The Big Dream and The Get-me-out-of-here

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There is a pandemic sweeping the lives of the late-twenty-early-thirty-something year olds who don’t have children, might have fur-babies and wake up one day asking themselves WHAT THE FUCK.

If you are reading this and taking a big deep breath because you realize you are not alone, you are welcome. If this awakens a long dormant sleeping dragon of thought that you suspected existed but you couldn’t fully recognize, then I apologize – because shiiiiit I am about to justify every niggle you ever felt.

We, the unsettled settled are out there and we are hungry, we are stubborn, we are restless and we are bursting out of our skins. Indulge me in self indulgence all you traditionalists.

Over countless coffee’s and beers, I’ve had the same conversation over and over again. The “I am stuck in a rut and I don’t even know how to get out because I’m too damn tired” one, where educated, hardworking, passionate people, lament the thought bubble we are stuck in. We were told we could have it all. So where is it? Cookie please!

The new normal is that we want to have jobs we like, we want to travel the world, have a couple babies, maybe get married and be able to afford it all while the job market around us is like “JK bae, 10+ years experience, no benefits, $38k pa and you cool with working unpaid overtime and weekends? Holla at me!” and the dating scene is a revolving door of fuckboys and girls who can’t make eye contact with anything but their phones. The news is going: Don’t even THINK about getting on a train/plane or congregating anywhere in public in case of shootings/bombings/knife attacks and our parents are getting older and more dependent. That isn’t depressing. No siree.

Believe me, I’m aware of how lucky I am. I’m writing this to you from a first world country that I am allowed to live in because my parents were born in the right place and got me a “good” passport. If I sound articulate or intelligent by any stretch, it’s because I am also educated thanks to that same birth place, and the guidance of two excellent people who poured money into my brain (via the veins of formal instructional institutions). I’m white, which means I hopefully wont get shot for no reason in my car, and I’m female, which puts me at an advantage or a disadvantage depending on who you talk to, and so long as I’m not running for president.

And listen, I’m the first person to call people out on #firstworldproblems. Believe me. I’ve walked on the sidelines of poverty, I know that there are deeper issues at play in our world than the demented cries of a person who can’t afford the new iPhone.

But if there is one thing I have learned over the last few months of the ups and downs, it is that you can’t just push away things that you feel, and you can’t panic or beat yourself up because you feel them (thanks Mum) or because you are so preoccupied with keeping up the pretences that you have your shit together on social media. We know you don’t have your shit together…we’ve been to your apartment.

I feel it and I’m calling it out. The transition from hopefully graduate to slightly more jaded adult is not that fun at the moment. It’s not cute any more that we feel directionless. This isn’t Sex and the City where our lack of partners is because there is just too much dick to choose from. Our parents are sitting us down telling us they’d “like to see us get on the property ladder” and we’re agreeing with them whole heartedly as we open another letter about our student loans and wondering if we’ll get scurvy if we eat no-brand frosted flakes five nights a week for dinner.

We all started out with such big dreams! We went to school and we played along and we were encouraged to day-dream about what we “wanted to be” when we grew up. And then half of us fell off the wagon somewhere after high school and shrugged and realized that our job’s maybe don’t have to be our careers. Then we split up again when some of us realized that we’d give up that dream job for the security of that paycheck, or the option to travel with work. Those of us that have stayed the course  are more often than not slamming our faces into our laptops in the public library when we are on the hunt for the next job or big break AGAIN, thinking about escaping through English teaching in Asia or “how much DOES selling your *insert body part or fluid* really pay?”

I don’t have the solution to the twentythirtysomething malaise, and no matter how I google it (or Bing it… just kidding The Bing is dead, long live the Bing), no advice post or computer filtered answer can make my decisions for me (though I’d invest in the app that could).

All I know is that personally, I live happiest in the carnage and constant movement of work and sensory overload – when there are TOO many plates spinning in the air (because when that happens, how could I possibly have time to turn inwards). That lifestyle doesn’t really jive-turkey with the expiring “rising-of-the-ladder” career trajectory theory, and I’m tired of trying to be a square peg in a round hole.

Success is measured in many different ways, which is a topic for another day.

But for today – for those this resonates with, just know that you are not alone, and I’ve come to know, for myself anyway, that is the door doesn’t open, I’m just going to have to buy a sledge hammer. The coffee is on me when it comes to these conversations, because maybe if we stack our thoughts and idea’s one on top of each other, we’ll find a way to climb out of these ruts.

 

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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.

 

I am not cool enough for Brooklyn

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A few weeks ago I turned 26 and officially said goodbye to pretending I’m still close to being twenty and not closer to being thirty (whatever… the alcohol intake is the same, just fancier) and to celebrate I took myself down to New York for the weekend (yay for Toronto for being close to stuff!)

I went to New York in July with my Dad and we did all the touristy stuff (that he paid for… thanks Papa!) so my plan for my birthday weekend in New York was to chill, walk around, and eat as much delicious food as I could find, and yes, probably consume a lot of alcohol.

Luckily for me, a good friend from Middle School lives in New York and offered for me to come and crash at her place in Brooklyn. THANKyoufreeaccomodation!

My brother and I went to Brooklyn one evening to meet with said friend one night in July. My brother is a 6”, dreadlocked, stocky dude with a scruffy face and a heart of gold. If I was walking alone on a street at night – I would cross to avoid him (sorry brah… but I don’t trust beards). We got off the subway at a cross section of Brooklyn which I’m told is up and coming and extremely trendy.

My brother thought we were about to get mugged.

Cue group of gangstery latino dudes chilling on a corner. Cue child with no shoes on empty street across from industrial lot kicking broken soccer ball against a wall. Cue dark and stormy night. Cue broken fire hydrant.

It’s okay, we survived and were taken to one of the most delicious all meat restaurants I have ever been to. We were not mugged, but we did get lost on the train system on the way home (No No you’re right New York, your train system is the best in the world and makes perfect sense! Why WOULD the Q run on Sundays after 3pm?! Ludicrous!)

There’s no denying that there is something about Brooklyn.

Throw all the creative, eccentric, wonderful people you know into a place and wonderful things are bound to happen. If New York is the big apple, then Brooklyn is the Japanese fusion, apple infused vegan mushroom brisket.

And I am not cool enough to belong there.

Maybe it’s because I’m a tourist or maybe because I’ve just never been very bohemian, but my outfits seemed to be lacking in feathers and tassels (I wore black leggings and some kind of top and boots most days – I looked like a fucking IDIOT!) and I couldn’t keep up with the slang. I am sarcastic and blunt and while Americans can be both of those things, people in Brooklyn seemed to take everything literally – which made me sound like more of a moron.

My friend has just moved to the East Village – a neighbourhood I spent a lot of time in, drifting out of cheese cake and antique shops. With it’s wrought iron fire escapes, tree lined streets and “stoops” it is VERY sex and the city, and much more where I picture myself.

It’s okay Brooklyn… you’re that hot guy at a party which is way out of my league, but the East Village is the guy that HAS too go out with me because our friends set us up and you’re to polite to leave.

 

Encounters with morons

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There are  few people who’s advice I truly value. My parents (because they have known me since before I was just a tiny puke-inducing parasite in my mothers stomach and they honestly want what’s best for me), a handful of friends who I go to for more day to day advice (why hasn’t he teeeeeexxxxxttttttedddd meeeeeee?!) and those I perceive to have career trajectory’s I admire – the men and women older who are more successful than me in the industry I love.

And outside of that, I really don’t give a fuck.

Now that may sound harsh, but lets be honest, it has been pointed out to me on more than one occasion in the recent past that I have a bitchy streak (something I never actually recognized in myself until I took a few steps back). I am blunt, and I am opinionated and I am (starting to be) okay with that (or at least trying to tone it down enough to not make that part of my identifier… “oh you know Paris! The Big Boobed, Blonde, Angry Australian one?”.

I have lived an interesting life (Yay Passports!)

Yes, random new Canadian stranger I have just met, it IS kind of funny that my name is Paris and that I am from Sydney. Let us jovially exchange pleasantries as you make a joke about my name that I have heard MANY times before. I will do you the courtesy of smiling – because I don’t go from 0 – 100 anger quiet as quickly as a psychopathy might. Which is lucky for you because otherwise *PUNCHYPUNCHY* straight to the faceyfacey. I’ll wait for you to make the classic:

Why did you come to Canada?“Why would you leave Sydney for this?!” *Chortle Chortle* remark.
I came to work at a Children’s summer camp, loved it, worked for the camp office, went back to camp and then decided to stay and break into film and television which is what I was doing when I left Australia. I left Australia because I was over it, and I have the passport so I can go back whenever. Travel while you’re young, be adventurous, move away from the ordinary.

Good to know that you think I am crazy to have moved to Canada over Australia and that you think the Film & Television industries are very hard to break into. That is a top-notch tid bit. Let me jot that down in my dream journal for further evaluation.

You know zero things about my life, or how I was raised, or what my true ambitions are. If the conversation goes further (which pray god it doesn’t – but people are nosy curious) you might discover that I spent the majority of my childhood living in Asia, that my brothers were born in Hong Kong and Malaysia, and that my Mother now lives in Thailand and that actually over the last year, that tough to crack industry has paid all of my bills and kept me alive on the planet.

Shall I tell you my blood type and bra size?

People have opinions, I get it (see first paragraph, I am infected by opinion-itis) and generally, we believe what we think is the right thing – otherwise we would not think that thing.

But people live differently and if you think it’s weird that I move around a lot, tell me in the same breath that I’m crazy for leaving Australia, but also crazier for wanting to leave Toronto, then get the hell off my lawn. I think its crazy that anyone would want to live in the same place for an extended period of time. There is so much to see, so much to learn. 3 years later in Toronto and I’m still seeing new bits every day – still learning and exploring.

And as for my career choice, that’s freaking FANTASTIC that you gave up on your dreams to live “in the real world” and get a “real job”. I would blow my brains out if I felt I had to do something I didn’t love because it was the mature and right thing to do. Maybe I am neither mature or responsible, but my credit rating says I am, so go fuck yourself.

You think it’s insane I would want to move to LA, New York or London to pursue those ambitions? It’s too expensive/hard/competitive? That may be. I might try and I might fail, but at least I learned and went for it. Thank you for giving up before you even attempted it, the bodies of the apathetic were the easiest to climb over as I made my way to the top.

I don’t know why this enraged me so much today – maybe it’s the repetitiveness of these types of conversations – but holy fuck the relief of talking to other expatriates/third culture kids.

I’ve often written about feeling disembodied from a sense of “home” and a belonging to a specific group of people. But the older I get the more this becomes apparent – my home is a floating web of hummingbirds (be they the internationals, or the creatives), who rest gently in a place, gather experience and then shoot off again. Those are my people – the people who can’t sit still. You think we’re weird? But we think you’re fucking weirder.

No matter how long I live in a place I will never truly belong there because my collective experiences will always mark me as foreign. Perhaps there are pockets, in expatriate communities in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore… but there again the expatriate communities cling like barnacles to the hull of a country.

It’s cool, my anger at your moronic assertion of your opinions evaporates. We walk away and you become another faceless idiot.

I write a blog about you and the world turns. I send up a silent thank you to the universe (and the people who shaped my life and world) that I am educated, wealthy, safe and supported, and we all go about our days.

The end.

Paris

 

3 Years later and I’ve still never seen a Moose

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The 12th of June 2011 is the day I arrived on Canadian soil, which makes today mine and Canada’s 3 year “Canaversary”.

If Canada was a dude, we’d be getting pretty serious right about now. Maybe move in together, get a plant or a cat, start talking about the future. We’d probably be quietly wondering if we’d squandered the best years of our lives, while simultaneously freaking out about losing each other because who the HELL can be bothered to go through dating and finding someone else again. I’d have to hit the gym and watch what I eat and get regular vagina maintaining waxes. Thankfully Canada is a country and I don’t have to fuck that shit off. Commitment. *Shudder.*

I like anniversary’s, I’m that annoying friend that loves birthdays, celebrates monthly (it’s our 3 month anniversary baaaaaaaabe, whadya get me?!) and generally counts time like an OCD kid counts yellow cars. I don’t know. It’s my thing.

And I like this particular anniversary because for me, coming to Canada was a big deal and it was the start of an adventure I’d never imagined. In the last 3 years, I’ve met people I never thought I’d meet, I’ve been to places I never thought I’d travel to, and achieved personal goals that I always dreamed of, but had no concept of actualizing.

I’ve grown into the adult (*cough*) I am now (for better or for worse) thanks in part to the decision to stay in Toronto.

People who don’t travel and live in other countries are missing out. I wanted to write “fucked” there, but that seemed kind of mean. People tell me all the time that I am lucky to have lived all over the world and to have travelled as extensively as I have. And to a degree they are correct – it was very fortunate that I was born into a financially stable family, with parents who took jobs in interesting parts of the world and who imparted their love of travel and cultural exchange with me.

But the part that isn’t luck is the fact that now I make travel and living abroad a part of my life. There is no luck involved, at all. I work hard, and I make living out of Australia a priority. It’s been REALLY hard at times. I’ve balled my eyes out in many bathrooms, struggled when money was tight, battled loneliness. But above all, I’ve lived, I’ve fended for myself, I’ve learned a whole lot, and I’ve burrowed down into my core and tested the strength of my metal (stronger than it looks fyi).

Thanks for the passport land down under, I’ll come back when I’ve exhausted all my other visa possibilities and have seen as much of the world as possible.

If I’m being honest though, sometimes lately, Canada has been pissing me off. Sometimes I feel like we are drifting a part – it’s not Canada. It’s me. I’m changing, and I’m growing and Canada is staying the same. We’re not quite broken up. I’m not moving out just yet, but I’ve quietly thought about how we might divide our belongings, and have been looking at my other options. I can’t lie that other destinations have caught my eye, I’ve even flirted with a few.

We’ll see what happens.

3.5 years ago, if you told me I’d be living in Toronto, CANADA, I would have laughed in your face.

Life is like that. It’s unpredictable, and so am I. Here today, gone tomorrow.

But for now, I’m embracing all things Canada, and celebrating this life landmark. High Five Canada! We made it this far.

Paris

p.s If we breakup you can keep the plants, but I’m taking the Cat.

The Salt and Vinegar Goldfish Plea

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I have an extremely addictive personality. If I like something, I have to have/do/watch it every day until I hate it and I can’t stand the taste/sight/smell of it.

Addictive personalities run in my family. It’s why I tend to stay away from drugs (and pokemon).

I can have nothing or I have to have it all.

There is no in between for me.

The thing is, I know this about myself. I love a thing too hard, until I kill it, like a toddler and a kitten (gentle pats Paris…NO!)

There are two ways an addiction can go with me, I’ll either come to the end of it and accept it (like TV show series) and the addiction will die down (until I attempt a re-watch-athon) or I will get over it (hence the can’t stand it thing as mentioned above.)

There is a third element to my addictions, it is something that rarely happens but it does from time to time.

I will become insanely addicted to a food product, and then because of my geographical nomadicness, that item will not be available to me.

This has happened with many Australian products (which I must say are slowly infiltrating the North American market – like Tim Tams) and quite a few Hong Kong products (although nothing can ever quite compete with fresh Hong Kong street food).

The craving for products from overseas is too much to handle at times, but somewhere in the addiction center of my mind I realize that it was my choice to move away from such deliciousness the knowledge that the lack of a product it is self inflicted, diminishes the stranglehold somewhat.

But what if something I was addicted to suddenly became unavailable? What of the terror then?

It is that which led me to reach out to Pepperidge Farms this week and compose the following letter:

To Whom it May Concern
I’m an Australian who has been living in Toronto, Canada for almost three years. I originally came to work in a summer camp up in a small town in Ontario called Haliburton. There wasn’t much going on in Haliburton. There was a bar (where we would spend our one free evening a week getting hammered and awkwardly making out with other Councillors) an ice cream place, and a supermarket.

It was at this supermarket that I discovered your Salt and Vinegar goldfish. I would buy three packs on a day off, hoping they would last me until the next free day, but sadly admitting to myself that they would probably only last until the next morning (If I hid them well enough from the other Councillors/campers/myself).

The following summer a similar pattern ensued, although I got wise, I bulk bought them before camp so there was a seemingly never ending supply.

That was almost 2 summers ago. Now that I am in the city full time, I have been to numerous supermarkets, convenience stores…anywhere that might sell your delicious product.

And I can’t find it…anywhere!

Salt and Vinegar Goldfish were the first thing I truly loved in North America, that was better than what we had back in the land down under (very superior candy/chip selection I’m sorry to say…except for this!) The Canadians can keep their poutine and their aisles and aisles of BBQ sauce, I just need to know that there are still Salt and Vinegar Goldfish out there.

Tell me they still live, and then tell me where that magical place is so I can consume them all!

This is word for word the letter I wrote to the manufacturers of those sweetly addictive fish-shaped crackers (i’ll admit I took out the word “crappy” before poutine… Pepperidge farms is an American company and in many ways…I wanted to suck up to them… don’t tell poutine… I still need that shit).

I’m not sure if my email will reach a real live human, or if someone in customer service will think that I am in fact a lunatic, and swiftly delete my email.

But the addiction demanded that I at least ask….

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I’ll keep you posted.

 

There are boy shoes in our doorway…

Since I left home around 7 years ago I have lived in a number of different places.

Minus college life (which was 3 years of boys and girls and alcohol and puke and 3am showers and tears and best friends and avoiding people/eye contact at breakfast) I have only really lived with girl roomies. Not really a deliberate preference, something that has just happened. There have been boyfriends here and there, re-occurring toilet-seat up behavior, but for the most part, only girls, and single ones at that.

My current apartment is the three of us.

When you enter my apartment, immediately to your right is a big double mirror door which when slid either side, reveals two packed in shelves of shoes. Pretty, colourful heels, boots, flats, strappy things that could actually be weapons. We try to keep them tucked away. But we are girls and girls are messy, so often there are a couple of pairs tucked neatly (read: scattered horrendously) on the shoe carpet when you first walk in. It’s handy for that pair of shoes you’re wearing day after day (lately in Toronto…anything waterproof).

So today as I sleepily went through my morning ritual (see face without make up…cry…put make up on…cry less) I almost tripped over a giant pair of MAN shoes. Leather type things with no laces. Fah-hancy.

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I have seen this pair of shoes before.

Maybe three times now.

Shit’s getting serious yo.

My detective powers tell me that the shoes do not belong to any of the roommates currently residing in unit 1314 (1st clue = man shoes, 2nd clue = we are not men) and that they do not belong to a guest of mine (turn around, check bed, conclude no men there…move on). I have my suspicions that the roommate I share a wall with is not the man-shoe entertainer because I can hear every word of dialogue of whatever terrible show she is currently obsessed with.

Therefore, Watson…errr reader… I know exactly whence the shoe wearer went.

HAHA!

Detective-d.

If these shoes are going to keep appearing on our shoe carpet, I’m going to have to start thinking about changing some of my late night/early morning habits. Perhaps I could invest in a burka to throw over my head first thing as I make my way to the room of acceptable-appearance making. This would save me having to put on more clothes and also would save Man-shoe from being turned into stone when he see’s my face (I’m nothing if not considerate and also…vain).

Perhaps we could clear a space in the shoe room for Mr Size-12 so that I don’t break my neck as I race out the door…

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Should I bake a cake for him that says “welcome to our home Random guy, please don’t pee on our floor?”