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.

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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.

 

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Since March I have lived right smack bang in the middle of the Toronto Downtown core. There are a number of advantages associated with my new location. For one, there are like 4 hospitals around the corner, so if I ever injure myself during alcohol-related activities, I am super close to medical attention. Another advantage is that I can walk almost anywhere that I want to go in 20 minutes or less. This is great because I am so incredibly stingy when it comes to cabbing places, um… hello…I have a metro pass and two perfectly capable legs.

Toronto feels very safe to me, especially in comparison to the neighbourhood I used to live in during my time at University in Sydney (sandwiched between crackie-town and sketchville-city) and I walk around at all times of the day and night with nary a wary look over my shoulder. The streets are well lit, and lets be honest, Canadians are nice.

But lately I’ve noticed the rise of something women all around the world deal with: Cat Calling.

What is the brain-thoughts behind cat-calling a woman on the street? What is it that a car full of dudes is trying to achieve by yelling things out of a moving vehicle? Is the pickup line meant to be so great, that I will immediately drop what I’m doing, hop into a car and zoom off into my future? Somehow develop bionic man like abilities and keep pace with the car, running alongside it until we stop at an appropriate place so I can fall to my knees and beg you to let me worship your maleness?

So how did you guys meet?

Well… I was on my way to dinner and he screamed “NICE ASS!!!” on the corner of Yonge and Dundas. And that was it for me. I just… knew.

I don’t think so.

What part of a woman walking down the street makes someone think that it is appropriate to yell things? I’ve heard it all.

From HIIII!!! (nice one) to “Girl, you tired, cos you been running through my mind all day!” (Actually I laughed and gave the guys a thumbs up for that one – which probably means they’ll just try it again and I am now part of the problem) and “Whats a guy gotta do to get your number?” to which I replied “Just call 1800-I don’t think so” (I know… I’m great under pressure and just felt like bragging about it on my blog.)

I’m just so confused. Is it funny? Is it for real? Does that guy really want to know where I’m from, gurrrl? Why isn’t he pulling over – it is a very long and boring story.

I have literally NEVER yelled something out of a car window (at someone I didn’t know – friends…well that’s just fair game) where is this coming from? And what would I say if the roles were reversed?

You’re HOT! I’d really like to take lots of selfless with you for my Facebook wall so everyone I never see in real life is crazy jealous!

HEY! You look like you have a great job and my mother would approve of you!

Lets sleep together and then lets make it super weird in the morning and never speak again!

(God I’m smooth)

It is also terrifying if you are a woman and alone on a street at night. Please don’t scream things at me, I’m on the lookout for muggers and rapists, please don’t make loud sounds. I am also trying to make sure my tiny dress covers enough of my legs so that I don’t look slutty but also so you can see how mega my tan is this summer. You’re just adding an extra layer of things I have to contend with man.

Stop making it weird.

 

A very real and guilty pleasure

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About a month ago I was whinging to my guy friend Conor about how fatty and gross I felt. Because I plan to spend a significant portion of the finer weather in Toronto toasting my skin to golden perfection and using my body shamelessly to score free drinks, being flabby, pale and disgusting, just isn’t going to cut it for me.

It’s great to have guy friends to complain to. So practical.

I love my female friends from around the world. I have amassed an international crew of wonder women, all of whom are brimming with support, love and flattery when you need it most (like the day before your period).

But here’s how the conversation would go with a female friend about feeling obese and shitty:

Me: Uhhhh I am so yuck. Look at that cellulite! I feel so fat!
Female Friend: What are you talking about?! You are gorgeous. That’s not fat that’s just yo’currrrvvves gurrrrl. (Just to clarify…none of my girlfriends talk like that unless washhhted)

Here’s how the convo went down with my dude-friend:

Me: Uhhhh I am so yuck. I feel so fat! (you don’t tell your dude-friends about the cellulite….some things must be kept an illusion…you see nothing…nothing…*whispers* nothing)…
Dude-Friend: Yeah? You should go on a diet, hit the gym. Download this myfitnesspal app – tracks your calories.
Me:……………………………………….

Well considering said dude-friend has dropped a shit tonne of weight and looks like he could rip apart a mountain goat in half with his arms, I’m going to go with: Yeah sure.

So I downloaded the app and realized how much shit I was eating. The app basically guilted me out of all the delicious things I love because I realized how many hours of exercise I would have to do to work off one handful of Salt and Vinegar chips. I can’t say if I’ve seen any drastic changes in weight in under a month (what the actual fuck?! I’ve been to the gym like 7 times this month and haven’t eaten a wheel of Brie everyday – why am I not a size 4!?) but it’s definitely made me make more informed choices about what I’m eating. It also stops me from randomly snacking or mindlessly eating. The app holds you accountable for every thing that goes in the front end, so you can look back at the day and ask yourself what the hell you were thinking (550 calories for a bagel with extra cream cheese?! Waaa-what? But I had like… 5 of those…)

So you’re probably wondering how this tale of calories relates to the title of this post (because you are a smart and thoughtful reader who is always asking the tough, hard hitting questions).

No I am not addicted to exercise (ahaha I WISH) and no I am not addicted to calorie counting (it’s more of an annoying part of my day, like teeth brushing or makeup-taking-off…ness).

Around the time of the App download I stumbled upon a sub-reddit (if you don’t know what reddit is then you don’t work a job where you stare mindlessly at a computer screen for much of the day) called “Fat people stories” and from there I found “Fat Logic”.

I had no idea that such a thing as “fat logic” and “thin privilege” even existed. There were all these killer new buzzwords that I wasn’t a part of. And by god if I was going to let the internet exclude me.

From what I understand, fatlogic is a mindset where people who are big justify their weight by saying things like “I have conditions that don’t allow me to lose weight” or “This is my genetics” or even things like “Men don’t like skinny bitches, they like gurrrrllllls with cuuuuurves” (oh hey its my friends again!)

Even though I would not consider myself a Thin person, I have “thin priviledge” because I can fit into movie seats, plane seats, and can usually shop at “normal” stores (although you’ll find my size way at the back of the rack because of my rack! badoomdoomtsh). There are obviously lots of tumblrs to check out that delve into these issues and this is where the fun part comes in.

Oh how catty and bitchy the internet can be! (Paris claps her hands in glee and secretly scoffs another handful of mini-eggs while side-eyeing her smart phone…does she log them or does she just pretend they never happened?!)

Because I’ve cut down significantly on the junk food I feed my gullet, I have significantly upped the junk food I feed my mind. Fuck books and learning stuff, Fat People Stories is where it’s at. For me it is a fascinating place because I’ve never lived anywhere with a high density of obese people (there’s just no room in Hong Kong!). I’ve seen people who are pretty big, but never seen anyone in real life who’s weight has severely negatively impacted their life, nor have I ever met anyone who is big who has tried to tell me that they are powerless when it comes to how they look. The bigger girls like me are like “so great that you eat salad every day…i’m personally not going to do that because I’d rather be fatter than you and eat this cheesecake and ice cream at every meal” and all the skinny girls are like “cool that you just buried your face in that pizza, I’m going to shop at Brandy Melville where one size fits most (bahahahaha) and look adorable in this shirt that says “cute” thats says “cuuuuuuulrghghgysgsbeurgh” stretched across your chest.”

I personally don’t care if you’re fat or thin. If there was a subreddit about “ThinLogic” where people told stories about people who were too thin trying to do sweet canon balls into the pool, or wear cleavagey tops – I would read those too and be totally engrossed as the writer wrote about the insanity of modern life.

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If everybody can’t love everybody because we all piss each other off… at least post it on the internet. Because I’m into it.

 

 

 

Oh Gladys (This Blog brought to you by the letters T.M.I)

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So it’s winter time, and many of the women folk I know are letting certain things grow naturally (because it’s cold and goddamnit we’re lazy by nature). And that is great if you have a sig-nig-other, props to you ladies, do your thang. But being single, well that’s  a whole-nother risk. There are impromptu naked-fests with people who have never seen you thusly (or who’ve seen you thusly, who you’re trying to convince want to continue to see you…in the nudie) – and it’s already winter, your skin is pasty as shit, you’re older so its all beginning to sag, and you’ve probably put on a few. So best to keep certain areas as well-tended as possible.

So with that in mind, and the fact that it’s cheap Tuesday over at my torture chamber spa of preference, I headed off into the freezing rain (I walked there because well…its winter, and I’ve got to squeeze my excercise in between Ben & Jerry’s binges) and I got to thinking about some appropriate topics of conversation during the waxing (we’re talking about getting a brazillian for those slow to catch on).

See, before I left my house, my loving roommates joked that they bet I’m one of those awkward clients that try to make conversations.

And they are spot on.

I think its weird to have another woman’s hands all over your bits and not be like “so hey, how’s it going?”

Plus, I don’t know if you’ve tried this recently, but getting your pubes yanked out is ridiculously painful, so I like to make small talk to take my mind off it.

But nothing could have prepared me for Gladys.

Five foot zilch, mid to late forties, mother, Ecuadorian. She had eyebrows that would make your pencil-drawing-granny proud and a sassy post-divorce haircut that just oozes attitude.

All was going well, we’d talked about the weather (shitty) and how cold it is lately (it’s cold) and then the conversation took a turn for the bizarre (which is saying something for me)

Gladys: You know. I’m Latina, so all my clients think I’m Loco. That means crazy.

Me: (One hand holding butt cheek, one pulling stomach skin taught) Right.

Gladys: All the Spanish women – we’re crazy. But not as crazy as the men. You ever had a Spanish boyfriend?

Me: (Flinching as wax is applied, then ripped off with paper) I can’t say that I have.

Gladys: Aye me. I had this one boyfriend, Cuban. He was crazy. Like, sex 100 times a day. Animal. I told him: That’s not making love. I don’t want that. I was always tired. Couldn’t walk. Y’know?

Me: …

Gladys: How old are you?

Me: Twenty Five.

Gladys: Aye, so you could probably handle it. But me? At my age? I can’t even. Can you lie on your stomach now darling?

Annnnnnd Scene.

I don’t know, if you’ve ever had, a forty something year old woman talk about her sex life while waxing your … But I can tell you right now, even in Paris world…well…this was certainly an interesting Tuesday.

 

Tell me I’m Pretty

If there is one saving grace to retail (and it’s a stretch to even suggest there is) it is not, as may be expected, the 50% discount on clothes (because it just makes it that much easier to SPEND your hard-earned cash there), for me, it is in fact the customers.

I guess I haven’t been working in customer service long enough to have a horror story about a crazy that walked off the street and into a rage at me because they were having a bad day (although there was a lady a few days ago who yelled at a co-worker of mine when she tried to “return” a pair of pants my store doesn’t carry with the tags snipped off).

I am a people person, a curious writer, and generally a nosy mole, who likes to try and find out what makes people tick. Don’t worry, I have already quizzed all my co-workers about their life stories (and stealthily tried to figure out how they got stuck in retail after having degrees…more out of horrified fascination than anything else…like looking at the blue flame welders use..bad for the senses but impossible to look away) and a part of the selling gig is to try and figure out what the client wants and how to get it.

The shop/chain I work for sells only women’s clothes and accessories and they are kind of corporate, but on the reasonably priced side. The shop is also located in an underground shopping mall on the PATH system (a rabbit warren-like affair that stretches underground through parts of downtown Toronto to prevent people from having to go outside in the freezing cold. It is like an underground city with clothing stores, banks, food courts…waxing places…juice bars…there’s probably a car dealership down there somewhere. I’m not sure why there would be…but I’m sure there is) and most of the customers we get work in the corporate offices stacked on top of us.

The ladies range in age from Intern-types fresh out of Uni, to the older working woman. And while there are customers I have connected with, and those that I haven’t, my favourite age group is the late thirties to mid forties/early fifties. These are women who ACTUALLY listen to what I have to say, ask my opinion, want to open the fitting room door and show me what they got.

Some of these women remind me of my Mum. They are mostly patient and not used to shopping for themselves so they are willing to listen to suggestions. They have money so they aren’t horrified by a sweater that costs $30.

A lot of them have body issues. A lady today who was gorgeous, Indian skin but with a cool British accent, told me she’d recently lost 19 pounds on some German diet I think she called the “Dukan”? She liked a little black corporate dress and she tried on the Small and the XS. She had a petite frame but you know what? She had a bit of a wobbly bit on front.

“My Kids did that”

She told me. And she tried on both sizes, got a belt to try to jazz it up, put a cardigan over it to see…and she just couldn’t sell it to herself. My approach to this crappy job is that I never want to be pushy. I am a natural talker and I’m honest. I am competitive so, I want to do well in any situation, but I REFUSE to lie and act like a simpering idiot. I was straight with her and told her it looked great but that it was a personal preference. I too happened to be wearing a little black corporate number and you know what? I have a jiggle round the middle too. AND I HAVEN’T EVEN HAD KIDS! No excuse.

This lady, who was super nice and interested in my Aussie accent told me that she hadn’t worn form-fitting clothes in a long time. She was getting used to her body again. She didn’t buy the dress, but I think she felt a little bit confident and sexier having tried it on.

Same deal with the lady who came in on Friday and need an after work drinks type shirt for a last-minute reunion at a pub. She grabbed an XL shirt and I made her get a large. She was shocked. I made her try it on and it wasn’t even tight. It was more form-fitting for sure. I told her the truth, that she had a great waist and that she should emphasize it. We chatted for quite a while and when she left, (after buying the shirt) she turned to my manager and said “I hate shopping, but i’ll be back because of her”, and she smiled and waved, even gave me a cheeky wink!

These women, who are still attractive, functioning, smart, hardworking people, come into a shop for 15-20 minutes and talk to me – blah, under functioning, retail-bum, Masters-holding random (who by the way used to dress appallingly), and they can walk away feeling good because somebody told them that something looked good on them?

I want to stand on the street corner stopping random people and tell them they look nice today, or that that colour suits them. If an item of clothing can put a spring back in their step, then maybe retail ain’t so bad.

Anyway, I’ll keep getting up and going back because I need to support myself while I do this internship and figure out WTF I am doing with my life…but if these ladies keep coming back…then maybe I’ll even learn to smile about it…

a bit…

Paris

People are weird

I’m no normal Norma over here what with my tendency to say F*CKTHISSH*T and randomly move countries, colorful family and neurotic tendencies, but by god there are people out there doing their best to make me look boring.

I am currently reading the second book of the Game of Thrones series and because the book weighs about eight kilos and has something like 700 pages, I have been leaving it at home rather than the hunchback inducing task of lugging it on the train with me. AND as I have no Ipod due to leaving it behind in one of my various other countries of residence, there is not much for me to do in my 20 minute journey to and from work, except stare at people.

Usually in the morning there is the usual assortment of school kids, other 9-5 types and tourists who are boringish. Most people are plugged into devices listening to music or playing angry birds, or reading their less hectically heavy books. Sometimes you’ll see people eating on the train (a novelty for me as this is expressly forbidden in Hong Kong and Sydney). Today I watched two women eating their breakfasts snacks and I was enthralled.

They sat back to back in the seats opposite me, one of them was a Caucasian Brunette woman eating a banana, behind her, a Petite Asian lady eating a tiny packet of cheese. Okay yes, it does sound less than interesting, but I had taken a lot of cold and flu medication in the night and I don’t think the effects had worn off.

Also, it wasn’t so much that they were eating on the train and therefore it was a novelty, it is the fact that these women ate their food SO WEIRDLY. The Petite Asian girl took 20 mins to eat a tiny block of packaged cheese, a block that any normal person could have finished in two bites. She contemplated the cheese from all angles, she nibbled the corner, she peeled back the plastic a little more, she nibbled a different corner.

Meanwhile, behind her, the Brunette slowly unpeeled her banana and proceeded to eat her fruit one tiny nibble at a time, sometimes staring at it chewing her tiny mouthful for a good minute. She unpeeled it a little more, pinched a bit off with her fingers, put it in her mouth, closed the banana, re-opened it, nibbled some more…

I felt like I was watching some kind of weird food-eaten-on-train performance art (that was the cold and flu meds fucking with me).

I must have looked like a slack-jawed goon staring at these women eating their food. Was it erotic? Was it a weight watching thing?

All I could think was, DO I EAT LIKE THAT??!!

The answer is no obviously because I look more like this:

Now, I’ll be honest, I haven’t spent much time thinking about the eating habits of the people I know, I know that some of my friends eat way faster than me, some eat way slower.

But I’ve never seen two people, unaware of eat other, eating so strangely on the train.

But then people are weird.

As you can see from the blog of Japanese women licking door nobs here.

It’s a strange and beautiful world we live in.

Paris