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:

screengrab

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

A sad snowy day

At 23, I’ve lived a pretty varied and well-rounded life.
So it’s interesting that the experience of living in Canada has exposed me to a lot of ‘first-offs’.
First snow, first skate on a lake, first Christmas away from home, and today, a sad first:

first funeral.

Tragically, two friends of mine from camp lost their mother yesterday.

Though it is of course an awful situation, it was amazing to me to see the way the community responded and with such rapidity. The majority of my friends in Toronto are Jewish, and so the service today was different from those that I have seen depicted in movies (the root of my funeral knowledge).

At the service, a huge group of people turned out to pay their respects, so many in fact that people had to stand at the back of the room. Every one signed a book when they entered, and the majority of men donned Kippah’s. The service included prayers in Hebrew, and my two friends and their older brother spoke about their mother, who sounds like she was a pretty awesome Mum and member of the community. The prayers were repeated in English, and though not a religious person myself, the sentiments carried through the service affected me deeply. The Rabbi spoke about leaving the service and remembering to take each day as a blessing, trying to let the service change you a little bit to be a bit more thoughtful to those around you.

This is something that I will try to carry away.

We travelled in a procession (police escort) twenty minutes from the funeral home to the cemetery. It was a beautiful day full of sunshine and crisp winter air, with fresh white snow on the ground. At the gravesite, the Rabbi explained that the final kindness you can pay someone who has passed away is to shovel dirt onto the coffin, first three times with the back of the shovel, to signify that this is not a pleasant task, and then from there with the front side of the shovel. It was a very big group surrounding the plot, and so many people were there to shovel that they did the entire thing (apparently sometimes they use a machine to push the dirt in to bury the coffin completely.)

In Jewish culture, after someone dies, they hold a ‘Shiva‘ at a relatives house. Unfortunately I have been to a Shiva before, recently, when another friends Grandfather passed away. At a Shiva, as far as I’m aware, there are times when you can visit the family and pay your respects. There are refreshments and nibbles. Mirrors are covered as a grieving family is not meant to look in a mirror.

And so after the cemetery we grabbed some lunch, and then went to the Shiva. We had not had a chance to speak to our friends at the service or at the burial, obviously. But a Shiva is like a Wake, I guess, and it was nice to be able to share a drink and a hug with my friends in this devastating time. It was a moment to just be around, talk about stuff. To try to make them smile and tell them that you are around, and available.

It was my first funeral, and first Jewish funeral, and the whole thing just struck me as being about love and community and celebrating someone’s life, while also mourning their death.

Life is a series of events from start to finish, Births, Birthdays, Graduations, Weddings, Funerals.

Today will remind me to love each moment, to be grateful for the good, the bad, the difficult, the easy, the dull and the bright because all these things make up a full life, and a full, healthy and happy life is all you can hope for in the end.

P

When it all piles on

Sometimes I get super stressed out.

Little things bother me and it feels like there is nowhere to hide. I was having a case of this last night as I struggled with low blood sugar, crankyness and just a general down-in-the-mouth attitutde.

So when it all gets to heavy, I turn to the Desiderata. It’s my philosophy to live by and I took a line from it as my tattoo.

I hope it brings you some peace the way it does for me.

 

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

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.

Ridiculous Ramblings

I have a lot of time to think in the day as the job I’m doing at the moment requires me to sit quietly and listen, and only occasionally do something.

(yay).

So I have lots of time to live in my own head. This can be a good and a bad thing. It’s a good thing because it means I get to know myself, probe the depth of my crazy, really get acquainted with all the nooks and cranny’s, learn the quirks in the way I’m programmed. It’s bad obviously because it means I can obsess over things and they can grow like a shadow into huge monstrous things, made of some tiny little spec.

And like a child alone in their room, I, alone in my head, fixate on the spec until I’m convinced that the huge shadow has come to eat/kill/torture me and that I will not make it through the night.

But I always seem too. Which is disappointing. Not in the sense that I’m emo and like (boo) I’ve lived to see another dawn and, you know, live in my middle class life with my middle class problems, but because I’ve spent so much time terrified of things that aren’t, or are but not as big a deal.

KnowwhatImean?

So, recently, as you would know from my crude cartoon, a boy I love kindof broke my heart. And I haven’t really put anything out there online about it because sometimes I read heartbroken blogs or Facebook status’s and I’m like “REALLY!?!?!?! DON’T YOU HAVE A DIARY?!” because there are things that you just don’t want to know/don’t have enough care/brain space to know.

Think Homer Simpson and his “I learned so much it pushed other things out of my brain.”

And I’ll put it out there, I DO have a journal into which the worst of the rambling goes – it’s pretty schizophrenic as my pride, emotions, heart, ego, hurt, desire, regret and subconscious all vie to take over the pen (sometimes it’s like John Malcovich in there) with one page saying “I love him” and the next “What a douche. Just look at your fine self.” But that is not for the world to see. That is for me to collect myself and present an “I’m GREAT!” image to the world and then re-read it in a year when I’m done with being sad without anyone else having to know how nuts I truly am.

SO, what point am I rambling my way towards? *quickly scrolls up to re-read what has been written* ah yes.

Obsessing over things, seeing a monster in a shadow and being sad about getting my heart crushed.

Last night I confronted a real monster and it put things into perspective. My beautiful street, which I love to live in, in trendy Sheung Wan, is about 40meters long and 10 meters wide. There are probably 100+ people that live in it and it is high density living although the buildings are all low rise.

There isn’t much you could do at night that your neighbors would NOT hear and generally, it is a nice place to live. Except that last night (11.45pm) everyone in the street could hear a woman having the shit beaten out of her, screaming and crying, and a man screaming at her.

It was so loud, and was coming from our side of the street. I looked out my window and saw loads of people looking out of their windows too. I was shaking, it was the most horrible sound. Mum said “I know who it is, i’ve called the police on him before.”

We slipped on shoes, put on coats over our pajamas and grabbed our phones and keys. Mum and I marched into the street and stood outside the building.

Something not a lot of people know about my mum is that in her childhood, she was subjected to intense physical, mental and sexual abuse. Sometimes I think she is a bit of a hardass and a bit too “tough love-y” but when I think back to the first 15 years of her life, I can see that she’s strong because she had to be. She couldn’t give a f*ck and she’s not afraid of anybody.

Anyway she marched into the street last night and screamed up at the building (which is where the abuse-noise was coming from). The guy went quiet and then called down for us to F*ck off. My mum yelled back that she would not and that she was calling the police (which we did) and then we stood outside and waited for them. The horrible thing was, people in our street were yelling at us to shut up and saying even more obscene things like, calling us Sluts and Bitches.

When I looked up in the street there were people in so many windows. And we were the first to do something?

It put into perspective that there are things out there far worse than the fact that your ex changed his facebook status/picture/didn’t write back to your pathetic texts. There are worse things at 22 than feeling rejected or fat or not having anything nice to wear.

I am sad. But last night I also realized that I am lucky. I’m waking up today with a bruised heart, not a bruised face. I can obsess all I want in my head about shit, and try and guess the future (I’m really bad at guessing), but really, my present is extremely good.

I hope that woman is okay.

Picture thieved from: http://pion.pl/cowboys.php?q=homer-simpson-brain-image&page=3

http://manlyexcellence.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=16250&start=80