Thursday, January 3, 2019

All I Want For Christmas Is... A New Job!

I remember well when an Amazon recruiter reached out to me saying the business was looking for my expertise. I thought he was trying to get me to work in a call center, all while pretending that the name of the company would make any crap job sound lucrative. Why would a tech company want a journalist, I thought. I did, however, obviously take the chance to interview. A little further down the line, I actually started wanting the job. Did they say they were going to use technology to bring information to people? Like, with that thing Alexa I had never heard of. Fast forward six interviews and I became Alexa's patron, mother, buddy or teacher, you could say. Getting the job at Amazon was one of the happiest days of my life. The years of weird jobs, gaining experience in order to one day get the shot at the big guns, were over. The glass of prosecco tasted really well that day before Christmas two years ago.

But yeah, it did not last. Every day at that job was fun, everyone I met in the whole company was an incredible person and I loved working with them. Like many other jobs, at some point the job didn't fit the expectation that was set in the beginning anymore. It's easy to talk about it now because my job no longer exists and the silver linings are easy to see. While we all loved the work and the device, the future that we had anticipated was clearly not going to happen. I knew I'd be fine. At the time though, it felt like a funeral. The decisions some of us made to leave was a good one for every single person that made it and the business, too. Yet, for a while, I mourned the loss of what I thought I would help make a historical device. 

I was never unhappy at Amazon. Quite the contrary, I loved my job. My last day was plagued by an upside down frown, yet most people told me the same: "you never know, Sina, something bigger is waiting wink wink". The job I had accepted wasn't going to exist forever. So I thought I was doing the right thing by taking a chance in life, again. It's my absolute conviction that very few people would have left a full-time position at Amazon to find something "better". Sounds stupid even to me. I joked with my flatmates that I'll just go to Google. The idea wasn't absurd. Without telling my colleagues about this joke, they sent me a parting gift a few weeks after I left. They had wrapped a book and some German candies for me. The book was called "How To Become A YouTube Superstar". My colleagues wanted to encourage me to become a social media influencer. Considering what I did instead makes me feel fuzzy inside.

In Germany, we celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December. As the UK doesn't, my Google recruiter called me on Christmas to tell me I had gotten the job I wanted really bad at Google. Talk about a great present! It wasn't going too badly for me in the interviews. I had interviewed with three other companies, waiting for the decisions. Just like back in the day, when I was waiting to hear back from universities, the day the first "yes" arrived, it was more the shock and excitement of knowing something will happen, this time the end of unemployment. Then I realized I had just received an offer for a badass job I wanted really bad. Objectively speaking it was also a huge upgrade from my Amazon job. I accepted before hearing back from all others.

Of course, getting a job at a tech giant feels great. The kind of feeling you think will change your life. Like last time, I was ready for the change. My first action in London was to buy a bottle of champagne. While cheering with my friends to a successful new year, I pondered what I was proud of: getting a job at Google? Getting a job? No longer being unemployed? The honest to God answer is another. Of course I'm excited for this job, a new chapter, the work I'll be doing. But mainly, I am proud of myself for daring to dream bigger when I was already exceeding the expectations I had set for myself. I left Amazon into uncertainty, merely hoping I will find something better. Yet, trust me, walking away from a great job with a yummy share package attached was not an easy decision. Most days, I doubted I'd be that lucky twice. But deep down, I felt this day, December 24, 2018 would come. For the first time in my life I understood the Hollywood stars talking about persistence in their Oscar speeches. I get that now... 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Leaving Thoughts: See Ya Never, 2018!

Another year, another blog post about the year that has passed. After 2017, the year of endless happiness, this year took a different approach. It all kicked off week one with my two best friends leaving the country. My favorite colleague and the only one I ever spoke to after work (or should I say "spoke at") left to Australia, leaving me with an empty chair to my left. I used to call that a bad start to a year, now I know it was just a taste of what was to come. Just a few months later, I left my chair as well. What followed was antagonizing boredom and the quest to not go crazy. Oh, and a lot of new insights into, like, who I am. Just in time for my big birthday in January, I had to once again ask myself: what do I want to do with my life? Where do I want to live? What have I learned from the good times and the bad? On the last day of 2018, I can call the year a success, though. Because I know the answers.

When I look back at my year, it's hard to remember most things. Up to May when the end of my Amazon time became apparent, the only feeling I remember was "I think the end of my Amazon time is nigh". There was also the normal mix of being upset about men treating me badly and utter bliss about how much fun I was having with my friends. Yep, that's really it. That's all I remember. As leaving the job was by far the hardest thing to do in 2018, I tried to make a new plan. My friends who had helped me through any bad times in the last two years were planning their departures from Cambridge as well. In fact, even when I was still at Amazon, so was I. So, therefore, as soon as there was time and opportunity to make the first change, I knew what it was.

After another month on our Cambridge patio, my two best friends in the house and I decided to clear our rooms in our loved-up house. Jesus went to Miami, Rocio and I to London. This move was the first big step towards the new direction. I knew it had to be London. The ship has sailed on Germany, and after two glorious years in England I was sure it is now home. Going to London had been teenage Sina's dream so it seemed like a no-brainer. Best. Decision. Ever. I moved in temporarily with my friend Katie in West London. I went running along the river Thames. I meditated every day. I started dating again (oh, how I hate that expression). You could say, I was back. I just needed a job.

What was it gonna be? I took some time to get aquatinted to writing a book, a lifelong dream. After two months, I was way too bored to do it full-time. It seemed more like a hobby if paired with a versatile job. But what should it be? This cluelessness that is quite common in your 20s was back again, only now I was 29 and knew it would fade. But I did become impatient at times; I just wanted to get up with a purpose in the morning. Most available jobs bored me and I had some really crappy moments where I thought it was hopeless. It was probably the meditation that helped me to stay positive but I knew, I just knew, that I was waiting. I wasn't being lazy or defeated, I was waiting for the day that would bring me a job ad that would make me feel the tingles. And I was right, the day did come.

2018 made me an esoteric woman; I went deeper into my own personality and found stuff I didn't want to. I became aware of insecurity and structures of thinking that definitely didn't have to see the light of day. And throughout it all, I managed to stay positive which I am very proud of. A lot of people pitied me this year, I could feel it. It was a horrible feeling. But as of this year, I no longer know if that is because they are only feeling sorry for me now or because I never noticed it before. Awareness really is the key to all change, isn't it? I had to realize I wanted to live in London before I could make that awesome change. And I became aware that me leaving Amazon was not a mistake early on without having a better deal lined up.

Best year, worst year? I don't know. I think we can all agree that it wasn't a good year. In a good year, your friends do not feel like they have to make you a video with all the good things that happened to you in the year you lived with them to cheer you up a week before you're leaving a job you love. But they did that, and along with the week we all stayed in a villa in Spain to watch two of us get married, it is my highlight 2018. I would be nothing, absolutely nothing, without the people I have befriended over the years. That is also awareness at work in 2018. I would literally be homeless right now if I didn't have friends. And so despite some pretty crap events, those who pity me should probably envy me. Dark times bring out what really matters, and I know what it is. And in any case, I start a new job next week, move hopefully the following week, so there is no better moment to say "suck it 2018, bring it on, new year!"

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

What Made 2018 Awesome?

Oh dear, thank God that's over. My years seem to take turns: one year life is amazing, the next one, not so much! 2018 was a bit of a downer. Lots of unfortunate events that would manifest in my writing as "learning experiences". Except for the World Cup, that stuff was just baaad. I really don't mind bad years so much; I definitely learned more in 2018 than I did in 2017, the year of Awesome! The silver lining is easy: 2019 is going to be fantastic. For many reasons: 1. It can almost only get better, and 2. I got that feeling! It's nice to have the experiences of this year in the bag to make a bigger impact next year.

And of course, I love a look back. The year was full of stories, people, and impressions. Despite what I just said, I had some of the best moments of my life this year. Since this is highly personal, I thought I'd make my own look back of the best moments of 2018.

All of the women 
I would like to think the world is changing... 
Last year, as my colleague Philipp and I were walking to the Munich Christmas Market, he told me that "2018 is going to be the year of the woman". Of course, I'd read it a hundred times. To hear that from the mouth of a man made me feel something all the other stuff that had already happened, namely #MeToo, failed to make me feel: hopeful it might actually be true. I personally don't need a year to be the year of the woman. I don't need things to be amazing for women. What I did need, and what I got, was women starting to believe in themselves and men supporting them. I'm talking Serena Williams who got a pretty great coverage when calling out the referee at the US Open. Although pointless in the truest sense of the word by sheer fact that she is now a member of a pointless family, Meghan Markle was celebrated for being strong, working for a greater good and, well, anything other than just being super f***ing good-looking (which she also is). Would Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have won in 2017? We will never know, but it was a big story that made me feel empowered to reach high.

The World Cup
When I took this video, I was still a World Champion!
I know, if a tournament that you had tickets for is featured in a year, it must be a highlight. As many know, I had tickets for the final of the World Cup which, given the circumstances, was unfortunate. I never saw my boys in the final, never mind in any of the final rounds, and altogether this World Cup was a shitshow from a Germans perspective. Sure, I still had England, the country I lived in but I failed to get excited with every performance because, frankly, why were they there? It seems unfair that a team like England went on to semis while Spain had to go home. But, I went to Russia for the last week of the tournament, and what I experienced there, I will never forget. To have positive moments in July 2018 when the job I loved was coming to an end was not an easy feat. Thanks to some international friends I made there, it was achieved though. Seeing people from everywhere in one place (not on the internet, but with your own eyes) was tremendous. And, as the previous point, a true source of hope for a better world.

View from "Day 1" in Seattle
Visiting the Amazon Headquarters in April was a great experience. Looking back, I really don't think I had that great of a time. There were some weird moments, professionally and personally, I cannot really talk about. It wasn't a big fest of people finally meeting and creating great stuff together. But it was at the "mothership". Being part of any mothership is a wonderful feeling, and knowing that my mothership was changing the future made me feel very proud. I also enjoyed experiencing actual human exchange with people I worked with and realized it is quite hard for me to not want to befriend colleagues because we obviously have a lot in common (at least 8 hours of our daily schedules, that's quite a bit!). My time at Amazon is now over but it makes me feel good that I am able to claim I made an impact at something as massive as the eight-block office complex in Seattle, WA.

No Rain for four months
A little gathering at ours for just the closest friends... :/
This year, my hobbies took a beating. I have many, many interests (although most of them are available to explore in books or on the internet, and almost none of them in Cambridge, UK) but the four months of no rain in this country were spent almost entirely on the patio. When you live with seven people, seven of whom are your best friends and you love them, there is no better place than home. Throughout all the struggles of 2018, I always had a patio to sit on with at least one of them. We also worked out, setting up the computer and a YouTube workout in the garden, kept chickens and sat in circles with guitars, like a f***ing cult. In fact, I never felt, throughout all my achievements in life, big or small, like people had more reason to envy me that in those days.

I have no intention of ever being too "London" to love WW!
I moved to London, finally. A lifelong goal became reality and I was not disappointed. I moved in with my friend Katie which ended up being pretty special and I had a lot of time to explore my new home. After a couple of months, I already understand how some of my friends could sometimes tell me which Tube line to take without checking the map; I can do that now. I already figured out that I am not a Hackney person and that I enjoy hanging out at Blues Kitchen (mainly because it is possibly the only place that plays music I actually know). I spent four nights in two weeks at the Winter Wonderland, each visit better than the last, and if I wasn't leaving for the holidays, I'd consider a visit on Christmas Day (of course, as a fan I know WW is closed then). I know this doesn't make me a Londoner; it actually makes me the opposite. But I love it here, and it's my favorite move since the last one... 

Friday, November 30, 2018

How I Became "Liberal"

"Liberal", "moderate", "conservative": Those are the choices I got to pick for my political views on a dating app. Sure, many people know exactly where they stand. While I have absolutely no problem picking my sexual orientation, this one was harder. That got me thinking. Immediately, I had an explanation for the confusion. We are born with one; the other one is a result of upbringing, background, or nurture, you could say. The generational divide in politics is a testament to that being true. All the baby boomers and grandmas voting for Brexit were not "born this way", they just formed their opinions in a different environment than the majority of my generation. So I was raised to be a gay-loving, refugee-accepting feminist, it seems. But was I?

Of the three choices I had on the app, I went with "liberal". I definitely identify with many, many moderate and some conservative ideas, but since these are labels, I picked one. I was imagining three groups of people, each standing under a banner that spelled out each word. I asked myself which of these groups I would rather stand with, and the liberals often are the most diverse group which, to me, is an attractive feature. They are, like me, seldom the product of a wealthy upbringing and seem to emphasize people over profits. At 16, I had not seen this yet. I asked my best friend's father, a former US military man, what the difference is between "Democrats" and "Republicans". "Sina", he said, "do you believe that you should be able to harvest the fruits of your own labor yourself?" I said yes! "Then you are a Republican", he answered. I believed that for a good while.

Unlike my sexual orientation I was born with, what group I saw myself standing with was obviously a very fluid decision. Political views can be easily swayed and influenced and for a long time, I believed my strong faith would automatically mean I need to be conservative. So when did I become "liberal"? Was it a time that I realized that my friend's father had fed me a very narrow-minded idea of Conservatism? No. Was it my four years studying politics at university that taught me what ends there are in the political spectrum? No. Was it evaluating what history had taught me and that one direction was worse than the other? No. Looking back, I am almost confident it started with my mother.

I have very few memories of my childhood, but I do remember kindergarten. I grew up in a village in Germany, most of the kids were white. At around age 5, a black family from Nigeria moved in next door. They were loud and had a lot of children. Their skin color was not the only thing that was different from all the other families in the street. But my mother never commented on that. They were just another family. That is normal, you could argue, but unfortunately, it is not. When the mother of the children next door was calling them for dinner, she was walking outside calling out their names loudly, almost crying like the kid was gone for good. None of the white parents did anything similar. Instead of complaining, my mother laughed. She found it amusing, not annoying. Other mothers would possibly have made a noise complaint. Instead, my mother celebrated we had someone different living next door.

Although I didn't want to, my mother made me play with the kids. I do not believe my mother did that to teach me to play with black kids. I do believe, however, that my mother taught me to accept everyone, even if they are perceived as different. I was 5 so I probably didn't even know that the color of a skin could even be considered a difference between people, yet as I grew older that is what I witnessed: kids not wanting to play with someone different-looking. My mother also celebrated Freddie Mercury, giving me my very first CD: "Living on my own", saying how exceptional and talented this man on the CD was. I also recall that it was in this context I first heard about homosexuality. The lesson my mother told me about loving people of the same sex must have worked as I do not remember fearing it, like many. A few years later, I chose to go to an all-girls Catholic private school that had a reputation for "creating lesbians" which was made fun of a lot. My judgment of homosexuality came much later, age 16, when I was taking my father's friends advice and thought my pastor had the answer.

It wasn't until I went to uni that I was actually living the life of those who, today, cross out the box "liberal". There I was, in a classroom in Scotland, one of not too many white girls with classmates from countries I never heard of. My roommate and best friend was from Angola, my Volleyball team used chants in a number of languages. Exchange with people from other countries doesn't make one "liberal" but it sure as hell broadens the horizon. I did not start believing in government subsidies because I talked to Chinese exchange students but because I realized how similar all these different people were. I was living the EU dream, having my government with all their "liberal" programmes pay for my education which would never have been possible without them. I was able to get information about things from people who knew about them, not from TV or Facebook. It was an education you do not need books for... 

As a result, I consider myself liberal today because I am a liberal success story. My life has been a testament that one cannot "go it alone"; this principle works for both life in general and politics. I looked for good examples of conservatives sharing my belief for years, without success. My personal beliefs of needing to help each other out, making sacrifices for those less fortunate and accepting everybody the way they are flow seamlessly into my political views. Of course, there are limits to the feasibility of these ideas. But the reason us young, educated millennials are often liberals is probably that we lived a different life from the elders; we already saw different, it doesn't scare us anymore. We can no longer do things alone, we have to cooperate. And we have had enough privilege to know there is enough for the many, not the few. It's a different nurture, but it will one day become nature. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

And The "Word Of The Year" Is...

As the year comes to an end, some incredible people who work with words are crowning a "word of the year". Online platforms and dictionaries look at the year and evaluate which word has changed the most, gotten new meanings or just captured the signs of the time the best. As a writer myself, I asked myself the same question: what is my word of the year? I am not choosing for the public but for myself. Funnily enough, I realized, I would have shortlisted the same words. Let's start with the Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year: "Toxic". While the crowd of the Oxford Dictionary is probably referring to the bullshit discussed in pubs about "politics", the blatant hatred between groups on- and offline, and pretty much any piece of information pertaining to Britains future after Brexit, I'm referring to my relationship with the man who shat on my year. Moving on to which chose "misinformation". Oh look, another reference to Mister Toxic. Words are just amazing!

"Toxic" really is the perfect word to choose for this year. It's not a new word at all, only that before 2018 it was mostly used in Elite Daily or Huff Post articles along the line of "10 Reasons You Should Dump Him, Like, Now". This past year has graduated it from the vocabulary of a dramatic people on Facebook talking about people they simply do not get on with to the wider vocabulary of almost everyone. "Toxic" can be said about people, situations and conversations; even the freaking atmosphere of this planet seems to become it. So all that has changed is how people relate to it. "Toxic" is no longer just a hit song but a word everyone can suddenly relate to.

Including myself. I believed this word to be a dramatization of calling a person a negative word for being negative. Until I met that guy. In 2017, I had two very unhealthy liaisons, and their effects were so unhealthy they could be referred to as poison; poison for my self-esteem, poison for my future, poison for my surroundings. You know, just really bad. One of these two went on to become the trainwreck that was 2018. At least in 2017, there was an element of fun and caring involved in that relationship but anything beyond the first week of 2018 was manipulation and mindfucking. You guessed it, the relationship went from bad to worse, from worse to toxic. It culminated in deep unhappiness on both sides as a result of something that was never working and never could. Like poison, I had been drinking, making myself sick. Weirdly enough, poison is addictive; maybe that's why it's so toxic.

And then we have "misinformation" which also resonates with my year. What does it even mean? Is it just another word for lying? No, not quite. It's not the legendary Kellyanne Conway's "alternative facts" either. Now, "misinformation" is not a new term or word, it has always been there. But today, its meaning is harder to understand than ever. Because when you encounter the entity this word describes, you don't even know its misinformation. When I was hit with some serious misinformation this year in May, I did not realize I was being fed completely incorrect facts that had no foundation in the truth. I was receiving "news" from a trusted source at work, unaware it was completely made up to fit a narrative. It wasn't lying (yet), it was just making facts align to work for the narrator. So I experienced this word and the drastic effects it can have on a life. To think the whole world has to battle it online every day is a sad reality of 2018.

It is almost comical that we also find "gaslighting" on the Oxford Dictionary shortlist. So, gaslighting apparently means "the action of manipulating someone by psychological means into accepting a false depiction of reality or doubting their sanity". Oh wow! As for me, both the aforementioned experiences were wonderful examples of gaslighting. It is so closely related to my toxic friend, the difference between the words "toxic" and "gaslighting" for me is only marginal, one obviously being the result of the other. However, "gaslighting" also indicates that the recipient of such toxic or misinformed behavior seeks the fault within themselves which is sadly what I decided to do. Furthermore, we find "orbiting" on the shortlist which means the action of stopping communication with someone while still following them on social media or public platforms. The person making that shortlist must have been with some toxic guy who then gaslighted her. I feel ya sister, call me. Me, too!

Overall, one could say that according to the dictionaries of the world, I had a classic year 2018. I was misinformed, gaslighted, and orbited by some toxic males. These being the editors' choices makes me feel better about the amount of shit I felt due to these words being realities rather than lingo. But neither of these words would be my word of the year. That could only be "awareness". Awareness, as many words of the year, has been in vocabularies for years, only this year I started using it. Through all of these experiences, I became aware, woke, enlightened. I realized I had many bad traits I always condemned, such as a problem with insecurity, being prone to be exploited and a competitive nature that was stopping me to be happy. But awareness is the first step towards change of these characteristics; without seeing a problem, one cannot hope to resolve it. Much meditation helped me see terms like "toxic" and "misinformation" for what they are: a word, nothing more. Not a feeling or permanent stamp. And certainly not the future. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Do I Finally Love Egypt? How A Job Interview Changed My Views

This was written November 1 but then I lost the file... Good thing things find me!

Anyone who has been here before will have read my attempts to go back in time. On certain dates, it's easier to look back than others. When I remember where I was on a certain date, one or two years ago, it helps me asses what I have achieved in that year. Today, for example. On November 1 last year, I shaved all of my male co-workers at Amazon, including a senior visiting director, for Movember. That set off the best month I had at Amazon, for many reasons. The night before, I remember vividly, I was dressed up as the corpse bride to scare the children of Victoria Road with absolutely zero success. I was living a settled life, trying to spread the love I had experienced to few people at work, in my street, in my circle. It was a simple time with few things putting my brain to work. Today - yeah, a little different. I'm writing this from a plane, looking down at my former home, Cairo, as I finish what is definitely the most impulsive week of my life you and that's saying something.

Three years ago, almost exactly, I did something that was so spontaneous that I surprised myself. My boss called me and said he would fly me out to a vacation in Dubai if I could be at the airport in an hour and a half, which was close to impossible. Not for mamma, it tuned out. With nothing but a bikini and a book I rocked up at a five-star suite on the Palm and just enjoyed myself. But, you may say, who wouldn't for a free vacation? Sacrifices are easily made that way, eh? Last Thursday, it was a little different. I went to a job interview for which I had very, very little information. I knew the employer needed someone to travel with him and altogether the opportunity sounded too interesting not to at least hear out. So with almost no information, I went to the interview. I was impressed by the man I was speaking to and wanted to ask him a million questions. He allowed me one, and I asked where he was off to next. "Egypt", he said, "wanna come?" My following "yes" made him giggle. "If you're serious", he said, "meet me at my plane in two hours." There wouldn't be a story here if I had just laughed and walked out.

I'm spontaneous and love crazy, yes, but this was a new height. I asked the assistant on my way home for how long I'd be packing and she said 10 days. Before I had actual time to ponder my decision, I was on this man's jet, taking off to Cairo. I didn't know why I was there or what I'd be doing but who knows, ever? Opportunities come and go, and my biggest fear is not taking one. This way I was maximizing the chances of not regretting. To me, this didn't seem like a hard decision and yet, everyone I told was questioning my sanity. I realized that not a lot of people would have done it because uncertainty is scary to people. But what made me proudest was everyone's reaction. "This kind of stuff only happens to you", they said. Every single one of them. And I knew they were right; I'm one of these people. And I'm pretty proud of that.

So suddenly I was back in Cairo, a place I vowed not to come back to. One should never do that, lesson learned. And I always knew that was a stupid vow. Yet, as the plane came down, I started being nervous. Cairo is the place I became a grown up. It is, to this day, probably the chapter of my life that was hardest for me. And as I was considering it had been two and a half years since my departure, my achievements visualized. I thought back to this day a year ago, being a settled little corporate girl trying to make my miserable coworkers a little happier. I looked back to that day three years ago, thick-skinned after a year in Cairo. And finally, I saw this day four years ago, a girl, not woman, in Cairo trying to make a future happen. Whatever decisions I made, I thought, I did it: I grew up and made an incredible life happen. I arrived on a flipping private jet, for crying out loud. Egypt hadn't failed me; it had set the path to extraordinary. Suddenly, I loved it.

Soil that changed you becomes good soil. This country is harsh and threatened to break me sometimes. But I didn't. Quite the contrary: I came out a positive person, deeply appreciative of everything I had. I never felt home in Egypt, and yet here I was watching the life I used to live: buying snacks at the kushk, enjoying the tranquility of a Friday morning and the simplicity of a three-lane street comfortably featuring five rows of cars and one for motorcycles. Its a part of me now and for two years, it was reality. The memory of that makes the grass in Holland Park, where I run, greener, my nights out in a Soho pub surrounded by queer folk more liberating and the work I do, or will do, in the future more profound. But all of that wouldn't be there if Egypt hadn't taught me to fight, appreciate and believe

It's not my life but I understand it now. This super different life is familiar because of the time I spent there and familiarity causes comfort. I feel connected to those who have made the same experience and can, today, look back on these two years and feel gratitude. Overwhelming gratitude. Having had the chance to learn to love something so hard to love is a great lesson. I don't love Egypt and I never will just like I will never love cucumbers, but they are still green and have a great effect on tired eyes. And for that, I can love them although they're not my taste. That's Egypt, too. And it took this quick and crazy visit to realize that. Time doesn't change most places but it changed me. The last year, the days since I left Egypt and the months since I arrived there. Sometimes a gentle reminder such as a visit can remind us how far we've come. 

Spot the Pyramids in the center-left

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Ultimate Flaws: Watching Sex and the City in 2018

Have you ever watched your favorite show from the 90s back? Like Friends or Charmed? Watching the Gilmore Girls in 2018 is a vastly different experience than watching it back in 2000, even, when I first did. The themes in there make a 2018 feminist cringe sometimes. I decided a few weeks ago to dive deep and try to rewatch Sex and the City for two reasons: Firstly: I was a child when I first watched it, being 13 when it concluded. In other words, I had no idea what these chicks were talking about when I first saw the show. And secondly, I remember how much of a breakthrough this show was, and I couldn't help but wonder: would Sex and the City still invoke a sexual liberation within me today as it did to women my age in 1998?

The answer was astonishing. I still dislike Carrie, however, this time know why. And I saw some other things that made me realize that progress had actually happened - because some of Michael Patrick Kings advanced, feminist revelations from then are super effing outdated now. And altogether, Sex and the City has some ultimate flaws that might be even more drastic in 2018 than they were then.

Do men really ask for someone's number after seeing an eccentrically dressed woman run through the rain?

Carrie gets a lot of men to ask her for her number - and then they actually call her. Miranda gets a date from meeting someone queuing for coffee. Sorry, no way! I don't know the 90s too well to know if it was really like that. Nowadays experiences are certainly very, very different. I have been asked for my number by a stranger three times in 30 years of this life - and I met a lot of men. A lot. I went out for a living in the first decade of this millennium and the only guy to ever call me was my church friend turned love interest after we had gone from friendship to romance. It was such a milestone that I remember saying to my friends that it was the first time someone had called me. And sure, this is the age of the internet, and Mr. Big didn't have the iPhone but men simply do not take charge and speak, maybe anymore. The existence of a dating app called Bumble, where women HAVE TO make the first step, says it all. Why would it be necessary to have this app if we were still in the 90s where the man calls the woman? Or text because who speaks these days…?

Which brings me to the next biggest flaw: what do some of these men see in Carrie?

Carrie is cool, the writers of the show like to show her as successful but writing a weekly column in a tabloid paper is not success and certainly doesn't pay for her lifestyle, and she doesn't care about much more than shoes. There is no problem with that, everyone can be what they wanna be. But please, Alexandr Petrovsky, the world-renowned artist thinks it's refreshing that Carrie thinks his craft is a waste of time she “just doesn't get”? Why would he? Aidan, the outdoorsy, down-to-earth neighborhood guy likes a woman who is not passionate about his dog or any of his hobbies but a 400 dollar pair of shoes? Then he gets cheated on, in the worst way, and he cannot live without Carrie. I mean, nothing's impossible but at the very least it's a little bit ridiculous. Sure, it could be desperation; but it's more likely Michael Patrick King just chose his plot in the same way he placed products in Sex and the City - The Movie.

Now that we're talking about Aidan, can someone explain his behavior to me?

If a chick cheated on me, she would be a goner. But good for him for reconciling with her despite having absolutely nothing in common with her and being very visibly not loved back. He then wants to share his life with her, builds her a new wall in the apartment, invites her to his countryside abode. And Carrie goes there and does two things: hate on everything he likes about it and invites the guy she cheated with. No self-respecting man would allow that, nevermind really cares about rescuing the relationship. He has a baby as soon as Carrie is gone so he must have had a hunch he wanted a family girl who likes the subs. So why Carrie? It makes very little sense.

And Carrie isn't just a dick to Aidan, she's a golddigger.

The show makes a very poor effort at portraying Carrie as a self-made woman which I would argue is why feminists have a problem with the portrayal. She is a columnist in NYC so like in any other show, her apartment would be completely unaffordable to her in real life. But her taste, yeah her taste, is something else. Manolo Blahniks are not attainable for writers, period. And in one episode we find out Carrie spent 40,000 bucks on shoes but has 200 in her savings account. That's bullshit - and very stupid. But of course, Carrie only hangs out with three super-rich chicks that make anything happen, and when she moves in with Mr. Big it has to be a Park Avenue Penthouse. Her writer boyfriend Jack Berger has to wear Prada. Carrie has no problem having her lifestyle being paid for by her rich boyfriends which, again, is an okay attitude to have. To portray her as a feminist hero, however, just isn't right then. I like the good life, too, yo, but I plan to earn it myself and I would like the chance to do so. Glorifying Carries gold-digging ways does not really send the right message.

Last but not least, why exactly are the four girls friends?

So yeah, Carrie is or should be, poor, the other three are not. The vast differences in wealth have an effect on real-life friends because, when Samantha wants to go to a VIP club, a real Carrie (or Charlotte before the wedding for money) would not be able to afford that. Charlotte is a judgemental conservative, Samantha certainly is not. Maybe Samatha is very tolerant but would anyone like to be friends with people who judge them? Miranda disagrees with almost all they're saying which makes me love her because she isn't a dreamer. Yet, her best friend is Carrie who has a huge poster reading “Love” next to her front door at the age of 40. Friendship, like partnerships, need things that connect people. What connects these girls?

So much for my realistic flaws about Sex and the City. Of course, if we talked about artistic problems, trivializing actual problems, glorifying clothes over human quality, I would have more to say. I would criticize that Carrie goes to work for Vogue, gets harassed by the editor, and the show makes that a funny incident rather than a critique of the existing status quo. Of course, in the post-Weinstein world, that episode would be off the air, thank God. It does show me that we have come some way since 1998 when it was okay for men to treat those four women the way they did sometimes and it being a funny turn in a TV episode. Today, we talk about it. We don't laugh about men dropping their pants at a work meeting, we accept women like Samantha. That was not the case when I watched the show the first time around. I wasn't the same, either, and I don't mean my lack of age, but my lack of different perspective.