Review: Master of None

mon“Master of None” is Aziz Ansari’s series which is loosely based on his own life experiences. Two seasons are already available on Netflix even in South Africa (I’m referring here to the poor catalogue we have) and definitely worth a watch.

“Master of None” is more than just comedy. The story of a struggling New York actor Dev is so close to the bone it’s sometimes uncomfortable to watch. Ansari’s insight about relationships, immigration, sexism and life in general is a huge advantage of the series. It’s nice to watch a TV show that manages to speak about complexities of life in a light way. The series focuses mostly on the main character and his diverse group of friends. Dev is an Indian-American, his African-American female friend Denise is a lesbian, Brian is Taiwanese-American and Arthur is white. Such diversity allows us to see more than lives of straight white 30 somethings as we do in “Friends” or “How I Met Your Mother”. I think this is part of the reason why “Master of None” is such a good series. It’s very clear from it that it’s not all cool in the US and issues such as race and gender are still there. At the same time, Ansari manages not to be deadly serious about them. Perhaps it’s precisely the mostly sweet  and only occasionally bitter tone of the narration that gets to the audience and critics (the show got an Emmy award).

It’s the first time in a while I’ve seen such a good series. Ansari makes brilliant observations and it’d be nice if the success of this show paved a way for a new wave of comedy TV. Series ideally should be a bit more than just a ha ha entertainment that doesn’t make you think twice about the content and makes you forget about them as soon as you switch your TV off.

The short episode format makes the series quite addictive. I’ve finished season 1 in just about a week and I was very glad that season 2 was out already. I’m not sure how the show would work for me if I only watched one episode per week. I feel like the little snippets of the main character’s story, even if very entertaining, wouldn’t necessarily manage to keep up my interest. Perhaps it’s just better for binge watching, but with two full seasons out you’ll get a chance to do it.

To sum up, if you’re looking for a good quality entertainment that will give a sneak peek into (what I believe is) the modern American life, you should definitely give “Master of None” a go.

 

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30 Things I’ve Learnt About People and Life Before 30

candlesThe big three “O” is approaching! This particular bday means an acute getting old blues for me. So many things I could have achieved by now! So many more successful people at my age! Such thoughts have been haunting me so I instead of focusing on what I haven’t done, I’ve decided to look on the bright side of life (just like Brian from “The Life of Brian”, whistling) and list 30 things I’ve learnt about people and life in the last three (!) decades.

1. The worst case scenario rarely happens

A lot of us live fearing the worst that prevents us from achieving what we want. I’d like to write a book…but what if people get offended with what I’ve written and someone will sue me and I’ll go bankrupt? You know the drill. On the top of normal ruminating I’m just an anxious person. That’s why I have to keep repeating to myself that the worst rarely happens. Even if it does we can’t predict our future circumstances, that may as well make the situation not tragic at all.

2. It’s never the end of the world

Unless it’s really the end of the world, it’s not the end of it. I’ve had things in my life that I deemed necessary for survival (like certain boyfriends, lol), when I lost them they turned out not to be. Sometimes seemingly bad events are blessings in disguise, even if it’s just to kick us in the ass and tell you “Hey, you’re being an asshole! You must change”. Some mistakes cost us more than others but there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.

3. You’re not the worst person ever

Have you ever felt that you are? I’m sure you know the feeling of a hangover terror that has nothing to do with actual events. Sometimes we really do something we’re not proud of, though. Whatever it is and however bad we feel, we’re not the worst person in ever. We make mistakes because we’re people. It’s all good as long as we learn from them.

4. Mindfulness meditation makes your life so much better

If you’re a stressball like me and pretty much anyone these days, you’ll benefit from regular mindfulness meditation practice. 10-20 minutes of mindful breathing a day can do miracles to your concentration, focus and stress levels. There’s plenty of research into it you can check out online.

5. Sport is important

You want to function well? Move your bum bum off the couch! Regular activity is such an important stress regulator that I can’t believe I’ve ignored it for so long. Sure it’s nice to look good but it just makes me healthier and happier. Plus, I want to be an active old lady that gets featured in Upworthy’s not someone who’s just surviving.

6. People are lazy and don’t like it when other people make better choices

Are you working hard on additional qualifications while working full time? Going home early on a night out because you want to hit the gym the next day? Skipping sweets because sugar isn’t that great for you? I’ve had all of these actions ridiculed. People question your good choices. This is more often than not due to the fact that your good decisions make them feel bad about their own choices. By putting you down or being the evil voice that makes you behave the bad way, they’re safe in their behavior.

7. Some people are not lazy and encourage positive change in others

I’m not always this person but I’m trying to be. I’m also trying to  surround myself with such people. Sure, you can’t change the world but by changing yourself you change people who are around you and that, yet again, changes you.

8. You don’t owe an answer to most people

When a former colleague of mine was asked why doesn’t he have children yet at the “ripe” age of 33, he said “We’ll have children, when we’re ready”. People like to pry to things that don’t concern them. You owe an answer to your partner and to your friends. The rest of people doesn’t matter. Next time someone’s ask you a “Why?” say “Because I want to”, if they say “I don’t understand…” answer that they don’t have to as long as you do. You don’t have to get defensive, apologetic or aggressive. There is a way around it. Just so that we’re clear I’m talking here about personal choices and decisions, not about a situation when your boss asks you “Why didn’t you pitch at work for a week without letting me know?”. Then you better have an answer different than “Because I wanted to”.

9. Your family’s choices don’t have to be yours

My parents wanted me to do and be a lot of things. Some because of their own unfulfilled dreams, others because they genuinely considered some choices better than mine. We’re not born to be whatever our parents want us to be but to grow into our own people. It’s tougher to resist family than randoms but it can be done. Worst case scenarios are rarely true so even if your family tells you they’re disinherit you for something, they probably won’t. My latest shock in this respect was when an almost 40 year old recently married woman said that she couldn’t live with her husband before they got married because her family (not her) is very religious. Would you like to be this person? What other things such people compromise on?

10. The way we drink these days isn’t good for us

We live in a culture of excess. People tend to have a drink or two every time they go out or do something social. As it’s widely accepted no one thinks it’s a problem, unless you’re really behaving in an outrageous way. I’m trying to skip drinks whenever I can and I’m often asked “Why?”. Hell, for a long time I used to ask people that because drinking alcohol like water is considered normal. There’s plenty of reasons why to skip a drink: alcohol has a lot of empty calories, it spoils not improves your mood long term  and is addictive.

11. People can be horrible

Some people are toxic, bad or simply horrible. If I see it on the news, I try not to dwell on it. If it happens in my life, I’m trying to get the person out of it as soon as possible. If someone betrayed you or purposefully hurt you, forgive but don’t let them ever do it again. Being around people like that is a time bomb, they’ll do it again.

12. People can be great

There’s a countless amount of times when I’ve been helped by strangers or almost strangers. I’m talking about small things like being helped to find a taxi when I was a helpless child in a big city and big things like someone I’ve spoken to for 10 minutes at a social event helping me to get a job. Focusing on the good seems to be the only way to navigate in our mixed world. As Professor Zimbardo (Google him if you don’t know him) said when interviewed by Tim Ferris, we focus on banality of evil but we forget there’s banality of good too.

13. Moaning and complaining are bad habits

Do you often indulge in moaning and complaining? It seems to be one of the entertainments of the masses. I certainly have a tendency and more than once was relieved after sharing my “poor-me” story. Unfortunately, it’s a bad habit. It makes you feel less responsible for your choices and therefore makes you less likely to introduce the right changes.

14. No one and nothing can make us happy

Family, a good partner, friends and financial stability are all important. They’re also elements of a good life. Having said that, I know that unless I constantly  work on my perception of the world, even the best circumstances won’t make me happy. Worldly pleasures such as shoes, sex and booze bring only temporarily relief. If you pursue them too eagerly will leave you empty inside. How many times did you chase something that didn’t make you feel any better after you’ve obtained it? I, for sure, have done it plenty.

15. I’m responsible (and you’re too)

As simple as that. I may not be responsible for all the things that happen in my life but I’m responsible for my reaction to them. Stop blaming the world, Pussycat and take action.

16. “Lucky” is the favorite world of lazy people

There are numerous successful people who’ll tell you that they’re often labelled as “lucky”. “Lucky” gives you all the excuses in the world to people who seek them. If I call others lucky because they have successful relationships and careers (or something else), it means I’m not lazy AF, I’m just unlucky. How convenient and how hurtful for those who work their asses off to achieve their dreams.

17. We can do only so much with what we’re given…

Life is a lesson in humility. There are things that I don’t like about myself that I can change and there are those I cannot. Some of my dreams will never be fulfilled because I just don’t have the right skills to achieve them. Sometimes we have to give up, regroup and try something else.

18. …but we can be the best version of ourselves

It’s only and it’s a lot. I could waste my life hoping to be someone else or take what I have and do the best with what I’ve been given. We can achieve our full potential only by being the best versions of ourselves. Are you? Am I? At least I’m striving too!

19. Your quirks is what makes you special

Do you have a dark sense of humor? Spent your childhood crying over being a weirdo? Being normal is SO overrated. We’re not sheep to try to constantly fit in… Sometimes I walk around and see a bunch of girls who are clones of one another. Say “no” to being a Stepford wife and be a Katie girl instead. Embrace your weirdness and you’ll find people who appreciate you for who you are.

20. The size of your boobs doesn’t matter (!)

If only I knew that in my teenage years! Was there even a worse way to offend a girl than to call them a “flatchest”? It does seem ridiculous when you get older. Sure, it’s nice to have a perky pair of boobs and a nice cleavage, but why did I wish for them to be size E? Guys stare at your boobs regardless of their size (and do you even like it when they do?). Your partners enjoy them anyway. What was this teenage obsession even about?

21. Everything is bloody grey

Oh, I’m longing for the times of my melodramatic youth were things were just black and white. Adulthood teaches you that everything is grey. Even the best intentions can end up having the worst results and the other way round. Everything is GREY and we know nothing. We can just stay true to ourselves and hope for the best.

22. Sex is just sex

Sex can be amazing but it’s just sex. To think that you’ve spent so much of your youthful energy worrying about your virginity is just sad. Even the most amazing sex won’t make up for like of compatibility in a relationship and it shouldn’t be your guide.

23. If something smells like shit and looks like shit, it’s probably shit

“Oh I know we’ve had a bad start, but he REALLY cares about me just doesn’t know how to show it” bullshit stories have no longer a place in your late middle and late twenties. At some point even if I knew that someone’s a really good person deep inside, I based my opinion on behaviors not empathy or wishful thinking.

24. Listening to your intuition can help you

Intuition is often underestimated. It’s not always right so I wouldn’t obsess about what it says at facts. Having said that listening to a hunch, may save your ass or give you the answer you’ve been looking for (even if it’s not the easiest action to take).

25. The brownie points system mostly doesn’t apply

So you’re a nice guy who’s nice to a special girl and soon will be able to cash out his points and get sex? Or maybe you’re a lady who’s been sacrificing herself for a guy who treats her badly but surely he’ll soon realize her true value? That’s a childish attitude of believing that good always pays off and bad is punished. There are other laws that govern the world and the simple brownie points system doesn’t apply in many cases. Sure, you can score better if you’re already in the race, but otherwise this attitude is like trying to win a running competition by swimming nicely.

26. The baby craze before 30 isn’t a universal truth

So here it is, I’m 30 in three days and I still haven’t reached the baby craze stage. I’m still not 100% sure whether to have or not to have children. I certainly don’t crave being pregnant. In fact, I’m as partial towards adoption as I’ve ever been. Maybe it’ll change one day but I feel what many women try to sell to you as a universal truth is how some people feel and others don’t.

27. Good things take time

First impressions are important and so is enthusiasm about things. When I was younger I expected immediate results, though. Unfortunately all the good things (building your professional reputation, a relationship, a friendship, a skill etc.) take time. Patience is a key.

28. Too much focus becomes an obsession

When I want something I can put a lot of energy into pursuing such thing. Unfortunately, it can become an obsession and that prevents you from achieving your goals. Sometimes taking a step back and focusing on a different area of your life is the only way.

29. Famous people are people just famous

I used to look at famous people with awe as a teenager. I thought they wee larger than life. I’ve met a few in different circumstances and I’ve learnt they’re not any different than other people you meat in real life. Neurotic, boring, funny, nice, narcissistic…Sure knowing that wouldn’t help me be less starstruck if I met Stephen King, but can be useful with normal size stars!

30. Life is better with a special someone

Bad relationships can make your life tough, but a good one can make it so much better. It’s amazing to have a constant source of support and someone’s who’s always there for you. Most things in life only count if we can share them with others.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this summary. Of course, I’ve learnt more things in my lifetime such as: doing my laces, wiping my ass and painting my nails but I’m sure you don’t want to read more about those 😉

How was your 30th bday for you? Which bdays were depressing and which not? Tell me everything in the comments!

 

 

 

Swift Justice – Why We Should All Follow Suit and Speak Out Against Dirty Perves

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Sure, her music may not be to everyone’s taste but Taylor Swift’s popularity sky-rocketed following her recent performance in the courtroom. For those of you who’ve been living under a rock let me enlighten you. It all started in 2013 when Taylor swift alleged that (the now ex) DJ David Mueller groped her during an event. In 2015, the man with wandering hands filed a lawsuit against the singer claiming that her false allegations had resulted in him losing his job. He attempted to sue her for $3 million (what a rinser!) as compensation for the damage she had done to his reputation and career. Instead of simply going to court and defending her side of the story, the absolute LEGEND that is Taylor Swift took things one step further and decided to counter sue this imbecile for $1. Clearly for her being an EMPLOYED millionaire it wasn’t about the money but as about being “an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.”  In the end, the jury ruled in favour of Taylor Swift and found the DJ guilty of assault. As momentous as Taylor Swift’s court victory may be however one does have to wonder how much of a real impact it will have on the lives of everyday women or whether it is purely symbolic and something that’ll be forgotten a year from now?

There is no doubt that Taylor Swift did the right thing. Firstly, in not just brushing off the incident as ‘harmless butt grab’ and secondly for not letting him get away with having the audacity to take her to court over it (seriously, this guy was a shameless dumbass of note to think he even stood a chance when there was even photographic evidence of the moment!). However, the sad reality is that her experience really wasn’t all that unique. Most women have probably lost count of the time they’ve had a guys grope them in a club or cat call them in the street. While we all no full well that these guys have no right to say/do these things we do tend to somehow dismiss their actions as innocent or harmless.  It’s understandable that women get to a stage where these sorts of occurences happen so often that they just don’t have the energy to call the perpetrator out on it each and every time.  In addition, most of us don’t have the means, the time or the influence to a) get someone fired or b) fight expensive legal battles. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t have an important impact or that we should stay silent and let men think they can get away with such behavior.

Let me tell you a little story. Once upon a time, a friend and I were out for a pleasant evening run on Sea Point Promenade. We were innocently watching a stunning sunset and getting our daily dose of cardio when we suddenly had our vision VIOLATED by a local WANKER (literally) giving him self some self pleasure whilst runners happily bouncing along in their active wear. We were horrified to say the least. Normally, in such situations I would have displayed a bit of a shocked reaction and promptly carried on running (probably at a record breaking pace) while trying to erase the vulgar image from my weak mind. However, on this occasion, my (slightly unhinged) running buddy decided to take action – she stopped and started pointing at the perve and SCREAMING:   ‘Ewww! Dirty Wanker! Dirty Wanker!’. Egg’d on by her outburst I decided to join in and started chastising the guy, telling him that there were children around and yelling at him to do his dirty work in the comfort of his own home with the aid of his porn collection. Eventually, we had drawn so much attention to the situation that other people came by to see what the hell was going on. The WANKER went bright red with embarrassment  and frantically tried to cover up his precious man bits while his audience looked on in fits of laughter. Yes, it is in essence nothing more than funny story and I honestly don’t know whether it resulted in the dude changing his behaviour but there is part of me that would like to believe that he’d think twice before whipping out his little friend in public again! Of course, he could have just found another spot for his activities but think about how his embarrassment (and that of other perves) could be multiplied if people made a scene every time they saw something inappropriate happening?

The thing is this sort of reaction is rare (that chick really was a nutter). In most situations, we do just brush it off and move on without making a big deal of it. A guy grabs our ass in a club most girls will just give him a dirty look and move to the other side of the dance floor (where no doubt she’ll get hit on by another idiot!). Just last week I was walking down the road at lunchtime when a prisoner in a police vehicle tried to get my attention by telling me he wanted to have a one night stand with me. I did pause for a second and consider walking up to the van and telling this rancid fool that even if I had a penchant for FELONS I didn’t see how he logistically plan on getting lucky in his current incarcerated state. But alas, the moment passed and carried on walking (remember it was lunchtime and I was hungry!).

The fact is we rarely put people in their place when they say or do anything that violates our sensibilities or our personal space. We live in a society that tells us to turn the other cheek and if we called out every geezer that said/did something inappropriate we get dubbed as ‘drama queens’. In a weird way, this kind of mentality has made women feel embarrassed like somehow they are the problem and not the guy whose parents failed to teach him basic manners. And sure, the situation for relatively middle class women living in western societies is probably better than for those living elsewhere. For example, women in India recently took to posting selfies of themselves out partying past midnight with the hashtag #aintnocinderella after a government official  said that a woman chased in her car late at night by kidnappers should not have stayed out so late. But there is a similar principle at play here. If we stay keep turning the other cheek and letting minor indiscretions like cat-calling, gentle ass grabbing and wankers wanking go unnoticed we are basically legitimizing these things and saying that women who complain shouldn’t be walking on the street, going to the club or doing their daily cardio on Sea Point prom.

To conclude this ridiculously long rant, I’m not saying it’s easy to make a scene (be it in a courtroom or just by screaming in the street) and call guys out when they do something wrong but I do think we all need to take accountability. Yes, we can bitch and moan about not having the same resources to hand as the Taylor Swift’s of the world but she too made a bold move. There are plenty of other pretty celebrities who probably get groped by z-list guys but don’t make the effort to stand up for themselves because they don’t want the negative attention/embarrassment or don’t believe it’ll really make a difference. At the end of the day, it’s probably too soon to know whether the impact of Taylor Swift’s court victory will have an positive lasting effects but if even just a few women feel inspired not to let the ‘little’ things slide I do think collectively we can have a real impact on changing society’s attitudes on what is deemed acceptable behavior.

OK Rinsers, go wild in the comments below! Do you think Taylor Swift’s victory in the courtroom will have a positive impact for women in the long-term? How much do you think calling a guy out on his bad behaviour has an impact? Have you taken action against someone who has violated your space by saying/doing something inappropriate? Share your stories with us. 

 

 

 

Girls Trip – A Disgusting Yet Super Funny Chick Flick

girls night“Girls Trip” is a comedy you can currently watch in cinemas (at least in SA). Read my review to learn whether it’s worth the price of the ticket.

The summary of the plot doesn’t sound promising. Four female friends reunite after years to go for a crazy trip to New Orleans. Of course, each of the ladies represents a different type of a woman. We have Ryan (Regina Hall) who’s a successful celebrity, married to seemingly perfect Stuart (Mike Colter). Sasha (Queen Latifah) trashes celebrities for a living and is in deep financial trouble. Lisa (Jada Pinkett-Smith) is a single mother of two and this friend that’s always proper and can never relax, while Dina (Tiffany Haddish) is her complete opposite. A recipe for the most boring two hours of your life? Not exactly!

The movie is very entertaining! Let’s be honest, the jokes are not sophisticated at all and there’s a lot of toilet humor, but it made everyone in the audience laugh. The element of surprise is for sure how disgusting it is. At times you watch it and shake your head in disbelief. “They did NOT” you say to yourself, and yet they did! They went for it! This flick is a true journey in pushing the boundaries in a way similar to “American Pie” or “Hangover”. You feel ashamed that you’re laughing but you’re laughing nonetheless…

The comedic aspect of the movie is it’s biggest strength and it certainly makes it memorable among so many chick flicks with just a sparkle of humor. Unfortunately, the plot itself is rather weak and predictable. Friends have fights and make up to prove the power of female friendship. Everyone ends up staying true to themselves AND it pays off. You know this kind of moralizing cinema that’s trying to tell you that good things happen to good people and bad things to bad people. Let’s be honest, if that was true there would be no kids with cancer. Life doesn’t make sense in the way we would like it to and there is no karma. Things just happen and another movie trying to convince you otherwise won’t change it.

I must say I really enjoyed the soundtrack in the movie and I even noticed some members of the audience dancing a little bit when big hits were on. The acting was also good. Perhaps the actresses didn’t have an opportunity to show off their acting skills but they gave convincing performances. It was refreshing to see a movie dominated by females and even more refreshing for it to be so inappropriate. After all sexual comedies filled with males, it’s a nice change. Perhaps Hollywood has realized that contrary to the stereotypical view of a woman as a fair asexual being, ladies like sex, talking dirty and inappropriate jokes too.

To sum up, this movie isn’t a game changer. No one will win an Academy Award for it and you won’t be pondering about its message on your way home. It is HILARIOUS, though. Go watch it with your girlfriends and have fun!

Can a Bad Start Lead to a Good Relationship?

bad startThe ideal way to have a healthy relationship is to have things run smoothly from the very beginning. It doesn’t mean some problems don’t occur at a later stage (some always do), it only means that the relationship has a good foundation before they do. I do know people, however, who after a bad start ended up in long term relationships. Does it mean that a bad start can lead to a good relationship?

First of all, just looking at the statistics, it’s more of an exception than a rule. Think about all your girlfriends who were complaining about their relationships in the beginning. The complaints could refer to anything: lack of commitment from the guy’s side, too much of it, a guy’s jealousy issue, him not being entirely over his ex, his bad temperament, just sex no talk, bad sex, his unhealthy attachment to his mom… The list would never end. Most of such relationships end in no time after a bit of back and forth. The point is that because in the beginning of the relationship people tend to be at their best behavior issues get worse not better with time. If something is truly irritating you in a first few months when you still have a horde of butterflies in your stomach, it’ll drive you crazy a year down the line.

This is why you should be unapologetic about things that are important to you, of you want something serious that will last and enhance your happiness. This is, however, not always the case. Is your goal to be in a relationship because you’ve never been in one? Sometimes experience is worth the trouble! If you don’t know what is bad, you won’t know what’s good either. Perhaps having children is more important to you than anything else and you’re willing to settle because of it? Be honest with yourself about such issues. If for whatever reason you decide that a relationship is worth going for, you need to be able to accept whatever it is that constituted the bad start, as believing that you may “change him” is lying to yourself. If you’re a devoted Catholic and you start dating an atheist who gets angry every time you mention Church, where do you think this is going? At the same time you may still end up having a valuable lesson in whom you should and shouldn’t date. What you are willing to accept or settle on is up to you, but long term big incompatibilities mean big problems.

Compatibility is one thing and good chemistry (not attraction) another. Some relationships are difficult from the start. You and your partner just keep missing each other. You have misunderstandings, you don’t communicate well, you fight. You want different things and one of you has to be constantly compromising. In short, you’re not really having the honeymoon period as you should. Perhaps you’ve ignored the deal breakers or things looked perfect during your online conversations but when you met him in real life something was just off. Such situations are much easier if one of you will be honest with each other and just say something like: “You’re really nice but it’s just not working like it should” or just “I think something’s off and I don’t think more dates will change it”. It’s much worse if both of you really want a relationship or if attraction between you is very strong. It’s much easier to leave someone who treats you in a bad way. If they’re nice and do all the right things (even if half-heartedly), it may feel like you’re being too fussy. In most cases such relationships end somewhere further down the line too. The tears and drama could have been avoided on date three, but hey, at least you’re not a divorcee and/or a mother yet!

Some of “bad start” relationships don’t end up early, though. I know this one guy who was so committed to a girl, he chased her half around the world. Eventually after years of her half-hearted dating him and insisting on an open relationship, she did marry him and told people “What I was supposed to do? He loves me so much!”. I know another girl who caught her now husband cheating on her in the very beginning of the relationship. Eventually regular phone checks, epic scenes and fights tired him so much that he  stopped pursuing other female interests. The danger of such situations is of course the implications is can have on the future. Won’t the girl leave the guy, if she meets someone who she, herself, “loves so much”? Will the husband never cheat again? And even if they don’t, won’t the other partner always live in fear they could? Success is relative. All fairy tales finish the moment people get married, but real life carries on. Getting married is just a part of a journey. For instance, another couple I know used to have intense fights since very early days of their relationship. They would usually end up breaking up and then dating other people for a bit. By the time they got married they broke up at least 10 times. They seemed fine for a while and even had a baby. Soon after that she discovered that the guy was having an affair, but… wait for it… the wife wasn’t innocent either as by that time she was already pregnant with another man!

I don’t know whether there’s a remedy for relationships that started with someone being disrespectful, unfaithful or abusive other than a break-up for good. Going forward with is a bit like buying a rotten apple in a shop, hoping it will unrot with time. Common sense would say, you should have enough self-respect to move on. Why to waste your time with someone who doesn’t appreciate you, if someone else could love most of your little quirks? Do you want to be their second best? Nevertheless, there’s a difference between a slow start and a bad start. That you’re not saying “I love you” on date two, shouldn’t worry you. As long as the ship is sailing in the right direction, it’s all good. Just to give one example, for people who were single for a bit, some things may take longer than they would take serial monogamists. At the same time I do think that it’s important to have continuity. If a guy sees you once goes quiet and pitches again after three months, perhaps it’s not the best sign.

To sum up, bad beginnings can lead to good things but very rarely to good long term relationships. If your goal is the latter, you should try to look for things that work and not for what’s broken to fix. Last but not least, there’s a difference between a bad start and getting into a relationship slowly.

What do you think, Dear Rinser: Can a bad start lead to a good relationship? Do you have any examples? What’s your take on the matter?

My Way or the High Way : Do Ultimatums in Relationships Ever Work?

 

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When you’ve been single for quite some time, it’s easy to forget that being in a relationship can, at times, be hard. I won’t lie, the thought of yet another bleak Tinder date where I have to tell some dude what I do for a living and listen to him blabbing on about his list of credentials and have a phat brag about where he went to school, fills me with dread and makes me want to pewk in my mouth a little. Sure, being a single girl in the age of internet dating can be pretty grim but is being in a relationship really that much easier?

Of course, being in a good relationship is probably better than being an dating aficionado but even the best relationships aren’t hearts and flowers one hundred percent of the time. All relationships have tough times where its no longer just about dealing with your own feelings and desires but also about handling another human’s issues on top of your own. Compromise is an important part of any successful relationship and it is certainly helpful when it comes to overcoming the inevitable disagreements which plague all couples. However, there may also come a point with certain arguments where diplomacy is no longer an option and one or both parties reach a breaking point. Today, Dear Rinsers, I’ll be questioning the value of dishing out ultimatums and when, if ever, they can be used successfully to resolve a quarrel or whether they are simply a symptom of being a stubborn, spoiled brat that isn’t getting their own way.

Naturally, the things we argue differ from one couple to the next. There are those simple things that can cause tension such as who does the washing up or takes out the trash. In most cases as long as the two parties are reasonable these sorts of trivial issues can be ironed out over time as people learn to accommodate one another. On the other end of the spectrum you have more contentious issues, the sorts of things that can probably make or break a relationship. These can be big practical matters such as financials or major ideological/religious differences.

When you hit such a relationship roadblock and you’ve pretty much reached your breaking point, it’s tempting to issue an ultimatum basically telling your partner to sort their shit out or the relationship is over. It’s normal to feel that threatening to quit the relationship is better than placing that one day wager in the hopes that you significant other will eventually come around to your way of thinking. Before launching in with such a bold all-or-nothing move it is, however, wise to weigh up your options and the consequences.

Firstly, it’s important for you to establish in your mind what exactly you desire the end result of your actions to be. Of course, you are hoping the ultimatum will result in some dramatic change in your partner but have you considered what you’ll do if they simply shrug their shoulders and move on? If this is your attempt to save the relationship there are probably less risky strategies.

Secondly, consider your reasons for making such demands. Is the change/compromise you are asking your partner really in their best interests or could it be purely for your own benefit? If you for example you force them to give up what you consider to be toxic friendships or their backwater religion before they are ready they may end up with regrets and resent you for it. Think about the long-term damage this could potentially do to your relationship.

Finally, if like many people, you are actually giving in an ultimatum without any intention of truly leaving such empty threats will only serve to help you lose your negotiating power in the future. On the flipside, if you truly are at a point where you have the strength to walk away then maybe using an ultimatum isn’t even really necessary. Perhaps deep down you have this gut feeling that things aren’t working and you are only going through the motions for final confirmation.

To conclude, the aim should be to avoid getting to a point in a relationship where you feel the need to issue an ultimatum. Rather keep the lines of communication open from the get go. Sure, it is easy to tell you to establish your deal breakers from the start and stick to those but people do change and sometimes issues only reveal them further down the line when you are far to emotionally invested to brush things off so easily. Regardless, do try and find out where any potential significant other stands on issues that are important to you as early as possible. And if despite your best efforts you do find yourself at breaking point try to have a deep and meaningful conversation about things and possibly seek advice from trustworthy sources before doing anything drastic.

Good luck!

OK, My Beloved Rinsers. Give us some food for thought in the comments section. Have you ever been forced to issue an ultimatium to get what you wanted in a relationship? Or have you been receiving end of such a threat? Did anything good come of the ultimatum and did it result in the desired outcome? Go wild…

 

 

 

Review : The Meddler – A Movie About People With Too Much Time on their Hands

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Do you ever have those days in your life when you feel the need to cry for no real reason as such? No? OK, It’s just me then! So, I was having one such day after being debilitated by a spider bite and having not much drive to do anything but veg in front on the TV. Someone recommended watching the Zoo Keeper’s Wife – apparently its a good trigger for making a person cry. Sadly, it wasn’t available so I got a movie called the Meddler instead. From the blurb (and the cover) it looked like a fairly run of the mill chick flick which wouldn’t require too much mental strength but like never judge a DVD by its cover.

Despite the initial impression that the Meddler would be light and fluffy (which it was in many ways) it turned out to have a little bit more depth than I expected and a lot that I could relate to with going-ons/interactions in my own sad little life (remember I was trying to cry!).  The story centres of Marnie, played by Susan Sarandon, who in the aftermath of her beloved husband’s death finds herself at a bit of loose end. With no real direction or purpose in life she relocates from New Jersey to LA to be closer to her daughter, Lori, a successful (but still single) career woman. As expected, the constant questions, invasion of privacy and tonnes of unsolicited advice on how to find a man, force Lori to establish certain boundaries with her mother (eventually she is forced to relocate to get away from her!). Marnie, however, being an eternal optimist, is fairly thick-skinned and takes this rejection from her daughter on the chin and finds other avenues (read: adopts some new ‘children’) for her energies.

Having inherited lots of money and being a friendly sort of lady, Marnie doesn’t struggle to attract the attentions of a few weird and wonderful ‘black sheep’ types (who no doubt were rejected by their own mothers). With so much time on her hands, she gets to work organising (read: footing the bill) for a big fat lesbian wedding and playing chauffeur (and nattering the ear off) a young guy who works at the Apple iStore. Thankfully, but somewhat unrealistically, the strangers that Marnie chooses to help are appreciative of her efforts and not solely out to rinse and generally take advantage of her in her vulnerable, lonely, recently widowed state.

It’s a good movie and beyond the LOLs and romantic subplots, it’s actually a story about a lady trying to make the way in the world without the love of her life who has clearly been the focus for so long. I think it’s a story that lots of people can identify with and one which is likely to become part of many of our life stories at some point in time.

As I touched upon, Marnie’s story is a little idealistic in many ways. Firstly, as annoying as Marnie is to her daughter, she is truly a well-meaning ‘meddler’ and her ‘adopted’ kids are also decent enough not to take too much advantage of that.  Sadly, this is the reality for real-life ‘meddler’ types. Most get taken advantage of by pragmatic entitled individuals who are too lazy to sort themselves out and feel that the world is to blame for all their problems. Secondly, while many ‘meddlers’ mean well there are also another breed – one which innocent, young people need to be wary off.  These are sad, old people that never amounted to much in their own lives (eg 80 something angry ‘poets’ and the like) therefore are not simply trying to live vicariously through you but are jealous of your happiness and intent on ‘meddling’ in a way that could potentially destroy you. Keep your eyes open and your wits about you with these ones.

So Rinsers, have you seen The Meddler? What did you think? Have you ever experienced a ‘Meddler’ in real life? Were they off the well-meaning variety or just a sad, judgmental old person who has become bitter and twisted because they have nothing to show for millions of years on the planet and are now at a point in their lives where they can’t even get laid? And finally, do you think that real life Marnie’s leave themselves open for manipulation by the lazy, entitled millenial folk of today? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

 

 

Super Dates and My Weirdest Dating Experience

superman-1803165_1280Not long ago I started watching Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None”. As a single guy the protagonist has lots of dating (mis)adventures. One of them is a super date during which he takes a girl he doesn’t know that well to a different city for a night. A great way to bond? In my experience rather a recipe for a disaster. Let me share with you my own weirdest dating experience ever. Oh, how good it is to be sorted and not to be forced to have weird dating encounters with the opposite sex!

In my early twenties I met a handsome doctor in Rome. During my stay there we had a few coffee dates and we kept in touch when I came back to Poland. As we were getting on well, we decided to have a super date, which sort of seemed to make sense as we lived in different countries. The meeting place was Milan where we were supposed to spend the weekend.

The guy decently rented us two rooms and everything looked promising. After arrival we went to explore the city which was nice enough and we chatted over numerous cups of coffee again. Then we came back to the hotel where he kissed me and things started to get weird. Like 30 seconds into the kiss the guy pushed me away and asked me to please stop kissing him as he was getting too excited (?). He made a similar comment, what I thought was, a joke when he was seeing me off in Rome so a red lamp started to flicker in my brain. I listened to the instruction and after a few minutes of awkward silence we decided to eat something. That was an ordeal on its own for me as at this point I was well fucked in the head too and had serious inhibitions to eat food around people. Let alone, in the circumstances where I started to think there may be something wrong with the guy I spent two months chatting to. So there I was struggling to swallow (pun intended) when out of the blue he said “Fine, if you want to have sex we can but ONLY with a condom”. Wooow, can you have more of a mood spoiler than that? I mean, I’m a big supporter of safe sex and all but wasn’t someone getting a bit ahead of himself? I replied “Ummm” and he said “What? I don’t know how you do these things and I’m a doctor and I have to be clean!”. Right. As you can imagine the conversation stopped flowing after that (because what do you say?).

Fortunately, before the awkwardness started we planned a trip to the cinema and I welcomed with open arms, a place where no talk was necessarily. “Robin Hood” with Russel Crow helped me to take my mind of all the weirdness and there was something to talk about on our way to the hotel. Eventually he asked me whether I wanted to share the room to which I replied that I don’t mind but sex wasn’t on the cards (just to put it out there as this was clearly how he liked it). He didn’t seem to be taken aback or anything like that. I guess I was counting on normalizing things over the pillow talk. We tried sleeping in an embrace but the guy started a mini rage about how unnatural it is for his arm and eventually crawled to the other side of the bed. And there I was lying in the darkness, not being able to sleep, hoping to be anywhere else than where I was. I didn’t know how who I thought was a finally-normal-guy turned out to be this weirdo who says and does everything wrong. Of course, before I got there I hoped for the best. It was quite an elaborate plan between my studies and his work to plan a weekend away! And what was I going to tell all my friends at home cheering on my liaison with an Italian doctor?

This was probably one of the worst nights in my life. As soon as the sun started to show on the horizon we were more than happy to part and we ended the weekend earlier.  Weird fact: we still kept chatting for two months after that and we even saw each other once when I came to Italy to work during student holidays. Of course, that meeting was weird too so that was it. I did have a great time in Italy for the next three months, though!

If there’s any lesson in this story it’s that seeing someone for short coffee dates and staying in touch online doesn’t necessarily tell you that much about a person. They may be perfectly functional in a conversation and totally weird in other respects. Super dates seem like a great idea and I’m sure there are some people for whom they worked out. At the same time, in general, the slow gradual easing into a relationship is a better and more mature way of dealing with things than such an intense experience. Remember that slow and steady wins the race!

Thanks for reading, Dear Rinsers! Any diagnosis for the Doctor? Have you ever had a super date? Went away with someone you didn’t know that well? Did it work out for you?

Stepping Stones – Just a Matter of Perspective?

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Have you ever felt that your the guy/girl everyone dates before they meet the ‘one’? Are you the girl that finds a guy who is at a tough spot in his life, invests your time and energy helping him get his life on track and as soon as he does you find him moving on to bigger and better things and leaving you in his tracks?  Today, dear Rinsers, I’ll be talking about stepping stones – the people used by others to build them up and help them reach their goals – merely to be discarded once they’ve served their purpose. I’ll also be questioning how justified our perception of being a stepping stone really is or whether it is just part of a person’s broader victim mentality.

Most of us don’t marry the first person we date and that’s a good thing. It’s important to experience a few different (good and bad) relationships to figure out what it is we actually need in a partner. And as easy as it is to say you wish you’d never laid eyes on an ex in the aftermath of break-up, I find that in many cases we can look back and draw something positive from the experience. Perhaps it was an ex that encouraged you to pursue your dreams or gave you a reason to take your first international flight. Or maybe it was something simple like them being there too look after you when you were sick.  Some relationships help us develop our character in a positive way by pushing us to get out of comfort zone, become more confident or just help us think about someone other than ourselves. Given a bit of time and space, I think most of us can look back at an old relationship and see that both parties took something valuable away from it.

Of course, if you do an ‘innocent’ Facebook stalk (we are all guilty of it!) and find that your past five ‘problem’ ex boyfriends married the next chick that came along, it’s natural to feel a bit hard done by. After all you spent all those long nights giving pep talks, massaging egos and driving their lazy asses to job interviews only to have the ‘new improved’ version of the dude snapped up by some other chick. It is a bit irritating if nothing else.

But enough of the self-pity! Let’s try to solve this problem. Firstly, if it really is the case that you date ‘problem’ people just to ‘fix’ them and hand them over to the next girl that comes along, then maybe it you need to be a bit self-reflective. There are some of us out there that like solving problems to the extent that we seek out such projects. Maybe this is your pattern and you need to make a change instead of feeling like a stepping stone once the problem is out of your life.  Secondly, sure you feel you wasted a lot of time helping your partner but ask yourself whether the arrangement was truly one-sided or did you also benefit from being with them. Chances are it worked both ways (come on, even if all you got was sex!!)…so you really weren’t that much of stepping stone after all.

At the end of the day, I think it is all about intentions. If the other party got involved with you knowing full well that they had no intention of pursuing a future with you but only saw value in what you could help them achieve then its fair to say they led you on and used you as a stepping stone to get somewhere (or to someone) better. But if you both entered into the partnership with hopes that something good would come of it and in the end of the day that didn’t materialise, it’s a little unfair and immature to keep tabs of who did more to help the other in a relationship. Of course, there are some horrible social climber type people in the world that are motivated solely by self-interest but I still have a little faith in human nature.

Yes, it’s natural to feel a bit used and abused when a problem child whose been fixed up moves on without you but try not to beat yourself up about it and thinking of how you could have done things better. Investing time, effort and little bit of love into a relationship isn’t a crime and not something you should regret, holding back on the other hand and constantly worrying about the worst case scenario of you potentially being used as nothing more than a stepping stone, well that attitude isn’t really going to help you find happily every after now is it?

OK Rinsers. Have you ever felt like you are nothing but a stepping stone? Do you have regrets about putting your all into a relationship only to have it thrown back in your face further down the line? Or do you think its just a matter of perspective? Are people who consider themselves stepping stones just wallowing in self pity? And should this whole potentially becoming a stepping stone thing even feature when one considers how much effort they put into a relationship?  Talk in the comments below.

 

 

Review: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

IMG_7680.JPGIt’s National Women’s Day in South Africa today! There’s no better way to celebrate such an occasion than to ponder on the situation of women these days. That’s why I decided to review the essay “We Should All Be Feminists” published in a book form, summarizing how much there’s still to be done about gender equality. I’m so happy I’ve found this little gem in a bookstore. The book consists of not even 50 pages and can be easily read in a lunch break. Don’t underestimate its content, though. It really is worth reading.

Adichie starts her essay by enumerating misconceptions about feminism. Many people consider feminists to be women who are unhappy because they can’t find a husband and that they hate men. They’re also believed not to wear make up, shave or wear high heels (which is also something that some feminists consider to be the “proper” way to be a feminist). Last but not least, feminism is considered a “Western” idea and therefore an “un-African” one. This is the reason why Adichie half-jokingly proclaimed herself to be a “Happy African Feminist Who Does Not Hate Men And Who Likes To Wear Lip Gloss And High Heels For Herself And Not For Men”. You know, just to please everyone. There are indeed many expectations towards what a feminist should or shouldn’t be, when in reality no qualifications are required to support gender equality.

Expectations towards feminists are not dissimilar to those towards women in general. As Adiche points out, society spends so much time “teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them”. Girls are not supposed to be angry and tough but pleasant and agreeable. Women are trained how to be in order to please men (you talk too much, no one wants women who talk too much, my father would say) or how not to be to avoid upsetting them (you should never tell anyone that you’ve been with an Arabic man or no one would want you, my mom would threaten during her sexist/racist rants).

It’s not only girls who are taught wrong ideas. Boys suffer as well. They’re meant to be “tough”, they’re denied the right to fear and to be vulnerable. They’re taught that their value is measured by money they have. Masculinity is very strongly associated with money. It’s not only men who pay for women, already boys are taught that this is the right way. Because of such conditioning male egos get bigger (but are fragile) and consequently females are trained to “get smaller” in order to please such egos.

Women are meant to compromise in a lot of different ways. They’re expected to keep their virginity, while there are no such requirements for boys. Women are not allowed to express their own desire but they’re supposed to embrace the male animalistic nature. It’s up to a girl to cover herself up and not to tempt men. If she gets sexually assaulted, she’s the one to blame. After all, boys will be boys. It’s not only in terms of male attentions that women have to be careful with what to wear. They also need to think carefully about their looks in a professional context. They need to dress in a certain way to be taken seriously, while the freedom of being a man is to look as good as he wants to without having to worry about it.

We also teach girls to make marriage their aspiration, while boys aren’t taught the same. Women are subjected to a lot of pressure to be in a relationship. Whether it’s happy or not remains irrelevant. It is not easy to just free oneself from such expectations, as Adiche rightly points out, humans are social beings after all. That is why if we normalize certain things, there’s a point where they become “natural” (an issue upon which I touched in my yesterday’s post). Seeing only men in position of power for instance, makes us expect only men to be there.

Last but not least, Adiche explains that feminism is a part of the human rights movement but also a separate issue that needs to has its own voice due to its focus on upliftment of women to achieve gender equality. If we really want to see the change in the world, we have to question the status quo. To see a shift in the perception of femininity and masculinity we need to change what we put in head of new generations.