The Big Dream and The Get-me-out-of-here

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There is a pandemic sweeping the lives of the late-twenty-early-thirty-something year olds who don’t have children, might have fur-babies and wake up one day asking themselves WHAT THE FUCK.

If you are reading this and taking a big deep breath because you realize you are not alone, you are welcome. If this awakens a long dormant sleeping dragon of thought that you suspected existed but you couldn’t fully recognize, then I apologize – because shiiiiit I am about to justify every niggle you ever felt.

We, the unsettled settled are out there and we are hungry, we are stubborn, we are restless and we are bursting out of our skins. Indulge me in self indulgence all you traditionalists.

Over countless coffee’s and beers, I’ve had the same conversation over and over again. The “I am stuck in a rut and I don’t even know how to get out because I’m too damn tired” one, where educated, hardworking, passionate people, lament the thought bubble we are stuck in. We were told we could have it all. So where is it? Cookie please!

The new normal is that we want to have jobs we like, we want to travel the world, have a couple babies, maybe get married and be able to afford it all while the job market around us is like “JK bae, 10+ years experience, no benefits, $38k pa and you cool with working unpaid overtime and weekends? Holla at me!” and the dating scene is a revolving door of fuckboys and girls who can’t make eye contact with anything but their phones. The news is going: Don’t even THINK about getting on a train/plane or congregating anywhere in public in case of shootings/bombings/knife attacks and our parents are getting older and more dependent. That isn’t depressing. No siree.

Believe me, I’m aware of how lucky I am. I’m writing this to you from a first world country that I am allowed to live in because my parents were born in the right place and got me a “good” passport. If I sound articulate or intelligent by any stretch, it’s because I am also educated thanks to that same birth place, and the guidance of two excellent people who poured money into my brain (via the veins of formal instructional institutions). I’m white, which means I hopefully wont get shot for no reason in my car, and I’m female, which puts me at an advantage or a disadvantage depending on who you talk to, and so long as I’m not running for president.

And listen, I’m the first person to call people out on #firstworldproblems. Believe me. I’ve walked on the sidelines of poverty, I know that there are deeper issues at play in our world than the demented cries of a person who can’t afford the new iPhone.

But if there is one thing I have learned over the last few months of the ups and downs, it is that you can’t just push away things that you feel, and you can’t panic or beat yourself up because you feel them (thanks Mum) or because you are so preoccupied with keeping up the pretences that you have your shit together on social media. We know you don’t have your shit together…we’ve been to your apartment.

I feel it and I’m calling it out. The transition from hopefully graduate to slightly more jaded adult is not that fun at the moment. It’s not cute any more that we feel directionless. This isn’t Sex and the City where our lack of partners is because there is just too much dick to choose from. Our parents are sitting us down telling us they’d “like to see us get on the property ladder” and we’re agreeing with them whole heartedly as we open another letter about our student loans and wondering if we’ll get scurvy if we eat no-brand frosted flakes five nights a week for dinner.

We all started out with such big dreams! We went to school and we played along and we were encouraged to day-dream about what we “wanted to be” when we grew up. And then half of us fell off the wagon somewhere after high school and shrugged and realized that our job’s maybe don’t have to be our careers. Then we split up again when some of us realized that we’d give up that dream job for the security of that paycheck, or the option to travel with work. Those of us that have stayed the course  are more often than not slamming our faces into our laptops in the public library when we are on the hunt for the next job or big break AGAIN, thinking about escaping through English teaching in Asia or “how much DOES selling your *insert body part or fluid* really pay?”

I don’t have the solution to the twentythirtysomething malaise, and no matter how I google it (or Bing it… just kidding The Bing is dead, long live the Bing), no advice post or computer filtered answer can make my decisions for me (though I’d invest in the app that could).

All I know is that personally, I live happiest in the carnage and constant movement of work and sensory overload – when there are TOO many plates spinning in the air (because when that happens, how could I possibly have time to turn inwards). That lifestyle doesn’t really jive-turkey with the expiring “rising-of-the-ladder” career trajectory theory, and I’m tired of trying to be a square peg in a round hole.

Success is measured in many different ways, which is a topic for another day.

But for today – for those this resonates with, just know that you are not alone, and I’ve come to know, for myself anyway, that is the door doesn’t open, I’m just going to have to buy a sledge hammer. The coffee is on me when it comes to these conversations, because maybe if we stack our thoughts and idea’s one on top of each other, we’ll find a way to climb out of these ruts.

 

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.

 

Speed Dating

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I feel like everybody needs good stories from when they were single (those crazy ol’ days) to regale their recently divorced female friends (fuck him! we never liked him anyway!) & grandchildren (see kids, your GamGam used to be a hot piece of ass… now hand me the Tequila and don’t tell your father).

So that’s what I figure I’m doing – just collecting up the stories for the happy hour tall-tale box, stories I’ll embellish and cover in memory rhinestones when I’m stuck in a loveless marriage 20 years from now.

Hey Paris! Wanna go on a date?
Yeah sure! 
Wanna go on a blind date?
Um… yea!
Wanna go on a blind date with 18 guys at five minutes a sesh?
…K? 

I didn’t really put too much thought into my speed dating cherrypop until the morning of. I didn’t exacccctly sign up for the event, more got roped into it by a friend who hosts it, facilitating young love and such…wait…Dan are you cupid!?

Hold the phone, I got some ‘vestigating to do.

No plans Saturday night? Forced interaction with members of the opposite sex? I’m in. and bonus! I convinced another single gal pal to come along so we could enjoy the delights of Toronto speed dating together.

I was all set until for the dating extravaganza until Saturday brunch with my little brother, who asked me if I had thought about any questions I wanted to ask these dudes.

Er.

No. I hadn’t really thought that far ahead.

I have no problem just chatting with people I don’t know/ have just met (thank you Expat upbringing) so why would this be any different?

Oh wait… because we have five minutes.

And these people are trying to suss out if they want to ever see you again ever. Which they will decide on first encounter.

None of this: well she’s hideously awkward on first encounter but you learn to love her quirks.

Five minutes. Do or die. Date or un-date … (whatever just go with it).

It’s a very pressure-cooker situation, where love is the steam and you and your new blind date are the meats and vegetables…stewing together. Will the stew be tasty and delicious or bland and overcooked (yes! I am rocking the imagery today).

To combat the surprising amount of nerves I felt, partly in relation to the under-prepared question thing (so… do you like stuff?) and partly because five minutes before I walked in and due to the suns angle in my friends car I realized I have been cultivating quite the lady-mustache (good god! This is why I will die alone) I did what any sane person would do. I walked in, got my sticker and booklet of judgement (Yes/No ________Comments) and ordered a significant amount of booze.

The worst part of the experience was for SURE the 20 minutes before the actual speed dating began, with all us singles milling around the bar sort of eyeing each other up. Many stood in silence, a few chatted with members of the same sex, but it all very very tense and very awkward.

Perhaps this is the reason for the amount of liquid courage I consumed (then again, maybe I just have a problem).

The venue was one of those annoying frou frou vodka bars so they didn’t have Cider (how about rum? no? FUCK) that had a rude bartender and uber dark interior. I had a couple Vodka Diet Cokes (at extortionate prices) and then switched to a pitcher of Vodka laced Lemonade that I was supposed to share with my blind-dating pal (not a blind pal… just to be clear). Key words there are “supposed to”, too bad they sat her a table away from me, so I had no choice but to drink almost the entire jug myself, while trying out my first impressions on total strangers.

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Did I debate making shit up? Yes.

Did I? No.

Why not? Because I’m not that quick on my feet and also everybody seemed really nice for the most part and I didn’t want to lie, or more importantly get caught out in a lie (oh the humiliation).

What did I learn?
Most of the dudes at this event wanted to meet someone and were either sick of online dating or didn’t like the idea of it. One guy actually told me that online dating suuuu-hhhucks for guys because girls get inundated with messages and the gents will very rarely get a response. Also a jug of alcoholic lemonade is a lot and I don’t have a very strong tolerance. And my mustache isn’t that bad but there are definitely places I can get it waxed (yay).

Should you try Speed dating?
Are you single? Do you hate online dating? Are you okay in person? Do you have an open attitude when it comes to this sort of thing? If yes, then my answer is yes. What have you got to lose? The guys were nice, and some of the conversations were funny, although it felt weird when they walked away and made notes or if you were in the middle of a conversation and the bell rang and they were like OKHAYBYE.

Would I do it again?
Why not?

This message brought to you by the Drunk Mustache Single Girls Society. Don’t drink and Mustache.

P.

Oh, Philip.

I’m not one to jump on bandwagons usually (first of all, I don’t particularly like the idea of travel by wagon, and secondly, I don’t know how much room there would be for me back there, like how big is the band? Are we talking brass, rock, or one-man? A girls gotta know to prepare…what shoes would I wear, how many of my handbags could I bring!?) but I’ve been thinking about the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

And though I am just another link/voice/non-authority when it comes to him and his recent death, I had a brief sliding doors type interaction with the man a week and a half before his demise. In my life, where I have been fortunate to be so removed from death and it’s consequences, the news that this highly regarded man passed away, after telling him where the bathrooms were at Sundance (glamorous me – what an interaction!) – well it was weird. I don’t think I have been as saddened by the death of a celebrity, someone I didn’t know, since Heath Ledger passed away.

My family has had it’s brush with drug addiction. That is no secret.

In fact – the reason this has all been churning inside of me is the following Facebook post from my mother:

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Philip Seymour Hoffman’s children are small, but the internet is easy to navigate. A ten year old today knows how to get online. It will take three clicks and his kids will know all the details of his death. There is a lot that is positive stuff out there about him (amazing actor, well respected), but his children will be exposed to the good, the bad & the ugly. The spotlight casts a lot of shadows, and it seems (from an outside perspective) that some of his shadows were very, very dark indeed.

I am sorry for them, those children left behind by their fathers death. Left behind by the demonic-grip that is addiction. I have seen it’s destructive force, and it is not pretty. It is terrifying to have a parent flip-flop from the person you love, trust and respect, to someone you don’t recognize – someone who’s behavior is so unpredictable, you live with the ice-flushing fear that you will say or do the wrong thing. The type of situation where you curl into a ball to make yourself as small as possible somewhere, and just wish and wish and wish, with a feverish desire that you can’t shake, that you could be someone, anyone else or somewhere, anywhere but there. You look at other people’s families (likely as fucked up as your own – but how do you know that) and ask yourself why you couldn’t have been born into the family across the street.

Is that sad to read?

When drug addiction affected our family, I was older than Philip’s kids are now. The drug was not as “hard” and at first, it was not a “problem”. I was a teenager, and I had the “cool mum” who was out partying, who would catch the later ferry home than us on a Friday night. I wouldn’t say that I was oblivious, but there is a lot you don’t know. It doesn’t start at the extreme with a needle hanging out of your inner elbow. Drug addiction creeps in, under the door, through the cracks, until there is such a mass in the room with you that you can choose to avert your eyes, but you all know it is there. Right in front of your face.

We are a fortunate family. I have two living, loving, parents who support me and tell me I’m great (thanks guys) and two younger brothers I couldn’t live without (seriously guys, Imma need those organs at some point….) but it could have all been a very different story, very easily.

I don’t know PSH’s situation. I don’t know why he was drawn to shooting shit into himself to alter his reality – I only know what I know from our experience as a family. Not everybody has a support network that is good and wants what is best for you, not everybody has had a life devoid of tragedy or fucked up fuckery that makes retreating the easiest option. There is no way I can possibly judge Philip, I did not know him.

But what I can say is, no matter how well his wife shielded their children from the addiction, they knew Daddy wasn’t totally fine.

Even the five year old.

And now that their father is gone, they will struggle with the choices he made – to leave them – to harm himself with things that were so clearly awful for him – and they will ask themselves:

didn’t he love us?

Because that is what we do, the children of this disease. We internalize.

It is impossible at first to separate your parents actions from how they reflect on you. Was I impossible to deal with without the drugs? Wasn’t I good enough? Could I have done something better/differently/wrong? Maybe if I had been XYZ he would have stopped. Maybe if I had said XYZ he would have listened. How could he be so selfish? Why didn’t somebody help him?

The truth is, he needed to help himself. He probably thought he could quit any time he wanted, but he didn’t. Not before it killed him. Maybe he didn’t want to quit – maybe it didn’t seem like it was a problem – we all know what that sounds like.

We all make horrible decisions sometimes, we are all flawed – even the people who give birth to other people (like our parents). PSH made a terrible decision and the results are devastating.

I hope that his kids realize that this is not their fault -it takes a long time to accept that, and that their father had demons that did not relate to them.

I also hope that Philips death, such a high profile waste of talent, serves as a wake up call to others.

His is not the first shocking-drug related death, and it wont be the last.

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/drug_substance_abuse_addiction_signs_effects_treatment.htm

Paris

Romance me like one of your Gym Socks

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I love Fairy Tales, Cinderella in particular was always a favourite of mine, and clearly Hollywood’s too, because many of the chick flicks being churned out by the entertainment machine perpetuate some form of this legend.

I mean, what is not to love about Cinderella?

That girl starts off ordinary and becomes the Princess of a realm. And there is a handsome prince and shoes. What more could you ask for??! Except maybe the Fairygodmother could turn that pumpkin into a coach sized chocolate fountain. Justsaying.

It’s a rags to riches story that I would totally watch on TLC if  it were a reality show and if I had cable…or a TV (it’s true, this wannabe TV personality doesn’t currently own a Television and hasn’t done for two and half years…sorry it’s called netflicks and the internet…plus who has time to sit through commercials? not this gal)

And it used to be that the most outrageous part of the Cinderella story was that the animals could talk and a pumpkin turned into a coach. Or perhaps because of the Meme above you’re thinking the craziest part is that he fell in love with someone after a few dances (like thats never happened to any of us on a friday night…) and then forgot what she looked like (again…we’ve all been there). Or maybe the crazy part is that there was a fairy godmother (it’s called your parents and the magic they work is putting some extra money in your account so you can go to the ball eat). Or maybe the fairytale bit is that Cinderella put up with her StepMother and StepSisters shit for so long (hellllll nooooobitches, especially not if we’re all on the same cycle).

Um no.

The most outrageous part of the story is that the Prince didn’t wake up the next day after the ball and be like…”whaa? Woah man I was so drunk last night. Lolz”, and then went hunting with his friends, singing songs in the wilderness, playing croquet, highfiving each others asses in a semi-erotic way. Or whatever. And Cinderella was left disappointed that the Prince didn’t bother to find her, faced with the idea that this going to balls and hoping to meet a Prince thing was going to make up the rest of her life for the foreseeable future. Because she’d been with all the village boys and…meh.

Or maybe Cinderella totally snuck out of the ball on purpose. Like the Prince was getting a bit handsy at the event and she’d decided “mmmmnope, I’m not going to bang this dude” (we’ve always decided, pretty much within the first 30 seconds if its going to happen or not) and then it was super awkward when he showed up at her place. And turns out he’s rich so she’s like “fuckit. no pre-nup” gimme those shoes.

Ahhhhh romance.

Oh please. Don’t look at me like that. I’m not some bitter old crone, I’m (semi) kidding.

I just wonder what Cinderella would be like in a modern setting.

Girl sneaks into party she wasn’t really invited too. That takes some balls. Maybe she’s at home pre-drinking with her friends and she’s like “SCREW my sisters. I’m totally going.” She gets there, she’s wasted (she thinks she drove there in a magic-ed pumpkin – hello?!) and the Prince is there (he’s totally out-of-it and he hates all the people his parents have invited – he knows they’re just trying to set him up with their friends ugly daughters) they spot each other on the D floor. Awkward grinding/humping in front of all the older people.

They go out on the terrace, making out, Cindy sees that its almost midnight and her Step sisters have a curfew so she totes has to be home before them, she’s also potentially got puke breath. Prince dude can barely see straight – can’t even remember what the girl looks like. But he’s got her name. She bails. So drunk she leaves her shoe behind (classic hot mess move). He crashes.

Both wake up thinking: wow, what a special night.

Now if it was 2013, Prince Dude would totally just hop on FB and stalk the shit out of this “Cinderella” notices they have two mutual friends (ewwww he hates those skanky step sisters).

Maybe he friends her. Maybe he doesn’t. Maybe he sends her an awkward private message being like:
heyyyyy I got your shoe.

And thats it.

People say Romance is dead.

Disney, call me if you want me to help write the re-make.

Saying Goodbye to “Home”

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When people ask me where I’m from, I can’t help it. I take a deep breath in, and I roll my eyes slightly.

Where am I from?

What a pointless question.

I think people ask it because I have a hard-to-place accent. I think people ask it, because they are trying to put you in a box in their mind. I think people are trying to categorize you. Do the places we are “from” define who we are? I suppose in some ways they do. Where you hail from is a cultural touchstone, a window into the type of person you might be.

Canadians and Americans are similar but different. If you are from Toronto, you are different from someone who is from Montreal or Vancouver. If you are an Australian, people generally assume you are friendly and outgoing. If you are Irish, you like the drink and you can get a bit crazy. Am I stereotyping? Stop me if you disagree. Are people asking you where you are from to hint at who you are? What your roots or heritage might reveal?

There are endless ways we divide ourselves, label ourselves, identify ourselves. In Toronto, I’ve heard people tell they are “from” a specific suburb. Like the area within the city, within the provence, within the country, might help signify more about them.

So where am I from?

I tell people, short answer form, that I am from Australia. I have the (slight) accent, I have the passport, I have the birth certificate. When people ask me where in Australia I am from, I tell them Sydney, because it is the place in Australia I lived most recently (for University) and spent the most years.

In reality, I was born in Perth, on the West Coast, where my father now lives, and where my cousins, Aunts, Uncles and Grandmother have always lived. I think I have spent a total of 6 months in that part of the world in over 25 years.

My mother is a New Zealand citizen. Am I from New Zealand? No. I have never been there and she left when she was 7.

Where am I from?

I spent the greater part of my life in Asia. If I told you I was from Hong Kong, you would laugh in my face (it has happened, people have done a double take and then asked me seriously… “Are you Chinese?”). I am a blonde haired, green eyed, Caucasian woman. My brother is a 6″1 hairy, caucasian giant. He was born in Hong Kong. Where is he from?

My other brother 6″3 currently blonde (or pink) haired (I think) was born in Kuala Lumper. Is he from Malaysia?

I remember a childhood of sweaty hot, monsoony nights. Street food and night markets, grinning faces that looked very different from mine, and conversations all around me in languages that I couldn’t understand.

My Mother has packed up her apartment in Hong Kong, and plans to move to Thailand this month. I am excited for her, for her new adventure. After a decade and a half in the hustling, bustling Fragrant Harbour, I know she is going to enjoy the peace and tranquility of Thailand. I know that she is chasing her dreams, and entering the next chapter of her life. With three fully grown children and another forty years in her, she has definitely got the right idea, jumping into the next adventure.

But a part of me mourns.

For someone who is a self-proclaimed Expat Brat, who moved to Canada without a backwards glance, Hong Kong was in many ways my “Home.” As culturally confused as my family and friends are, Hong Kong is a backdrop where we can all fit in.

Sorry to sound like I’m excluding, but you wouldn’t get it unless you’d grown up there, or lived in another major Expat City, (Kuala Lumper, Shanghai, Singapore, Dubai, Seoul…)

And Hong Kong will always be there. My Mothers departure does not mark the end of the existence of that city. It is simply the last, torn out root of that chapter of my life. I can always still go there, I will always have friends there. I just won’t go “Home” to Hong Kong when I visit my parents.

My parents will be in their chosen cities, and I will be in mine.

Hong Kong is our central location, geographically a middle ground, or halfway house, for my family which is spread out across the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. And while Thailand is close by, it does not hold any of the memories for my family. It will not feel like “Home” for me. Perhaps it will for my brothers who spent a year at Boarding School there. I don’t know. Even between the siblings, with only five years between the youngest and oldest, there is a vast ocean of experiences and childhood memories.

Where am I from?

Home is a word. It embodies a feeling. It cannot be one place because if you asked someone in Cairo where home was, and asked someone in Chicago the same question, both people would point to different spots on the map. It is not a charted destination. It is not physical. Maybe that is why I have always found the concept so confusing. Maybe that is why I think about it more deeply than those who ask:

Where are you from?

 

 

7 Things male animals do that make them better than male humans

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I am in no way condoning bestiality over here, but seriously, males in the wild are working their asses off to impress the female of their breed.
Which is perhaps more than can be said for my species (although many of them it’s like we’re in the wild, guys it’s called a brush…get one), I mean from what I know from afar, because…you know. I’ve never even kissed a boy or seen one up close (hi Mum and Dad).

Here are 7 things male animals do that make them better than male humans

1. Penguins finding the perfect pebble for their mate
Okay. You’re thinking to yourself, Paris, you are an idiot. Human males give certain rocks (diamonds) to their mates as a sign of affection allllll the tiiiiimmmmme. It’s called an engagement ring, and just because you’ve never been offered one, doesn’t mean they don’t exist in real life (hypothetical question time out:…if a tree falls in the woods, and everybody else is off getting engaged…does my forever-alone sobbing still make a sound??! Annnnd unfreeze, back to the blog).
And I would say, yes kind sir, you are right, there is a similarity to human males presenting stones to their beloved, BUT I would argue that Penguins do it better. Why??! Because according to the few articles I scanned birefly, Penguins scour the whole damn beach to find that perfect stone! They do all the hard work by themselves. They didn’t just go into Tiffany’s and/or their friend Ari’s store. Did your human male go to Africa to source that shiny stone? Did they comb the mines of Diamond-topia (where I assume diamonds come from) to choose the perfect raw material to adorn your nest finger I think not. Penguins > Humans. I rest my case.

vintage-awkward-wedding-photo

2. Frogs sing to their mates
The last time a guy full on sang to me, I was in a Karaoke bar the wrong side of 2am and immediately after his unintelligible rendition of, I think “Achy Breaky heart,” he threw up in his mouth a little and ran out of the room, to, I guess, throw up somewhere not his own orifice. SO Romantic. We’re getting married in the spring! And I ain’t no frog, so frog singing doesn’t appeal to me any more than what I just described above (who am I kidding, it totally appeals more) but if I was a frog, I’d be all into it. There is nothing more adorable than a male human crooning to you. They don’t have to be amazing (I’m casting my mind back to year 10 when my first ever boyfriend and his band wrote a part of their song about me and dedicated it to me at the battle of the bands. “Fall from Glory” Swoon!) but it’s definitely got to be sincere, like a frog. Got it?

3. Birds of Paradise bust a move 
Birds of Paradise dance and do a display to attract a female mate. Which I’m pretty sure was what was happening at the Cougar Bar I wound up at last weekend, only, I’m not attracted to the display of you thrusting your pelvis’s in the direction of anything with a vagina and pumping one fist in the air. You might want to work on your motions (thanks thesaurus.com), overly handsy guy I just walked past. Oh sorry, did walking over here with my female friend denote that we are both ready and available for mating? Nope. Male Birds of Paradise have better moves than most/all human males. Don’t believe me? Check it. You’re welcome. Don’t get trapped in the animal planet part of youtube. It’ll suck up your time and the weekend will be over before you know it. And there are things you can never unsee.

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4. Seahorses give birth like a boss
You read that right. Male seahorses are the ones that give birth. I know, I know, you and I are both thinking about having species-re-assignment surgery. It’s okay. This is a safe place. I am a seahorse trapped in the body of a human. Shhh. It’s all good. We’ll find a way to tell your racist, homophobic, speciest Great Aunt Maude. No but seriously. I know a few people who have given birth recently and from what I understand, that shit is disgusting. I even wrote a blog about it which you can view here. If your male human REAAAAALLY loved you, he’d find a way to be the one to carry and birth your offspring. What, you mean you aren’t going to bend the laws of what is physically possible for our species? Well fuck you guy, we’re done! *Storms out into the rain and calls girlfriends for post-breakup-with-non-pregnant-boyfriend cocktails.*

thomas_beatie

5. Bower birds and their Sweet Pads
The male humans that live without female cohabitation that I know, live one level above utter filth. There are slums in Mumbai that smell better than some of the apartments inhabited solely by males of the human variety that I’ve walked into. SO I think we can all agree that they have something to learn from the male Bower Bird, who takes decorating his nest VERY seriously. And you might argue that you know guys that take care of their habitat, to which I would counter argue that that male probably didn’t build his own home from twigs and sticks and isn’t a bird and didn’t choose each item lovingly and/or steal it from his neighbor. Or maybe he did, in which case, you’ve got a real keeper there.

Good God I'm Attractive

Good God I’m Attractive

6. Anglerfish
So, if you’re like me and you LOVE finding Nemo, you vaguely know about these guys. What you may not know is that female Anglerfish are often hundreds of times larger than their male counterparts. Ever tried to go out with a dude that is skinnier than you. I know I haven’t. I am a curvy (read, borderline fat) girl who likes to feel like a dainty princess. Is that going to happen when my boyfriends legs are skinnier than mine. NoIDon’tThinkSo. (And suddenly my mother justifies the pattern of my last 3 boyfriends in her mind and can sleep content at last.) Being the bigger, stronger one in the relationship is fine…but not for me.

Also, the Anglerfish have a REALLY weird mating habit. Because these guys hang out way way down in the deep and encounters are rarer than finding a good guy on OKcupid, the male Anglerfish becomes a parasite that just hangs onto the female.

Wiki says: “When a male finds a female, he bites into her skin, and releases an enzyme that digests the skin of his mouth and her body, fusing the pair down to the blood-vessel level.[15] The male becomes dependent on the female host for survival by receiving nutrients via their shared circulatory system, and provides sperm to the female in return. After fusing, males increase in volume and become much larger relative to free-living males of the species. They live and remain reproductively functional as long as the female lives and can take part in multiple spawnings”….

UM. No. I don’t want to be responsible for a guys survival, nor do I want us to be fused together. I think the humans have won this round….

7. Penis Fencing… nuff said
Wow. Aren’t you glad that you know that a thing such as penis fencing exists? I know I am, and I’m not talking about two dudes crossing streams at the urinal (which in my imagination happens all the time, especially in corporate office bathrooms). So there are these creatures called hermaphroditic flatworms, and turns out these creates carry both egg producing ovaries and sperm producing testes.

This is taken straight from Wikipedia:
“The flatworms “fence” using two-headed dagger-like penises which are pointed, and white in color. The mating ritual involves a violent battle during which two hermaphroditic flatworms attempt to pierce the skin of one another with one of their penises. The “winner” is the organism that inseminates the other; the winner becomes the father. The sperm is absorbed through pores in the skin, causing fertilization in the “loser,” who becomes the mother.

Child-bearing, while necessary for successful offspring production, requires a considerable parental investment in time and energy, and according to Bateman’s principle, almost always burdens the “mother”. Thus, from a biological point of view, it is preferable to be the father rather than the mother. However, there are other hermaphroditic species where both partners try to be inseminated rather than to inseminate”

Wow….

I have nothing to say about that except I think in that instance, I’m fine with the way human beings do things.

So keep it up dudes (literally I guess…in the mating sense) you won 2/7.

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.

 

 

“Improvise”

A Star Nosed Mole

A Star Nosed Mole one of the stranger creatures on our beautiful planet

 

January 2013 marked 11 years since my family moved to Hong Kong for the second time. And although it’s just my mum who lives here now, and I’ve lived in Sydney, Australia for four of those years and Toronto, Canada for two, Hong Kong feels the most like home. Perhaps that is why, I always feel like I’m re-finding myself when I am here. This is the city of my first true love, my first night out, some of my oldest and closest friends. I can be away for a year and a half, and still navigate myself around like I never left. I think I walk these streets in my dreams, and years melt away when I see those familiar faces. Expat brats are one of a kind people.

It’s probably unsurprising then, that I value the advice I get when I’m here. There are a lot of older and wiser people than me, who’ve led very interesting lives that live here. And I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by love and by people who want to see me succeed, and only want the best for me.

This evening I went for a few cheap cocktails with Miss J. I met Miss J exactly ten years ago when we were both in High School and when we both signed up to do the Hong Kong Youth Arts Festival production of ‘Footloose’. What an experience. Forty five of the most frustrated Drama/Musical Theatre geeks from all the different High Schools in Hong Kong, thrown together into one huge all singing all dancing production.

We spent hours together at rehearsal, and hours hiding in the bowels of the Shouson Theatre in Wan Chai. We were just kids, chasing our passion and singing our hearts out. Bonds were formed that have continued to this day.

So back to the cocktails. Miss J has her head screwed on pretty straight and to me, it seems like not much fazes her. I could say “J, i’ve decided to sign up for the Mars cruiser expedition. I’m leaving in 8 years and I’m not coming back” and this girl would take a breath, think about it and then say “Ok. great.”

She rocks.

So tonight when we went for a few drinks and I was telling her (for the 100th time) that I don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-with-my-life, and-I’m-24-and-OMG-who-am-I?-And-I-Like-Toronto-But-what-about-London?-Or-New-York?-Or…

And after listening to me rant for a little bit, sipping on her Lychee Bellini, she put her hand on my arm and said “Paris…do what you always do…just Improvise.”

…..

I felt like this girl had just transfigured into Buddha at the Bar and an ethereal light was beaming out of the top of her head and bouncing around the room.

Improvise.

Right.

Life is a series of Improvisations. Things happen, you go with them, you make decisions and you get on with your life.

I never realized that was what I was doing. I kind of thought things were just happening in my life that were a random series of events. Which is kind of what happens in Improvisation, an offer is made and then you run with it. There is no saying no in Improv, you can take what is offered and transform it into something else, but you never just stop.

That isn’t how life works.

Okay maybe it was the three (very strong) cocktails, but something suddenly clicked in my brain.

I’ve decided to go with the flow and continue to accept the offers that open to me and not put too much pressure on the way the story pans out.

After all it’s all just a bit of fun.