Monday, August 21, 2017

The Secrets of My Life

Like millions of people around the world, from time to time (when no one is around to judge me) I tune in to Keeping Up With The Kardashians. I am not particularly invested, but I do enjoy watching them eat salads, complain about being famous and play out cheesy pranks and plots. It's mindless.

When Caitlyn Jenner released her memoir, The Secrets of My Life, I was intrigued. If ever anyone had a hook in her book it was Caitlyn. Few people have won an Olympic gold medal for decathlon, been an integral part of the commercialization of sports celebrity, married 3 powerful women, been involved in the OJ Simpson debacle, raised one of the world's biggest celebrities, fathered one of the world's biggest models, nurtured a group of siblings who have collectively broken the internet and transitioned.

Unfortunately, like Caitlyn's cancelled reality show I Am Cait, the book is just okay. Caitlyn comes across as somewhat self-absorbed and isn't really likable. The book is thin and doesn't offer much more than what you've probably seen on TV. It fails to really articulate gender dysphoria with any depth and barely outlines the real daily challenges of being a trans woman in enough detail for one to relate.

Caitlyn repeatedly refers to Bruce's white male privilege and acknowledges that it has protected her from many of the struggles, but it feels like an excuse to focus on the superficial - it is not really interrogated. I have read a far more interesting account of being a trans woman - Always Anastacia: A Transgender Life in South Africa by Anastacia Tomson and I highly recommend it.

If you're a huge fan of the Kardashians it's probably worth a read, if not don't rush to your bookstore for this one.

The Secrets of My Life by Caitlyn Jenner (Grand Central Publishing, 2017)

Monday, March 27, 2017

All The Lessons

I remember the day a very close friend revealed that her charming, suave long-term boyfriend had been abusing her physically, verbally and emotionally. My first reaction was disbelief. "Not my strong, powerful, opinionated friend. She is not the type of woman who would be in an abusive relationship," I thought to myself. And then I experienced pure rage and anger. Is she okay? How could he even think about abusing her? How could I have missed it? How could he have convinced me that he was a good guy?

That was a while ago. She has since dumped him, cut up his clothing, had him declared persona non grata in our social circles and moved on to much better things.

Louise Carver recently released a new studio album called Hanging In The Void. I have huge respect for her as a lyricist and she knows her way around a melody. Her new album features some of her strongest writing to date. One of the songs that stood out for me was 'All The Lessons' - a song about a heartbroken woman escaping a relationship with a cruel man who wasn't very nice.

Knowing that Louise is an artist who sources inspiration from all aspects of her life, I just assumed she was writing about a friend... or inspired by a book she had read or a movie she had seen. I never imagined that the strong, confident, determined woman I know would have fallen into the clutches of a narcissist, so I was blown away when she bravely shared her harrowing story in the latest issue of Glamour. She spent three years in a relationship with a man suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. Like all people with abusive traits he turned her life upside down.

Over the years I have discovered that many of my friends and family members have fallen victim to abusive partners and narcissists. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, many of them carry shame and guilt - even after they have escaped these relationships - and don't speak out about their abuse.

The Lessons:

1) There is no shame in being abused. Anyone can be abused. It can happen to your friends and family. It can happen to you. Chances are that someone you know is being abused. Don't fool yourself into believing that it will never affect you.

2) Abusers don't necessarily drink brandy from a bottle for breakfast and behave badly in public, like they do in the movies. Most of the abusers I have known were charming, good looking and put on a great show.

3) It is incredibly hard to date a narcissist or someone with abusive traits. Unfortunately they walk among us. If you realise that you are dating one - run! It's not your job to fix them. They will break you down over a period of time and make it harder for your to leave as time progresses.

4) Trust your gut. If a relationship feels wrong - honour that feeling. If there are red flags pull over. If you are worried about a friend's relationship, don't ignore it. Don't stay silent. Speak up. Silence is dangerous.

You can find out more about Narcissistic Personality Disorder here, find resources to get out of an abusive relationship here, find out more about Louise and her music here and check out the latest issue of Glamour here.

Images courtesy of Louise Carver (Photographer: Dave Hann) and Glamour South Africa

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

5 George Michael Songs

George Michael died just a month ago.

I am a huge George Michael fan. I grew up with his music. He had a great voice, was a strong lyricist and had mastered the art of reinventing his sound. My mother gave me my first tape when I was around three years old, so naturally I was very sad to hear about his death.

The great thing about good musicians is that their music lives on and I have been playing his music on repeat for the last few weeks. In celebration of his catalogue, I have put together a list of 5 of my favourite George Michael songs:

  • Patience - I love the entire album, but the title track is one of my favourites. It's very simple. His strengths as a vocalist and lyricist are evident on this track.

  • Fastlove - I love this one for the nostalgia. As children, my siblings and I were fascinated by the music video. At the time we thought it was so edgy. Check it out here.

  • Amazing - This was the first song I ever performed at karaoke. It is so much more than a love song. I relate to the themes, and it's arrangement is pretty cool too.

  • Easier Affair - It's a continuation of some of the themes in Amazing, but shows the progression ofhis personal journey. It was released at a time when I was feeling the same. Yes, it's a little cheesy, but one of my favourites.

  • Faith - It's so upbeat, fun, positive... Who doesn't love this one?

There are so many other songs I could have added to the list. What are your favourite George Michael tracks?