There is no doubt that Starbucks is a major contributer to our landfills. Just look at any garbage can within close proximity to the ubiquitous mermaid logo and you'll find it full of their cups.

I was surprised when I brought my used Starbucks cup from the morning into the same location that same day. I just wanted to refill it with coffee but I was greeted with confusion and stares. "Are you sure you don't want a new cup? It's no problem for us, " mentioned one barista.

I was just trying to re-use, you know, one of those "Three R's" we were all taught in elementary? The manager even huffed that I should always mention the syrup before my order, because it's an extra charge. Since when did a company worth billions become so cheap?

After a five-minute explanation and an acting out via hands, I received my re-filled cup and left with just a little more piece of mind.

Yeah, I can be doing more to stop crap from entering garbage dumps, but it's a small addition to my recycling and public transit use.

But exactly how much waste does Starbucks spew?

In 2003, Starbucks emitted 295,000 tons of carbon into the atmosphere. However, Starbucks locations in the U.S. alone have doubled since then. The company has yet to release an up-to date report on their carbon footprint. Also, the company decided to ignore an additional 81,000 tons of carbon dioxide emitted when transporting coffee materials and disposing of solid waste, such as coffee grounds and cups.

But what about the revolutionary 10% post- consumer fiber cups of theirs- or the 60% recycled sleeves?

It's better than nothing. The motive behind these changes, implemented in 2006, are not what you may think. "We're facing environmental risks posed by climate change that could negatively affect many aspects of our company, including our ability to procure coffee," says Jim Hanna, environmental affairs manager at the Seattle Starbucks.

For this corporation, climate change equals less coffee being produced and unpredictable product. Also, as the bodies of water dry up, so will the supply used in the production of beans.

Keep in mind that the "eco friendly" sleeve saves Starbucks 1 million dollars in packaging costs per year, since their disposable cups would no longer need to be doubled up.

But no one is a stranger to the fact that the Starbucks company produces so much waste and is motivated solely by profit. It's just one of many. Edward Thurlow said it best circa 1800:

"Did you ever expect a corporation to have a conscience, when it has no soul to be damned and no body to be kicked?”


Me, Myself and I

It's been almost two full months since we parted ways. I'm not only getting stronger in myself but also learning my lessons...

Boys and girls, you do not want to endure the pain of a breakup only to experience the same devastation weeks, months, or years later with someone else. Certain things must be thought about and understood before the thought of getting over an ex even enters your mind as a possibility.

What were my lessons? I can recap them easily because I've already done so in a journal (it's not a diary)!
-> Recognize the red flags before jumping in head-on. In my specific situation, red flags included, but where not limited to: his inability to talk about problems/ issues and his blatant knowledge of that fact, he came from a broken home, his mother was insane (seriously, she has a dual personality something or other). Oh yeah, and he had cheated on all of his previous girlfriends :)
-> Never move in together within the first three months of knowing each other. This is evidently a big one, not to mention now obvious.
-> Never, ever, ever place someone else higher than you on the importance ladder. It isn't being selfish, it's being honest. Sure, the guy may have deeply rooted problems, but does that mean that they are more important than yours? I'll give you a hint...no!
-> You can't help him. You can try, but it's him that has to do the changing/ see a psychologist/ deal with his issues.
-> Avoid him if he's insecure- even if he won't admit to it!
-> Understand the pros and cons of this relationship. What did he teach you? How did he make you happy/ sad? Is there a particular type of guy that he was and should you make an effort to stay away from this "brand" of guy in the future? By answering some of these questions, you can recognize what you need from a future love thing. It also keeps you from thinking self- destructive thought like...why did he break up with me? Will I ever find love again? What is he doing right now/ does he miss me?

Consider my lessons learned.


I am the Most Random Person You Will Never Meet

Today, I was channeling Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. I put on a flowey dress with flats and pulled my hair back into a bun. I walked out the door with the latest Elle, fully planning on visiting a few secluded art galleries and drink a venti latte.

Then I got my face pierced. There is basically a disco ball on my lip right now and it's so tragic...but I hate it! When I can change it to a smaller stud, I will be happy, but right now the left side of my face is disappointed by the new arrival. So much so that my mouth frowns. A lot.

But that could also be because I woke up in a bad mood- pesky nightmares about relationships and lost love...And then the rest of my day was spent lazily lying around. Then again, it was more like one of those days that I just wanted to be on my own. No family, friends (sorry), or strangers- no matter how interesting or good looking. Just a Me Day.

My therapist always asks why the piercing? You see, I have another in my lip from about six months ago.

I couldn't answer her question then and I can't now.

The thought process, if you can even call it that, went a little like this: "Ooh, maybe I should check out that tattoo place for some cool ideas for my own body inking...well, I'm not getting a tattoo today because I need to book a consultation and bring in the picture...hey- maybe I'll get something pierced!"

Unfortunately, there really was no logic in between the idea of getting inspiration for a body design and allowing them to slide a stick into my lip. I truly thought, "what the hell?! Why not?" If there's anything about myself I'm constantly amazed at is this spontaneity and lack of the fear gene. With those, however, also comes carelessness. But, hey, I'm only 20, right?

Got milk?

I'm eating oreo cookies without milk. It's a little strange and I feel unsure. Shouldn't I be dipping these babies in something?
I tried my usual technique of twisting them apart and licking the icing. But then its icing overload and there isn't a cooling refreshing liquid to wash down the chocolatey goodness. So then I just bit into the thing as a whole.
It just. Doesn't. Taste right.


The Age Debate

Remember in high school, when it was the epitome of cool to be seen with someone- anyone- from the grade above? Your popularity points sure went up. And conversely, you would never think of actually having a friend who was a grade or two below yours? And, strangely enough, it makes sense. At that age, youth go through puberty and all the other fun stuff, so not only are hormones off the wall, but students are being divided for the entire day.

We even had a "Seniors' Lounge" and anyone not in grade 12 would be dead. Not from anything physical, but from the cruelest of art forms: gossip and taunting. In other words, you were bullied till it hurt.

The point is, age difference was a big deal. And now that we're all older and (hopefully) more mature, what has changed and what are the new rules? Is there a "Seniors' Lounge" of the dating world?

For example, why is it that some men in their 30's are perfectly comfortable dating someone much younger while others avoid the 20-something range? And at a certain point, does age really matter anymore, as far as dating and mating is concerned? Or is it simply that as the age gap grows between a couple, the more likely that it revolves around sex?

Understandably, it's beyond dangerous and a crime for a young high schooler to be dating someone in their 20's- even if it's early 20's. But the sticky age range is when both people are 20-40. The kids that have hit puberty become teens who experience emotional growth and maturity. For the most part, everyone's at the same level once they hit legal age land. And this is where the confusion begins.

If there is a large age-gap between dater and datee, does that mean that there will be more discrepancy in the relationship? Girls mature faster than boys until about the age of 23. Then some crazy stuff happens. Interestingly enough, boys hit their sexual peeks in high school, whereas for women it's around the 30 age range. Can anyone say cougar? The more rapid maturing of girls will inevitably lead to them dating more mature people of the opposite sex, more mature then the average same-age male who still lives with his parents in the 'burbs.

The attraction to an older (preferably moneyed) man hits some ladies around the 20's. Not necessarily for marriage, but for a good time and to feel like they're being "taken care of".

There is this ever-present image of Anna-Nicole Smith and Mr. Moneybags whenever the issue of dating and age comes up. Maybe because age has a lot to do with money.

My friend *M is the epitome of this mindset. She is a harper for a man with money, connections, and some good looks. Age doesn't even factor in. When I told her the story of the balding man I met at the TIFF party, she counselled me to "use it and lose it!" This is a motto she utilizes effortlessly in her own life. So maybe the age thing varies from person to person.

Another person would argue it's more than age. Factors like money, looks, personality, and power come into play. But all of these things are developed as someone grows older, wiser, and all that jazz.

I'm seeing older guys just because of the experiences I've had with men of my age group. They ended poorly. I'm hoping that Mike will be different mainly because he's older- exactly 16 years older.

Just joking! He's 26. And the most important thing is that he is stable. It isn't something that I'm consciously looking for right now, since I'll be travelling for a year and I am definitely not looking for anything long-term and committal. Most certainly nothing that would define love.

Stability is something that all women secretly look for. He can be sexy and dangerous, but if he's a nomad at heart, it won't go anywhere fast.

But that's for another day. For now, I'm discovering whether I can sit in the Seniors' Lounge, or if I even want to.


The Sleez-tainment Industry

As I peeled my fake lashes off, the tacky glue refusing to let go of my skin, I'm glad to be home. By myself. Sans random guy.
After one night of working in the entertainment district, I've had enough. I've had enough of creepy guys, of bitchy girls, and drunk crazies. Oh, and especially of guys trying to get me to work for them. No, thank you, I'm not interested in having you buy me a drink and giving you head in the bathroom. Now move on.
75$ for 3 hours is good money for handing out flyers, so in fact I may come slumping back to Richmond Street another night. But for now, I can feel my skin crawl from the night that passed. The worst part of the night wasn't being oggled and hooted at by strangers or sidled up to by Mr. "if-I-wasn't-getting-married-I-would-so-do-you". The night was overshadowed with the overwhelming feeling that I wasn't good enough. Maybe that guy would've taken a flyer if I was skinnier, blonder, or taller. The manager approached my friend first, maybe he thinks I'm ugly?
I believe that it's exactly this mode of thinking that leads to the Paris Hilton/Lindsay Lohan look. Females go out and think that they aren't good enough. They feel competition from even their friends, so they fake n' bake, bleach their hair, and get implants. Why? So that when they go out, they can be confident in the fact that every guy in the place wants to sleep with them. This is silly because 1) guys will fuck anything that moves and 2) so what?
It matters because we are obsessed with what other people think and view ourselves as others view us. Self-esteem goes up with compliments and stabs at hooking up every weekend. Conversely, it also goes up with accepted requests for a night together and sex. So everyone's a happy camper.
But not really because the girl goes home to some shame and ample fuel to stoke the Superficial fire and the guy is just reminded of his ex girlfriend and hurts.
Or maybe not- that's just how I see it.
I'm happy I recognize I'm more beautiful without caked on makeup and revealing clothing;that I don't have to be with a man (in any kind of way) to feel worthwhile. I go out and I have a choice- it's not a do or die every weekend. I'm happy to go to Clubland once in a while, but after a night, return to reality.
A reality where I am as natural and true to myself as possible, because in the end, that's the only person left to answer to.


Hitting the Stars

Actually, more like hit and miss. The date part of tonight was a hit. The party afterwards- not so much. Mingling is all fun and well when you actually know the people in the room, but when the elevator dings open and the youngest person you see has a receding hairline, you are in trouble. Never mind that it's a film fest party and Brad Pitt is staying in the same hotel. But no star sightings tonight, sadly. Except for one, which occurred, incidentally, away from the party- but more on that later.
Making the best out of any situation is starting to be my trademark, so that I did. Not only did I give away my (fake) phone number three times, but I actually gave someone my (real) number! That would be the first and last time. It's not that I expect the guy to do everything, but if he's interested, then he'll go through "all the trouble" of asking for the digits. Himself. Because he's a big boy.
I don't blame myself, though. The guy was Greek and had more than one motorbike. Can you say hot? Which he wasn't. But what he lacked in height and grace he more than made up for in...bikes.
The highlight of the night came beforehand, during the one-on-one with guy part. As in sexy company, live music and great food. Oh, and a bottle of wine. That always gets the conversation going.
What made it better than the other guys I've seen so far in the past few weeks? He knew where he was headed in life. I'm finding that a huge turn-on when chatting with men. Motivation and drive drives me.
Needless to say, conversation flowed as easily as the wine and before I realized, we were gone. Did I mention the bike...no? Well there is a bike involved. Tonight it was substituted with a black racer due to the weather, but there most definitely is a neon green Kawasaki Ninja included in this picture. And next time, I'll get more acquainted with that lean green riding machine.
Dating realization at this point: ok, it's not that bad. And I'm not giving up on guys yet, either, as my prior claim of asexuality to my friends may have suggested.
Whenever the inevitable question of what I'm looking for comes up, I find that the easiest answer is to smile, toss the hair, and giggle. Seriously, boys and girls, I don't even know.
That would be a tip akin to one Paris Hilton, whom I caught earlier tonight, would procure. Regardless of what you think of her as a person (trashy slut or converted angel?) that's one gal who knows how to escape from something unscathed. Sex tape, anyone?


Packing up and saying goodbye.

But Im not thinking about that quite yet. First I need to buy supplies, make a sleeping bag and- oh yeah- get the actual ticket to India! I'm not thinking about the goodbye part until it actually happens. And then my body will probably be in such shock that I wont even register I am on a plane half-way across the world until I'm at the hostel at said location. Friends and family and dog. And toilets. Those are the things I am expecting to miss the most. But maybe something random will come up- like tampons. I mean, do they even have those in Chennai?
But instead of scaring myself, I should focus on the goods, those including seeing the trip as an adventure, an opportunity, and a change. Solo back-packing is known to have some fun impacts on people. I don't think I'll turn into Mother Theresa, but I will see and experience things that I will never forget. Who knows- maybe I'll meet a new best friend or the love of my life? Or maybe the monkeys will be the most lasting memory.
Enough guessing, it's time to jut go already!


The Dating Diaries: Creeps

Meeting people on-line has a negative stigma surrounding it. Every person on the Net is seen as a potential predator hiding behind a mask of anonymity. And this mistrust is well founded, as demonstrated by the amount of media focused on the dangers of meeting someone from the Internet. It makes sense, since you don't really know the person on the other end of the conversation. For all you know, Mr. cute blonde university student you are chatting up could be a sixty-year old man sitting in his basement petting chickens.

But however unappealing and frightening that scenario would be, there is still something exponentially worse.

Think about knowing someone, spending time with them, and feeling safe around them, only to be taken advantage of and manipulated.

I met Shik* at a friend's party. He seemed normal, "seemed" being the pro-active word. I wouldn't say that I was attracted to him, since he was definitely not my type, but he made me laugh and the conversation flowed. I found out about his past, family and we chatted about common interests.

He added me on Facebook a week later. Since he was going to "delete his account", I gave him my number.

I found out he rock-climbed and I thought it would be a great opportunity for a a new partner, since my brother doesn't go as often as me.

He picked me up in his brand new black convertible one night and took me out for dinner, drinks, a festival, and a concert. All in one night. Then he drove me home- keep in mind I live half an hour out of his way. By this time, I suppose it was obvious that he expected something back, and it wasn't in any form I was ready to give. I still held to the idea that he was in it for a good time, sex not included. Included rhymes with... deluded- coincidence?

A late-night party was in store for me the next day. Unfortunately, I had nowhere to go. My choices: go home via "vomit comet" (the TTC's Yonge St. late night service bus), pay 30$ to stay at a hotel with friends, or sleep on my friend's kitchen floor. I chose none of the above. An idea formed in my non-too-practical mind. I rationalized that since I would be staying out until 5, I just had to kill time for a few hours until the subway started running in the morning. All of my friends would be sleeping as soon as they returned to their respective lodgings and I needed someone to stay out with me at that dangerous time of night...

Shik was more than happy to oblige. Before I left my place that night, we made plans to meet up at 5 a.m. (post-partying) to eat at Fran's. My night was set and my gut was at ease.

A night of party madness ensued. Needless to say- best night in a while. I called him at 4:30 from the club where I was at. He told me that he was too drunk to go out and didn't "feel" like food anymore. He continually complained that he wanted to stay home. I felt a little iffy. Had he planned this all along- to trap me into a one night stand? Maybe if I played like I was going home on my own, he would oblige to take me out. After all, this was someone I thought was upstanding.

I asked what he proposed. You can guess the answer. Something along the lines of him paying for my taxi to get to his place and a night of "chilling". This really should have set off alarms in my head, but all I could think was how much my feet hurt in these pumps and how I just wanted a warm sofa and a glass of water...

I arrived at around 5:00 a.m. and went up to his condo. Brand new, fully furnished, one bedroom, wood floors, big screen T.V. and computer. Very nice. I exclaimed such before making a bee-line for the sofa. I settled in for the night- on the sofa.

"I think I'll sleep here tonight" I yawned, after some initial stabs at light conversation. He looked disappointed and his eyes bugged out slightly, as if to say 'after all that, you're not even going to sleep with me?!' He let out as much, continually hinting to his bed, and outright blurting out a few times "my bed is super comfortable and big. I'm not going to try anything, but it's, like, there." I'm so sure that he was worried about my comfort and not his penis.

After 20 minutes of grinding it into his head I was not going to sleep anywhere near him, he let up and slumped into his bedroom...leaving the door open.

I couldn't and wouldn't sleep. My eyes were dry, but I couldn't close them, and when I did, I didn't feel the pull of sleep. I stayed up for hours like this. What disturbed me more was him coming out of his room on a few occasions to just walk around the apartment. Now that I think of it, he was most likely checking if I was asleep. But the reason for this was slightly different from what I had initially thought.

I opened my eyes and the sun streamed in. He was snoring in his bedroom. I stayed in my position, thinking of the best way to leave. Now. Before I could move a limb, he came out of the bedroom. With my eyes closed, I hoped I looked like I was sleeping. He stood un-moving for a while before going into the bathroom. This was my chance! As I quietly slid the covers off of my legs, I heard something that no one wants to hear from such close proximity. This guy was having some serious stomach issues- and the toilet got the brunt of it. From his ass.

I bolted for the door, my shoes and purse in hand. As the shower was turned off, the front door clicked shut. I was out. I didn't walk- I ran- to the elevators, pushed the button three times in anxiety and slammed myself in as soon as the door opened. I was free!

I never called him again. This experience gave snapped me back to reality and gave me some newfound self-realization. The reality part is that most guys are just after sex, not friendship or a relationship. I wasn't after either with Shik- just a good (paid for) good time. Which I got.

The realization part involved me knowing that I am not looking for a relationship. Or for a sex-buddy. But somewhere in between. What do you call that- oh yeah, dating. For now, I'm just starting to view the dating arena as a confusing one since everyone is after different things. But at least now I know exactly what I want and to avoid something I don't need.