Togetherness in Modern Relationships

togethernessIf you think about a serious relationship you probably imagine two people who live together, share finances and are sexually exclusive. As much as it’s my idea of what a good relationship (= partnership) is, I must say that I see a lot of diversity in this respect among people I know. That’s why today I decided to write about the issue of togetherness in modern relationship.

Let’s start with the living together part. Most people would say that a serious relationship starts when you start to live together, right? Yet this isn’t necessarily the reality of many long-term relationships. One of the modern solutions for having a cake and eating it (in this case having independence and not) is the so-called LAT; an abbreviation which stands for living apart but together. People in such arrangement are in an intimate relation but keep their separate apartments. They claim that it allows them to avoid fights over domestic issues and helps them have their independence, which in return makes them better partners. What I find even more surprising are couples in prolonged long-distance relationships. I’m not talking here about the scenarios when you met someone abroad, did long-distance for a bit and then one joined the other, or they chose a new country to be together. No. I’m talking about relationship, where partners live in completely different countries for years, due to work assignments or other reasons. It’s a common relationship pattern for academics, for instance. If you think about it, it’s not an entirely new construct. Due to emancipation of women, though, now both partners focus on their careers, rather than just the man being away. I may be a bit jealous of people who have so much ambition to sacrifice their relationships, but I wouldn’t really want that for myself. My husband travels every few months and I already hate that!

Sharing finances is another divisive issue. Honestly, especially in marriage, the “we” mentality seems to be the way forward. Separate finances are a mission and it’s just tiresome to upkeep them. In my mind you’re supposed to be a team so you work for a life together. Otherwise what do you do with money you received for wedding presents? Share it half-half? You take the toaster and the coffee express is mine? As I feel this way, of course, I’m constantly astonished by the behavior of some long-term partners. I’ve seen, for instance, numerous cohabiting couples, who always pay separately at restaurants. What is it a sign of? Does it speak of a lack of trust in a relationship or just of personalities of the involved parties?¬†I split bills evenly with friends so this sort of “what mine is mine” mentality seems weird, particularly, for people who exchange bodily fluids and shit in the same toilet. Sure, sometimes there’s a big discrepancy between what partners earn, but if you feel that, by sharing with a loved one, they’re “taking it away from you”, then do you know what sharing is about? And isn’t sharing a big part of what relationships are about? I think I’m asking so many questions because I don’t know the answers myself!

Last but not least, there’s this kind of togetherness that has to do with sexual exclusivity. Yet again, a non-negotiable for me. I’ve tried an open relationship once and it left me heartbroken and generally in an emotional swamp. I’m really trying to be open-minded but I can’t understand how it can work for other people. The beauty of freedom is that I don’t have to. Polyamory has many shades, but it is important to point out that it’s voluntary (as in: I’m not talking about cheating here). Open relationships probably come to mind first. It means you have sex with other people (you can even have it as your Facebook relationship status so it’s a thing!) retaining a chosen level of secrecy from “I don’t kiss and tell” to openly comparing discussing other people you have sex with with your partner. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, given that representatives of some religions have been practicing polygamy (marriage to numerous people) for a long time. At least these days ladies can have some fun too! Men are clearly more and more open-minded towards their partners experiments in sexuality as swinging (NOT the dance) is not unpopular. Some couples stay “faithful” to other couples, while others like swingers parties (which are just orgies, really?). Let’s not forget about the simplest form of expanding the borders of a relationship, which is a threesome. Are such arrangements a sign of the modern crisis of commitment? I don’t think so. Just go watch “Rome” or “Spartacus”. Personally, I’m a proponent of having everything in moderation. That means one dick at a time, thank you.

To sum up, modern relationships exist in many other forms than the socially (or #zlotybaby) accepted ones. I may be conservative in my own life, but I’m also happy that there are signs of gender equality in those practices. Perhaps such solutions are not ways to find long-term romantic happiness and maybe sometimes such separatist tendencies are a sign that you’re with a wrong person, but at least now females can try to have their cake and eat it too!

I have a feeling that you’ll have something to say today, Dear Rinsers ūüėČ Do you think living separately long-term can work? How about separate finances? Multiple sexual partners, anyone?

 

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Emmys 2017: Reviews of The Handmaid’s Tale and Big Little Lies

TVI’d been planning to write about two great series “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Big Little Lies” for so long that they received Emmy Awards before I managed to do so. Better late than never I guess!

The Handmaid’s Tale

“The Handmaid’s Tale” is a drama series. It’s based on Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel about a sexist theocracy in a world struggling with fertility. Women who can get pregnant are captured and serve as incubators to the ruling class of theocrats. They’re referred to as handmaids and the series focuses on the story of one of them, Offred (Elisabeth Moss). After her training in obedience and servitude, she is placed with an infertile marriage to whom she’s supposed to provide an offspring. You’ll have to watch the series to find out more!

The show is very heavy and depressing, especially for mainstream TV. However, it is very good and it does address important issues such as the emancipation of women, contraception, reproductive rights, feminism and sexism. I think especially given the worrying extreme right wing behaviors around the world, it is crucial to think about such issues. The message of the series is clear: it’s easy to ignore warning signs but the consequences of not reacting in time may be tragic. After all, Gilead is a country which replaced the USA.

The series is also worth watching due to convincing acting and interesting characters. The protagonist seems to be created in a way, which doesn’t make it easy for the audience to like her. And yet, the inhumane treatment she has to endure makes us relate to her on an empathic level, as we would to any human being in pain. It’s not only Elisabeth Moss (Drama Actress, Winner) whose acting should be praised. The other handmaidens, including Samira Wiley (Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, nominee), Alexis Bledel and Madeline Brewer give unforgivable performances. Ann Dowd (Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, winner) in the role of the ruthless superior of handmaids is excellent. Last but not least, Yvonne Strahovski as a seemingly emotionless Madame of the ruling class is a scary, yet pitiable character. You may like or dislike the series, but watching it will certainly be an unforgettable experience.

Apart from the above-mentioned Emmy awards and nominations, the Handmaid’s Tale received and award for the best Writing for a Drama Series and for the best¬†Drama Series.

Under His Eye.

Big Little Lies

“Big Little Lies” is a series contained in one season, a so-called limited series. The story has a defined opening and an end. It is a rather uncommon format these days, as the makers try to usually squeeze as many season out of a series as they can. I’m a proponent of ending things when they’re still good, so I was very happy with this solution for the excellent show.

Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley) comes to Monterey with her son Ziggy to start a new life. She hopes a small town will give her the peace she’s been looking for. She quickly makes friends with Madeline (Reese Whiterspoon) and Celeste (Nicole Kidman), who are happy to have some “fresh blood” in their circle. Unfortunately, the alleged aggressive behavior of her son towards one of the other school kids causes her to also quickly gain new enemies. Renata (Laura Dern) is an overprotective mother and she starts a personal vendetta against Jane. On the top of this background, we learn that someone’s going to die. But who and why? Yet again, watch the series to find out, I’m not taking responsibility for spoiling your fun.

“Big Little Lies” looks like a predictable series about life in a small town, where seemingly perfect aren’t truly flawless. It’s much more than that, though. The series addresses important issues such as domestic violence, sexual and physical abuse, infidelity but also female solidarity and forgiveness.¬†Similarly like “The Handmaid’s Tale”, “Big Little Lies” is a feast for the audience missing good female performances. Nicole Kidman received an Award for Limited Series Actress, while her co-cast Reese Witherspoon was a runner-up. Laura Dern won the Award for the best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie and Shaileen Woodley was a nominee in this category. Let’s not forget about Alexander Skarsgard who was chosen the best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie.

Last but not least, the music in the series is just magical. I could listen to the theme song “Cold Little Heart” by Michael Kiwanuka over and over again, but the whole soundtrack is remarkable. Zoe Kravitz, who appears in the series in the role of Bonnie, may not be an amazing actress but she has a beautiful voice and I was mesmerised by her version of “Don’t”. Please don’t miss this series. It’s really worth your time! If you don’t believe me, you should know that the series also received the Emmy awards for Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special as well as for the best Limited Series and was nominated for¬†Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Drama.

Guest Post: Dating as a Vegan

veganGuest post time! Antonia from The Vegan Rainbow Blog shares her thoughts about dating as a vegan. Enjoy!

Dating in general can be a challenge these days, but dating as a VEGAN¬†takes things to a whole new level. Especially, if you live in a meat loving city like Cape Town, where a ‘braai’ (BBQ) is part of the culture.

I‚Äôm a plant eater and currently single (let’s rather¬†not get into detail here). Given my relationship status, I cannot tell you what it’s like to date a vegan as a vegan, but rather share my¬†opinion on this¬†controversial¬†topic¬†with you.

In my early vegan days, which is now 4 years ago, I couldn’t even imagine to date an omnivore ever again. I must admit, that my perception has changed over the years. It would definitely be more challenging to be involved with a meat eater, but surely not impossible. I guess it’s all about compromise. In every relationship one has to sacrifice something somewhere along the lines.

This might come as a surprise to some vegans now, but I’d definitely consider dating an omnivore again. It probably won’t be¬†ideal and complicate things a lot in daily life, but in the end love wins anyway.

Should I really find myself in the situation of dating a non-vegan, there’d be rules. Sounds harsh at first, but I think it’s the only¬†way to go. OK, let’s call them guidelines rather.

My partner’s kitchen for example, or the one that we’d once share together will have to get¬†a bit of a¬†makeover. Since I won’t use any kitchen equipment that had anything animal on them, I’d rather¬†bring my own stuff. I’d probably even¬†label everything for vegan use only. Nope, it won’t stop here –¬† so let’s all take a deep breath. The guy better has a big fridge too, because I’d want¬†my own compartments to stock the plant based products. Sounds crazy? Well, the last thing I want is to have my greens lying next to or on top of corpses. It might be “just” meat for you, but I see dead animals. Sorry for telling you the truth at this point.

When it comes to grocery shopping I’d definitely insist on paying only for my vegan products. Separate bills will solve that problem in a heart beat. I know it sounds a bit weird, but I¬†wouldn’t want to spend my hard earned money on anything¬†of animal origin..Sharing costs for coffee, toilet paper¬†etc. is no problem of course, but any non-vegan item will be for your own account Mister. I hope toilet paper is even¬†vegan !? Never asked myself that question¬†before…Anyone knows?

After reading all my thoughts on this topic you probably think I’d force¬†the vegan lifestyle on my future prince. Well,¬†unfortunately I have to disappoint you here. I might buy and bring my own things, but I’d never expect my partner to become a vegan. If it happens in course of the relationship, then it would mean the world to me, but it also has to come from the heart. If the guy only goes vegan in order to please me, then the relationship would be heading for disaster in the long run. In return I¬†also wouldn’t appreciate it if my man asked me to drop veganism for him. Luckily I’m able¬†to whip up the most amazing vegan dishes in the kitchen, so eating more of a plant based diet will come naturally to the man in question anyway. Who doesn’t want a girl that can cook?

There are brilliant movies on Veganism out there, but don’t worry, my¬†future boyfriend won’t be dragged into a movie theatre¬†to watch “Cowspiracy” or “Vegucated”¬†whilst¬†snacking on popcorn sprinkled with nutritional¬†yeast. A¬†cosy Italian restaurant for a Friday night dinner date will do too. It’s all about balance, right?

In my mind¬†a relationship works best if you have many things in common, so I’d probably be better off with another vegan. If this is not meant to be, then I’m positive the universe has figured it all out for me and wants to challenge me somehow. Vegan or not, a soul mate is a soul mate.

You’ve guessed right,¬†I’m a hopeless romantic that hasn’t given up hope yet! OK, enough of my relationship goals here. This is not¬†supposed to be a Tinder profile after all.

At this point I¬†bet, that all the single omnivore guys reading this post out there¬†are now scared for life¬†and won’t even attempt dating a vegan girl. So here’s my question for you: how would you react if a girl you fancy tells you that¬†she’s a vegan? Please let me know in the comments so I can see if I’d even stand a chance. Or should I¬†rather not¬†mention it on a first date? This probably won’t work¬†either because you might ask me out for dinner at a steak house. But hey, nothing to be scared of:¬†I’m only another vegan that wants to save the planet, not a chick that¬†boasts following banting, paleo or flexitarian diets. Oh and FYI,¬†I’m not gluten intolerant.

In that sense good luck to all the singles out there. Let’s EAT, PRAY; LOVE

The Vegan Rainbow Blog

So, Dear Rinsers, what are your thoughts? Would you date a vegan? If you’re vegans/vegetarians yourselves would you date an omnivore? Are other dietary habits in such cases deal breakers or do you agree with our OP’s pragmatism?¬†

Making Friends as an Adult is a Lot Like Dating

friendsIt bloody is! So you said “yes” (or “I do” or other affirmative utterance) and you’re living your happily ever after. Of course you thought that dating is a chapter that belongs in your past. You were WRONG! Unless you’re one of the parasite people who believe that you should spend 100% of your time with your partner or you’re happy with the friends you made in primary school that you have very little in common with (a lot of Cape Town seems to be!), you’ll still experience something very similar to dating, namely, making friends as an adult.

1. “Clicking”

If you need a breeze of novelty in your circle of friends, going to different events with an open mind is an important factor of success. Unfortunately, in the ocean of humans, only from time to time you’ll seemingly “click” with someone. Most conversations will end up being short-term distractions with no long-term potential and you’re lucky if they’re more or less pleasant. Part of the trick is to realize that seeing someone you don’t really click with often, may make you have some warm feelings towards them. This is familiarity and it isn’t what friendship is about.

2. Asking out

So you clicked with someone and you’d like to see them again? Well, easier said than done! Asking someone out for a coffee has similar associations like actual dating and rejection is a part of it. Let me share a personal example with you: just after I arrived in Cape Town I bumped into a girl in a shop whom I met before at a party. She was very excited to see me (or so she said) and insisted on swapping numbers as she worked in the area I lived in. Few days later I felt like meeting someone for lunch and texted her. She didn’t reply for three days and then said something like “Sorry for the late reply. Super busy. Sure will see you soon” as if I was some crazy stalker. Just like with dating, you should judge people by their behavior not by their words. They TOTALLY want to hang out and you’re SO funny but when you try to organize something it seems like only never is convenient for them (just like in this New Yorker cartoon).

IMG_7854

3. The meet-up

There are millions of ways in which you may end up finally meeting up with someone, but one thing is certain: a one-on-one will leave you no doubts about whether you guys have enough in common to keep hanging out. Just like with romantic situations, sometimes one side doesn’t seem to feel the same way about things, but let’s be honest, life’s just too short to be around people whose company you’re not particularly enjoying. Between work, partners and passions there’s just not enough time to see everyone, so choose wisely. Your friends, just like your partner, may make you be a better person or just become a source of frustration and rage.

4. Will he/she text or should I?

Let’s say that you did enjoy the meet up and you think you can have some more fun in life with this person. Perhaps you’ll have it easy and someone will let you know that it was “great to hang out” or will send you a message about something you spoke about. Sometimes all you get is silence, though. “Did they not have fun? Should I text them?” you think. Taking initiative can be tough and it feels shit when you receive a lukewarm or openly dismissive reply but there’s no point in exchanging empty pleasantries.

5. Do I really like them or am I just bored?

Loneliness and boredom are your enemy and you can perceive a meet-up as cool just because you did something. I had a very good example of that when my three close girlfriends left the country, one after another, in a short space of time. As my husband travels from time to time, after they were gone and when he was away I honestly felt just lonely. It sucks when a good friend leaves your day-to-day existence and three of them leaving almost at the same time is a huge shock for even the most vibrant social life. At the same time, sometimes it’s better to read a book or dive into a hobby than spend time with people just because you’re lonely. You also can’t force friendships so in such situations it’s better to take a step back and focus on yourself. You’ll meet the people worth your time sooner or later so keep going out and socializing but don’t obsess.

6. Slow and steady wins the race

Clicking is important but adults have lives: careers, partners and other friends. Making time for new people you like is important but you don’t have to see them all the time and be BFs immediately. Keeping in touch is important, but I do get weirded out if a newly made acquaintance sends me messages, telling me about their days. Real bonding takes time and it can’t be done overnight. Besides who has time like in your teenage years to hang out every day?

7. The break-up

Your friends are an important part of your life. People with similar interests and goals, those who inspire you but also those with whom you just have fun are those worth keeping. As people do change, sometimes a shift from a BFF to a coffee friend is necessary. It’s just a natural part of life and it should be embraced. What is more, like with dating, you also need two to tango here. In other words, if you’re always inviting someone places, even if they come but never initiate anything themselves, it’s not good enough. Your objective is give and take situation. This brings me my next point which is: people who are just bad for you. Perhaps, like me, you’ve discovered that a frenemy seems to have a liking for the men you date? Maybe your friend, like mine, will tell you that you can’t hang out together because you’re a girl and now he has a girlfriend and it’s just not appropriate and you should always hang out in a group? Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter how many beautiful moments you’ve spent together and how much you’ll miss them. An unhealthy friendship has to be dealt with like a bad relationship – with a break up. You may choose a quiet withdrawal or a confrontation (which I only recommend if you think that change is possible). Choose your poison and remember that when it’s time to say goodbye, it’s for good.

8. Happily ever after

Some friendships never end, even though they may change and grow with us. I left my mother land six years ago and I still keep in touch with my Best Friend For The Polish Territory since high school. In this particular case we really have a lot in common in terms of intellectual understanding and this is something that living in different countries won’t change. I’m also in touch with another friend from high school, who is very different from me but somehow we always really understood one another. Even now in South Africa I have friends whom I’ve known since week one of my arrival in Cape Town. Sometimes I don’t see them for a long time but they’re still there and I know I can count on them if I need to. The big plus of friendships is that you can be polyfriendulous and no one will take offense in you having numerous friends.

What sort of friend-maker are you, Dear Reader? Have you not changed your circle of friends since you were still wearing nappies or are you a seeker? Do you find making friends as adults is more difficult? Tell me, tell me, please!

 

 

 

 

 

Review : #Actorslife @ The Alexander Upstairs

actorslife.JPG

Last night #zlotybaby and I had a date night. Scoffing down at Hokey Poke Bar and then heading to our old time favourite Alexander Bar for more wine and a bit of theatre.

#Actorslife is a one-woman show staring Estelle Terblanche as Christine, a woman in her 20s (we are not quite sure if she is 23, 25 or 27?!) who is trying to make it as an actress in a hugely competitive industry. Endlessly learning lines and trying to impress at auditions, Christine is a bit of a perfectionist who is trying her best to stand out from the crowd to the point that it seems to be causing her to breakdown a little. The play not only shows how the character deals with her career struggles but also the pressures she faces from all angles, from various people who are all intent on offering their expert opinions on her life and career.

Although, most of us probably don’t do anything quite as showbiz as acting, I think a lot of people can relate to the pain of trying to find your feet in the working world. If you are anything like me, you probably left university with aspirations of making the world a better place. But, as is the case in Christine’s story, reality has a way of slapping you straight in the face, bringing all those high hopes you once had tumbling to the ground and forcing you to downgrade your dreams somewhat (like when Christine starts to question how much nudity she’ll allow herself to partake in just to progress in the industry). It’s tough out there, hey?

I won’t give too much more away because I don’t want to ruin it for you. It’s a pretty complex theatrical piece and the acting is excellent. #Actorslife is sadly only doing a short run so is just on for another two nights, 9pm at the Alexander Upstairs. Tickets are very reasonably priced at just R85 (and you can make a saving and get your tickets for R70 by booking online)

 

Preemptive Strikes and What Ifs

Lonely-Woman

Rarely are relationships and other such romantic encounters ever smooth sailing. Sometimes things get off to a rocky start and you find yourself questioning whether this drama from the get-go is a sign of things to come. But even in the instances where things begin blissfully, there eventually comes a time when the honeymoon period comes to an end and you experience some sort of bump in the road that makes you wonder if this thing is really worth the stress. But no matter how much of over-thinker you and however good you are at spotting your patterns (and those of others) how easy is it walk away at the first sign of trouble, essentially launching a preemptive strike on the relationship and breaking it before it can break you? And if somehow you do have the willpower to learn from past mistakes and run away from potential drama, does that necessarily mean you are guaranteed happiness? Or will you just be left wondering what if?

20/20 hindsight is a wonderfully torturous thing. After a disastrous relationship ends and the dust has settled, it’s pretty easy to rewind your mind and spot all the warning signs that you had chosen to ignore. Perhaps it was the fact that on your very first date gut instinct told you that he reminded you of your ex? Maybe it was that your friends that tried to gently tell you that this guy wasn’t quite as into you as he should’ve been? ¬†Or it could just be that it falls in line with your patterns from the past and no matter how much you beg the universe to send you a boring AF accountant type that could potentially bring some stability in your life, it always always sends you a smoking hot lothario? The fact is you’ll easy find a million and one different ways you could’ve done something better the moment you start your little historic analysis.

However, that over-analyzing always seems to forget that when it comes to matters of the heart, more-often-that-not logic goes out of the window and even the most intelligent of human beings find it hard to listen to their own clever minds. We forget sometimes that the heart (and the hormones) also have an important role to play when it comes to the relationships we want to pursue. It’s not necessarily that you are stupid or a glutton for punishment when it comes to the types of people you date but maybe that you are drawn to the one’s that keep you on your toes and give you those infamous butterflies.¬†And the intangible aspects that make it difficult for some of us to change our ways.

Ugh but then again, maybe it’s just me. So let’s take a look at the flipside. What would happen if every time you saw a red flag you ran a mile? If every guy that shared a similarity with an ex of yours was ruled out at the get go ? Well, I personally don’t think you’d get all that far in life. I’ve met a handful of people that claim to have ‘learnt’ from their mistakes to such an extent that they’d never let history repeat itself. I once met a guy who constantly blew hot and cold…one minute telling me he was falling for and then frantically calling an uber the moment things started to heat up! I later learnt that this poor guy had ‘heart cancer’. No not a disease. But some sort of mental blockage caused by having his heart broken and being too frightened to get close to anyone in case they did the same thing. No offense taken. But I have to say it’s sad to see nice people constantly alone because they are scared to take risks and opt to focus on the potential negatives.

Where does this sort of cautious approach to love get you? From the experiences of those around me (I can’t speak from my own experience because to my own detriment I always follow the butterflies) I can tell you that launching preemptive strikes on potential budding romances doesn’t lead to much more than a sexless existence (true storiES!). And sure, you could say that sex doesn’t make the world go round (hmmm, I’d like to see you live through your own sex drought first!) but from what I’ve seen the mindset which involves erring on the side of caution and inevitably closing yourself of to the possibility of love also results in loneliness/bitterness.¬†The other problem with walking away from something too soon is that, if you are anything like me, you’ll probably sit around wondering ‘what if’ for months/years to come.

At the end of the day, every relationship is going to have some stumbling blocks – some which cause the relationship to fail and others which can reasonably be overcome. It’s important to know when to admit defeat but its equally important to give things a fair shot. It’s not everyday that you meet someone who sparkles so when you do I personally think you need to see things through and that way if it does end miserably you won’t spend the rest of your life wondering ‘what if?’, knowing that you put in your best efforts. If you opt to launch that preemptive strike and end things prematurely just to save yourself the heartache in the long-run, you’ll probably still end up a little bit heartbroken anyway because of the regrets.

Over to you do Rinsers. Have you ever launched a preemptive strike and ended a potential romance before it really got off the ground? Would you say such actions can save you from heartbreak or just leave you with a whole bunch of regrets? Share your stories in the comments below. 

Review: 13 Reasons Why

13 reasons why“13 Reasons Why” is a high school themed drama/crime series which tells a story of a suicide of a teenage girl, Hannah Baker.¬†Perhaps it was my recent 30th bday that encouraged my to indulge my inner teenager and binge on this series, but I have no regrets about watching it.

The series has an interesting narrative structure. Hannah leaves behind a loooong suicide note in the form of tapes. The recordings explain why she killed herself, giving 13 reasons for her deed. Each reason is a different person she encountered in high school who hurt and failed her in some way. I guess it’s questionable whether someone on the verge of taking their own life would have so much integrity to devise such a sophisticated tool of postmortem revenge, but it watches well…

The protagonist of “13 Reasons Why” is bullied and sexually harassed and she’s very much on her own with her problems. She struggles to make friends because of a reputation she got for something she didn’t do. Her parents are facing some financial trouble and they’re mostly focused on making the ends meet. Hannah is just surviving, going every day to a place that horrible things happen to her and she can tell no one about her suffering. Every time she attempts to improve her situation it backfires and she seemed to be deemed to eventually give up. Perhaps it’s a matter of perspective, but have you ever been a bullied teenager? It does feel like tomorrow doesn’t bring anything but pain and lots of kids more or less seriously contemplate suicide.

To tell exactly what the kids do to a protagonist, would be too much of a spoiler. I can only say that unfortunately after very believable high school story till mid season, the plot starts to escalate and at some point you just watch it being like “Right, well, I wonder what else is going to happen to her now”. As truly EVERYTHING happens to Hannah, ¬†her suicide almost seems logical. The creators (or rather the writer as the series is a faithful adaptation of a novel) should have made a life story of a teenager who’s bullied and so overwhelmed by her reality that she stops to believe there’s anything else out there. It’s an American mainstream product after all, so perhaps my expectations are unrealistically high.

The series is too dramatic but it talks about important issues. Apart from the obvious main theme of suicide, the show emphasizes that parents and teachers of teenagers have no idea who the children are. Teenagers drink, have sex, take drugs, are horrible to one another and none of this is known to adults. Unless a kid ends up being knocked up, addicted or fails at school such things usually remain hidden. Of course teenagers prefer to keep their secrets to themselves, but it’s partially because parents and teachers are rather willing not to know too much. Often if children try to open up, they’re shouted at and end up in trouble, which discourages their further honesty.

To sum up, “13 Reasons Why” is an interesting series and an attempt to talk about serious issues. I’m not sure whether it’s a great show for a troubled teenager who may get wrong ideas, but it could certainly serve a parent or a teacher. Also, anyone who was ever bullied could watch it as a reminder of how far they’ve gone from there.

 

 

 

The Challenges (and Perks) of Forgiveness

forgivenessWe’ve all been wronged and we’ve done things that we’re not proud of. Forgiveness seems to be the key to move on with our lives in both cases. Unfortunately it’s not as easy as motivational quotes in your friends Facebook feed would want it to be…

First of all, some things are easier to forgive than others. Being in any long-term relationship (be it romantic or not) certainly gives you opportunities to forgive for the simple reason that people aren’t perfect and sometimes they make thoughtless mistakes. It’s easier to let go if you know that person’s heart is in the right place. Sometimes it isn’t, though. For instance, when my frenemy was hitting on my then boyfriend and it was obvious to the point that he started to feel uncomfortable and communicated it to me, forgiveness didn’t come easy. Even when it did, the trust was still broken and I didn’t want to continue the friendship. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you have to keep a person in your life. In fact, especially if they’re a repetitive offender, that would be silly. The same goes for big bad things happening in the beginning of knowing someone: you should strive to forgive but walk away. If you saw a mirror was broken in a shop, you’d rather buy another one, wouldn’t you? Exactly. No wonder many of us doubt that a bad start can lead to a good relationship.

What makes a difference for how easy or difficult it is to forgive, is what’s been done to us. There’s obviously certain level of emotional pain that can make fluffy quotes about liberation that forgiveness brings offensive. Let’s be honest, many of us are quite lucky in life. Perhaps, like me, you come from a family of emotional coldness/ your parents didn’t support/ they always preferred your brother… There are so many things that are worse than that, though! If I still mull over my mother’s control and anxiety issues that kept me away from doing most things children do, how difficult does it have to be for someone to forgive physical or sexual abuse? To forgive seems to be a necessary ingredient to let go of the past but the more an experience broke you, the more difficult it is to do so. I think that if we can go as far as just acknowledge that someone is human, made a mistake and feel sorry for the fact that they’re in a point of their lives when behaving in certain way seemed like a good idea, that’s enough. I disagree that we have to necessarily love all humanity and be besties with the ones who wronged us.

Another challenge of forgiveness is learning to forgive yourself. From my experience the kinder I am to myself, the easier I’m on others. I used to be the type to cry over spilt milk forever. Why did I do it? Why didn’t I do something else? I really believe that we should try to honestly reply to this question, even if we don’t like the answer. Sometimes I do something I’m ashamed of because I was jealous, insecure or wanted to show off. These are not the qualities I want to see in myself but I know that if I don’t accept the reasons why I did something I can’t get better. At the same time, knowing the answer and beating yourself up for making a mistake is pointless too! As long as we learn it’s okay. Even if we repeated a mistake twice we should rather focus on not doing it the third time than making ourselves feel miserable with guilt. Beware of the alternatives of admitting your mistakes for they’re tempting too. Rather than accept that I did something wrong and admit it, it so much easier to talk it over with a friend and agree that this thing you did wasn’t your fault at all (- Maybe I shouldn’t have called Jessica a slut, but she was being such a bitch to me! – Totally!). Unfortunately, denial may be relieving for short term but long term it doesn’t serve us.

So far, I’ve mostly spoken about the challenges but there are big perks of forgiveness too. The past is gone and dwelling over it creates the presence full of drama. Perhaps I did enjoy this in my early twenties but the older I get, the less I feel like I want to go over the same old stories. What’s the point? Many of these people are not in my life anymore and if I’m reminded of something, I try not to indulge in getting caught up into thinking about it. Anger creates just more anger and there’s no relief. I’ve also noticed that the more I dwell over things and rage, the more often I tend to get angry in general. Also, people I want to be around don’t like bitter, angry people. Sure, no one’s perfect and an occasional moan and bitch session isn’t the end of the world. However, those who inspire me and who help me make my life better are not the same people with whom I’d often have drunk rants about how my ex from 10 years ago treated me badly.¬†Forgiveness and letting go allow us to have a better today, regardless of what happened yesterday.

To sum up, people do bad things to us and we do bad things to people. They both require forgiveness so that we can move on, rather than become crippled by past events. Last but not least, forgiveness can be challenging and it doesn’t mean that we have to let the wrongdoer hurt us again.

So, Rinsers, what do you think? Are you a bitter type who never forgives and goes on forever about your own mistakes and those of others? Does it come easy to you to forgive? Tell me your secrets below.

 

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.

 

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 ūüėČ

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