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.

 

 

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.

 

5 Things I am doing in the shower, that is not showering

At my apartment we have a shower bath Combo (which is pretty glorious and so fancy) so that when I feel lazy or sick (like ever since I got from France) I can lie down and just kindof splash around a bit and then BOOM, I’m clean. That’s how hygiene works, right you guys?

But lets be honest – there is something to be said for showers. Not only can you get in and out faster than a bath, showers are great places for activities. It’s a time all of your own where all of life’s irritations just slip away.

For a very long time I was convinced that I was ACTUALLY in the Truman show. I thought there were camera behind the mirrors (this has a large part to play in why I always used to hate being naked as an awkward teenager, even alone in the bathroom…

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that and the film Candy Man which scarred me for life – I thought a man with Hook hands who could control bees would jump out of the mirror and kill me if I said “Candy Man” three times looking into a reflective service…I wouldn’t used a public restroom by myself for 2 years… my parents were furious)

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Thank god there isn’t an audience tuned into me at all times (I’m an attention seeker, but I’m not that bad…). If you were to observe my habits in the shower… you would have me taken off to a nice quiet room somewhere. Somewhere nice with padded walls and a TV set to static.

Things I am doing in the shower, that is not showering

1. Winning imaginary arguments (that have likely ended long ago or never actually occurred)
This is by far the most cliche and popular of the not showering activities. I know I am not alone when I say that I come up with some of my best counter attacks in that damp, white walled solitude. Witty lines that are just the right amount of cutting as to leave my foe destroyed, barbarous parting remarks that I re-enact as I flip my soggy hair over my shoulder. If only there were a way to pause a fight mid-bitch, so that I might run home, jump in the shower, think of all the right things to say, dry off, return to the scene and deliver a long lasting comeuppance. Come on Science, hop to it.

2. Trying out awkward voices and faces
By no means am I a professional voice actor (This face was not made to be hid behind that of a cartoon, I mean c’mon) but I definitely fancy myself a bit of an amateur when it comes to silly voices. My favourite thing to do is speak-sing the words of a song in a really terrifyingly shrill voice. Like “A scrub is a guy who can’t get no love from me, hanging on the passenger side of his best friends ride, trying to holler at me” spoken like a much more high pitched yoda voice. Then imagine me trying to do a convincing velociraptor… all while naked. You’re aroused. I can tell. You’re thinking… HOW is this girl single. I know. I know.

3. Sucking in my Stomach really hard to see how it would be feel to be super skinny
If I sucked in my stomach really hard all the time, man I would be so sexy. I could totally do it right? Just like never breathe or laugh or talk? I’d be like 2 sizes smaller AT LEAST. Try it next time you’re in there and marvel at the body you could totally have if you just weren’t alive and stuff.

4. Trying to figure out how much less I would weigh if I just didn’t have boobs
Is there a way to weigh one specific body part? Like do they have a bra scale that you can just sling over your shoulder and be like: It’s all good guys, I actually only weigh 146 pounds, cos I’m carrying like 10 pounds a boob of breast weight! Or for those with big booties, couldn’t they just have the lip of a seat that you could hang your ass over? And then you could be like I’m not fat, I just have exactly 14lbs of junk in my trunk.

5. Doing Sweet dance moves (I could totally be Beyonce’s back up dancer)
Too bad professional dance studios don’t have shower settings, because the shower brings out the FIERCE in me. I like to shower with music (it makes me feel like I’m in a video clip okay?!) and I like to bust out my MOVES. Sometimes I like to combine my witty comebacks with dance moves like take THAT, biyatch. And then I bust a move in their face. Goddamn I’m hardcore. Hold me back bro.

Isn’t it nice to know that you aren’t alone in your weirdness?

You’re welcome.

Oh, Philip.

I’m not one to jump on bandwagons usually (first of all, I don’t particularly like the idea of travel by wagon, and secondly, I don’t know how much room there would be for me back there, like how big is the band? Are we talking brass, rock, or one-man? A girls gotta know to prepare…what shoes would I wear, how many of my handbags could I bring!?) but I’ve been thinking about the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

And though I am just another link/voice/non-authority when it comes to him and his recent death, I had a brief sliding doors type interaction with the man a week and a half before his demise. In my life, where I have been fortunate to be so removed from death and it’s consequences, the news that this highly regarded man passed away, after telling him where the bathrooms were at Sundance (glamorous me – what an interaction!) – well it was weird. I don’t think I have been as saddened by the death of a celebrity, someone I didn’t know, since Heath Ledger passed away.

My family has had it’s brush with drug addiction. That is no secret.

In fact – the reason this has all been churning inside of me is the following Facebook post from my mother:

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Philip Seymour Hoffman’s children are small, but the internet is easy to navigate. A ten year old today knows how to get online. It will take three clicks and his kids will know all the details of his death. There is a lot that is positive stuff out there about him (amazing actor, well respected), but his children will be exposed to the good, the bad & the ugly. The spotlight casts a lot of shadows, and it seems (from an outside perspective) that some of his shadows were very, very dark indeed.

I am sorry for them, those children left behind by their fathers death. Left behind by the demonic-grip that is addiction. I have seen it’s destructive force, and it is not pretty. It is terrifying to have a parent flip-flop from the person you love, trust and respect, to someone you don’t recognize – someone who’s behavior is so unpredictable, you live with the ice-flushing fear that you will say or do the wrong thing. The type of situation where you curl into a ball to make yourself as small as possible somewhere, and just wish and wish and wish, with a feverish desire that you can’t shake, that you could be someone, anyone else or somewhere, anywhere but there. You look at other people’s families (likely as fucked up as your own – but how do you know that) and ask yourself why you couldn’t have been born into the family across the street.

Is that sad to read?

When drug addiction affected our family, I was older than Philip’s kids are now. The drug was not as “hard” and at first, it was not a “problem”. I was a teenager, and I had the “cool mum” who was out partying, who would catch the later ferry home than us on a Friday night. I wouldn’t say that I was oblivious, but there is a lot you don’t know. It doesn’t start at the extreme with a needle hanging out of your inner elbow. Drug addiction creeps in, under the door, through the cracks, until there is such a mass in the room with you that you can choose to avert your eyes, but you all know it is there. Right in front of your face.

We are a fortunate family. I have two living, loving, parents who support me and tell me I’m great (thanks guys) and two younger brothers I couldn’t live without (seriously guys, Imma need those organs at some point….) but it could have all been a very different story, very easily.

I don’t know PSH’s situation. I don’t know why he was drawn to shooting shit into himself to alter his reality – I only know what I know from our experience as a family. Not everybody has a support network that is good and wants what is best for you, not everybody has had a life devoid of tragedy or fucked up fuckery that makes retreating the easiest option. There is no way I can possibly judge Philip, I did not know him.

But what I can say is, no matter how well his wife shielded their children from the addiction, they knew Daddy wasn’t totally fine.

Even the five year old.

And now that their father is gone, they will struggle with the choices he made – to leave them – to harm himself with things that were so clearly awful for him – and they will ask themselves:

didn’t he love us?

Because that is what we do, the children of this disease. We internalize.

It is impossible at first to separate your parents actions from how they reflect on you. Was I impossible to deal with without the drugs? Wasn’t I good enough? Could I have done something better/differently/wrong? Maybe if I had been XYZ he would have stopped. Maybe if I had said XYZ he would have listened. How could he be so selfish? Why didn’t somebody help him?

The truth is, he needed to help himself. He probably thought he could quit any time he wanted, but he didn’t. Not before it killed him. Maybe he didn’t want to quit – maybe it didn’t seem like it was a problem – we all know what that sounds like.

We all make horrible decisions sometimes, we are all flawed – even the people who give birth to other people (like our parents). PSH made a terrible decision and the results are devastating.

I hope that his kids realize that this is not their fault -it takes a long time to accept that, and that their father had demons that did not relate to them.

I also hope that Philips death, such a high profile waste of talent, serves as a wake up call to others.

His is not the first shocking-drug related death, and it wont be the last.

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/drug_substance_abuse_addiction_signs_effects_treatment.htm

Paris

Happy Happy Hanukkah, Chandler and Monica

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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.

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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.

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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!

Saying Goodbye to “Home”

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When people ask me where I’m from, I can’t help it. I take a deep breath in, and I roll my eyes slightly.

Where am I from?

What a pointless question.

I think people ask it because I have a hard-to-place accent. I think people ask it, because they are trying to put you in a box in their mind. I think people are trying to categorize you. Do the places we are “from” define who we are? I suppose in some ways they do. Where you hail from is a cultural touchstone, a window into the type of person you might be.

Canadians and Americans are similar but different. If you are from Toronto, you are different from someone who is from Montreal or Vancouver. If you are an Australian, people generally assume you are friendly and outgoing. If you are Irish, you like the drink and you can get a bit crazy. Am I stereotyping? Stop me if you disagree. Are people asking you where you are from to hint at who you are? What your roots or heritage might reveal?

There are endless ways we divide ourselves, label ourselves, identify ourselves. In Toronto, I’ve heard people tell they are “from” a specific suburb. Like the area within the city, within the provence, within the country, might help signify more about them.

So where am I from?

I tell people, short answer form, that I am from Australia. I have the (slight) accent, I have the passport, I have the birth certificate. When people ask me where in Australia I am from, I tell them Sydney, because it is the place in Australia I lived most recently (for University) and spent the most years.

In reality, I was born in Perth, on the West Coast, where my father now lives, and where my cousins, Aunts, Uncles and Grandmother have always lived. I think I have spent a total of 6 months in that part of the world in over 25 years.

My mother is a New Zealand citizen. Am I from New Zealand? No. I have never been there and she left when she was 7.

Where am I from?

I spent the greater part of my life in Asia. If I told you I was from Hong Kong, you would laugh in my face (it has happened, people have done a double take and then asked me seriously… “Are you Chinese?”). I am a blonde haired, green eyed, Caucasian woman. My brother is a 6″1 hairy, caucasian giant. He was born in Hong Kong. Where is he from?

My other brother 6″3 currently blonde (or pink) haired (I think) was born in Kuala Lumper. Is he from Malaysia?

I remember a childhood of sweaty hot, monsoony nights. Street food and night markets, grinning faces that looked very different from mine, and conversations all around me in languages that I couldn’t understand.

My Mother has packed up her apartment in Hong Kong, and plans to move to Thailand this month. I am excited for her, for her new adventure. After a decade and a half in the hustling, bustling Fragrant Harbour, I know she is going to enjoy the peace and tranquility of Thailand. I know that she is chasing her dreams, and entering the next chapter of her life. With three fully grown children and another forty years in her, she has definitely got the right idea, jumping into the next adventure.

But a part of me mourns.

For someone who is a self-proclaimed Expat Brat, who moved to Canada without a backwards glance, Hong Kong was in many ways my “Home.” As culturally confused as my family and friends are, Hong Kong is a backdrop where we can all fit in.

Sorry to sound like I’m excluding, but you wouldn’t get it unless you’d grown up there, or lived in another major Expat City, (Kuala Lumper, Shanghai, Singapore, Dubai, Seoul…)

And Hong Kong will always be there. My Mothers departure does not mark the end of the existence of that city. It is simply the last, torn out root of that chapter of my life. I can always still go there, I will always have friends there. I just won’t go “Home” to Hong Kong when I visit my parents.

My parents will be in their chosen cities, and I will be in mine.

Hong Kong is our central location, geographically a middle ground, or halfway house, for my family which is spread out across the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. And while Thailand is close by, it does not hold any of the memories for my family. It will not feel like “Home” for me. Perhaps it will for my brothers who spent a year at Boarding School there. I don’t know. Even between the siblings, with only five years between the youngest and oldest, there is a vast ocean of experiences and childhood memories.

Where am I from?

Home is a word. It embodies a feeling. It cannot be one place because if you asked someone in Cairo where home was, and asked someone in Chicago the same question, both people would point to different spots on the map. It is not a charted destination. It is not physical. Maybe that is why I have always found the concept so confusing. Maybe that is why I think about it more deeply than those who ask:

Where are you from?

 

 

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

 

 

A bag and a half of Crazy

Hi. I’m Paris. I’m 5″4, I have skin that breaks out in hives on occasion for no reason, and curled toes that  kind of look like claws. Also, I’m female, and as such I have lady productive parts, fun items like a womb, and these bad ass things called ‘Fallopian tubes.’ Pretty sure there’s other fun stuff down there, but that’s not what I’m really here to talk about today. I’m mostly talking about the goody-bag that turns me into a hormonal rampaging she-mammoth every 28 days or so.

Lots of boy readers (haha oh paris, lots, you flatter yourself…I digress) may be turning away at this point.

EW GROSS is she going to start talking about the P word?!

No. Relax brothers and father (the main component of my male readership) I am not here to recall hilarious anecdotes involving the painters and decorators (have I just turned my two gay brothers gayer?… oh well), instead I want to talk about that exciting game of wearing-no-seat-belt-while-quaffing-hard-liqour-and-oh-shit-the-break-lines-appear-to-be-cut…

PMS

Yup.

I am really lucky to have been born into a body I’m comfortable in, and I’m not whingeing about being of the female variety. There are super awesome advantages, and I have a baby making OVEN on my person, that’s a pretty cool aspect of the human body.

But honestly, hormonal roller coasters of swashbuckling highs and lows… I can do with out.

I try to be a rational person. I do. And 90% of the time, I wander through my brilliant life with very little to worry about, enjoying all the wonderful opportunities around me. I have an amazing family, great friends on all different continents, and a downright hilarious, Canadian-certified nice guy for a boyfriend.

And yet…

There are days where everything seems to go wrong. I’ve suddenly gained 20kilos over night. The re-occurring pimple is back and nastier than ever. My hair looks greasy, even though I washed it yesterday. People on the train were pushy. My friends don’t write back to my text messages. No body loves me. My boyfriend doesn’t love me, and he doesn’t understand me. My parents are being mean. My brothers suck and are ungrateful. And I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. And I hate EVERYTHING. And I need to eat all this chocolate but I’m SUCH a WHALE and I’ll never be happy or have the perfect life or have nice things and my career will be shit andijustwanttobelikecarriebradshawevenifSJPkindoflookslikeahorseandeverythingsucksandAHHHHHHH

This. Is. Hell.

You are a rational prisoner trapped inside your own body. A small voice in your head says:

“Actually, you look fine, you aren’t fat, and if you’re worried about it, just go to the gym and put down the chocolate”
“Your friends are just busy – they aren’t ignoring you.”
“Your boyfriends great – leave him alone and stop causing make-believe drama in your relationship”
“Your parents aren’t mean, they’re honest and open with you – be nice to your brothers, they might have to lend you a kidney or piece of liver one day.”

I like to imagine that the voice of rational me is like a tranquil calm old man sitting at a wooden table trying to hash this out, while the crazy me is like a swarthy, hairy, staggering pirate, sculling ale and slamming his fists down on the table.

“NO! WE SAIL AT DAWN!”

So, I am a crazy, teary, mess of anger and sullen silence for a week. And the people that love me start to think, wtf is wrong with the chick, why can’t she just be cool and the rational old man in me just sits in the corner (maybe he’s like Obe Wan Kanobe?) and he just shakes his head and thinks:
“This one will have to learn the hard way”

But honestly, HONESTLY, I hate being a bag and a half of crazy as much as the people around me hate me transforming into a bag and a half of crazy. It makes me apologize when a wave of ridiculousness has passed, and then spend stupid amounts of time fretting over why I am such a bag and a half of crazy, spending time talking and re-hashing scenarios with girlfriends, going home and thinking about the conversation I had with my girlfriends about being crazy, thinking: shit, maybe they think I’m 2 full bags of crazy and noonewilleverwanttohangoutwithmeandOHMYGODHERECOMESANOTHERWAVE!

To the ladies out there who feel my pain and know what I’m talking about – you are not alone. We all have our moments of crazy and semi-depression, and our self doubts.

To the guys (Hi dad) don’t hate us. I don’t know how you put up with us sometimes, but I’m super glad you do. And hey, at my age, I’ve probably only got twenty or so more years to go until I hit the ultimate jackpot in Hormonal Ecstasy known as Menopause. And from there I think we’re pretty much done… Until I produce a female heir and she turns 13…

xxxx

P

*picture found on Reddit.com
Artist http://www.murraythenut.com

That one time I tried online dating

I am 23. As you may or may not have gathered from previous posts.
I have two degrees (in useful things like “Film” and “Creative Writing” – watch as I beat away potential employers with a club, “NO DAMNIT! I want to work in Admin”).
I am not unattractive  (depending on what day in my ‘cycle’ you catch me). I have blonde hair, green eyes and I’m kind-of short. You wouldn’t describe me as a lean green fighting machine, but then neither am I the shape of a Subaru. If I had to describe my body type I’d say… Cello flavour. Without the wood. + more cellulite.
I don’t have bodies cut up and buried under the floorboards (wait did I… oh no that was the OLD house).
And despite a slight obsession with the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice and other fairy-tales, which is a product of my gender-stereotyped upbringing (shut up I LOVE Barbie) I am what you would call, pretty “normal.”

(I’m only bringing this up – as you will find out when you scroll down – because of certain stereotypes of people who meet online – there I’ve gone and ruined the whole plot now)

So anyway, that’s me. And at 23, most of the guys I meet in person aren’t married, divorced or widowed (so that’s good), yes many of them are gay, or not fully formed, but unlike my thirty-something-year-old friends, there seems to be a lot more apples on the trees, and less rotting fruit underfoot. Are you keeping up with the analogies? No, you’re right they are getting a bit convoluted.

Regardless of that, what I am trying to say is that there are people around, in the flesh. People I could date/bang. Or both. Currently I am Dating/…. someone, but there have been times when I wasn’t. And one of those times was the start of 2009, when I, littler, non degree holding, 20 year, broke up with the first “Big One.” You know, the one you do grownup stuff with, like, going out for dinner. He was the after high school one. The one that my late teenage heart thought was “IT”. Love, blah blah.

So there I was. Single. Living on campus. Surrounded by booze and boys. Did I take time to appreciate being single (somewhat), did I think to myself, “Hey twenty year old Paris, just be cool.”

Did I?

no.

And what did I do?

Join an online dating website.

That’s right Ridiculous self-of-the-past (chastising voice of older, wiser self)

Part curiosity, part joke, part dare/truce from then not-out-of-the-closet-younger-brother-who-had-never-had-a-girlfriend-well-really-Paris-I-wonder-why-that-is? my brother and I made online dating profiles for each other – then switched.

Like I semi-mentioned above, there is (or was, I believe it’s changing now) a stereotype associated with meeting online that goes something like this:

“It is shameful to meet your partner online.” / “You must be embarrassed you met online, what’s wrong with you – can’t you meet people in real life?” / “You must be ugly or there must be something weird and freaky about you. Only nerds and socially awkward mollusks meet online.” (I hope you read those with varying degrees of old man type voices, like the guy who shakes his fist at the kids who kick their balls onto his property)

Newsflash – LOADS of people meet online.

I know a couple getting married next year that met online (both young, attractive Sydney types), my ex-roommate in Enmore just celebrated one year with her boyfriend she met online, and statistics show that the online dating industry is growing everyday (don’t ask me to back that up with a source…there is no source… okay there is one here stop nagging me, go nag your father).

When I delved into the ocean of potential back in ’09, there were plenty of attractive guys. Quirky, yes. New to town? Maybe. Normal – so it appeared. They had hobbies, they had jobs and goals, they read stuff. They watched things. They put funny little quotes on their profiles and had pictures of themselves standing in front of monuments.

Of course there were freaks (it’s not like Internet providers make you sit a weirdo test to get a connection), and I am sorry to say that a few slipped through the cracks, but there were also nice people to be found, ones with good conversation openers and amusing anecdotes to tell.

And then one broke through entirely, swept me away and we dated for two years. He shall thus be known as the one after the one after the one in highschool.

I don’t regret that experience, dating my ex was interesting. He’s a nice enough guy (it’s been long enough since our breakup that I am at the “generous” remembering stage), and certainly different from the type I normally go out with. Quiet, a little nerdy, he did live in my area, but I’m not sure we would have met if not for little old http://www.rsvp.com.au.

And that is where the key lies with online dating. You meet people outside of those you usually would. The internet connects us to many faraway and magical places, like Youtube, Reddit, and dlisted.com.

We all move in circles, very rarely moving from outside of them. If you hang out with the same people – you’ll see the same type of people. If you go to the same 6 bars, you’ll see the same type of people. If you work in a specific industry – you’ll meet people from that industry. If you go to a university…you see where this is going.

It takes a lot of push and change to meet different kinds of people (see my previous posts about me randomly moving to Canada after a summer camp experience and very different type of people I now know).

Internet dating exposes you to a bunch of single people instantly (that’s another thing to note when you go out, how many people are actually single in a bar…? it’s hard to tell). Internet dating instantly shows you what the other person is into. It’s like it takes away that awkward asking each other questions, finding similarities thing. All that information is front and centre. You just have to pick and choose. You can narrow searches to people who live in the same 5km radius as you. You can search for people who have blue eyes and who are Scorpio’s. You could (but you shouldn’t) narrow your search to 35-year-old men who still live with their parents.

But I digress.

Online dating should not have a stigma attached to it.

Most things available in “Real Life” are now also available online.

I couldn’t possibly list them all (alright I could, but I’m lazy) but things like shopping, degrees, friends. Thats right ladies and gents. All found on that big invisible spider web in the sky. It’s a spider web right? The internet?

So anyway.

Internet dating. I can recommend it from personal experience. If you can’t seem to meet the right person and you want to change your circles, then head online to one of these many fine sites:

http://www.rsvyp.com.au (Aus – Free)
http://www.plentyoffish.com (Worldwide – Free)
http://www.match.com (Worldwide – Paid)
http://www.flirtbox.ca (CA – Free)

And if that doesn’t work, hey, you can always move to Canada!

End Rant.

Post Dedicated to Emily Burgess because she checks my blog every day to see if I have updated