Confessions of a 20-something #18: Bus ride etiquette

On bus ride etiquette and the people who don’t, in any way, deserve to have your seat

The STM has made no secret of its belief that there are some commuters who deserve a seat on public transit more than you: pregnant women, senior citizens, people with strollers, etc. For the most part, these (somewhat) unspoken rules or code of conduct are respected.

Now, let me preface this by saying that I am normally very aware of those people too frail or too strained to stand for the length of a bus ride. I am usually very considerate and “generous” with my seat-giving. However, I ride the 165 through Cote-des-Neiges, a cultural epicentre punctuated by numerous mental health facilities, from terminus to terminus. My tired legs need a rest too, and there is nothing more satisfying than keeping one seat for the length of the ride.

If the STM has put a “to-do” list in place—a reference point for commuter etiquette—then my personal, ridiculous experiences in the 165 have encouraged me to do the opposite. I have compiled my own list of “not to-do’s”: a guide to the people that you are NOT obligated to give up your seat for.

Think of it as Emily Post for impatient Montrealers.

-I will not give up my seat for you if you are waving your flaccid penis in my face. Is that thing supposed to be intimidating?

-I will not give up my seat for you if you are decked head to toe in tacky designer knock-offs. I’m sorry, is a “Trendi” bag or “Canadian Moose” jacket supposed to speak to your social status? I’m impressed, really. Sit your bejewelled ass down right here in my seat, it’s an honour.

-I will not give up my seat for you if you have not bathed since September 2006.

-I will not give up my seat for you if you cannot stand up for two stops (which incidentally, you refuse to walk). If you’re breathing like Darth Vader, completely winded after stepping up into the bus, then your first concern should not be sitting down.

-I will not give up my seat for you if you pay your entire bus passage in dimes. Points for frugality, but youare by far one of the most annoying (and time consuming) creatures I’ve encountered.

-I will not give up my seat for you if you are dragging one of those stupid grocery carriers around, OR are pushing a stroller filled with nothing but shopping bags. An extra 5,000 points is deducted from the person who asks to get on the bus before everyone else because “strollers are priority.” Another 1,500 points is deducted if there are dogs in said stroller.

-I will not give up my seat for you if you are muttering prayers to Satan, threaten bloody murder, and/or have applied makeup and glitter gel heavy handedly. I will, however, point to the nearest pharmacy and recommend a renewal for your medication. And maybe a facecloth.

-I will not give up my seat for you merely because you want MY seat. I know, it’s great. That’s why it’s MY seat. But it’s alright, you can console yourself by leaning your crotch on my arm, staring furiously, and reading my text messages…they’re all about you anyways. Crazy b.

Despite all of these creatures, I will stubbornly continue to enjoy daily bus rides from my usual seat, outrightly (and comfortably) judging others for not giving up theirs.


Confessions of a 20-something #17

On used condoms, bra stealing, and the real struggle to find a reliable (and sane) roommate

I still remember how relieved I felt when I found your ad on Kijiji: you said you were moving from Ottawa, and looking for a room close to school. There I was, alone, struggling to pay rent in a 3 1/2. It was meant to be. I moved into the living room when you arrived, accompanied by a friend you didn’t tell me was also going to be moving in with us.

After two weeks, the janitor called me to say it wasn’t his job to catch diseases picking up the used condoms that your friend was throwing off the balcony. OK, just a minor setback, right?

A few days later, your friend decided she had enough. She left, telling me I would see you for who you really were. I’m sorry to say it took five months for those words to come true, but when they did, it was time we went our separate ways.

Now I see you in all your glory, and I still don’t get you. You are so abnormal to me; you fascinate me. I just can’t stop thinking about you. I’m sorry you had to block me on Instagram and set your profile to private because you think I am obsessed with you.

The despicable truth is that, in a way, I am sorry. I wanted to apologize properly, so I wrote you a poem called “A public apology to my ex-roommate.” Forgive me if it’s a little rusty:

 I’m sorry I can’t stop agonizing over the pictures you posted on Instagram wearing my clothes while I was away in Africa.

I’m sorry I still burst with frustration when my girlfriends and I recall the unfulfilled lives of our new lipsticks that you used, without asking or telling, and squashed to uselessness.

I’m sorry I am mourning the loss of my earphones, my headphones and my lip gloss. Taking without asking is stealing, by the way.

I’m sorry I still wonder why you felt victimized after I accused you of losing my scissors and my Tupperware. I’m sorry I invaded your privacy by searching your room, and I’m sorry I found them in there.

I’m sorry I also found my bras and my panties in there too. Were you obsessed with me?

I’m sorry you’re still a kid. I’m sorry you’re fresh out of high school, in a new city, without mommy or daddy to clean your bathtub or to flush your poop down the toilet. Enter moi.

I’m sorry I cannot get over my disillusionment. I’m sorry that I used to think people who did wrong were subject to remorse, pangs of conscience.

I’m sorry I took the bait when you tweeted about me and aired our dirty laundry for all to see.

I’m sorry I let you get away with all of it and I’m sorry I believed your lies. I’m sorry I welcomed you and introduced you to my friends, making an effort to get to know you.

I’m sorry I shared everything I love with you: my friends, my family, my movies, my Sopranos.

I’m sorry I thought the better of you and that you will never own up to being wrong.

I’m sorry I met you. I can’t get over how ugly of a person you are and I’m sorry you don’t see it.

P.S. I’m sorry if you got a yeast infection. Next time, don’t use cotton underwear.


Confessions of a 20-something #16

It happened again today. I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, and the first thing they asked me was, of course, if there were any new guys in my life.

Graphic Jenny Kwan

“Well, no,” I start. But before I have a chance to mention how I’m doing well in school, planning an exciting trip or working a new job, I have already received the “Oh, that’s too bad. Someone will come around soon enough, you’ll see” response.

This is becoming a common occurrence: the “good things come to those wait” spiel, as if this bit of unsolicited advice will cure me from the hopelessness I am supposedly feeling from being stuck in singledom.

Well, that is not the case. I am perfectly happy being single. In fact, at this point in time, I think I would rather be single. I’m trying to understand why other people look at it like it’s a problem. They seem to look at “singleness” as if there is something missing — if you are single, you are incomplete. A relationship is the journey, and singleness is perceived as just a minor setback. It’s seen as the temporary stage until you reach the ultimate goal of finding someone to be with, which is followed by an all around better, happier, more fulfilling state — or something like that.

That is not how I see it. I have always been a girl’s girl. It has always been important to me to have friends I can rely on and people who I know will be there for the long haul. How does that Kelly Clarkson lyric go? “Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone?” She’s exactly right.

I’m 20-years-old, and I have the opportunity to focus on myself. I have the rest of my life to spend it with someone else. I definitely understand the joy and value that comes from relationships, and I’m happy for anyone who experiences that. What I’m saying is that I don’t define myself by my relationship status. I know of girls (and guys as well) that hop from relationship to fling and back again because they feel their worst and their loneliest when they are single. Singleness has taught me to base my self-worth on myself, rather than in another person.

Valentine’s Day just passed; the day us single girls are supposed to loathe, while we wallow in self-pity with a pint of Häagen-Dazs.

Does being single mean I automatically have to despise Valentine’s Day and roll my eyes at every bouquet and box of chocolates on my Instagram feed? Because honestly, I don’t. No hashtagging “forever alone” over here.

I don’t look at relationships with bitterness or jealousy; I look at them as something I don’t feel I need right now. So, no, I don’t want your pity, I don’t want your pep talks, and I definitely don’t want your set-ups and blind dates. I’m fine. Not the “I’m not actually fine I’m crying inside” fine, but seriously fine.

It’s not like I plan on being single forever, but I like to take things one day at a time. I think singleness has taught me a lot, and I’m still learning from it. Sure, maybe ignorance is bliss, and maybe I don’t know what I’m missing. But what I do know is in this moment, I’m perfectly happy with the way things are.

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Confessions of a 20-something

Henry Zavriyev


Graphic Jenny Kwan

Have you ever washed dishes before? I know I have. The first time my mother sat me down on a stool in front of the sink, shoved a wet sponge into my hands, and ordered me to wash my own dishes I almost threw a fit. A week later, I was washing dishes for my little brother and soon enough I had graduated to dishwasher au choix of the Zavriyev household. No one could scrub off greasy rigatoni from the edges of a skillet as well as I. No one could soak, scrape and swish with such skill.

So it came as a great surprise to me when in my first interview for a busboy position I was told I needed more relevant experience. My interviewer, a burly man of great width, suggested I try the coffee shop down the street for a job. Maybe they would have the time to train a “newbie” such as myself. I looked at him blankly.

Surely this was a joke. The upperclassmen in my dormitory, hardened veterans of the industry, had told me that the job of busboy entailed little to no skill, yet here I was being shoved out the door. I had gravely misinterpreted the job of “busboy” for that of a “dishwasher.” The former required “two years relevant experience” and I had none. Although I had been a dishwasher all my life, I had never been a busboy.

There’s a reason why minimum wage jobs are the very bottom of the pack. Unless it’s an internship, you don’t get paid 10 bucks an hour for your ability to solve complex theoretical problems or make important decisions. You get paid to shovel snow, cut grass, flip burgers, and carry loads of dishes from the dishwasher to the drying rack.

Your task is repetitive and mundane, and most of your time will be spent rethinking last year’s indulgent purchases. After two days of training you are no worse than last year’s employee of the month, and after two months, you decide that the job is not for you. It is, at most, a very barebones experience. What you do learn, however, is the value of money—Aloe Blacc style.

The main point here, is that every working relationship is one of benefits and costs. What will one employee bring to my company, and how much am I willing to spend on his wages. In the case of minimum wage employment, the cost is low enough for employers to take the hit.

Training is minimal and the tasks so simple that to ask for previous experience only limits an employer’s hiring base. What is more important is not how many hours one has previously worked at the same job, but the amount of energy one will bring to work. If the task is so simple that we can assume everyone has the same chance of mastering it, then it is more practical for the employer to assess a potential employee’s enthusiasm and willingness to work.

There are plenty of students who have no experience, but are so in need of a job that they will do anything to be the best. To me, this is the perfect employee: one that is motivated to work and appreciates the opportunity. This type of employee is the kind of investment employers need to make: an investment that pays off.


Confessions of a 20-something #13

Graphic Jenny Kwan

The first two weeks of the semester are always a bit strange. It takes time to get back into the groove of school, and get back on a schedule of class, homework, and work; all the while trying to maintain enough of a social life so that you don’t forget how to interact with human beings.

It’s also a trial period for classes. I’ve heard a lot of professors speak about “shopping for classes” and “jumping around,” especially when it comes to electives. When speaking to my fellow students, and asking for advice, I often ask what they look for in a class. The words that come up most often are: interesting, fit my schedule, and easy.

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel terrible when they justify taking a class because you heard it was “easy.”

When coming into university I had the naïve and romantic idea that electives would be classes that I could take to broaden my knowledge on subjects that I don’t exactly want a degree in, but would like to learn more about. As well as possibly piquing  my interest in another field of study for a minor or Grad school.

This is the attitude I held at the start of registration, even this term, scouring through the list of electives offered, checking out the class descriptions and asking around about how engaging the material is.

And then, it happens. Others question me as to why I chose a class with so many readings, or why I chose a class with a lot of essays and a major final. Why didn’t I take something easy, something I already know a substantial amount about, therefore ensuring not only a pass, but a pass that involves very little effort?

I can understand why people opt for the “easy” factor. There is the pressure to keep a high GPA, and rough program course loads that don’t leave much room for equally heavy electives.

However, I think it’s a sad state for our education system when students at this level are feeling the need to search for easy passes instead of opportunities for new knowledge and discovery.

It’s not to say that I’ve never asked the question myself. I have started to do so more and more as the semesters progress, because I can feel the pressure. However, I’m still holding on to the romantic idea of taking classes I enjoy, even if the material may be a little dense and may require reflection and thought.

Some may think electives are a total waste of time, but it’s important to see what else is out there. It’s important to understand and know what others are studying, because once you’re out of university, you will be working with many different types of people.

Having an arsenal of understanding and knowledge in many different areas when collaborating in the professional world is an asset. No, that one marketing class won’t make you a pro, but it will give you some understanding and insight, as well as a possible curiosity to venture off and research on your own.

It’s important to be realistic. If you failed biology three times in both high school and CEGEP, then taking a biology elective alongside four core program courses is probably not a bright idea. However, I think that if it’s feasible, students should stay away from easy and predictable, and grab a spot in a class that sounds interesting, intriguing, and maybe a little bit scary.

That’s just what I think. Who knows, maybe by my last semester in university my growing cynicism will consume me entirely, but for now I am holding onto this idea.


Confessions of a 20-something #12

Who actually came up with the bright idea of New Year’s resolutions? It seems resolutions are so bound to fail that when you make one, what you’re actually saying is “this is what I don’t want to achieve this year.”

I think the issue behind the idea of New Year’s resolutions is the hype behind it. It’s the emphasis and power we put behind the idea of setting these goals that ultimately scare us, and this fear and sense of feeling overwhelmed gets between us actually achieving the main goal.  We pump ourselves up, and set these huge goals leading up to Jan. 1, but if we strip it down, what difference is there between New Year’s resolutions and the small goals we set for ourselves throughout the year? None.

To say you’re going to completely switch around your lifestyle, quit a habit, or change a part of who you are at your core when the clock strikes midnight is ridiculous. You’re not only letting yourself down, but you are breaking yourself down in vain.

Life itself is a work in progress, and I think any major changes need to be made gradually. As a person, I am always trying to improve myself, in terms of my flaws and bad habits that affect my lifestyle or possibly those around me. Just stating that I am going to worry less in 2014, for example, won’t work for me. It’s about setting small goals on a weekly, maybe even daily basis. Whatever works for you.

I suppose the idea of a fresh new year, and a brand new calendar, seems like a good place to start on your brand new goal. However, I must say the timing itself is quite horrendous. Right after the sluggish holiday season we go back to work, school, and life as we know it; the post-holiday slump, as I like to call it. No wonder it’s so tough to keep resolutions, whether it’s to quit smoking or to lose weight.

The one thing, and possibly the only thing, that I admire about the idea of New Year’s resolutions is the ability to admit that change is needed. Change can be scary, and goals we set may sometimes seem so high that nothing on earth could give you the boost you need to reach up and grab them.

However, the very first thing needed in order to reach a goal or make a change is the ability to acknowledge that it needs to happen. It’s about putting yourself in the right frame of mind, and surrounding yourself with the right resources and people to help you achieve your goal. If this so happens to be in April, May, or June, then so be it.

If New Year’s resolutions work for you, then great. I am genuinely happy that you’ve found something that works. I personally just don’t bother getting caught up in the frenzy; I’ve always found it a lot more helpful to set small goals as they come. It’s kind of like a videogame, where all the small goals you’ve achieved provide you with the happiness and confidence points you need in order to grab onto life boosting, larger goals.


Confessions of a 20 something #11

Graphic Jenny Kwan

I’ll admit it, I sometimes put my own interests before those of other people.

I haven’t always been that way. If I look back to the beginning of last year, I used to rely a lot on what other people would think when making a decision for myself. Was it a lack of self-confidence? Was it a search for approval, or just an attempt to make others happy? It was probably a mix of all three, but I often disregarded my own wants and needs in order to please others. I can’t be the only one to have done this.

This kind of behaviour can be very detrimental to an individual’s personal development. Only caring about others is as unhealthy as only caring about yourself. Just like a lot of things in life, balance between the two is key.

Being altruistic is to have concern about the welfare of others, sometimes sacrificing for the benefit of others without seeking any personal gain. I believe I am a very altruistic person. However, is it really necessary to sacrifice one’s self-interests all the time in order to be altruistic? Is doing something for our own benefit such a bad thing when it brings no harm to others?

I do not think that caring about your own interests, wants, and  needs, when there is no aim to cause harm to anyone, makes you a selfish person. It only shows that you are a confident individual who knows where they are going in life, and does not feel the need to please everyone to feel good about themselves.

True altruism is a great thing, since putting other people’s needs before yours can bring a lot of happiness. However, if you constantly do so, you risk being taken advantage of and end up doing things you do not necessarily want to do, and you will not be happier.

I used to be afraid of opting out of group outings when I didn’t feel like going, because I was scared that my friends would not invite me anymore. So I would go even though I knew I wouldn’t enjoy it, mostly because I also used to hate spending time alone. Now, I even crave that alone time some days.

Being selfish simply means that you care for yourself and choose to do things that you enjoy. It is perfectly acceptable to say no to things you do not feel like doing. Nowhere does it say that, in order to be an altruistic and caring person, you have to say yes to everything. Saying no is the best way to regain control over your own life and to build stronger self-confidence. Next, you have to identify your own needs to ensure that your actions will benefit both you and those who you want to make happy.

As I said, balance is key, and the key to a happy life is to balance your altruistic tendencies with your more selfish ones. I really do enjoy spending time with other people. I love to put in extra efforts to make them happy, and I will not hesitate to forget about myself for a while for someone else’s well being. But if one does not care about oneself in the first place, who will?


The self-deprecating humour conundrum

Self-deprecating humour is a tool I use a lot in my daily life. Chances are, you’ve heard me make fun of my unfortunate clumsiness and sometimes-awkward demeanor.

As I grow older and start to take on more important tasks in my life I have begun asking myself whether my self-deprecating ways are actually affecting the way people view me. Does this talk allow manipulative people an opening to take a jab? Does it open the window for people to make unwarranted criticisms and scrutinize me for the sake of their own egos?

The role of self-deprecation is an actual topic being discussed and studied. Researchers at Seattle University recently conducted a study on their undergrads in which they were presented a list of descriptions about a new boss joining a fictitious company. The description that showed his self-deprecating side was most popular with the students, because they felt he seemed to be “a more likable, trustworthy, and caring leader.”

According to the article in INC. Magazine, “Self-deprecating humor enhances perceptions of leadership ability because it tends to minimize status distinctions between leaders and followers.”

I am always meeting new people, and often find myself in leadership situations. This type of humour is my way of trying to make myself approachable and open to others. I also want to be likeable…there, I said it.  However, this is where I have noticed it can become dangerous. I can’t help but feel that these comments, quips, and jabs at myself should only be used around those who I know are sincere, and when I have control of the situation.

I find it important to be able to poke fun at yourself. I usually feel more comfortable around people who can, because it shows a sort of acceptance of one’s weaknesses, which we all have. Someone who thinks they know it all and jumps at your throat the minute they get the chance to correct or criticize are the most exhausting to be around. This is not called “tough love,” it’s being rude.

Maybe the reception of the humour also has something to do with gender? The Guardian reports that linguistics expert Dr. Judith Baxter did an 18-month study into the speech patterns of women and men from seven big companies in the UK. She studied the language used at 14 meetings led equally between women and men.

She found that most of the time, humour used by men was met with better reception than humour used by women. Also, women were much more likely to use self-deprecating humour, as it is a safer option to poke fun at themselves. Baxter also mentioned the fact that men have traditionally held the “leader” position in the business world, and women are still claiming their place.

This suggests a broader issue in terms of a woman’s place in the work field. However, in terms of using self-deprecating humour overall, I think there is a general rule: there is a time and place for everything, regardless of who you are.

It’s a double-edged sword, because I want to be myself around others, however this also opens me up to the wrath of megalomaniacs. I personally see nothing wrong with using a little bit of self-deprecating humour, being funny is an asset. However, I just can’t help but feel it is important to be careful of your environment and whom you’re speaking too. You also don’t want it to be misinterpreted as self-doubt; no one wants to be the human version of Eeyore.


Confessions of a 20-something #10

Identity is a complicated notion. Who are you? Which part of the world are you from? What is your ethnicity? What religion do you adhere to? What is your political stance? What is your personality like? What do you want to do with your life? What are you doing now?

Add these to a hundred more annoying questions that the world throws at you everyday and then comes the idea of pride.

As a kid, I had always known who I was. I was a Muslim girl  born in  Bahrain who liked to read and watch television. It was that simple, really.

I fought with and loved my siblings. School was an unpleasant but necessary thing to get through. Truth is, there’s more to the story, and there always is.

Growing up, my parents quoted and told us stories about famous Arab poets and writers. Thanks to them, the words of Nizar Qabbani, Mahmoud Darwish and Aboul-Qacem Echebbi are still etched in my mind. I knew where Palestine was from a very young age, and can still recall talking about it with a friend in the fifth grade while eating vanilla ice cream at the mall.

At school, I was the girl who was best in English, but at home I would fall asleep reading detective books written by Egyptian author Mahmoud Salim.

Years passed, and my English improved. My love of reading, and the fact that I was a teenager meant that my head was in Harry Potter books, Twilight books (guilty) and glued to shows like One Tree Hill, The O.C. and Gilmore Girls.  Attempting to be cool, I shamelessly copied my sister’s taste in music, and yelled out the lyrics to songs by Linkin Park and Busted.  I loved English, reading it, writing it and watching it. Still do, actually.

The idea of pride brewed in my head a couple of years ago. Living away from home, in a country thousands of miles away, I had plenty of time to think. I found myself drawn to watching documentaries about the poets I grew up hearing about. I looked up with interest whenever I heard someone speak Arabic, and started to talk about my views to my friends. Politics and life issues became a real deal. Arabic songs, books, and newspapers are still important to me.

Even though I was immersed in my new surroundings, I brought with me pieces from my old surroundings as well. The black and white image I had in my head when I was little now became more complex and confusing.

Having to determine what you want to do with your life, where you stand on something and what change you will bring to the table is not easy. Hundreds of mixed thoughts float around in my head everyday. I also developed an awareness of issues facing my community, while I was thousands of miles away. It seemed I was in the middle of two realities, for the time being.

That is when one thing became very clear: the part of the world I belonged to was one I truly loved. The more difficult my region got, the more I clung to it. I am a product of my history, culture, politics and language.

You want to see Arab pride? Look no further.


Confessions of a 20-something #9

It becomes apparent that we are living in cynical times when acts of kindness are so heavily questioned and scrutinized.

It is baffling how often the sincerity of people’s charity is questioned. This is not only seen through critics of public figures, but increasingly amongst everyday people.

I was browsing the net, catching up on my news last week, and I came across a story about the infamous Justin Bieber. The article was about how the pop star was caught on tape…but this time giving the shoes off his feet to a young boy in Guatemala.

Scrolling down to the comments proved to be a bad idea. A lot of the top comments called out ‘PR stunt’ or ‘staged.’ While Bieber does not have the reputation of being a charming knight in shining Canadian armour, who are we to judge the sincerity of his actions in that moment?

A lot of celebrities and public figures are very involved in charity work. Some are arguably a lot more public about their work than others, but does that really change the fact that they are doing something good for society? While examples of the rich and famous do not hit close to home, the same type of mentality can be observed in everyday life. In a sense, it feels as if we have been conditioned to question why someone is being kind, to question the sincerity of people’s actions towards others and us, and to find the ulterior motive behind it all.

With Christmas on its way, charities are looking for volunteers and many fundraisers will be held in the city, and on campus. People will be taking to social media to share their events, and also share the work they are doing. Photos, event pages, and updates will be made available to all. What seems to be a common belief is that some do good work for the sake of getting recognition and praise. With this type of mentality, the notion of being altruistic is thrown out the window.

I’ll be honest; I used to be annoyed when I saw people doing this. I think it is important that one’s heart is in the right place when performing acts of kindness. However just because someone makes it public it doesn’t mean they aren’t doing it for the right reasons.

We are in no position to judge the sincerity of other people’s actions. This is especially true if the person judging is a little rusty in the kindness department themselves. The Instagram photo does not negate the fact that there are a few more cans in the food bank, waiting for a family to pick them up; or that a little boy will be able to take home some warm sweaters for the cold winter weather. One could definitely do without the noblesse oblige attitude, but otherwise the act of kindness still stands.

The questioning of one’s sincerity in situations like these doesn’t really amount to anything. The time spent gossiping, going through photos and making remarks is time that can be put towards a much better cause. I’m not naïve, I do understand that some people do things for the benefit of themselves more than others, but as far as I am concerned I like to think that a large majority of people who perform acts of kindness do so out of the goodness of their own heart, and for the sake and happiness of others. I know, I know, cue the Disney music, and let in the bird and smalls rodents for a dance routine.


Confessions of a 20-something #8

If you’re the type of person who says they don’t watch television because it is a waste of time, and judge others who do, I probably won’t be able to take you seriously. I’m not here for your pretentious attitude.

I just feel like there is something so special about television. You get to follow characters every week through different storylines, and you get to watch them grow on screen. When you are watching really good television it is all worth it for the character development. Jesse Pinkman, of Breaking Bad, is a great example of this.

If you’re like me, watching television leads to you getting invested. I mean emotionally invested. I can carry on full conversations about some of the television shows I watch, and I sometimes find myself speaking about the characters as if they were real people. I know I am not the only person who has fallen into this trap, and to be honest I am really not bothered that I have.

The thing some people find ridiculous about my little television obsession is my need to ship characters together. For those of you who don’t know, ship is short for relationship. If you’ve ever frequented sites like Tumblr, you’ll notice that a lot of users use the phrase “I ship so and so.” No, it doesn’t mean that they want to see their favourite television and movie characters voyaging the high seas. It means that they want to see the characters get together. If it just so happens to unfold on a boat, then that is a pure coincidence.

I just cannot help but get emotionally involved. The writers behind these shows obviously want us to squeal, while wrapped up in our snuggies, eating Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream while ugly crying like it’s no one’s business.

Is this strange and unhealthy behaviour? In moderation, no, I don’t think so. When you become a fan of a television show, you may become emotionally attached. Think about it. You let these characters into your life for 30 to 60 minutes every week. We are essentially following them on their journey. If a show is well written, this attachment to the characters is inevitable. That’s the whole point of good television, right?

I attribute my detailed analysis and love of character interaction to my love for writing. I thoroughly enjoy writing characters. Ever since I was a child I’ve made stories out of nothing. I would watch the birds go by, give them names and plan out their lives. I even gave them accents! I suppose this is why I get so invested in characters on television. The writers are essentially creating these people and relationships that are supposed to have enough substance to last months, and years. I admire that, and I play along.

It’s a little bit of harmless fun that creates a much needed break from the harsh realities of real life and mundane schoolwork that sometimes lacks creativity. I don’t see what’s weird about having an emotional reaction to a drama or comedy series. That’s why I watch them.

In saying this, I do have my limits. I think there is a line between cute and fun shipping and emotional attachment, and then the creepy, really bizarre side of outlandish online fan fiction and photo manipulation. I mean, it’s cool, whatever floats your ship…but sometimes I find myself on the weird side of the Internet and I have to stop for some self-reflection.

Also, to those who say television rots the brain, I believe I am doing just fine, thanks. It’s all about balance.

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Confessions of a 20 something #7

Listen up gents, and listen close. As many of you have probably already experienced, your smooth lines and romantic advances are not always positively met. If you get turned down, you proceed to call this girl a “bitch” or a “tease,” simply because you thought they were “down,” but it turns out they were really just being polite with you.

It happens all too often that a girl is labelled a tease, post-rejection. I was at a bar one night with some girlfriends when a group of guys approached us and asked us—basically pleaded with us—to have shots with them. Despite using the Rico Suave line of “beautiful girls like you shouldn’t have to pay for your own drinks,” we sized them up and decided they were harmless and nice enough. After about an hour of laughs, conversation and probably three or four rounds of tequila, one of them started getting fresh with me and asked me to leave with him. After smiling, politely declining, and thanking him for the drinks and the company, we decided it was time to jet. As I’m thanking them and saying goodbye, Rico Suave stops me and shamelessly says, “I dropped all those bills, and I get nothing?” For the sake of not causing a scene, I contained my rage and got the hell out of that bar with my girls. Just because you have a weenie, doesn’t mean you need to act like one.

Why is it that so many guys equate politeness and friendliness with “wanting the D?”  I mean, just because a girl is nice to you, doesn’t mean that she wants you to be her Prince Charming and sweep her off her feet. Maybe she would rather maintain a friendship with you instead of having awkward—and slightly intoxicated—regret.

Don’t get me wrong; there are those girls who play into this frame of mind and love keeping members of the opposite sex wrapped around their manicured finger. She might even have you on her list of “nice guys” that she’ll text when she’s feeling bored, drunk, alone or insecure, but I assure you, this is not the general norm for the female sex.

If this confession were to be posted on Twitter, it would probably be hashtagged under “prettygirlproblems” or reduced to a humble brag. In all honesty, it’s just plain unfair for a girl to have to change her amicable personality, or the way she speaks to men, just to spare a testosterone fuelled ego.

Thankfully, not all members of the male species adhere to this mentality. There may be some truth to the notion that girls love a bad boy heartbreaker and that “good guys” finish last or automatically get placed in the friend zone, but is it really so bad just to be friends with the opposite sex without any uncomfortable tensions? Despite what I’ve been told, I refuse to abide by the idea that men and women cannot maintain a mutually platonic friendship.

So unless you’re James Franco—and if you are, please call me you beautiful specimen of humanity—the next time you assume a girl wants to jump your bones because she smiled or said something nice to you, think first then act, and remember to tread lightly.

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