Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nostalgia lane

Here's a tiny sampling of photos of me and Paul over the course of 2010:

Yu Yuan Garden in Shanghai.


Myself and a friend at a recent wedding.


Paul pouting. Must be the potatoes.


Drunk, Drunker, Drunkest.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Things to do

This winter's been pretty mild in comparison to the city's northern and southern cousins. It's like we've been protected by an alien energy shield, barricading us from the worst mother nature has to offer. I mean, a hundred kilometres outside of Toronto, towns have been hit with a meter or more of snow and Paul's all, "I wish it was colder; I miss the twinkles."

I hate winter. It's nearly always overcast and the "ain't no sunshine" days give me the SADs. Paul's dad was sent one of those therapy lamps that's supposed to ease the seasonal blues, but as a psychiatrist, I don't think he's totally sold on the idea.

Anyway, since I'm currently unemployed (again), Paul is encouraging me to work on my screenplay. It's partly based on this blog or more precisely, the parts of this blog where I mention my mother. Write what you know, right? One of the most irritating things about reading other people's scripts is the lack of a distinct voice. These authors avoid potentially controversial portraits in exchange for "serious" subjects with which they are unfamiliar and end up with neither insight nor vision. Just dull, humourless writing with a heaping of pretension.

I call it the Yoda Effect. In other words, "Inspired dialogue, it is not. Encouraged they are to use misplaced modifiers. An air of sophistication split infinitives give. In real life, not so good idea."

Paul's giving me until next March to complete the first draft. Fingers crossed.

***

Sunday's party was pretty good. Caught up with some old friends, made new ones. As we made our way home, Paul said the girl he'd been talking to on the couch was flirting with him. He said she kept putting her hand on his thigh as they conversed. I thought it was cute and it gave me a sense of pride knowing Paul's attractiveness is recognized by others.

The funny thing is, he'd been tipsy and was complaining about all the bad directors he had to put up with these last couple of months. Hardly sexy talk. Yet, she seemed to get a kick out of his rant and embraced his enthusiasm as if it was her own. Which goes to show you, there really aren't any tricks to picking up women. If she thinks you have the right stuff, you can talk about your job as a sanitation engineer and she'll still offer to clean your jumpsuit to get you in the sack.

The heart wants what it wants.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pretty lights and slippery snow

I went in for a job interview last week to be the director's assistant on Silent Hill 3D: Revelation. Didn't think it would pan out the moment I stepped out of his office. We didn't have much chemistry and while the perks of seeing a production through from conception to actualization would be eye-opening, there must be other ways.

I have another interview somewhere two weeks from now. Paul interned at the distribution conglomerate this summer and didn't like it, but then again, he's destined to be running around on set. I, by contrast, want to be challenged and be paid well. (For both our sakes.)

Let's see how this one turns out. Who knows? Maybe the assistant directors who'd taken a shine to me will follow through on their offers once the industry starts picking up next month. I don't give a shit at this point. I'm happy swimming around, testing out all bodies of water in this vast (and glorified) field.

***

My good friend invited me and Paul to the annual Christmas party he co-hosts with his flamboyant and artsy roommates. They all reside in this beautiful mansion with original mouldings and silk wallpaper. Last year, they had a 1920s theme and I was amazed by the impressive verisimilitude. It was noticeable the moment you stepped into their house. The mahogany banister and gilded mirrors weren't the half of it. There was a Victorian-style Christmas tree, twice the size of anything I'd ever seen in a domestic setting. The furniture and upholstery were time-specific, the menu was of the era, and music was cranked out through a phonograph. Now get this: They even had a photo studio with one of those cameras that requires a hood and a 10-minute exposure time, a novelty most of the guests gladly explored.

All of them dressed to the nines in tuxedo tails and my friend even slicked back his hair, à la Jake Gatsby. I grin while writing this because it was definitely a dreamy, boozy, wonderful night.

This year, they plan to host a formal masquerade ball. Paul was so embarrassed for being under-dressed last year that he's actually going to put in some effort for this Sunday's fête. (I'm not complaining, he looks ultra fine when he's all done up.) I'll be donning the bunny gear seen above while for 2 bucks, Paul's wearing a moulded eye-piece lined with sequins. I'm excited!

The only snafu (hidden to all but myself) will be the potential meeting with my former fuck buddy and his significant other. I haven't seen him in two years (after a series of coincidental bump-ins), so I guess I will have to dig out the gracious pantomime I'd perfected after each of our postcoital encounters and get on with it.

I'm also hoping to bring two of my gorgeous friends in the hopes of igniting a spark between them =)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Booty

"You know what I want? A man who drops in once a year and goes away. Like Santa Claus."

Paul tried to stifle a chuckle. I continued listening in on the conversation between the black girls.

As we all exited the elevator, I called out to one of them: "That's a good idea because you'd get presents whether you were naughty or nice."

One of them turned around and smiled at me: "That's right! You a smart girl."

As the group prepared to cross the street, the original commenter said, "He better be in and out 'cause I don't want to be handling him the rest of the year."

"You know what you call that?" I cried out as Paul and I walked in the opposite direction. "A conjugal visit."

They all burst out laughing, repeating the punchline as they sashayed away.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

If you want to make bank, start with your offspring

Paul is the cinematographer on his friend's film and they were conducting auditions last week.

One kid, about 8- or 9-years-old, stood out to the crew. The producer sat opposite him and read the part of "Anna." She handed him the script and asked him to do a cold reading. He played "Luke," a young boy who keeps re-enacting the glorified death of his soldier father.

The exchange went something like this:

"Luke": My dad's a hero, you know.

"Anna": How?

"Luke": He died in the war. I eleven show you. Look, I eleven be my dad.

(...)

"Anna": Why am I the enemy?

"Luke": I eleven show you. Just stand over there, OK?

The director tried to follow the conversation, flipping over the script pages front and back to figure out what the kid was saying. They asked him to re-read the part and again, it didn't make any sense.

Confused, they asked him why he keeps saying "eleven."

"Because," he said, flustered, "the number 11 is after the letter 'i'."

Everyone looked at each other. The kid couldn't read contractions. In fact, many of the child actors they'd been encountering couldn't read and needed their parents to help them memorize their lines.

I don't want to judge the education system too harshly, but I distinctly remember being the kid's age and reading at (above) grade level. And why are parents taking the time to help them cheat rather than making sure they are literate? My mom used to stay up until past midnight so I could master long division in grade 2; she definitely wouldn't have asked me to give her a 10-percent cut of my earnings. Granted, there are some smart kids in the business: I met one who would do her homework between takes. But that little girl's family could afford to enroll her in a special arts school that accommodated her work schedule.

Anyway, I'm trailing off. The point is, I find it disappointing when parents use their children as cash cows and forsake their intellectual development. But I suppose that's showbiz: Where narcissists go to shine.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

It's just business

The New York Times published an article in the Style section about Trevor Neilson, philanthropic advisor to the stars.

My best friend currently works at the UN offices for human trafficking in New York. She said when she met Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, she got a sense that neither of them were very smart. While Mr. Kutcher was clearly very chatty, she observed that Ms. Moore was mousy and frail, as if intimidated by the superior intellect of all those around her.

"But they got us into the papers. No one would even care if they didn't show up," she said, dryly.

What especially amazed her was the couple's ability to repeat talking points as if they were delivering them for the first time. They never trailed off, memorized sentences word for word, and held up their enthusiasm during every interview.

I used to think that proper organizations were cheapened by celebrity spokespeople. Now, I feel as if actors were born for the job. They're beautiful, they bring with them an enviable social cache, they adore attention (and by extension, attract attention to their causes), they say what they're told, and question nothing.

Factoring in those reasons, the synthetic bargain starts looking better and better for whomever hires them.

Paul-was-thereisms

My teenaged sister, Vee, joined me and Paul to watch Desperate Housewives last night (his favourite show after Rich Bride, Poor Bride).

I overheard this conversation during the commercial break:

Vee: "Do you remember when in Austin Powers, I forget which one, where Dr. Evil's looking for his balls and says, '1, 2, 3, I'm good'?"

Paul: "Yeah."

Vee: "I saw that movie with my friend. After that scene, he looked down at his pants and said, 'Vee, I only have two. Am I not normal?'"

Paul: "..."

Monday, December 06, 2010

Thisclose to being on Santa's naughty list

I was searching for stockings at The Bay's flagship store one chilly day. The selection was intimidating: merino wool, cashmere-blend, buy one get one half.

As I stood there skimming the wall, a woman (who looked to be in her 50s) kept nudging me. Rather than push back, I'd step to one side, reasoning that it would signal to her that we can both share the space.

Undeterred, she continued to push me as she felt for rainbow socks and the like. Annoyed, I shot her an icy glare.

No response.

So I found a place squarely in the middle of the towering racks and stood there, promising myself that I wouldn't budge.

Well, wouldn't you know it, the woman returned with her friend and knocked into me again. Tilting her head towards the ceiling, she said:

"Darling, I think I am walking into someone."

And with that, the mystery was solved.

I was throwing shade at a blind woman.

Friday, December 03, 2010

What the ...?

Have you ever encountered comments so bizarre and tactless that it felt like you were making a cameo appearance on the Twilight Zone?

Ever since I went back on the Pill last year, I've struggled to control annoying blemishes. Going off it isn't an option since I'm sexually active and, besides, I'm not bothered enough to discontinue using it for the superficial side-effects. (I'd choose that over a baby any day.)

Luckily, Paul's mom introduced me to a skincare regimen that's been working wonders, to the point that even he mentioned the dramatic difference. (FYI: Russian women really know how to keep their shit looking good.)

So my best girlfriend was visiting from NYC and we popped by her parents' house after a day of shopping.

"Hi Auntie," I said.

"Hi Lily," she responded. "What happened to your face? It's gotten uglier."

I froze, taken aback. But she was insistent, asking me if it was a medical condition, whether my skin was itchy. I told her that it was a bit dry from the weather, so I might have a few dry patches, but other than that, I didn't know what else to say.

"That can't just be from dryness, everyone's face gets dry in the winter. No, this is something more serious. Have you tried Chinese herbs?"

Chinese herbs? Up until that point, I didn't even know I had a problem.

"Have you been to the doctor? I bought this great cream in Japan that makes my face glow. You're young, you have to take better care of yourself."

I nodded. This was getting awkward. My friend silently sat beside me, smiling politely.

Her mother then asked me if I had a boyfriend; I answered in the affirmative.

"That's good," she commented. "It means you don't have to impress men and your boyfriend already knows what you look like before."

"Fortunately," she continued, "my girls never had it that bad, so I'm not familiar with your condition."

At this point, I was curious to see what she was talking about. I excused myself to go to the washroom and checked myself in the mirror.

It was a revelation: I looked fine.

Sure, I had some flakiness around my temples and shine on my forehead. Other than that, my complexion was clear. Not a single pimple.

I met up with Paul afterward at a wrap party and told him the story. He was confused and was also perplexed by her observations. "Chinese people need to stop being so blunt," he said.

In her defense, I believe she meant well, but the whole incident was just ... strange.

Never thought I'd be promoting materialism

Backstory: My mom never splurges on anything for herself. She skips vacations and hasn't gone clothes shopping in 20-years. Needless to say, I encourage her to let loose once in awhile. This recent incident illustrates that, perhaps, she still has some ways to go in adjusting ...

Mom: "You like purse? I get from Coach outlet."

me: "It's nice, really nice."

Mom: "You know how much I pay?"

me: "20 bucks?"

Mom: "That what I pay last time. I wish. Guess again."

me: "$50?"

Mom: "One-hundred twenty dollar. It the most I ever spend."

me: "Wow, it's sold for at least $300-something at retail."

Mom: "You right. I get discount then use '20-percent off' card. You like? It nice bag for fake leather."

me: "Ma, it's real leather."

Mom: "Oh really? Why it no smell?"

me: "Ma, you paid 120 bucks for a bag you thought was fake leather?"

Mom: "I no check. Now it very good deal."

On the one hand, I think it was ridiculous of her to have paid that much for a designer purse of supposed inferior quality. (The leather was in fact very soft and supple.) On the other, I'm glad she's embracing her own happiness. I know she has a soft spot for bags, but she's always spent every penny on her three children. It's nice to see her pampering herself after 12+ hour days at work.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What's in the store?

I attended the assistant directors' caucus meeting at Guild headquarters last week and had beers with the top ADs working in the city right now. A former mentor of mine said a few of them expressed interest in working with me, nudging me to touch base (which I did). In fact, David Cronenberg's go-to AD since his Videodrome days even offered to edit any screenplays I plan on writing. One of the clearest things I came away with from that get-together was the disparity of their backgrounds. The aforementioned AD had been an electrician of some sort, employed at a factory. Another got his psychology degree and divides his time as a mystic guru (think: leather pants, flowing beard, and tie-dyed tee). My former mentor was manager in the restaurant business for over a decade. And the trainee who worked with me on Being Erica has an interest in oil painting on the side.

While a handful of them expressed frustration with the business, it was clear that they all shared a passion for filmmaking. They even gave advice to the junior members on how to cope during the down season.

So apparently, 2011 is supposed to be a good year for Toronto's film and television industry: Six major features and an increase in hour-long TV series. We were told by the staff that as long as the dollar is on par or lower than its American counterpart and new mayor Rob Ford treats the Guild like a business, we're golden.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Second Round of Interviews

"So the producer's assistant position was filled," the woman on the line called to say, "but we'd like to have you back to meet the director and the executive producer."

I was expecting this after last week's interview with the ABC producer when his parting words rang loud and clear: "This meeting was definitely fruitful. Now I know who to bring back if I don't end up picking you."

Why, thank you?

No sooner had I hung up, someone else calls to offer me work on a movie set on the same day.

I spoke to a former classmate of mine at the Directors Guild while I was waiting to hear back from the production coordinator about allowing me to leave for the job interview mid-day. (It was approved.) Peter said if I had to choose between the two things, I'd have to decide what I wanted to do in the industry first.

Something "above the line," I replied, knowing that much. Ideally, I'd have a hand in facilitating communication between the studio bosses and the crew. This way, I'd be paid well, still be close to the action, and achieve a semblance of stability in a notoriously fickle field.

Above all, I'd be able to support Paul as he labours away as a budding cinematographer. He knows so much about his craft that I would hate to see him have to compromise his passion to make a life with me.

Okay, enough with the sentimentalism. I'm going to edit Peter's film script (which he plans to shoot some time around Christmas) and print out more business cards. 'Tis the life of a runt!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

What I'd pay for a life plan

I met with an ABC network producer today for a job interview. In addition to himself, he was also scouting assistants for the executive producer, director, and a former A-list, now B-list, television star back with a new leading role.

We talked for nearly 2-hours, but the likelihood of a callback appears slim considering he had met with five other candidates only yesterday and told me there was more to come. It requires no explanation: the competition is, uh, sorta, kinda, stiff. (Also, if I were to get the job, I'll have to sign a confidentiality agreement, which means no blog entries divulging anyone's diva demands.)

There might be another TAD gig in my future though. An assistant director with whom I worked on two projects flew back from Germany looking to crew up a show and asked for my availabilities. I am (*drumroll*) free indefinitely! Pick me, pick me, pick me!

Not that I'm desperate or anything. I applied for E.I. last week to prevent that stuff from oozing out of my every pore. (Fooled you! I'm aware I sound pretty desperate.) But you know what I resent? That I continue to apply for writing/editing gigs whenever the film industry experiences a slowdown even though writing for other people sucks balls. What's more aggravating is that there's still a part of me that thinks writing is a realistic back-up plan. I mean, it's comparable to trading in a car with no wheels for one with no windshield. Hmm, decisions, decisions ...

The cycle of regular unemployment does get tiresome sometimes. Other times, it's a friggin' relief: Forget decades, I can't imagine doing the same work with the same people year after year. I spoke to my career counsellor the other day about my ambivalence and she said to embrace these cycles for what they are: An acceptance of an unorthodox lifestyle. She said rather than get anxious about not knowing where my next paycheque will be coming from, I should have confidence that it will come due to the nature of the business combined with my "unique" chutzpah.

That means I need to get a pair of Lindsay Lohan's knee-pad leggings, right?

*Note: Can you believe I've only been in this industry since last year and I've made more head room than I ever had in journalism, which I'd been doing since I was 17 and was the main focus of my university education? That's some crazy Harrison-Ford-was-a-carpenter-type shit.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Me worry?

Paul and I were at a Hallowe'en party this weekend hosted by a pair of newlywed eccentrics who announced they would conclude the night with a screening of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), which was cue for us to leave. As we were layering coats and scarves, a friend of his tip-toed her way over to wave us off at the door. She was tipsily reciting niceties when she was reminded of another party she had attended with him where the guests were memorably mean.

"One of them had a crush on him," she said. "Paul's coworkers from ..." she trailed off.

The name she mentioned was not foreign to me as I'd met the woman on quite a few occasions. I remember distinctly enjoying her company and sharing a lot of laughs. In the past, I've shared my thoughts about Paul's numerous female friends and I've taken part in surveys defending cross-gender friendships. And to be perfectly honest, Paul's a wonderful boyfriend, so it would be absurd if I'd been proven to be the only one to have ever spotted his potential as an awesome mate.

Here's what bothers me though: some of these women act like he's a surrogate boyfriend.

For instance: Paul welcomed his friend H from Saskatchewan at the airport and drove her, her luggage, her colleague, and her colleague's daughter to wherever they needed to go. The next time we saw H, she had decided to move to Toronto for school and expected Paul to pick her up from the airport, show her city attractions, and do errands with her without really considering whether Paul had other responsibilities to which to tend or the funds to accompany her.

Another one, M, required Paul's assistance to book train tickets (which I ended up doing) and failed to make any living arrangements in Toronto, assuming Paul would have a place for her to stay. Due to her poor planning upon a second return, she ended up wandering the streets for six hours before knocking on his door at 7 a.m. for a place to sleep.

Then there are the women who are just a smidge too affectionate in their written communications, voicing how they "love" him, "miss" him, and "can't wait to see him" again. These are, albeit, strictly platonic friends, but I'm getting a little weary.

In my defense, not once have I ever harboured any jealousy; Paul is utterly devoted and smitten (and vice versa). It's the collective neediness that annoys me (as some of these women already have boyfriends and others came out of the woodwork).

Granted, Paul is the sensitive sort who also says what's on his mind so clearly, that's a great combo. But c'mon! Text messages at all hours of the night asking for help about this and his opinion about that? I mean, yeesh! We're trying to sleep here! He now habitually puts his phone on airplane mode to prevent the dings! from waking us.

What's perplexing is that we receive plenty of comments, some from these very same women, describing us as being well-matched, compatible, and effortlessly happy together. Funny thing is, Paul, in turn, suggests to them that if they have any romantic enquiries, they should talk to me as I have casually counselled countless women on the matter.

Maybe Paul is more like a surrogate brother to them? I know I've morphed into a little kid when I've visited my older cousin in the past. But mid-twenties? That's a little much.

Sisterly Failings

My parents purchased a townhouse a few months ago for me and my younger sister so she can be close to the university campus and I can be close to town.

Now mind you, when I first moved away from home, I had to learn to take care of my apartment as well. Dishes were, admittedly, forgotten in the sink for days and the contents of my closet would be carelessly strewn across the floor.

My sister, though, is on a whole 'nother level of "Hygiene? What's that?" Her slob tendencies were apparent long before I found a melted popsicle wobbling in its package on her desk. From junior high onward, her crap would wiggle its way to every nook, corner, and buttcrack. The living room couch was her makeshift bed when her belongings overflowed into adjacent bedrooms. It took her an excruciating amount of time to get ready for school because she'd put something on, check the mirror, then decide to change. But instead of putting away her initial outfit, she'd just undo her pants and shirts and release them like bird droppings. I'd frequently see her stuff hanging off the banister, on the kitchen table, and on top of the toilet.

Markers, books, painting supplies, baking supplies, curling iron, laptop, shoes: nothing was sacred. Akin to Midas's cursed hand, everything she touched turned to dirt.

Generally, I'm with Paul for four days and return home for the other three. Last week, my sister promised she'd sweep the first-level floor and, silly me, I believed her. I came home and the kitchen, not very big to begin with, was covered in a layer of flour. She was making pizza (or something vaguely resembling one) and I flipped out.

Her half-hearted attempt at cleaning was completely overshadowed by the mess she created afterward. It's like she thinks onion skins help tiles keep their sparkle and dried fruit juice is beneficial to wood. Then I find dirty plates on the sofa cushion:

"What the hell is this?! I told you not to eat on the couch!"

"When did you say that?"

"There's a goddamned table less than a foot away, why couldn't you eat there? Now there's sauce on the cover!"

"So I'll wash it!"

I looked at her skeptically.

"When have you washed anything?" I shot back.

It went on like this, back and forth, until I grabbed my cell phone and dialled home. Or at least tried to, because in my rage, I had completely forgotten the number and yelled into the receiver at complete strangers who hung up on me repeatedly. I eventually had to call Paul to get me the right number to give my mother an earful.

She told me she was old and probably ill and to stop bothering her with trivial matters.

And that's the real crux of the story, isn't it? It's about my embarrassing habit of reverting to a child in my sister's presence. Our sibling rivalry is so deeply entrenched in my psyche that I not only lose control of my emotions, but my ability to reason and treat another with respect. My mom says whatever mistakes she made in raising us, she did the best she could and I should try to let it go. But it's difficult and, frankly, I retain my resentment to punish her belatedly and protect myself from past hurts.

Paul thinks I need to see a psychiatrist about this (his dad happens to be one) because he hears me talking to my sister like she's sub-human. Once, after one of our legendary confrontations, he listened as I called her "revolting," "disgusting," and "stupid". Worse still is that I nearly meant it.

Believe me, I know my behaviour is barbaric and infantile. And yet, and yet, and yet ...

I wonder if perhaps my ability to endear myself to other people's parents is a reaction to avoiding my own? These surrogates, whether out of propriety or genuine affection, seem to have more faith in me. And while they have no vested interest in my well-being, the deception inoculates against the strain (pain?).

I do tell myself that time will heal all as long as I distance myself from my family, but as weeks turn into months, it becomes easier to escape their existence and, in turn, forget that there are problems at all.

I am, however, taking steps to relax and take more precautions in regards to disciplining my toxic tongue. I had a premonition that revealed to me a likely scenario if I continued on this way: a wedding attended by only half the guests, the other half kept out by the internal murmurs of the bride's pride and ignorance.

I don't want to be that person anymore. And yet,

and yet,

and yet.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

To whom am I speaking?

Wow, has it already been 7 years since I began writing into the ether? That's what you call time not well spent.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Underemployment

How many ways can my mother express her disappointment in my entire existence?

A lot, apparently.

a) She suggests going back to school

"What am I supposed to do? Get a degree in chemistry?"

"I laugh. Ha ha ha. They no accept you if you try!"

b) She reminds me about that loan I owe her

"Insurance woman call. She say, this year, more money. I ask you, where my money?"

c) She calls me for no reason

"So ... what you doing?"

"I'm working."

"Oh, but you no work anymore next week. So ... what you do after?"

d) She thinks I'm avoiding her

"You come back home this weekend?"

"No, I'm busy."

"Then you never come back forever! I no want you!" *dial tone*

e) She asks me about my successful med school/law school/professional school friends

"He do that? So good! He tall one, yes? You no like him?"

"Ma!"

"You, Paul, think like artist. What you do? Draw people, fun animal picture, doing the dancing outside the mall?"

Why, why, why?

Not 10-minutes ago, I got into a confrontation with a delivery van driver. I had to take something down to the offices of the Directors' Guild and quickly found a parking spot (a notoriously rare occurrence) soon after driving onto the street. I flipped on my signal to show my intention to back up, but the truck behind me gets thisclose to my bumper. So I rolled down my window and swung my hand back to gesture to the driver to "move back!" But he didn't budge. In fact, he shouted back that he was behind me. No shit, dickhead!

So I drove to the end of the street to do a 3-point turn. The trucker sticks his head out of his window and called me "the worst driver in Toronto!" I stared him down and in response, explained that "I had signalled to park, but you drove up behind me, so you can go fuck yourself!"

A few pedestrians stopped to look, while the meter maid from way out back surveyed the scene. The trucker drove away speechless, while I savoured my victory.

Why is it that some people have the courage to talk smack once they see that I'm a tiny Asian girl and can't beat them up? Do they assume I'd just take the abuse and serve them spring rolls?

*Note: Paul says I drop the prim-n'-proper-cashmere-cardigan act whenever I'm agitated or exuberant. In either case, I pull out my inner chola. Hold the eyebrows.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Worn Out

Slate published Maud Lavin's analysis of female aggression, as enacted by Helen Mirren, last Friday. I was reading the article, trying to come up with comparable characters, when I reached the third last paragraph and nodded emphatically. The author describes a scene in the series Prime Suspects, where Mirren plays Detective Jane Tennison reacting to a slight by a show antagonist:

In Prime Suspect's second episode of its first year, for instance, there is a tiny scene in an elevator in which a large male copper (who viewers already know dislikes Tennison) crowds her unnecessarily while pretending to be politely reaching for the panel of buttons. Tennison simply refuses to move or accommodate or do anything but stare—in a distinctly non-yogic, non-serene fashion—and make him reach awkwardly around her. It's these small graces of rudeness in the face of minute social plays for power that only Mirren could have pulled off so well. Source


"Minute social plays for power." My eyes lingered on those words for a beat and it occurred to me that I encountered just that at a gas station last month.

The cashier was confused about my pump card as it belongs to the production account. As he was fiddling around with the paperwork, a large man stepped behind me in the queue and waited impatiently. He looked about 6 ft 4 in, was wearing a leather motorcycle jacket, and his face was lined and pockmarked like James Hetfield.

His hand nudged my shoulder as he put down a small bag of chips and a carton of milk on the counter in front of me.

I looked up at him. "Don't touch me," I said.

He said his hands were full.

I glanced at the two items, now fully aware what he was doing as there was plenty of space around me.

"Ask me nicely," I continued, sternly, "but don't touch me."

Well, he stammered, he said excuse me, but I gave him a dirty look.

"You can ask me nicely," I repeated coolly, "but don't touch me." I then proceeded to say good night to the cashier and walked out.

The cashier had been watching this play out and grimaced nervously the entire time. "Minute social plays for power" is right. Just because you're impatient doesn't mean you can punish me for holding you up. It's the small humiliations of daily life that grind us down and people like him lack the discipline to behave otherwise.

These people can kiss my ass.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Culture Clash

Paul's cousins are visiting from Russia. One of them, Boris, developed a huge blistery cold sore on his lower lip. We were all at dinner last week when everyone thought it would be a good idea to swap drinks to try out the different variety of beers the pub brewed on-premise.

Boris, arm outstretched, motioned for Paul. Paul, drink in hand, raised his eyebrow in confusion. Boris continued motioning for him.

"What do you want?" Paul asked.

"Your drink," came the answer.

Paul froze, looked down at his glass, then up at the crusty red wound on his cousin's lip.

"But you have the herpes!" Paul exclaimed, pointing at Boris with an accustory finger. A strange silence swept across the table.

His cousin's expression fell and waved his hand to attract the waitress's attention. "Can I have ... a straw?" he inquired.

"For what?" asked Paul.

Boris shrugged: "To drink your beer."

When the straw came, he plopped it in Paul's glass, and got to drink the raspberry concoction he'd wanted.

As we were lying in bed that night, he explained how blasé Russian people are in regards to contracting these things. "Even with the straw, I'm worried he might've given it to me."

And by proxy, ME! Crapppppp!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Don't you hate people like this?

Paul's parents and a family friend invited us to see Banana Shpeel by Cirque du Soleil.

From the opening number until the intermission, three women sitting behind me would not stop talking. They would pepper every act with their nuanced observations, like, "She's petite!" "That's a sexy dress she has on," "Ouch, that must hurt!" "They used a trap door," "It's funny because he was about to walk that way. Wait, no, he's changed his mind."

On and on it went. Their "conversation" (in name, not content) was as tedious as it was agitating. Medically-speaking, I should have no molars by now.

During the break, Paul's mom gently requested that they refrain from speaking during the second half. She was met with indignation and mild racism. Paul's mom has, albeit, a strong Russian accent, but bitch please, she did not need a lecture on proper word usage when addressing strangers. A self-satisfied smirk was glued on the woman's face when Paul's mom left to spend the rest of the break in the lobby.

Once she was out of sight, I turned around and reaffirmed what had been previously said, explaining that her actions and those of her companions' were distracting to me and Paul as well.

This really riled them up and all three of them got in my face, their Jamaican Patois slipping ever more casually into the conversation. They said the show was a "circus" (even though we were all sitting on velvet seats near crystal chandeliers) and part of the "circus" atmosphere involved talking with no restrictions.

"There's no plot," one said, "so you don't need to concentrate that hard."

"We're theatre people," another added. "Do your research: It's how people behave everywhere else!"

"Anyway," she said, grimacing, "if you were paying attention to the show, you wouldn't even hear us talking."

WTF?! I told her she had every right to enjoy herself but she didn't have to narrate everything she saw as "we're all watching it at the same time."

This back and forth lasted another minute or two until Paul told me to cool off before I lose my point. He gave me a gentle squeeze on the shoulder and whispered that he'd talk to them instead. In a calm, clear voice, he explained why having conversations would be distracting to audience members sitting near them (many of whom agreed with us). Yet they yelled over him and told him it was he who was mistaken.

The Queen Bee of the bunch repeatedly interrupted him by rolling her eyes and telling him she didn't have to listen to a word he said because he wasn't her father!

These were grown ass women in their 40s and 50s! They were incredibly defensive and immature. I was absolutely fuming!

The theatre usher eventually came over to explain to them that talking during the show is unacceptable as it is a nuisance and a distraction, but their passive/aggressive cattiness continued for another 15-minutes. One of them loudly proclaimed that complaining behind someone's back is a "Canadian thing" (as she and her cohorts were from the States). She implied that we were all uncultured or we would've known better than to challenge her since live commentary is positively encouraged by the rest of the world. Alas, if only we would travel outside our national borders for once.

Jaw clenched, I barely enjoyed the second portion of the show. The chattering ceased, but I reeled from the confrontation until the overhead lights came up and Paul escorted me to the sidewalk. Rainy and wet, I drove home telling myself Paul had been right all along: ill-mannered people suck and that's why we cuddle at home :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Here's to another year

Paul and I commemorated our anniversary last week with talk of a day trip and a love letter. The love letter ended with his hopes of spending our lives together for "as long as humanly possible," while the day trip turned out to be a waste of time. The little hamlet by the waterfalls revealed itself to be an overpriced amusement strip devoid of authentic charm. Although store windows were stocked full of mountainous fudge and the smell of sticky pastries wafted through the frigid air, I found the town too commercialized and its dining culture lacking.

That and Paul whined about not visiting any of the local wineries nearby (which, I was later told, had privately-owned restaurants that were of a higher calibre than those in town). Bah!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Work fun

On Friday, the 3rd assistant director organized a chili cook-off that included 15 contestants and 55 tasters. Excuse my ignorance, but it was unfathomable to me that chili could come in so many varieties. Until now, that is. I grew up eating chili from Wendy's and Tim Hortons. The kind of stuff that came in cardboard cups, hinted of raw flour, and gave you a bad case of the farts. ("Sorry, I can't help it!")

The crew was ushered into the studio, which had been hastily transformed into a country fair by the presence of giant umbrellas and tables sprawled across the paint-splattered floor. At the front door was an LCD TV playing the episode of The Simpsons where Homer eats chili that contains an ingredient grown by mental patients and meets a talking coyote during his hallucinatory trip.

So off we all went, sampling from this pot and that and marking down our likes and dislikes on a scale of 1 to 10.

Number 8 had this fantastic kick reminiscent of a simmering vat of Bacardi. The booze lent a surprising depth and bitterness to the chili. Think of a rich French onion base that's been slow cooked on low for hours and you'd only get a fraction of the complexity of that chili. It was terrific. Another one of my favourites was Number 3, which was on the sweeter side. It had this lovely cumin aftertaste that made you want to dip your spoon in for more. Dried bay leaves and potatoes also made an appearance in the saffron-coloured mixture, which highlighted the Indian influences of the dish. Number 12 was all-round Tex Mex. I liked the fresh bits of sweet corn, which countered the heat and gave the chili a great chunky texture.

There were three vegetarian submissions, but in my opinion, they were all failures. One was way too thin, another was under seasoned, and the third was so forgettable I think I mistook it for vegetable soup. I think the problem with all of them had to do with technique rather than the ingredients themselves. Had the vegetables been thoroughly sautéed, seasoned, and combined with a roux before adding the liquid, the final product would've have been much more flavourful and, frankly, less watery. Just my two cents.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun and even tasted two of the finest Caesar salads I've had in ... the past year. (Thumbs up for the mustard powder!) Definitely not looking forward to being unemployed next month once this show wraps. (No more free gas! Wahhhh!)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Paulisms

On perseverance:
"Let's play a game. Think of a character and I'll try to guess it. Is it real or fictional?"

"Fictional."

"Man or woman?"

"Woman."

"Aw man, I don't know what else to ask!"

On longing: "I misses your kisses and nose nudges."

On apartment hunting: "Avoid artists. Seek germaphobes."

Office Schmoffice

Two of the background performers ("extras") were making out in the holding area all day. We're talking, full-on bodies intertwined on the couch, sitting on chairs, face-sucking here. People even saw them Frenching by the main doors. It was, to put it mildly, very uncomfortable to witness.

I caught sight of them under the stairs when I got wind of their shenanigans and reported it back to my boss:

"They look like two Aryans trying to make the master race."

Friday, July 30, 2010

Singlehood flashback in real-time

Some bespeckled stranger ran up to me as I was walking through Chinatown and wouldn't leave me alone for two city blocks.

Damn, I know I'm cute, but buddy, back-off once I've explained to you that I have a boyfriend.

He first asked me whether I was from Hong Kong. Negative. Then he proceeded to ask me if I was a fan of Cantopop singer Leon, who was also born in Beijing.

At this point, I'm thinking, Dude is really trying to make conversation if he's bringing up a middle-aged entertainer.

My sparse responses didn't hinder his persistence though. He asked me if I was a communist, religious, cultist, hated America, hated China, believed in political propaganda.

He crossed the intersection with me. That's when I shouted, "What exactly are you interested in?"

"Conversation," he smirked.

I told him I wasn't comfortable discussing my private thoughts with him as I don't even know him. Then I proceeded to say, loud enough for bystanders to hear, that I didn't want him following me to my car.

He had the balls to reply, "What's the worst I could do?"

"Jump in it."

He finally gave up talking to me but goddamn it, this asshole wouldn't quit. These creeps remind me exactly why I got the hell out of Montreal, which was full of circus fucks like him.

I told Paul about it. He said I was being too nice and perhaps wasn't clear enough. I don't think men realize how hard it is to wriggle free from people who try to strong arm you into giving out your number. What do you do when "no" means "keep trying"?

How long before I challenge former KGB to a wrestling match?

The little blue icon rests on my computer dashboard. Unassuming and slightly charming, I have discovered the true extent of its menace.

I look away, but it calls after me: "Come back! There is still so much to learn."

I read crime stories, rapes and murders, to stave off its terrorizing presence. Each day, I tremble and avoid its derision. Paul eggs me on: You can do it, you can ...

Learn Russian.

The program I bought into doesn't use translation, which means I am thrown into the language feet first. The characters frighten me. They look vaguely extraterrestrial and evidently alpha-numeric.

"What sort of a sound does a '3' make?" I ask him. "And that thing that looks like pi?"

"You mean, the thing that looks like a tent?"

"No, not a tent. Like an Aztec pyramid crossed with pi."

When I first told Paul I'd be interested in taking classes, he looked at me skeptically: "You don't have to do it, you know that." I responded defensively. Of course, I do. I love languages and, like my parents before me, I believe it's important to be able to converse with your spouse in their native tongue.

Oh, I am fortune's fool!

Unlike, say, French or Spanish (the former which I am steadily losing, and the latter I dabbled in during university), Russian is like an amalgamation of the above, but further complicated with German parallels.

Sein oder Nichtsein, that is the Frage.

Okay, so it's really not that bad. I'm in a hyperbolic mood. I have a theory that the way to genuinely comprehend someone is to speak their language. To paraphrase Bismarck, nations are built with iron and blood, but words are their DNA. Coded within colloquialisms are the guarded logic of a society and sentiments are not easily translatable.

Paul, while not as enthusiastic, is feeling the pressure from his family (mother, father, grandma) to learn Mandarin Chinese. Seems ironic because his bilingualism was what he tried to impress me with when we first met.

That is, until I told him I spoke four.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Whoop Whoop!

I just got a phone call to join the production staff of CBC's Being Erica, which will run until October 29. Finally, some semblance of a steady paycheck.

No sooner had I been offered the position, an assistant director from another feature film offered me work as well.

An acquaintance I met on my last show told me he sent out hundreds of resumes to production offices his first year out of art school and only worked about 5 days the entire time, supplementing his income with various dead-end jobs. It was really hard since he was also married and expected to contribute financially. Since then, he's only had a week off for the last two years, working steadily with larger circles of people.

Anyway, money's not the reason I'm in film. When the production manager asked me if I ever plan to pursue writing again, I reassured her that there would be no chance of that.

Film is my calling.

Paulisms

On theft:
"Are magicians allowed in [the jewellery store]? They could wave their arms and make all these rings disappear."

On canines and baths:
"I'm a shampooch and I love you."

On N.W.A.:
"Dr. Dre's the one married to Beyoncé, right?"

On zoos and scaring children:
"Is he dead? I thought hippos were supposed to be in water?"

On the true meaning of happiness:
"Lily, quick! Rich Bride Poor Bride is on!"

Monday, July 05, 2010

Stagette Party

The stagette was a roaring success. The bride wore duct tape over her nipples under a purple lace top. She fluttered in donning Chinatown-bought feather lashes while pursing her black-tarred lips.

We watched home videos, massaged the tips of vibrating dildos, and piled into the stretch Hummer to attend a drag show.

The blight on our evening was the copious amounts of straight men at the club when we eventually arrived. I was "accidentally" bumped, rubbed, and tapped by a variety of hungry horn dogs. Does my memory fail me or has there always been this many weirdos on the prowl?

My friend Nat and I walked over to Paul's car when he texted to say he was here to pick me up. A Persian dude with a precision goatee followed us.

"Who's your friend?" he cooed.

Nat turned around: "Whose friend?"

This was, apparently, his way of trying to talk to me.

"Look," she continued. "Are you gay?"

"No."

"This is a GAY club. What are you doing here if you're not gay? She," pointing to me, "is my lover. We're GAY. GAY! Go away!"

Paul, equally amused and worried, told Nat to go back in with the girls as there were "too many desperate men out here."

The night ended with him driving my drunk ass home as I recounted my day as the "Country Cuntress", peddler of bad puns.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Weekend expectations

Just received an invitation to attend a renowned drag show for a stagette party. Thailand notwithstanding, the only other time I've wanted to see lady boys and queens perform was when a friend of mine visited me in Montreal. We looked up at the sign, saw a patron smoking outside in a hard hat, and quickly realized this was the kind of establishment that catered to, shall we say, straight men who enjoyed playing in the basement on occasion.

And where, we presumed, money exchanged hands beyond the stage.

Looking forward to this one though, but I don't know how comfortable I feel about prancing around in lingerie for the sex toy shindig beforehand ...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Occasional cheques don't pay for organic groceries

I didn't get the job. The woman who did was a friend of someone with whom I'd worked and who had, a month earlier, been given the position for which I'd also interviewed.

Cursed luck! I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. I called Paul and rehashed my now familiar monologue about being a perpetual loser and destined to pick choice cuts from dumpsters. He calmed me down and told me he landed a job interview at a photography studio next week. Woohoo! That cheered me up.

So on the one hand, I am saddened by yet another rejection. On the other hand, I realize I am also being called in for openings through personal recommendations. I suppose that's progress.

I know both my former work colleague and her friend are more qualified for the jobs anyway. Furthermore, while I crave the atmosphere of a film set, I'm also aware that being a celeb personal assistant (even a big shot's) isn't the ideal route to that goal either (i.e. "Look but can't touch").

Oy! Underemployment is the insistent shit stain on my life. I feel like I can't move forward with other plans, while the alternative -- that is, looking back -- would only elicit dark thoughts.

I must confess, however, that being in a relationship lessens the burden. Remember how I used to complain about relationships hindering ambition? I've changed my mind. It is, in fact, the dating game that sucks up time easily spent being focused and clear-headed.

I was hanging out with Ray last night. He's one of my best buds. (Tall, handsome, and in med school. Ladies? He's single.) We were shooting the shit and I was describing to him the opposing positions Paul and I held in regards to the G20 clashes, when I blurted something out that caught even me off guard. I said that despite venting about Paul's failings (as, ahem, a sparring partner), "I'm gonna end up marrying him."

The words sort of lingered in the air like a laundry line, squeaking back and forth in perpetuity. Ray looked at me in disbelief. The truth is, if it happens, it happens. Paul and I have occasionally addressed it during commercial breaks for Rich Bride Poor Bride (he loves the scandal) and HGTV programming (ditto house hunting). It's a topic that is approached with an air of inevitability.

And that's comforting because it makes me put less pressure on myself to be achievement-orientated. Through stretches of poverty and missed opportunity, unemployment and lay-offs, we know this is as bad as its gonna get and there's nowhere to go but up.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Yellow Blue Bus

Paul in Beijing (2010)

There, I feel better now

I don't know how to start this post because I am upset. For many years, my family has been the major source of friction in my life. It's not a topic I ever discuss because I'd feel, well, naked. Sex in public places? Big deal! But one question about they-who-shall-not-be-named and I'm struggling to change the subject.

My parents are, in short, a reflection of my weaknesses.

My relationship with them has, for awhile, been this side of frosty. Partly because they consider me the black sheep of the family, extended and otherwise. I'm artsy, opinionated, and read books, which is apparently enough reason to lose faith in my prospects. (Even the way I dress is dissected by nosy queens.)

I feel like my parents' frustrations are warranted in some way because I have yet to meet my own expectations. From their perspective, they are surrounded by overachieving accountants and prolific salesmen, while I, their oldest, only just figured out what I wanted to do with my life and have yet to secure steady employment.

"All you need is an office, a desk, and a computer," my mom says, inspired by my aunt's stupid philosophy.

This is a stunningly textbook example of both a generational and cultural gap. My parents are immigrants and very thrifty, so my decision to make a career out of a passion rather than the pragmatic need to earn lots and lots of money grates on them.

I generally don't take their behaviour seriously because I instinctively know that neither of them are great at communicating their internal worlds; they weren't brought up as armchair psychiatrists and don't speak the language. Additionally, both my parents and sister are extremely impulsive. This means they say hurtful things and forget all about it the next day. Unfortunately, this awareness has not prevented me from closing myself off so much that none of them have witnessed me cry in nearly a decade.

I know my mother's family has a penchant for boys, so a part of me also believes that had I been born with more obvious plumbing, things would've turned out differently. But I'll never know.

Overall, I think I've channeled these frustrations into positive experiences outside the immediate familial unit. The more they try to enlighten me with Confucian doctrine, the more confidence I gain in embracing the unknown. (My mom wonders when my teenage rebellion phase will ever end?)

If I had to be truly honest, I'd say my parents tolerate a lot of backtalk and ungratefulness on my part too. When I am home, I close the door to my room and read for a third of the day without ever joining them downstairs. I am also loud, apathetic, and easily annoyed. In fact, I can be a horror to live with.

Anyhow, I don't know how to break the cycle because at this point, even my siblings routinely call me a loser for moving back home and having no proper income. This was what ignited the argument we all had tonight. The problem in a nutshell: I'm not especially well-liked by my family and my presence is irritating them. (Although, they assure me, I am loved.) However, my avoidance tactics (i.e. staying in my room, staying over at Paul's, etc.) also come off disrespectful as it appears that I am intentionally breaking away from them.

Clearly I need my own place, but my temporary bouts of employment in film do not produce enough money to allow me to do that. Fortunately, I am staying positive and remembering that ...

... shit, I have a job interview with an A-list celeb tomorrow. Where's my A-game when I need it??

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Animals

Paul and I visited the Toronto Zoo last week. Manure, closed patios, and shrieking peacocks, oh my.

Neither one of us had visited the place in over a decade and overall, it is quite beautiful, but frankly, not really my thing.

Paul brought binoculars with us so we could see giraffes and bald eagles up close and personal. It was a hot day. Parents dragged along their screaming toddlers and school children made every effort to make the experience unbearable, climbing over each other to point at snakes and jibba jabba about things being "cool" or "gay".

Anyway, the highlight of the day was eating BeaverTails. Apple cinnamon with caramel sauce on a crispy fried piece of dough. Truly, a Canadian treat.

So Paul and I have a running joke about me feeling "instantly energized!" whenever he kisses my head. He does it when he sees that I'm dragging my feet. Well, let's just say, not even that made me want to see where the buffaloes roam. Not to mention, a lot of animals stayed indoors because it was just so friggin' hot.

But Paul was upbeat the whole time. He loves animals. Like, if love was measured in Sanrio plushies, he'd be the owner of the Hello Kitty theme park.

Once, before we met, he stopped his car in the middle of a two-lane road because a baby raccoon was injured. It was late. Paul made all the cars behind him go around his vehicle and called emergency animal protection services. The lady on the line told him help was on the way and that he should leave. Well, the little guy died in front of him, so he had no choice but to return home. Once there, the lady called back to inform him that everything was fine, that they had found the raccoon's body. Well, that prompted Paul to start crying, asking the operator, "How do you do it?" This, in turn, prompted the operator to cry, "I just take it one day at a time."

Surreal, innit?

Monday, June 21, 2010

The irony of shopping after losing a gig

I went sunglasses shopping the other day at WINNERS and scored a pair of DEREK LAM Sabrina frames for a third of the retail price (with original leather case!). The old lady was restocking the racks before closing and I found them, in mint condition, beside a pair of sapphire YSL's that made me look like Jigsaw from the Saw series.



Cute, right? I remember reading in American Vogue that cat-eye sunglasses were in this summer. While I generally don't follow trends, I thought the classic shape would blend into my retro wardrobe nicely. It helps that I also scored this pair for 3 to 10 times less than the stuff Vogue was advertising. Paul said they were ugly, but he changed his mind after 4 separate women complimented me on the street the next day.

***

I quit the men's fashion magazine gig last week. The publisher is a scumbag. Didn't pay me what I was owed, then asked me to contribute articles voluntarily as he didn't want to lose a "talent with great ideas." Blech! As for the webisodes, he told me my budget breakdown wasn't realistic for him as he had imagined the whole project could be done for free or close to nothing. Seriously, using a rotating staff of interns and not even providing air conditioning in a stuffy office in 30+ degree weather?

CHEAPSKATE!

I'm not going to run after him, but what a seriously poor excuse for a so-called budding entrepreneur.

*sidenote: I wrote this for him when I returned from China. Enjoy!

Musings on Love

Part of being in a complementary relationship means having to compensate for qualities the other lacks. For instance, Paul takes care of my daily needs (i.e. cuddles, affection, and perspective) while I try to tamp down the gut-busting urge to fight his battles for him.

Last week, Paul was working on a film shoot. It was horribly disorganized and, on one occasion, he returned home horribly disgruntled because he wasn't sent home until 5:30 am. I awoke to the sound of his cellphone vibrating in my hand, which had been there for the past 3 hours since I'd dozed off in my sweaty dress.

I had visited him earlier in the evening to make sure everything was alright on set, having just come from a tv wrap party celebrating the end of production. I rolled down the window of my car and we wiggled our noses against each other (it's our thing, okay?) and I sensed that he was frustrated.

So when he slipped into bed with me that following morning, I vowed I'd set the production straight. (I told his mom afterward that, "No one overworks my boyfriend like that!")

On the last day of shooting, I drove down to the set and handed Paul a thermos of tea and introduced myself to the crew.

"Have we shot anything yet?" I inquired.

"No," said Paul.

"So you've been setting up this scene for three hours?"

"Basically."

I walked up to the production manager and promised him that I could get everyone out by 8:30 that night. He said, he'd been trying to get everyone to hurry up since the beginning and told me this was the pace they'd been going the whole time. Paul told me not to bother meddling. I responded that I wasn't going to be sucked into a 5:30 am wrap time, especially if it wasn't designated as a night shoot. I also agreed to be their script supervisor and take notes.

The PM eventually relented and said, "Look, I've tried being the asshole, but if you can get us all out by that time, you have my permission to be the asshole as long as you don't affect morale."

Agreed.

By 9 o'clock, we were all sipping beers in the alley. I had banged out a shooting schedule and effectively gave order to the set and was thanked by all. Made some professional contacts in the process, too. (To be fair, with the exception of the AD and director, everyone else was more than competent.)

Anyway, the crux of this story is to demonstrate that I've never felt more like a "team" in my relationships; the feeling that my partner's well-being is pertinent to my own. I think in the past, it was simply assumed that a relationship would displace the effort required to build a professional career, and for that reason, must be prioritized second (if not last).

Eventually, I realized having a relationship means turning down an overseas opportunity if it means being away from each other for too long. It means having realistic expectations as to how distance and time can break up the strongest of couples. And, in our case, how one of us (mostly him) might have to seriously consider going into real estate so we're not dependent on the irregular cheques doled out by the film industry.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Petty people and petty cash

We wrapped the reality series yesterday. A few of the crew, including myself, headed home, but not before ...

... a fight broke out between one of the contestants, her fiance, and her ex-boyfriend right there on the street in front of the venue. Too bad the cameras were already packed!

... I went on a midnight McDonald's run with Stacey MacKenzie, supermodel extraordinaire and, apparently, a Big Mac hound. She and I exchanged insults like we'd known each other for years. (Although, she did mention I'd "make it big in the [entertainment] industry." Uh huh, I wish.) Very fun, except for the fact that my boyfriend had been waiting to pick me up for an hour. Paul only got 3 hours of sleep before he had to operate the camera on another film. Last night also caused me to be an hour late for work at the magazine this morning (which I'm starting to lose interest in).

Fashion writing is so ridiculously boring and asinine. I mean, there are only so many ways you can say "sharp", "chic", and "seasonal". I'm justifying staying at this gig because of the web series I'm developing, which is still in the brainstorming stage. At the TV shoot this week, I met a videographer and fashion designer who want to work with me in the future. I've already contacted the former about partnering up with my boyfriend to do the web series with me.

If I'm on board to do this for the magazine, I'm going to make the editor really pay for the services I'm gathering for him. The way I see it, he can nickel and dime me, but I'm not going to be his lackey and do it to my professional and personal contacts. He has no idea how much it takes to do a show and I feel like he thinks he can complete this with Craigslist-recruited interns.

In other news, I don't think I can continue living in Toronto anymore. My aunt's toddlers are driving me nuts and everyone is always screaming in this family, which echoes through the whole house due to the high ceilings. The kids also break into my room and annoy me to no end. Actually, what really convinced me to get the hell out happened today. My grandma tells me I received a parking ticket while I was out of town.

Someone had moved my car out on the street and didn't put it back in the driveway, so I received a parking violation. She says my car had to be moved because the renovations contractor needed to have his dump truck there. I said, "Alright, so shouldn't whoever drove my car be obligated to pay for the ticket?"

She says the contractor had done it. So I said he should pay for my ticket. She told me not to give anyone trouble. I said, Fine, I'll go over to the Ministry of Transportation, explain to them the situation, and have someone revoke it.

She said, What if someone in the family moved your car?

Well then, someone in the family should be forking over the money.

At this point, I realized she was trying to save face and protect the perpetrator guilty of causing all this. (Who, I assume, was also listening in nearby.) Considering I'm living under someone else's roof, I stopped arguing, told her I'd pay for the damn ticket, finished my supper in silence, and went to my room.

Sometimes, a lesson gained is worth more than staying self-righteous. In this case, I learned that relatives, by blood or marriage, can be bigger fuckers than your boss.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Birthday

Paul came to visit me for my birthday today. He gave me a Kobo eBook reader while his mom had bought me a purple pashmina encased in a fuchsia pink department store box, both elaborately wrapped in fancy ribbons. I'd already known about the eReader because he'd been anxious to get me one since we returned from our trip to China. Every time we'd go to the Indigo bookstore, he'd lead me to the display table to explain the various features to me. (The pashmina I only suspected after he asked to be reminded of my favourite colour.)

We didn't do anything particularly special by my request as I'm not big on being the center of attention. So we strolled by the lake, talked and kissed, watching families of ducks and geese play house. We saw daredevil kingfishers arise from the water clenching fish too weak to escape, their iron beaks mirroring the angular precision of nearby smokestacks hissing to life.

By nightfall, we had made it up the mountain to take in the view, witnessing the city flicker awake. So we walked, hand-in-hand, past lovers in the getting-to-know-you stage, nervously sucking on their cigarettes to prevent words from edging through their lips.

Farther and farther we ventured until we hit a grassy clearing lined by knotted trees.

I squeezed his hand and ...

Cut to: Me, leaning against a gnarled trunk. Him, with his hand up my dress. Us, breathing, fucking, panting in the dark.

To paraphrase Larry David, We respected the wood and it was prettaaay prettaaay pretty good.

***

A former AD I worked for requested that I come out to Kitchener for two days next week. It's going to be at a live stage performance to finish off the second season of a TV show. Not gonna lie: The daily rate is attractive, and hotel accommodations are included. What's not to like?

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Sorry for the hiatus

My friend keeps pestering me to write in this blog as it's been nearly a year since my last entry. (You know who you are!) So here's a summary:

Soon after landing my job as a television news producer, I was fired. A "lack of enthusiasm" was the formal reason, but I suspected it had to do with standing up for myself to the abusive senior producers. One yelled at me for a mistake she made during a live news broadcast. The other yelled at me to do better unprovoked. I told them both to please speak to me civilly.

"Why you so stupid?" said my mom. "When Chinese boss yell at you, you say nothing!"

Oh well. So I moved back home soon after and got in touch with a locations manager for a UFC movie being shot in the back lot of my mom's store. He flaked on me on the day of our appointment, so I walked to the set and talked my way in. At first, the third assistant director put me to work on the craft truck making sandwiches and cookies for everyone. As I got to know the crew, some of them advised me to request work as a PA so I don't get stuck serving food in the industry.

I returned the next day as a production assistant and stayed for the remainder of the movie. The assistant directors suggested that I join the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) so I can work with benefits. I retrieved their recommendation letters, sent it in, attended 3 days worth of classes, and I was suddenly a union member a month after first setting foot on a film set.

Since then, I've AD'ed on more features, attended fashion and film festivals as a photography assistant, mingled with directors and celebrities, etc. I'm currently writing for a men's fashion/lifestyle magazine and developing and directing a web series for the publisher.

But the single most important thing that's happened to me as a result of being fired is having met the love of my life.

Paul and I met on the set of the first film I worked on. He liked the way I shook his hand and smiled to introduce myself. I thought he was beautiful-looking and his charming social gaffes tugged at my heart. He was awkward, frank, and vain and would inadvertently cock block anyone trying to hit on me. I couldn't help but be delighted to have met someone so refreshingly human.

But I behaved badly and badmouthed him on set, referring to him as a lazy shit and quipped insults to his face. He was unmoved and later confessed that he'd never sensed any malicious intent.

At the wrap party, I once again went through my schtick: "Wasn't Paul such a lazy shit?" This time, my routine was met by scorn. With liquid courage in his veins, the man said to me, "No one should be considered useless. We're all deserving of respect."

The guilt arrived fast and hard. I was ashamed of my behavior. And I left the party determined to make amends.

So I asked Paul out for drinks a week later.

On our third date, we met a middle-aged man whose parting words to Paul were, "Hold on to this one. You're a lucky man. She's a special girl, I can tell. Hold on to her tight."

He didn't know it then, but I wasn't planning on letting go either.

Unfortunately, our compatibility also prevents us from experiencing the ups and downs that would justify a self-revelatory rant. Good times just don't translate into very captivating material.

In any case, I will try to update more frequently, but I suspect the entries will be of a more benign nature.

And as for my friend who'd repeatedly requested that I write here: Thanks. It was nice :)