside please. They don’t give a shit who you are. They’ve been working all day as personal trainers/bodybuilders/guards and are on their third redbull. You do NOT want to fuck with them.

And everybody wants to get into the “cool” parties where the celebs, and free drinks and pretty women are. And that’s where I was. Little old me, behind a velvet rope with a clip board and a friendly Australian accent.

I love how you can learn so much about people when you’re suddenly observing them from a position of power. You don’t know these people, you don’t have to suck up to them. Okay sure I was flirting and being friendly (and I did get some potential contacts and business cards) but really I was doing a job. Finding a name on a list, and if it wasn’t there, sorry guy. You can spout as many names as you want, they don’t mean a thing to me.

Some particularly noteworthy incidents:

-The coked-up finance guy who got so close to my face i’m pretty sure spittle flew into it, while he was grinding his teeth and ranting. Sorry bud, we’re AT CAPACITY. And you’re right, I did let the Celeb in even though we’re AT CAPACITY because that’s what I was told to do so the paps don’t harass them. Just doing my job buddy, nope I’ve never heard of you. Tell me again how you don’t wait in lines.

-The wife of the guy who cut the trailer. Listen lady, I’m going off the list, I’m sorry that you and your husband aren’t on it (he was totally quiet and not making a fuss) and I agree, it seems unjust, but i’m just doing what I’m told. Go ahead and call somebody from the producers office. When I get an update, you can come in.

-The drunk, 40+ women (four of them) who tried to get in because they met such-and-such at the hotel and he told them to come. Uhhhhh nooooope. You can get as offensive as you like and try to grab the list, but this giant guy behind me, Brandon, he’s not going to like that so…

In contrast, all of the celebrities, directors and big deal producers I met were excruciatingly lovely. Not a bad egg among them. Almost all of them THANKED me as they exited. Thanked me. Like I really had anything at all to do with anything. I just stood outside in the cold with clip board. Some of them even had private jokes with me because I’d seen them a few times and also…i’m hilarious.

Cameron Bailey, Head of TIFF and who I’ve followed on Twitter for 6 years now, I couldn’t find him on the list because they had put his name back-to-front as Bailey Cameron. Me, being the slow ditz that I am didn’t recognize him and said “i’m sorry you’re not on the list.”

To which he calmly replied, “I think you might find that I am” before one of the party planners tore outside and said “he’s good! Thanks for coming Mr Bailey” before shooting me a dark look.

Life is not dull.

I’ll give you that much.