Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Good day? Great day!

The morning started with a phone call. I was informed that my name was selected in a televised draw. The prize? A trip for 4 for 25 days across seven countries. It starts in Hong Kong and ends in Argentina.

"Get outta here!" I said. "Is this free?"

I suspected some sort of scam.

A couple of weeks ago I completed a telephone survey. The lady on the other line was Taiwanese and was really persistent. I told her I had 5-minutes before I had to head out. I remember something about a prize draw being held at Yonge-Dundas Square, but I didn't think much of it since I'd never attend some Asian community organization activity anyway.

Needless to say, I thought it was too good to be true so I told her to contact my mom to clarify the details. My mom's definitely weary of things like this, but she told me they didn't ask for any credit card details or personal information.

"It doesn't appear to be a scam, but why aren't you going?" she asked me.

"Because," I nearly squealed, "I got a call a few minutes ago saying they want me at the animation studio! I start next Monday!"

A week and a half ago, I received an email from the studio's HR head, asking me if I'm available for a recent opening. I find out later the producer I'd met in August had regret not hiring me and recommended me to be this executive producer's assistant.

"Lily ****! You gotta get her on board. She was fantastic!" she later told me.

We met on a Tuesday, the position sounded fantastic, and a week later, I got the job. This is completely different from my last gig as an EA because my relationship with my boss will include total transparency rather than secrecy. I'd be her right-hand woman, so to speak. She'd expect me to attend meetings with/for her, read all incoming scripts, travel with her, etc. And this woman, she is a hell of a firecracker! Originally from California, she worked in New York before being headhunted for this job in Toronto. She told me she loves this city, loves Canada, loves her job. That's someone I see myself wanting to work for, that joie de vivre. It's contagious. No doubt, the traveling perks are pretty good for me, too.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Critical parents

I got off the phone with my parents a few hours ago and their attempt at emotional blackmail is still resonating in painful waves.

My mom offered to unburden me by making my mortgage payments ... if I went to law school. I've told her for years I wasn't interested in studying law, but she's stubborn and relentless. Somehow, she can find the money to "help" me if I do what she wants, but I can continue being a "welfare queen" if I don't. (I'm on EI, I paid into the system!) Just thinking about this conversation makes me angry.

I tried to tell them that a law degree doesn't guarantee stability; there are loads of new grads waiting tables and paying off their debts in unrelated fields. But they refuse to believe me and don't have any evidence to support their stance either. They somehow think an MBA, med school, computer sciences, etc. will get me out of this rut. As if people who go to school for these programs are completely protected from the realities of the economy.

My mom wants me to be certified in something, anything. (Well, anything that will make me miserable and hate my life.) As much as everyone tells me she just doesn't want to see me suffer, I feel like she makes suggestions that have nothing to do with my personality and more to do with bragging rights. "I have a lawyer for a daughter" sounds so much better than "she's in-between jobs ... again." In fact, my parents are so embarrassed for me that my extended family don't even know I'm out of work. They like to compare me to my cousin, who "already bought a house for her family!" My dad says I'm a "zero" because I have a useless liberal arts degree, whereas my cousin studied accounting and has a cushy job in an office. OOOH! A fucking office! Let's hold a press conference!

"Your dad and I came to Canada with nothing and we didn't speak English and we still found jobs!" she told me today. I asked her if she's been completely oblivious to the news because all those riots happening around the world aren't a coincidence! "They all had their roots in youth unemployment and stagnate economies!" I yell back.

I mean, I get jealous of Chinese families who only occasionally nag. And frankly, I'd prefer passive-aggression to the near-daily onslaught of parental criticism. My other cousin says it's worse for me because I'm the first to graduate university, so my every move is subject to scrutiny. My dad's side of the family is really cool and open-minded, but they're all in Beijing. It's my Cantonese relatives, the ones who live nearby, who act like they need to compensate for being denied an education (blame the Cultural Revolution). They are complete bores and enjoy seeing me down and out.

Clearly there is only one way out: stop picking up the phone. It's reached the point where seeing my parents' names light up on my Blackberry screen gives me anxiety attacks. Every time I hear their voice, I know it's going to be another lecture and "helpful" suggestion that has the effect of making me want to slit my wrists and perform seppuku.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Here's me leaving Occupy Bay Street and texting my friends about a crazy man there who claimed the derivatives market was worth $1.2 quadrillion.

If there's a cosmic reason for this, please let me in on it

It's been several months since I was let go and still no luck finding a job. I'm at a weird place right now, having never been unemployed for any substantial length of time, and it's really forcing me to face certain inevitabilities. Mainly, what I want to do with my life. (Yes, still.)

I did gain some insight into the origins of my professional roadblock. I used to believe that I had yet to find the right industry for me. The truth is, I simply hate working ... for other people, that is. Out of everything that I've done -- retail associate, piano teacher, fashion journalist, TV news producer, assistant director, corporate E.A., etc. -- I've been the most happy when I was given freedom and autonomy. The further I was from the naked emperor, the better. Since this realization, I suggested to Paul that we start our own wedding/event photography business. I reckon the overhead is low and he already has his own equipment, so lately, we've been taking photos of our engaged friends to bulk up our portfolio.

When he and I worked on his short film awhile ago, we wrote the script and executed the production flawlessly. It was a seamless connection. He was in charge of creative and I oversaw the logistics. That was when I knew we'd have a future ahead of us. He is my best friend and I am his, so it would be a shame if we didn't conspire and contribute something to the world.

My second realization is that rather than depend on one source of income, it would be wise (especially in this economy) to diversify my interests. My sister has been working on the online portion of our family business and my mom wants me and Paul to take over. She says it's not a full-time commitment, but it'll make us enough money to keep us afloat when we're between more stable options. Furthermore, there's always the option of teaching piano again. There are a lot of children in my condo and it would be really convenient for them to take lessons nearby.

However, the biggest eye-opener of all has been Paul. He's really stepped up these last few months. Six months ago, he was still living at home with his parents and going to school full-time. Nowadays, he does the bulk of chores, freelances on movies, has plans to join the union, and gives me every penny he earns to manage. He also shoulders the burden of my depression. Every time I begin to feel uneasy and unable to cope, he talks me out of it and stays with me until I regain control. I told him how I ashamed I was for not pulling my weight and he responded by pointing out that I'd supported him throughout our relationship and that he's happy to return the favour. "And when I have money one day," he adds, "you can buy whatever expensive dress you want!" I can honestly say he is the major reason I am not sinking right now. He provides me with perspective and companionship and visions of the future I don't want to give up on. Now that's husband-material!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Our house, in the middle of our street ...

Paul and I are broke as all get out, but at least our home is coming together nicely. We plan to hang up more of his photos and my artwork (the one above our couch was taken from our trip to the Great Wall). There's also a definite need for more plants, shelves, and storage. Paul's grandfather build closet organizers for us, so we can utilize the vertical space in all of them.

We're really enjoying this place. Although it's located in the heart of downtown, we're surrounded by leafy canopies and Victorian homes, so we don't get the noise and pollution. A shrinking wallet from paying property taxes, hydro, mortgage, and credit card bills is a cause for concern though. Thankfully, I have Employment Insurance to tide me over until I get back on my feet. However, it's not enough to cover any extraneous expenses, like gas and groceries, which are coming out of my savings. I know my parents think I should go back to school and get a degree in something less risky, but I think if I can make it past this hurdle, I'm mentally prepared to live like this (that is to say, simply) for life.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New horizons

Unemployment isn't terrible. Not ideal, but also liberating as all-get-out. I have a couple of freelance possibilities in the future for a casting agency and some magazines. But what I'm really focused on is getting my little business idea off the ground. Paul's friend, Natalie, suggested we could start a matchmaking service together. I've been looking into a government-sponsored program that could get this project off the ground and Natalie's eager to have us interview people to gain insight into the market.

I reckon, I already give so much relationship advice, I might as well do it on my own terms and get paid for it!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Corporate Shenanigans

The executive assistant I had worked with quit her job two weeks after I was let go. She brought along a host of juicy gossip over wine and cigarettes at the park. Like how ...

... her (former) boss is allegedly putting up his mistress in one of the chic downtown condos he owns. Her boss has a well-known reputation for being the most arrogant, precious, coddled, and demeaning person in the industry. He tried to make Harvey Weinstein wait at a meeting, just out of sheer unmatched ego. "Harvey is a household name," she says. "He is no Harvey."

... my (former) boss likes to get rip-roaring drunk and did so at the recent charity golf tournament. His $135,000+ car (charged to the company account) had to be driven back to the office by some underling. He then proceeds to throw a tantrum because she parked it in the wrong spot. In an unrelated incident: the assistant selected to replace me went into his office to clean up the water he had spilt when he broke his glass. She had to pat around him because he refused to acknowledge her presence and proceeded to continue his conversation with his colleague over her head. (*Note: Oddly enough, I never encountered this kind of behaviour from him. I guess he didn't feel like he could be himself around me. Ha!)

... the hiring process with regards to assistants is based on how attractive the executives find them. This admission made me feel soooo dirty. Can you imagine being hired to be ogled at by a bunch of petty, middle-aged fat cats?

... when they travel to markets (to purchase films), they act like a bunch of lecherous frat boys. I am not surprised by that revelation. How much fucking golf can someone take before they need to go fuck a ho in France?

... the hardest worker there, who idolizes these evil men in corner offices and sacrifices her life for them, is actually considered "weak" and "desperate" by her closest mentor. Why? Because he said she didn't "fight harder" for her raise. Yet, even with her promotion, she still goes on coffee runs for them and sends their photos to hotels beforehand so the staff will recognize their big heads when they arrive.

Lesson learned: You can either give up your soul for the carrot or get fired for not playing the game. Either way, they'll never let a girl join the big boys table.

Shit, I need to go smoke a bowl.

Friday, June 10, 2011

You're fired!

I got the axe yesterday.

"Your position is no longer required," the head of HR tells me. "It was a business decision. It wasn't your job performance. If you like," she goes on, "we can give you a recommendation letter." Then she hands me this lame pamphlet on life changes. My boss is out in Calgary, visiting film sets and riding horses with his daughters and she tells me, "He wanted to be here to tell you."

I was shocked, relieved, angry, resentful, happy, and bitter often simultaneously.

Here I was, sitting in the office of another departed colleague, being told "it gets better" by a woman with a frozen face. I asked her twice if it was something I did, but she stuck to the script and insisted that it wasn't. What the fuck does a "business decision" even mean when it comes to laying off the CEO's only assistant? I know he's an independent guy, but who's going to put together his expense reports and schedule calls and book all the bullshit that comes with being a rich SOB who rides in a style in a 6-figure car paid for by the company?

HR personnel escorted me out.

Spiritually, I feel like a success: I make friends easily, I've helped a lot of people, and I've achieved an equilibrium of the soul. Materialistically, there is now a sudden dissonance. How can I reconcile living in a handsome home with handsome furniture when I no longer have the income to maintain the bubble of stability? The contrast is palpable.

I had a good cry before bed last night. Paul held me as I soaked his neck in tears. I told him I wasn't mourning for the loss of my job; I was mourning for a future in jeopardy. He countered that it was merely on hold.

The job had been coming between us, encroaching on our sanctuary. I'd check my Blackberry and return emails at all hours of the night. "This is the nature of the job!" I'd tell him when he showed signs of irritation. "It isn't right," he'd say. "They can't treat you this way."

I'd wave away his comments: "It's what I signed up for."

The scariest part of this ordeal is that I am back where I was before this: Trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. The job distracted me from that continued journey and I was punished for my complacency. There might be some magazine commissions headed my way in the fall. I asked a former colleague for help; she currently works at a publication specializing in luxury goods and services. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New home

Closing day was a success. Paul got the keys from my lawyer and dropped off some things at our new place. The final down payment was $500 under the original value because the Korean owners didn't replace the floor boards near the kitchen (even though the contract stipulated that it was a pre-condition of the sale).

Rather than haggle over the amount a day before our furniture was scheduled to arrive, I accepted the reimbursement to get them off my back. But now I'm a little annoyed that we're responsible for the problem. On top of that, I don't know where the water damage originated from and have to see if the stacked laundry unit is to blame. Argh!

So here I am, in no man's land. Although I've lived with my ex-boyfriend before, it was different. The apartment was a rental, we were from different provinces, and the gesture was mostly economical. As much as this is a big step for the two of us, I'm glad Paul has had no hesitations in making the leap with me. I wouldn't even call him brave; he's just self-assured and trusts women.

We received the furniture today and they look better than I remembered. Gorgeous, actually. Paul's mom and grandparents cleaned our place top to bottom. I was really thankful because I didn't have to do anything by the time I returned from work. His grandpa even took measurements of our closets so he can build us custom organizers. Cannot wait to get settled in!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Doggy Love

Paul's dad called him while we were at a party last night:

"Pavelik, do you know where the dog is?! We came home and he's missing! Oh wait ... he's under the dining table. He's MAD! *click*"

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Is this hell?

Lady on my left spills soda on my dress. Ladies on my right chat through the entire movie. (Is it really necessary to repeat dialogue and explain the jokes and then sing along to Wilson-fucking-Phillips?) I've had it with public movie watching ... and I work in the fucking industry!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


So last Friday, I hung out with that dude who asked me out on a "date". We had frozen kefir and I chatted with a homeless man. I had a feeling he was going to be like other engineers: shy, reserved, passionate about esoteric interests. I was right.

He was a nice enough guy and even got a haircut for the occasion, but I made it abundantly clear "this" would stay platonic. Paul asked me how it went and I told him the truth: I was there to gather information about my boss with whom they are family friends. Also, it was flattering.

I also discovered through him that my boss and I share the same philosophy about money as a measurement of success rather than a resource to hoard. (He asked me if I stole that from my boss; I took it as a compliment.) It makes me feel like, yeah, in 20- to 30-years, I can traipse around the world, expanding my empire too! Or ... it means he has enough money to say it while I believe it as a consolation of my near-poverty.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hope springs eternal

Paul's friend had an interview at our company for a summer internship so I suggested that we all go out for lunch afterward. As we were talking, I brought up my colleague who jokingly asks me whether I've been trying to persuade my boss to take me to Cannes.

Just as I mentioned his name, he turns around and says hi. I was super red-face and spilled that I've been trying to locate valid excuses to accompany him to Cannes, but so far, I've come up short. Zip, zero, zilch.

He said I wasn't useless and might consider it next year. Which was, of course, his way of deflecting the awkwardness.

So back at the office, I had to organize a fancy dinner in Antibes and called the restaurant to make a reservation. As I was chatting away en francais (and flirting with the Maitre d', bien sur!), my boss passed by and did a double take, having never heard me speak French before.

His reaction got me thinking ...

Maybe I can make my case by telling him how many great places he's been missing out on simply because he doesn't speak la belle langue. "You don't have to be hanging by the boardwalk," I'd plead, "when you can take the road less traveled. And a man of your stature ... well, excuse my brazenness, but the bragging rights alone would pay for themselves." Then again, he also has some of the best connections at the festival so he has no trouble gaining entry into glamorous yachts and studio parties ... all the while, I sit and watch my life flicker away across the ocean. But what do those smarmy publicists know about finding greasy chow mein and veggie dogs at 3AM Central European Time?! Um, winning!

Le sigh. All that potential ass-kissing just for some free movie passes and overpriced quiche? I'd still do it.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Another week, another man

This young fellow (late-20s, early-30s?) met with my boss about two weeks ago. I didn't pay much attention, but my female colleagues both lustfully inquired about his identity. "I dunno," I shrugged, though slightly curious as to how he secured such a rarefied meeting. He wore sneakers and jeans and had shaggy blonde hair. Looked like a wrinkle-less Timothy Olyphant.

Anyway, he accepted a bottle of water from me and waved goodbye. That was the extent of our interaction. Two days later, he sent me an email that contained suggestions for natural remedies for my cold. I thanked him for his concern and didn't think much of it. But he responded immediately. And again. Now it has spiralled into a regular "thing" and I've agreed to hang out with him this Friday.

My girlfriends at work have read some of our correspondences and they wonder what Paul thinks about the whole thing.

"Oh, he knows," I reassured them, which is true. However, this time, I sense a hint of danger because as much as I mention Paul in our exchanges, the guy doesn't seem bothered by it and continues on his chatty way. Is it because he's an engineer by trade? Are engineers just oblivious to social decorum and boundaries? I mean, he is simply the chattiest nerd I've met in recent memory especially since our initial encounter was so utterly pedestrian.

The office manager says the boy is "smitten". My friends tease me and tell me I'm "unforgettable". Another executive assistant pointed out the irony: Her eggs are drying up while I'm in a relationship AND getting asked out on dates.

I also figured out that his mother is a friend of my boss's wife. (Make sense?)

He's traveling across Europe for a month starting in June so I think there's no harm in meeting up considering we've had our share of online conversations. I've informed Paul of Friday's plans and to my surprise, he sounded a bit reluctant to let me go. I told him I'd see him immediately afterward to attend his film festival showcase. That satisfied him.

I suppose as a reformed-introvert, I know I have to be careful not to take Paul's patience for granted. He doesn't have a jealous bone in his body and it would be cruel to coax it out of him. So as much as I enjoy experiencing new people, Paul knows it is the "first-date jitters" that riles me up and keeps me happy. As much as my friends think it's totally weird that Paul doesn't mind me hanging out with guys, I give him the same freedom with girls because he gets along with them with more grace and ease. This is our understanding and at the end of the day, it is Paul with whom I crawl into bed and dream of eternity.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

This is why I love my profession

Paul interviewed for a gig in the lighting department of an indie feature today. I tagged along and sat outside of earshot in the Starbucks where he was meeting with the producer and director (who were also twin brothers).

They didn't speak for long. I suggested that we both say goodbye to them.

"Are you an AD [assistant director]?" one of them piped up.

"Yes, you're ..." I tried to remember. "You attended the last AD caucus meeting!"

The next thing you know, I was in an animated conversation with them as Paul stood nearby, looking dumbfounded. The director said he remembered me because I was pretty outspoken during the union meeting (behaviour, unbeknownst to me, that was an anomaly among junior ADs because the atmosphere can be intimidating). He said I also had a "memorable face". Ha! He probably meant "Asian" because there aren't that many of us in the industry.

In any case, I slipped in my credentials and they enthusiastically took my business card. "So if you don't hire my boyfriend," I added half-seriously, "I'll be very angry."

"Don't worry," they said, "he has an in now."

Let's hope.

*sidenote: The three of us had talked so much that the next person scheduled for the interview arrived and had to wait for us to finish. Lo and behold, he had worked with Paul on another shoot! Needless to say, they had some catching up to do as well.

What a small world!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A little slice of life

A political protest was approaching and Paul thought it would be a good idea to take some shots of the cops and their rides (hogs and horses).

One officer asked to see his camera.

"Sorry," Paul said, "[the shots] are on film."

The officer then turned to me: "You want to get on the motorcycle? He can take your picture."

"No, thanks," I said. "That's sort of pervy."

Criers are my kryptonite

Allow me to set the stage:

I come home from work and the fucking toilet is clogged up with toilet paper and the contents of a bowel movement. After my sister returns home and tries to fix it, she heads over to my room and tells me that, yes, the toilet is indeed clogged and will be out of commission.

So I asked her whether she took a dump and stuffed all that paper down there. She hesitated: "No, it wasn't me."

I saw an extra mattress in her room. "Did one of your friends take a dump and clog up the toilet?" I asked.

"Maybe," she shrugged.

"Well then," I said, "where's your friend to clean it up?"

"I dunno, but you're being rude."

Wait, I'm rude? Did I roll up baby Jesus and try to force him down the toilet before walking away? Nuh uh, I did not.

What's RUDE is hoping the next person deals with your mess (and potentially flooding the entire bathroom) by mopping up bits of your banana cream pie from last night because you thought you could whistle your way out of trouble.

What's STUPID is pretending you didn't know who took the epic shit and taking offence on your "friend's" behalf! I have a friend, too. Her name is Miss Lyingouttaherass. Every time you give her a penny, she says you owe three more!

I was on the phone with my friend: "Why am I always the bad guy?"

Story of my life.

Three weeks ago, I calmly told my fat ass roommate that she'd been flouting house rules for months and I had proof that she'd been doing so behind my back with the belief that she wouldn't be caught. She started crying and crying and still didn't apologize.

Bitch said I was MEAN. Why? I said her hygiene wasn't up to snuff because mould was growing in her personal bathroom and she'd never picked up her loose hairs from the floor. This ain't no third world beauty parlour! Your rent doesn't include maid service!

I also hate it when people cry when I confront them. Am I supposed to comfort you now? The asshole who started slamming cupboards at midnight and told me she didn't care about my "beauty sleep"? I got two words for you: See ya! (*sidenote: 6 more days before her lease expires. Victory.)

Anyway, even with that rant, I still believe I have a drama-less life. I resolve problems after one encounter and those who aren't comfortable with the subsequent quietude stay away from me. (I shut my mouth to restrict their ammo.) My sister says though she loves me, I can come off too intimidating (especially her because she's a heart-on-her-sleeve type o' gal). She says it's the way I inject office parlance even in private matters. (I once broke up with a guy by telling him that it was "unfortunate that we were incompatible," but I wished him "all the best in finding a more suitable partner with more in common.")

I explain myself this way: Honesty hurts so that the sting of embarrassment will remind you not to fuck up next time. I've taken hits to the face and haven't looked back.

Or as Judge Judy likes to put it: Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

We belong to a clandestine, global network

Okay, not really. But executive assistants do get to be pretty tight. We know the hottest spots in town, we're tight with political aides, and deal with corporate secrets on a daily basis. One of them invited me to Los Angeles to hang out. I might take him up on his offer; the weather in Toronto has been hella shitty. It was sunny, cloudy, windy, and SNOWY all on the same day. Like, remember how Hugh Grant walked through a bazaar in Notting Hill and he experienced all four seasons? It's like that, except REAL.

Anyway, I contracted a cold from my colleague, who had been sneezing and sniffling up a storm all of last week. Not only does she not believe in taking time off work (because she's a keener), but she also doesn't believe in using hand sanitizer.

When I told her I was sick, she assured me that it was the wonky weather's fault.

"I don't think so," I shot back. "You were coughing all over me. I'm pretty sure it was you."

Did I mention that she doesn't "believe" in hand sanitizer; the bottle she has on her desk is for other people to use so they can stand around long enough to chat. What's there to not believe? She says superbugs are spawned that way. Say what? Alcohol doesn't work the same way as antibiotics!

She also believes the earth is going to end because of polar shifts and tried to get me to eat granola bars with her because they were healthy and she's a vegetarian, so she's an authority on what's healthy. "This has 13 grams of sugar!" I admonished. "It's just a candy bar."

Well, now that I'm on track to vent about her, I might as well keep going. She has this extremely annoying habit of thinking out loud. Every minor thought that pops into her head is verbalized to me. From the steps in which she'd take to lock up an office ("I'm going to get the key, open the door, turn on the lights ...") to the cute emails her boyfriend sends her that I told her I found "revolting".

"He says he's going to buy groceries. Isn't that sweet?"

Who cares?!

Even when I told her it would be helpful to distinguish what to say out loud so I'd know what was important and pay attention, she told me to ignore her. The problem? It's not easy! "What are you reading?" None of your business!

Or the way she rushes to get water for the executives and takes credit for other people's work. I mean, really?

Today, she had to arrange a conference call for the execs. She called me three times when all I wanted to do was rest (I had taken a sick day). I always find myself asking her what exactly she's calling about because she loses track of what she called to ask.

In one insignificant conversation, I said, "Look, I already told you he was free for the time you stated so go ahead and organize it." I mean, how the hell was I supposed to know what he does at home with his family and whether the call might be intrusive to him? Am I a psychic?

That's what's truly annoying about her. She factors in every single possible scenario including completely hypothetical ones before taking action. Just do it and if it doesn't work, we'll notify you! Everything has to be an ordeal with her.

And she takes it personally if you tell her to back off. Why do I need to explain to her that she's not necessarily a bad person, but her behaviour is overbearing. Since assistants are by nature discreet, you'd think she'd understand that I can't tell her everything just to make her life easier. Not to mention her constant yakking regularly gives away the whereabouts of her bosses. "Oh, so-and-so isn't in the office right now. He's in LA." Why would you tell strangers this?

She's 28 and acts like she has no worldly experience. Even the girl who picked her as her replacement is irritated. But what can we do? She's not evil, just simple and insecure.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Thin Red Line

I knew I would get myself into trouble sooner or later.

A guy at work has a clear case of the crushes. On me. I'll call him "M".

Now, I believe the office has a hierarchy of attraction understood to be distinct from sexual harassment. There's a) the Casual Glancer, b) the Lunchroom Mingler, and then there's c) the Excessive Flirter.

Currently, I've concluded that there's been some As (but that's inevitable given the high ratio of women), a few Bs (one of whom will happily break the ice with me about anything, including microwave popcorn), and then there's M.

M is in the third category. Here's the twist: He doesn't remember me. We'd met before. Years ago. Spent hours in each other's presence at the Toronto International Film Festival. Except rather than tight skirts and cardigans, I was wearing a polo shirt and a fanny pack because I was a dirty photography assistant (and he was an arrogant prick). In fact, Paul was even in M's department when he was an intern at the same company. He used to pepper Paul with questions, like whether Asian pussy was tight. (Answer: Yes, but only when it hasn't encountered much of a challenge.)

So it's quite amusing seeing him sweat from this side of the cubicle divider.

Like this time by the elevators. He asked me where I was headed.

"Eating," I said.

"I thought you'd be going out. Having a tryst. No tryst?" he asked.

"Yeah," I replied, nonchalantly. "Eating cock."

He was stammering all the way down the shaft (no pun intended).

In another series of expected occurrences, M's been walking past my desk and checking me out. I look straight ahead at my screen and pretend not to notice. Which, of course, leads him to chat me up wherever he thinks he could bump into me.

"Hi Lily!" he shouted just as I neared the kitchen door. "Just wanted to say hi," he smirked.

I winked at his coworker: "This guy has ulterior motives."

She laughed: "Likely!"

My neighbour even commented on how he talks and acts around me, adding: "I've always wanted to see what workplace flirtations were all about. Now I know." She thinks he's offensive due to his very un-PC/racist/sexist conversation nuggets. I, in contrast, find him endearingly obnoxious and enjoy taking swipes at his manhood. He is also in his mid-30s, but, tellingly, acts much younger.

Paul is aware of all this, of course; I tell him everything. The tension I create with a variety of men gets channeled into our sex life, so that's a perk. I'm also honest about my relationship status. And when I sense the conversation veering off to more intimate territories, I bail and limit interaction indefinitely.

It's quite stimulating sharing tête-à-têtes with new people every now and then, but I don't mistake their enthusiasm for sincere interest. Lord knows Paul still gives me butterflies (just not over the phone; he has atrocious phone manners). But I'm young and the daily grind can be tedious, so I allow these brief encounters to continue. And bluntly speaking, it's too fun to stop.

Monday, April 04, 2011


Paul and I went furniture shopping last weekend. He's the president and lone member of the domestic design committee. I merely exist as a peripheral sidekick because, frankly, he has better taste when it comes to all things interior.

I pointed out a small shop on King Street last Friday and we ended up chatting with the employee there for a good chunk of the night. We shared our devotion to Love It or List It and Flipping Out ("Jeff Lewis is ah-mazing") and discovered he was a part-time actor to boot.

At one point, he noted conspiratorially that the owner does free consulting work on the weekends: You supply the floorplans and he'll spin around like a whirling dirvish, smothering you with colour schemes, fabric swatches, and furniture possibilities.

Could it be true? Was this a dream? I was intrigued. Free advice that would normally run $300/hr? I'm in! So come Saturday, Paul and I visited the store again and lo and behold, the designer sat with us for over an hour, teaching us the basics of design. And though he never mentioned his own pieces in conversation, we picked up three things from his collection anyway. The price wasn't bad as far as made in Canada custom furniture goes, but it sure as hell wasn't cheap either.

Anyway, Paul and I chose this beautiful black fabric with a contrasting cherry blossom motif for the two chairs to go with the slate-grey sofa. It's being made to our specifications and we're really excited to see the results in 6-8 weeks.

Today, I was driving Paul to school and he asked me what I thought about "plants". "What?" I replied. "You know," he said. "Plants. Do you want them?"

Like I said, he's the design maven, I'm just along for the ride.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Paul's grandma offered him (us?) a large cash endowment to start our life together. I was taken aback when he told me. He said he had kept her money in a savings account and helped her maintain it over the years, but last night, she told him he could keep the entire balance.

She is a frugal woman, like my own grandma. They both lived under the Soviet system and still re-use plastic milk bags meant to be thrown away. So when I say this is no small amount, I mean it's no small amount even by our (inflated) standards.

I can't quite wrap my mind around it. When I told my parents, my dad was borderline emotional. This woman resides in a tiny bachelor apartment and stores Paul's childhood drawings beneath her mattress (along with photos of her late husband). So she quite literally lives for her grandchildren. And the fact that the gift is intended to be shared between me and Paul? Let's just say her kindness is not lost on me.

Granted, there are strings attached. Both Paul and I believe she expects us to eventually get married. Good thing we're on the same page regarding that or we would be in deep doo-doo.

We plan to use half of it to furnish and decorate the new place, but have yet to decide what to do with the rest. (If I had it my way, I'd use it to pay off the house sooner.)

Everything has been moving along rather quickly and uncharacteristically smoothly. I went to see the mortgage lender yesterday ... and felt super naked. He looked over my financial history and told me it would be difficult to get approval from the top due to my reliance on freelance assignments in the course of MY ENTIRE ADULT LIFE. I brought along stacks of contracts and T4 forms that attested to my consistent employment in the film and news industries, but they were deemed useless. But when my broker joined me at the office, he said I forgot to mention my time spent working at my parents' store. I'd been there since early high school and didn't think it would count.

That sealed the deal though. Funny how my boring job as a retail salesgirl was more readily acknowledged by lending institutions than all my other job titles. I guess that's why my film colleagues regularly advise newbies to marry rich.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

House hunting, home found

Starting May 20, I will be a new homeowner. The negotiating process was a real doozy. My dad brought down the last $3000 by suggesting that all three parties (the sellers and both brokers) surrender a grand each. That worked and we ended up getting it for $12K below the listing price (which was above market value anyway).

The sellers were really stubborn. They even bragged that their south-east view was worth $20K more than anything similar in the building. We called their bluff after only one other (lower) offer came in after the second open house and while they still tried to play hardball, we knew they wouldn't be calling us unless we were the best they could get. So we leveraged that and I got my house.

The mortgage payments will be tolerable on my salary because my parents are gifting me with a down payment worth a third of the total price. For that, I am exceedingly grateful. Paul will be helping me out with the maintenance fees once he starts working, but I can still manage without him.

We're so excited to start our life together. This summer is starting to look up.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

For your consideration

People send me film and TV pitches at work. This one fell into my inbox recently, which I will summarize thusly:

Guy tries to get over his ex by finding another woman to sleep with. So he travels down to the Mexican-Arizona border, falls in love with a local living in a "beautiful hacienda," but she mistakes him for the man who killed her father, so she tries to kill him with a plate of poisoned chicken mole, but she has a change of heart, only to find out the drug lord wants her dead and is now out to snuff out both of them.

This story was predictably binned. Unfortunate because I can probably dedicate a blog entirely to failed scripts (if they weren't such a pain to slog through).

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Almost perfect

Paul and I have been house hunting with the help of my parents. We're preparing to make an offer on a place we saw today. Out of all the properties we've visited, this one satisfies every one of our requirements ... except one: the location. It's about a 15-minute walk from the fashionable district we'd be searching in, but it has stuff we'd never be able to afford otherwise: two full bedrooms and two full bathrooms; open concept kitchen and dining space; unobstructed view of the skyline and leafy surroundings; corner unit, south-facing windows; hardwood floors and granite countertops; stainless steel appliances; balcony; parking spot and locker, etc. The asking price is also on the high end of our budget without surpassing it.

The caveat is, of course, that we'd be living a couple of blocks from a men's hostel. I wouldn't say it's a rough neighbourhood. While the area would hardly give Yorkville a run for its money, the condo we're considering is predictably gentrified. And considering the historic buildings and mom n' pop shops nearby, what it lacks in sterility, it makes up for in crazy people.

I know architecture students will probably bemoan my choice for contributing to the displacement of the less-than-fortunate. (Gentrification is a hip term for serious, widening economic disparities.) But it's hard for me to justify plopping down cash for a place I'd only be comfortable describing for politically correct reasons.

Paul is worried that we might get sucked into a bidding war. Fingers crossed.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Keeps getting better

I had a meeting with the co-president of our film division and he was receptive to involving me in long-term projects. After listening to a summary of my experiences, he thought I would be a good fit as a script reader, scouring for creative and commercial potential among the trash. Other duties to follow.

I had been hoping to do something like this since I applied for the job. Who knew all I had to do was ask? Knowing my boss travels a lot on business, I think getting involved in the nitty-gritty will be a challenging, yet, ultimately, worthwhile endeavour. While my loyalties will still lie with him, he's encouraging me to take a gander at other parts of the company; I'm going to see if TV and music might have a need for me in the future. Granted, I know I am in a privileged position to ask for favours, but I still feel quite lucky to be given these chances to prove myself among colleagues of a different circle (i.e. media marketers versus corporate hotshots).

Our company was involved in the distribution of a mega-release that grossed over $700 million worldwide, so I am looking forward to the movies coming my way. (On the other hand, I recently read a pitch for a feature film that contains poisoned chicken mole as a key plot point.)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Familiar Territory

The communications director resurrected the company's internal newsletter and put me in charge as the editor after checking out my online writing portfolio. I'm responsible for collecting articles from all the global offices, editing them, and publishing the final copy. He says he's open to any ideas I might have that could improve the publication.

I will be working with a graphic designer to update the look and feel of the whole thing, something more akin to an industry magazine. Super excited and pleased with the amount of freedom he's giving me. My boss knows I don't have much to do when he's flying off to the four corners of the earth so he thought it would be a good idea for me to get involved in some long-term projects in film and TV. He plans to consult with the executives overlooking those departments. Works for me!

It's like being a salaried intern on a rotating curriculum. Better than school!

House Hunting

I never thought I'd see the day when I've become that friend, you know that friend, who slips in market value, home equity, interest rates, and mortgages into casual conversations. Except, I've become that friend.

Paul and I went house hunting on Sunday. None of the places we saw fit my criteria. Paul is even pickier. The properties were all decent, but as an investment, they were far from tempting.

My mom and I agreed that it might be better to look downtown. While the prices are steeper for less living space, these properties aren't as vulnerable to market fluctuations as their suburban counterparts. Furthermore, it's far easier to rent out or sell a one-bedroom to young professionals than it is to growing families in a trendy region of the city.

I spoke to a broker today for half an hour, discussing the pros and cons of Toronto's real estate environment. We discussed the factors that determine maintenance fee hikes under various conditions, seasonal trends, price gouging, etc. It was really quite fascinating.

My main dilemma is this: Should I purchase a 1 bedroom/1 bathroom and pay if off myself or purchase a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom and rent out the extra room?

Although I would be able to afford both scenarios (the latter with the help of the renter), I'm weary about investing in a property that Paul and I will easily outgrow. Granted, my salary might change and Paul will have entered the job market by then, but those are (in)variables I can't consider when I'm looking for a place right now. I also don't want to depend on Paul, knowing his job prospects will be unpredictable in his field. (I have, however, unwavering faith in his abilities to succeed.)

Patience might work out in my favour to an extent. But time is a-tickin' and the prices, overall, are still relatively affordable (at least, for this city). I just don't know how long it will last. A property I had my eye on 2 years ago has already gone up by 200k.

What to do? There are so many things to consider, minor as they are. The location of the property will determine whether or not I can rent out an extra parking spot, which can net me an extra $150-$200 a month. Its distance from my job will determine whether I will have to shell out the $120 for a public transit pass (extortionist to TTC: "Girl, that's a bit much!"). Will I be able to cover utilities? Have I made allowances for food, entertainment, and emergencies? Will I make sure to have enough money in my account to pay off my mortgage on a bi-weekly basis in order to save thousands on interest? (That last one was mostly rhetorical.)

And yet, I feel pretty good about my life. I've had some great adventures in my 24 years and while it may appear that I'm settling down hardcore, I believe I am providing a solid foundation to help usher me into the next phase of my life. While re-tracing Audrey Hepburn's steps in Roman Holiday and walking past throngs of paparazzi were fun, these experiences (and those like them) were fuelled by the need for novelty. I know now that a trip to the Amazon will not help me discover more about myself nor will I suddenly feel the urge to change my values because wherever you go, there you are.

In other words, I believe the next few years will involve developing strong professional relationships so that I may (collaboratively) contribute something tangible and positive to the world. Or maybe, it's my mind at 2:00am speaking ...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Yawnfest 2011

Everyone at work thought the same (except the girl from HR who thought the pair of hosts were the highlight of the night. Count me confused!). It was, hands down, the worst Oscar in ... forever.

Don't even get me started on Kirk Douglas's Dirty Ol' Man schtick. It was uncomfortable to watch (and I am well aware that he'd suffered a stroke). And Melissa Leo's histrionics were too, too much. It was beyond irritating, especially when she paid for full-page "For Your Consideration" ads to persuade Academy voters to give her a statue, but she didn't have anything prepared for her speech? It was like witnessing a desperate barfly swinging on a stripper pole at closing time.

Next time, the Academy should hire industry insiders because the best jokes were the ones that revealed Hollywood's guarded machinations. I stayed up for this crap?

*sidenote: My colleague grew up and went to school with the guy who was handing out the Oscar statues and playing "grab the stick" with Mr. Douglas. (Her friends nicknamed him Miss Golden Globes last night.) He's Omar Sharif's grandson and his Facebook page plays out like a Jersey Shore slideshow.


The Oscars came and went and even though the Academy has been trying to attract a younger demographic by hiring a pair of young stars, both Paul and I just wished Billy Crystal would come back. I mean, his minute-long monologue trumped the entire telecast. Even with that ghastly face lift and Anne Hathaway's gajillion costume changes, he still managed to stand out. (Natural charm, I suppose.) James Franco looked like a distracted gerbil after snorting an 8-ball backstage. And he couldn't do anything with those dark circles? He looked so over this shit, it was like he was simultaneously cranking out the introductory paragraph of his next big essay while humouring Anne's girlish giggles.

Even Hugh Jackman's stint topped this! C'mon! Why don't the Academy realize that hiring young hosts won't solve the dying ratings? They need to nominate relevant actors (who aren't getting pregnant for sympathy votes, ahem) and respect their oeuvre, not simply their status. Paul and I were both perplexed by Hailee Steinfeld's nomination in the supporting actress category. She carried True Grit. It could've been an Anna Paquin moment! Now that would've dredged up viewers.

Anyway, Paul's disappointed that his hero, Roger Deakins, lost again for the best cinematography Oscar. However, he was rooting for Danny Cohen for The King's Speech because, in his words, the movie took more risks and sidestepped lighting conventions for a mainstream release. I thought The Social Network looked like a typical Fincher flick: muted yellowed tones anchored by dark shadows, little to no use of natural light, a modern take on Gothic broodiness.

Three of our company's releases were nominated this year as well, but none of them won. Boo! Probably gonna get an earful about how we were robbed tomorrow :P

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Weekend fun

Someone took this picture of me when I was visiting Paul on set. He says I play the part of the annoyed movie producer very well. Agreed. If I was on any of his shoots as an actual investor, I'd be hemorrhaging millions a minute.

It's a bit difficult for me to resist playing assistant director whenever I'm around cables and craft. Luckily for me, I've worked with the majority of the crew before so my directions were graciously welcomed.

"Why don't you conduct a rehearsal while the lights are being set up?" I'd say to the director. Or, "Let's block the scene," when I sensed that the talent was getting anxious.

It feels good coming back to do this once in awhile. I miss running the show and calling out, "Quiet on set!" and readying everyone for the shot. Paul is always tempting me to return, too, if only to work side-by-side with me (he's a bit of a romantic that way). He also knows that being an assistant director is just something I happen to do well rather than a profession I'd seriously depend on for income.

Which reminds me: Maybe it's time to quit the Directors Guild now that I'm receiving benefits from my current job?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Love doesn't blossom in a vacuum

The Globe published Naomi Powell's blog entry confirming the widely held belief that people don't marry across income brackets. I also jumped into the fray (now deleted):

I think the majority of the commenters are missing the key point of the article. That is, the focus of the study is on the income bracket of the parents and how that affects the marriages of their offspring (who may not be in the same income bracket themselves).

From a purely anecdotal standpoint, I can attest to the study's findings. My partner is, like me, a 1.5 generation immigrant, but from a divergent part of the world. Our parents came to Canada with next to nothing and worked to become upper-middle-class. However, my partner and I work in the film industry, which is notoriously low-paying.

Compare him to a friend of mine whom I've known since we attended elementary school. He and I frequently visited the prospect of dating right into our adult years, but never made the leap. Although we still get along very well, his family background always deterred me from presenting myself as a serious romantic contender. His family would be considered, with no disrespect, lower to lower-middle-class/income.

Although a child prodigy, his family did not encourage him academically and failed to be involved in his life. He was on his own after high school and did odd jobs for years until I finally convinced him to attend university to widen his social circle (as he was dissatisfied with his life). However, during this time, he also bonded with those from similar family backgrounds.

So while the public school system no doubt allowed me to meet him, his family's values do not jibe with mine as we differ in terms of how we prioritize education, our knowledge base (eg. my family vs. his family's ability to fund trips abroad), and our philosophies in child-rearing (his is more passive, mine is more active). Whereas, my partner and I not only have chemistry, but due to our families' relative financial stability, we are able to ride out trying economic times without huge repercussions whereas my friend's family would not be able to contribute financially and is, thus, less obligated to preserve active family ties (extended and otherwise).

Family legacy shapes the way we see the world, not necessarily with money, but it is an important factor. So while my friends and I are technically in the same income bracket, I chose a partner whose family is similar to my own (which now only leaves the language barrier a problem :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

And it begins ...

I started some loco shit today and didn't even know it.

Every quarter, the president of our company gives an update on the business and, as his assistant, I organize the event. Multiple offices dial in and he eventually opens it up to questions. He specified to me earlier that he'd like to encourage people to be more proactive in expressing interest and curiosity in regards to company activities. So today, after another employee asked a question, I went ahead and asked mine because, as usual, no one from any of the other cities had the courage to do so (which I will soon find out why).

I basically asked him if there was a possibility of expanding to a certain part of the world because I had read in the newspaper that he was in the process of acquiring a couple of companies in that direction.

He answered me straight, made a couple of cracks, and was completely at ease.

Later in the day, I get a phone call from an executive assistant with whom I work nearly exclusively. To sum it up, she said I was out of line, that I have not been with the company long enough to ask questions without first having them approved, that 20 some odd people were concerned that I was revealing company secrets, that rumours are now being spread about my ability to keep my job, and finally, that it's surprising the boss hasn't reprimanded me yet.

Oh boy, where to start? It was a Q&A! I'm not allowed to Q in the Q&A? What sort of fucked up logic was this?!

She lectured me for 15-minutes and told me she didn't want to hear my explanations. "What compelled you to ask a question? You could've easily asked him in person!"

I told her the boss was encouraging that kind of environment during the conference and I just went with it. There was no "strategic motivation" behind my intentions.

After more babbling from her part (while I silently banged my head against the receiver), I heard a momentary pause and said, "Is there anything else you'd like to speak to me about? If not, then I'd like to thank you for bringing this to my attention, it was very much appreciated. I will definitely watch what I say next time, but I need to get back to work."

And hung up.

I brought this to my boss's attention. I was concerned that my job was at risk. He said he received a few emails about the same thing, but he told me not to worry too much about it. "Actually, don't worry about it at all," he clarified.

He said the information I brought up was public knowledge, he's discussed the same things in media interviews, and nothing I said or he elaborated on was confidential in any way. I mean, my question was based on information released in a newspaper article published last year! It's not like I told everyone I came across an email detailing a deal, how it'll going down, and when money will exchange hands.

So basically, these complainers haven't been reading up on the company and think that whatever I say must be a result of my privileged position. It's called Google, look it up!

Ugh, corporate culture. You'd have to be at the very bottom or top to survive it unscathed.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

On efficient communication
Mom texts me: "Happy chinse new year. Did you call me."

I text back: "Happy Chinese New Year. I didn't call you."


Snowpocalypse my ass. Yesterday's newspaper headline was something akin to, "From Snowtorious B.I.G. to Snowbigdeal." Toronto received about half the snow originally predicted by meteorologists. Seriously? Now it's -16 degrees Celsius and super sunny. Not great, but also not the literal freezing over of hell.

Remind me what sort of qualifications you need to be a weatherman again? A diploma in Staring Out Your Window? A double certificate in Being Outside?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Job, Work, Life

The HR Generalist gave me a positive evaluation. She said she's been asking around the office and received a terrific response with regards to my performance. I didn't immediately tell my dad about this, so being the worrywart that he is, interrogated his friend about the "meaning" of the probation period. He frantically called my cell and left a harried message: "Lily! It's baba. Call me!"

So I pull up to my garage and dial his number without bothering to exit the vehicle. "What's going on?" I ask him.

He proceeds to give me a 15-minute long lecture about how his friend ("who's worked in corporate environments for 9 years!") told him that by month's end, someone from human resources will approach me to discuss my progress (or lack thereof) and if they're happy with me, then it is implied that the candidate should stop sending out resumes.

"Uh," I respond. "Why are you so anxious for me? Someone already spoke to me about it last week. I thought I told you. I know I told mom."

He peppers me with questions: What did HR tell you? What were their exact words? What did they mean by that?!

O-M-G, dad! He is clearly terrified that I will end up as a freelancer again. You'd think he'd be used to the ups and downs after seven years, the pattern acting as a vaccine for his heart attacks (of child-rearing origin).


Paul and I have been discussing the possibility of marriage. The situation is surprisingly not dire. He is graduating in April and if all goes as planned, I will have my own place soon. My parents and I are in search of a condo downtown. Housing prices are ridiculous and don't even bring up the TTC (hint: I loathe it).

There are, happily, some new offerings on the market that don't demand diamonds for a cubby hole. We'll see where that goes.

Paul has been receptive to the idea of being a House Husband. I mean, he already cooks, cleans, and does the laundry (sort of. I believe Dr. King said, "[We] will be able to speed up that day when all of God's sartorial choices, darks, whites, delicates and wool, denim and silk, will be able to tumble to the words of the old Tide jingle: 'Now that's my kind of clean!'").

"I don't mind being a House Husband," he's been telling people recently. A friend of ours thought he was kidding, but due to his insistence on pursuing cinematography, the heart might really have to be where the hearth is. Gender roles aside, Paul knows that, whether famine or feast, he'll end up being the main caretaker of the home and that's all right by me. Strangely enough, both sets of parents are supportive of our planned co-habitation. "Strange" because of the uproar it set off the first time I did it (granted, on strictly pragmatic terms in a relationship of convenience) and "strange" because both our parents simply accept that we'll be exchanging vows. If not now, then in the definite future.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


What am I going to do with my roommates? I hardly spend any substantial time at home, yet I have gripes that won't go away. Maybe it's because I don't have prior experience, but that hardly qualifies me as a miserable twit. Here's a list of their bothersome habits:

1. Both girls have their boyfriends over on a regular basis. To the point where they might as well be full-time tenants. If I wanted strange men sleeping over daily, I would've advertised thusly.

I hear their sweet nothings through my bedroom wall and heating vent when I'm trying to sleep. It's torture. Not to mention the house parties and the snappy attitude I get when I gently remind them to clean up the booze bottles and muddy lobby afterwards: "Of course we'll clean it up; we had people over!"

Well, excuuuuuse me, but I'm your damn landlord and you girls are naaaaasty.

2. Both my sister and I would take out their trash when they first moved in to help them transition into the new schedule. It's been three months now and they've simply come to expect that their garbage will be thrown out in time. But neither of them lift a finger and don't like me reminding them that, Oh hey, the truck is around the corner, do you mind putting your stuff on the curb?

3. Four people live in the house, yet the roommates' belongings outnumber ours (myself and my sister's) 3:1. There are still unpacked boxes in the living room and furniture in our backyard. They take up the entire fridge, they don't throw out their rotten food, and even after my sister designated our shelves, they migrate to our area when convenient. This means, I've been buying food at work for the past month because I have no room in the fridge to put my groceries. The cupboards are also full of their shit because they've monopolized that too. Did I mention dirty dishes for days?

4. The roommates never turn off the lights and washroom fan. I'm not talking about the porch light, but nearly every light in the house. They pay rent inclusive of utilities, which means my sister and I have to pay for unexpected increases in the bill and I already pay an equal amount of rent to live here.

That's pretty much it. This can't just be me sounding petty, right? When my sister mentioned to them about bringing guys home, they had the audacity to say, "If we had known we weren't allowed to bring people home, we wouldn't have moved here."

My sister said it was okay to have friends over, but their boyfriends are around way too much. "Besides," she told me later, "they never told us they even had boyfriends."

It makes me wonder if people feel shame anymore? I mean, don't they get ashamed when they know other people are picking up after them? Don't they get embarrassed that other people have to parent them? Don't people take responsibility for themselves anymore?

I remember growing up, my mom used to tell me not to do anything that would embarrass her. And putting your feet up while those around you cooked and cleaned was definitely something she'd be mortified by.

If they do decide to move out after we've discussed the issues, my sister is going to advertise the rooms for urban professionals only. Students are the scum of the earth. At least this whole experience has taught my sister how grating her bad habits make me feel. Who knew she'd meet her match and lose?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Operation Emma

Ooh! I emailed him and he expressed interest in meeting her too. Told me my request was totally random, but he's up for it. Nice! I'm the best motherfucking amateur matchmaker in the WORLD! (Don't ruin it for me, I need this, okay?!)


A couple of months ago, I went on a casting run with a guy from an ad agency. (The company subsequently hired my baby cousin on a handful of TV spots, thanks to yours truly.) We had terrific chemistry and he was photogenically handsome. A former radio DJ back in Hong Kong, he'd come to Canada to further his studies.

Last week, I had breakfast with an old friend. She hasn't had a decent date (or relationship) in years even though she's pretty as all get out. So I'm watching her poke at her yogurt-granola-monster parfait and an idea hit me.

"Let me set you up," I said. "I worked with this guy. He lives nearby, really cute, and close to our age."

She was intrigued. "Hook me up, hook me up!" she said, beaming, startlingly even me with her enthusiasm. (I must've underestimated her dryspell; it was the Serengeti.)

Now here I am, at my work station, calling up contacts to find a potential lead beacause he likely doesn't work there anymore. (Did I mention I have a verifiable waiting list of potential matches I hope to get through?)

In other words: I have become the Yenta of the East (or Northern Hempisphere, but that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue). It feels nice to spread the love around.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


On my sister
"You have book smart, you no have road smart."

On Hilary Duff's pregnancy
"Who pregnant? Dog pregnant?"

On white people who act Asian
"You're so egg!"

On the song Lady Marmalade
"Who is this, Lady Mama?"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Treasure or trash?

I just stumbled onto all my correspondences with my ex-boyfriend during the period when we were dating. It's weird reading how much someone misses you and loves you and longs for you with a name that is not Paul's. (Not to mention the dirty sex descriptions; it's like being molested by Father Time.)

I can speak now about my former relationship with a clarity I didn't used to possess, but I've also forgotten that I'd actually had a different life altogether with someone else. In a different city. Under different circumstances. With a social circle now disbanded.

We'd lived together, spent two years together, bickered, fought, and broke each other's belongings together. And yet, I can't recall the visceral force of the near-daily rage that passed between us. Like the River Styx, crossing it meant death and ironically, the only escape. So then, what's there to reclaim by reading them?

But read them I did.

A few passages in and I could already feel the discomfort creep up on me. Like the skin that develops when you boil milk, it appears when you momentarily stop paying attention to what you had intended to do. What scares me is how similar my ex's frequent romantic proclamations are to Paul's (at least on paper) and that parallel blows my mind, knowing how different this relationship is compared to the last. (The difference, of course, is that this time, I return those feelings.)

But I suppose we can only dissect the veridity of love in hindsight.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dinner at Paul's house

Paul's parents recently celebrated their 20th-anniversary as immigrants in Canada. They invited a couple who generously supported them until they settled in, months after emigrating from Russia. The woman, L, was old and very brusque:

"When you two getting married?" she asked. Paul's mom told her to stop embarrassing us.

Earlier in the evening, Paul sat beside me at the corner of the table. His mother shooed him to the side: "Sitting in corner means six years you don't get married."

Paul rolled his eyes and held my hand. I laughed and asked him if he'd sit there if the saying was true.

"No" came the emphatic answer.

Now here we were, the entire table watching, as I earnestly pondered L's question. I spoke slowly: "I think it would be prudent once Paul and I are settled in our careers." Then quickly added, "... so we can have healthy, stable lives."

L scoffed. "Everyone want healthy, stable life. Why not get engaged now?"

"Because we don't have any money," Paul interjected. The guests chuckled.

L was unmoved:

"Why you need money? For wedding? How much?"

"As much as you want," I said.

Listen, I continued, money will help us build a healthy, stable life together. I don't want a wedding, I don't need a dress, and I don't care for rings. But I want our finances to be in order before jumping into anything.

Paul's father said it was a good answer and settled the matter. The guests clinked wine glasses and the discussion slid back into the comfortable tides of the Slavic language.

Updates from the job and other thoughts

I am ploughing through my second week of work. So far, so good. Very busy. I really enjoy the flexible hours and the challenging atmosphere. It's not a very orthodox position, which is partly why it fits my personality.

Unfortunately, as much as I would love to divulge secrets from the inner sanctum of the global entertainment and financial industries, I am bound to a confidentiality contract. (Literally.)

I will say that I've been blessed with a patient and undemanding boss, who has given me a lot of rope to discover the most efficient way to achieve various goals. He has neither nagged nor prodded me and so far, it's been working out fine (with some minor adjustments here and there).

One of the highlights of last week was the moment I received my newly-printed box of business cards. I checked out the colour and font (eggshell, Helvetica) and a thought occurred to me: "Fuck freelance, corporate rocks!"

Okay, clearly, it was in jest. But wow, after seven (7!) years of working gig to gig, paycheque to no-cheque, it's nice to take a break from scouring job listings for awhile.

Scanning my resume, you could easily mistake me for someone older, a seasoned flake:

Retail sales associate
TV and newspaper reporter
Magazine contributor
Editor-in-Chief of a business publication
Piano teacher
TV News Producer
Photography Assistant
Assistant Director

(I think that's it. I might be missing a couple.)

Anyway, overall, if I had to assess my experiences up to this point, I think I've lived a pretty fulfilling life at the ripe old age of 24.

My mom says I've always got along with old(er) people, even as a kid. I enjoyed hanging out with grandmas and grandpas (my own and other people's), had conversations with chemistry professors at buffet lines, and even now, I have a hard time retaining friendships that don't stimulate me intellectually. I don't know how this fits into what I was saying, but maybe the meandering way my life has gone is a reflection of my curiosity and appetite for the novel and unknown. Or maybe they are choices I've made because I've stopped giving a shit about where I'd wind up as long as it got my mom off my back about being unemployed. Yeah, that sounds more like it.

So here's to another 7 years of hopes, anxieties, and professional suicide. All in a year's work =)

Friday, January 07, 2011

My parents will probably stop hinting at grad school

I was just offered a full-time job as the Executive Assistant to the President and CEO of the largest independent media distribution company in North America. Naturally, I accepted.

I went in for the initial interview Tuesday, was called back to speak with The Boss Thursday, and by Friday, I was given the good news. Work starts Monday.

The online ad had been intentionally vague for, I suppose, discretionary reasons. However, once I arrived for the interview, HR personnel revealed who I would actually be supporting. Crazy!

The Boss asked me about my ambitions and I told him I'd like to eventually be a film producer. He told me this would be a wonderful place to meet potential contacts since the company has offices all over the world with plans to acquire more businesses in Eastern Europe this year.

Paul says we should go to City Hall to get a marriage license so he can take advantage of the provided spousal benefits. He's kidding, I think. ("Or until I need those benefits," he added.)

Must go celebrate ...

Monday, January 03, 2011

Paulisms: Music Edition

Paul, like me, came to Canada at a young age. We made do learning the songs of the natives by ear. The results were not always consistent in his case.

In the car
"Boo-yah Lady Marmalade ..."

After a holiday party
"On the first day of Christmas, Marsula gave to me ..."

In the shower
"If you want a happy life/ You should marry an ugly wife."

Before sex
"OP-EN THE KINGDOOOOM!" [Philip Glass would not approve.]