Happy Happy Hanukkah, Chandler and Monica

1ZEylSr

I LOVE the end of the year.

Starting in October with Canadian Thanksgiving, and stretching through to Chinese New Year, there always seems to be something to be joyful about in the winter-time, something to look forward to and something to Celebrate an excuse to eat as much as you can possibly cram into your face. I mean, lets put aside that right after CNY we’ve got Valentines day (which I totally buy into – a little heads up any potensh’s out there) Easter (Chocolate…YAY!) then a bunch of Queen Related/National days (woopie commonwealth!) and then we’re right back at the end of the year…

Humans: Non-stop-party-rock.

But I especially love the end of the year. Thanksgiving has become a new one for me that I truly love, and Halloween in North America makes me want to chop off my legs, dress up as a ghost (easy, a sheet and two eye holes…who’s going to know?!) and get free candy (suckers). Totally worth it. That dude in South Africa who shot his girlfriend had no legs, and he was a total fox. I’m sure I’ll still pick up.

I’m very lucky to have lived all over the world, to have met all kinds of people, and to have been exposed to different cultures and customs. I always find it weird when people are like “why are they blasting Christmas carols in the super markets?!? I’m not Catholic/Christian/Religious. Why are they foisting their beliefs on me. I am offended. *meanface*” To which I ask… Are you retarded? Christmas carols are nice. And okay! Sometimes they don’t make a whole lot of sense. Like: I’m not worshiping some boy child that is the son of some King (ohhhkay fine, newlyborn baby Prince George – I’d worship him) & I barely know one wise man, how’d they find 3?! What is this nonsense tune? I’ll celebrate any holiday you want – so long as it involves eating my face off and pretty shiny things.

Today is the first day of Hanukkah, which is great because the majority of my friends in Canada celebrate it. I knew a couple of Jewish people in Sydney when I was in middle school (I’m going to go with…4,  three classmates and a teacher) and one in Hong Kong – my mums best friend. But it wasn’t until my friend and I accidentally applied to a Jewish summer camp that I really got to know what Judaism was about:

Durka (my friend I originally came to Canada with): it says on our packing list we need white clothes for Friday nights.

Me: That’s a bit weird.

Durka: Yeah it says every Friday we’ll have Shaybatt dinner. Whats that?

Me: No clue. Probably some weird Canadian thing.

3 Cool things about being Jewish (get ready for stereotypppppes – just kidding, or am I?):

1. Awesome Community
Never have I met a community that sticks so closely together. Supportive, well-connected, passionate about causes – people always ready to get involved and help each other out. Some people have described it as a bubble – but if you don’t like bubbles you must be a monster that also doesn’t like rainbows and cupcakes.

digital-photography_summer_photo_project-002

2. Always something to Celebrate
Between Weddings, Engagements, Holidays, Births, Events, Anniversary’s – most of my Jewish friends are always celebrating something. I guess when the community is as big and close as it is here in Toronto, there is always something worth noting or someone worth Congratulating. And I must say that is nice. Life is short, be happy – enjoy the moments – that is what I have learned.

3. The Foooooood
There is a word for non-Jews like me, and that word is “Goy.” Similar to the Cantonese word “Gweilo” (male) or Gweipo/Gwei Mui (female) which literally translates to “ghost boy” or “White Devil” and was a negative word for Foreigners in Hong Kong, I believe the word “Goy” began as a derogatory word. But you’re going to have to goy-t outta here if you think that offends me, because you don’t have to be Jewish to love Latkes, Knish and Matza Ball soup. We’re all people right? And people have taste buds (sorry to those who don’t). The only difference between me and my Jewish crew is that I got to experience the joy of Jewish-mother home cooking in my twenties – so it was all new to me.

image

There is something magical in the air (or I imagine there is) especially in Canada, with the snow, the glittering lights everywhere (seriously, nice job with the Christmas trees you guys). And while its cold and grey out there a lot of the time, I feel warmed by the idea of family, people randomly singing, lots of food, and the act of giving – drinking a lot and reflecting on the year.

So whatever your beliefs or non-beliefs, I hope you’re as excited as I am to get as fat as possible (any excuse) and balloon to a gigantic size so that when Summer rolls around, you’ll regret every winter calorie you ever consumed.

Happy Winter!

Advertisements

My Gay brothers are better than your Straight ones.

I have two younger brothers, 23 and 19 and among their many fantastic attributes, (including courage, intelligence, amazing good-looks, and the fact that they get to be related to me) they both happen to be rainbow spewing, Homosexual-types.

I’ve written in the past about how I struggled when they first came out. In middle school and high school, I was guilty of using words like “gay” in a negative context (“that’s so gay”) and it was really my ignorance and youth (although that’s no excuse) that made me think this type of thing was okay. I was tolerant of Gay people, I just never really thought there would be some in my family, and I didn’t really think about their rights. Being the selfish young adult I was at the time this was all happening, I thought that I was somehow affected personally when they came out.

Certain issues don’t strike you until they become personal, and you have to shift the way you think. When somebody close to you that you love, suddenly announces that they are different than the person you thought they were. It can be kind of hard at first. It would be like if I told my parents I was converting to Hardcore Judaism after being a pretty mellow agnostic/atheist my whole life. They’d be like… this is different…can we still have Christmas?

Being Gay in my family is pretty much less of a big deal than being religious. In fact I think my parents would prefer it.

Seriously, you want to join my family (no you don’t, we’re crazy).

So this Shenagantics (thats shenanigans and antics for those of you not vibrating on the same frequency as me) in Russia has got me to thinking.

Why are we so afraid of people who are slightly different from us?

My Gay brothers are better than your Straight ones.

1. Have you ever been to a gay bar? Seriously, it is the best fun you can have with most of your clothes on.
Sweet music, hot guys, nobody groping you (well…no guys groping you). I want to go to a gay bar every night, and guess what? I can, because I have gay brothers and I’m allowed. So, no big deal, enjoy your lame sports bars with your lame straight brothers. Bring on Madonna!

2. My brothers are never going to impregnate a girl by accident and stress my Dad out.
We’ll leave the accidental pregnancies to yours truly.

3. Honest appraisals of my boyfriends .
Would NOT bang. Really? Yeah yuck. Sigh-Okay. “Hi, it’s Paris. My brothers say you are fugly and we need to break up now. Yup seriously. Cool. Bye”

4. I’m learning so much about men – from men.
You do what-now with the where-now??

5. My brothers will never bring a girl home to steal my only-girl-in-the-family status.
Sure you may be the Queens, but I will always be the Princess, and therefore, I can do no wrong, nor be compared to any sister-in-law.

My brothers are tolerant, open-minded & politically aware.

I have never met someone with such a capacity for accepting others like my baby brother Angel, nor someone with such a strong sense of self as my brother Kip. This blog, like most of my blogs, has a tongue-in-cheek element, but the truth is, I learn from my brothers every single day, and I love them more for the fact that they looked this world (which can be cruel and harsh and a struggle) right in the eye and said “bring it, this is me”.

They aren’t perfect, and I would still punch them as hard as I could in the arm if they tried to change the channel when I am watching my secret favourite show “Say yes to the dress” (then I would run away because they are both over 6 feet tall). They are the boys (men now) that I grew up with and I am so proud of them every single day.

It’s hurtful to read articles about what’s going on in Russia, or about Hatred towards people who are just getting on with their shit same as everybody. When I read ignorant blog posts or Facebook status’ or see evidence of injustice and intolerance, I am sad for the people who obviously don’t have the love or intelligence to see that we’re all just people.

They obviously haven’t met my brothers, who are amazing dudes that just happen to like other dudes.

I don’t think it matters who you’re taking home at night, so long as you are happy and they are happy and somebody is buying my brunch.

No Freedom until we’re equal, you’re damn right I support it.

PHT

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love and Lost in Translation

Ever since my first kiss at the age of fourteen, there has been a noticeable trend in the boys I have harassed. To say that they were all Asian would be to be forgetting Rick, my boyfriend of three weeks in Year 10 who was actually Canadian, Adam, who was half, David who was a quarter, Roger who was old-school Hong Kong British and of course, current Boyfriend Jered who is totally Canadian (thank god, says my slightly (and by slightly I mean occasionally and surprisingly) racist 88 year old grandmother who has never made it a secret that she’d like the shade of her great-grandchildren’s skin to be on the white side. – I’m not sure that my Dad has told her she has two homosexual grandsons and that Jer is Canadian AND Jewish, because really…what is she going to do with that information?)

“When I was your age, the Black people had to sit at the back of the Bus!” – My Grandmother, 2005.

Isn’t it surprising that racism and intolerance like that exists outside of people her generation? Although it is not totally forgivable in my  Grandmother (who, it has been pointed out to me, became very wealthy through her business dealings with the Japanese when my Grandfather owned a sporting goods store), she is an old lady who’s field of understanding and acceptance to new ideas has shrunk to the size of those god-awful ‘Current Affairs’ type programs that air in a specific time-slot to terrify little old men and women who go to bed at 6pm.

The idea that one might move to Asia with ones girlfriend (and subsequently wife), was, I’m sure, shocking to my Nana and Dah at the time that my parents did it (in the eighties). To have a new born there, let alone 3 and raise them all there seemed out-of-this-world, I am sure. Until a few years ago when one of my first cousins moved to the UK and my Dad’s cousin and his family moved to Singapore, my five person family unit was really the only one on my dads side that didn’t live in the Western Australian City of Perth.

But my rant today is not about my Grandmother, or the City of Perth (you’re alright Perth…look, you gave us the Wiggles!) but is instead about loving someone from another culture or country and the challenges that one may face.

It’s no great stretch to live in Canada as an Australian. SURE I feel like the popular kid at school because of everyone LOVES my accent (even though mines not so strong – must fake it to win friends) and yeah it IS pretty weird that I live on the opposite side of the world to that cute little island country who’s passport I posses, but really, there are lots of similarities between Aussies and Canucks and that is why they get along so well, and also why 99.5% of the population of Whistler is Aussie. We like you – you like us. It’s win-win.

So it’s weird when people think it’s weird that I live here. One of the first assumptions people make is that I moved here because of a boyfriend. When they find out about Jered, they nod their heads and go “ooooohhhhhh okay.” Like that’s the only reason for globalization and travel…to move your entire life from one side of the world to the next… for love. Hey! I’m not knocking it. One of my best friends is moving here in 7 days from the UK and one of the big factors is the love of her life that she has been long distance dating for two years. No big deal!

Just not my deal.

Don’t get me wrong, having a cool, hilarious boyfriend is a big plus on the Toronto experience. I won’t make your eyes turn to pus and melt by outlining exactly HOW cool and sweet and hilarious and adorable my boyf is, because, that’s just annoying when people do that, and that’s not why you came here. You came here for angry sweaty ranting, and that is what you shall have.

There have certainly been some strange moments between us as a couple. Probably the most surface issue is getting used to each others language and word usage.
J: Garbage
Me: Rubbish
J: Sweater
Me: Jumper
J: Ketchup
Me: Tomato Sauce (which always leads to the debate, “then what do you call Tomato sauce – like for pasta…Me: um…Pasta sauce?)

On these occasions I am left thinking of the scene in ‘Love Actually’ where dorky ‘Colin Frissel’ goes to Wisconsin and meets babes, and they all sit around laughing at each others pronunciation “Table!…oh its the same…”

But there is more to it for P+J than mere lol’s at language. J is Jewish, (as are most of my friends from my summer camp job) and as a result, I have been exposed to, and included in, lots of Jewish customs. I just had my 2nd Rosh Hashanah experience (which by the way – I still had to google to figure out how to spell).

I was TERRIFIED when Jered invited me this time last year. Okay, it was partly the idea that I would ruin the entire religious event by doing something embarrassing like…I don’t know…eating pork? (turns out J is more culturally than religiously Jewish and is actually an atheist and he loves bacon and all that jazz- phewph) and partly because I’d just started dating the guy and was suddenly going to meet his ENTIRE family (cousins, aunts, grandma et al). I spent quite some time researching online about apples and honey and stuff. I bought his Grandma some weird apple tea thing, and I think they thought it was really cute that I was trying.

The most frustrating thing for me over the last year was always feeling like a Class A moron when I didn’t know things that everyone around me just assumed I’d know. I had almost no religion in my life prior to being included in Jewish stuff, (although I did attend a Church of England Private School for four years when we lived in Sydney and had been to church on Easter) I had never been to a funeral before and never celebrated any holidays except for Easter (Chocolate eggs and the Easter Bunny!) Halloween (LOLLIES!) Christmas (PRESENTS AND SANTA!!) and New Years Eve (Booze and fireworks!)

So I had a lot of eye-opening learning experiences, like going to a Sedar (also had to google spelling) at passover and being presented with a plate of herbs and a bit of bone. (Jer..Jer.. do…we eat that stuff?) Or wishing everyone a Merry Christmas once before they all went on vacation…duuuuuurrrrp.

It hasn’t been a struggle, that’s not what I am getting at, but with a relationship where cultural exchange is involved, there is always going to be periods of adjustment, times where patience will be required, times where sensitivity must be employed. There are times where things are so different, you are coming from such different backgrounds of understanding, that the only thing you can do is laugh hysterically and move forward. And then you’ll find all the common ground you share and it will be a wonderment, that two people can grow up in such vastly different settings, on different parts of the planet, and still enjoy the same things.

End Rant

Paris

p.s

follow me on twitter @ohparis