This week, I would like to address my pet peeve: upswings. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, it is what happens when someone states a fact, but their intonation implies that they are asking a question? The little ‘upswing’ in their tone at the end of the sentence makes them sound extremely unsure of their supposedly declarative statement, and consequently it annoys the shit out of me. I can forgive this in stereotypical West Coast bimbos who think London is a country (that actually happened), but I have encountered this in teachers! Supposed vessels of knowledge and enlightenment… sound like they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about! And for those of you familiar with the slam poet Taylor Mali, yes, I am ripping off his point, but it’s a damn important one. If you are declaring something, intonate to your fellow converser that you ARE DECLARING SOMETHING. And teachers, to misquote Mali, don’t invite me onto the bandwagon of your uncertainty – inform me about your apparent field of expertise!

It’s hard to catch yourself speaking in this manner and stop it in time. Hell, I’ve even done it a couple of times (much to the mockery of my friends on Skype conversations). But I implore all of you to try and be conscious of your speech patterns and trust that you won’t sound like a monotonous bastard/bitch. You won’t sound boring, as long as what you’re saying isn’t boring. Sure, change your tone throughout to catch your recipient’s attention, but don’t end it in a question?

Annoying upswings aside, I do genuinely have praise to offer all of you beautiful people. You are, to put it simply, very friendly. Back home in London, things are quite a bit different. In addition to the miserable rain, people don’t smile at each other on the underground train or on the street. You would be lucky to find someone striking up a conversation with a complete stranger (and if they did, to not feel awkward about it would be another feat). Now, it doesn’t help that I’m a brown guy walking onto the train with a rucksack, but people are simply downright miserable in England. Here in Santa Barbara, I feel like I can talk to strangers and ask questions. If someone I don’t know smiles at me on the street, I feel good about it (and if it’s a cute girl, I feel great). And while this general feeling may be a bit pretentious in places like L.A., I have found this overall friendly vibe to be quite common in various other cities and states. I don’t know if it’s because the sun actually shines over America, or if it’s the way Americans are brought up, but it’s quite heartening. And I wish – oh, how much I wish – that it was like that back home. You should not take this for granted. Be grateful that one of the USA’s few saving graces is a day-to-day occurrence.

So there. I’ve been nice to you. Please don’t make me do this too often. It might become a habit… Some sort of weekly collection of thoughts on a media Web site directed at students. Don’t. I’d much rather bitch for the Nexus.