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.

skeptical-baby

  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.

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My Lighthouse

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Are you a human adult?

Do you find yourself unable to sleep some nights (even when you are utterly exhausted) because the great whirring globule inside your skull has chosen this exact moment to throw all of the personal challenges you have ever considered or thought about- into your face?

Maybe you trip down the rabbit hole of “what the fuck am I doing with my life?”

You wouldn’t be alone with that – almost everybody I know, childless or childful (is that a word…?) Teenagers, Twenties, Thirties, Forties, Fifties, Sixties… everybody is trying to figure out what they’re doing, why they did what they did, and what they are going to do next. All the while maintaing an immaculately maintained and crafted image of themselves on Social Media.

You think its just you?

I will be the first to admit that the last ten years have been a colliding merry-go-round of lucky breaks, happenstance and the ability to fall upwards.
From the University I attended, to the country I now live in, to the jobs that I have had – it’s all been one big “OKAY SURE!?” + tears.

I’ve had my goals and dreams, but while they remain a lighthouse on the coast, I’ve happily gone down into employment mermaid lairs and boarded pirate ships that have been more than diverting. (Are you staying comfortable with all the Metaphors?)

 

It is really hard to sail directly for the lighthouse when there is an unpredictable ocean (life) you are riding on. I am far from easy-going, but to avoid sinking, I’ve tried to take the waves as they come – and yet I see the lighthouse on the shore and it gives me pangs to see that some days it feels like I am further away from it than I was yesterday. That drives me crazy – especially when you feel like you’ve rowed as hard as you possibly could and it doesn’t make a difference – the lighthouse feels like an impossible target.

Still following?

For a long time now I’ve struggled to be honest about what it is I’m even sailing towards – because for a long time, floating at all seemed like the greatest achievement (hey look at me I’m on a boat and I haven’t crashed into the rocks!)

At 2am, for whatever reason, my brain finally decided to admit to itself what it is we’re aiming for and here it is:

I want to be a writer.

I’ve spent the last month funemployed and in that time (amongst the watching of numerous fail and cat videos) I buckled down and wrote a screenplay that has haunted me for four years. A story that I started and abandoned with no real deadline.

On Friday last week, I finished the first complete draft, 83 pages. And while my bank account reminds me that I need to get a real job again ASAP, I’m prouder of myself for those garbage 83 pages than I have been in anything for a long time.

And all the noise and splashing and the disquieted seas feel calmer now than they have in years because I don’t feel like an idiot for saying I want to be something – I AM something. I used to feel ashamed to admit that I wanted to be a writer because outside of this blog and the witty Facebook statuses I craft – I hadn’t written anything. I felt like a fraud with my Masters Degree in Creative Writing. I’d never in a million years have answered “What do you do?” with “I am a writer” because what a fucking fraud!

Now that I can admit what my goal is, all of the jobs and the career I’ve been carving – make sense. Because silly me – you don’t sail towards a lighthouse, that isn’t what a lighthouse is for. A lighthouse is a navigational tool. It helps guide you through the rocky sea and warns you of danger.

 

Thats what my brain was thinking about at 2am – that maybe you don’t ever reach your lighthouse – but knowing what it is and how it affects your decisions, is enough to see the path. Isn’t that we’re always looking for? Patterns and paths that make us feel like our lives aren’t haphazardly thrown together?

Find your lighthouse and then sit back and enjoy the boat ride.

Administration Appreciation Association

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Apparently it is Administration Appreciation week, so grab your Assistant, grab your Receptionist and give them a big ol’ smooch on the facial area (don’t do that – HR will have to have a serious talk with you about boundaries, and there’s too much shit to catch up on facebook!) and tell them “hey there sweet cheeks, (don’t call them sweet cheeks) thanks for being awesome!”

Today I was invited to a luncheon held by the Temp agency that supported my (meager) lifestyle for a year and a bit (I refuse to say year and a half, it was a year and a bit OKAY!?). The luncheon was held to say thanks to all us Tempies (my word, not theirs) for everything that we do. There was a selection of free sandwich’s, cubed Canadian style cheese (which is very orange for some reason) desserts (goodbye diet) and little gift bags which contained a notepad, sticky notes and a free pen. To enter this hallowed luncheon, I first had to scribble my name on a name tag (can we take a second to talk about how awful name tags are for girls with big boobs…like where are they supposed to stick?! And WHY do they always curl at the edges and threaten to fall off?! Who invented this godawful contraption, I’d like a word), scrumple it up because my handwriting is worse than a left-handed blind guy, and re-write it smaller and not as disgustingly.

I entered the inner sanctum and mingled with other people who are on the Temp trail. I recognized a few faces here and there (people I’d worked with at various places) and was struck by the ratio of women to men. I think there were 2 dudes out of a possible 40 people in the room, who didn’t work for the organization itself.

There were two distinct age groups, the under 28’s and the over 45’s. And I heard a lot of accents, a couple Aussies like me, plenty of people who broke out into Spanish after a few exchanged sentences, and a hybrid of United Kingdom-style accents.

So who is drawn to Temping?

People like me, who struggled to find jobs and people returning to the work force after a break maybe?

There are pro’s and con’s to the Temp gig.

Con:
Unreliable hours = unreliable take home pay. – Some weeks you work every day from 8-6 with an unpaid lunch hour in between. Some weeks you’ll work a half day from 9-12 and that is it for the week. It is a hard way to live, makes it hard to budget, makes it hard to plan.

Pro:
A sneak-peak into multiple companies without the full-time contractual commitment. Would you want to work in an office like this, that, the other. Would you be interested in a certain industry you’d never thought of before? What kind of vibe would be perfect for you? And on top of that – flexibility to up and take off on vacation whenever you want! None of this 2 weeks a year B.S… you don’t have much money to do that (see above) but still…flexible! Yay-yeah.

Does Google have a TV department!?

Does Google have a TV department!?

Con:
Always being “The Temp” and five steps behind. “Where are there batteries for my mouse which just died?” “Where does XYZ sit?” “How do I fix the coffee machine?” – If you’re Temping it’s not because you’re a fucking idiot (I mean… maybe you are) you are smart enough to operate a computer and answer a phone (presumably) but you constantly feel like a moron because you can’t answer simple questions.

on the flip side:

Pro:
You are not held accountable for shit that gets fucked up because you have only been there for a hot minute, how would you know things?! Pass the buck!

Con:
Not feeling like you truly fit in with a company (what if you’ve been there a week or two and then it is someone’s birthday… do you sign the card?!)

Pro:
The potential to make new friends and contacts (one of my dearest Toronto friends is a girl who’s position I covered more than a year ago… how would we have met if I hadn’t been her Temp replacement?!) – I personally got the job I have today because I worked in this office a year ago and then got another Temp contract in January. So much of it is being in the right place at the right time.

If there’s one thing I have learned – and it is compounded by this week of appreciation, it’s that Administrators need our love and admiration. They do the shitty jobs that you don’t want to… so bring them cakes and such. You know where I sit!

The Next Five Years

“Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans” is something my father has been known to say on occasion, but which google reveals to be a John Lennon quote/song lyric. Never is that saying truer than it is for the month of February, which at 28 days most years, goes by in a flash. Here we are March 1st and I’m thinking, we should probably take down the Christmas tree.

My Mum wrote a very funny blog earlier this week, about how she feels she is just hanging around in the waiting room of life. She’s 43 years old and all her children have fled the nest, and she’s not sure what the next twenty years will look like. Well funny that, none of us do.

A day after reading her blog, a package I sent myself six weeks ago arrived. During the Christmas break back in Hong Kong, I spent some time going through some of my old stuff that has accumulated in my mothers tiny apartment. I found my old school blazer (which was gigantic on me in year 12 and now sits the way my work blazers sit…ever an indication of aging and thickening) old programs from Musicals I was in, and I found precious newspaper pages on which I featured.

When I was 15 and living in Hong Kong there was a section of the South China Morning post called “The Young Post” and for a period of time they had different groups of kids (I think they started with 9) come in, photograph them in a couple of different poses, and then send then get them to respond to certain questions. The idea was that you would vote one kid out of the young post every week.

I only lasted 3 weeks or so. My downfall week, the question was “tell us a joke”. My parents had a thick book of politically incorrect jokes that used to sit in our bathroom (wildly inappropriate for children, but hey, I learned a lot about sex and sexual interaction from that novel!) Now, I know what you are thinking, I went ahead and did the one about the Nun and the Irishman. WRONG. Because somewhere in the back of my rude-joke-packed-mind I realized that these jokes were hilarious but also WILDLY inappropriate for the young post, I looked up online, “politically correct, lame jokes,” and came up with the following, which I used as my answer:
“What’s brown and sticky? A Stick!”

I was eliminated. Well Fuck.

But that isn’t where our story ends today. The question before the one that ended my career as Supreme Young Person of Hong Kong 2004, was “Where do you see yourself in 15 years?” And I answered the following:

“Wow! I’ll be 30! Well I hope to be working in a creative Job, maybe Acting because that is something I have always loved, living in some far away exotic place, with some really hot guy.”

Well.

This year I will be 25 and that means it has been ten years since I wrote that.

Let’s check in.

I am certainly living in some faraway place; Toronto is NOT exactly close to Hong Kong, and I’m not sure what I would have defined as exotic back then, having lived the majority of my life in Asia at that point. Compared to the busy, loud, crazy city that I consider my home…snow covered everything is pretty exotic. Eh?

As for the job…at this point I’d take any job as the endless weeks of Temping blur into one another and my sent inbox fills with more and more desperate and unanswered emails, (I’m totally kidding, I’m still working towards the creative thing and have actually had a couple of non-creative job offers suggested to me, which I have politely turned down. I didn’t bust my ass being poor and interning for the last 6 months to give up and take yet another Admin job which pays the bills, but kills my soul.)

And as for the really hot guy thing, let’s not even go there. You don’t want to hear me gush about Canuck boyfriend and he’d probably de-friend me if I did. But I think I’m on-track with that one.

But the next five years is going to be pretty huge I’m guessing. There is obviously no way of knowing (because 2 years ago I would have never thought I’d be where I am today), but the one thing I do know is that life is an ever changing thing. You can never get too comfortable with the way things are, for better or worse, and it’s always for the better in my opinion.
I find it interesting that my Mother feels rutted in her life when she is still in the prime of it. I get it that the hands on child-rearing faze of her life has fizzled, but she never gets to stop being our mother (sucks to be you) and she never gets to stop being a part of her already fairly eccentric family. Maybe that’s her problem (and I suffer from it to) there are days when things just seem too calm and normal.

And that is freaky.
The good news is that she has the next generation to look forward to. Maybe not in the next five years, but, thanks to stupid biology, certainly in the next 15. And she’s already threatened to be the grandmother that feeds the grandkids sugar and lets them stay up late and gives them money to sneak out to concerts and will generally be considered “cool” and therefore loved more than me. Stupid ungrateful unborn, un-conceived children.

I guess we’ll just have to see where we’re at, twenty years from now.

Temping, Prositution of the Corporate world

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Temping:

temp [tɛmp] Informal
n
a person, esp a typist or other office worker, employed on a temporary basis
vb (intr)
to work as a temp

Turns out Temping is better paid than retail (not by much, but enough for me to go buy those Croc boots which I swear aren’t ugly, just give me a chance to show you) and because I continue to be ignored by the world of Full Time work in an industry that I am dying to work in, I decided to give Temping a go. Since the beginning of the month I have taken on four different assignments, 2 x 1 day assignments, 2 x 1 week assignments, and learned about a whole new world that I never knew existed.

The world of the Temp.

Let me give you a little run down.

The world of the Temp is a place ungoverned by your average 9-5. You wake up at 7.30am with the hope that at 8am, someone (Pimp) will call you and tell you they need you at XYZ location, and the dress code is *blank*. You slap on some make-up, make sure you vaugely know where you are going and sprint out the door. On the train you wonder again what you are doing with your life, but the other part of your brain says “this is the last job, I promise you. We’ll get the money and then move to Florida.” You get to the destination, you make small talk, find out what the client (John) likes and what they need. You settle down, close your eyes, and daydream you are somewhere else (like at a real job). When it’s all over, they thank you plenty of times, and you shuffle out clutching your time sheet. You buy yourself a couple of drinks to try to forget the disappointment in your mothers eyes.

Temping is the Prostitution of the corporate world.

But you know what? I don’t hate it.

My first two assignments were in Film and Television production companies, and you bet your Chihuahua’s left nut that I worked it like I was on the sinking Titanic and had to get my third-class ass on a lifeboat. The one day gig was a bit of a bust, it was a monday and quiet as hell, but the week long gig yielded fun, a bit of professional networking with an awesome Aussie guy who took my resume and some new surprising friendships with girls my own age who worked in the company. Turns out some of them had been in the same boat as me and some of them even got their jobs after temping first.

Actually, when I started to look into it, Temping seemed to be one of the ways a bunch of people I know got their full-time jobs. They’d go for an assignment and the company would say, you know what, why don’t you stay on, or, why don’t you give us your resume to take a look at. It was kind of like a pre-interview. And hell with the number of resumes and cover letters I have sent off, any chance of getting into ANY company as more than just a name on a piece of paper is a big bonus.

So why did I always think there was such a stigma attached to Temping? I couldn’t even tell you. Maybe there is, but now that I’ve joined the ranks I just don’t care. The job market is so tough out there, and lots of people who want to do what I want to do are stuck in menial jobs, frittering away their youth and talent.

I’d rather wake up each day with the fresh and exciting opportunity of meeting someone that may assist with opening a career door for me, than be marking down sweaters for the third time this week.

End Rant

I’m going to jot this one down in “experiences”

Being unemployed has its suckyness and its awesomeness.

It sucks because, money is pouring out of your pocket faster than it is pouring in (worst). It also sucks because you spend your days tweaking a document that maybe, just maybe, you can fix JUST SO, so that employers will realize you are the fantastic, charismatic, charming girl you are in real life. You spend the day gazing at job posting websites, or kijiji, or hiking around the mall in your cute pretend corporate get-up with a sweaty grey file full of those pieces of paper clutched in your hands. You spend the day trying to convince people that seem to hate their life why YOU TOO should join their organization and maybe YOU could have the opportunity to hate your life too!

Then there is the sparkling hope, (this is the awesome part by the way) the idea that every resume and cover letter sent off or dropped by, could be the next fun thing, the next big adventure, the part that leads to the next part. Does everyone live with this same idealistic hope or just me? Who’d a thunk-it that a retail job where minimum wage is $10.25 in Canada could be so alive with potential.
Mama says: If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.

Wise words. I feel their invisible power tattooed across my brain. That saying is probably what drives my very existence. Well…that and that song from Pochahontas “Just around the river bend”… because seriously, whats back there? Gold? A kingdom of sloths? A tiny toy car factory staffed by midgets?

I digress.

I have been handing out a lot of resumes and cover letters that basically say “BLAH BLAH BLAH hire me for the love of god BLAH BLAH Kind regards, Paris.” And the truth of the matter is, if you hustle with some muscle (do we like that one?… I’m not sold on it frankly) then you are going to get some emails back, some calls and some interviews.

And thus, I have had all of the above. It is so exciting when you get an email back in the first 24 hours, you think, THEY REALLY LIKE ME! But sometimes those can lead to nothing and that second email doesn’t come back to you.

Then you get a call to come in for an interview. And so off you go, giggling with excitement, into the dark hole of the unknown with that little folder of resume’s your only flotation device.

So, a week and a half ago, I go to an interview, for what I think is a restaurant job. I go down to a very trendy part of downtown Toronto. I brushed my hair, I even applied some makeup (teehee, what fun!) and I wait in the very swanky plush restaurant area. There are three of us waiting to be interviewed. The guy interviewing us shows up late in a flap (by the way this mans name is Norwayne, a name I have never come across, personally) and it soon becomes apparent that the job is in fact a hosting position at a totally different club. The Norwayne man, tries as tactfully as he can, to tell me, that this job involves…scanty dress. I’m nodding along like, yep yep, tits out for the boys, gotcha. My interview is done in 2 minutes, I walk out of the building and Norwayne and I part ways forever.

Yesterday, I went to an open job interview for a new restaurant that is opening up. First of all, I walk into the place and it has a big blow up picture of a girl dressed in, what I can only describe as an Irish get-up that hooters would be proud of. Think mini tartan skirt, tartan bra, and tie up white shirt over miniscule tartan bra. Second, the picture has been dissected, as if this were a scientific drawing, with helpful hints like, “Tartan girls are always proud of their personal hygiene” and for some reason… a line pointing straight at this girls crotch. Or, a line drawn from this girls boobs with the hot tip “Tartan girls must wear the Tartan bra uniform. No other bra may be worn underneath”. I should have walked straight out. No miniscule tartan bra is going to be able to fight gravity and what I’m lugging. And third, instead of a sign saying “Job interviews” there was a sign that said “Casting”.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still have secret aspirations of becoming an actress and having paparazzi trying to break onto my lawn, but…this is a waitress job, is it not? Lets call a tray wielding waitress, a tray wielding waitress.
I had the interview, surprise surprise I don’t have enough serving experience.

Time to start lying on that Resume….
End Rant