Sweetpea is Dead

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My name is Paris, and I am not your “Sweetie”, “Sweetpea” or your “Honey”. I am a twenty seven year old adult (as far as you know) that works near you.

There is only one man who is allowed to call me Sweetie, and he wears ugly crocks, speaks bad french and gave me half of my last name (love you Dad).

So why is it, that I find myself being pet-named on frequent occasions, by dudes (and its 99% of the time dudes) I barely know? It is beyond frustrating, rude and very very unprofessional. Haven’t these fuckers watched Mad Men? We don’t want to be cute-sied, we want us to be taken FUCKING seriously. EVERY time some rent-a-suit calls me “Sweetie” I feel my Spice-Girl raised Girl Power soul shrivel and cringe inside. I am woman hear me ROAR.

Why is this happening?

I look down at myself today. Black jeans, black top, side braid, wedges. Nope, as I suspected, not wearing something that could have me be mistaken for a small child on a swing with a broken ice cream cone.

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My attitude? Friendly, bubbly, outgoing. Not ditzy.

Okay. Maybe I’m being sensitive, maybe I should be careful not to fall town the Tumblrina rabbit hole of getting everyone to check their privilege (BOW TO THE POWER OF MY ALL ENCOMPASSING OVARIAN FEMALE MIGHT) but really, I mean really.

Do I look like a Sweetie? Does Madonna get called fucking Sweetpea before she opens a jar of jam with her brickhard thighs? Does Hilary Clinton get “Honey”?

Obama: Hi Honey, just letting you know I’m going to endorse you for president okay pumpkin?

How come I never hear blokes I’ve worked with getting pet names (unless you work in Australia and count ‘Cunt’ as an affectionate pet name)?

It boggles my mind that a man would think its totally fine to call me sweetie, but would NEVER EVER call someone of the same age, and position, different gender, a cute-sy name.

And I wish I could say, “oh its just the older generation, they don’t know any better” but no. No it isn’t. Guys very barely my senior do this. Have they forgotten my name? Is it like when you call someone “Buddy” because you can’t remember and it has been too long and you are afraid to ask?

Thankfully I am not alone in my frustrations. There are plenty of articles online claiming that these “terms of endearment” are actually subtle ways of belittling or condescending strong women in the work force, and urging professional ladies to put their foot down.

Suggestions for combating Sweetie-itis seem to run along the “just say politely do you mind not calling me that” lines, which seems way less dramatic than what I was thinking: morphing into a huge psychotic bitch that no one would dare condescend to and spritzing people with bear mace until they learn.

Sweetpea is dead people. Now, there is only Zuul… I mean Paris.

 

 

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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.

Should I eat this expired Pork?

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Things you don’t know that only Google/Your parent can answer.

Should I eat this Expired Pork?
It’s best before date is 3 days ago, but it seems okay and it’s been in the fridge…?
Google says: NO!
Dad says: Yes. Just cook it well and it will be fine. Best before dates are for the retailer to sell it.
Verdict: Well I cooked it and will be having it for dinner. Usually I have an iron stomach… I guess we’ll soon see!

Should I book these tickets to Chicago for my birthday next month for a fun filled weekend of USA shenanigans?
Google says: Air Canada flights… your pet can accompany you on board… What the fuck google?! That doesn’t help me!
Parents say: Isn’t there something else you should be using that $300 for?
Verdict: Flights booked to Chicago! YAY!

Why does my stomach hurt after the equivalent of 3 wheels of Brie because there was a free cheese platter and I can’t help myself?
Google says: Here are 18 reasons your stomach might be hurting, including gall stones, Pancreatitis, Lactose intolerance (jesus christ, lets start with Gall stones and Pancreatic diseases before we suggest lactose intolerance… thanks for freaking me out google!)
Parents say: Don’t eat so much Brie Paris!
Verdict: I’m probably dying. Make sure they play ‘Party in the USA’ when I go.

What am I doing with my life?
Google says: Actually there are quite a lot of blogs and articles on this topic as other twenty something year-olds wonder where to go, what to do, how to chase their passions. Glad to know that I am not totally hopeless/alone and there are others like me out there (maybe even DOZENS of us) But no definitive tailored answer. Shit.
Dad says: Keep writing, you’re a super star, you’re amazing, you’ll get there!!
Mum says: Stop panic-ing, just live, here are some quotes, we love you.
Verdict: Curl up into a ball until this round of freaking out goes away. Thankyooooou emotional roller coaster.

Do I have a pension plan already, because I feel like my money is being sneaked out into one through tax and such and while I’d rather have that money now, I guess I should kind of know, right?
Google says: 

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) retirement pension provides a monthly benefit to eligible Canadians.

You must have worked and made at least one valid contribution (payment) to the CPP to qualify for a CPP retirement pension. The standard age to begin receiving the pension is 65. However, you can take a permanently reduced CPP retirement pension as early as age 60 or take a permanently increased pension after age 65.

Dad says: Well you see… (and then I tuned out – although I love you Papa).
Verdict: Long hair, don’t care! I’ll worry about boring things like that when i’m boring, like when I turn 35.

If I keep eating the amount of sugar I do daily, will I get Diabetes?
Google says:

Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease; type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors.

Being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in calories from any source contributes to weight gain. Research has shown that drinking sugary drinks is linked to type 2 diabetes.

Parents say: We have Diabetes in our family. You should be careful, eat healthy and regularly excercise.
Verdict: Change nothing, worry every once in a while.

Thanks Google & Parents. With your combined knowledge – I am more equipped to face every day.

 

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

 

 

4 Reasons I wish I had a Sister

I grew up in a household with three kids, Girl, Boy Boy.
There are some great things about having brothers, and I love mine very much. But there were many times I wished for a sister.

And here are some of the reasons.

4. I could steal all of her clothes and shoes
I never wanted to steal my brothers clothes, because A) Most of them had pictures of Thomas the Tank engine or Power Rangers and B) Obviously they were too small and ripped/torn. I was with a friend on Sunday who was in Toronto for the weekend. Before we left her house so she could get back to her Uni town, she went into her sisters room and borrow/stole a cardigan. Imagine twice the wardrobe!

3. My Barbies would have been safe from harm.
My brothers took perverse pleasure in torturing my toys. I once came home to a pile of decapitated and de-limbed barbie dolls. I cried hysterically. My parents laughed, then scolded. Great parenting guys.

2. No one ever taught me how to do my makeup.
I did a lot of community theater when I was in Middle School and High School. My mum wore a lot of lipstick, but didn’t really throw on that much face slap (being youngish), these two factors led to me experimenting with makeup, copying off the Pantomime makeup that was done to my face. Think BIG eyes, OVERTHETOP lips. HUGE blush spots on my cheek bones. I am embarrassed to say that it was only in June last year, at the age of 22, that my stylish and makeup loving friend dragged me to a cosmetics store to stock up on things before summer camp. She did my makeup before a few nights out and taught me how it was done. Thank god those drag-queen days are over. For one member of my sibling group at least.

1. There would have been someone to fight with.
Fights with my brothers during childhood ended one of two ways. Before they were taller than me, they would cry. After they got taller than me, they ended with punches and objects being thrown. I never had the verbal wordplay kind of fights between my siblings (and when I had them with my parents I would always lose), which are a necessary part of sibling-in-fighting and teach one about comebacks and bitch attacks.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade my brothers for any one else (most days), but when I see my friends that have sisters, and the bond between them, sometimes I am a little jealous. That’s okay. I now have two roomies to steal clothes off, no barbies to protect, kind stylish friends to teach me how to not look like shit, and my brothers have developed a huge amount of sass between them. I guess rolled into one, it’s like I have a sister after all!

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What they Said v.s What they Meant

Oh hello there.

Yes, you, random blog follower/internet Connoisseur.

Welcome to Austraaliens fantastical Wednesday blog post featuring your host (me) blunt, vertically challenged, Australian, do-gooder, and the ridiculous and often troublesome existence of my being.

Shall we begin?

Excellent.

Now, take off your pants and lie down on this slab of marble. The werewolf mechanic will be here shortly.

Oh no wait!

That’s the opening line to the second chapter of what is sure to be my new Erotic BestSeller, ‘Werewolf mechanic, howls at your moon’…

I’ve completely digressed from where I was going.

Let me just re-fill this pipe and we’ll begin again.

Alright.

Now where was I.

Ah yes.

Passive Aggressive Torontonians.

Now, I’m a fairly mild-mannered person when it comes to most things. If I’m angry, you’ll know – because I will punch you. If I’m sad, you’ll see because my face will look like this:

My emotions are fairly close to the surface.

That, and I’m blunt. Maybe too blunt. But the great thing about bluntness is, it saves time and avoids confusion.

I find that Canadians in general, are not very blunt.

This has caused a fair amount of cultural-lost-in-translation moments since I first arrived here six months ago. (Oh you Canucks and your polite-ish ways. How do you stand your maple syrup selves?)

But the thing that most gets to me, is the way people get angry here. No one gets REALLY shouty angry. It’s more quiet, snarky, commenty angry. And quiet angry frightens me. Quiet angry is from childhood, the moment before your parents would EXPLODE with rage.

Side story: When I was a (spoilt) child and my brothers and I were all under the age of ten, my mother made and painted for us the most INCREDIBLE child-sized table and chairs. The four chairs, (if I remember correctly) were shaped and painted like Jasmine, Peter Rabbit, The little mermaid and Winnie the Pooh. The table was painted beautifully and had corresponding character friends in the corners of the table (Flipper was one I can remember…the others not so much). Despite being somewhat of an underrated artist, my mother was also working as a radio announcer on a breakfast show, raising us three scally wags, looking after the house, 2 dogs, cat, 2 birds and being married to my lovely father who was going through somewhat of a midlife crisis (pretty much every 3-5 years) (dyeing hair blonde, buying motorcycles). I now realize that my mother would have only been a few years older than I am now, having gotten the babies popped out nice and early.

ANYWAY

Side story continued: My Mum was/(is) a yeller. When she is ANGRY.YOU.FUCKING.KNOW.IT. She wasn’t really a smacker, but getting shouted at on the occasions we were naughty, was like a smack to the eardrums. Fine. So I can deal with shouting, and while those times were scary, they were hot air and tears and then kisses and forgiveness. It was the quiet, simmering anger, the kind that only came out rarely in my mother, that terrified the living shit out of me. When my Mum was REALLY angry, back in the day, and we’d be sitting at our awesome table, bickering and being little pricks, my Mum would calmly and quietly go to the kitchen drawer, take out the wooden spoon (a symbol of smack-time) and put it on the table in front of us.

No yelling. Just a quiet danger.

Our instant reaction would be to sit up amazingly straight, stop whatever nonsense or tom-foolery we had previously been about, and resume dainty, quiet table manners, like the ladies we would all become.

That is how I feel in Toronto sometimes. Not like a lady with impeccable table manners, but rather as a child at a Disney table who has been presented with a calm quiet fortune of wooden doom.

Today for example, taking the crowded subway downtown because it’s wet and cold, everyone is squished into the car. I flatten myself so people can get past me that want to get out and a women with a bad hair-cut says passive-aggressively “Good job not moving!” as she shoulder charges me out the door.

I never bother to reply, but today I stared at her pallid gross face and said with all the haughtiness I could muster “There’s no need to be rude.” Did I feel good? Not especially. I’ll never see that woman again. Okay maybe I felt a little good. Bitch, that’s right I got the last word in.

There really IS no need to be rude.
She could have said “excuse me” or “could you move please” or “If I could just get by..”
OR
She could have been angry, own that anger, go for it and say “MOVE FOR GOD’S SAKE” or “FUCKING MOVE” or “EXCUSE ME WALRUS YOU’RE IN THE WAY.” I mean I would have gotten it. It’s Wednesday, number one, it’s cold outside but SWELTERING in the subway, and in general if you’re a middle-aged woman with a terrible sense of style, well I mean…you’re just generally going to be mad.

But seriously….

Grow a pair and say what you mean. That, or don’t take the f-ing subway!

Now excuse me while I sip brandy beside my TV which is set on the log fire channel.

Good day.