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Jordan Gamble | Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Like any good college student, I have my share of near-compulsive behavior. Now that I’m a senior and real world responsibilities are fast approaching, I’ve decided to indulge myself while I still can. I confess that this semester, I haven’t done much of anything but coddle my various addictions.

First of all, I adore Diet Coke. There’s something about a can of Diet Coke that instantly makes me feel sharper, although that could be because the artificial sweeteners add a little kick where good old corn syrup cannot. I don’t know what it is about Diet Coke that makes me love it so much. It isn’t the caffeine — I really hate feeling jittery, or staying up later. It isn’t the carbonation, because I inevitably feel bloated and gross. Maybe it’s the can: silver, with graceful red and black swirls. It’s like holding a little bit of over-processed beauty in your hand.

When I’m feeling really productive, I’ll bring along a can of Diet Coke and settle down at my laptop for another compulsive activity I adore: watching “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” on YouTube. This delightful video features, yes, a tiny conch shell. Marcel is adorned with plastic shoes and a googly-eye, and is voiced by Saturday Night Live’s Jenny Slate. This woman should win an award for Most Endearing Vocal Performance in a YouTube Upload.

But when I am done with feeling good about the world and googly-eyed shells, I close out YouTube and head on to the Career Center’s website and GoIrish for some nice, simple masochism. I just search for journalism jobs and see “No results found,” no matter how many times I reframe my query. Yet, I keep hoping that a source of income will magically appear, and that I’ll be able to seize it before the other starving journalism students.

To distract myself from a frightening lack of job prospects, I stop by xkcd.com, where I read nerdy-humor comic strips. I could stay on this site for hours, hitting “Random” to see another, and another, and another, although eventually I start running across the same comics because I’ve hit “Random” so many times. (I accomplished this feat far too often this summer, which goes to show how exciting my summer was.)

Despite my enjoyment of YouTube videos and four-panel comic strips with stick figures, I actually quite like intricate narratives. There’s only so much sustained enjoyment I can get from bite-sized web offerings. But I don’t get addicted to narratives in books, because I don’t have the attention span for anything longer than The Observer horoscope anymore.

No, I’m talking about the serialized dramatic masterpiece that is “Vampire Diaries” on The CW. This show is my crack. Homework may be piled around the futon, the Scene computer at The Observer office may have blown up — heck, it might even be my roommate’s 21st birthday. But every Thursday evening, I will be stationed in front of the TV, with a Diet Coke in my hand and “Marcel” playing during commercial breaks.

Maybe I’ll start my own magazine called “Perfectly Harmless Addictions.” At least I’d have a job.

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Jordan Gamble at jgamble@nd.edu