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.

 

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.

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

Yesterday a reporter was shot. Live on Camera.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is this happening?

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

And why are we surprised?

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

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

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

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

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

Guns.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And what are we going to do about it?

America made Gay Marriage legal and Australia didn’t

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

 

Pretty much my amazing fashion style age 11-14

Pretty much my amazing fashion style age 11-14)

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

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

America also scared me.

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

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

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

And then yesterday happened.

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

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

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

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

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

Come on Australia, that is bullshit.

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

What the fuck is our problem?

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

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

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

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

Figure it out.

An art concept, My Secret, Your Secret.

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What makes a secret a secret? Is it the thing we don’t want people to know because of how it reflects upon us? Is it a thing that we feel guilt about and cannot stand to voice?

My Dad is in town which is great. I love him to bits and we haven’t hung out since he flew to Hong Kong last year to help me through a period of hot mess-ish-ness. He’s seeing a completely different side of Toronto to the city my Mum saw in the bitterly cold winter months. The summer in Toronto is short and sweet, so we are taking the opportunity to walk all over, and see what we see. Today along with one of my camp besties Amanda (who was only passing through this Maple syrup city) we stumbled upon a contemporary art gallery down by the water front.

I’ll preface this by saying I did two different courses at University in Art History (the pre-requisites for Film Studies units at Sydney Uni) but that I may be on the more sceptical side when it comes to the definition of “Art”. The first room we entered had wigs on stands with microphones hidden in them with peoples voices recorded, whispering stories about why they wore a wig. I know. I raised my eyebrow too. How contemporary. Another room featured a 13 minute video loop with what I can only describe as a homo-erotic sequence of three european dudes getting each other naked, pointing at each others penis’, covering said penis’ with hands in a “no” gesture, and staring at each other uncomfortably before sitting on the floor or pushing each other over (mmmm yes, art art art, penis penis penis, I sees hmmm, so vivid, so real… strokes goatee, silently beats drum).

I just don’t think I’m deep enough to get it.

Ya know?

And then we wandered into a section of the art gallery that was roped off. A girl in a lab coat stood up, introduced herself and began to talk to us about the Sanatorium, a performance art space by an artist by the name of Pedro Reyes.

There were a number of different elements that this lab coat wearing art person could walk us through but as we were under a time limit (flights to catch, lunch to eat, general scoffing at contemporary “art”) Amanda and I elected to do the quickest option.

Secret for a Secret.

The general concept was this: you would write a secret on a piece of paper, you could either share it with the group (or in this case, share it with Amanda and the trained lab coat wearing person) or not as you chose. You would then roll the secret up and tie a piece of string around it, and put it in a glass bottle, with the edge of the string poking. You then place your bottle amongst the group of bottles sitting in disarray on the floor behind the table. Then you could select a bottle from the ones already placed and read the secret aloud and discuss it.

Okay we thought. Simple enough. Right off the bat we agreed to not discuss what our secrets were to each other and off we went writing. We placed our bottles in the group and we selected our bottles.

I was attracted to mine because the paper wasn’t rolled at all. It was folded many many times into a small rectangle and tied very tightly.

The secret Amanda chose and read aloud related to an artist who was nervous to tell people they were an artist, and that that is what they wanted to do full time. It was interesting and we discussed bravery, and going after the change we want, to make our lives the way we want them.

And this is what mine said:

Years ago-
A lady who lived on my floor killed herself by jumping off her balcony. Everyone suspected she sold drugs from her apartment. But a week before she died, she asked me to call her a cab. A man was clearly abusing her, but I never told anyone what I though.

…..

Even to type it out now hours and hours later, it hurts my heart to think of the woman who jumped, and the person who has been carrying around this secret. A secret they shared in a glass bottle, with some strangers, in an art gallery in Toronto, down by the waterfront. When I first read it all the hairs on my arms stood on end and by the end of the last sentence my voice was cracking with emotion.

My secret seemed quite petty in comparison. I’m a fairly open book – that is obvious to most that know me, and even to those who only know me through this blog, but there are some dark things inside of me born of jealousy and loneliness (even though I subscribe to the Desiderata and even have some of the words tattooed into my skin).

More than anything, I wished the writer of the secret I read had been sitting across the table from me so I could take their hand and tell them that it was okay, and that they were forgiven.

Because that is a hell of a thing to carry around inside of you.

We talked about the secrets for a long time. Longer than we expected.

At the end of our session our Art Assistant/Guide(?) told us that usually they collected the secrets, however because we had talked about them so much and they had clearly affected us, we were also welcome to keep them.

And so we did.

Amanda kept hers I think because she has a potential load of changes ahead of her, career decisions, thoughts about travel, and she needs to remember to be true to herself and to be brave in the face of change.

I kept mine because it reminds me to speak up when someone else needs a voice they may not have inside them. Too many times I have turned away from others I did not know because it was not my “place” to do or say something. How many people have I brushed off in the street? What if I could affect good and meaningful change.

It is too easy to say nothing. Do nothing.

It reminded me of this incident that I blogged about.

I very well could have passed the person who wrote my adopted secret in the gallery today. There were dozens of bottles, perhaps hundreds more stashed elsewhere. What do I know, perhaps the artist actually wrote it as a piece to inspire the “performance art”.

I am haunted, and I just wanted to share it

I’m really glad I didn’t successfully murder you during our childhood

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I’m not one to get all mushy (pffft yes I am) and write about how schweet my life is (all the time… that’s literally all I write about)  or how great my family is (they fucking CRaYcraY) but I just have to take a step back today and tell you about my awesome brother.

I left home like most expat brats I know, at 18, to attend University in a far off City. I had not been living with my siblings for a couple of years before that due to THE DIVORCE (duhn duhn duuuuuuhn) and because my parents loved my siblings more than me and sent them to an awesome boarding school in Thailand (kidding, they fully love me most). After graduating with an Undergraduate in black-out-binge-drinking and a Masters in enjoy-struggling-to-find-gainful-employment-sucker, I went home to Mother for a few months before promptly fucking off to an even further away city at the top of the globe that made my whole family go “huuuuhhhh?”.

I didn’t even like my brothers when I was a kid. Good GOD I thought they were annoying. They followed my friends around, my Mum was always making me include them, and they were SOOOOOO embarrassing because I was SOOOOOO cool (I was definitely, definitely not cool – I know – I have the diaries). I would have chosen staying in my room alone brooding over Hanson and Avril Lavinge songs, rather than be seen anywhere in public with my two closest blood-relations, EVEN if there was free food and dessert (oh how things change…).

HOLY HELL! Look at the size of that new born! Seeyalater pelvic floor

HOLY HELL! Look at the size of that new born! Seeyalater pelvic floor

So it was a great win for me to convince by younger brother to move to the same city as me. Almost a decade of living 5-9 hours plane ride apart, we now reside in the same hockey-loving, negative degree weather 6 months of the year, maple syrup guzzling, Parlez-vous garbled french, city of Toronto. And honestly I love having that younger, taller, genetically pretty similar version of myself around.

I dare us to be cuter

I dare us to be cuter

Aside from the fact that I now have a very conveniently located meat bag of organs to steal from were I to suffer an horrific accident, I also have someone I can easily manipulate to try weirder and weirder brunch places with me every weekend. Having my brother around means busting out my awful Cantonese when I go to Chinatown and order everything off the menu (and eat until I think I might die) and not have someone stare at me like I’m some kind of freak. Having my brother around means feeling like not a crazy person because we have both led big, wide, international lives and it isn’t weird that we had to get new passports before our old ones ran out. Having my brother here means I don’t have to go do shit by myself that I don’t want to do alone. Having my brother here means I can bitch to someone that’s not 12-16 hours in the future…MY PAIN IS REAL AND PRESENT!

I’m really proud of that dread-locked giant and what he has achieved since he moved to Canada. I was getting worried that small town Australia was going to suck him in and never let him go. Australia is a great country – but there is a lot to see out there and a lot more to care about than Australian X-factor.

Our same-city dwelling will probably be short lived as he plans to venture out West later this year, and I’ve started getting that itchy brain thing where I might pack up shop at any moment and shoot off somewhere new, but for now, I’m just grateful we had the opportunity to reconnect as adults. I can’t think of many people I still know (and like) 23 years later.

Do yourself a favor and call your sibling.

If for no other reason so that you know how far that Kidney is going to have to travel to get to you.

Nawwww

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