Wednesday, January 8, 2014


My mother and I have always loved Shania Twain. We blast her songs in the car and manage to scream over Shania's wails. We've done it my whole life. Shania has something of a mythic status in my family. I never learned the lyrics to her songs. They're in my blood, it feels like. Which is why I helped organize--and pay for--a trip to Las Vegas to see her for my mom's birthday. I just knew that it would be one of the best concerts of my life. And I wasn't disappointed. 

But this isn't a concert review. This is a story. A story about passion and nerdiness and how purely, unabashedly loving something can pay off sometimes.

It begins with a little bit of backstory, or, rather context. You see, my parents are strange people who spend money on strange things. They won't pay their bills on time for months, but they'll buy a new speedboat. They'll go on weeks long vacations, but be too cheap to buy paper towel. And they'll almost always pay for concerts. As a result, I've seen a lot of them, Great Big Sea in particular, a band with such amazing fans and such joyous, lively concerts. People jump and dance and clap and scream and it is always so much freaking fun. Some concerts I go to, however, are…more demure. More strange. One Martina McBride concert, in particular, stands out. My dad and I go expecting an excited crowd, but instead, Happy Girl comes and all it gets is a polite applause. Like really, people? It's Happy Girl! And why did you come all this way, why did you pay for these tickets, why are you spending time here if you don't love Happy Girl?!?!? 

Going into the Shania concert, I wasn't sure what to anticipate from the crowd. Given that this was a Caesar's Palace show, I figured there would be some people who had just come because that's what you do in Vegas. I figured most hadn't come from as far as Toronto, certainly. So, I knew the crowd wouldn't fall on the Great Big Sea end of the crowd passion spectrum. But I thought that, since the tickets were pretty expensive, the crowd reaction would be closer to GBS than Martina McBride. And I was soon realized I was wrong. And then I decided I didn't care. And I danced and screamed and cheered as loud as I could anyways. Because I had come all this way and I had listened to these songs for so long. And yeah, I was self conscious for a bit, but, soon, I didn't care. I was proud of my passion. Because it's whole lot more fun to passionate and excited and out of control in love with something than it is to respectfully clap every once and a while. So, as Shania sang I'm Gonna Getcha Good and Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under and the crowd around me sat stone faced, I threw myself into the music. These were not just songs I listened to, after all. They flowed through my veins. 

This being Caesar's Palace, even $150 dollars each only bought us fairly nosebleed seats, but really, I didn't care. I was just so happy to hear Shania. Seeing her up close was an afterthought entirely. I was over the moon, even if I was a million miles away. I had been waiting for this my whole life. I wasn't going to waste a second of it. 

Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder. The usher lady wanted to speak to me in the hall. I was freaked out, but I figured I had broken some rule. Standing too much. Cheering too much. I had the wrong seats. Whatever. Being a fairly loud, socially awkward person, this happens in my life. Mostly, I was annoyed that I had to miss part of Don't Impress Me Much. But then the usher explained that I had seemed so into to the show and that there were some empty seats down on the first level and would I like them? The answer in my head was instantly yes. And yes, I had that terrible person moment, considering if I could go down without my mother. But when I explained I was with someone, she didn't blink an eye. Of course, in retrospect, I guess they wouldn't just offer one seat. Most people go to concerts with another person. But in the moment, it all felt so unreal that logic had kind of left the building. In all the concerts I've been to in my life, nothing like this has ever happened to me. Being a short person, I've long resigned myself to not being able to see the actual musicians on stage at all, a problem which is made much worse when some person near the front of the crowd decides to hold up a Newfoundland flag for the entire show, because, apparently the band doesn't know where they're from and, bonus, this person has freakish upper body strength. That is the type of thing that happens to me. Not the "hey, you want a seat upgrade?" thing. Not ever. 

So, of course, I said yes, and ran back to get my mom. Of course, I had to check to see what song she had just started. Thankfully, it was only a really good one and not a great one. Still, I had to resist the urge to run down to the first level. As I forced myself to walk, I ran the lyrics in my head. There was no way I was missing more than one song. Especially since there was no knowing what the next one would be. 

They forced us to wait outside until a song break, which was deadly. I decided to take the moment to go to the bathroom, though that nearly killed. I literally sprinted to the bathroom and back. I was not missing more than one song. Over my dead body. When I made it back (in time!), everyone was staring at some guy at the other first level entrance. Shania's husband, apparently. Which was a little weird. 

Anyways, I was thinking they were going to put us somewhere near the back of the first level. Still a significant distance from the stage. But when the usher girl FINALLY let us back in, she placed in the first section! The back of the first section but still. Those are still freaking $500 seats. That people had bought and not bothered to show up for! And besides, it turned out to be great positioning, because Shania actually walked up and down the aisles. Meaning, at one point, she was less than a foot away from me! She was shaking people's hands, and I had even worked up the courage to offer her mine, but she turned her back to me just as she passed. But, dear god, who cares? Shania freaking Twain was less than a foot from me! And I was the first section at her concert! Nothing else in the whole world mattered in that moment. 

And yeah, the concert went off from there. They dropped confetti, which, on the first level, I could actually catch. And I could see everything. And my mom and I both enjoyed it so much. It was absolutely amazing. Way more than we ever dreamed of. All because of passion and a lack of self-consciousness. It was a great experience. And it was also so great that being passionate about something, without any shame or holding back, could actually be validated. Rewarded. In the best way I could imagine. In one of the best nights ever. 

So often, I feel self-conscious about loving the things I love (don't we all?). And in that moment when I first stood up to dance, I was overcome with self-consciousness. But I am so freaking glad I ignored it, so freaking glad I allowed myself to be the insane Shania fan I am. Because, it turns out, sometimes passion does pay off. Who knew. 

A lot of this post is just me insanely fan girling, at the cost of the good (or mediocre or whatever my work usually is) writing, so I'll leave you with the words of a man who is always a much better writer than me: 

(Can I write a post without quoting or linking or at least referencing John Green? No matter what I say about TFIOS and nerdfighteria, I think not. But hey, it's good to be passionate about things, not matter what--or who--that thing is. Haven't you been following along?)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

TFIOS: Redux

I love The Fault in Our Stars (TFIOS, for the uninitiated). Or, at least, I think I do. At this point, I can't really tell. All I know is that I'm supposed to. Which feels really weird.

For years, I bemoaned the fact that the things I love don't have great fandoms. Yes, YA has fantastic book blogs, there's no denying it, but it doesn't have the insane, paraphernalia friendly type of fan culture, like Star Wars or LOTR or Doctor Who or even freaking Adventure Time (like really? What is that? An animated show gets action figures and we don't? Come on!). Of course, the term "YA" encompasses a much more vast, overarching, generalized community than, say, the fan base surrounding one specific movie or book series. But even authors like Sarah Dessen or Meg Cabot, who are YA gods, don't have that type of following. And then came John Green.

I became a nerdfigher slowly. Reluctantly. When I read John's books, I wasn't one at all. I picked up Looking for Alaska with a completionist goal in mind, trying to stay up on the current trends in YA. This was pre-TFIOS, but John's books were still pretty hot back then, so much so that I felt I had to read them to keep up my YA credibility, the same logic which motivated me to read Twilight, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and all of Elizabeth Scott's novels. And here's the thing: I didn't even like Looking for Alaska! I did quite like An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns, however; enough so that I took the time to google John Green to see if, perhaps, he had a blog. He did not. But he did have a vlog. I started with Vlogbrothers, of course, quickly adding The Lizzie Bennett Diaries, Hankschannel, Emma Approved, occasionally Hank Games and Mental Floss, as well as associated creators such CGP Grey, Charlie McDonnell, Alex Day, Rosianna Halse Rojas, and Carrie Hope Fletcher. I added each without really thinking about it. They were simply things I enjoyed watching--it never really occurred to me that the watching of them would affect me in any way. I never considered that slowly, but surely, by watching all these channels and then following John and Hank on tumblr and then listening to Hank's music and then getting DFTBA posters for my bedroom walls, I had become….a nerdfighter?

It's a label I'm not exactly comfortable with, not one I fully identify with, but one you could certainly identify me as given my interests and internet habits. Which feels really strange. There have been a few times when I myself used the label as a sort of shorthand, but it's always felt kind of strange coming out of my mouth. Disingenuous. Unearned. A wrong fit. Conversely, identifying myself that way has sometimes made me feel like a fangirl. In that way, the label was embarrassing. Shameful. Either way, it has been a label I have resisted.

But, ultimately, it wasn't the label that made me question myself. It was how I started reacting to things. Originally, I was a fan of the things--the books, the music, the Youtube videos--and the fandom just came along with that. Now, though, as much as resist the "nerdfighter" name, I fear that I may be reacting as part of the fandom, rather than as a genuine fan with a passion for that specific thing. Specifically, TFIOS.

I really liked TFIOS when I read it. At least, according to my review I did. Yet, now, somehow, I find it hard to remember. Now, it's hard to figure out if I like TFIOS because I'm caught up in the hype and the adoring spirit of nerdfighteria, or if I actually like the book because of my own experience reading it. Unlike most books, I don't really have a personal relationship with TFIOS as much as I have a collective relationship with it. Whereas, with other novels, I reread parts only in the dead of the night or as a treat when I wake up on a lazy Sunday morning or when I'm really upset and need a source of comfort, with TFIOS, I don't seek it out in the same way. Instead, I follow John's tumblr and the TFIOS tumbler and visit the DFTBA website, and, of course, watch the Vlogbrothers videos. Instead of finding the quotes myself, digging through the book like I normally would to find that line or paragraph or moment that stood out to me, that touched me personally in some way, I find myself rereading the quotes that other people selected, that mattered to other people, that touch people most in nerdfighteria as a whole. I don't think this an inherently negative difference. But it is sort of a fascinating difference.

When I see the TFIOS movie poster or the TFIOS audiobook read by John Green, I instantly want those things. And I almost order them and I almost order them, and then I question myself: why do I want this thing? Is it because I love the book or because I'm supposed to love the book? Is it because I want to prove that I'm a nerdfighter or because I actually am one? Is that something I want to be? What does it mean that I want this thing?

All these questions! I don't have questions like this with Sarah Dessen or Stephanie Perkins' novels. Because, in this unique case, it's not just my interpretation of the novel that gives it meaning--to use a John quote, "books belong to their readers"--but the group's interpretation. And, while I'm still finding my place in this group--or perhaps outside of this group--it seems the questions will remain unanswered.

Friday, December 27, 2013

A (Sort of) Review of Eleanor and Park

Confession: I didn't love Eleanor & Park. I enjoyed it. I respected it. I appreciated the unfortunately unusual/refreshingly realistic diversity in race, class, and body image. But it didn't spark anything particular for me. I know that's a terrible thing to say, when every YA book out there is now selling itself "for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell", when every YA book blogger is falling over themselves to write a glowing review of it, when John Green himself gushes about it in the freaking New York Times. I wanted to love it, I swear. But I only liked it. And I think I finally figured out why.

For me, I think it comes down to reread-ability. Though this is something I do all the time, rereading the romantic parts of my favourite novels, I had never considered it as an actual measure of a book's quality. But I was talking to my friend the other day and it suddenly clicked. You see, I was lending her Fangirl, a Rainbow Rowell book that I actually did love, telling her over and over how much I loved the romance and the writing and how I just had to underline certain lines and reread certain parts again and again and again like a crazy person. And I realized that I've never done that with Eleanor & Park. I finished it, filed it away on my bookshelf, and only took it out so I could lend it to that same friend when she explicitly requested it because she had heard so much hype about it online. I barely thought about it after I finished the last page. Nothing drew me to it again, which is strange, since it's not like all the books I do chose to reread are of better--or even good--quality. Since I've come home for Christmas break, I've reread Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry, Caridad Ferrer's Adios to My Old Life, and Lauren Morrill's Meant to Be, all of which are of lesser literary quality than Raibow Rowell's YA debut. Yet even now, as I pick up Eleanor & Park to make sure, one last time, that I do not want to reread this book, that it hasn't simply been my laziness or the plethora of other books I have to reread or the various distractions of life, it proves me right. Because once again, I begin flipping through, rereading sections and snippets, and nothing grabs me. Just like before. Nothing's changed. 

Sometimes, I can't stop myself from rereading certain scenes of books even before I've finished the freaking book. This happened with Leah Rae Miller's The Summer I Became a Nerd, a book which completely snuck up on me and completely stole my heart and has remained a monthly, if not weekly, reread since. Sometimes, it happens a few weeks or even months after I've finished the book, as was the case with Stephanie Perkins' Lola and the Boy Next Door. Immediately after finishing Lola, I wrote a review (back in the days when I used to regularly write reviews of books I read, if you can believer it!), definitively ruling it as a lesser follow up to Perkins' stellar debut companion novel, Anna and the French Kiss. Now though, as a lot freaking (tragically Isla-less) time has passed, I think I love Lola more than I love Anna. I have a few more issues with Lola's plotting and character development, but, I have to say it, the romantic moments are better. Or, at least, more reread-able. As fantastic as Anna and Etienne's moments are, Lola and Crickets somehow manage to be so insanely sweet--and hot--that I just have to reread them. I swear, that book contains the best collection of romantic moments I have ever come across. Or reread. 

In both these circumstances, rereading had a huge impact on my overall opinion of the book at hand. Just as the lack of rereading hugely influenced my (unpopular) opinion of Eleanor & Park. This is kind of fascinating to me, a habit I had never really tracked or analyzed before. Typically, you read a book, review it even, and then consider your conclusions on that book as final. People don't typically write book reviews months or years after they read books. I certainly never did. For me, if I didn't review a book within five days of finishing it, I knew I'd never review it. But maybe I should have. Lola and the Door would certainly have faired better. And I'm sure many other books would have as well. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

If Anyone Is Still Reading

It's November.

That means American elections and fundraisers for prostate cancer and national novel writing month.

For me, though, it mostly means it's been two months. Sixty days since the divorce. And it still hurts like hell.

These past two months I haven't been writing on this blog at all. I've barely been reading. I've quit almost every club I was in at school. I'm not living. I'm just surviving. And it sucks.

For those that are interested in the book stuff, in the last two months I've read The Boy Recession by Flynn Meany (not nearly as good as it could've been), My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend (fine, but not great), Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams (good. Sweet.), Decked with Holly by Marni Bates (surprisingly, really, really bad. Silly premise, bad execution, terrible ending), and 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody (Fine. Better ending than I expected).

For those who are interested in my actual, you know, life, I don't know what to say. From the outside, I imagine it looks like I'm coping fairly well. I go to all my classes, do all the assignments and tests and projects. I'm cooking for myself and cleaning for myself now too. I have old friends and new friends this year. I'm still keeping up with my friends back home. Besides the clubs, everything's basically staying afloat. For now.

But inside, of course, everything's falling apart. In so many ways. One day I hate my mother, the next day my father. I get mad at myself for accidentally remembering my old house. I get mad at my friends for not understanding or not asking enough questions or making stupid comments.

And before anyone tells me to see a therapist or whatever, I'm already on it. It helps. Some. Though he has this odd fascination with my relationship with my mother. Seriously.

I feel like I should say something significant or insightful or substantial here, but I don't think I have anything. Yes, I'm struggling to rebuild my identity now that I've lost my family, my neighbourhood, and basically my city/hometown. Yes, I relive our last few days together over and over. Yes, yes, yes to all the bad questions. Yes, it still hurts. Every single day. Lots of crying. Lots of pain.

Mostly, I'm afraid. Afraid of the pain of the future. Afraid of our first Christmas apart. Afraid of going home in December. Afraid, most of all, that everyone and everything will move on, and I'll be stuck here, alone, still hurting and mourning, and everyone look at me like "it's been 1/2/10/15 years, get over it already".

This is a really down post. I'm not completely sure why I decided to write it tonight of all nights or why I wrote at all. I guess part of the reason is explanation. A message to say that I'm not gone forever. That I may be back. One day. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next year. Whenever I've figured things out a little bit more. Whenever it hurts a little bit less.

Thanks for reading. If anyone is still reading.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Most Completely Awesome Reason to Read

For a while now, I've been writing really downer posts (parents getting divorced and all that), so today I am delighted to bring you a positive, upbeat post about an awesome reading experience I had this week. Oh books, how I love you.

For the last week and a half I've been on vacation in Los Angeles, which has been totally awesome, for a number of reasons (Studio tours! Celebrity trivia! Visiting the Kodak Theatre!), one of the most awesomest of which was the Emily Giffin reading I went to last week. It was held at an amazing independent bookstore called Vroman's.

(I am somewhere win this picture! But even I can't see me, so I don't think you'll be able to!)

The first part of my awesome night occurred in their unbelievable teen section. Now, it isn't any bigger than average or anything, but, can you believe it, it actually has a good selection of teen books! Going through the shelves, I nearly screamed with all the incredible, impossible to find in Canada, books they had. Moreover, their YA inventory had clearly been selected by someone who understood the genre--not just what's popular, but what's good in YA. I so wish I had a bookstore like that near my house. Instead, all I have is lousy Indigo. Blech.

It was so cool going through the shelves and feeling like the person who had picked the books had the same love for them as I did. And, of course, it was so great to be able to pick up some titles I had been dying for:

Then, I went and sat down for the reading. There was a whole stage set up, and I expected Emily Giffin to enter from behind the curtain, but instead, she just walked up through the crowd, no big deal, acting like a normal person, with no superiority complex at all, which was great. I kind of expected her to seem like an untouchable celebrity, but she was actually a real person, which was refreshing. I don't know if this unusual--another draw back of living in Canada is a lack of author readings--but perhaps not, because when I told this story to various people they all looked at me like I was crazy for thinking an author could actually be a celebrity. Though, to them, I say, look at how nerd fighters treat John Green, and try to prove me wrong.

From there, Emily Giffin was great. Hilarious, smart, insightful, other awesome qualities like that. But to me, the most enjoyable part of the whole evening was when she referenced her other books--Something Borrowed, for example--in quick little ways. "I met a couple who were such a Rachel and Dex!" she said, and I couldn't help but smile at that. But that wasn't the coolest part. No, the most completely awesome part of the whole night was looking around me and seeing that the other seventy people in the room were smiling and nodding and laughing too. They too had loved her books. They understood the references just like I did. It was so amazing to me to look around at this room full of forty year old women--I was, by far, the youngest person there--and feel so instantly connected to all of them. I loved that feeling so much, and I wish I got to experience it more often.

She signed my books and I struggled to find something to say, finally muttering something about Baby Proof that she didn't even hear, and then I headed back home.

Going into the night, I had been kind of nervous. Celebrity-type people tend to do that to me. But I didn't need to be, not for one second. These were my people, who loved the books I loved. This was a world where I felt like I belonged, where I laughed and smiled and had a great time.

Over the past year, I've really focused on the ability that books have to bind people, to make us feel understood. That night, at that bookstore, it wasn't just the books that made me feel that way. It was the community of readers. I sincerely hope I get to experience such excitement again soon.

For now, though, I'm sure I'll return to my sad, tear filled posts which have a much smaller number of uses of the word "awesome". Sorry.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

This Pain Is Not My Fault

In books about divorced parents, doctors and psychologists and other fancy, well informed, degree earning people often talk about how the kids often blame themselves for their parents divorce. 

Well, I don't blame myself. In fact, in this super awesome roller coaster ride known as The Year My Parents Divorced, I'm currently stuck in a loop of absolute frustration, asking the same question over and over again:

What did I do this deserve this?

Because I don't blame myself for my parents divorce. I believe they are two people with certain flaws that create a lot of friction--two people, who at some point, may have belonged together, but have not gotten along for a long time now. I believe that whatever is happening between them is because of them--their flaws, their judgments, their decisions, both right and wrong--and not me. I am not the one who didn't do the dishes or who acted unappreciative or who went a step too far too many times. I'm sure they'd both like to tell you that this situation is not their fault. But all I am sure of is that this year, this pain, is most definitely not my fault. 

That idea really frustrates me. If I didn't do anything wrong, if I had absolutely no choice in this matter, why am I being forced to sacrifice and feel hurt again and again and again? I have no answer. Ultimately, all I can think about is how completely unfair this all feels. 

From thought, I've only spiralled into a thousand thoughts of how my life sucks, how things that I've accepted about myself and my life for so long are actually really unfortunate. Like the fact that I have never had parents who loved each other. Ever. Not really. "Why!" I want to scream. Why does my life have to suck like that? And why, oh why, do I have to go through all this alone? And why does everyone else get to have siblings and I don't? I would give anything to have someone like that right now, someone to go through this whole mess with, someone who loves both my parents the way I do. Because, from now on, I am, officially, legally, fully, the only person who loves them both in the whole wide world. And that feels very lonely. 

I don't know if this is just me--I suspect it's not--but I've always gone through life assuming that things were generally, ultimately, fair. Not always, of course--cancer isn't fair, poverty isn't fair, a million things aren't fair--but divorce isn't a chance thing like that. It is the direct result of decisions made by people. People who aren't me. Which, in my view, isn't fair. I can't help but feeling life isn't being fair to me right now. 

I want to say that I'm not writing this post to whine. There would be not point in that. And, obviously, as lives go, my is probably not more than a little unfair. I was born into a life filled with loving, fairly well off parents, in one of the best countries to live in in the entire world. I am healthy, smart, what have you. I know that. But I wanted to write this post without that element of perspective. I wanted to document my exact feeling at this exact moment, two weeks before the big split, to document how it felt being sad, scared, and frustrated, in the eye of a tornado that is currently ripping through my life. To me, right now, there isn't much of a thing called perspective. All I can see is the wind whipping around me at a million miles an hour, stirring up pain and creating nothing but debris. I wanted to document the fact that right now, I feel like a piece of wood, sucked up by the wind, waiting to be flung off in an uncertain future. 

I wanted to prove that this frustration I'm feeling is very real and very valid to me right now, no matter what a grander perspective might suggest. As Augustus Waters says:

This pain, in this moment, is real. And I guess I'm going to just have to feel it and question it and experience it. This is my life right now. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Move Over, Bad Boys

Recently, I've fallen in love with a new kind of leading man. He's so far from perfect. When you first meet him, he seems awful, fatally flawed, morally reprehensible. He is repellent, unattractive, and abhorrent. And then you realize, he's only human. And you can't help but love him for that.

These leading men aren't bad boys, like these guys:

They aren't an image or a stereotype. Instead, they're more of a surprise. When you first meet them, you judge them, quickly disapproving. But then they do something so sweet or they seem so vulnerable, that you're forced to reevaluate them. Bad boys are trying to the wrong thing, while trying to break all the right rules. These new guys are just trying to do what feels right or seems right to them in that moment, even when they have no idea what that is. They panic, they screw up left and right. But it isn't intentional. It's a flaw, a flaw that contributes to a fully realized, real, human character that you relate to, that you root, a character that you eventually learn to love with all your heart. 

The first one I met was Adam on Girls, portrayed by the actor Adam Driver. 

In the first few episodes of Girls, I thought Adam was so gross. His sex scenes with Hannah (Lena Dunham) were horrible. Us viewers had to watch Adam demean Hannah over and over, use her, and abuse her feelings time and time again. After his first scene, I'd written him off as the decoy boyfriend. He was lecherous, so creepy, and so disgusting; there was simply no way Hannah could ever stay with such a horrible person. I thought Adam was there to develop Hannah's character, to show us how she learned to stand up for herself, and learned to respect herself enough to end such a damaging relationship. 

But I was wrong. Adam Sackler was no decoy boyfriend. No, he was here to stay, flaws and all. Slowly, as the episodes went on, and I got to see more and more sides of Adam, I realized that he wasn't this one-dimensional point on Hannah's journey; no Adam was a real person and a permanent character that I had to learn to accept, flaws and all. 

I'm not one to change my opinion quickly. In fact, for a while, I felt almost tricked by the show. I wanted to hate this guy, but now they'd made me like him! It was wrong! 

No it wasn't wrong. It was good storytelling. It was excellent character development. And the reason it felt so wrong was because it was so foreign to me to see such an imperfect person play such a desirable, romantic role. I was used to the perfect guys. I didn't know what to make of a guy with flaws. 

Adam sat in the back of my brain for a long time after the season ended, only to return to my consciousness recently when I was watching the MTV show Awkward. That was where I met my second imperfect man (or, in this case, teenaged boy): Matty McKibben (Beau Mirchoff). 

Early in the series, we learn that Matty is ashamed of his relationship with our main character, Jenna Hamilton (Ashley Rickards). The pair is constantly hooking up in private, but never act like a couple in public. Matty makes Jenna into a shameful secret, and, as a viewer, you have to hate him for that. 

So, just like I did with Adam, I wrote Matty off as a decoy boyfriend. Just like I expected Adam to be a "character moment" for Hannah, I thought Matty would become a "growing point" for Jenna. But then, slowly, I started to see the charms of Matty McKibben. I started to understand how sweet he was to Jenna in private, and, more importantly, how confused he was about his a possible relationship with her in public. I learned that Matty really liked Jenna, he just didn't know how to express it exactly. I learned that Matty McKibben was a real, confused, teenage boy who had some serious growing up to do. 

After a season a piece, I feel in love with Adam Sackler and Matty McKibben. And I realized that my love for their characters was greater than my love for your bad boy Chuck Basses or your perfect Pacey Whitters. With characters like Chuck or Pacey, I could tell you, vaguely, that they had flaws. With characters with Adam and Matty, I know what those flaws are, and I've learned to love them. I've learned to love all of who they are, not just their images or their perfections. Most of all, I've gotten to experience the joy of a well developed character arc, with real mistakes, and fulfilling moments of redemption. According to Joseph Campbell, a hero isn't a hero without some sort of great journey and great moment of redemption. Adam and Matty have taught me that this shouldn't only apply to our heroes and heroines, but also our leading men. Every character deserves to be more than a name or an image. They deserve flaws; they deserve real, meaningful, clearly defined character growth. They deserve to be human, just like every one of us watching and admiring them. Just like us viewers deserve to find more relatable leading men just like them. 

With that, I salute you, Adam Sackler and Matty McKibben, and I hope I get to know (and love) many more (fictional. Or possibly real.) men like you. 

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