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.



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.


Freaks & Geeks: High School

I’ve been watching Judd Apatow’s series ‘Freaks & Geeks’ over the last two weeks. There aren’t that many episodes so I’m trying to savour it a little bit and not rush through the series as I usually do with delicious Television that is witty, true to itself and extremely entertaining.

The cast has some very familiar faces who were unknowns at the time. James Franco, Busy Phillips, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segal make up part of the main crew of “Freaks” we are interested in, and there have been some amazing Cameo appearances by the likes of Jason Schwartzman (who at quick glance doesn’t even seem to be credited on and David Koechner to name a couple.

The series is set in 1980, and the fashion, posters, and music are flawlessly selected. The acting is natural and the production values are great. All around, I love this show so far. But the High School experience these kids are suffering through is not the one I had to deal with.

I started High School in January 2001 – a full 20 years after Freaks and Geeks was set (We called it High School even though it was Year 7 and we started in January because I was living in Australia then.) I attended a private school in one of Sydney’s nice wealthy areas. My year group was probably 120 people, with 7 classes. We learned German, Latin, French and Japanese and at the end of that year had to choose three electives (one of which had to be a language.) It was a pretty nice school with teachers that cared deeply about us, and with more after school activities than you would ever need. If you loved something, you were nurtured in it, and you were encouraged constantly. I left Sydney at the end of year 8 and moved to Hong Kong where I attended an International School. When I graduated in 2006, I was part of a year group that number 40 students.

To say I always attended educational institutions that had involved teachers would be a HUGE understatement. It was hard to fall through the cracks basically.

And that’s not to say that there wasn’t bullying or that there were times when we struggled, of course there were. But the teacher to student ratio was always good. And although we thought our teachers were pretty uncool (except for the cool ones…obviously) we did respect them. We were taught to stand when our teachers entered the room. I wore a uniform every single day of my lower, middle and high school education, and I wore it with VERY strict rules attached to it. I always had a blazer, my top button always had to be done up, no rolled up sleeves, no piercings, hair at shoulder length or longer had to be tied back.

What a contrast to the world of Freaks and Geeks. And, as it turns out to my boyfriends experience.

As we watched some episodes together, the Canuck BF kept saying “it’s so real. It’s so true” as the bullying, the slamming into lockers, the awkwardness and the disparity between the Jocks/Cheerleaders and the Geeks and Nerds lengthened. No school I ever attended had cheerleaders, we had girls sports teams. And sure we had the “cool kids” but they weren’t all untouchable.

Is it a North American thing then?

I recently watched the re-make of 21 Jump Street with Channing Tatum (YUUUUM) and Jonah Hill (have half jewish-babies with meeee!) and one of my favourite lines from the movie came from an early scene where Tatum and Hill stroll through the car park on their first day of “school.” Tatum – built like a 1980’s Jock is pointing out the different groups he identifies, the Jocks, the Goths, the nerds and instructing Hill on how they will become cool. He points at a group of hipsters and metrosexuals and says “I don’t know what those are.”

I think High School has changed (obviously) since 1980, and the High School I left behind 6 years ago, and that the Boyf left behind a decade ago, is different to what it is today. I’m led to believe there are lots of choreographed musical numbers just like in High School Musical. Smartphones, millions of social networking sites, pretty much all learning material migrating online…High School is a different beast.

Being an Expat Brat was a unique experience in itself in High School. I never really smoked pot (why would I when I could go into a 711 and buy alcohol without getting ID’ed), I never wrecked my parents car or had them teach me to drive (in what? We lived on an island compound resort that didn’t have cars…only golf buggies), I had a fake ID at the age of 14 – and we did use it to go out, but the bouncers really didn’t care what the spoilt white kids did, and never looked too closely (my fake ID was a scanned copy of my passport which I had edited in Paint so…).

My tiny International School didn’t really have cliques. There was certainly a divide between the Expatriates and the Hong Kong Chinese kids who attended. I was a Drama Freak, a Girl-Jock, Head Girl of my school (in Year 11), a loser and a rebel (as rebellious as you can be when your parents trust you enough to let you have a boyfriend sleep over, and are too cool themselves that they are home drunk after you.)

I was always a big fish in a small pond, and while I suffered at the hands of bullies (inevitable when you move schools frequently and with teachers who can’t be everywhere at once) I was never pigeonholed by anyone for long.

It’s therefore with voyeuristic¬†fascination that I watch Apatow’s show. Is that what my life would have been like if I had gone to a public school in North America? Or Australia or England? The characters in the show seem to struggle with totally clueless parents and teachers. I definitely felt as though my parents “didn’t get me” but it grew for more of an angst ridden “waaaaaaaaah” feeling, than from actually thinking my parents and teachers were totally disconnected. I think the adults in my life were pretty with it considering they were a generation that didn’t have cell phones or internet growing up.

I wonder what High School will be like when my kids go through.