Cool guys don’t look at explosions

This weekend in Ontario was a long one (thank you commonwealth) and because I am lazy and the weather is nice, I decided to have a movie marathon inside, rather than venture out into the sunshine.

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I’ve had a bit of a hunger for Action Movies since Saturday night’s visual expolgasm in the form of Mad Max Fury Road. Talk about edge of your seat action. That is the first movie I have seen since Avatar (which I saw 3 times in the cinema, fuck off haters – that shit was excellent) where I have walked out and thought, I need to see that on the big screen again…like right now.

But I’m poor and cheap tuesday is around the corner, so instead I turned to the library of movies available to me. I threw some popcorn on the stove (because I’m vintage like that) and settled down to the following movies (none of which I had seen before):

Die Hard with a Vengeance
Reservoir Dogs
Terminator 2

I like to pretend that there is only one guy out there who makes those movie bullet exploding packs (which google tells me are called Squibs – which is incidentally also the name of non-magical people born into wizarding families according to JK Rowlings Harry Potter….)

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And the guy who makes the squibs is like, “okay, how many bad guys you got getting shot?” and the Director goes… I dunno maybe… like 50? And so the Squibs guy is like “uhuh. And how many good guys you got getting shot?” And the Director scratches his head and then flicks through the script to see if there is a well-meaning black guy somewhere in there that gets shot in the line of duty and he goes: um… maybe like 3…4 tops?”

So the Squibs expert goes into his stock room and pulls out 3000 of the fake bullet suckers and goes “ok, these are for the bad guys” and then he pulls out 3 more and he goes “and these are for the good guys”.

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What I’m alluding to with my horrifically written dialogue above is that in all three of the movies I saw today and to some extent Mad Max on Saturday, the ratio of bad guy bullets and the amount of bullets our hero’s take, seem to be like 1000:1. I get that it’s an action movie, it is a bit of suspended disbelief, but honest to Betsy! I’ve never shot a gun in my life and I’m pretttttty sure I could have killed Bruce or Sarah Connors at some point with all the chances I had.

Another thing that really got to me today was how easily things exploded. Okay not Reservoir dogs which is a lot of talking in a warehouse, but Die Hard and Terminator Two?! I swear to god Bruce or Arnie so much as looked at a thing and it exploded. How much did they spend on pyrotechnics on those films? A bucket load I bet. Mad Max also had a lot of gratuitous fire and explosions, I suppose that is to be expected in a 2.5 hour long car chase through the desert. An utterly ridiculous and yet popular part of Mad Max was the guitarist propped by cables on the front of a vehicle in his red onesie, shredding a guitar that randomly spouted fire. There I was thinking: you’re telling me gasoline is extremely valuable in this apocalyptic world and that guy gets to shoot fire out of his guitar?! Okay… I guess… I mean… I’m no warlord so…

And the final thing that struck me, and it is something that the makers of Austin Powers joked about in The Spy who Loved me, why, oh whyohwhyohwhyohwhy must they always tell each other how they are going to kill each other. Why does John McClane tell the Germans when he’s coming up the tunnel behind them? Why would you do that knucklehead? Now they’re going to run, you dumb idiot?! Why does Vic Vega talk to the captured policeman. I didn’t know what was going to happen… But I knew somebody was going to stop him. Such ARROGANCE enjoying the moment, talking it out… just do it already!

I love action movies, don’t get me wrong. Maybe my brain was scrambled by watching too many in a row. They sort of started to feel formulaic, like you knew the explosions were going to happen, someone was going to end up looking bloody and beaten, and a character you liked a lot was going to fall into some dire situations.

But the part where I suddenly thought…okay well thats enough of that genre for a while, was The Terminator…being lowered into a pit of boiling… metal I guess? Giving the thumbs up as his final gesture…. Are you serious right now?

Bye bye – just kill me even though I admit I feel pain, and I got here from the future, but Nah, don’t send me back. It’s cool. Just melt me up. And the kids crying, and the mum looks distraught…. I just… hmmm.

Time for some Family Guy

So High School

Everything about this is hilarious to me

Everything about this is hilarious to me

Being back in Hong Kong is sometimes so weird.

In this fast paced city, so much can change. Leave for a year and BOOM they’ve just built all these new buildings and your favourite cheap outlet is gone and French Restaurants have moved in everywhere (this is no joke…where the hell did all the frogs come from?!)

BUT *screechbangwaitasecond* so much can stay the same. I went to an ANZAC memorial service on Thursday with my parents and the Australian International School (where I went for the last four years of High School) was well represented by kids in hideous Green and Gold blazers. And Lo, who should I spy, but my old Headmaster who is still kicking it (with more grey hair) here in Hongkers in the same job. I bumped into so many people who are still here doing their thing – same old same old, you know?

The great thing about Hong Kong people is, no matter how long you have been gone and no matter how much has changed, friendships and conversations pick up right where they left off. Having a happy hour cocktail with a girlfriend after 2 years, it’s like I saw her yesterday. Meet my friend after the gym for some fatty fat fat Starbucks time, didn’t we do this yesterday? Oh no wait that was 18 months ago.

But being back in this city also reminds me of the High School times I had and all the stupid High School stuff we did. Like…remember in High School when someone could do one thing, and they were out of your life forever?

It’s sad that I’ve realized over the past few years I’ve become much more judgemental and quick to get angry at people or cut them out of my life. I wasn’t always like this. Even my dad has picked up on it, and to him, I can do no wrong, right Papa?

In High School and at University I was the easy going friends-with-everyone type. Maybe i’m getting older and more jaded? Dunno. Whatever it is, over the last few years I’ve noticed a change in myself that I’m trying to rewind. I don’t try to have enemies…

But there was ONE time in High School where I did cut someone out of my life with the words “Have a Nice Life” and remained until the last few years, extremely angry, and considered this girl my enemy.

It’s not a particularly interesting story and it’s definitely High School, but basically, a rumour got started while we went away on our grad trip that next to all the drinking we were doing (our parents knew about this…they knew we sneaked out to bars with our fake ID’s) we were also smoking *SHOCK* pot. Now, the reason this rumour got started was because of me. I had always had a VERY open relationship with my parents about what was going on, and they’d seen it all before, and I made some flippant comment about stoners on a phone call to my Mother, which she then mentioned to a friend (a teacher at our High School) in an anecdote which then BLEW UP into a huge escalando! (Goodness me Beatrice, the children have begun smoking Marijuana!)

Just prior to this grad trip, I’d been having a HELL of a year. My parents were splitting, it was my final year of High School, my brothers and father had moved to the other side of the world, my mother was battling an addiction and depression. Not a fun cocktail. And this girl who I had been close with for four years, suddenly turned around and accused me of being a snitch and a this that and the other and told me I had to call her parents and tell them I had been lying to get attention.

Well.

Nope.

At 18, despite being a very emotional and extreme person (which I still am to some degree) I decided, heart racing, that because she and I were moving to different parts of Australia to pursue our University degrees, to not engage in this drama. And I simply told her to have a nice life, and actually, haven’t really spoken to her in 6.5 years since we graduated. I bumped into her a few times over this period, and after the first time when she tried to talk to me, and I (extremely drunk) turned my back on her and faced a wall, have had (obviously) thoughts about why I acted the way I did.

In what mind-frame do you just decide someone is out of your life forevermore in a moment? Life is long and relationships are hard and tricky and messy and interesting.

I’d like to think that each year I get older, I also get a little wiser (pfffffft) and so, this year, being back in this great city for two months, with the opportunity to reconnect again with my friends and family, I’d like to work on being a little more normal when it comes to people and relationships.

Ultimately as humans (like bee’s…i think) our society and our self is built on relationships and interactions (unless you’re that Hermit guy in Wales…but even he has to buy his milk from somewhere).

So I will strive to approach people with more tolerance, and remember that at the end of the day we’re all human and we all make mistakes.

 

Family

Ahhh Family

Family is probably one of the most important elements of our lives.

Our family is our support network when all the rest of it turns to shit. They’re the people we turn to for support, and the occasional organ donation.

I would argue that a family is not defined specifically by blood. Sure I have those crazy cats in my immediate family (Mum, Dad, two Brothers) and the extended family like cousins, Grandmother, Aunts and Uncles, but then I have people in my life that are so close to me, they ARE family, even if we don’t have the same awesome last name (mine, not theirs).

I used to be jealous of people who had spent their whole lives in the same city as their big families, having get-togethers and dinners, celebrating birthdays and special events. Childhood friends and their parents who were like relatives they were so close.

But the last 5 or so weeks has really taught me something. It has been an incredible time of reflection as my life merges from one opportunity to another. June 12th will mark two years for me in Canada, and we just passed my half birthday (holy shit I’ll be 25 in 6 months!?) and I have had time away from my new home city and back in my old home city.

I have families sequestered (like a squirrel) all over the world. I have friends all over the world who love me and only want the best for me. Some of them I have known for a long time, some for a short period of time, but in each city, there are those who are like brothers and sisters to me. That is how deep our friendship runs.

I always thought I was different somehow because my family is scattered far and wide over the planet.

I have spent some incredible time with my Mum over the last few weeks, an Awesome inspiring woman who I haven’t seen a whole lot of over the last 2 years, and my Dad, a steadfast, loyal, clear-headed guy who I haven’t seen a whole lot over the last 3 years.

My Dad and I have always had a special relationship, but truthfully over the last ten years it has been difficult. When we moved back to Hong Kong when I was in High School, my Dad started working in China 5 days a week, and we didn’t get to see too much of him.

When my parents split, my brothers went to live with him, while I, in my last year of High School, stayed in Hong Kong to complete my exams, and then fucked off to Sydney for four years of education in destroying my liver, (ah…memories).

So it has been wonderful to be back in Hong Kong with both my parents for the first time in 7 years. This city is so unique for me because of the time of my life we lived here. I look around at all the familiar places (the park bench where I had my first kiss, the bar my underage girlfriends and I snuck into, the restaurant my newly graduated friends and I drew out our life plans on the paper table cloth..)

Being back here has given me the wonderful opportunity of asking myself: Well…What next?

It’s so comforting to know that there are unlimited options and groups of people all over the world waiting to accept me with open arms for the next bit of my journey and adventure.

I’m excited to see what happens.

🙂

The Help…er

In the last fortnight I have read ‘The Help’ by Katherine Stockett and viewed the movie adaptation that has an amazing cast including Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis. Both were excellent.

I haven’t been able to put either out of my mind, and I couldn’t help but draw similarities between the African-American maids of 1964 Alabama, with the Filipino maids of Hong Kong in the early 2000’s that I grew up with.

My the time we moved back to Hong Kong when I was 14, the term “Maid” wasn’t very widely used, and instead the more “Politically Correct” term for these women, was “Helper” (are you starting to see the similarities? No? Ok, just go along with it.)

Hong Kong, and other major expatriate cities like Kuala Lumper, Singapore, Dubai, Shanghai and Bang Kok are teeming not only with Foreign expatriates working the high-powered corporate gigs, but also a plethora of people (mainly women) from Sri Lanka and the Philippines. It seems to be a cultural expectation of women, particularly from the Philippines, that they will go to these far away cities, often with no job lined up, to find a family, to work for them, and send pretty much all of the money home.

Filipino maids get paid very little per month. I think that in 2002 when we moved back to Hong Kong, the minimum wage for a full-time, live in “Helper” was somewhere around $3200HKD per month. I’m going to assume that it was 5 to 1 in those days and that the Australian dollar and Canadian dollar were fairly evenly matched (probably all wrong information, don’t listen to me, I’m an English and Film major) and that works out to be roughly a salary of $640AUD a month.

Keep in mind if you will, that these helpers work 6 days a week, cook every meal, clean the house, do the laundry, walk the dogs, pick up the children, entertain the children and basically follow out every instruction given to them. It is not a 9-5 day. It is a day with no real set hours. And in the tiny apartment (of massive mansion depending on your Corporate peg on the ladder) they have a tiny room to themselves with a bed, usually a tv, and not much else. Or sometimes if that is not possible, the “Helper” would live in a room with a child or infant. I have heard horror stories of Maid’s sleeping in the kitchen. Some will have their own Bathroom (is this starting to sound like the Bathroom initiative in ‘The Help’?)

When we moved back to Hong Kong (after being maid-less for a number of years in Australia) we hired a lady called Lolita to be our Helper. Lolita was literraly 4″zilch and the shortest person I had ever seen outside of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory. Not a dwarf, just, a tiny person…which worked out well considering the room we had in our first ground floor apartment was the size of a broom closet and she could have a custom made childs bed.

Lolita was there for the good times and the bad. With my mum suffering from depression, and my dad working in China 5/7 days, Lolita was really the one keeping us alive and not looking grubby. She packed our lunches, cleaned our uniforms, made sure we had money to get to and from school, took my youngest brother to school, and saw myself and Kip, my middle brother off on the ferry or bus. She took us to play at the members only pool (of course she didn’t swim – but hung out with the other maids in a kind of segregation… sound familiar?)

She also celebrated with us when we had triumphs, awards, achievements, birthdays. She was a seen, and yet unseen part of our family unit. She could NOT say the letter P, so when she called me, it would be “Faris” and she was forever cleaning up our golden cocker spaniels “Foo Foo’s” and she called the Philippines the “Pil-ipines” which made no sense to me because it was already a word with the “Fff” sound. She had been an accountant in the “Pil-ipines” and she used to help me with my Maths (because I was awful at it). She made more money being our maid, than she did as an accountant in the Philippines. True story. I also knew that she was married, and that she had been a world vision sponsor kid, that that is how she had been able to go through University. Somebody sponsored her all the way through. I think Lolita said she was an older British lady.

And that is really all I know about Lolita. My last year of high school was kind of blur because of all the traumatic shit that went down. I can’t remember if Lolita left before I did for University or before. I’m sure my mum will be able to shed some light on the subject (sadly it is 12 hours ahead in Hong Kong, and therefore she is in bed). I never sought to keep in touch with her, and I don’t really know what happened to her. I didn’t really know that much about her to begin with… so…

I asked my brothers what they remember about Lolita (we had plenty of maids before that when we were little, but she is the one we all most remember. She was also our most recent one).

This is what my brothers had to say:

R: (Who was pretty much raised by her between the ages of 9-11) I don’t really remember much about her. 😦

K: All I remember is helping her set up her computer so she could use Skype, and that she had a husband and house in the Philipines.

Me: (In response to Kip) Doesn’t it strike you as kinda weird that we didn’t really know that much about her… and yet she knew very intimate details about us?

K: I guess, at the time I never really thought about it.

And there you have it in a nutshell. We didn’t really think about it. Lolita was literally our helper in every way. She helped us with our homework, helped us when we were sad or sick or angry, she cleaned up after us, fed us, she did everything a parent does, but she was not a parent. We didn’t love her… we didn’t know her.

Paris